Every Mouth Will Praise Him!

The first entry in this series can be found here.
The previous entry can be found here.

What kind of music do you like?

  • Metal?
  • Rap?
  • Rock?
  • Country?
  • Dubstep?
  • Classical?

What do you think about when you think about heaven? (I promise these questions are related.)

If you’re like the average Christian in the 21st Century, you probably believe that heaven is a place in the clouds, where Christians are transformed into angels who play harps for Jesus.

Unfortunately, this is a caricature. Though we will praise God for eternity, we will not be transformed into angels, and we are not necessarily going to be plucking away at harps.

We now find ourselves in the concluding passage of John’s first vision of heaven. John writes as follows in Revelation 5:8-14,

When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed ⌊people⌋ for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. They said with a loud voice:
The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!
I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say:
Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

What we see in this portion of Revelation is the difference between talking about God–even singing about God–and real, heartfelt worship. But we’ll get to that in a moment. As we move forward, it is essential to note that the recorded words of praise get more and more generic as the scope of those speaking grows more and more inclusive. Allow me to explain.

In verses 8-10, we see the praise of the church, as portrayed by the elders:

When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they sang a new song:
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed ⌊people⌋ for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.

The first thing to notice is that both the four living creatures and the 24 elders “fell down before the Lamb.” This is important because of verse 14. But, again, we’ll get there in a moment.

The next thing to notice is what the elders are holding. They are holding harps–literally: cithari–and bowls of incense. At the very least, the point John is here making is that music accompanies prayer. This is why the book of Psalms is 150 musical prayers. There is nothing sub-Christian about musical instruments being used to sing praises to God. The church possesses harps with which to praise God (cf. 15:2 for further proof). And before you say, “Okay, we can sing with harps, but guitars and drums and synthesizers are demonic instruments,” i would point out that we get our modern word “guitar” from cithari.

Woman playing a cithara.

The prayers of God’s people are sweet incense to the nostrils of God. He loves it when we pray. We please God by our prayers. Why do we fail to pray as much as we could? (I’m certainly also asking myself that question.)

To keep this post from getting excessively long, i won’t break down every word of these songs, but in this one, the main point is what Christ did for the church. He shed His blood for them and set them apart from the rest of humanity. This song is the most personal of all the songs sung in these verses.

In verses 11-12, we see all of the inhabitants of heaven praising God:

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. They said with a loud voice:
The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

In this section, John adds the angels to the mix. Look at how he describes this group. “Countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands.” That’s referring to the angels. They are a mighty throng.

Interestingly, when the angels join the praise mix, the tune changes slightly. No longer are the glories of salvation proclaimed–though they still praise the Lamb as the One who was slaughtered–but instead, God’s majesty is proclaimed. They don’t worship God for salvation because the angels cannot be saved. Angels are either righteous or fallen, and there is no changing their status. They praise God, but they do not worship Him for saving them, because He did not save them. They worship Him because God is worthy of worship by His very nature.

Another thing to briefly mention is that the angels are not said to “sing.” Instead, they “said with a loud voice.” Can you think of a music genre where “speaking” more accurately defines its style than “singing”?

Rap.

Angels rap their praises. Even in Luke 2:13-14, when the angels announce Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, it says, “praising God and saying.”

God loves rap music that glorifies Him and His name and the name of His Son. This is why i enjoy putting together lyrical expositions:

But i would be remiss if i failed to mention that only the church–or representatives thereof–are said to sing their praises. The privilege of singing praises to God is not something we should take for granted. Psalm 98:4 declares that we are to praise God joyfully. Even if we can’t carry a tune to save our lives, if we croak out sounds with joy in our hearts, then we will be pleasing to God.

In verse 13, we see all creation praise God.

I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say:
Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!

This extends from the deepest spot in the Mariana Trench to the top of the throne room of heaven from which God rules. This means that every creature–human or not, believer or not–will praise God with these words. This is primarily focused on non-believing humanity because there is no mention of the cross of Jesus Christ. Nonbelievers cannot and will not praise God for salvation, but they will still give God glory.

In verse 14, we see the church worship God.

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Amen means, “I agree.” The four living creatures, who were among the first to begin praising God, admit that all that has been said is true. They heartily concur with the praise God has received.

And then John’s attention turns back to the elders. They fall down again. And they worship.

The life of a believer should be worship. It should be praise. It should be a life of remembering who God is and what He’s done for us.

The simple fact of the matter is that heaven will be a perpetual existence of praising God. If this is what we will be doing for eternity, then why do we settle for less on the earth?

Why do we settle for pornography? Why do we settle for getting drunk and high? Why do we settle for cheap, casual sex? Why do we settle for anything less than heartfelt praise and worship of God?

The reason why John sets this vision here is that–for lack of a better phrase–John is about to describe the crap hitting the fan. Existence on this planet is going to get tough, and only the believer who is rightly focused on God–the rightful ruler of the earth–and Jesus–the only hope for salvation–will make it to the end (cf. “victor” in Revelation 2-3). We will go through hard times, even as believers–there is no rapture of the church before the tribulation–and we must live this life in a worshipful frame of mind if we are going to survive.

But maybe you don’t know Jesus personally yet. What you need to know is that He created you. He molded you together in your mother’s womb (cf. Psalm 139:13). He holds you in His hand even now (cf. Colossians 1:15-17).

And every day you live on this planet and refuse to acknowledge Him, you are storing up wrath. If you want more on the topic of wrath–wait. The book of Revelation is clear that wrath is coming for those who refuse to believe.

But Jesus was sacrificed. He died on the cross. He never sinned, but He died. The wages of sin is death. The reason why He died was because He took our sins on Himself. He redeemed us from sin and death by His death. When God looks at those who believe in Jesus, He sees Jesus’ righteousness, because when Jesus died on the cross, He saw our sin.

I beg you to believe in Christ today. The fact of the matter is that you will praise God one day. Today’s text was very clear about that.

The question is, “Will you praise Him because you want to, or because He breaks your knees and forces you to?”

I pray that it’s the former!

Trust Christ today!

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus
Sola Scriptura

Thanks for reading.

The next entry can be found here.

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