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.
LessonGod is eternal. He had no beginning, and he’ll have no end. Moreover, God is always the same in his eternal being. That’s what the words “who was, and is, and is to come” mean. God is past, that is, was. He is present – the word is, and he is also future – is to come. That last phrase is adding the idea that this eternally existing God is yet to come to us in judgment. He is the one before whom all hearts are open, and with whom you and I must deal.
Now that’s repeated twice in the prayer of the elders, because in verse 9 they praised him who lives forever and ever; then in verse 10 we are told they fall down and worship him who lives forever and ever. That phrase is borrowed from Daniel. It occurs twice in Daniel – in the fourth chapter and in the twelfth chapter. In each case it is contrasted with the limited duration of earthly kings. In the book of Daniel we find this with King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was trying to set up a kingdom that would last forever, but God humbled him and brought him down. And in the end he confessed that he was wrong and God was right. Here is the great confession of Nebuchadnezzar: “Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:34).
The second passage in Daniel, in chapter 12, is where Daniel hears an angelic figure pledging the truth of his words by him who lives forever and ever, that is, by God. It is a passage in which the overthrow of the wicked is prophesied, the salvation of the righteous is assured, and God is declared to be in complete control. Now that’s the overtone of the phrase that John picks up here in the Book of Revelation. God is in control. The kingdoms of men do not last forever, but God does. And therefore it is God with whom we must deal.
Now, after the four living creatures praised God in respect to his eternal nature – his holiness, his sovereignty, and his eternity–the elders praise God specifically for his created works. They are praying along with the four living creatures and praising God in the same way, but this specific prayer of the elders deals with the Creation. And what they say is this:
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being (Rev. 4:11).
Now when the elders talk about God as the Creator, they say three important things about him. First of all, they say that everything that exists has been made by God. Nothing exists other than what he created. Secondly, the Creation is the result of God’s free will to create. No external force or power acted upon God to cause him to do as he did. And thirdly, God has not only created the universe, but he also continues to sustain it in its existence by his sovereign will and power. It is worth thinking about each one of those.
First, everything in existence has been created by God. The elders who are there before the throne of God in glory must understand more of the Creation than we do, but we know enough about it to be overwhelmed with God’s creative power and wisdom if we’ll just take time to be overwhelmed. How vast the heavens are! It’s worth reflecting on it. When we look up into the sky on a clear night, we see perhaps ten thousand points of light. Some of those are planets in our solar system; they shine by reflective light. Thousands belong to a special grouping of stars known as the Milky Way. Our sun is a part of this Milky Way. Other thousands are entire galaxies. The galaxies of stars display a seemingly unending array of beauty.
Why is God worthy to receive glory, honor, and power?
What three things do the elders affirm concerning our Creator God?
Further StudyRead Daniel chapters 4 and 12.
ReflectionTake time to be awed by your Creator. Do some star-gazing, or simply peruse a science book.