Volume 13, No. 8 (August 2018)
ETERNAL PRAISE AND HUMAN HISTORY
(Revelation 4 & 5) (part 1)
In Revelation chapter 4 John gets a look into the very throne room of God in heaven, where we see Eternal Praise going on:
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!… 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. (4:1-3)
John has reached the very limits of human language in trying to describe the wonder of what He sees: God Himself on His throne!
He also observes what apparently was a group of angelic creatures whom he calls the “twenty-four elders”:
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. (4:4)
John goes on to describe the throne and the scene around it:
From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder,.. (4:5a)
And John also sees another set of angelic creatures, which he calls “four living creatures”:
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. (4:6-7)
These remarkable creatures are involved in an equally remarkable activity:
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!” (4:8)
They praise God, who is Holy, who is Lord, who is Almighty, who is the Eternal One. The God of OUR Eternal Praise, as we have seen the last few months, is likewise the God of THEIR Eternal Praise!
And here is another remarkable thing to notice. When Isaiah was granted his vision of the throne room of God, we read in Isaiah 6 that the seraphim called to one another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” (6:3)
So in Isaiah 6 angelic creatures are declaring “Holy, Holy, Holy;” and in Revelation 4 they are still declaring “Holy, Holy, Holy”—800 years later! This is indeed Eternal Praise!
Then we read:
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,
“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.” (4:10-11)
The angelic beings, as they bow and worship and cast their crowns, speak of God’s supreme worthiness. We’ll come back to this idea of worthiness later, because the theme comes up again in chapter 5.
But now notice that the angels consider God worthy of “glory and honor and power” because He is the Creator.
You see, the fact that God is the Creator is the most basic, foundational truth we can learn about God. In fact, it’s the very first thing we learn about God in the Bible: Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning…” Everything that is not God was made by God. And so He is totally and absolutely distinct from everything else that exists, because He made everything that exists. And that is why God is the only one worthy of worship, as the 24 elders say here in Revelation 4.
Eternal Praise is to be given to God who is holy, who is eternal, who is worthy, who is Creator. The Eternal Praise that continually goes on in heaven is built on this recognition of God’s supreme worthiness as our holy, eternal Creator God.
HUMAN HISTORY, however, is a different story. God does not, not yet, receive all the praise and honor of which He alone is worthy. There are in the world competing worships.
It has often been pointed out that the problem is not that there are people in this world who do not worship; rather the problem is that so many people worship the wrong thing. Everybody worships. All people give their heart loyalty to something or someone.
Next month we will continue by considering the centrality of worship in human history.`