Volume 13, No. 6 (June 2018)
THE GOD OF OUR ETERNAL PRAISE
(Revelation 1) continued
In verses 5-8 also, we see the revelation of this God whom we worship, the God of Eternal Praise:
. . . and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
- He gives grace and peace. The Father’s free gift of grace, salvation through His Son, which leads to peace. There can be no peace without grace!
- The one who gives grace and peace is the one “who is and who was and who is to come” (v. 4). He is the Alpha and Omega (v. 8), the First and Last. The Eternal God is the God of Our Eternal Praise! And He is first and last in power as well, the Almighty (v. 8). The omnipotent, all-powerful God is the God of Our Eternal Praise.
- The one who gives grace and peace is Triune, three in one. The eternal Father (who is is and who was and who is to come, v. 4a); the Holy Spirit (the “seven spirits” are thought to either refer to the Holy Spirit’s work among the seven churches to whom John is writing, or simply to the manifold, complete nature of the Spirit’s work among the Church, v. 4b); and the Son, Jesus Christ (v.5), the supreme revelation of God (Hebrews 1:1-2): in His incarnation the true and “faithful witness” to the nature of God; the “firstborn from the dead,” who has demonstrated His authority over life and death in the resurrection; the one who as “ruler” reigns in heaven and will one day reign on earth. The God of Eternal Praise is coming again to establish a new heavens and new earth in the glorious reign of the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 7)
John sees the glorified Christ in verses 12-18:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. The hairs of His head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full strength.
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
What a picture of glory! And this picture is one we need to reminded of in an age when the emphasis in worship is on being relaxed, and informal, and even casual. If the Lord Jesus were to physically appear in our worship service, He would likely not be dressed in blue jeans, but in shining white robes as we see here.
Karen Burton Mains, in a wonderful Introduction to the hymnal Sing Joyfully, wrote these words:
We need to remind ourselves, over and over, that the focus of Sunday worship must be upon the living Christ among us. In truth, if Christ were bodily present and we could see him with more than our soul’s eyes, all our worship would become intentional. If Christ stood on our platforms, we would bend our knees without asking. If we could hear His voice leading the hymns, we too would sing heartily; the words would take on meaning. The Bible reading would be lively; meaning would pierce to the marrow of our souls. If Christ walked our aisles, we would hasten to make amends with that brother or sister to whom we have not spoken. We would volunteer for service, the choir loft would be crowded. If we knew Christ would attend our church Sunday after Sunday, the front pews would fill fastest, believers would arrive early, offering plates would be laden with sacrificial but gladsome gifts, prayers would concentrate our attention.
Yet, the startling truth is that Christ IS present, through His Holy Spirit, in our churches; it is we who must develop eyes to see and ears to hear Him.
In worship we respond to God, the eternal One, the Almighty, the giver of grace and peace; we give thanks for the gift of life in the Son, the mighty resurrected One and coming King. When we look further into the book of Revelation and study some of the amazing scenes of worship in chapters 4, 5 and 7, that Eternal Praise is the only appropriate response to the greatness of God and the wonder of His grace gifts through Christ.
We see a first hint of that response of Eternal Praise in vv. 5-6:
“To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Look at all the reasons John gives here for responding to God with Eternal Praise:
- Jesus loved us, and loves us. He is not ashamed to call us “brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). He is infinitely and eternally committed to our well-being.
- He has freed us. We are free! Freed from the need to strive for acceptance by God. Freed from the fear of judgment before a holy God. The free gifts of grace and peace God has lavished upon us in Christ. (Ephes 1:7-8)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)
3. We are citizens of His Kingdom. That is true of believers the world over; not matter our ethnic or cultural difference, we all belong to one Kingdom!
4. We are priests. That is, we are worshipers and worship leaders. We have the privilege of facilitating our congregations, week in and week out, in lifting up the name of the Lord.
And as we again see those great scenes of worship in revelation, it is important ot remember that our earthly praise is not just a preparation for a future of joining in with that praise that always goes on around the throne of God in heaven; but rather that even now, as citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20), we have the privilege of entering in with that Eternal Praise, to be part of the continuing and unending chorus of worship. You see, we don’t begin worship when we come to church, and don’t end it at the conclusion of the service; but rather for a short time we corporately jump into the flow of Eternal Praise, and become part of the heavenly choir.
And so a fitting response of praise to our God for all that He is, all that He had done for us in the Lord Jesus, all that we have in Him, and all that we are in Him, is to proclaim with John in verse 6:
to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen!