“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12
Read or listen to all of Revelation 5 today. Today we focus on the praise song of Revelation 5:12. Look carefully at verse 11 to see who is singing this song. The living beings and the elders are joined by the voice of many angles—look at how many. Myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. This basically means an uncountable number and then some! Now look carefully as they declare that the Lamb is worthy to receive worship. Notice what they sing that he is worthy to receive in contrast to what he set aside to come to earth so that he could be the Redeemer. He came to earth in the weakness of frail humanity, yet he is omnipotent. He came to earth in great poverty, yet he has unlimited wealth. He was mocked and thought a fool, yet he has all wisdom. He died in apparent weakness on the cross and yet he is almighty. He was dishonored and discredited, yet all honor is his. He became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13) yet he is worthy of blessing. Pause and consider the contrast. Look carefully at the list. Realize the grace and humility of our King. Read Philippians 2:5-11 to gain a perspective of what is happening in this glimpse into heaven’s praise. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive your praise. Thank you, Jesus. We are truly in awe of you and our voices join with those of the heavenly choir! Let your vice sing to the Lamb today!
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:9-10, 12
The scene changes as we move to chapter 5. A scroll becomes visible. It is a scroll with seven seals. The opening of this scroll will bring about the final judgments. But also, the opening of this scroll will consummate redemption. The not yet aspect of our salvation will not be realized apart from the opening of this scroll. The promised eternal peace, the promised justice of God will not come to pass apart from the opening of the scroll. In some ways, we can see this scroll as a title deed or a will. It can only be opened by the heir. A loud cry goes out from an angel, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” No one is found able—not in heaven, on earth, or under the earth! John wails and weeps (5:4). John knows that his inheritance is contained within the scroll as well, the redemption plan cannot be completed. But one of the elders tells John that the Lion of Judah (Genesis 49:8-10), the Root of David (Matthew 22:41-46 reveals that in his humanity he was from David, but that in his deity he is the root of David). This is the designation of the conquering Messiah. John turned to see this One who is worthy to open the scroll. Through tears he saw not the lion he expected, rather he saw the Lamb (John 1:29). And the lamb looked as if it had been slain. There were scars. This Lamb is standing even closer to the throne than the elders. He reaches out and takes the scroll from his Father. He is worthy because not only can he open the seals of the scroll, he has the ability to make them come true!!! The Messiah is the Redeemer. He is worthy. Because he is worthy the living beings sing to the Lamb. Chapter 4 directs praise to the Father, chapter 5 to the Lamb. Look carefully at what the Lamb is bring praised for in the verses above. He ransomed people from every nation, language, tribe, and tongue for God. He made them to be a kingdom and priests to God. They shall reign on earth. The Lamb is worthy to receive our praise. As you go through this day, consider all the ways that Jesus is worthy of praise—consider all the ways he is worthy of your praise.
“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.” Revelation 4:11
As the four living beings begin to sing, the twenty-four elders fall to the ground and cast their crown before the throne. They worship God for what he has done in creating. God is worthy of praise because he has created all that there is. Those in his presence seem to realize this at a great depth. They worship the Creator. He is the source of everything—everything. He is the source. He created all there is from nothing. That is the power he has. He is worthy to receive glory and honor and power. It is not that the elders are giving him those things, it is that they are declaring he is worthy of those things that are his. What a contrast to the worship on earth where the created is worshiped rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Last week, we considered pagan and partial worship and how those are the types of worship that most define worship on earth. It is not the pure worship that we see here. So many times, on earth, it is denied that God is the Creator. Even when it is not denied it does not necessarily lead people to worship. We do not see the need to fall before our Creator. Just the fact that God is the Creator should move us to joy-filled submissive worship and adoration. But even more it should move us to mouth-dropping awe of his unlimited and amazing power. That should cause us to honor him and give him all the glory. Have you ever fallen down in worship before the Creator? Find time today to kneel before God. Even lay prostrate before him proclaiming these words to him, joining the chorus of heaven. “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.”
