Continuing our series of blog posts as an introduction to worship…
Worship is the central activity of heaven. Revelation 4 lays out an amazing description of what worship around God’s throne looks and sounds like[1. Revelation 4 -The throne in heaven
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’
At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the centre, round the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and behind. 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 round, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
and some of the descriptions are so bizarre sounding to us that you can only imagine how much the writer must have been struggling to express in human terms things that must have truly boggled his senses…
Jesus spoke about it, “…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24) and it’s clear from what He said that acceptable worship has two key parts to it; spirit and truth.
- spirit – suggests that real worship should come from the heart. It is not enough to look grateful or reverent, one must be truly grateful and reverent (John 9:38; Matthew 28:9 & 14:33; 1 Corinthians 14:25).
- truth – suggests that there is more to this than simply doing something and calling it worship because it pleases us
Throughout the Bible we read God’s instructions and thoughts on the way His people are to worship Him – so it’s fairly clear this is important to Him… so let’s take a look at it further.
Worship Words – part 1
The root of our word worship is the AngloSaxon word weorthscipe. The root of the word refers to being worthy or honourable. The suffix –ship refers to a state or quality. The English word originally referred, therefore, to a state of honour, dignity, or worthiness. It then came to be applied to a religious activity, such as a prayer, church service, or other rite showing reverence or devotion for a deity.
The word most commonly used word for worship in the New Testament is proskuneo which means ‘to move towards; to kiss’ or ‘to kiss towards’. When our Vicar, Chris mentioned this word recently he gave the example of running down the church to kiss Mary, his wife. She gave a humorous response about running out the door – which of course, she didn’t mean – but actually it raises an interesting point…
It’s all very well saying we’re going to worship God in the this New Testament sense but it really does require quite a lot of intimacy; for us to feel comfortable and safe in God’s presence – and that takes time to cultivate. The beginning of James 4: 8 tells us that as we come close to God He will come close to us (NLT).
Do you know God well enough to be comfortable with the idea that if you set yourself on drawing near to Him then He too, will draw closer to you?
Next time we’ll look at some of the things that influence our view of God