10 Worship in Awe (1)

Who is worthy?

“Craig Vollen is coming to town!” Jen just could not stop her excitement and enthusiasm, which all expressed in her high-pitched voice, “and he is bringing his praise team with him too!” 

“Oh, really? I love to hear Mark Blackman sing, he is such a fantastic worship leader. I truly like his look and his voice.” Marion responded joyfully.

“So, you do have a crush on him, eh?” Jen replied while staring at Marion who blushed like a red apple. “Just kidding,” Jen kept going on, “Seriously, we should consider bringing the whole youth group down and enjoy the concert and the show.”

“Definitely, maybe the whole church should go too, since Craig Vollen is such a great speaker, he is so dynamic and inspiring and his sermon always drills into everyone’s heart with such impacting power!” Marion started planning for the event.

Craig Vollen is a fascinating speaker and prolific writer. He is knowledgeable, witty, and all-rounded in everything. The twenty attributes of a godly man that Gene A. Getz mentioned in his book “The Measure of a Man”, Craig had them all! He is just unbelievably amazing! What made him so renowned was that he started the ‘Pine Creek Community Church’, the largest church in North America, by scratch. The denomination is still growing by having different churches planted all over North America. In addition, he is the founder and president of the “Agape Parenting and Family Union” and is the appointed keynote speaker of the “Marriage Keeper” movement. 

Every year, Craig will make a tour all over North America, bringing along his magnetic worship team, with the gifted worship pastor, Mark Blackman, as the key worship leader. Everywhere they go; it’s packed with Christians and non-Christians, both longing for the charismatic message and the soul-stirring music.

The day has finally come, the Convention Centre was crowded with thousands of people, and someone was still trying to squeeze in a few hours before the show. At 7pm sharp, Dr Mitchell Lang, president of the Servant Seminary, went up the stage to deliver a welcoming speech and make some announcements, “Thank you and welcome everyone to come here and join us despite the terrible weather. Please pray for Pastor Craig, he got a heart attack this afternoon while on board his private plane on the way to Toronto, he is still in the hospital under treatment, so tonight, I will speak on his behalf…..” Before Dr Lang could finish up his announcement, people started to leave, one by one, groups by groups, crowds by crowds….Dr Lang did not lose heart, instead, he spoke again with a firm and decisive voice, “All who have come here to worship Craig Vollen may now withdraw from the midst; all who have come to worship God, keep your seats!” Suddenly the whole place remained dead silence, and the praise team started to sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy…………”

Your Initial Response

Be honest and connect with yourself, what is occupying the top priority of your heart right now? Who is worthy of your worship?

Revelation 4:1–6

1After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 

2At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 

3And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. 

4Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 

5From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 

6Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. (Revelation 4:1–6 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Who is the author of the Book of Revelation?

3 Who are the “twenty-four elders” (Rev. 4:4)?

4 Who are the “four living creatures” (Rev. 4:6)?

5 When did this event happen (Rev. 4:1)?

6 “From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.” What incident is this (Rev. 4:1)?

7Please circle the words that relate with God’s Spirit.

8 Refer to other translations and come up with some new insights.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

As the awesome worship in heaven began, the Apostle John first saw God’s throne with his own eyes, so that we come to see the object of prayer, worship and ministry is God Himself.

1 The centre of attention of Revelation 1 to 3 was the seven churches, but why was the focus suddenly changed to the heavenly scene (Rev. 4:1-2)?

2 Why did the twenty-four elders dress in white, had crowns of gold on their heads and sat on their thrones respectively (Rev. 4:4)?

3 What is the intention of using “seven lamps” to describe “the seven spirits of God” (Rev. 4:5)?

4 “From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.” What is the meaning of it (Rev. 4:5”)?

5 Why the four living creatures have full of eyes in front and in back (Rev. 4:6)?

The Heavenly Father loves humankind deeply; He unconditionally grants us His one and only begotten Son. Jesus Christ obeyed God’s will gladly, and for the sins of all generations of humankind, He sacrificed on the cross on behalf of them. By His own blood, He established the New Covenant with them. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in human hearts, people can come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, not only have their sins forgiven, but by grace, they can attain the salvation which the Heavenly Father has prepared for humankind beforehand. In simple terms, who the triune God is and what He does, is worthy for the worship of all believers.

In the Book of revelation, there are 14 places that speak of created beings offering their worship to the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (4: 8; 4: 11: 5:9-10; 5:12; 5:13; 7:10; 7:12; 11:16-18; 15:3-4; 16:5-6; 16:7; 19:1-3; 19:4; 19:6-8).

Rev. 4:1

The early Church was greatly persecuted and many believers were sent to prisons and martyred. Romans sent those who endangered the society to the Island of Patmos at that time, and the Apostle John was one of them. In the Island of Patmos, Jesus Christ revealed the past, the present and the future to the Apostle John, and told him to write his vision down (Rev. 1:9, 19). The Apostle John not only saw a door was standing open in heaven, and he also heard a familiar voice. This voice sounded like a mighty trumpet blast, and most probably, this could be the voice of Jesus Christ (Cf. 1:1-2). In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus Christ spoke to the seven churches respectively, and the Lord let John witness the awesome worship in heaven subsequently. The tribulation appeared on the earth afterwards (Rev. 6-9). As the term “church” does not occur on the earth again until Rev. 22:16; therefore, many scholars deduced the Church has already been caught up to heaven then.

