Summary: “And the elders fell down and worshipped.” The eternal preoccupation of the saints in heaven will be worship. Angels in Heaven worship the Son of God day and night [REVELATION 4:6-8]; and as they worship, the redeemed of the ages will join them.
WORSHIPPING THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN
“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshipped.”
“And the elders fell down and worshipped.” The eternal preoccupation of the saints in heaven will be worship. Angels in Heaven worship the Son of God day and night [REVELATION 4:6-8]; and as they worship, the redeemed of the ages will join them in joyfully worshipping the Son of God [REVELATION 4:9-11; 7:13-17]. The worship that is described, and which we anticipate as redeemed people belonging to the Living God, is neither contrived nor strained. It is natural; it is joyous. That heavenly worship is enthusiastic; it is spontaneous and it is refreshing.
So often we who are Christians are deterred from worship because either our efforts fail to stimulate the intellect or speak to the heart. When our effort to worship becomes forced, or when it is carried out by rote, it ceases to be true worship and becomes a performance. Tragically, few modern evangelicals know what it is to worship; and if they do worship, it is intermittent, occasional, sporadic. Though there may be a fading memory of a time we worshipped, we do not often have either the burning desire to worship as we gather on a Sunday morning or the knowledge that we are meeting the Living God.
As we continue in our Advent series of messages, we will review the worship that we shall present in eternity in order to equip us to worship in time. The study will take us back to a time when Magi brought rich gifts in order to worship the newborn Son of God, before moving us forward to a time when we will joyfully worship before the throne of God.
WORSHIP BEFORE THE SON OF GOD —What is worship? Before proceeding any farther in this message, it will be helpful for us to think about what worship is … and is not. Worship is not a feeling. Though the feelings may be engaged in worship, what is felt follows the act rather than being the act itself. Thus, worship is not ecstasy or contentment, though worship may lead to ecstatic feelings or even to a sense of settled contentment.
Worship is not singing, though singing may be included in worship. The Magi worshipped [MATTHEW 2:11], though there is no indication that they sang. The angels in heaven worship, though they are never said to sing. In the text, we read that he angels (together with the cherubim and the redeemed of heaven) worship, “saying … ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing’” [REVELATION 5:12]. The 144,000 Jewish evangelists sing a “new song before the throne” [REVELATION 14:3]; and those redeemed out of the Great Tribulation “sing the song of Moses” [REVELATION 15:3], and we who are now redeemed will sing a new song [REVELATION 5:9, 10].