4 Keys to Genuine Worship from Revelation
Revelation chapters four and five provide a unique opportunity to experience a bit of heaven—and John’s description is the tiniest glimpse of a mind-blowing reality we cannot even begin to comprehend. And the overwhelming truth this passage provides is the heaven isn’t just where Christians will spend eternity, a paradise of golden streets and enormous mansions. Heaven is all about God. It is a living, breathing testament to His glorious presence, an all-encompassing place of utter devotion and worship. Every heart, every sound, and every movement is designed to worship the King of Kings. Nothing could have prepared John for the indescribable presence of God he experienced. And as we read and reflect on his journey, we will learn much about the character and purpose of worship—in heaven and on earth.
A Glimpse of God’s Glory
In Revelation 4:1, Jesus called out to John, “Come up here, and I will show you want must take place after these things.” John was immediately lifted to the throne of God. But he didn’t attempt to describe God Himself. No earthly words would suffice. Instead, He uses earthly images to paint a picture of God’s glory, with precious jewels, rainbows, thunder, and other natural elements standing in for God’s infinite worth, beauty, and power. God Himself remained utterly unapproachable, rendered nearly invisible by the light of His glory. From John’s initial description, several vital truths become apparent. First, God is the center of all things and the source of all things. Everything radiates from His presence and surrounds His throne. He is the Creator, and as such He is worthy of all attention and praise. He also has the ultimate authority over all things. Therefore, we as His creation must never forget who He is and who we are in relation to Him. This glimpse of His throne is a lesson in perspective, challenging our commitment to Him and bringing our hearts and minds to utter reverence.
The Throne Room
John described the throne room vividly, always retaining God as the center of his attention. Twenty-four elders surrounded the throne, robed in white clothes, with golden crowns on their heads. And though the identity of these elders is disputed by scholars today, one thing is abundantly clear—their attention is focused solely on God. Then John noticed seven burning lamps and a large expanse of crystal, shimmering like the sea. And in the midst of the throne room stood four living creatures who were constantly praising and worshiping God. The prophet Ezekiel’s description of heaven in Ezekiel 10 may help to shed light on the identity of the four creatures, naming them “cherubim,” or angels. Their wings and eyes and animal forms are foreign to our understanding, but their purpose is clear, “day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’” What a picture of our purpose as Christians! Someday soon we will join together in the never-ending worship that is heaven. But while we’re on earth, we should strive for that same attention to worshiping our Lord.
A Picture of Worship
Following the four living creatures, the elders joined in worship, laying down their golden crowns at the feet of God, falling before Him in abject worship. Through their actions, they physically acknowledged that everything they had belonged to God and that He alone deserves glory and honor. They joined in the song of praise, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You have created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created.” And perhaps in their example is the definition of worship for Christians here on earth—recognizing that all things belong to God and that He alone is truly worthy of praise and honor.
The Worthy Lamb
John saw a seven-sealed scroll, representing “Christ’s ‘title deed’ to all that the Father promised Him because of His sacrifice on the cross.” Only the Lion of Judah, the Lamb who was slain, was worthy to open it. At His appearance, all of heaven and earth turned to focus on Him, directing their worship towards Jesus Himself. All creation joined together to praise Him—the righteous Son of God who became a man, winning victory over sin through His death and resurrection. He alone is worthy to “receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And He is worthy of our praise; no, He demands it because of who He is, because of where He is, because of what He has done, does, and will do. He is our Savior and King.
Joining in Worship
When we take time to reflect on the reality of heaven, the magnificence of God, and the glory of the Lamb, our response must be to lay everything we have at the foot of the throne, falling on our faces, and joining in the song of heaven, saying “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever!” Someday, we will have the immense privilege of experiencing the heaven of John’s vision for ourselves.