Pray when you are tempted by things, whether good or bad, that can take your focus, time, and energy away from God and depriving God of your full attention, adoration, and admiration.
Revelation 5:8-14 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints, And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
I read a story of a woman who took pride in caring for her children as she should. She would take them to play sports, take music lessons, and attend other activities at school. At times, an entire day would pass by without having any time for her husband, which made him feel neglected. The author of the story raised an interesting question: if the husband felt neglected how does God feel?
You see, she lived through her children; she was devoted to them, they were like false gods in her life which made them the objects of her worship depriving God of her full attention, adoration, and admiration.
Was she being a good mom? Yes indeed, but the problem is most people think false gods are idols made by hand or false gods are our sinful actions that become the objects of our worship.
They need to know false gods can be the good we do that takes the focus, time, and energy away from God depriving Him of our full attention, adoration, and admiration. Where do you spend most of your time and energy? What is your focus?
Revelation 5:8-14 is the description of the revelation of worship which was revealed to John for the sake of the church. As we continue our series, “Uncovering Revelation,” verse by verse, we come face to face with God as the uninterrupted single-focus of worship in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. Yes, even under the earth; that is, the dead. We will explore what that means when we dive into Revelation 5:13.
The big idea in the Revelation of Worship is, whether good or bad, nothing should ever deprive God of our full attention, adoration, and admiration. How do we do that?
Revelation 5:8-14 invites all followers of Jesus to three essentials of worship to ensure nothing takes away our focus from God: worship through prayer, praise, and proclamation. Today we will explore the first essential and cover the other two next time.
Worship through Prayer
Now, you may say, “But, pastor, that is nothing new.” I agree, but let me show you the difference between praying and worshiping through prayer. Verse 8 reads, “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
Verse 8 shows us three truths about worship through prayer.
The Reason for Worship
Notice, before Revelation 5:8, God the Father was worshiped for one reason— He is the Creator God. However, in verse 8, the moment that the Lamb, who is the crucified, risen, and coming again Christ, took the scroll, heaven outburst in praise and worship for one reason— He is the redeemer God.
Why is the scroll so significant? Because it is the title deed to the earth. The earth that God created, the earth that God populated with all sorts of creatures, and the earth on which God put man made in the image of God so that he may care for and have dominion over it.
However, when sin entered, it did not corrupt man only but all of creation on earth including the earth itself. Consequently, the dominion of the corrupted world went to the source of corruption, the lord of darkness, Satan, who deceptively took dominion of earth.
We dare to argue, why couldn’t Adam and Eve see through Satan’s deceptiveness? We, at the same time, trade our focus, time, and energy for things that have no eternal worth and deprive God of our full attention, adoration, and admiration. That’s exactly what brought the fall of man in Eden.
You know there were two trees, the Tree of Life and the Forbidden Tree. If Adam and Eve had focused on the Tree of Life, the Forbidden Tree would not have taken their focus, time, and energy. Let me ask you, what forbidden tree are you lusting after, wasting your time, energy, and focus?
In verse 8, first, the four living creatures fell down to worship. As I have mentioned before, in Jewish literature, these four living creatures are the cherubim. The cherubim are the exalted orders of angelic beings who function as the immediate guardians of the throne of God, not to protect God, but rather to protect all heavenly beings from the raw power of the full shekinah glory of God.
Did you know Satan was a cherub? Ezekiel 28:14 tells us that he was an anointed guardian cherub. The cherubim in verse 8, while shielding all heavenites from the brilliance of God’s full glory, somehow fell down to worship Jesus who took His rightful place with God on the throne of God as He took the scroll from the hand of God.
From this point onward, Jesus will direct all the apocalyptic events that will unfold on earth in the end time. Along with the cherubim, verse 8 shows the twenty-four elders representing all the believers from Jewish and gentile backgrounds also fell down to worship Jesus.
Why? Because no one was found worthy in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. Because He is the only Son of God, the second person of the triune God. Because He alone paid for our sins with His blood to purchase our salvation. That was the reason for worship, the first truth for worship through prayer.
The Object of Worship
The phrase, “fell down” in verse 8, in Greek is pipto, which is to prostrate one’s self. It is the idea of bowing down all the way to the ground to worship. Not to be critical but our sophisticated style of worship has stolen the pleasure of falling down before God. We don’t even feel comfortable raising our hands to worship God let alone fall down in worship. Growing up in Pakistan, we did not have pews and chairs so we pipto, fell down, in worship.
This word pipto shows up in Matthew 4:9. In Matthew 4, starting at verse 8, “Again, the devil took him [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will [pipto] fall down and worship me.’ ” In the Bible, pipto, is often connected to worship which is proskynéō, in Greek. Pros means “towards,” and kyneo is to kiss. So, worship is to kiss the ground when prostrating to acknowledge the superiority, sovereignty, and supremacy of the object of our worship.
The Hebrew word that is often used in the Old Testament for worship is “shakah” which is used 172 times and every time it means to worship, bow down, stoop to another. It is to surrender and concede.
Even the English word, worship, is made up of “worth” and “ship.” We all know what worth means in English but ship can mean to concede. So, essentially the reason for worship is connected to being worthy, and to the worthy one, we concede, as in forfeit, our power, position, and place.
