24 Elders in Revelation are representatives of the unfallen worlds
The 24 Elders in Revelation are representatives of the unfallen worlds. They are not redeemed human beings as traditionally interpreted by majority in the Christian literary.
In the previous article, we learned that the 24 elders as mentioned in Revelation 4 cannot be the redeemed human beings. If the 24 Elders are not human beings, then who are they?
Sons of God were present during Creation
In one of the conversations between God and Job, God gave Job rhetorical questions. These questions give us information about the existence of other created beings before the creation of man (planet Earth).
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have an understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4-7
During the creation week, the “morning stars and all the angels” were there celebrating with God’s masterful artwork–the creation of humankind.
In Hebrew literary, there is a thing called synonymous parallelism where one subject is being described in two sentences with different terms. Hence, the “morning stars” and “sons of God” pertain to the same group. In fact, NIV translated “sons of God” in this verse as “angels”.
Revelation 12:4, 9 also gives us the meaning of the “stars”, that is “angels”. Thus, the “morning stars” and “sons of God” in this context are angelic hosts. Take note, however, that the term “sons of God” may be of different meaning in other accounts in the Bible. One should carefully look at the context before making a conclusion.
What do we get so far? We learned that there are other beings (angels or sons of God) who shouted for joy when they saw God’s creation of the planet Earth and that they are already in exist before any human life is present.
Sons of God in the heavenly council
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Job 1:6, 7 KJV
“On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him.” Job 2:1 NIV
These verses tell us about meetings in heaven where the sons of God or angels came to God’s heavenly council to examine the case of Job. In those meetings, Satan was also present, representing the Earth.
Four things that we should note here:
- The sons of God do not always dwell in the presence of God. They came from somewhere else, they left the heavenly council, they went back again (verse 2) to present themselves to the Lord.
- These “presenting of themselves” were also a gathering to examine the case of Job.
- Satan felt that he had the right to belong to this council since the subject of inquiry was from the planet Earth, i.e. Job.
- If Satan claimed to be representing the planet Earth, then is it possible that the other sons of God who came to the meeting were also representing other planets from other galaxies or worlds?
The heavenly throne vision of Micaiah
“And Micaiah said, ‘… I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’” 2 Chronicles 18:18-22 ESV
Again, we note some observations in this passage:
- God is not autocratic nor a dictator in His rulership. He values the thoughts of His creation so that the latter can fully understand the matter.
- Other beings are present in that heavenly council as seen by Micaiah.
- God’s asking and the phrases “one said another, and another said another” tell us that indeed there is a heavenly council.
- This lying spirit is no other than Lucifer himself.
What do we get from here?
Whenever decisions are made that affect the worlds of the vast universe, God gathers the heavenly council to discuss the issue. Whenever there is something to celebrate, God calls the heavenly council.
Satan was cast out in that heavenly council
In Job 1-2 and 2 Chronicles 18, we learned that Satan claimed to be the representative of the planet Earth in the heavenly council. But that did not last long. Notice that in Revelation 5 when all the hosts of heaven (including the 24 elders) were to meet Jesus upon His ascension Lucifer was not there for he was cast out from his claimed position when Jesus successfully provided the atonement for sin on the cross.
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die.” John 12:31:33 KJV
The heavenly beings echoed this casting of Lucifer out of heaven:
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength,
and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” Revelation 12:10-12 KJV
Jesus took notice of Satan’s claim being the “ruler of this world” (planet Earth) but did not give in to Satan’s offer of “giving all that therein” in exchange of submission and worship to the Devil (Luke 4:5-6) during Satan’s tempting of Jesus. Rather, Jesus triumphantly cast the Devil out of heaven.
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24 Elders: Who represents the planet Earth in the heavenly council?
We learned from previous lessons that the 24 elders as mentioned in Revelation 4 cannot be the redeemed human beings. Instead, they are representatives of the unfallen worlds in the heavenly council of God's vast creation. A good question to follow is: who represents the planet Earth?
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The Old Testament books are keys to understand the New Testament, and thus we should give equal importance to the books of the Old Testament as we do for the New Testament.
