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I’ve been trying to understand what, if any, correlation there might be between the last three Letters and the last three Seals. But I got kind of side-tracked, trying to visualize the geography of Heaven. I’m a very visual person, so I need the pictures in my head to make some kind of sense.
The seventh and last Revelation Letter (Laodicea) ends in Chapter 3, verse 22: “Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” In the very next lines (Rev 4:1ff), John reports being “caught up” and taken through “an open door to heaven”, where he saw a throne:
On the throne sat one whose appearance sparkled like jasper and carnelian. Around the throne was a halo as brilliant as an emerald. In front of the throne was something that resembled a sea of glass like crystal.
Exodus 24 reports God’s floor similarly:
Moses beheld the God of Israel. Under his feet there appeared to be sapphire tilework, as clear as the sky itself.
Ezekiel (Ez 1:1ff) describes God’s floor from underneath. N.b., Firmament is Bible speak for sky.
Above the firmament … was the likeness of a throne that looked like sapphire; and upon this likeness of a throne was seated, up above, a figure that looked like a human being. … Something like the appearance of fire and brilliant light [like a rainbow] surrounded him. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.
Besides the “floor of Heaven is our sky” thing, we also learn from various Bible visionaries about two different kinds of angels. Six-winged seraphim, who worship God in Heaven around the throne, and four-winged cherubim, who appear to have some guardian/warrior type functions down here in our atmosphere.
Note: The singulars are seraph and cherub; plurals are seraphs or seraphim and cherubs or cherubim, though cherubim is preferred, what with the mixing up of cherubs with putti. See below.
[Revelation 4:7-8] The four living creatures, each of them with six wings, [who] were covered with eyes inside and out. Day and night they do not stop exclaiming: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.”
[Isaiah 6:1-3] I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,a with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they hovered. One cried out to the other: “Holy, holy, holy* is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!”
I’m thinking the “multitude of the heavenly host” who appeared at Christ’s birth were also seraphim. Luke 2:13-15 says they sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests”, and then they “went away from [the shepherds] to heaven.”
[Genesis 3:24] God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, “stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way.”
[Ezekiel 1:3-10] Four living creatures appeared. They were in human form, but each had four faces, a human face, and on the right the face of a lion, and on the left, the face of an ox, and each had the face of an eagle. Each had four wings; human hands were under their wings. Their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass.
Those fat little baby angels we mistakenly refer to as cherubs are obviously NOT the cherubim of the Bible. The correct term for them is putti (singular: putto). Originally, putti were totally secular spirits in Classical mythology, like Cupid.
In their enthusiasm for Greek and Roman stuff, Renaissance artists started mushing putti into Christian scenes. Below: Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. They’re cute, but they’re not biblical.
New American Bible online @ http://www.usccb.org/bible/
Putto @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putto