Study of Revelation: The 7 Spirits of God

After John writes the letters to the 7 churches, he suddenly finds himself in the throne room of heaven in the spirit. Around God’s throne are 7 lamps representing the 7 spirits of God. What are these 7 spirits and what do they represent?

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The Throne Room of Heaven

After John writes the letters to the 7 churches, he suddenly finds himself in the throne room of heaven in the spirit. Chapter 4 of Revelation is largely him describing what he sees. We first get a description of God’s throne and the appearance of God himself. “…and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald” (Rev. 4:3, NKJV).

From the throne was lightning, thundering, and voices while before the throne he sees a sea of glass resembling crystal (Rev. 4:5-6, NKJV). We have to keep in mind that John is using limited human language and understanding to describe things that are beyond human comprehension. Next are the 24 elders, “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads” (Rev. 4:4, NKJV).

He sees seven lamps around God’s throne which represent the 7 spirits of God (Rev. 4:5, NKJV). Lastly, he describes 4 “beasts” (Rev. 4:6, NKJV). Although chapter 4 is relatively short and straightforward, it comes with a lot of questions: Who are the 24 elders? What are the 7 spirits of God? What are the 4 beasts?

 

The 7 Spirits of God

In the book of Revelation, we’re first introduced to the mention of the 7 spirits of God in Revelation 1:4. “John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne” (Rev. 1:4, NKJV).

We also see this mentioned in Revelation 3:1 and then verses 4:5 and 5:6. If you’ve read some of my previous articles such as the 7 churches of Revelation, you’ve probably come to the understanding that many of what’s in Revelation is a reference to the Old Testament. Likewise, we can look to the Old Testament to gain further insight into the 7 spirits of God. Isaiah 11:2 lists this out for us:

  1. The Spirit of the Lord
  2. The Spirit of wisdom
  3. The Spirit of understanding
  4. The Spirit of counsel
  5. The Spirit of might
  6. The Spirit of knowledge
  7. The Spirit of the fear of the Lord

God uses numbers to signify many things, and number 7 is one of them. It signifies perfection or completion and is something we can see illustrated throughout the Bible. We see the same number pattern in Revelation 1 with the 7 lampstands and 7 stars followed by the 7 churches in Revelation 3-4 and with the 7 seal, 7 trumpet, and 7 bowl judgments.

 

7 Horns

By looking into Isaiah 11:2, we’ve been able to identify each of the 7 spirits of God. I do believe, though, that the 7 spirits may be a symbolic picture of the Holy Spirit as well, but this isn’t where it ends! In Revelation 5:6, we get a strange symbolic picture of the lamb that was slain – Jesus.

And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth (Rev. 5:6, NKJV).

John describes an image of Jesus as a slain lamb with 7 horns and 7 eyes. What does this mean? This will not be the first mention of “horns” in Revelation or the Bible to denote a certain idea. We see the image of horns being used with the red dragon of Revelation 12:3. Similarly, we also see this with the beast of the sea in Revelation 13:1, the beast of the earth in Revelation 13:11, and the harlot – Mystery Babylon – which rides the scarlet beast in Revelation 17:3 and Revelation 17:7.

The book of Daniel also contains similar prophecies concerning future kingdoms and kings (Daniel 7:7-8, 20-21, 24, Daniel 8:3, 5-9, 12, 20-22). I won’t be delving into the meaning of all of this in this article, but I encourage you to dig through these passages in your free time. So what does all of this talk of horns mean? As confusing as this all may seem on the first read, the Bible just gives us the answer. Daniel 8:20-22 tells us the horns which Daniel has been getting visions of, represent a type of authority, in this case, kings or kingdoms.

The ram which you saw, having the two horns—they are the kings of Media and Persia. And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power (Dan. 8:20-22, NKJV).

Likewise, we get a similar answer in Revelation 17:12 with what John was shown. “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” So from this, we can see that horns are used to symbolize authority and, in those cases, are used specifically for kings and kingdoms.