Holy, holy, holy
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8
Again today, take the time to read or listen to Revelation 4-5. Today we consider what it means to worship God because of who he is. The essential qualities and nature of God make him alone worthy of worship. There is none other that deserves this worship. As we continue to look through the open door, we see who worships God in heaven. We see who is around the throne. First, we are introduced to twenty-four elders seated around the throne on thrones of their own. They are clothed in white and have golden crowns signifying victory and purity. Further in we see the seven torches of fire and then we see four living beings. There is lightning and there is thunder. What a scene! Imagine this if you can! Imagine seeing it and then needing to put it into words. The twenty-four elders are possibly angels or possibly men who symbolize the people of God in heaven. The latter would align with the twenty-four priests that represented the whole of the priests in 1 Chronicles 24:3-5. The seven torches represent the completeness of God and symbolize the Holy Spirit, the fire reminds us of judgment. Lightning and thunder are a signal that the storm is coming. The four living beings remind us of the seraphim of Isaiah 6 and the cherubim of Ezekiel 1. They are the ones closest to the throne. They are in a constant state of worship. Even as they perform the roles they are given (as seen in chapter 6) they are in a state of worship. The first worship we see is worship that is motivated by who God is. It is not about what he has done—it is about who he is. God is worthy of worship because he is God. He is holy, holy, holy. His attributes and nature are worthy of adoration and praise. The four living beings declare God’s holiness, his omnipotence, and his eternality. Just those three aspects of his essential nature are enough to incite spontaneous, ecstatic praise! Today, think about the nature and character of God. Try to think of him considering not what he has done, but in light of who he is. Consider his attributes and his nature. Think of the ones you know—look up some you do not. Cry out in song to the Almighty Lord God who is forever and who is holy, holy, holy.
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! Revelation 4:1
This week we will look at Revelation 4 & 5. Find the time each day this week to read or listen to these two chapters, asking God to teach you about worship. Revelation is written by John the Apostle. Most believe that it was written around A.D. 95 while he was in exile on the island of Patmos. While there, God gave him a vision. He was commanded to write it down. It would consist of things that he had seen, those that are, and those that are to take place after this (1:19). This lays out the outline for the book. Revelation 1 reveals the things that he had seen, chapters 2-3 declare the things that are (the letters to the churches of John’s time) and finally chapters 4-22 tell of the things that will take place after the time of writing. The book itself contains a wonderful presentation of prophecy which is best understood alongside the prophecies of the Old Testament that speak of the end times as well. But we will look at that at a different time, should the Lord allow. This week, we will focus on a moment in heaven that is captured in the section of the book that had not happened at the time of John’s writing this letter. A door standing open in heaver is what John sees and he is taken up to see what must take place. As he is taken up, he sees the throne of God. The throne is of major emphasis in the book of Revelation but look how many times the throne mentioned in Revelation 4. The throne of God represents his sovereignty. In John’s vision of the throne (4:3) he sees God having the appearance of jasper, carnelian, and an emerald rainbow around the throne. The jasper stone(clear) is believed to represent his holiness and the carnelian (red) his justice. The emerald rainbow seems to be a full circle that reminds the reader of the covenant of God with Noah and the mercy revealed by that rainbow. This will have significance as these chapters introduce the coming judgement. The rainbow is a reminder that God’s mercy is as great as his majesty. His sovereignty will not triumph at the expense of his mercy. Justice and mercy. As you go through your day, consider the throne of God. Is he sovereign over your life? Consider the justice and the mercy of God. How does each impact your worship of him?
