The Worship of the EldersRevelation 4:9-11Theme: The worthiness of God.This week’s lessons remind us that our God is worthy of our praise.
LessonThirdly, the elders also say that God sustains the universe continuously by his will and by his power. This is the point of the last line of their hymn, which reads, “…and have their being.” It means that the universe exists from moment to moment only because God continues to keep it in existence. God not only brought all things into being, but he now freely sustains all things in their existence by his will. If God should cease to sustain them, even for a moment, they would instantly be gone, or disappear. And it’s true of you as well. You continue in your existence only because of God’s good pleasure. Isn’t this humbling? It is meant to be humbling, and it should be.
It was certainly humbling to the elders, because they showed their response by two forms of what we call nonverbal communication. First they fell on their faces before God. In some languages the word for worship is literally to fall prostrate before another, which, of course, is what they do here. And the point of the prostration is not so much to show worship itself but to show that their own honor, because they are dressed in white and they wear crowns, is nothing in comparison with God’s honor since he alone is altogether worthy.
Satan may have led millions of people to believe that he is the prince of this world and all-powerful, but the beings here that are more powerful than he is, the four living creatures, show that only God is all-powerful. The elders agree, so they fall down and worship before him.
The second part of this nonverbal communication was their act of laying down their crowns at God’s feet. The crowns represent the victories they’ve achieved in life by God’s grace, and they recognize that they were victorious, and they persevered in grace only because of grace, that is, because God was faithful to them. So they show their dependence and acknowledge the source of their victories by giving him their crowns. This is commemorated in a hymn we sing today: “Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore thee, casting down their golden crowns before the glassy sea.”
One day you’re going to stand before Almighty God. If you’re not a Christian saved by the redeeming work of Jesus Christ alone, trusting in him, you will stand before him for judgment, because God is a just God and he will judge sin. If you’re a Christian, you’re standing there clothed in the righteousness of Christ, so for you it will be to hear God’s welcome and to join with this vast heavenly host praising God. Let me ask this question: when you stand before God as a Christian and join in that worship which is going to last forever and ever, will you have a crown to lay down? Will you have done anything of which you will be able to say, “This was accomplished by God and by his power working in me”? Will you be able to say, “To God alone be the glory?” Study Questions
What is the last point made by the elders in their hymn of praise?
What two things do the elders do in response to God’s worthiness as Creator?
Further StudyFind a hymnal and memorize all the stanzas of the hymn Dr. Boice mentioned today, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
ReflectionGod grants us every single breath of air that we take. Even unbelievers must use God-given breath in order to deny him. Spend time today reflecting on God’s sustaining mercy.
PrayerFather, we pray thanking you for this wonderful picture of worship in heaven, a picture that opens our eyes and focuses our minds to see it as it really is. We’re so sidetracked by things here. We think somehow you depend on us. We think somehow we are worthy. But here we have a picture of the elders acknowledging that only you are worthy and all that is done of any lasting value is done by you through your people and by your power. Grant, our Father, that in the day we stand there we might have something to present to you and hear the Lord himself say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; welcome to the joy of your Lord.”Amen and Amen.