Summary: The Throne and The Lamb, part 5 Revelation 4:1-11 Corporate worship is more important than private worship. Worship is Passionate in Expression (vs. 8-10) Worship Overflows Toward Mission (vs. 10-11)
The Throne and The Lamb, part 5
The Worship at God's Throne
November 9, 2014
We are in the middle of our series, “The Throne & The Lamb,” based on the Revelation, chapters four and five. Chapter four opens up with the throne in the center of heaven and is the controlling symbol for the the rest of the book. It reminds us of God's absolute sovereignty. He is clothed in blinding light symbolizing his glory. The rainbow and the convulsions coming from the throne remind us that God is both terrifying and fearful. Surrounding the throne are twenty four angelic creatures who enhance God's majesty and kingliness. Then there is this vast sea of glass symbolizing God's transcendence and unapproachableness so that a way must be made for us to have access to God. And closest to the throne are four living creatures, the most spectacular of angelic creatures, who symbolize heaven's preoccupation with and worship of the one who sits on the throne. The last two weeks we have looked at the worship of heaven and it's implications for our worship. We have seen that worship is about God and not us. He is both the subject and the object of worship, that is, worship is both about him and is directed to him. Worship is also about the nature of God so our ability to worship him is dependent upon what we know to be true about him. We finished last week seeing that worship is overwhelmingly corporate in emphasis in the Bible. Corporate worship is more important than private worship.
Big idea – Worship in heaven is passionate in expression and overflows toward mission.
We have talked about what we sing and have seen several characteristics of worship but today I want us to think about how we sing and what should be the fruit of a life of worship.
Worship is Passionate in Expression (vs. 8-10)
Wikipedia tells us that “passion is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. It is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything.” But I think passion is best understood not from a definition but from observation. When a man loves a woman he does not need a manual on passion. He may need a model but certainly not a manual. She becomes the object of his focused and relentless pursuit. All his energy is directed toward her, often at the expense of his other responsibilities. Well lets see what passion looks like in this chapter. The four living creatures are preoccupied with the one who sits upon the throne and never cease to stop worshipping him. Their passion is a response to the revelation of the nature of God, 'holy, holy, holy, I the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. The intensity of their passion is not in question.
The twenty four elders follow the lead of the four living creatures with a threefold expression in response to the worship of the four living creatures. First, they fall down in response to the four living creatures' worship. This may not suit your tastes, it may seem undignified, not proper, or fear what others think. I guarantee the dignity of these angelic creatures far surpass all of us yet I am confident those thoughts never crossed their minds. When one is preoccupied with God there is no room for self consciousness. When they come face to face with absolute sovereignty their only response is to fall down as an ultimate expression of obeisance and humility. Secondly, they worship. That word, worship, literally means to bow down or kneel toward and to kiss the hand or foot of the one worshiped in surrender and submission. Third, they cast their crowns before the throne. Their crowns represent their dignity and royalty and by setting them before the throne they are acknowledging that their dignity and royalty is derived from him, the eternally dignified and self sufficient one. There is a connection between passion and humility in worship. Worship is always an exercise in humility. He is everything and I am nothing. Look at verse eleven, “Worthy are you, 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." Again, pointing to an intensity in both their passion and humility.
So then true worship is physical, emotional, and rational. It is physical, they are falling down and bowing and bending toward, casting their crowns. The psalmist describes physical expressions of worship such as raising hands, clapping hands, shouting with joy, falling prostrate, kneeling, and even dancing. If the mind and the heart are engaged in worship the body will follow suit. It is also emotional. The Spirit uses words set to music to raise the emotions. Singing has the capacity to do that. God desires to be worshipped both in Spirit and truth. Worship that is grounded in truth and worship that is emotional; they are not pitted against one another. Yet religious emotions found in worship that are not based on truth are not relevant no matter how strong they are. Last, worship is rational, it is based upon a true knowledge of God and his great work on our behalf. But this is not mere intellectual understanding but includes the appreciation and and comprehension of the moral beauty of God.