The devil wanted that from Jesus when he asked Jesus to fall down and worship him and in return, Satan, the father of all lies, the great deceiver, gave his word that he would give the title deed of the earth to Jesus.
Matthew 4 took place before Jesus went on the cross, before His death, burial, and resurrection. So, yes up to this time, Satan did have the title deed and from God the Son in flesh at the weakest hour of his fleshly need, Satan tempted Him to take the easy way out.
He did the same to Adam and Eve and He does the same to us too. He wanted Jesus to worship him and concede as the eternal co-creator of all things including the devil himself to receive the corrupt rule and reign over the earth.
Listen to Jesus' response in Matthew 4: 10, “Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ” ”
Who do you serve? Whoever you serve is the one you worship, whether self, family, the world or God. So, we noticed the reason for worship and why Jesus is the object of worship.
The Form of Worship
Revelation 5:8 depicts the form of worship is prayer. Why prayer? Because prayer connects us with God. Is it not interesting that the two points that we will look at next time, worship through praise and proclamation, can be done by listening to others but worship through prayer is something we have to do?
I see worship through prayer as the basic unit of communication with God thus the first essential of the revelation of worship in our text. If only Adam and Eve had communicated with God before taking the fruit, we would not have been in this mess. If only we learn to communicate with God before taking any step in any direction, we can avoid making a mess of our lives.
It is interesting that the apostles did not ask Jesus to teach them how to praise or how to proclaim, they asked Jesus to teach them only one thing— how to pray. In Luke 11:1-4, we have the model prayer that Jesus taught. In that model prayer, the first priority is given to praising God for His holiness, and the second priority is given to the advancement of His kingdom on earth and then, finally, our needs.
But, how do we pray? We put our personal and family needs first. By and large, our prayers are for us here and now. Most Bible teachers see five types of prayers that we offer. Only one of the five focuses on God the rest focus on us: 1). the prayer of supplication. It is offered to ask God for something we want; 2). The prayer of thanksgiving. It is when we thank God for what He has given to us; 3). the prayer of confession. It is the acknowledgment of our sins; 4). the prayer of intercession is when we intervene on behalf of our friends and family members; Finally, 5). The prayer of adoration. It is the only prayer that focuses on God entirely and is the acknowledgment of who God is.
In Revelation 5:8, in the revelation of worship in heaven, worship through prayer has only one singular focus: God. If that is how it is in heaven, it should be on earth as well.
Verse 8 says, “each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” In Exodus 30:34-38, we see the function and incredible value of the incense in the worship system that God introduced on earth now is seen in heaven. In Exodus 30:34, God gave Moses a special recipe to make incense for the worship of God. Starting in verse 35 God said, “and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you. And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the Lord. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.”
The incense was not for people but exclusively for God. John saw this incense as the prayers of the saints. In heaven, prayers serve only one purpose: to worship God who sits on the throne. This means prayer as spiritual communication exists only to adore God for who He is and what He has done. Today we may pray for us. A day is coming when all our prayers will be only for God. So, He should be the priority of our prayers.
Let me challenge you to be the people of prayer and learn to worship God through prayer this year. This week try to pray before you make any decision.
Recently my son, Arius, prayed in a semi-public setting and I was told his prayer was deep and mature. He is seven now but some of his earliest spoken words were “Jesus” and “Amen”.
In our house, worship through prayer is not an event, but rather a lifestyle. We pray randomly and we pray throughout the day. That is the culture in our house. What is the culture of your household? Wouldn’t it be cool if our children began to pray for other kids in the neighborhoods and at school even for teachers and principals?
Commit this year to cultivating a culture of prayer in your house. Parents, you are responsible for creating a prayer-centric culture in your house so that praying becomes second nature to your children. Men, as husbands and dads, you set the tone. Ladies, as wives and moms, you foster that culture.
This week, as a family, try to answer the question regarding prayer in the study notes below.
Also, in the weakest hour of your life, do not take the easy way out because Jesus didn’t. Pray when you are tempted by things, whether good or bad, that can take your focus, time, and energy away from God and depriving God of your full attention, adoration, and admiration.
1. What is your definition of worship? How do you worship? Do you worship God only on Sunday or throughout the week?
2. What form of worship is found in Revelation 5:8? Why did the four living beings and the elders fall down before the Lamb? What are the implications of their actions?
3. What is the New Song in Revelation 5:9, 10, 12, 13 that was sung for the Lamb? List the truths in the new song. Compare it with the song sung for God in Revelation 4:8,11.
Deeper Study Questions
1. Prayer is a form of worship that is depicted in Revelation 5:8. How is your prayer life? Do you pray regularly for a longer period of time, or short prayers throughout the day? Is your prayer only for your needs or the needs of others? What portion of your prayers is only for God, that is, thanking, praising, and glorifying Him for who He is? The Gospels reveal Jesus had dedicated times of prayer where He stepped away from everyone to connect with God.
2. Praise is another form of worship depicted in Revelation 5:9-13. How do you praise God? Do you have a home culture of singing hymns and songs? David seems to be in the habit of singing praises with the harp and lyre early in the morning (Psalms 108:2). How is praising God with hymns and songs a part of your everyday life?
3. How often do you share with others what is proclaimed in Revelation 5:1-14? Sharing is caring; how can we do more?