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HYMNS OF HEAVEN, PAGE 2: THREEFOLD DOXOLOGY—WORTHY!
by Philip Owen

            What a scene awaits believers immediately following the rapture of the church and just inside heaven’s gates!  We will be greeted with a view of God’s throne, which John does not describe except to say that “there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance” (Rev. 4:3).  The One sitting on the throne (God) is described briefly in otherworldly terms:  “like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance” (v. 3).  The scene expands to include a view of twenty-four thrones occupied by twenty-four elders (representative of the church) all “clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads” (v. 4).  We will be treated to a light show that would extinguish all earthly light shows combined:  “Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder” (v. 5).  The Spirit of God makes Himself visible in the form of “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” (v. 5).  “Before the throne there . . . [will be] something like a sea of glass, like crystal” (v. 6).  And in a nearly indescribable way, there will be four angelic beings “in the center and around the throne” (v. 6), who proclaim God’s holiness unceasingly (see “Grace Note” for 1-13-19).  When the twenty-four elders (i.e., the church) hear this praise from the angelic quartet, we will burst into song, singing these words:

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God,

To receive glory and honor and power,

For You created all things

And because of Your will they existed, and were created.

                                                                        Rev. 4:11

                The Prelude.  The song before us today will be preceded by a sort of prelude given by “four living creatures” mentioned above.  They are “full of eyes in front and behind” (v. 6); one looks like a lion, one like a calf, one has “a face like that of a man” (v. 7), and the fourth looks like a flying eagle.  They have six wings apiece and are “full of eyes around and within” (v. 8).  John describes their song as “giv[ing] glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever” (v. 9).  At this point, we can only imagine what they will sound like because John does not even attempt to describe the beauty of their music.  

            The Preparation.  We sometimes speak of a particularly impressive voice as being “angelic.”  But these voices literally will be angelic.  And when the elders (again, the church) hear this heavenly music, we will respond in a way that is atypical of choirs here on earth.  We “will fall down before Him . . . and will worship Him” (v. 10).  According to Strong, the Greek verb translated as “worship” means “to prostrate” oneself and derives from a verb meaning “to kiss” like a dog licking his master’s hand.  It is the proper posture for a creature who has been permitted to come into the presence of God. It will be done with the utmost reverence and awe.  And as we bow down, we will remove the crowns from our heads and cast them at God’s feet in acknowledgement that all honor and glory belong to Him.  Willingly bereft of crowns and from that lowly posture we will sing as we have never sung before.

            The PerformanceThe unique and exclusive worthiness of God is the theme of this first song sung by the church in heaven.  Harking back to Genesis and the beginning of the universe, the song praises God as the Creator of “all things” who willed that everything that exists would come into existence.  And for that reason, the song proclaims that God is worthy to receive three things:  glory, honor, and power.  Glory speaks of the sum of God’s nature, attributes, and works as manifestly apparent. Currently dim because of our frail human ability to perceive, God’s glory will become fully and radiantly clear the moment we bow before Him in eternity.  Honor refers to esteem, the infinite, reverential honor that is God’s just due.  Power describes the miraculous force or energy that belongs to God alone, the power that enabled Him to create the universe out of nothing.  We, who have been redeemed through Christ will shortly be singing this song.  Shall we begin today?

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