Q&A from Podcast Episode No. 1: The Origin of the Great Conflict between Good and Evil
Question: Who are the 24 elders who are in heaven?
Traditionally, its been taught that the 24 elders are the saints who resurrected at the time of Jesuss death. There are two scriptural foundations for this view. First, in Revelation 5:8-10 we read about a scene thats unfolding in the throne room after the apostle John has wept because no one is found worthy to open the scroll:
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll,? and to open its seals;?For You were slain,?And have redeemed us to God by Your blood?Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God;?And we shall reign on the earth. (New King James Version)
So this passage has been understood to mean that these Elders are redeemed by Jesus blood. The scripture that describes the resurrection of the saints at the time of Jesus resurrection is Matthew 27:51 which says:
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
Now, there is another view that I believe is more accurate. Lets talk about a major discrepancy between Revelation 5:8-10 and the view that the 24 Elders are human. The issue with this scripture is that the four living creatures together with the 24 Elders say that Jesus has redeemed them and that they shall reign on the earth. This cant be true, because we established earlier that the four living creatures are seraphim, and they were not redeemed by Jesus and will not reign on earth. That doesnt leave us any wiggle room at all if we stay in the context of this particular bible translation King James and New King James. If we look up this scripture in other bible versions, the translation is more accurate and matches the facts. This is how Revelation 5:8-10 reads in the New International Version, for example:
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of Gods people. And they sang a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,?because you were slain,?and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.
Do you see how different this version is? Its telling a completely different story, a more accurate one. The redeemed are Gods people on earth, not the seraphim nor the 24 Elders, and its those redeemed who will reign on earth, again not the seraphim nor the 24 Elders.
The 24 Elders are the representatives of the sinless worlds. This presupposes that God has created other forms of intelligent life on other planets of this vast universe, and that they were able to resist Satan and remain faithful to God. Some of the scriptural evidence for this is in the Book of Job, where on a few occasions the Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. Lets read in Job 1:6-7, and theres another very similar passage in Job 2:1-3:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where do you come? So Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.
This passage indicates a couple of things. First of all, do you notice how Satan totally behaves like he belongs in that group (and Satan also came among them)? Secondly, Satan comes among the Sons of God as representing planet Earth, the tacit assumption being that the other Sons of God were representing other planets. In order to really demonstrate this wed need to examine a number of different scriptures, where the Bible refers to the Sons of God. Sometimes the expression Sons of God simply refers to believers, other times it clearly refers to angels. This is why Satan feels at home among them because hes in the company of other angelic beings like him, and these other angels all come before the throne of God representing the un-fallen worlds, worlds without sin.
Theres a lot more to be said about this topic but well just wrap up here for now.