Pamela Ayn Austen
The Twenty-four Elders
Around the Throne
Image: Artist Unknown
REVELATIONS 4:9-10 and 6:6
6. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and on these thrones sat twenty-four elders dressed in white, with golden crowns on their heads.
9. And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the One seated on the throne who lives forever and ever, 10. the twenty-four elders fall down before the One seated on the throne, and they worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things; by Your will they exist and came to be.”
The prevailing consensus in the church is to claim that these twenty-four elders represent a "who", as in men who lived on the earth, as in the twelve Jewish patriarchs and the twelve Apostles of Jesus. But having asked Jesus, this is what the Spirit has shown me:
It isn't enough to say who these men are, but rather, what they represent, because the "what" will finally explain the "why" of God's longstanding works among people. And so here is the prophecy that helps the twenty-four elders of Revelations make sense, from Zechariah 6:
11. Take silver and gold, make an ornate crown and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.
12. Then say to him, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD. 13. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.'" 14. Now the crown will become a reminder in the temple of the LORD to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen the son of Zephaniah. 15. Those who are far off will come and build the temple of the LORD. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And it will take place if you completely obey the LORD your God.
The twelve patriarchs are symbols of God's holy Law, in as much as the twelve tribes of Israel were entrusted with God's Law, to keep and to teach it. The twelve Apostles were entrusted with the ministry of Grace, to keep and to teach it. Both Old Testament Law and New Testament Grace came from the Lord, and through Jesus's death on the cross, he made peace with the Law on man's behalf, and on man's behalf, he has become the eternal Priest of Grace. Therefore, Jesus sets on the throne between God's holy Law and God's loving Grace, and he alone has made peace between the two: between Old Testament Law and New Testament Grace.
Those who lived under the age of Law, and those who lived under the age of Grace, will both find salvation in the name of, and by faith in, Jesus Christ; and the dividing line, the distinction, between Jew and Gentile is now dissolved through mutual faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus sits on the throne between them as the one peace-maker between the two realities of God: Truth (Law) and Mercy (Grace).
Law and Grace are represented by these men because it was for men that the Law, and then Grace, were manifested; and it was for man that Jesus Christ was revealed. The twelve Jewish patriarchs represent the foundation of the Law of God. The twelve Apostles represent the foundation of the Grace of God.
All of the Elders have golden crowns, (gold represents perfection), to represent God's perfect reign over both "offices" of Law and Grace, and God's perfect peace between the two, and through Jesus, the two "offices" reign with Jesus. So, the elders bow down and cast their crowns before Jesus, because the crowns belong to Jesus, who is the peace-maker of both realities: Truth (Law) and Mercy (Grace). Because without Jesus, the two systems, Law and Grace, and the two realities of Truth and Mercy, cannot co-exist, much less become ONE, because Law brings severe judgement and death, but mercy brings license to sin leading to death, and there is no agreement between them due to the weakness of mankind's sinful nature. In Jesus alone, the two are made one, so that eternal life and eternal salvation can be had by all. And this is why the Lamb of God was the ONLY one "worthy to break the seals and open the scroll." Revelations 5:2
Zechariah 3 says, "Now listen, Joshua, high priest, you and your colleagues who sit before you! For they are an omen of things to come. I am going to bring my servant the Branch. For on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day." The omen of things to come that Joshua and his colleagues represented was Jesus and his twelve disciples. And a further omen was that they were half of the twenty-four elders in Revelations: the Law half. The Branch is Jesus, and the stone with seven facets is Jesus, and the seven facets are the seven spirits of heaven, as spoken of in the book of Enoch. The stone is also the Lamb, who alone had the right to open the scroll with the seven seals. The guilt of Israel (and mankind) was taken away on the day Jesus died on the cross, or some may say it's the day he rose to life again.
So we see that the twenty-four elders are indeed the twelve patriarchs of the Law and the twelve Apostles of Grace, and they represent the contrary agendas of Law and Grace, and Jesus and his death on the cross alone makes peace between the two. So he is enthroned between them, and they worship him, because in Jesus, they are now at peace, and they are now one, to the glory of God. Instead of saying: there's twelve Old Testament elders, and twelve New Testament elders, it can now simply be said, there are twenty-four elders. And while it is Jesus that binds Law and Grace together, it is also LOVE, because we're told that "he who loves has fulfilled the Law," Romans 13:8 and Jesus said to his disciples, "I give you a new command (law), that you love one another." John 13:34 So Love fulfills both Law and Grace, and Jesus said, "No greater love has any man that he who lays down his life for his friend." John 15:13 And Jesus did that for us, and he laid down his life for us all, fulfilling both Law and Grace, and binding them together forever in himself, who is Love, and he engraved on the one stone his name, which is above all names. Philippians 2:9
Here we also see why all people must come to the Father through Jesus. We must have a foot planted in God's Truth, and a foot planted in God's Mercy, and only through Jesus can this be possible for sinners like us. He died to deliver us from the Law's judgment, and he lives to establish us forever in Grace.
Also, consider that in Revelations, when the new city of Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, it has twelve names engraved within it. "The city had a great and high wall with twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. . . The wall of the city had twelve foundations bearing the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." Rev. 21:12,14
So here we see the two twelves brought together to be the foundation and gates of the Temple city of Jesus Christ, the heavenly city, in which we who are saved will forever live in the perfect law of liberty. James 1:25
Also see my comparative article on Revelations 12, and who the woman clothed with the sun is, because it further establishes what I've said here, or rather, what the Lord by his Spirit has shown me.