WORSHIP SONG TWO
After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,
“Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
who was and is and is to come.”
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
“You are worthy, 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.”
See the bottom of this post for how to use this daily devotional
READ ALOUD Revelation 4
I am often asked my thoughts about heaven. Do I think heaven is real? What is heaven like? What do people do in heaven? Today’s Scripture is another pulling back of the veil revealing heaven to us. John shows us the throne of God as the focal point of heaven. There we see “Around the throne twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns” (Revelation 4:4).
We are eager to know the identity of these twenty-four elders seated on thrones, dressed in white and wearing golden crowns. Context is helpful here in trying to interpret this scene. In the previous chapter Jesus promises Christians in Laodicea: “To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21). Now we see conquerors in heaven seated on thrones with Jesus. In that same chapter Jesus promises Christians in Sardis: “If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes” (Revelation 3:5). Here again in heaven, we see people dressed in the white robes of conquerors. To Christians in Thyatira Jesus promises: “To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26). Here are people in heaven reigning over the nations. Then to Christians in Smyrna Jesus promises: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Here in heaven we see people wearing crowns, the “victor’s crown” (Greek: stephanos). They have been faithful even unto death! They have won! They are conquerors!
We best understand these “twenty-four elders” as “symbolic representatives of the faithful people of God.” (William Barclay, Revelation: The New Daily Study Bible) They are clearly people, as the word “elder” is never used in The Revelation of angels but only of humans. And the number twenty-four likely represents the sum of the twelve tribes of Old Testament Israel, plus the twelve New Testament apostles heading up Christ’s Church.
The twenty-four elders seated on thrones, clothed in white, wearing crowns, represent the grand total of God’s people through the ages now reigning with Christ. They are the people washed in the blood of the Lamb. “We believe that all the people of God…shall have the same place near the throne, where they shall forever gaze upon their exalted Lord and be satisfied in His love!” (Charles Spurgeon, Revelation Sermons)
What comes next is compelling. We see the twenty-four elders “cast their crowns before the throne”. John’s first century readers would have immediately recognized John’s symbolism. Roman soldiers carried an image of the emperor, and when they defeated a king and kingdom, the defeated king would cast his crown before the emperor’s image and swear allegiance to Caesar.
So we see the saints in heaven casting down their crowns before the throne. And they are singing: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11). We are never more alive, nor seeing life more clearly, than when we are worshipping God!
READ ALOUD Revelation 4
HOW TO USE THIS DAILY DEVOTIONAL
This daily Lenten devotional takes up eight songs of worship from The Revelation. It is significant that this is the only book in the Bible promising a blessing on those who read it, specifically: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy” (Revelation 1:3 NRSV). Each section of this devotional presents a song for your audible reading, reflection and worship. Each day you will:
- PRAY asking God to bless this time you devote to Him
- READ ALOUD the worship song and text for the day
- REFLECT on the daily reading
- READ ALOUD again the worship song and text for the day
- WORSHIP God each day in a way that is meaningful for you. The way in which you worship might vary day to day. Depending on the day, you might choose to talk with God about what you are thinking and feeling about the song, or meditate on the worship song, or intercede for others, or sing, or be silent before God. Ask God to guide you.
We pray that God use these worship songs of The Revelation to reveal His glory to you and bless you as you center your life in Him.