Commentary by Walter Albritton

April 15, 2007

God Alone is Worthy of Our Honor, Worship and Praise

Revelation 4

Key Verse:  You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. - Revelation 4:11

These days the focus of our study is the Book of Revelation, the final book of the Bible. It is a book filled with strange symbolism that can be interpreted in more ways than one. The author we fondly call John the Revelator. While we are thankful for the gift of his powerful revelation, we wish he were here to explain it to us.

On the other hand, the basic theme of Revelation is very clear; it is the worship of almighty God. The business of heaven is the worship of God. The worshippers John sees are 24 elders and four living creatures. The elders surely represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles. The creatures may symbolize all creation. Thus John visualizes a time when all creatures will join with the people of God in worshipping our Creator.

Human beings have a proclivity for worship. No doubt God created us with a capacity to worship. But he also gave us a free will. We can choose to worship God or we can worship something else. Therein is our problem. Our sinful nature blinds us to the need to worship God so we end up worshipping a thousand things other than almighty God.

Unless and until we are saved by grace, we are prone to worship little gods of our own making. The fact is that we become like what we worship. When we worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we tend to become Christlike. If we worship our own pleasure we become hollow, pathetic people who bear no resemblance to the Christ.

Learning to worship God with one’s whole heart is never easy. Early in our lives most of us wanted God to do what we asked of him. We did not report for duty, asking God to show us what he wanted of us. We talked to God as though he were our servant.  We whined when things did not go our way.

As we grow in grace we learn that God has a reason for the troubles he allows us to have. He is more interested in our growth than in our comfort. We stop asking why God let a crisis occur. Instead we ask what he is teaching us in the midst of our misfortune.

Slowly we learn that instead of asking for things we can simply crawl into God’s lap and let him love us for awhile. We can be still for a few minutes and, like a little child, feel the sheer joy of being loved. Such a mature attitude only comes, of course, when we choose to give up worshipping worthless idols made with our hands and begin to cry with John, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Authentic worship is not always inspired by a steady diet of sweet little choruses. We need also the sense of awe that comes from singing some of the great hymns of the faith. For example, singing Reginald Heber’s hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty,” reminds me that God is holy and worthy of my highest praise. Somehow the Spirit “causes me to tremble” whenever I sing with others:

Holy, holy, holy!

All the saints adore thee,

Casting down their golden crowns

Around the glassy sea,

Cherubim and seraphim

Falling down before thee,

Perfect in power, in love and purity.

True worship of God is not reserved for Sunday services. If the citizens of heaven worship God in ceaseless praise, we can surely find ways to worship him every day – at home, at work, and at play. We have every reason to praise God constantly. He created us as well as all things. He gave us life. He makes possible every breath we take.

He gives us the power to speak the next word and to take the next step. He gives us the capacity to choose good over evil, to forgive rather than to hate, to value life rather than destroy it, to celebrate rather than to complain, and to worship him rather than lesser gods.

Perhaps it was John’s vision that inspired this inclusion in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

“Question: What is the chief end of man?

“Answer: Man’s chief end is to glory God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Authentic worship of almighty God, begun here and continued with the saints and elders in heaven, will enable us to do just that.

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