Sermon: God is Worthy to Receive All Our Worship Revelation 4

God is Worthy to Receive All Our Worship

Revelation 4

Introduction

The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ has had times in which she was weak and sick and times when she was strong and healthy. During times of persecution the weak church does not give in but becomes strong.

This is the picture of the church in the first century. She had grown weak and lethargic. As we learned in Chapters 2-3 the church had traded sound truth for false doctrine, love for Christ for love of the world, and true worship for meaningless traditions. What they were about to experience was persecution on a magnificent scale. The Lord was about to unleash great struggles upon His church because He knows that the church grows and becomes strong during times of persecution.

Before the Lord unleashes this persecution He knows that His followers need a clear picture of who He is and where they all will someday be. In short, the church needed to be heavenly minded not earthly minded. In order to follow Christ, some believers would loose the jobs; their families and some would even loose their lives. So, Jesus in His great mercy gives His church a glimpse of His glory and His throne room so they realize what is really important and who He really is.

When God’s people are beset with temptation and persecution, a revelation of God’s character and glory is the best remedy.[1]

Someone can take my tin away if in letting go of tin I am doing so to grasp gold. That’s what this book is about. It’s about getting our focus off the things of this world to grasp the things of the world to come.

Revelation 3:21–22 (ESV)

21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

TT- God is the sovereign Judge and Redeemer over His creation from its beginning, now, and forever.
Human need met by text

Revelation 4:1–11 (ESV)

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! 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 behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, 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 the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

       “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11    “Worthy are you, 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.”

  1. God’s Perfect Authority

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! 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 behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

The OT tabernacle (Ex. 25-40) and the OT temple (1 Kings 5-7; 2 Chron. 2-4) were images or shadows of God’s throne room in heaven[2]

Here, John partakes of the original not a copy. The tabernacle and the temple were both centers for worship and so is the original temple in heaven. Everything going on in the heavenly thrown room revolves around God and involves worshipping Him. He is the center; He captures the gaze of all creatures. He is the One all of creation sings to.

In God’s Word there exists men who have recorded their visions of heaven. Each begins very much the same way. Ezekiel during the time of captivity…

Ezekiel 1:1–2 (ESV)

In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin),

Daniel during captivity…

Daniel 7:9 (ESV)

“As I looked,
thrones were placed,

and the Ancient of Days took his seat;

       his clothing was white as snow,

and the hair of his head like pure wool;

       his throne was fiery flames;

its wheels were burning fire.

It is very important as we begin this next section, which are chapters 4-5 that we read it with Ezekiel 1-2 and Daniel 7 in mind. All three were given a vision, not just of heaven, but the very throne room in heaven where God rules and is worshipped. Others include Amos and Isaiah.

John looks and there is an open door into heaven, much like Steven’s account in Acts where he could see into heaven. Through this opened door, John hears a voice…like a trumpet. We’ve seen this phraseology before haven’t we?

Revelation 1:10–11 (ESV)

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

So, our Lord Jesus Christ is seated on His Father’s throne and has summoned John through a vision to come up into heaven because He has some things He wishes to show him.

John is taken in the spirit to the throne room of God Himself. Make no mistake, like Ezekiel and Daniel, John is now serving in the role of a prophet. His purpose is to write these things down to take back to the churches who are weak and ready to fall and tell them they must turn back to Christ and in repentance seek Him and Him alone.

When he enters the throne room, John’s attention is not drawn to the furnishings or the color of the walls but his eyes make a beeline to God Himself.

He sees God seated on a throne right in the middle of everything. In other words, God’s authority and reign are supreme. It seems as if the throne room itself is set up in a circular fashion with the 24 elders seated on thrones encircling God’s throne.

Two precious stones are mentioned: Jasper and Carnelian. Jasper being either green or sometimes even clear and carnelian being reddish in color are said to be the appearance of God, both stones being equated with God’s glory. Then he refers to an emerald (green) rainbow representing the glory of God. John sees the Shekinah glory of God…the same glory that led the Hebrews through the wilderness in which Moses saw. It was there in the glory of the burning bush. This glory is what gives light to the heavenly throne room.

Next John looks to the 24 elders seated around the throne of God. Each dressed in white with a golden crown. Ideas as to who these 24 elders are literally are across the board. It seems as if the best explanation is that they are 24 angelic beings perhaps because the throne room is reverberating with singing, they are the 24 singers who were represented by the human singers in the earthly temple during the days of Solomon.

In a very real way, the throne room in heaven is the center of the universe, the center of all creation. These beings that are present in the eternal heavenly throne room are amazing and very powerful.

I think it’s fitting for us to pause briefly and contemplate why it is that Jesus wants us to picture the heavenly throne room?

Like we mentioned last week, we are engaged in a spiritual war. We must keep our eyes on our Savior if we are to win the daily battles. He has won the war when He died on the cross to save us from our sin but there are battles we fight. Our battles are in the realm of the mind…
1 Peter 1:13–14 (ESV)

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,

1 Peter 4:1–2 (ESV)

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

God knows that what we need is a vision of His throne room and His power over all things including His enemies. Church we have won the victory not we must consistently win the daily battles with sin.

  1. God’s Perfect Righteousness

And around the throne, 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 the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

       “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

Here, again we look back and see this vision was shared by Ezekiel in Chapter 1. Another reference to these four living creatures can be found in Isaiah 6.

These creatures are amazing in description. Ezekiel tells us that they are golden with three sets of wings and four faces. John continues his description by telling us they had eyes in every direction. Ezekiel says that wherever the Spirit of God went, they went.

Isaiah tells us that their wings were used to fly with, to hide their faces, and hide their feet. They too are worshipping God who sits on this throne. Even as amazing as these angelic creatures are they must shade their faces from the glory of God.

Like in Isaiah 6, these four creatures continually praise God by declaring: Holy Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty.

Their faces are representative of the whole of the created order: Lion, Ox, Man, and an Eagle.

We see 24 elders praising Him

Whatever else goes on in the throne room of heaven, it is very clear that worship is always taking place.

Are you worshipping God on a daily basis? Are you seeking Him through prayer and Bible reading every day?    

  1. God’s Perfect Work of Creation
    And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11    “Worthy are you, 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.”

In the throne room the four living creatures are proclaiming praise to God and as they do, the 24 Elders fall face forward to the ground in humble adoration giving God glory. Casting their crowns to God is showing that they do not desire any glory for themselves. They realize that all glory goes to God, who is seated on the throne and who lives forever and ever. As Creator, God has absolute control and authority over what He created. Everything is in His power.

They are worshipping God for His creation. They are worshipping God because they too are part of His creation. Have you ever thanked God because He made you?

 

Additional Application

Exhortation

 

[1] The Returning King by Vern Poythress pg 97

[2] The Returning King by Vern Poythress pg 98

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