Summary: How does God intend us to worship on earth? Refer to title (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Says About the Church: Rediscovering Community; chapter 15 Eternally Worshiping, pgs. 390- 398)
During a worship service a man began to be moved. Out loud he said “Amen!” People around him were a little disturbed. Then louder he said, “Hallelujah!” A few more people were becoming disturbed. Louder still he shouted “Praise Jesus!”An usher moved quickly down the aisle. He bent over and whispered to the man, “Sir! Control yourself!” The man exclaimed, “I can’t help it. I got Jesus!!!” To which the usher responded, “Well you didn’t get Him here!”
Past few weeks talking about passages from Revelation. We have journeyed from the OT to the NT in this series on the community of the church. As we are coming to the end we are talking about Revelation. This is appropriate as the last book of the Bible.
Started by discussing the common thought among many that we can be Christians without going to church. The church is a necessary evil that must be endured rather than enjoyed.
We often think of Revelation as cryptic and a real life nightmare in the near future. While Revelation has parts like that, God intended this book to provide encouragement and coaching to Christians who lived amid mistreatment in the 1st century AD.
God just does not say to them, “Attaboy,” or “hang in there.” God offers these Christians- and through them, offers us- a glimpse into His own majesty. Throughout God astonishes, amazes, and dazzles readers with the grandeur of His glory. This helps all of us, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
Last Sunday night we talked about the present heaven. Even though we can speculate about the present state of the dead, one aspect of this from Revelation 4 is that those in the present heaven are worshipping. Those who have died are not just in some kind of limbo they are knowingly worshipping God.
The praise that we see here provides some great lessons on worship. God intends us to praise Him in a manner that reflects the worship in heaven.
Thesis: How does God intend us to worship on earth? See title
Revelation 4 lets us know worship glorifies God- first, last and only.
In recent times there are many controversies about worship in churches. Contemporary, traditional, country, blended, rap, reggae, polka? From this many evaluate worship services based on what they “get out of it,” or how services make them feel. The elders and living creatures who surround God’s throne in Revelation 4 are unconcerned with what they might “get out of” worship. They seek to exalt, glorify, and please the one who reigns from the throne. Whether the worshiper enjoys or benefits from the experience is not the main thing. If we feel uplifted by the worship that is an extra bonus. We have too often place primary emphasis on the uplifting nature of an experience- in reality placing the emphasis on ourselves- and have neglected the Lord Almighty.
Donald Whitney tells of us of his 10th birthday. He invited 8 friends. They played football and basketball, enjoyed hot dogs and hamburgers, then devoured ice cream and cake. “The climax was a gift from me to them. Nothing was too good for my friends. I was going to pay their way to the most exciting event in town- the high school basketball game. I can still see us spilling out of my parents station wagon with laughter and running up to the gymnasium. Standing at the window, paying for the tickets and surrounded by my friends- it was one of those golden moments in life. The picture in my mind was the perfect ending to a 10 year old boy’s birthday. 4 friends on one side and 4 friends on the other, I would sit in the middle while we munched popcorn and cheered. Then it was all ruined. Once in the gym, all my friends scattered and I never saw them again the rest of the night. There was no thanks for the fun, the food, or the tickets. Without a word of gratitude or goodbye, they all left without looking back. So I spent the rest of my birthday in the bleachers by myself. As I recall, it was a miserable ballgame.” Whitney said, “I tell that story not to gain sympathy, but because it reminds me of the way we often treat God in worship.”
In Revelation 4 these beings abandon themselves in intense love of the King. They demonstrate what true worshipers do- the sacrifice of self to exalt God.
24 elders “fall down before him who sits on the throne” (Rev. 4:10a). In the ancient world bowing demonstrated humility. The Bible often connects this posture with worship. “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” Psalms 95:6, NIV.