|Here we meet 24
people who have given commentators no end of trouble.
|First note that they
are clothed in white, the symbol of purity.
|Next, note the
crowns. We see them being “cast down”
before the Lord God -- an act in that culture of submission and worship. A conquered king would do this before his
conqueror as a gesture of submission.
|Note that this is
worship -- holy is the Lord.
|The question then
comes -- who are these persons?
|We have two clues:
|• The number 24 is extremely rare in the Bible. In fact, except for cases where the number
turns out to be 24 for some other reason (i.e., somebody sacrificed 24 bulls,
or something) there is only one other symbolic use of 24 in the entire
Bible. So most commentators have
concluded that this is not 24; it’s
two times twelve. For twelve is a very
common number, and two sets of twelve has an obvious significance: twelve tribes of Israel (the believers up
to the time of Christ) and twelve Apostles (the believers of the church
age). Hence, these can be considered
to represent the believers of all time.
This symbolism seems quite useful.
|• But there is that
other use -- it’s in 1 Chronicles 24:3-4 and 9. There are 24 courses of priests appointed
by David to make sure that the worship of God is continuous. Now, we know from Hebrews 9 that the
Tabernacle is a picture of things in heaven;
can we make the same assumption for the Temple -- especially as the
Temple is not yet built (Solomon, David’s son, built the Temple)? I think so.
Perhaps we have a case of David (the king of Israel) “binding and
loosing” in heaven! So those 24
courses of priests represent the 24 elders.
The next question is, are these the redeemed, or not?
|For that, we need to
examine a verse in chapter 5