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The Bible by the Numbers > Day 21

The Four and Twenty Elders (Revelation 4:4-11)

Apart from its description of the heavenly city, new Jerusalem, the Book of Revelation offers us a couple of other strong pieces of evidence that the whole people of God shall be eternally united in God’s presence. 


First, there is the 144,000—twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel—and the “great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Revelation 7:1-17). Together, these two groups obviously form a prophetic picture of the church, within which Jews and Gentiles are united and into which “whosoever will” may come, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race or language (Revelation 22:17). 


Second, the “four and twenty elders sitting” around the throne of God clearly speak to us of the uniting of all of the elect in God’s presence for all eternity (Revelation 4:4-11). These twenty-four elders represent God’s Old Testament people—twelve tribes of Israel—and God’s New Testament people—the twelve apostles of Christ.


In addition to the above, the Levitical priesthood was divided into twenty-four orders (1 Chronicles 24). Over each order King David appointed an elder. These twenty-four elders became the representatives of the entire Levitical priesthood.


Today, we who believe in Christ comprise a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Thus, the twenty-four elders may been seen as representatives of all who believe in Christ; that is, of all who will “reign [with Him] on the earth,” having been made by Him “kings and priests unto our God” (Revelation 5:10).


It is fitting that the twenty-four elders “fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne” (Revelation 4:10). After all, as the Westminster Confession declares, the “chief end of man,” especially of God’s royal priesthood, “is to glorify [worship] God and enjoy Him forever.”

Don Walton