Heaven’s Worship Service Part 1: God’s Regal Priets

Heaven’s Worship Service Part 1: God’s Regal Priets

Revelation 4:4-11

From this passage forward, worship is one of the imost prominent concepts in the Revelation, occurring 23 times so I want to opent with a word study…

Proskuneo

  1. to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
  2. among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
  3. in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
    1. used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
      1. to the Jewish high priests
      2. to God
      3. to Christ
      4. to heavenly beings
      5. to demons
  • Revelation 4:10: “him that sat on the throne, andworship him that liveth forever and ever,”
  • Revelation 5:14: “fourand twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever.”
  • Revelation 7:11: “their faces, andworshiped God,”
  • Revelation 9:20: “of their hands, that they should notworship devils, and idols”
  • Revelation 11:1: “the altar, andthem that worship “
  • Revelation 11:16: “fell upon their faces, andworshiped God,”
  • Revelation 13:4: “Andthey worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the”
  • Revelation 13:4: “unto the beast: andthey worshiped the beast, saying, Who”
  • Revelation 13:8: “upon the earthshall worship him, whose names are not”
  • Revelation 13:12: “them which dwell therein toworship the first beast,”
  • Revelation 13:15: “and cause that as many as would notworship the image”
  • Revelation 14:7: “judgment is come: andworship him that made heaven, and earth,”

 

  • Revelation 14:9: “a loud voice, If any manworship the beast and his”
  • Revelation 14:11: “no rest day nor night,who worship the beast”
  • Revelation 15:4: “nations shall come andworship before thee”
  • Revelation 16:2: “of the beast, andupon them which worshiped his image.”
  • Revelation 19:4: “the four beasts fell down andworshiped God that sat”
  • Revelation 19:10: “at his feetto worship  And he said unto me,”
  • Revelation 19:10: “the testimony of Jesus:worship God: for the testimony”
  • Revelation 19:20: “of the beast, andthem that worshiped his image. These both were cast”
  • Revelation 20:4: “and which had notworshiped the beast, neither his”
  • Revelation 22:8: “and seen, I fell downto worship before the feet of the”
  • Revelation 22:9: “sayings of this book:worship “

 

 

Our attention now turns to the priests (Elders) surrounding the Throne. They have come to bring the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. The final blood sacrifice has been made (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 10:12) and now forever and ever the sacrifices offered to God are praise and thanksgiving…

John MacArthur-

4:4 twenty-four elders. Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments (19:7, 8), and their golden crowns (2:10) all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (vv. 9–11; 5:5–14; 7:11–17; 11:16–18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is which redeemed? Not Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7-year tribulation time (cf. Dan. 12:1–3). Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved (7:9, 10). Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption (5:8–10). They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus (cf. John 14:1–4).

An alternate view: Elders represent the people of God, especially in the Old Testament. The 24 courses of the priesthood represented all the priests (1 Chronicles 24), and the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles represent all the faithful.

The alternate view is nice but the key is In Revelation 5:9-10, the twenty-four elders sang a song of praise to Jesus, and they cried out: For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. In that passage, the twenty-four elders clearly spoke as representatives of all God’s people, of the great company of the redeemed.

Clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads:

Although angels are often portrayed in white robes, they are not pictured with crowns. Paul gives us a clue in Romans 8:17and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

You would, realistically, expect to find all of the King’s children to be found with their own crowns as we see here.

The crowns are symbolic of rewards; the Bible speaking of 5 crowns as rewards for the believers.

 

Crown of Life

The Crown of Life is referred to in James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10; it is bestowed upon “those who persevere under trials.” Jesus references this crown when he tells the Church in Smyrna to “not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”[7]

Incorruptible Crown

The Incorruptible Crown is also known as the Imperishable Crown, and is referenced in 1 Corinthians 9:25. This epistle, written by Paul of Tarsus, deems this crown “imperishable” in order “to contrast it with the temporal awards Paul’s contemporaries pursued”.[8] It is therefore given to those individuals who demonstrate “self-denial and perseverance.”

Crown of Righteousness

The Crown of Righteousness is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:8, and is promised to “those who love and anticipate” the Second Coming of Christ. These Christians desire intimacy with God.

