How Worship Should Be DoneRevelation 4:1-8Theme: Reverence for holiness.This week’s lessons teach us the appropriate way to approach the Almighty. LessonIn this lesson we’ll be studying Revelation 4 which is the first introduction in this book to what heaven is like. I want to begin by describing a rather extraordinary worship service. It took place on a day that had been set apart as a festival to worship God. People rose early and offered sacrifices, and then they enjoyed a fellowship meal. Everyone took part, and they were so involved in their worship that they then began to dance before God in celebration.
There are many worship services like that today. The only problem is that the worship I’m describing is the worship of the people of Israel around the golden calf. God was not pleased with that worship. The lesson of the story is that clearly not everything that passes for worship pleases God. We have the idea today that anything we may do must please God because, after all, we’re the ones who are doing it; and we think God should be pleased with any offering we might make. We should learn that not all kinds of worship please God. On the contrary, God is very displeased with some kinds of worship.
So what kind of worship is it that really pleases God? The Psalms certainly provide patterns for how our worship should be when we come together to worship God; but surely there’s no better section of the Bible to do that than Revelation 4 and 5 because here a door is opened into heaven, and we get a glimpse of the entire creation joining together in the worship of the Almighty. It’s led off, in chapter 4, by a hymn, sung by what are called four living creatures who praise God day and night. This is what they say: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” The chapter begins with the picture of a door standing open in heaven (verse 1), with a voice calling to John, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” This is the third door, so far, in Revelation. There was also a door mentioned in Christ’s letter to the church of Philadelphia. Jesus said, “I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut” – it was a door of opportunity. There’s also the door mentioned in the letter to the church of Laodicea. It was a door that the people of that church had closed against Christ. Here you have a door of revelation. John is invited to come up and he’s shown the first of the visions that are going to continue throughout this book.
What does the imagery of these visions signify? John’s experience of being caught up to heaven is not the rapture of the saints, even assuming that there is such a thing as a rapture. He alone is given the revelation that he is now communicating to us. Here, all it means is that after John had received the letters to the seven churches, he heard a voice summoning him to heaven, which he tells us about in chapter 4. So the sequence here is the sequence of John’s experiences, not historical events. We have to remember that the Book of Revelation is trying to give us a way of looking at all of life and history from God’s point of view. So the vision of the throne room in chapters 4 and 5, which we’re studying now, is to remind believers at all times and in all places that the holy, omnipotent, and omniscient God is in control of history. It also reminds us that our primary duty and responsibility in all things, along with the whole of the creation, is to worship and glorify God.
How is the Book of Psalms helpful in understanding worship that pleases God?
Name the three doors found in Revelation thus far.
How does Hebrews 9:23 help us understand this portion of Revelation?
Further StudyRead the story of the golden calf in Exodus 32. Note all the things that displeased God in this incident.