Beauty and Mystery
BEAUTY AND MYSTERY
Part 2 of The Glory Realm. Revelation 4:1-6.
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. July 9, 2017.
In the history of the Cornerstone Church, the issue we have wrestled with more than any other is our corporate worship. We want our Sunday gatherings to please God. And that’s what matters: corporate worship that pleases God.
It’s a high stakes problem because God cares about worship. We can’t assume that God is just so happy we’re here that he doesn’t care what we do in worship. In Leviticus 10, two young priests, Nadab and Abihu, found that out the hard way:
“they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” - 10:1b-2
We’re supposed to worship the RIGHT God in the RIGHT way according to God’s regulations.
It’s true that the New Testament doesn’t have laws about worship in the same way as the Old Testament does (1 Corinthians 14 is the closest it gets). However, there are certain principles we can develop to guide our corporate worship; principles that will ensure that what we do truly honors God.
Last week, our study in Revelation 4 uncovered three principles:
Worship should be focused on God alone.
Worship should be full of reverent fear before our Great King on the throne.
Worship should be fearless as we come boldly to the throne of grace in the Name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Now, let’s dive back into Revelation 4 to find three more worship principles:
A. WORSHIP THAT PLEASES GOD REFLECTS HIS PURITY - verse 3.
Verse 3 describes the purity of God:
God on his throne resembles a crystal clear stone like a jasper. - Jasper stones come in many colors, but they can also be crystal clear. Maybe John is trying to describe a flawless diamond, sparkling in the light. This emphasizes God’s holiness and purity. There is no moral flaw, no shadow of evil in God. He shines with a blazing light.
“God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” - 1 Timothy 6:15b-16
God also radiates like a blood-red ruby stone. The color red emphasizes his holy war against sin and impurity on earth. It’s from the throne that God’s fiery wrath flows:
“As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.” - Daniel 7:9-10
There is a rainbow around the throne that shines like an emerald. It’s a complete circle around the throne - a rainbow in the shape of a halo. Emeralds can be clear and here the rainbow refracts the light blazing from God into multi-colors. The point is that God radiates pure light:
“Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” - Ezekiel 1:28a
“His splendor was like the sunrise …” - Habakkuk 3:4a
Our worship together reflects God’s purity when we pursue him. Our worship must create such a beautiful vision of God’s holiness that we happily leave our selves and our sins, to run after him.
B. WORSHIP THAT PLEASES GOD REFLECTS HIS POWER - verse 4.
Here, in the description of the twenty-four elders, we have a vision of “the council of the holy ones:”
“In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.” - Psalm 89:7
These are archangels; mighty spirit beings created by God with delegated power and authority to rule the unseen world. They are princes in the spirit realm (see Daniel 10:12-13, Gabriel, Michael, the Prince of Persia).
Old Testament priests wore white linen robes, so we can assume that the twenty-four elders are dressed in white to represent their priestly work. In Revelation 5:8, they hold bowls of incense, which are “the prayers of God’s people.”
Their crowns represent their authority over regions in the spirit realm. They are the “thrones or powers or rulers or authorities” mentioned in Colossians 1:16 over whom Christ is raised and ruling.
God surrounds himself with rulers, mighty angels with indescribable power. But they all bow before the throne of God. They worship and praise him (4:11; 5:11-12, 14). They lay their crowns before him (4:10). They submit to him because there is only one supreme ruler over all:
“For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” - Psalm 97:9
So, how do we design our corporate worship to reflect God’s power? PALMS UP - empty handed, surrendered to his supreme power, saying, “your Kingdom, your will, your way”. Our worship must include surrender to God.
C. WORSHIP THAT PLEASES GOD REFLECTS HIS PRESENCE - verses 5-6.
Heaven is filled with the most amazing sound and light show. This is also what Israel heard and saw when God came to meet them on Mount Sinai:
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.” - Exodus 19:16-19
Where is God most present in the world today? In rooms like this filled with worshippers like us. This is the New Covenant Tabernacle. We are standing in his presence. Jesus said:
“I am with you to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” (John 14:18). “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (John 20:22).
The Spirit of the Lord is in this place. Father love surrounds us. Salvation and healing are released by his presence. There is breakthrough all around us - the power of sin broken. Living water flows through the room.
Even if you feel nothing. God is here now. God of glory, God of fire, God of thunder and lightning.
How do we worship together in ways that reflect the presence of God? One word: PASSION! We must elevate our intensity. Our worship must help us engage fully with God who is here now in person:
“Love (love is another word for worship) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” - Mark 12:30