By Ben Simpson
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
The Book of Revelation falls into the literary genre of apocalypse. Apocalypse in modern usage suggests catastrophe or destruction. But the word apocalypse once carried a different meaning. The Greek word in the New Testament for apocalypse is apokuluptein, meaning to uncover or reveal. Revelation was not written to depict destruction but to disclose hidden things. John the Revelator offers a glimpse into God’s reality, encouraging his readers to remain steadfast in trial and confident in the hope of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 4 is a vision of heavenly worship. Heavenly creatures and twenty-four elders offer praise. The winged creatures declare the Lord is holy, powerful, and eternal. The elders lay down their crowns at the foot of the throne, saying that glory and honor and power belong to God, naming God as the creator and sustainer of all things. God is seen as praiseworthy, holy, and good.
When we pray, we join our hearts and lift our voices with those in the heavenly realm. We offer God our thanks and praise. We lay down our crowns. We submit ourselves to the reign of God, acknowledging God’s holiness, power, eternality, and overwhelming glory. We worship.
In one of his letters, Saint Ignatius of Loyola wrote, “My greatest desire, and even greater than the greatest, if one could say such a thing, is that should be crammed abundantly into the hearts of yourself, my relations and friends this same true love and full force for the service and praise of God Our Lord, so that my love and service for you might be ever greater.”
Ignatius longed that those he loved would join him in the fullness of God’s love through sharing in service and praise. He understood that the love of God, shared between relations and friends, has reciprocity. It yields increase. Ignatius wanted his friends to love God more, so that he would love God more, and in turn love them more, so that they would love God more, and on and on.
We learn to love God by recognizing God’s praiseworthiness, as did the winged creatures and twenty-four elders of Revelation 4:8-11. What is praiseworthy about God? Consider God’s mercy, justice, love, grace, beauty, and brilliance. Need something more concrete? Consider the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s love come to earth for you, for me, for us. If you have yet to see God as praiseworthy, ask God for revelation, for an uncovering, to disclose hidden things and to help you see.
Name that which is praiseworthy. Increase in love. Share that love with others. Praise God when you pray.
Identify one thing you can gladly praise God for. Offer your praise to God in prayer.
Almighty God, I praise you because you are worthy of all glory, honor, and thanks. This world is your glorious handiwork. You have given me the gift of life. Help me to live my life as an offering to you, and to honor you in word and deed. Instill in me the habit of praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.