Note: This is a continuing evaluation of the book The Days of Vengeance written by David Chilton. Chilton at the time of writing this was a partial preterist who later in life (after a massive heart attack) turned to full preterism. Sections will be taken from the book and commented on to the fullest extent possible. A PDF of the book can be found here.
I will admit that at the pace I am proceeding, the review of this book could take a year. Oh well. Between a fear of leaving too much out and writing posts that are too long we could truly be on a long path. We continue today in chapter four and John's heavenly vision.
Chilton's insight into the four beasts is interesting. I'll confess I've spent little time investigating this personally and find myself a simple learner.
Another similarity to Ezekiel’s vision is that St. John sees four living creatures standing in the middle of the Throne and around it, supporting the Chariot-Throne in its flight (cf. Ps. 18:10), as do the four cherubim in Ezekiel (note that they are both “in the middle” and “around” the Throne; cf. the close connection between the Throne and the living creatures in 5:6).
These creatures (not “beasts,” as in the King James rendering) are full of eyes in front and behind, and appear in the forms of a Lion, a Bull, a Man, and an Eagle. A detailed comparison of these verses with Ezekiel 1 and 10 will reveal many interesting parallels as well as differences between the accounts (reference should also be made to the vision of the six-winged seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-4). That there are four of them indicates some relationship to the altar-shaped earth (compare the Biblical ideas of four corners of the earth, four winds, four directions, the four rivers from Eden that watered the whole earth, and so on). (DOV, 72-73)
At this point Chilton quotes lengthily from Michael Wilcock. I will admit that I am still processing this paragraph. It is both eye opening and thought provoking. This is something I will have to come back to at another time,
“The cherubs of the Bible are very far from being chubby infants with wings and dimples. They are awesome creatures, visible indications of the presence of God. So when we are told (Ps.
18:10) that the Lord travels both on a cherub and on the wings of the wind, we may begin to see a link between the four living creatures of 4:6 and the four winds of 7:1. We might call these cherub-creatures ‘nature,’ so long as we remember what nature really is – an immense construction throbbing with the ceaseless activity of God. . . . Perhaps their faces (4:7; Ezek. 1:10) represent his majesty, his strength, his wisdom, and his loftiness, and their numberless eyes his ceaseless watchfulness over every part of his creation. It is appropriate then that there should be four of them, corresponding to the points of the compass and the corners of the earth, and standing for God’s world, as the twenty-four elders stand for the Church.” (DOV, 73)
As I recover from my mental reflection, Chilton throws in a pinch of John Calvin and knocked me out. Some of this language and manifest ideas are simply too new. I feel profoundly ignorant.
“By these heads all living creatures were represented to us. . . . These animals comprehend within themselves all parts of the universe by that figure of speech by which a part represents the whole. Meanwhile since angels are living creatures we must observe in what sense God attributes to angels themselves the head of a lion, an eagle, and a man: for this seems but little in accord with their nature. But he could not better express the inseparable connection which exists in the motion of angels and all creatures. . . . We are to understand, therefore, that while men move about and discharge their duties, they apply themselves in different directions to the object of their pursuit, and so also do wild beasts; yet there are angelic motions underneath, so that neither men nor animals move themselves, but their whole vigor depends on a secret inspiration.”
As Calvin says a few pages later, with more force, “all creatures are animated by angelic motion.” (DOV, 73)
Chilton goes on to express some interesting zodiac explanations for the choices of the animals. While fascinating his major point is simple: all creation worships God include the constellations and heavens. I'm not sure that John was truly using this zodiac imagery, though Chilton's case is reasonable, but I can accept the conclusion as being reasonable.