Crown of Glory

The Crown of Glory is discussed in 1 Peter 5:4 and is granted to Christian clergy, who “shepherd the flock in unselfish love being a good example to others” 1 Peter 5:2-4.

Crown of Rejoicing

The Crown of Rejoicing is also known as the Crown of Exultation, or Crown of Auxiliary. Delineated in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and Philippians 4:1, it is given to people who engage in evangelism of those outside the Christian Church.[13] In the New Testament, Paul earns this crown after winning the Thessalonians to faith in Jesus.

Let’s develop this a little further…

The use of twenty-four elders most probably derived from 1 Chronicles 24:1-5 in which the priests were organized into twenty-four groups. This “kingdom of priests” represents the church that dwells in heaven with the Lord during the tribulation period. As was pointed out by Peter, the Church is a chosen people, a royal priest hood (See 1 Peter 2:9). It is almost as if Peter has spelled out exactly what his dear friend John was shown in Heaven. The 24 Elders, or Presbyters if you like (since both are synonymous translations of presbuteros) are a type and picture of the  Royal Priesthood of which Peter spoke and which comprises the church.

This would also help alleviate the concern of Israel being represented in heaven during the tribulation period when Israel had not yet believed in the Lord on a large scale. Further, it would remove the problem of these elders representing the apostles since John himself, an apostle, was the one having the vision (Would he have seen himself as one of the twenty-four elders and not mentioned it?).

Again, while not specifically explained, the information in Scripture most likely identifies these twenty-four elders as representatives of the church, those who will dwell with the Lord during the tribulation period while God’s judgments take place on the earth. Further, this fits the historic view of elders representing leadership of local churches (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), offering a picture of God’s people worshiping God after escaping the tribulation as a result of the rapture (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

Dr. Thomas Ice discusses the significance of the number 24 and I would like to quote him at length:

 

WHY THE NUMBER TWENTY-FOUR?

Some believe that the number 24 represents all the redeemed throughout history and not just the church. It is argued that in Revelation 21:12–14 the New Jerusalem in the Eternal State is made up of 12 gates with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel written on them (21:12). In verse 14, the wall around the city is made up of 12 foundation stones with the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb written on them. Thus, 12 plus 12 equals 24 and that would mean that the 24 elders must be composed of all the redeemed, both Israel and the church.

There are a number of problems with this view. First, Revelation 21 does not use the number 24. Instead, to come up with 24 one must add the two numbers together and that requires an assumption not stated in the text. Why did Revelation 21 not use the number 24? Instead, there are two different items to which the two sets of 12 refer. The 12 gates signify the sons of Israel while the church is represented by 12 foundation stones. To mix the gates and foundation stones would be a case of mixing apples and oranges, so to speak. The 24 elders are seen throughout Revelation as a single group, whoever they represent. Revelation 21 does not use the number 24 and is not a reference to the 24 elders.

The number 24 is used in the Old Testament in a similar way that we see its use in Revelation. “There were twenty-four officers of the sanctuary representing the twenty- four courses of the Levitical priests (1 Chron. 24:4–5, 7–18), as well as twenty-four divisions of singers in the temple (1 Chron. 25).”

In Chronicles 24 was God’s choice to represent the Levitical priests and the Levitical singers. Thus, 24 appears to be a representative number in Revelation 4 as the elders denote the church in heaven before God’s war council in preparation for the judgment of the world during the tribulation.

Only in one instance does an individual from the 24 elders act as an individual (Rev. 5:5). In this instance it is to speak as the interpreting person to tell John to stop bawling because no one was found to open the scroll. The elder says, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” Why is one of the 24 elders called upon to explain things to John? One of the 24 elders is called upon, instead of an angel that normally explains things in Revelation, because they are the only ones within God’s throne-room that has personally experienced salvation. Since John’s question relates to salvation, it was appropriate for a redeemed individual to note that the Lamb of God—Jesus—was the one qualified to open the scroll. That scroll is the title deed to planet earth and if no one was able to open it then the redemption of earth and mankind could not have been carried out. That is why John was weeping, because he knew that his destiny and that of all of humanity depended upon finding one qualified to open the scroll.”

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