One of the most vivid descriptions of worship in the scriptures, Rev. 4 has become a much quoted passage when it comes to all things earthly worship. I’ve heard it used to defend contemporary worship and traditional worship, contemplative worship and ecstatic worship, corporate worship and solitary worship. Whatever the use, this passage is well known, even by those who don’t know scripture very well.
From the Throne of God surrounded by rainbows to the glassy sea before it, from the four living creatures to their chant, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come,” we know these images.
In a lesson on this passage once, a comment from a friend about this worship service struck me. “The greatest encouragement I have for worship,” he shared, “is that I am not worshiping alone, but am joining with an eternal worship service ALREADY IN PROGRESS.” I love that image. When we worship, we are joining a service that has been going on from the beginning of time. The songs we sing are not right or wrong, they are God’s. The prayers we share are not one-time offerings but our temporary connection with the goings-on of heaven.
Youth regularly tell me, “if heaven is just one big worship service, count me out. I can barely stand an hour a week!” They are not alone in this feeling. But if we truly understood and participated in worship, we would want nothing else. And while I don’t believe heaven is just one big worship service like we know it, I wouldn’t mind that, either.