When we go back to Revelation 5:6 and apply this same symbolism here, we can see that the representation of Jesus as the slain lamb with 7 horns denotes His authority. We can go even deeper to analyze the significance of the number of horns – being 7 (a symbol with God representing perfection or completion) – to signify Jesus’s complete and perfect authority over the earth.

 

The “Eyes of the Lord”

We now have a better understanding of how the symbol of horns is used for authority, but what about the 7 eyes? I believe less digging into Scripture is required for this one. Eyes are used to see and perceive our surroundings. From Revelation 5:6, we’re shown 7 eyes just like the 7 horns. Again, by following the same framework we previously learned, we know that 7 symbolizes perfection, so a picture of the 7 eyes would be showing Jesus’s omniscience – that He sees all and understandably so as He is fully God.

We can see this same mention of “7 eyes” not only Revelation 5:6 but in Zechariah 3:8-9 as well. This would be a reference to the coming Messiah – Jesus. Jesus is called many names, one of them being the “root of Jesse” or the “branch” in places such as Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 33:15, Isaiah 4:2, Isaiah 11:10, Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 53:2, Zechariah 6:12.

  • “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” – Isaiah 11:1, NKJV
  • “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth” – Jeremiah 23:5, NKJV

Another name Jesus is called is “the stone” or the “rock” as a reference to Him as a solid foundation on which our beliefs and – in essence – our salvation is built on. We can see the common themes in both Old and New Testaments referencing Jesus with these 2 names (Psalm 118:22, Isaiah 28:16, Ephesians 2:20, Acts 4:11).

  • “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily” – Isaiah 28:16, NKJV

Revelation is heavy with symbolism and can be difficult to get past sometimes, but if we’re dedicated to searching out deeper truths, God will reveal His message to us. We’ve covered a lot of material, but there’s still more to what we’re told in Revelation 5:6, that the 7 horns and 7 eyes (denoting Christ’s perfect and complete authority and omniscience as the lamb that was slain) are the “seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

I previously stumbled upon this type of language when I was looking into the 4 horsemen, and it’s found in numerous places in the Old Testament. In Revelation 4:5, we’re shown the 7 spirits of God as “Seven lamps of fire” that “were burning before the throne” which is very similar to the lampstand with 7 pipes and lamps in Zechariah 4,

“Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’ So I said, ‘I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.’ So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, ‘What are these, my lord?’…They are the eyes of the Lord, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth” (Zech. 4:1-4, 10, NKJV).

I believe this is another picture of the 7 spirits of God due to the connection with the lampstand and language of “scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” Similarly, the 7 spirits of God are “sent out into all the earth.” We can see this same connection in Proverbs 5:21, Proverbs 15:3, Psalms 11:4, and 2 Chronicles 16.

  • “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.” – Proverbs 15:3, NKJV
  • “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” – 2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV

In essence, when we piece this all together, we see that the 7 horns represent Christ’s complete and perfect authority (or omnipotence). The 7 eyes represent Christ’s complete and perfect omniscience. Lastly, the 7 horns and 7 eyes are the 7 spirits of God sent throughout the whole earth, which I believe is a representation of Christ’s omnipresence! Not only Christ’s but the 7 spirits of God as well which, from this study, leads me to believe is a symbolic picture of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 5:6 paints an amazing picture of Jesus’s characteristics as both our fully human Savior who was slain but conquered death and the grave, rising to the right hand of the Father in victory, being fully God and showing us another aspect of the trinity we know as God the Father (despite Him not explicitly being in the picture) has these attributes (omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence).

If you enjoyed this study, you can find similar studies on the book of Revelation here, including the 7 Churches of Revelation, the 24 Elders, the 4 living creatures, 4 Horseman, etc.

 

This is an updated edition of a post originally published on himitsustudy.com

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About the Author

Ayo is an energetic blogger striving to use his insights and God given talents to share the Gospel. Through his blog, he aspires to point skeptics of the bible to the truth of the Gospel using apologetics. His aspires to also inform others - both believer and non-believer - regarding the times we're living in preceding the Lord's soon return through the study of prophecy. He hopes to both inform his readers with facts, equip them with tools to communicate the Gospel, and offer hope and encouragement through God's Word.