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THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

Previous: Revelation 4:6c-8

The Worship 4:9-11

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created." - Revelation 4:9-11

John noticed that Whenever the living creatures worshipped God there were certain things that they did to honor Him. We are not told how often this worship occurred. Some commentators assume that it is constant, but the use of the word "whenever" (Greek hotan, meaning "when" or "whenever") implies that it happens periodically. This is not an old, boring ritual, but the genuine response of angelic beings who are closest to their creator. This is similar to our own experience of God's goodness. When He keeps guiding, protecting, and providing for us, we naturally want to say, "Praise the Lord!"

Their worship was described as giving the Lord three broad categories of praise. They "gave" these offerings to the Lord. First they give glory to Him.

In Chapter 1, verse 6 we considered the fact that "glory" (Greek doxa , meaning "honor" or "splendor") is an impression of majesty that emanates from God. It is a partial revelation of Himself that sometimes took the form of light. His presence with Israel in the wilderness was perceived as a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud during the day. (Exodus 13:21-22 and 16:10). Jewish rabbis called this the "Shekinah Glory," meaning a visible manifestation of the presence of God on this earth.

In 1 John 1:5 we learn that "God is light." His first creative act was to say, "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:2).

Glory is ascribed, or given, to the Father four times here in Chapters 4 and 5 (Revelation 4:9, 11; 5:12, 13). It is invoked again in several other places in Revelation, interspersed among the horrors of the Tribulation to remind us that God is Good, and He is still in control (Revelation 7:11; 11:13; 14:7; 15:8; 19:1, 7). The New Jerusalem, toward the end of the book, is illuminated by God's glory (Revelation 21:11; 21:23), and in response representatives of the nations will bring their glory into the city (Revelation 21:24, 26).

When they perceive God's glory, His people then "give Him glory." They acknowledge His greatness by declaring His majesty. One of the many ways that God's people might do this in today's culture of vibrant worship, is to clap or even shout expressions of our love for the Lord after singing a rousing praise chorus. Of course, singing itself and heart-felt expressions like "Praise God!" might also give Him glory.

In The Revelation, glory is also ascribed to Jesus. (See the notes on Volume 1, Chapter 1, verse 6). Notice this powerful reference to His glory in the first chapter of the Gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.- John 1:1-9

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1: 14

Again, in the first chapter of Hebrews, Jesus is introduced in similar terms:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. - Hebrews 1:1-4

That is why Jesus made the incredibly bold claim to be "The light of the world" (John 8:12; 12:46).

I recently attended a Christian concert that featured the group "MercyMe." At one point, while I myself was caught up in sincere worship, I noticed that nearly everyone in the audience of thousands were raising their hands or bowing their heads. Some were kneeling. Many were in tears as they heard familiar words of their song, "I Can Only Imagine.":

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

[Chorus:]
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

(MERCYME lyrics are property and copyright of their owners. "I Can Only Imagine" lyrics provided for educational purposes and personal use only. AZLyrics.com. Accessed Jun. 23, 2014.
http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/mercyme/icanonlyimagine.html)

Attending a concert like this also helps answer a concern that many Christians have about glorifying God in their future heavenly home. This honest question arises: "Won't it be boring to spend so much time in worship?" We have already seen in the previous verse that a personal attitude of constant worship ("Holy, holy, holy") can be cultivated like an unbroken sense of prayer ("pray without ceasing") At the beginning of this verse it was mentioned that group worship will apparently be periodic ("whenever"), not constant. I noticed that at the end of six or seven hours of intense participation in the concert," the young people said that they couldn't wait for the next opportunity to do it again!

The second gift of worship given by the living creatures is honor (Greek time, meaning "value, worth or respect." Every ruler demands respect, but only a good ruler receives heartfelt appreciation for who he is and what he does. The biblical name "Timothy" comes from timé and theos. Together they mean "honoring God."

The third gift of praise to their king is thanks (Greek eucharistia - "good grace"). The angels closest to God would have the greatest exposure to His constant goodness. For one thing, they might be aware of the infinite number of prayers that He answers. They would also rejoice and give Him thanks for every sinner who repents. Jesus said:

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." - Luke 15:10

On average, more than 6 persons per minute have become true Christians for the past 2000 years! It is no wonder that these living creatures and other angels are so eager to worship the Lord! (7 billion true Christians during the past 2000 years divided by 2000 years, Divided by the number of minutes in a year -cf. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_Christians_have_ever_lived)

This worship is rendered to Him who sits on the throne. As we have already seen in this chapter, God the Father is the royal king on the throne. He is described further as He who lives forever and ever These words extol His eternal nature., and build on the expression in the previous verse where He was descried as He "who was and is and is to come!"


Come back soon for the next installment of our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Revelation.


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