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A Call to Worship, Part 2

The illusion of worship is a lie that says your worship experience matters as if worship is for you. True worship is for God.


Revelation 19:4-10 - And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,


“Praise our God,

    all you his servants,

you who fear him,

    small and great.”


Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,


“Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God 

   the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

    and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

    and his Bride has made herself ready;

 it was granted her to clothe herself

    with fine linen, bright and pure”—


for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.


And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.


Last time, I raised several questions about worship: what is worship, why do you worship, and do you worship out of habit, cultural upbringing, or for some other reason?

 

Our cultural upbringing plays a vital role in how we approach worship which can be positive or negative. Last week, my family was out shopping and my daughter Zara, who is three, began to sing a song at the top of her lungs, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” and all of us joined her while people stared at us. As they grow up, I want my children to know that they are called to worship Jesus in spirit and truth both privately and publicly.

 

The problem is that many people do not know what worship is or why they worship. They need to know that a call to worship is not just singing songs on Sunday— rather, it is a call to worship God in spirit and truth both privately and in publicly.

 

Revelation 19:1-10 described a scene of heavenly worship which showed the church what worship looks, sounds, and feels like when it is done in spirit and truth.

 

The big idea that we began to look at last time was that we are all made to worship. The only choices we make are who we worship, how we worship, and why we worship. Unless we know that, we might never give God the worship that He deserves— or worse, take that worship and give it to another.

 

In Revelation 19:1-10, we see three truths about worship that can help us to worship God in spirit and truth: the rationale for worship, the reverence in worship, and the result of worship. Last time, we looked at developing the rationale for worship in Revelation 19:1-3. Now, we continue with the reverence in and result of worship.

 

Reverence in Worship (Revelation 19:4-5)

 

While the first truth, the rationale for worship, determines what and why we worship, the second truth, the reverence in worship, demonstrates who and how we worship. When our rationale to worship God is clear, it moves from our minds and into our hearts and expresses itself in “how” we worship through emotions, language, and body language.

 

In Revelation 19:1-3, the heavenites’ worship was evident not only in what they sang but also in how they sang— with overwhelming, overjoyed, over-the-top praises, shouting “Hallelujah.” The “how” of worship is further articulated in verses 4 and 5 through three external expressions of worship already experienced internally: their posture, praise, and proclamation.

 

Their Posture in Reverence to God. Revelation 19: 4 reads, “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down.” The Greek word here for “fell down” is pipto which means to fall. Matthew 4:9 used the same word, pipto, when Satan put forth the last temptation before Jesus, “And he [Satan] said to him [Jesus], “All these I will give you, if you will fall down [pipto] and worship me.”

 

It is interesting how pipto, falling down, in Matthew 4 and Revelation 19 is directly connected to worshiping. Satan uses different means to cause us to fall down before him. What do you bow to? What is it that you give your worship to? Sometimes, he uses social and family rationale and at other times, religion and righteousness.

 

In his first attempt, Satan tempted Jesus with food. In Matthew 4:3 he said, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

 

Too often too many of us bow to the rationale of food for the family. Statements like “If I don’t work who is going to feed my children” are not limited to providing food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities. They claim, “I am the provider” and “I am the sustainer.” A person teaching his children to trust that he can provide for them steals the trust and worship of God as the provider and sustainer of us all.

 

We see a true worshiper in Jesus. He told Satan, in Matthew 4:4, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” ” True worshippers have a natural bend toward Jesus because their eyes are on Jesus, the author of our salvation who said, “I am the bread of life.”

 

Their Passion in Reverence to God. Next, verse 4 says that they “worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” ” Can you sense their passion as they worshipped and said “Amen. Hallelujah!”  Hallelujah is a universally accepted word in churches to praise God. It does not appear anywhere else in the New Testament except here in Revelation 19. Four times we see this word here.

 

Therefore, many Bible scholars believe it is the heavenly word. However, other Bible commentators connect the word with the Hebrew word Hallel which means a joyous praise in song. Either way, all parties agree this is a word uniquely used to praise God with joy.

 

Their Praise in Reverence to God. Revelation 19:5 continues, “And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” ” The proclamation to praise God came from the throne and it was for everyone whether small or great. The principle I see here is that we must praise God in every generation in every situation.

 

Not too long ago, I was talking to a former Muslim who is now a true follower of Jesus. I said that I wish Christians would learn reverence of God from Muslims. This brother immediately corrected me and said that their reverence is external only. In Revelation 19, what happened internally expressed itself externally in their posture, passion, and praise.

 

The application for us here is that our external worship should mirror the internal worship of the heart. When we worship, we must remember that God is Holy and He knows our hearts and our inner thoughts. Whatever our inner being bows to, that is what our outer self will bow to also.

 

Result of Worship (Revelation 19:5-10)

 

Revelation 19:6-7 reads, “6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.” Here, the Lamb is Christ crucified, risen, and coming again and His Bride is the church.

