Worship in Heaven
1After this, I looked and saw a door that opened into heaven. Then the voice that had spoken to me at first and that sounded like a trumpet said, “Come up here! I will show you what must happen next.” 2 Right then the Spirit took control of me, and there in heaven I saw a throne and someone sitting on it. 3The one who was sitting there sparkled like precious stones of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow that looked like an emerald surrounded the throne.
4Twenty-four other thrones were in a circle around that throne. And on each of these thrones there was an elder dressed in white clothes and wearing a gold crown. 5 Flashes of lightning and roars of thunder came out from the throne in the center of the circle. Seven torches, which are the seven spirits of God, were burning in front of the throne. 6 Also in front of the throne was something that looked like a glass sea, clear as crystal.
Around the throne in the center were four living creatures covered front and back with eyes. 7The first creature was like a lion, the second one was like a bull, the third one had the face of a human, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings, and their bodies were covered with eyes. Day and night they never stopped singing,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord,
the all-powerful God,
who was and is
and is coming!”
9The living creatures kept praising, honoring, and thanking the one who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever. 10At the same time the 24 elders knelt down before the one sitting on the throne. And as they worshiped the one who lives forever, they placed their crowns in front of the throne and said,
11 “Our Lord and God,
you are worthy
to receive glory,
honor, and power.
You created all things,
and by your decision they are
and were created.”
Many Bible readers avoid this book, finding it impenetrable, even scary. It is mysterious, but it is also beautiful and, above all, utterly relevant for Christian living. So, don’t be afraid.
In the opening chapters of Revelation Christ is walking around his churches on earth (1:13). As we open chapter 4 the same Christ is standing before God’s throne in heaven. Heaven and earth are more closely linked than we imagine. The throne dominates the chapter, magnificent and dazzling. There is thunder, lightning and fire, an awesome scene. Well, yes, except that as John takes a closer look at the throne he sees ‘someone sitting on it.’ Then he sees a rainbow circling the throne, the sign of God’s covenant faithfulness (see Gen 9). So our beautiful and broken world is not at the mercy of an impersonal force, but in the hands of a loving God. What a relief!
Gathered around the central throne are four strange creatures, all eyes and wings, representing the created world, and around them twenty four elders sitting on thrones, representing the Church. What is going on? The answer is wall to wall worship. Heaven, God’s place, is filled with noise and light and colour and endless song. ‘Rest in peace?’ I think it’s unlikely. Our eternal destiny is to be ‘lost in wonder, love and praise’ (Charles Wesley, Love divine, all loves excelling, verse 3). It is not that ceaseless worship will be our sole occupation, but it will be our constant inclination. That being the case, we need to keep practising now as we offer our lives, day by day, to the One who sits on the throne (see Romans 12:1).
Father in heaven, Thank you that you hold the world, and my life, in your hands. Help me this day to worship you with renewed gratitude and in eager anticipation of the life of heaven. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.