Rev. 4:2

Immediately, the Apostle John saw the heavenly throne in the Holy Spirit, and the Heavenly Father was sitting there (cf. Rev. 4:8). John was still in the Island of Patmos physically, but the Holy Spirit made him witness the heavenly scene. The “throne” is a symbol of sovereign rule and authority (7:15; 11:19; 16:17, 18). The Heavenly Father sits on the heavenly throne and He is the object of worship of created beings.

Rev. 4:3

Sitting on the throne, the Heavenly Father looked like jasper and a sardius (NKJV, or jasper and carnelian in NIV). There are twelve precious stones in the high priest’s breastplate, representing the twelve sons of Jacob. The first stone was Sadius (NKJV), representing Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn. The last stone was Jasper, representing Benjamin, Jacob’s lastborn (Ex. 28:17-20). The first and last stone consist of all the other stones. The twelve sons of Jacob are the representatives of the whole Israel, thus they portray all of God’s people. In the former days, God made a covenant with Noah and used the rainbow as a sign that He would not destroy the living creatures by the waters of the flood again. There is a heavenly rainbow that looks like emerald, completely encircling the throne of God now, it not only speaks of God as a covenant keeper (Gen. 9:11-17), but also speaks of the completeness of His faithfulness. Through this description, we know that God is faithful and merciful; hence, God’s children should offer Him thanksgiving and praise.

Rev. 4:4

Who are the twenty-four elders dress in white, had crowns of gold on their heads and sat on their thrones respectively (Rev. 4:4)? There are several explanations as follows: First, they are angels who have been given great responsibilities (the crowns are symbols of reward in the Bible and we have no evidence that angels receive rewards.) Second, they are the redeemed of the Old and New Testament era. Third, New Testament saints. Fourth, they represent the raptured believers in the New Testament age, receiving their reward in heaven. Elders are the highest officials in the New Testament era, and they also are the representatives of a local church (cf. Acts 15:6, 20:28). Dressing in white is the symbol of a victor (7:9); furthermore, these elders wore crowns of gold (1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Tim. 2:19; 2 Tim. 2:5; 4:8), showing that they are a group of redeemed believers who have been rewarded.

Rev. 4:5

God descended on Mount Sinai with lightning and thunder, manifesting that God was awesome. On many incidences, God’s throne is associated with His sovereignty and judgment. Moreover, lightning and thunder manifest God’s might in the nature. Flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder proceeded from God’s throne, revealing that He was the Judge and Mighty One. By means of visible and audible description, this was to inform the readers that created beings should totally submit to God in prayer and worship with a humble heart. Before God’s throne, there were seven lamps; the Apostle John’s commentary was: “Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” To the Hebrews and the Church, seven is a number that signifies sacred and perfect. “The seven Spirits of God” speak of the Holy Spirit’s perfection, abundance and magnificence.

Rev. 4:6

The priests purify themselves by using the lavers in the temple. There is no more lavers in heaven, but there is the sea of glass (a “molten sea” or laver), implying that saints do not have to cleanse themselves again. The living creatures before God’s throne are a type of angels, and they are different to the cherubim, for cherubim have four wings each (cf. Eze. 1:6). They have full of eyes in front and in back, not only a portrayal of their alertness, but it also reminds us that nothing escapes their scrutiny. One scholar points out one thing, the Book of Revelation depicts the heavenly sanctuary, as a comparison with the earthly one:

Earthly templeHeavenly sanctuary
Holy of holiesThe throne of God
Seven-branched candlestickSeven lamps of fire before the throne
Bronze laverSea of glass
Cherubim over the mercy seatFour living creatures around the throne
PriestsElders (kings and priests)
Brazen altarAltar (Rev. 6:9–11)
Incense altarIncense Altar (Rev. 8:3–5)
Ark of the covenantArk of the covenant (Rev. 11:19)

Conclusion

The Apostle John saw the heavenly scene in a vision. He not only witnessed God’s throne, but also saw the twenty-four elders and four living creatures that encircled God (Rev. 4:1-6). John saw that the object of worship, praying and ministry was the Creator of heavens and earth, and those who around Him were only created beings. At a later stage, he went a step further and witnessed how created beings should worship the omnipotent Lord (Rev. 4:7-11).

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Ask the Lord to constantly remind us that He is the object of our prayer, worship and service.

2 Memorise Revelation 4:3.

3And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. (Revelation 4:3)

3 Resolve to prepare my heart and have a good rest on Saturday night, so that I can have a good worship on the Lord’s Day.

4 We have to affirm the Lord is faithful and merciful in our ministry.

5 Learn from the alertness of four living creatures; let’s have the heart of watchfulness in our service.

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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