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
It has been said that people today worship their work, work at their play, and play at their worship. For John’s first century readers worship was more than something they played at, more than a weekly habit, but rather a daring act of political protest. At the cost of their lives many Christians refused to worship the emperor; they would not confess, “Caesar is Lord!”
A major theme in The Revelation is our focus of worship. Will we worship God or the seductive, idolatrous powers of culture and empire? Worship becomes the battle line between the false gods and the true God revealed in Jesus Christ. John Calvin observed that man’s nature is to be “a perpetual factory of idols.” (The Institutes of Christian Religion) Thus, the apostle John ends his first letter to Christians with the warning: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). We are never beyond the temptation to give allegiance and devotion to things other than Christ.
The songs of worship filling heaven must be looked at against the backdrop of John’s first century world:
Beginning with Julius Caesar, the Roman emperors were accustomed to receiving divine honours in terms of sacrifices, offerings of incense, processions, priesthoods, hymns, and acclamations…Hymns and acclamations were offered to Roman emperors and governors by people from various social stations and regions, expressing consent to their rule, praise for their achievements, and hope for the continuation of their reign. (David Peterson, Engaging God: A Biblical Theology of Worship)
John writes as Domitian sits on the throne of Rome’s far-flung world empire. He was routinely hailed “dominus et noster”, “our lord and god”. Delegates from all over the empire would cast their crowns before Domitian confessing his glory and dominion. Worship of Domitian was lifted up in “a perpetual chorus of praise, lauding him day and night.” (W. Hulitt Gloer, “Worship God: Liturgical Elements in the Apocalypse”, in Review and Expositor 98)
But all earthly pretensions of power and glory pale into nothingness in light of what John sees in heaven. John beholds “four living creatures” around the throne, worshipping God in unending praise. Here again is mystery, but the four living creatures do resemble the glorious cherubim manifested to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 10:20), and the shining seraphim that Isaiah saw (Isaiah 6:2). They are high celestial beings forming an inner circle around the throne singing, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”
Old Testament Hebrew repeats a word for emphasis, such as saying, “Truly, truly”, “Verily, verily”, or “Holy of holies”. Heaven doesn’t stop with praising God as “Holy” or “Holy, holy”, but praises Him to the superlative degree: “Holy, holy, holy.” It is significant that God’s holiness is the only attribute of God ever repeated for emphasis. He is “Holy, holy, holy.” We cannot understand God, but we can worship Him every day. We can love Him every day. We can join the saints and angels every day in their singing: “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty.”
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.