Text: Revelation 4

Much controversy rages today on how worship ought to be conducted. Should
corporate worship be “traditional” or “contemporary”? How should one dress for
a worship service? Should we sing only psalms, or can we sing hymns? How
about contemporary tunes? Can we use instruments such as the modern drum sets
or electric guitars? Should the tunes reflect the cultural changes of the day, or are
there rhythms and tunes which are inherently unacceptable?

On the other hand, there are those who may find going to church on the Lord’s
Day to be a cold joyless routine. They sing the hymns coldly. Their hearts wander
during prayer and the sermon. There seems nothing to look forward to every
Lord’s Day and they wish things can be done differently.

Many of these issues arise because we forget what worship is and that God is the
center of our worship. Worship becomes vanity once the focus shifts to man, and
the pleasing of our flesh. We need to understand that only God is worthy of
worship, and He demands that we worship Him exclusively.

Revelation 4-5 is one passage of Scripture which teaches us why God is worthy
of worship. The theme of the two chapters is set forth in Revelation 4:10-11 and
Revelation 5:9-10, “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on
the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns
before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour
and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and
were created.” (Rev. 4:10-11) “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; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we
shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)

Revelation 4-5 is significant because it offers us a glimpse of heaven. It reveals to
us that heaven is a place of worship. The worship of our glorious God will be the
focus and preoccupation of the saints for eternity. It is therefore sad that we
struggle in the worship of God while we dwell on earth below. There is much for
us to ponder as we consider how the creatures in heaven are so consumed in their
worship of the One living and true God.

In the Revelation 1-3, God evaluates the seven churches of Asia, showing how
judgment begins in the house of the Lord. The same standard of how
holiness applies to all – God is no respecter of persons. Having judged His
own, He is now going to judge the rest of the world. Revelation 4-5 thus sets
forth the qualification of the Lord to judge the world. He is worthy of all
worship, and therefore worthy to judge the world. As this rightful worship
is not rendered unto the Lord, He is therefore justified to judge the world.

Revelation 4: The Father is Worthy

Because He is Absolutely Sovereign

The throne depicts one who has power and authority. The fact that it is set in
heaven shows that this throne is above all thrones in this world. The kings are
sovereign over the domains which the Lord has allotted to them, but their
reign does not extend beyond their domains. Only God’s sovereignty is
absolute and universal. His sovereignty is also not limited by time as He is
eternal, unchangeable and immutable (see v.10) .Thus, 1 Timothy 6:15 is
described as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of

Who is the one who is seated on the throne? Since Christ appears as the Lamb
that opens the sealed book in Revelation 5, and the Holy Spirit is depicted as
being sent forth from the throne, the one who is seated on the throne is none
other than God the Father. The fact that he is sitting shows that he is actively
ruling as opposed to being passive. He is not like the god of the deists who
teach of a god who has created the world and has gone to sleep. He is in
control of all the affairs of this world. His eternal decrees shall stand and not
be destroyed.

The splendour of God and His rule is seen also in the depiction of His
appearance as the precious stones of “jasper” and “sardine”. Interestingly, the
jasper and sardine stones are the first and last stones on the breastplate of the
high priest (see Exo. 28:17). This identifies the Sovereign as none other than
the God of Israel, who is the One living and true God.

Lastly, we see how the Lord is described as Lord God Almighty (v.8). Unlike
man whose authority is limited to the domain which the Lord has permitted
(c.f. Rom. 13:2), the Lord is absolutely powerful over everything in the
physical and spiritual realm. There is none that can stand against God and

Because He is Holy

The scene involving the four beasts (i.e. cherubim, see Ezekiel 1) is similar to
that in Isaiah 6 (where we have the seraphim instead of the cherubim). The
purity and perfection of God comes to the fore. The perfection of the Lord is
seen in how the cherubim covered their faces and feet, indicating how they
could not see God directly. The holiness of God is also highlighted here in
contrast with the wickedness of man. The Scripture emphatically declares, “As
it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that
understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the
way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no,
not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used
deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and
bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their
ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before
their eyes.” (Rom. 3:10-18 ) Thus, God is worthy to judge the world and will
surely punish the wicked.

The holiness of God also demands that our worship must be done in the beauty
of holiness, with clean hands and a pure heart (c.f. Ps. 29:2; 24:4). When we
regard iniquity in our hearts, our worship is but an abomination to the Lord.
When there is much envying and strife among worshippers, how can the Lord
accept such worship which is rendered unto Him?

Because He is the Creator

The creature can never be higher than the creator. In Psalm 139:14, we see David
praising God for how he is, “fearfully and wonderfully made”. We also see the
glory, wisdom and power of God in creation all around us, every moment of
every day (see Psa. 19:1-6). Should not the sons of man render all worship to the
glory of His name? Let all creatures kowtow before God in humble adoration.
(To be continued)

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement