Worship is our natural response when we get a glimpse of who God is.
By Doug Reed
Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
"Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Rev 4:6-11)
Worship is our natural response when we get a glimpse of who God is. We see this in the book of Revelation and throughout the scriptures. Let us examine a few of the attributes of God that compel us to worship.
We see in Revelation four that God is an awesome God. “Awesome” is an overused word in our day. It seems folks use this word to describe anything from God Himself to a baloney sandwich. The word Awe actually comes from the 13th century. It describes an emotion that combines wonder, respect, and even a little bit of dread. Awe is an emotion expressed in the presence of something far greater than we are. This is hardly a word that should be used to describe a baloney sandwich. (Well, maybe the dread part.)
In Revelation four we see the God who was and who is to come. The Lord is infinite. He has no beginning. He always was. He is, and He always will be. This is an aspect of God that is so big, we can’t even comprehend it.
How can a being have no beginning? Actually, it is only in the last fifty years or so with the advent of Quantum Physics that we can even begin to think about this wonder. Time is a dimension. We exist in three dimensions, yet we also exist in the dimension of time. If a being existed in a dimension greater than the four dimensions we experience, that being could have no beginning. God is a God who is greater than time itself. He is in time, but he is greater than time. He always was, and He always will be. We who are finite can’t even begin to grasp the infinite God. Awesome is an appropriate word to describe this aspect of God.
And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down. (Daniel 4:34-38)
Why does King Nebuchadnezzar worship God here? It is because he has been humbled by God. Nebuchadnezzar was the arrogant ruler of Babylon. In the sixth century BC the Lord used him to destroy sinful Jerusalem. As was the custom of a triumphant king, Nebuchadnezzar took many of the Jews into captivity. While the Jews were in Babylon, God did many works of power through His people including interpreting the king’s dreams and rescuing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the fiery furnace. Still, Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself over God.
Finally, the day came when God humbled the mighty king. He stripped Nebuchadnezzar of his wealth, his power, and even his sanity. So great was the king’s fall that he lived like an animal for seven years. At the end of this time, Nebuchadnezzar lowered himself and worshipped God, thus he regained his sanity, wealth, and power.
God is able to humble those who walk in pride. He is able to show that He is God and there is no other. This is part of the awesomeness of God. Where do such acts of God lead? Worship! Worship is not always jubilant celebration. There is also a bowing the knee type of worship. It is a worship that exalts in the fact that God is God, and we are not. He is Creator and we are the creation. We belong to Him and not to ourselves.
God has shown this throughout history. He showed it at the Tower of Babble. He showed it again at the Red Sea when His people crossed on dry land, and Pharaoh’s army drowned. He showed it when a shepherd boy named David slew a nine foot nine inch giant named Goliath. He continues to show it to this day. Those who stand against God come to naught. History has proven this time and time again. This is an aspect of God that puts the “awe” in awesome. It compels us worship the Lord who is ruler over all.
Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” (John 6:4-14)
When the Lord meets our needs, our response is worship. Most of the time God cares for us in ways that look quite natural. If we look at our lives, we can recognize the hand of God even in these quiet miracles and give thanks.
However, there are times God meets the needs of His people in a way that the only explanation is God. How many of us have had something occur in our lives for which the only answer is God? Such things set God apart as God.
Pondering the miracles of Jesus draws us into worship. We used to have a Physics professor that attended services at Thorncrown Chapel. He worked on the Super Collider in Texas. A couple of friends and I had a long conversation with him about God one day. He said that he had problems with Jesus. I said, “Oh really?” Not with the cross or the resurrection, but with some of His miracles,” he replied. “For example, turning water into wine. Jesus would have to literally rearrange the atoms in the water to do that. The resulting energy release would create quite an explosion.” I guess he meant a small nuclear explosion! The only explanation for such things is God. We worship the God of the impossible.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev 5:8-12)
What invokes the greatest worship both in heaven and on earth may surprise us. We all like those moments when God shows he is greater than all. We stand amazed how He is able to humble those who walk in pride. We exalt in the fact that God is able to do miracles no human being can. Yet, God also has the ability to humble Himself. In fact, He has the power to lower Himself lower than any man. The amazing thing is that it is this ability that saved us all and compels the greatest wonder, the greatest awe, and the greatest worship.
Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross….”
As finite beings we cannot comprehend the humility it took for the infinite God to become one of us. That God would do that for us is astonishing. This becomes all the more amazing when we realize He did not come here to be served or worshipped. In heaven all creation sings His praises without ceasing. Yet, Jesus came here not to be served but to serve. He did not come here to be praised but to be rejected.
On the cross Jesus became the lowest of the low. He humbled Himself more than any man could. He felt the humiliation of man. When the Romans devised crucifixion, they had two things in mind. One was pain. Those who died on a cross suffered unimaginable pain. However, the Romans also wanted the cross to be humiliating. Those sentenced to death were stripped completely bare and exposed before all. Then whoever wished could parade in front of the cross and hurl abuse upon the dying. Jesus’ enemies took every advantage of the Lord’s weakness.
Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing. (Matthew 27:41-44)
Jesus suffered humiliation at the hands of men, but He also experienced the rejection of His own Father. On the cross He cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matt. 27:46)” Christ became the outcast so we could find acceptance. He became the lowest of the low that we might be raised up into the heights of heaven.
Heaven and earth worship in awe at the feet of such love. We gladly bow before our King who lowered Himself for us. Truly, He is worthy of all of our worship and praise.
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