Last week, and last blog (which you can find here) we talked about the “multitude” that John sees in Revelation 7:9-17. An understanding that our eternity with Christ in the New Earth will be filled with people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. A time where all those who profess who Christ is will be united in all their beauty and differences. But today, in our 4th of 5 “What’s Next” series, we are going to talk about worship.
Let’s begin with reading what John saw in Revelation 5:11-14
I want to ask a question to begin – and I ask because it will frame our conversation here: What is worship?
The dictionary definition of “worship” is that it’s “the expression of reverence and adoration, honor and glory – to God.” OK – that makes sense. Breaking it down a little more, we can say that it’s the showing of thankfulness – and giving of thankfulness – to God. So “showing and giving”. To me, that’s it – in its simplest form. But is that ONLY it? Is it that simple? I ask because it seems like we’ve actually made it complicated. And it’s that complicated complicatedness that has infiltrated and infected the hope, joy, praise, and worship of what’s to come that we SHOULD think of.
Worship, originally – and I would argue that it hasn’t changed – was simply expressing honor (publically) to God because he was, and is, worthy of our worship. And it was done by showing thanks, by offering prayers, by making vows, and offerings up sacrifices. It was living your whole life, offering up your whole life to God…in praise and worship.
The problem we have, and the issue I’ve heard and seen, is that people read what John sees happening in Revelation, the thousands upon thousands singing, the thousands upon thousands bowing encircling the throne, falling down and worshipping the Lamb, the problem I hear is that, “if that is what we’re going to do for eternity?…that doesn’t sound fun at all! If that’s eternity…I’m not sure I want it!”
If that’s what eternity will be spent like and is…I’m not sure I want it!?
Two quick points – then we’ll get back on track:
- First off…I’m not sure you want the alternative – have you heard about it? I sure don’t!
- Second…we’re going to want to do nothing else BUT give constant thanks and praise BECAUSE we have been saved from the alternative! Saved from the place we SHOULD head off to?!
Worship… is EVERYTHING we do…because EVERYTHING we do is to be done to HIS glory in thanks for what he has done. In reverence and joy and thankfulness. But for some reason we have pigeon-holed “worship” to only mean our church service (which we do once a week)…and then maybe we also can include any singing songs that have the word “God” in them (so as we’re listening to Christian music), and then anything and everything else where we specifically name God or focus on him. And all of this is true – all of those ARE worship but are we saying that outside of those moments God doesn’t exist or he isn’t working or that there are moments outside of those where we worship God? We may have moments in our day where we aren’t specifically thinking of God…we may have moments in our day where we are angry or rushed or so wrapped up in our work that we don’t think or feel that we are worshipping God – but does that mean we’re actually NOT worshipping God or God doesn’t deserve our worship in that time and space?
David writes in Psalm 139 that God has searched him and knows him. And not only knows him but knows every ounce of who he is and every word that will ever be said before it is even said. That God hem’s him before and behind – that is, he wraps him up completely. And ultimately… David realizes that there is nowhere he can go to where God cannot be – for God is the creator and sustainer of all. There literally is no place, no action that is not to be done in worship and thanks to God.
Col 3:17 – “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Whatever you do…whatever action you take: do it in worship.
Hebrews 3:15 – “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” – Worship!
Everything we do, in life…is in response to God and his grace and mercies upon our lives. Everything we do is a direct response and giving thanks because, as Paul reminds us in Rom 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” How can you not want to worship the one who desires to give you all you need and more? Who desires for you to have all that you were supposed to have but never did. Who wants you to experience true unconditional love? And the whole reason we’re able to be in his presence for eternity IS BECAUSE GOD DIDN’T SPARE HIS OWN SON BUT GAVE HIM UP FOR US ALL.
Yes, when we read texts like Rev 7:9-12 and see people bowing and crying in a loud voice singing “Salvation belongs to our God” and they fall to their faces in worship to God – THAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN…and it’s going to be amazing, and beautiful, and emotional…but that’s not only what worship is. When we understand that worship isn’t restricted to a time and a place – telling us when to start and stop – we then begin to understand that worship doesn’t come and go – it simply IS. And when we realize that worship simply IS then we begin to wonder, and dream, and live into worship being everything and anything we do.
