Sunday, March 27, 2005

Heavenly Worship

(Revelation 5:6,9) And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth…And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

In the fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation we have, as it were, a template of heavenly worship. We have a manifold and marvellous description of God’s throne room, and an accurate account of the worship that takes place there. It is crucial that we understand the nature of heavenly worship, because, according to the author of Hebrews, this is the place to which we ascend each Sunday morning to offer our praises to God the Father through the mediations of His Son Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit. This worship is so holy, so other and pure, that it can only be entered into by invitation. As John was invited at the beginning of his vision, “Come up hither” so you are weekly invited, at the conclusion of the Call to Worship, to “come and worship the Lord.”

It is critical for us to note the focal point of heavenly worship. Although many wondrous creatures and features are described in these two chapters (six winged beasts, angels and elders; thrones, an emerald rainbow, burning lamps and crowns of gold) none of these things are center stage. Rather, we are directed by them to the One whose presence surely dwarfs them all, and whose person sovereignly demands our attentions, affections and adorations: The Lamb who was slain.

All of heaven resounds with the reverent, exuberant praises of men and angels who cannot take their eyes off of, nor cease to praise the Lamb who was slain: Jesus. Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of world; the perfect Lamb that was slain as a sacrifice for the sins of his people. Jesus, the Lamb that was slain; the one sacrificial Lamb that death could not hold, nor decay even touch. Heaven is gloriously, joyously and eternally obsessed with both the death and resurrection of our Savior, the Lamb that was slain, and who was slain, but now lives to take the book, to open the seals, and doing so, to make for himself a kingdom priests comprised of every tongue, tribe and nation of the earth.

Put another way, heaven is preoccupied with the message of Easter; with the cross and the empty tomb. And therefore we ought also to be. And not just on Easter Sunday. Every weekly call to worship, every “come up hither” is a call to worship the Lamb who was slain, in the company of seraphim, angels and the spirits of just men made perfect, blending our voices together with them in song, adding our feeble “amens” to theirs, and casting our crowns at the feet of him who alone is worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing, and amen. So come up hither and let us worship the Lord together!

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