 

In the Jewish culture of John’s time, a marriage started with the signing of the marriage contract between the parents of the bride and the bridegroom. A dowry was given from the bridegroom's side to the bride’s parents. After that was the betrothal period until the bridegroom came with his friends to take his bride home but the bride was to be ready to go with him.

 

The church age is the betrothal period which will end with the rapture of the church. In verse 7, the Bride, the church, has made herself ready and verses 8-10 tells us how she has made herself ready. We find three applications as we wait and get ready for the wedding we see in heaven: preparation for the wedding, participation in the wedding, and proclamation of the wedding.

 

Preparation for the Wedding. Revelation 19:8 says, “ “it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” —for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” Here, the clothes that were granted to the Bride, that is the church, were the good and righteous deeds of the saints.

 

This means that in preparation for the wedding, the eternal union of Christ and the church, we are expected to do good and righteous deeds in the world. Yes, works do matter. However, we don’t do good deeds to be saved; we do good deeds because we are saved and declared righteous in Jesus to do righteous works of God.

 

How does that work? Last time, I shared about the penal substitutionary atonement that says through Christ’s death on the cross, God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and Christ, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve; and Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us when Jesus paid the full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God.

 

Theologically, this process of our salvation is twofold: expiation and propitiation.

 

Expiation is the process by which God removes sin or guilt through the payment of a penalty. It is the taking away of the sin.

 

Propitiation is the means by which the wrath of God turns away from us for the sin or guilt we carry. Propitiation changes God’s attitude toward us and satisfies God just wrath.

 

Participation in the Wedding. Verse 9 continues, “And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

 

So, the participation in the wedding is by invitation. Since the wedding is between Christ and the Church, the invitees are most likely the Jewish background believers and the saints who died in the hope of Christ. Jesus in Matthew 22:14 said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

 

Proclamation of the Wedding. Verse 10 read, “Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus.” ” Some think that John mistook the angel for Jesus so he fell down at his feet to worship him. Others think he was just too overwhelmed.

 

I can relate to that. My wife loves to tell the story of when she came home from her first ultrasound appointment with our girls. She came back to our apartment in Manhattan, walked right in the door and grabbed my face in her hands, and said “Its twins!” I just immediately fell down on the floor. I was just too excited.

 

I do not know why John fell down to worship the angel but I think the lesson here is that if a man like John can confuse worship experience with worshipping God we can too. Too often people choose churches not because of worship but worship experience. The difference is that the worship experience is for us and it involves our likes, dislikes, and preferences whereas worship belongs to God.

 

It is for God and has no room for our opinion. The worship experience is often mistaken for worshiping God because of how it makes us feel. Emotions in worship are good but without theological depth and doctrinal purity, they are as dangerous as tsunami waves.

 

Verse 10 ends with “the angel said, “Worship God.” ” I believe “worship God” here refers to worshiping God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, because of the context. However, then the angel said, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

 

Either that means the testimony that Jesus bore or the testimony borne to Jesus. Either way, the testimony of Jesus is the key to true worship. Worship that lacks the testimony of Jesus and the proclamation of it is not the worship God desires. This is why I asked what is worship, why do you worship, and whether you worship out of habit, cultural upbringing, or for some other reason.

 

For example, when my son, Asher, was very small, his grandparents took him on a road trip to Tennessee. When they returned, they said that Asher has weaponized the phrase “I love you” because he said, “I love you, grandma, I love you papa” non-stop.

 

Sometimes what we say and do loses its meaning and value because it is done without engaging our emotions, minds, and will. I do not believe God wants emotionless, mindless, and empty-of-will people who say the right thing and do the right thing without engaging their whole being. God wants true worshipers who are called to worship in spirit and truth.

 

The action step we can take is to examine what and why we worship, who and how we worship, and what we expect out of worship. The only thing we should expect from worship is whether it pleases God or not. Pleasing Him should satisfy our soul.

 

My appeal to you is, do not let worship merely be an emotional response to what you feel, a cultural response to what you are accustomed to, or a religious response to some ritual or spiritual obligations, but rather worship God in spirit and truth.

 

The illusion of worship is a lie that your worship experience matters as if worship is for you. True worship is for God. It makes God smile. It makes us, the bride of Christ, ready for the day when Jesus will come to take us home to be with Him forever. True worship will never cease so it prepares us for the eternal pleasure of God. Don’t let anything or anyone steal God’s worship— not even your opinion and preference. 

 

Study Questions


1.      What does “falling down” mean in Revelation 19:4? 

2.      Who is the bride in Revelation 19:7 and how has she made herself ready?

3.      What does “for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” mean in Revelation 19:8?

 

Deeper Study Questions


1.      How does worship in heaven challenge your rationale for worship?

2.      Do you worship with your whole being— that is emotions, mind, and will?

3.      How does your worship reveal reverence for God? 

4.      What do you expect from worship? 

 

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