Heaven: Our Pattern for Worship

by Don McMinn

“They lay their crowns before the throne and say, ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God'” (Revelation 4:10,11)

A good pattern for earthly worship is heavenly worship.

It’s very safe to assume that whatever goes on in the throne room is good and that it pleases the Trinity because if anything ever happened there that God didn’t approve of, He could fix it real fast, just like He did when Lucifer had thoughts of insurrection. Also, based on how Jesus taught us to pray (“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”), it’s safe to assume that whatever is going on in heaven would be a good thing to be involved in here on the earth.

So let’s take a look at heavenly worship!

First, slowly read Revelation chapters 1 and 4 and picture in your mind the sights and sounds of heavenly worship. You might observe that:

1. Preparation for worship is important. Although John was in a distressful situation, “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos” (1:9), he was honoring the Lord’s day “On the Lord’s day” (1:10), and was spiritually prepared for worship, “I was in the Spirit.” Most of us, when we’re in an unpleasant environment, find an excuse to neglect spiritual matters. But the aged apostle was ready for church, even though he was going by himself!

2. God initiates the call to worship. “I heard behind me a loud voice… before me was a door standing open in heaven” (1:10; 4:1). God always initiates; we simply respond. It was so in our coming to God (1 John 4:19, John 6:44), and it is so in worship. The beautiful call to worship extended in Revelation 3:20 begins with God’s initiative: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.” God is the catalyst in worship.

3. There is only one object of our worship – God and His Son Jesus. “And there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it” (Revelation 4:2). Several years ago my family moved into a pre-owned home, and for several months we continued to get some “resident” mail being sent to the former owner of the house. One piece we received was a catalog of various paraphernalia used in false religions. There was something for everyone: if you were into mysticism, there were crystals and pyramids for sale; if Eastern religions were your thing, you could purchase incense, statues of Buddha, and other relics; if one were a New Ager, there were hypnotic tapes and books on horoscopes – the catalog was full of assorted accessories to use in idolatry and witchcraft. There seemed to be no conflict between the various religions represented and no “religious jealousy”. Combining several different elements was very permissible. But our God is a jealous God; He has declared, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3) and “Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces” (Exodus 23:24). Other religions are not so exclusive but Christianity is; there is only one object of our worship – Jesus Christ.

4. We’re all going to gather around the throne. Around the throne, the worshipers are not referred to as Methodists, Charismatics, Baptists, or Presbyterians, just blood-bought saints. We will all discard our denominational credentials, prejudices, and predilections when we gather around the throne. Worship is the call of unity among the body of Christ.

5. Worship involves our bodies, souls, and spirits. Heavenly worship is physical – they sing, cast crowns, fall down, cry out, play harps; it is soulish – they worship God willfully, emotionally, and mentally; and it is spiritual – they worship Him in spirit. The psalmist has declared that “we were formed for the praise of His glory.” Our entire being has been fashioned as an instrument of praise. Just as a master violin maker designs an instrument to produce maximum aesthetic results, so God tailor-made our bodies, souls, and spirits to work together in consonance to produce pleasing expressions of praise and worship.

6. In worship we should concentrate on what pleases Him. There are some unusual sights and sounds around the throne: four living creatures full of eyes and with heads of an eagle, ox, lion, and man, each with six wings; flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, etc. It sounds like a horror movie to us, but obviously God enjoys it. I’m not suggesting that we dress up church members in costumes and have them run around our auditoriums during the worship service; I am saying that worship is for God and we shouldn’t worry so much about what pleases us as we do about what pleases Him.

7. The closer we get to God, the more we want to worship. I believe the book of Revelation shows us a picture of the throne room of heaven. Obviously there’s more to heaven than just the throne room because Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2); and there are probably other things to do in heaven besides worship, but the closer everyone gets to the manifest presence of God, the only appropriate thing to do is worship. Likewise, earthly worship will become more intense and real when we make a concerted effort to acknowledge His omnipresence and to seek His manifest presence.

8. Worship is our natural response to God. What is the appropriate thing to do when you meet God – ask questions? play golf? plan? – no, worship. Worship is the most natural and appropriate thing to do in His presence.

9. There is a reason to worship. If for no other reason, we should worship God because He is God. But the praise of heaven is prompted by distinct revelations of who God us and what He has done. We worship God because He is: holy (4:8), God Almighty (4:8), eternal (4:8), creator (4:11), preserver (4:11). We worship Jesus because He: has purchased us by His blood (5:9), is worthy to receive power, wealth, thanks, wisdom, and strength (5:12), sits upon the throne (5:13), salvation belongs to Him (7:10), He has all power (19:1), His judgments are true and just (19:2), He has conquered the enemy (19:2), He reigns (19:6), and He is our groom and has prepared us for marriage (19:7,8).


1. Does the worship service in most churches resemble, in any way, what is described in Revelation?

2. Considering the nine observations listed above, what changes could be made in most worship services that would honor God?


Read Revelation 1-4 again and underline all phrases which refer to worship.

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