Volume 17, No. 8 (August 2022)


Sinclair Ferguson, the great Scottish theologian, and preacher, said in a sermon:

A friend of mine led a tour last year to the seven churches of the book of Revelation. I said, “Did you go to the island of Patmos?” “No,” he said, “I asked the people about going to Patmos, and they said, ‘It would take you a day to get there, and a day to get back, and when you get to Patmos you don’t see anything.’” And I thought to myself, “Tell that one to the Apostle John!!”

The aged Apostle John, exiled on the island of Patmos, saw, and heard, a lot, and tells us about it in the book of Revelation. (Ferguson goes on to make application to our worship today: that it’s possible to be “in the building” but to “see nothing.”)


John “was in the Spirit (not just “in the building”) on the Lord’s Day” (1:10), and sees many amazing visions, as we read throughout the book. But none greater than the vision in chapter 1 of the glorified Christ himself. Indeed, John starts his account by telling us that what he writes is the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1).

Jean-Jacques von Allmen wrote, “the place of worship is essentially the place where Christ is found.” Revelation 1 is such a place of worship. John sees a vision of the glorified Christ:

. . . 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. (1:13-16)

What a picture of glory! And this picture is one we need to be reminded of in an age when much emphasis in corporate 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. And, rather than chumming it up with him, we would fall at his feet, as did John. “Rejoice with trembling!” (Psalm 2:11)

Karen Burton Mains puts it in this powerful way:

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.

“Introduction” to the hymnal Sing Joyfully! (Tabernacle Publishing Co., 1969)

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. (1:5-6)


In this chapter John gets to look into the very throne room of God in heaven:

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)

and 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.

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!” (Isaiah 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! The never-ceasing praise of God—eternal praise.

Then we read that:

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; they consider God worthy of “glory and honor and power” because he is the Creator. 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.


In Revelation 4, we saw Eternal Praise offered up to God as Creator. In Revelation 5, he is given Eternal Praise because He is also the Redeemer.

Then I saw in the right hand of Him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” (5:2)

Then Christ is introduced:

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain. (5:5-6)

Here we see something of the wonder and mystery of the Incarnation: One who is Lion and Lamb, who is God and man, who died yet who is alive forevermore.

Though Jesus in His humanity is actively involved in leading us in our worship of the Father (see Worship Notes  ), as God He is of course also worthy of being worshiped, and that is what we see here in Revelation 5. He is worthy of eternal praise because:

The tremendous scene continues:

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (5:11-14)

Look at all the affirmations of God’s worthiness in Revelation 4 and 5:

glory, honor, thanks (4:9), glory, honor, power (4:11); power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, blessing (5:12); blessing, honor, glory, might (5:13)

Not even the angels of heaven can find enough ways to declare God’s worth!


John sees a “great multitude” with a single, unified message: eternal praise to God and to the Lamb.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (7:9-10)

There is:

  • a “great multitude” (“that no one could number”)
  • a great diversity: (“all tribes and peoples and languages”)
  • a great sound: (“crying with a loud voice”)
  • a great praise: (“blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might”)
  • a great God who is praised (“be to our God forever and ever”)

What a sight and sound that will be! We can only imagine: a huge mass of humanity, as far as the eye can see, of incredible diversity, yet all unified in lifting their loud praises to God and to the Lamb! To which the angelic host add their exclamations of eternal praise:

And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (7:11-12)


In this climactic book of the Bible, we see the gospel’s call to worship go out one more time to all the earth:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (14:6-7)

The call is for all peoples to worship and give glory to the Creator, the only one worthy of worship.


This climactic scene is punctuated repeatedly with cries of “Hallelujah!”—as we have seen in Chapter 17, the plural command to praise God, in this instance for his great work of final judgment, his final consummation of the “marriage of the Lamb, and the irruption of his eternal rule.

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for His judgments are true and just;
for He has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of His servants.”

The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying,

“Amen. Hallelujah!”

And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,
all you His servants,
you who fear Him,
small and great.”

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give Him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready.” (19:1-7)


And finally, in the new heavens and new earth, we see that the worship of God will be complete:

“The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.” (22:3)

And the glory of God will fill all in all:

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (21:23)

And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (22:5)

And the angel’s stern imperative to John (in the last chapter of the Bible) applies to the entire narrative of the Bible, to all of mankind and to all of creation:

“Worship GOD.” (22:9)

Scroll to Top