Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Worship in Revelation

"[They] sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are Your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, King of the ages” (Revelation 15:3).

Yesterday we saw the harvest of the 144,000 saints who stood on Mount Zion with the Lamb. They withstood the temptation to worship the beast and were killed by him. Now in Revelation 15 we see them again, standing in heaven before God’s throne. As always in the book of Revelation, when the saints stand before God, they pray. When they pray, God acts. As soon as these saints pray, God opens heaven and the seven angels come forth with the chalices of judgment to destroy the enemies (Revelation 15:1–8).

The vision of Revelation takes place on the Lord’s Day (1:10), and the book as a whole is concerned with worship. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Revelation shows us worship in heaven, and throughout church history, the church has imitated this heavenly worship in appropriate ways. For instance, we notice that the chants sung in Revelation are sung by everybody together in an orderly fashion. Clearly these have been learned by the heavenly congregation and now are offered to God in worship. It is not a matter of each person’s “doing his own thing.” Worship is orderly, prepared in advance, and involves the congregation acting together. Also, the seven angels in heaven, who lead in worship through trumpets and chalices, are matched by the seven pastor-angels of the seven churches.

The sequence of events in Revelation corresponds to the order of worship. First, Christ trumpets a call to worship in chapter 1. Then there is a call to confess sins, as the seven churches are inspected in chapters 2–3. Then God seals His saints in a declaration of forgiveness, while unsealing wrath against the wicked in the seven seals (4–7). Then we hear the Gospel proclaimed through the preaching of trumpets and angels, while negatively the trumpets proclaim death to the wicked (8–15). Next comes the Lord’s Supper, the marriage supper of Lamb, and its negative counterpart, the seven chalices of God’s wine-wrath poured out on Babylon (16–19). Finally, we see the saints ride forth on white horses following their Master to take the kingdom into all the world (19:11–22:17).

Revelation may not initially look like a worship service because so much of it is concerned with events in the world. The message, however, is that as the church worships God, God acts to change the world. Strive to take more seriously the blessing of personal and corporate worship.