What does the Lion, the Ox, the Eagle, and the Man represent in the Bible? And why are they mentione

“And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle” Revelation 4:7

This is a description of a Cherub Angel.

The Cherubim’s singular form is Cherub, meaning fullness of knowledge. They are described in (Ezekiel 1:1-13; 10:12-14, 20-22). They are covered with eyes and have four faces, a man, lion, eagle, and a calf, also referred to as a face of the Cherub.

They have four wings with the hands of a man. Cherub guard the way to the Garden of Eden and the tree of life (Genesis 3:4). They guard the outside courtyard of God’s Throne room (Revelation 4:4-9).

Lucifer was a Cherub before being cast out of Heaven (Ezekiel 28:13-19; Isaiah 14:12-19).

The likeness of Cherubim was used to decorate the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:17-22). They were also used to decorate Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:23-29; 2 Chronicles 3:7-14).

“and the first beast was like a lion”

The Lion’s face is symbolic of strength.

Lions are mentioned in several contexts throughout Scripture, sometimes positively to describe God (Hosea 11:10) and sometimes negatively as symbolic of evil and destruction (Proverbs 28:15). Peter compares Satan to a “roaring lion” and warns us to beware of the enemy’s schemes that will destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). A lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles away and is intended to establish their territory and to communicate their power. But a roar can do nothing. It is threatening but powerless unless we give in to fear and allow the lion to overtake us.

In Bible accounts, Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).a roaring lion taking vengeance on His enemies (Revelation 19:12–20).

Isaiah 11 describes the coming era when Jesus reigns on earth. Peace and harmony will dominate even the animal kingdom. Isaiah 11:6 paints a picture of this time: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

The image of lions lying peacefully beside baby calves describes a world restored to its original state. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 65:25

“And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.” Genesis 1:30

Ultimate peace has been established when carnivores no longer kill to eat, and, in the millennial kingdom, the king of the beasts is tamed.

The Bible uses hundreds of metaphors and images to describe God. Animals and other forms of nature can help us understand specific aspects of God’s character. Jesus is called the Lamb of God (John 1:36) to illustrate His gentleness and willingness to be the sacrifice for mans sins. But He is also called the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) to display His absolute authority and power over all creation.

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:18-20

“and the second beast is like a Calf”

The Calf or OX represents sacrifice.

Sacrifice for sin was necessary if people are to have any hope of eternal life. God established the necessity of the shedding of blood to cover sin (Hebrews 9:22). In fact, God Himself performed the very first animal sacrifice to cover, temporarily, the sin of Adam and Eve. After He pronounced curses upon the first couple, He killed an animal, shedding its blood, and made from it a covering for Adam and Eve. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

This instituted the principle of animal sacrifice for sin. When God gave the Law to Moses, there were extensive instructions on how, when, and under what circumstances animal sacrifices were to be offered to Him, calfs, lambs or goats were the animals of choice. This was to continue until Christ came to offer the ultimate, perfect sacrifice, which made animal sacrifice no longer necessary.

“But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Hebrews 10:3–4

“the third beast had a face as a Man”

The man represents mankind.

“and the fourth beast was like a flying Eagle”

The Eagle represents the ability to see all things. The Cherub represents the fullness of God’s judgment, which is all consuming (Ezekiel 10:14).

Eagles have always symbolized freedom, strength, and power. They are considered the kings of the sky and were adopted by several ancient cultures, including Rome, as a symbol of that country’s leadership and immortality.

The Bible’s first mention of the eagle is in Leviticus 11:13. Eagles, along with vultures and other unclean birds, were prohibited as food for the Israelites. God gave the newly formed nation of Israel dietary laws to help set them apart from the pagan nations around them. The dietary instructions were also given for health reasons as part of God’s promise to Israel.

“And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Exodus 15:26

Eagles are birds of prey that sometimes act as scavengers, eating dead flesh as vultures do. Eagles could carry diseases harmful to humans; God protected Israel at a time of limited medicines and inadequate sterilization procedures.

The next time an eagle is mentioned is in Deuteronomy 32:11 as part of the song God instructed Moses to teach the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:19). In that song, God compares His care for His people to that of a mother eagle who spreads her wings to cover her young and carry them away from danger (cf. Exodus 19:4).

Throughout Scripture, eagles represent God’s handiwork, as in Proverbs 30, “The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” Proverbs 30:19 (cf. Job 39:27)

Eagles also symbolize power. God often used the imagery of an eagle in issuing warnings to Israel and other nations who did evil (e.g., Obadiah 1:4; Jeremiah 49:22). He chose the bird they considered powerful and unstoppable to demonstrate His sovereign control over everything.

Isaiah 40:31 is the most familiar biblical reference to eagles: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

This verse is the conclusion of a chapter detailing the greatness of God. It reminds the reader that the strongest of men may stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord have a strength that this world cannot offer. When we see an eagle in flight, soaring on invisible air currents, we can be reminded that the Creator who supplies the eagle’s strength will also strengthen those who call upon His name (Psalm 50:15; Isaiah 55:6–7).

Why Christians Believe What They Believe 

© Tony - W.A.M