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17
For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15
There is a lot of emotion that goes with the word “sacrifice”. It is something that I struggle with! The desires I have for myself are so great that many times I look right past the needs of others. Our world does not really understand the concept of sacrifice, so it is a bit counter-cultural. When it comes to worshiping God, sacrifice is a requirement. Paul says that we are to present ourselves as sacrifices that are living. That means moment by moment, but it also means that sacrificing ourselves to God is what makes us truly alive! David cries out in his psalm of repentance that the real sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. This is speaking about a breaking of our pride. The sacrifices that are pleasing to God are brought with a heart of humility. It is required (Micah 6:8). See the account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1-16. Through Isaiah, God reveals that the heart of the contrite (the humble) is actually his “second address”. We expect that God would live in a high and holy place but to consider that he would also live in the lowly heart of a broken and humble person is a miracle. Consider that the heart of the contrite is the heart of one made holy. Consider that the spirit that has been broken has been empowered by the Spirit of Life. So, the heart of the humble is a holy, Spirit-filled place—a temple of Almighty God. A temple that radiates his goodness and love from a deep place of adoration and awe—worship. The follower of Jesus brings not self-effort as a sacrifice. They bring a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for a heart of flesh that has taken the place of the heart of stone. God is approached on his terms with joy and delight. And the worship that he seeks comes from the heart of one who knows that the Father delights in his child. Joy, peace, life, light, grace, mercy, goodness, kindness, gratefulness, and satisfaction all found in the life of one who is given over to offering their body as a living sacrifice to our amazing and awesome God and Father. May you know the joy of pure sacrificial worship in your life today and every day—seek it with all your heart!!
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1-2
Today, we look at pure worship—the worship that God seeks (and deserves)! Pure worship comes from a heart of a person who has been reborn, who knows God and is gratefully sacrificing of themself for the Lord—who seeks to worship God fully understanding the need for thanksgiving. Idols are rejected and denied in exchange for true worship of God. As we saw earlier, the doorway to pure worship is thanksgiving for the mercies of God. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman, he was able to share with her what the type of worship is that God seeks.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
The mercy and grace of God poured out into the life of a repentant sinner transform a person into a child of God. It makes a person holy so that they can offer themselves as a holy sacrifice. Buddy Owens has rightly said, “Holiness is not what God wants from you. Holiness is what God wants for you”. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. (Hebrews 2:11 NIV) As followers of Jesus we come to God as new creations and stand before him having been made holy. While I seek to act holy, it is not the acting holy that allows me to worship God. It is the truth that I am positionally holy which allows me to worship God purely. I have been given the Spirit of God in my life. I can worship God in spirit and truth because I have been made new in the Holy Spirit and he is in me. His truth permeates through my life. As I continually surrender to his leading and presence in my life, my life overflows with delightful worship and adoration of the one who has set me free from darkness and is alone worthy of every drop of my praise!! Jesus said that this hour is coming and has already come. Consider the worship of Revelation chapters 4 & 5. Look at Revelation 11:17 and notice the thanksgiving. This is eternal worship in the actual presence of God apart from sin. Every follower of Jesus will worship fully in his presence in this manner for all eternity one day, but Jesus tells us we can begin that worship here and now—in spirit and in truth. Consider today what it means to worship the Lord truly and purely.
