Saturday, 10 September 2016 22:25

30. The perfect worship service * Revelation 4:9-11

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9 And when those living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him that sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that is sitting on the throne, and worship him that lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.

 

*** The living creatures ***: The first eight verses of chapter 4 describe all the elements in the throne room. Those verses describe the thrones, the glory of God, and the beings that were there with the Father. The last three verses of the chapter describe what the heavenly beings were actually doing while in His presence. The four living creatures were giving “glory and honor and thanks to him that sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever” (Revelation 4:9). In other words, they were worshiping God, who was sitting on the throne. The Greek word translated as “glory” is the word Doxan, which means: honor, renown; glory, an especially divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God, splendor (Strong’s Concordance). The Greek word used for “honor” is timé, which means price and honor. This word is also related to the perceived value the beholder assigns to something (HELPS Word Studies). Revelation 4:9 shows that the living creatures were there acknowledging the splendor, the intrinsic divine quality and the indescribable worth that belongs only to God. And they didn't stop there. They were also giving thanks to the Father. They were grateful.

*** The 24 elders ***: In verse 10, the elders were doing three things. They fell down before the One sitting on the throne, they worshiped Him, and they cast down their crown before the throne. According to some Bible commentators, this act of bowing and casting down their crowns is similar to the custom Roman kings had when in the presence of the Emperor. When we studied the seven churches, we saw the great persecution the people of God suffered for refusing to worship the Emperor and the other deities. Here, the attitude of the 24 elders reinforces the concep that worship belongs to God only (Exodus 20:3-6; Revelation 14:7). Even though this could be an allusion to the Roman custom, the reason why the elders were worshiping God had nothing to do with human customs of any sort. They were exercising their free will to serve the one “that lives forever and ever” (Revelation 4:9). God expects His children to worship Him in truth, in understanding, with reverence, with gratitude, and with awe (John 4:24; Hebrews 12:28). He wants people to worship Him because they believe in what they are saying, not just because they are following human rituals or traditions that have been taught blindly over the years (Isaiah 29:13).

*** God is worthy ***: While the 24 elders were on the ground, they were saying that the Lord is worthy "to receive glory and honor and power" (Revelation 4:11). The Father, who is the One sitting on the throne, is worthy because He is the Creator. Like the Father, Jesus is also described in the Bible as being the Creator (John 1:2-3; Colossians 1:16). We can understand from all these verses, that Jesus is then also worthy of our praise. The fact that the Father is called worthy in chapter 4 creates an interesting contrast to what is said in chapter 5. We read in Revelation 5:2-4 how no one in Heaven, on the Earth, or under the Earth was worthy to open the sealed book, read it, or even look at it. Even though in chapter 4, the Father is worthy to receive all the honor and power, in chapter 5, being the Creator did not make the Father worthy to open the sealed book. There had to be another qualifier other than being the Creator in order to open it. We will find out what credentials were needed to open the book when when we study chapter 5.

The Greek word for “worthy” is Axios, and it means: worthy, worthy of, deserving, comparable, suitable. It is the root for the term “axis”, which is widely used in math. It implies measuring, and the act of placing something on a scale. The end of Revelation verse 4:11 tells us something very interesting. It says that all things exist and were created for His pleasure. The Greek word translated as “pleasure” is the word thelema. It often refers to the will of God (“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” - Matthew 6:10; “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” - Matthew 7:21; and many other examples). This is another way of saying that all of us were created because God wanted to. We were not an accident of nature. Our existence was not left up to chance. We were planned children of God. And that is reason enough to make all His children thankful.

*** Overview ***: Chapter 4 paints for us a beautiful scene. It tells us what was going on in Heaven prior to Jesus’ arrival from Earth. God's created beings were bursting in praise and worship. This was no ordinary worship service, where they were just going through the motions, and following a mindless routine. Everything they did as part of that service had a meaning. It was heart-felt, but it had a purpose. It was a God-centered meeting, both literally and spiritually. They were worshiping their Creator. And that is the kind of service we need to be offering today. Paul was already concerned about this exact issue, when he wrote in Romans 1:25: "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen." It is so easy to just read these last three verses in chapter 4 in a hurry, and totally miss the tremendous significance it has for God's people. God is the center of worship, always and for ever.

   
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