‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’
Revelation 4:11 (NIV)
Read: Revelation 4:1-11
Consider: The Book of Revelation can seem daunting and confusing due to the amount of imagery used to describe people, events and places that in reality will far exceed any description put upon them by human beings.
Upon reading Revelation 4, what was said in verse 1 resonated with me. It reads: After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven (Revelation 4:1a). This comes immediately after John’s revelation directed towards the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3. When the angel addresses the church in Laodicea we read: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20). Two very different doors – one wide open and welcoming and the other shut and Christ knocking waiting for admittance. Can you see that the open door (Revelation 4:1a) is one that stands wide open and welcoming for all who have put their trust in Jesus Christ. The other door (Revelation 3:20) is the door of a person’s heart and only if they open it can Christ enter in as their Lord and Saviour.
John does not want us to become obsessed with understanding every detail of what he sees and describes as best he can. However, the passage speaks of twenty-four elders (4:4,10) and four living creatures (4:8-9). Over time there have been different interpretations put forward as to what the four living creatures represent, but the most common interpretation is that they represent Matthew (the man), Mark (the lion), Luke (the calf) and John (the eagle). I know of at least one church in Edinburgh where the original pulpit bore these images. This seems a sensible interpretation as the first thing to notice about the living creatures is that they praise God: Day and night they never stop saying: ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS, AND IS, AND IS TO COME’ (4:8). This leads on to: ‘… the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being’ (4:10-11).
While we might get lost in the imagery used by John, it is clear that the central message of Revelation 4 is that heaven will be a place where praise directed towards God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) will be central.
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!’. Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, FOR EVER AND EVER!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen’, and the elders fell down and worshipped (Revelation 5:11-14).
Pray: Father, you are indeed worthy of our praise. While we don’t fully understand what it will be like in heaven, we look forward expectantly to being part of that chorus that gives you unending praise. Amen
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