Revelation 4: 6-11
In the centre, round the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and behind. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all round, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
‘ “Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,”
who was, and is, and is to come.’
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 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.’
Yesterday we saw how through the blood of Jesus, we have boldness and confidence to approach His throne. We are dressed in white, the purity, holiness and righteousness He has imputed to us when we placed our faith and trust in Him.
As if that wasn’t enough, if it’s possible, it gets even better. Look at what we are wearing on our heads:
“They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” (v. 7)
We get a gold crown. The New Testament talks a lot about Christians getting crowns as rewards for faithfulness in serving God while we are on earth. It’s a whole other teaching in itself
As Christians, when we stand before God on judgment day, God doesn’t judge us according to our sin. That’s been completely taken away through the blood of Jesus. But He does reward us, according to our faithfulness, how well we have followed and served Him in this life. How patiently we have endured suffering, how sacrificially we have poured our lives into the work of His Kingdom, how steadfastly we have stood under persecution and pressure to conform to the world around us, how much we have cared for the helpless and protected the weakest. God sees every good deed, every kind act, every tear shed, every gift given. He sees it all. And in this life, no one may notice or reward us, that’s OK, because God rewards faithfulness.
These rewards seem to take different forms but often they seem to be how much we share in His authority in the future when there’s a new heaven and a new earth. One of the ways the Bible talks about this is in the form of crowns.
In talking about living disciplined lives, Paul says: “…we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.” (1 Cor 9: 25)
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1: 12)
“…when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” (1 Peter 3:4)
In the previous chapter in Revelation, he tells one of the churches:
“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev 3:11)
So God rewards His people who have been faithful, who have endured suffering and persecution, who have lived lives of goodness and Godliness reflecting His character – He rewards them with crowns. But look at what happens next, this is incredible:
“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 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.’” (vv 9-11)
The crowns that they have received as rewards from God, they lay them at His feet. They deflect the praise and glory right back to God. Because they know that any good that they might have ever done, is only because of His goodness. Any faithfulness they might have shown, is simply because He is faithful. Any blessings they might have shared ultimately came from Him. And any suffering they might have endured, was only because He have them the strength to endure it.
In other words – God, and God alone, is worthy of all glory and praise and worship and honour.
It’s just pure, God-centred worship. It’s all about Him.
It’s a picture of how life was always meant to be lived. With God in the centre, with my life revolving around Him.
We all need to be reminded of this from time to time, some more than others. I am not the centre of the universe, and neither are you. The world does not revolve around me, and it doesn’t revolve around you. It’s all about Him.
Our lives here on earth, should increasingly become a reflection of what takes place in Heaven. The we become less and less self-centred, and more and more God-centred.
In a world that tries to constantly conform us to the culture around us – how do we stay faithful to Jesus, how do stand firm?
It’s by our hearts be captured by a better vision of what life is than the world offers, that our minds would be captivated by the throne, by the beauty and holiness and power and purity of God.
True worship is radical defiance to the notion that this world is all there is. True worship points us beyond the temporary and trivial, to the eternal and significant.
True worship reorients our lives to the way they were always meant to be lived, and re-centres our hearts on what is truly important and what really matters.
True worship reminds us that life is so much more than just what I see, what I own, or what happens to me.
In worship we don’t withdraw from the harsh reality of life, we don’t pretend that there’s not great pain and inhuman suffering all around us, it’s not a spiritual escapism. Rather in worship, real worship, we are reminded that there is more. There is more than this. This is not it.
The door to ultimate reality is opened up through worship. It’s like we step out of the matrix and realise we were made for more. We were made for God, He is on the throne, and so I can hop my little throne and take my rightful place, on my face, before Him.