How Worship Should Be DoneRevelation 4:1-8Theme: Reverence for holiness.This week’s lessons teach us the appropriate way to approach the Almighty. LessonThe second thing John talks about here in Revelation 4 are twenty-four thrones and the twenty-four elders. There are countless theories about who these elders are. It seems to me that they represent the entire people of God. In the Old Testament there were the twelve patriarchs of Israel, the fathers of the Jewish nation; in the New Testament there were the twelve apostles representing the people of the new dispensation. It probably is something like that. Furthermore, they have white robes, which signify their holiness, because they’re now in glory. They have crowns. Their crowns symbolize their victory over sin. Jesus told the church in Sardis, “he who overcomes will be dressed in white.” He told the believers in Laodicea, “to him who overcomes I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my father on his throne.” So these are the ones who were victorious. These are the ones who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. That’s a perfect picture of the church.
There’s an expanding picture of the worshipers in these chapters: first, the four living creatures, and then the twenty-four elders, and then, third, innumerable angels, and finally, in verse 13 of chapter 5, “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them.” But the elders who represent the church are mentioned first, in verse 4 of chapter 4. Why is that? Because we alone, the people of God, are able to testify to his grace and redemption, and that is a great manifestation of God’s glory. Although the angels are closer to God and have never known sin and worship him out of their perfections, we have something to praise God for that even the angels don’t know. We have been saved from sin and have been brought from death to life. And we’re going to be able to do that and do it forevermore.
One of the most striking pictures in Revelation is the description of the four living creatures. In the center, around the throne were four living creatures, and they are covered with eyes in front and in back. 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 around, even under his wings (vv. 6-8). There are variations in the details of these creatures, but they must be the same creatures described by Isaiah, in chapter 6, verses 1-8, and also in Ezekiel, in the first chapter, a long passage there, and again in chapter 10. They’re called seraphs in Isaiah and they’re called cherubim in Ezekiel, but they must be the same thing.
We don’t know a whole lot about them, but Lucifer was one of these creatures before he fell and became Satan.
The first of the five worship hymns of these chapters occurs here. It is the song of the four living creatures. It’s recorded in verse 8.
What’s the point of these hymns? Well, one point is to show how worship should be done, focusing our attention on the worship of God in heaven, but they also show the meaning of the vision of God who is seated upon the throne. They show that God is the utterly exalted One, that he’s the focal point and ultimate object of the worship of all creation.
What is most likely represented by John’s vision of the twenty-four elders?
Why are the elders mentioned before the angels in Revelation 4:4?
Describe the four living creatures around the throne. Where else in the Bible are similar creatures found?
What is the point of the hymns in Revelation?
Key PointThe chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.