Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
It is fitting that we examine the ultimate worship in our little study of worship. Who on earth can worship God as He deserves to be worshipped? Only redeemed humans can, but this physical world puts a temporary blindfold on our eyes and other senses so that our worship falls short of God’s glory and worthiness of worship.
All failure to truly worship is rooted in a lack of seeing and understanding. Redeemed humans do have a greater understanding than the unredeemed do, but Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2
In Revelation 4, John describes the four living creatures in ultimate worship. These beings are described in Ezekiel exactly the same way as John describes them.
The way these super-intelligent beings worship God reminds us that our worship must be intelligent. “Our service must not be rash but reasonable, Romans 12:1, such as wherefore we can render a reason. God hates a blind sacrifice, a Samaritan’s service, when men worship they know not what nor why, John 4:22.” (Trapp)
They say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” As I’ve often noted before, in Hebrew, the double repetition of a word adds emphasis, while the rare threefold repetition declares ultra-high, transcendent praise that calls attention to the infinite holiness of God. We humans have a problem with the concept of infinity. We are finite. God is infinite. Once we are what we will be, we will know eternity. Once we know, we will understand deeply and permanently exactly what Jesus did for us. Now, we can only imagine.
In Revelation 4:5 John notes the seven Spirits of God. Seven represents perfection. The seven Spirits of God have been described as basically the various gifts, graces, and operations of the Spirit of God in the churches of Christ (See Romans 12 where Paul lists the seven motivational spiritual gifts. For more about these gifts click here). These gifts are all dispensed according to the will and pleasure of Him who sits upon the throne, of Him who is in the midst of the throne. He promised to provide us with the abilities to do His work, and all the spiritual gifts – manifestation, ministry, and motivational gifts – are our fuel so to speak that keeps us fired up while doing His work. They have a two-fold purpose in that they also provide fuel for our worship.
The cherubim (the four living creatures around the throne of God) prompt the worship of the twenty-four elders and since the cherubim worship day and night, so do the twenty-four elders. Tirelessly, Elders fall on their faces worshipping.
This tells us that Heaven is the place where nothing gets in the way of praising the One worthy of all our praise and all our worship. On earth, everything seems to get in the way.
Knowing angels worship God should prompt our worship also. Do we have any less to praise Him or thank Him for? “Do we sing as much as the birds do? Yet what have birds to sing about, compared with us? Do we sing as much as the angels do? Yet they were never redeemed by the blood of Christ. Birds of the air, shall you excel me? Angels, shall you exceed me? You have done so, but I intend to emulate you, and day by day, and night by night, pour forth my soul in sacred song.” (Spurgeon, Holy Song from Happy Saints)
We should take special note of the actions of the Elders in this fourth chapter of Revelation. The elders credit God for their own work and reward, and they do this as they cast their crowns before the throne. They recognize that the worth, the worthiness belongs to God, not to themselves. Twenty-four elders - representing all the redeemed of God - throw every achievement reward they have back to God, because they know and proclaim that He is worthy . . . to receive glory and honor and power. (One of the scholars I studied said this and I now can’t find who said it.)
I have read that historically, the Emperor of Rome allowed many lesser kings, and these kings were commanded to come before the Emperor and lay their crowns down before him in homage. Then he would give them back, as a demonstration that their crowns, their right to rule, their victory, came from him. “This is an allusion to the custom of prostrations in the east, and to the homage of petty kings acknowledging the supremacy of the emperor.” (Again, I can’t find where I saw this quote.)
Here on earth we should ceaselessly worship God. The fact God created us to bring Him glory should prompt worship, but sadly, we sometimes allow wordly things to get in the way. However there are so many reasons to worship Him. We could not make ourselves be born, we could not make ourselves grow bigger and stronger. We cannot do miracles or make mountains tremble with our voices. We can’t make the sea or the rivers instantly part to immediately reveal dry ground. We cannot raise ourselves from the dead. All our earthly knowledge cannot keep us from committing sin, or save us from righteous judgement. Only God can.
I love how John describes Heaven as the place where there are no divided opinions, no sects and parties, no schisms. How can church properly worship the Lord God with division of hearts and minds? Everyone—angels and souls—are all in perfect harmony and sweet accord in Heaven. What one does, all do. They cast their crowns, without exception, before the throne. (For more about the crowns click here.). As fellow believers, the body of Christ, let us get rid of everything that would divide us from each other, or separate us from our Lord. Charles Spurgeon said, “I do not read that there was a single elder who envied his brother’s crown, and said, ‘Ah, I wish I were such an one as he is, and had his crown.’ I do not read that one of them began to find fault with his brother’s crown, and said, ‘Ah, his jewels may be bright, but mine have a peculiar tint in them, and are of greater excellence.’ I do not read ought of dissension; they were all unanimous in casting their crowns at Jesus’ feet. They were all unanimous in glorifying God.”
Spurgeon also talked about the necessity of planning ahead for our Great Day. Since everything here is a shadow of things to come, then we are practicing for eternity. We would never think of walking into some great cathedral as the choir is singing and joining the choir during their performance. Even if we asked to join the choir, we’d be asked, “Did you practice with us? Do you know the words and your part?” The key, Spurgeon points out, is that untrained voices won’t be allowed into the choirs above. I especially love the question he asks, “Now, dear brothers and sisters, have you learnt to cast your crowns at the Savior’s feet already?”
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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