Monday, April 16, 2012

Revelation 4

     Now the fun begins: remember that as apocalyptic literature the primary focus is on encouragement for those who are suffering great trials and persecution and not necessarily on long term future events. The vision takes us to the throne room of heaven and a glimpse of eternal worship. It is loaded with images and many of the images we find in our hymns and other worship music. There is famous band that takes its name from verse 10 -- they are called "Casting Crowns". The popular hymn, Number 1 in the 1939 hymnal, Holy, Holy, Holy draws heavily from the imagery of this chapter: "casting down their golden crowns (10) around the glassy sea (6)." One of the things I see whenever I read the book of Revelation is the music and poetry that is bound up in the text. It seems that every time we look to heaven there is loud music and praise with pillars shaking, etc.
     The four living creatures: the lion, the ox, the human and the eagle -- the Lion was considered the bravest of animals, the Ox the strongest of creatures, the human the smartest of creatures and the eagle, the swiftest of creatures -- in the four living creatures we have the embodiment of the best of creation. The image of "eyes all around" is the author's way of saying they had total awareness.The 24 elders are representative of the 12 OT tribes and the 12 NT apostles. Notice in the first part of the chapter that God is never described -- throne, precious jewels, rainbows, and lightening -- St. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:16 that "God dwells in unapproachable light."
    I notice that worship, as described here, is surrender to God. The creatures and the elders cast their crowns before the throne (surrendering their earned authority to God). Worship is acknowledging that God is God and we are not. To put it another way, if we acknowledge that we are creatures (created beings), and we acknowledge that God is the creator, the only fit act of worship is to surrender our perceived independence (perhaps an illusion after all) to the one who made us. Or, to put it in a more negative light: all sin is rebellion against our standing as created beings. The ultimate form of this is expressed in Paradise Lost when Milton put these words in Lucifer's mouth: "better to reign in hell than serve in heaven." Worship is an act of surrender to the one who made us, who redeemed us, to sustains us with the Holy Spirit.


Rachel Vuaghan said...

One of my professors at ORU would get extremely upset whenever someone misquoted Milton for saying, "Better to rule in Hell than worship in Heaven." He always pointed out that Milton did not say this, but Satan. He would be proud to know there is someone else out there who can quote Paradise Lost correctly. :)

Rachel Vaughan said...

Excuse me, "better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."