Heaven is about God.
As John continues describing his vision of heaven, he tells how he saw four beasts that encircle the throne of God. In Ezekiel 1, we find a description of four heavenly beings who sound strikingly similar to these that John saw, and in Isaiah 6, we find another group of beings called Seraphim who seem to have a very similar job. In both Isaiah and Revelation, these beasts fly around the throne of God and cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Through the radiance of His burning glory they scream with every fiber of their being the unending truth that God is perfect and pure and above all others.
Even in explaining these wonderful creatures whose abilities and presence far exceeds his own, John turned quickly from their description to their purpose - they spend day and night declaring the glory of the thrice-holy God. The spectacle was almost unbelievable, and without a doubt, John’s description of these beings could have stretched on much longer than two verses, but in the presence of the eternal and almighty God, these magnificent creatures were mere ornaments.
As John describes the angelic praise service that takes place around the throne of God, he sees further that the 24 enthroned and crowned elders fall down on their faces. Here John saw what was simply a faint echo in Psalm 95:6, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.” God is now surrounded by bowing and kneeling monarchs who after beholding his majesty have relinquished their own. In the face of the eternal King, no monarch dare retain his kingly authority. All power and rule flows from God himself, and on this day, every regal claim is returned to its Originator and rightful Owner.
Now, having taken a posture of complete humility, they join with the angelic creatures in a praise song that fills the heavens. Their praise addresses the very heart of worship. Our English word “worship” comes from an old English word that has the same root as the word “worth.” To truly worship something is to place a high value on it and to joy and meditate in that value. Often we find things to worship, whether it is a car, or a game system, or a new pair of shoes, or a fashion style, or family, or relationships, but none of these things are of ultimate worth. We may treat them as though they are the most valuable thing in existence, but they will never attain the worth that we ascribe to them.
There is only one who is worthy of unbridled worship. Here in John’s revelation of the throne of God, we find the one who is most worthy of worship. The one who is praised by the highest beings in all of creation sits on His throne while the elders cast their crowns at his feet and declare Him to be the most praiseworthy. Their song testifies to their perspective. In the presence of the Holy God of all the ages, they cannot help but cry out, “Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
I imagine that John was mesmerized at what he saw. The astonishing sight of God on his throne being worshipped by angelic beings and elders must have left him feeling speechless. It must have also left him with an overwhelming sense of the power and might of God. Nothing in life could challenge this kind of King. We may not always have His throne in sight, but we know His reign is unhindered and unimpeded. Nothing thwarts His purposes and nothing impedes His power. John’s life was in peril on the isle of Patmos, but the God of the universe was still on His throne and still in control.
Reflect: Why doesn’t John spend a lot of time describing the heavenly beings that he beheld?