Worship is the gathering of people in a church service where we sing, pray, confess, and profess who God is and give him thanks because of his grace. But it’s more than that because worship happens when we come together in this house. But worship is more than our church gathering on Sunday. Worship is taking a walk with a friend and realizing the beauty of the relationship and giving thanks to God for his created being that you get to walk with, talk with, laugh with, and cry with. It’s gardening as you marvel and care and love the crops and goods and produce that God created. Worship is tilling the ground, tending the cattle, building a house, laying in a hammock, camping, boating, skydiving…you name it…it is worship when you realize God’s blessings in that moment and give thanks for what it is you are doing.
Its work, play, rest, and all and everything in between. Just as God declares there is nothing in this world that he doesn’t claim as his so too goes for our worship. There is nothing in this world, nothing in our lives to which we don’t give thanks in praise and worship for he is God and worthy of it.
One author writes, “The world is full of praise-prompters and the New Earth will overflow with them. I’ve found great joy in moments where I’ve been lost in worship – many of them during church services – but they’re too fleeting. If you’ve ever had a taste of true worship, you crave more of it, never less.” (Randy Alcorn)
Author, and noted theologian J.I. Packer once wrote “Hearts on earth may say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But invariably it does. The hearts of those in heaven say, “I want this to go on forever.” And it will. There is no better news than this.” A “joyful” experience. That’s what heaven will be like – one continuous joyful experience.
So let me ask you – What do you hope worship will be like? Do you look forward to the singing – then that will be there. Do you look forward to the prayers and thanks? That’ll be there. Do you look forward to the gathering of friends? That’ll be there. Do you look forward to the dancing…oh…that’ll be there (we may feel uncomfortable dancing here…just you wait! We’ll be doing the Carlton, the jitterbug – some jazz hands…maybe even a mosh-pit)! Do you look forward to the diving into the word? That’ll be there. Do you look forward to HEARING the word FROM those very people who we read about? That’ll be there.
But let us not stop there.
Do you want to explore creation that God gave and made? – that’ll be there…because that’s worship. That’s giving thanks and appreciating that which God created FOR us. Watching the trees and leaves react to the wind, seeing the tassels of corn and the tops of wheat as they sway in the breeze. That’s worship – that’ll be there. Do you love to swim, do you love to climb, do you love to boat? That will be, and is to this day, that is considered “worship.” And it’s not worshiping the mountains or the sea – it’s worshiping God. It’s seeing and living into the beauty he created.
Worship is seeing, believing, and hoping today for that which comes tomorrow. Worship to come, worship in the new Heaven and the New Earth, is seeing, believing, and living into that which we longed for and experienced here on earth in breaths and bursts of joy and goodness but that we are now able to live into every single moment. Joy and adoration that doesn’t ebb and flow…but always is. Praising and worshipping with words, actions, and emotions.
It’s what we were created for – I think it’s what we long for as well.
Will worship be what we call “church”? Will worship be what we read in the book of Revelation? Yes…and Yes…and if those two were the only things we’d do – ever – once we die – then that would be more than enough. But throughout scripture we see worship in many many different ways – and all of it, as we read, is “good” and right in the eyes of God. There is no reason, NONE AT ALL, to expect that anything will be different when we go to be with God for eternity.
So let us worship God in all we do for all we do, all we have, is in direct response to what He has done. And maybe let’s start working on our dancing…or maybe if dancing is a little far off for you RIGHT NOW – at least start your stretching?
Clink on this “link” for some proper stretches to do before one gets into dancing. I think it’s the least we could do to prepare for eternity in continued, unabashed, full-encompassing worship!
As usual – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…so what do you think?
Our last week, “Part 5” – “Do we become Angels?” is linked here
Pt 2: The Intermediate State
Pt 3: The Multitude
Pt 4: An Eternity of Worship
Pt 5: Do We Become Angels?