24 Elders in Revelation in God’s heavenly throne
Now going back to John’s vision of the throne room of God in Revelation 4 and 5, the phrase “sons of God” was not used, but rather the “four living creatures” and the “24 elders” were. We already identified who the four living creatures are and that they are the seraphims as explained by prophet Isaiah.
Thus, the only group of beings left for the “sons of God” who are part of the heavenly council are the 24 elders. Hence, the 24 elders are the sons of God (or angels with special functions).
Representatives of the unfallen worlds in the heavenly council
Are there beings created by God that never fall into sin? Yes, and that our study above of the given passages supports this. The late Billy Graham, one of the famous modern evangelists, believed so:
“I believe there is life on other planets. We have this galaxy, the Milky Way, and they now speculate that there are millions and millions of galaxies. And in each galaxy, a trillion stars, planets and all that. I can’t imagine that we’re the only one that has life; that would be a terribly egotistical thing for us to say as a planet. I believe that God is the God of all of it, and that’s why He’s so awesome and so tremendous and why, when I come into His presence, I feel that I’m not worthy.”
Ellen White tells us who exactly the 24 elders are in the last chapter (“To My Father, and Your Father”) of her book The Desire of Ages:
“Then the portals of the city of God are opened wide, and the angelic
This is the same vision that Apostle John saw in Revelation 4-5. At this point, Ellen White already described the throne and the 4 living creatures (cherubim and seraphim). Now, notice how she described the 24 elders:
“The commanders of the angel hosts, the sons of God, the representatives of the unfallen worlds [Revelation 4:4], are assembled. The heavenly council before which Lucifer had accused God and His Son, the representatives of those sinless realms over which Satan had thought to establish his dominion,–all are there to welcome the Redeemer.”
What do we get at this point?
- that there is a heavenly council where God is the chairman, so to speak.
- as a council, it should have representatives.
- that members of this council are the sons of God representing the other created worlds.
- that these sons of God are angels of higher order, particularly commanders of the angelic hosts.
- that Lucifer (highest of all angels) claimed to be the representative of the planet Earth but later on was cast out.
If the 24 elders that are present in the heavenly council or God’s throne cannot be human beings, then who are they? Our study above gave us the answer: that they are commanders of the angelic hosts being the representatives of the unfallen worlds.
With this identity of the 24 elders in mind, go back to the passages where the 24 elders were mentioned in the Bible and listen to what the Holy Spirit will tell you. It will surely open up beautiful insights about God’s throne and His rulership of this vast universe.
Imagine that during the creation of humanity, the representatives of the other created beings are there watching God of His marvelous piece of art, the planet Earth.
These representatives were also present when Jesus bade farewell to the heavenly throne to pursue His mission on earth. In Revelation 4-5, these representatives were also part of the group who prepared the heavenly throne to welcome Jesus in His ascension after finishing His role as the slain Lamb of God.
Imagine that these representatives come and go in the heavenly council and that they excitedly report to their respective places (or planets) whatever decisions were approved that have something to do with the other worlds including the planet Earth.
These representatives and all the heavenly beings are eager to welcome the redeemed saints when Jesus will bring them up to heaven.
Just as Billy Graham said, to believe that we are the only ones created despite the unfathomable vastness of God’s creation is egoistic thinking. The view that the 24 elders are representatives of the unfallen worlds removes this self-centered thought.
In the next article, answers to the objections with regards to this view will be tackled.
Apart from seeing personally the Lamb of God who redeemed us seated on His throne in God’s heavenly council, apart from seeing once again our departed loved ones in that glorious morning, are you excited to see these representatives of the unfallen worlds?
Most probably they too are excited to listen to your personal testimonies on how you walked by faith in this sinful planet to be able to be in the new heavens and new earth. Perhaps, they will invite you to speak in their respective planets to hear your peculiar story of struggles with sin and how Jesus gave you strength to overcome it.
Are you excited to meet other beings in the unfallen worlds? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
This article echoes the “24 Elders” presentation by Pastor Stephen Bohr of the Secrets Unsealed ministry.
Featured photo: e-watchman.com