Summary: Will you cast down who you are to give God the honor that He is due? This message is both a challenge and an encouragement to do so.
Around the end of May, I was here at the church praying and studying, and during that time of seeking God, the Lord spoke something to me that has been recently renewed and revived in my heart: I want this church to exemplify heavenly praise. For many weeks I’ve weighed this out in my heart, and took time to search the scriptures, as well, and feel that now’s the time that we need to explore this subject. So, I want us to begin looking at worship tonight, and search out some of the truths the Word of God offers on the subject.
When you’re talking about exemplifying heavenly praise, I had to go to a portion of scripture that describes the act of worship as performed in heaven. And as I said Sunday, worship is more than an attitude, or frame of mind - it is an act. It’s something that we do, not that we think of, or merely envision. In fact, for man to be able to worship God, it is one of the highest honors He has afforded to us. In fact, I believe that the Bible reveals that the angels of God are even kind of shocked by the scene. In one place it’s recorded that the angels say, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"
It’s almost as if they can’t believe that God would be interested in any verbal expression coming from mankind. Not because God is not worthy, but because of how worthy He is! It implies that man seems so lowly and unworthy, not to mention physically ignorant of how glorious God really is. So, they wonder how man could possibly give God the praise that He is due. It appears that God’s interest in man’s worship is almost unbelieveable to the angels. *And why shouldn’t it be? We see several passages of scripture which reveal the angels worshiping God. They have been worshiping for eternity, and lift a continuous chorus of praise before Him day and night.
And then they see man. They see our "puny praise." They see our excuses for not worshiping. They see our failure to give God the glory that He is due. And in their eyes, in their thoughts, they have to wonder what God sees in us that is so attractive and pleasing. That’s what I see in that statement, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" Yet God desires for man to worship and praise Him. And He doesn’t want us to worship Him the way we want to. He wants us to worship Him the way He wants us to. And for this church, I am convinced that His desire is for us to exemplify heavenly praise.
Now there is a lot that this entails that cannot be covered in one service, but I want us to look at something tonight that will get us well into the consideration of the act of worship. Revelation 4 describes a scene of heavenly praise and worship. And I am partucularly drawn tonight to the four and twenty elders. There is much speculation about who these 24 people are, and I don’t want to get too involved in that. It seems, though, that they are almost like "representatives" of redeemed mankind. They serve as representatives of the entire heavenly priesthood, which Revelation 1:6 says is what God is making all of us.
So I want us to look at their actions, mixed with the actions of the beasts, and see what is revealed about worship. The Bible says that these beasts cease not to praise God, saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." Can you imagine that? There’s a continual chorus of praise being rendered to God day and night. I’ll give you some more thoughts on that at a later time. But the Bible says that "when the beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, the 24 elders fall down before him, and worship him, and cast their crowns before the throne."
First, I see here a physical act. This "falling down" is not an unwillful act. On the contrary, it is very much an act of the will. It is a purposeful action, produced by a concious decision, in light of God’s revealed glory. And I believe it also stems from these elders’ own recognition of their unworthiness, and therefore worship because of the matchless Grace of God. Second of all, they take the crowns that are upon their heads, and they cast them down before the Lord. I’ll come back to deal with that in a moment. But then, thirdly, we see the verbal expression in their praise. Praise isn’t just physical, it’s verbal. Now, there are some times when we get quiet in His Presence, but this shows that there are other times when we are to get physical and verbal in our praise.