Volume 13, No. 9 (September 2018)
ETERNAL PRAISE AND HUMAN HISTORY
(Revelation 4 & 5)
It has often been pointed out that the problem is not that there are people in this world who do not worship; rather the problem is that so many people worship the wrong thing. Everybody worships. Everything gives their heart loyalty to something or someone.
Depending on where you come from you may or not be familiar with the story, and the movie, called The Wizard of Oz, In this story the young woman Dorothy is stranded in the strange land of Oz, and sets off with companions she meets along the way to find the wonderful Wizard in the Emerald City. He is the one whom they are convinced is going to be able to help Dorothy to get home, and to help her companions with various needs they have.
But when, after many adventures, they finally get to the great Wizard, they find out that he is a fake; their hopes have been pinned on someone who is powerless to really meet their deepest needs.
WHAT WE NEED
The writer Max Lucado compares this story to mankind’s fruitless pursuit of fulfillment and happiness in all the wrong places. He says, “You don’t need what Dorothy found.” “You don’t need to carry the burden of a lesser god, a god on a self, a god in a box, or a god in a bottle.” “No, you need a god who can place 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and 100 billion galaxies in the universe.”
That’s the God you need: the Creator. In Psalm 16:11 David declares to God, “In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
God the Creator is the one we need; the one who alone deserves our worship. True worship acknowledges the infinite distinction between the Creator and the created. We were created to understand that distinction and to bow in worship before our Maker.
However, the Bible tells us how mankind fell into sin. First of all, the created angel Lucifer rebelled with some of his fellow angels and became whom we know as Satan. In Isaiah 14:14 we read what was at the heart of Lucifer’s rebellion against God: “I will make myself like the most High.” Instead of acknowledging God’s unique position as Creator, and his proper place as God’s servant, Lucifer wanted more: he wanted some of God’s status. And so he rebelled, and took other angels with him.
It’s interesting to see that in Genesis 3, when Satan in the form of the serpent tempts Eve to disobey God, the temptation is the very one that Satan himself fell victim to: he says to Eve, “If you eat of this fruit, you will be like God.” That was the temptation, to be like God; that was Satan’s lie, because no one can be like God. He is absolutely unique.
Eve eats, as does Adam, leading the human race into a state of rebellion against God, into false worship.
As Paul puts it in Romans 1,
they did not honor Him as God or give thanks. They…worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.
You see, the issue in the Fall was an issue of worship: the question was, Whom are you going to worship? Who is going to be on the throne of your life? Adam and Eve answered that question wrongly; they “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
Still the most important question that every man, woman and child in the world must answer is,
WHOM ARE YOU GOING TO WORSHIP?
Who is going to be first in your life, on the throne of your heart?
The story of the Bible, the story of human history, is God acting in history after the Fall to put right what went so terribly wrong in the Fall, and restore to Himself the worship that He alone deserves.
Unlike the first Adam, Jesus, sometime called the Second Adam, answers rightly the question that Adam and Eve answered wrongly: Whom are you going to worship?
In Matthew we read of Jesus being tempted by Satan right before starting his earthly ministry. And the third temptation is when Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and says “I will give these to You if You will bow down and worship me.” The question, “Whom are you going to worship,” that Adam and Eve tragically answered wrongly, Jesus answers rightly when He says to Satan, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”
Jesus then through His atoning death provides the way for us to be redeemed and to answer the question about worship rightly as well. A.W. Tozer put it this way:
WHY DID CHRIST COME? Why was He conceived? Why was He born? Why was He crucified? Why did He rise again? Why is He now at the right hand of the Father?
The answer to all these questions is, in order that He might make worshipers out of rebels; in order that He might restore us again to the place of worship we knew when we were first created.
God created us to worship Him; and He redeemed us to worship Him. The issue in the fall was man’s failure to give God the worship He deserves; salvation through Christ involves returning to the worship for which we were made.
THE GOSPEL: A CALL TO WORSHIP
That means that one way of looking at the gospel is as a call to worship: an invitation to turn from the false worship inherent in our humanity to the true worship enabled by Christ.
The gospel is a call to worship. And, by extension, missions is a call to worship. John Piper has claimed that worship, not missions, is the ultimate aim of the church. Missions is a very, very important means to an even great end: the worship of Almighty God among all the nations of the earth.
Worship ties the entire biblical story together, and the entire story of humanity. We were created to worship, in the fall we rejected that worship, Christ came to redeem and to make us true worshipers again, the call goes out to all people and all nations to worship the Creator, the only one worthy of worship, the only one worthy of Eternal Praise.
As we see clearly in the book of Revelation, Eternal Praise is indeed the aim, the goal and the climax of all human history. We see this in the great scenes of worship around the throne throughout the book. Consider also what we find in Revelation 22. John is so overwhelmed by the angel who is showing him the visions, that he falls down to worship the angel (v. 8).
The angel quickly corrects John’s wrongly directed worship:
but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book.” (v. 9)
And then in two words, in the very last chapter of the Bible, the angel summarizes what I think is the call, the invitation, the command of the entire Bible.
All that happens in the drama of redemption, in the scope of biblical and human history, is directed towards this ultimate goal: “Worship God.” Everybody worships something; it is all important, a matter of life and death, the difference between heaven and hell, that you worship God. That you offer up to God Eternal Praise.