Summary: The Throne and The Lamb, part 4 Worship is About God (vs. 8) Worship is about the Nature of God (vs. 8-11) Worship is Corporate in Emphasis (vs. 8-11)
The Throne and The Lamb, part 4
The Worship at God's Throne
November 2, 2014
We are in the midst of a new series, “The Throne & The Lamb,” based on the Revelation, chapters four and five. I want to review where we have been, clarify a couple of things I said last week then draw some more implications for worship. Remember that chapter four sets the stage for the drama that unfolds in chapter five. The throne in the center of heaven is controlling symbol not just for these two chapters but the whole book of Revelation. It reminds us that God is the center of both heaven and history, symbolizing his absolute sovereignty. He is glorious, clothed in blinding light. The rainbow and the convulsions coming from the throne remind us that God is not tame but terrifying and fearful and point to his judgement and mercy to those who seek shelter in Christ. Surrounding the throne are angelic creatures who enhance God's majesty and kindliness. The seven lamps burning before the throne represent the church empowered with the Holy Spirit to accomplish God's purposes. Then the sea of glass symbolizing God's transcendence and unapproachableness. You don't just tromp up to this throne, a way must be made for us. Then closest to the throne are four living creatures, the most spectacular of angelic creatures closest who symbolize heaven's focus upon and preoccupied with the one who sits on the throne.
Big idea – Worship in heaven is preoccupied with the one who sits on the throne and is a model of worship for us.
Worship is About God (vs. 8)
Twice we are told about the four living creatures with eyes all around who are focused and preoccupied with the one sitting on the throne. Showing us that God is both the subject and the object of worship, that is worship is both about him and is directed to him. Worship is not about us, our experience, our personal preferences, or our opinions. Often we see worship more about me, what I want, and what pleases me than about God, what he wants and what pleases him. The bible describes worship as radically God centered. I also noted the absence of personal pronouns in the worship of heaven, meaning that worship is not about the One who is worshipping but the one worshiped. Now that does not mean that we cannot use any personal pronouns in our worship but that worship should be overwhelmingly about God. When we do use personal pronouns in corporate worship, it should be with we more than I because we are worshiping together. What I did not get to mention is that the angelic creatures cannot use personal pronouns because they have not experienced the work of the Lamb. So there is nothing wrong with using personal pronouns but the focus of our worship should center on God and not us.
I said something last week that many of you had trouble with last week. I have said several times that this vision is anti-anthropomorphic, we are not at the center of this vision. We not even mentioned until the end of chapter five with the rest of creation in the nose bleed section. First, remember that I am just describing what is in the text. Whenever you are put off by something someone says you need to look at yourself to consider why you are offended and if it is based upon biblical truth or is my prided pride hurt. John is seeing that the central figure in heaven is God and so heaven is about God and his glory and majesty and it is not about us. Too often we think heaven is about us and seeing loved ones. So you may be offended because you think of yourselves more highly than you should. Or you may be offended because when I said we are insignificant to this vision you interpret that to mean that we are insignificant to God. Again, this vision is all about God and his glory. The vision is described in such a way that we will feel the tension, what about us? If God is so glorious and majestic and terrifying and fearful and unapproachable then how can we approach this throne without being consumed by his presence? The answer is in the vision of chapter five, the lamb who was slain. This glorious God is the God who humbled himself to make a way for us. But unless we feel the weight of this tension then we will never value the work of the lamb as we ought. Next worship is about the nature of God.
Worship is about the Nature of God (vs. 8-11)
The worship of heaven is also preoccupied with the nature of God. 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come and worthy are you to our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.' His holiness reminds us that he is wholly other, separate from his creation. “Who was and is and is to come” reminds us of his eternality, he has always been and always will be. He is also worshiped as the creator and sustainer of all things. So because worship is about the nature of God, our ability to worship him is dependent upon what we know to be true about him. We are told that 'you are a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you but you cannot proclaim what you don't know! All of this means you must know something about theology. Some of you may not have read theology, maybe you disdain theology but theology is simply making distinct and definitive statements about God. Everyone of us has a theology, good or bad. We have seen that worship is about God, then worship is about the nature of God, and last, worship is corporate in emphasis.