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We have now come to chapter 4 of our Book of Revelation, and in the opening verses of this chapter, we are treated to a highly symbolic description of the presence of God, not directly through descriptive adjectives, but indirectly through metaphysical symbols. In verses 2 and 3, we read: “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Here is the great symbol which describes God, and appropriately enough, it is “one.” Just “one,” not “one this” or “one that,” but simply “one,” period.
Only metaphysical thinking can make sense of this. God is one, but not in the sense of one object, one person, or one thing. God is one in the sense of pure oneness itself, or all-ness. God is not the numerical “one” of arithmetic, because in arithmetic, there must follow two, three, and so forth. This is not the case with God. He is one, without any coming before or any following after. Oneness is God in the truest sense, which is all-ness, or omnipresence.
Then, in verse 3, we read: “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” So, our author sees the God-presence, the one, as precious jewels and a rainbow. But this is symbolic. We must ask, what is the only thing which can look like precious jewels and rainbow? A person, an object, a thing? No, only one can have these appearances: light. Precious jewels and a rainbow have the appearance they do to us only as effects of the one light. Without that radiance of the one light, you and I could not see precious jewels as such, and we could not see a rainbow. These things have appearance for us only according to how much of the one light we are able to perceive in them.
Now, exactly the same thing holds true of our perception of the omnipresence of God. We are able to perceive God only to the degree that we are able to perceive of Him through the light, the one light that is within us. The more of God as light we incorporate into our minds, the more precious and the more beautiful does His presence become to us. As our author saw him, precious jewels, beautiful rainbow.
Then, in verse 4, we read: “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and on the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” The metaphysical meaning of the 24 elders is easy to determine when we remember our 12 powers. When we are in a high consciousness of God’s presence, our 12 powers begin to function in us in a way which seems to double their effectiveness. They have a powerful beneficial action inwardly, on our own inner states of being, and also outwardly, on our outer life conditions and affairs, and this doubling of the benefits and the effectiveness of our 12 powers calls forth the symbol of double 12 — 24 — from our author. Also, when our 12 powers are functioning while we are in a high consciousness of the God-presence, our 12 powers become imbued with pure power, or, as our writer puts it, “clothed in white raiment.” They become infinitely more valuable to our spiritual unfoldment, wore crowns of gold, and they function in a manner of deep wisdom and maturity, “four and twenty elders.”
In verse 6, we read: “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and round about the throne were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.” To be before the throne means to be in the highest state of awareness, the highest state of good judgment, and when we are using good judgment, there stretches out before our life an unlimited area of pure and perfect potentialities of good. This is the symbolism of the sea of crystal. The sea stands for unlimited possibilities, and crystal stands for purity and clarity. The “four beasts full of eyes before and behind” refers to the powers of foresight and hindsight. Eyes before, foresight; eyes behind, hindsight.
These are possessed by the four different aspects of human nature — four beasts, four aspects of human nature — and these beasts are described as follows. First, “like a lion”; second, “like a calf”; third, “had the face of a man”; fourth, “was like a flying eagle.” And these four descriptions metaphysically mean, first, “like a lion” meaning the physical aspect of human nature; “like a calf” means the subjective or emotional aspect of human nature. Third, “had the face of a man” means the mentality within human nature; fourth, “like a flying eagle” stands for the inspirational and intuitive aspect of human nature.
We have these four parts of our human nature, and all four are valuable to us, and yet none of them is of the highest. The highest, of course, is spiritual, our spiritual nature. These four beasts do not mean our spiritual nature, but our lower levels of human nature, except for the fourth, which means our inspirations and our intuitions leading us higher into the spiritual. So, very briefly, we’ll go over them just once more. The first, “like a lion,” man’s physical nature; “like a calf,” man’s subjective or emotional nature. Third, “the face of a man,” man’s mentality; and the fourth, “like a flying eagle,” standing for our inspirations and our intuition.