At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass. They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, Psalm 106:19-21
“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:8-9 (see Isaiah 29:13)
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me. Deuteronomy 32:39
Partial worship comes from a heart of a person that attempts to add God to other things—they worship other things “adding in” the Creator. Idols are worshiped while mentioning God. Partial worship is what happens when a person tries to add God to other areas of worship. In 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 Paul speaks of what it looks like for a follower of Jesus to try and worship other things. He makes it clear that an idol is really not anything (has no real existence—1 Corinthians 8:4). Yet, he points out that behind every idol is a demon and demons do have real existence. And when an idol is worshiped, the demon that is behind the idol is worshiped and given power in the life of the one worshiping. This is a frightful truth that most people do not consider or realize. It perverts the worship of God. It is not possible to have true worship of God amid the worship of other idols. “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons” 1 Corinthians 10:21). The nation of Israel exchanged the worship of the Glorious Almighty God for the worship of a calf. Take time to read Psalm 106 today and consider what happens when one thinks they can worship what the pagans worship and try to add God to that. Followers of Jesus must learn from this example of the past. Look carefully at what happens to the children when other gods are worshiped by parents and grandparents (Psalm 106:34-39). Jesus reveals that kind of worship is in vain. It is empty, hopeless, futile, and pointless. We see this rampant among people who consider themselves to be Christians. They worship the very things that Paul speaks of in Romans 1 and then believe that they are worshiping God. They are not. God makes it clear that there is no god that can be beside him. Check out 1 Samuel 5:1-5. Realize that even things we think are good can become idols in our lives. Up to and including our thoughts about God. Ask God to search your heart today. Are there any idols that you are giving worth to? Are you worshiping demons—perhaps without even realizing it? Are you in any way trying to just add God amid other things that are really of greater worth to you than he is? Tozer has said, “I’ve got to tell you that if you do not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week.” Lay your heart before the Lord. Seek him fully and find the joy of knowing him in fullness. Worship him alone.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:21-25
Pagan worship comes from a heart of a person that does not know God—they worship the created rather than the Creator. Idols are worshiped apart from God. Pagan worship gives worth to darkness and evil. It worships all that is opposed to God. It is the worship that Satan sought from Jesus as he tempted him in the desert (Luke 4:1-13). It is what every person worships apart from the mercy of God. It is the worship of idols. See Isaiah 44:14-20. It is worshiping the created as opposed to the Creator and it happens as people do not give thanks to God! It starts with ingratitude. “They did not honor him or give thanks to him”. God is the Provider of everything that we have and as such he is worthy of honor and gratitude. But we are born with a sin nature that will not respond in gratitude to God. Apart from his mercy a person will choose to live in ingratitude that will begin a downward spiral. Thinking becomes futile, foolish hearts are darkened; people become fools. God gives them over. Consider that phrase. Look for it in Romans 1:24, 26, and 28. If people choose to reject him, he gives them over to the gods they serve. He gives them over to the demons they invite into their lives. He gives them over to the wickedness that they adore. Pagan worship is a dark, meaningless existence. Unfortunately, it is what most of the people that you know are trapped in. It may not look dark, but it is. It may not seem hopeless, but it is. They may even seem to be good people, but they are trapped worshiping evil. They are trapped believing that what is evil is good. Ask God to reveal to you the worship that pagans offer. Look for it in the news, in the entertainment that is presented, in the things we are being told are right that are not. Notice the darkness of this worship. Pray for those trapped in that worship. Pray that God may open their eyes and shoe them his mercy so that they can worship him alone.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
We are designed to worship God. Sin has defiled that worship and caused us to worship many other things instead. But what is worship and what makes worship God centered? Donald Whitney has said, “The word worship comes from the Saxon word weorthscype, which later became worthship. To worship God is to ascribe the proper worth to God, to magnify His worthiness of praise, or better, to approach and address God as if He is worthy.” At its core, worship is giving worth in your heart to God.
Godly worship is: A follower of Jesus engaged in a moment by moment desire and decision to focus on and respond, in thanksgiving, to the only true God, finding the delight that comes from being constantly and consciously aware of his presence as he delights in them.
Notice a few things about the definition above. Moment by moment. Desire and decision. Focus on and respond to the only true God. With thanksgiving. Finding delight in the One who delights in you. Constantly and consciously aware of his presence. Ponder each of those phrases today as you consider how you live out a life of worship to God. How do you consider God worthy in each moment of this day?
Godly worship is wanting nothing from God, other than his presence, and finding that everything is found only in him. It is realizing that nothing you bring to him makes you worth more to him. It is not that you are worthy to worship because of the gifts you bring, it is that he is worthy because of who he has made you to be. You adore him as one of his children and find the joy of serving him in all that you do because you are constantly aware of his presence. Today, seek to be aware of God’s presence in each and every moment of your life and worship him there!