Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven

The Beacon - March/April 2012

By Ethan Ezikian • From our March/April 2012 newsletter

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
-Revelation 7:9-10 (English Standard Version)

I’ve been thinking about this picture that scripture gives us of heavenly worship. It’s one that we see multiple times in the Bible. In Revelation 7 we see God’s Church gathered together from every corner of the earth, joining together with angels to worship the Lord, falling on their faces in the presence of His majesty. This is a picture of a people made whole, a people brought out of the sin-filled weariness of the world into eternal rest, a people fully repaired of their brokenness, basking in the glory of their Savior, reveling in it, overflowing with praise for Him. What a glorious image! What a beautiful hope! Those who claim Christ can look forward to this kind of worship – pure, joyful, love-filled satisfaction in Jesus.

As I have been thinking about this wondrous image of worship seen in Revelation, there has been one part of the passage that has stuck out to me – the part that talks about the kind of people gathered in the throne room to worship God. The passage tells us that the multitude is made up of saints from every nation, tribe, people, and language. There is an incredible diversity within the multitude.

As a person who plans and leads worship, I am continually dealing with issues of artistic style and preference in worship. Some people are disappointed that a certain service uses only hymns, some are frustrated that there aren’t more hymns used, others don’t particularly like the instrumentation utilized, and still others are dissatisfied with the tempo of the songs sung. Christians are so consumed with issues of style and preference in worship that wars of words and ideas have been waged over them, churches have split over them, and books have been written about them. But when we read Revelation 7 and see a heavenly vision of worship painted in those lines, there is no mention of style or preference. Multitudes are gathered from every nation, tribe, and tongue – there is a multiplicity of styles and preferences represented within this multitude, but preference is a non-issue; style is not mentioned. Brothers and sisters, those of us who have said something like “there’s nothing wrong with that music, but I just can’t worship to it” need to reconsider our words. If we truly couldn’t worship God because the service style did not fit our preference, then there is no way we could worship in heaven with those gathered from every tribe, nation, and tongue.

Did you notice the anthem of the saints worshipping God in Revelation? “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” The hearts of these worshippers are fixed on Christ, worshipping him because of what he has done in them, how he saved them. The gospel is the fuel for the worship seen here. The saints in this multitude are not basing their worship on anything but their joy in being redeemed and chosen as a trophy of God’s grace. This celebration of the gospel is where true Christian worship flows from. If our ability to worship God rested on our preferences I would question whether or not we were truly worshipping him in the first place.

So if you find yourself hindered by your preferences as you worship God, I encourage you to pray. Pray that God would stir your affections for him so that as you come to worship with other believers, your worship would be fueled by a passionate love for your Savior who opened a way to the Father by taking our sin on himself, dying to pay the debt that we could not pay, and rising again in victory. Pray that the deep well of the gospel of Jesus Christ would overflow in your heart in worship. In this way, our worship on earth will become a clearer picture of what it will be in the glory of eternity.

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