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Their specific identity is not known, but the number 24 is obviously 2 times 12, and thus reminds us of the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles of Yeshua. He told the apostles that if they would be faithful to Him unto death, they would sit on 12 thrones, ruling and judging the 12 tribes of Israel in the Messianic kingdom after the resurrection (Matthew 19:28). Perhaps the second 12 represent ruling positions for the rest of the nations as well.
In any case their proximity to the throne of God is beyond imagination. How could anyone ever reach such a position of near divinity? Interestingly enough, in all six mentions of the 24 elders we find them doing the exact same thing: humbling themselves and worshiping God.
They fall prostrate, worship and throw their crowns before God (Revelation 4:10); they pray and praise with their harps and bowls, and of course fall prostrate (5:8); fall and worship again (5:14); fall and worship, along with myriads of angels and saints (7:11); fall and worship at the Seventh Trumpet (11:16); fall and worship before the Second Coming (19:4).
Their humility and worship is the primary common denominator in the description of the 24 elders; in fact almost the only characteristic mentioned. This reminds us of Moses falling on his face before his critics, of Joshua staying in the tent of meeting, of David worshiping in the field as a shepherd boy.
It seems that the humility and worship of the 24 elders was the essential quality and prerequisite in their reaching the highest conceivable level of destiny, glory and authority. Is that also what God is looking for in you and me?