...and so should we.
This material is borrowed from messages given at the worship services of Salem Bible Church on January 24, 1999 by Pastor James Delaney
There is something else instructive about these angels. In Revelation 4:10 it says they, "worship him that liveth for ever and ever." In Revelation 5:12 they chant, "Worthy is the Lamb." What we see as the angels worship God in Heaven is that everything is directed to God. God is the center of it all. They worship God with a single eye, completely focused upon Him and nothing else. These angels were not interested in seeing what the angel next to them was wearing. These angels did not come before the throne of God to chat about the imperfections of some other angel. They were not there to glory in how well they sang or praised God. They were not there to show off their talents or their beautiful wings. They were there for one reason. Their focus was entirely on God. Their focus was not on the other worshippers but on God. They had a single eye in their worship. It is unthinkable to imagine worship in Heaven being designed to be entertaining to the worshipper. Could you imagine chanting holy, holy, holy, for just one 24 hour period, day and night? Angels do it unceasingly – holy, holy, holy, day and night, year after year, after year. Try it for a day. Do you think you would be bored? Be honest. Would you be bored if you had to chant, Holy, Holy, Holy for 24 hours? We would not be bored if we were right in God’s presence… not if we were standing in the presence of Almighty God! We would be so thrilled to see Him, to be there. That is exactly what the angels are doing in Heaven. They are not bored in God’s presence! There is not a thought of being bored. They do not have meetings of angels to get together to try to spice up the worship service because it is boring to them. There is no thought of that whatsoever. When men attempts to spice up the worship service, who are they really trying to please? Are we trying to please men or God? Be honest.
None of these angels ever came into God’s presence to worship in order to be ministered to. That is not why they came to worship. Worship at its essence is to sacrifice – giving to God, giving praise and ascribing glory unto Him. I could not imagine one of the angels standing before the throne of God and leaving disappointed. Oh, I have been here for nine days now, and nobody shook my hand. Or, nobody paid any attention to me. Unthinkable, when you come to worship God! Such thoughts indicate that the focus has shifted from God to self. We could learn from the holy angels!
Now, one of the benefits of worshipping God with all our heart and all our might is a complete, inner satisfaction. There is something entirely fulfilling about being in God’s presence and worshipping Him. Nothing in the world could ever match this sense of satisfaction that is ours when we come before the Bread of Life with open hearts. But, if we come to worship God in order to get a good feeling, we are going to walk away very disappointed, because the whole purpose and emphasis is wrong. Worship is not about getting. It is not about feeling good. It is not about being ministered unto. Worship is about praising God, and giving to Him. When the focus is on man and on self, it is wrong! We ought to come to give praise, not to get praise.
This seems to be a perennial problem - worship degenerates into entertainment for men. It happened in Israel many years ago. Isaiah had to deal with this issue. In Isaiah 58:13-14, God said to the Jewish people, "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." Do you see what had happened in Israel? The Sabbath for the Jew was the day of worship. They were to put aside all other affairs and to set aside this day to worship God. What happened in Israel’s history? They got tired of that. It was too inconvenient. It was wearisome. It became a burden for them. They began to change things and began to spice up the Sabbath a little bit to make it more convenient, to make it more satisfying for themselves. And it says they started doing their own pleasure. They wanted to do their own thing on the Sabbath. They wanted to follow their own ways. Oh, all these rituals and ceremonies, and sacrifices, why kill all these good animals? God said, if you will turn your foot around from your ways, from pleasing yourself on the worship day, doing your own thing on the worship day, and call it holy and recognize that it is My time, not your time, God said then "I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth." The Sabbath day had degenerated into a time to please men.
There are so many changes taking place in the area of worship today – some good, some terribly wrong. When angels worshipped God, they had an eye for God and nothing else. They did it with a single mind and a single eye. And all the attention was on God – pleasing Him, focusing on Him, exalting Him, giving Him the preeminence. Worship was all about God. We seem to have missed that today. Today it seems that it is designed to cater to men, to please men, entertain and amuse men. All the attention is on men. There was a time in Heaven when that happened, too. There were some angels in Heaven who decided that they wanted the attention on themselves. It was headed by Lucifer. He said, I am pretty wise too. I am a beautiful being too. How come nobody is paying any attention to me up here, and everybody is worshipping God? That attitude was instantly cast out of Heaven. It was despicable to God that Lucifer wanted attention for himself. He still seeks worshippers and followers for himself today. When the focus shifts from Creator to creature, God is robbed of the worship and attention He deserves.
We can learn a lot about worship from the angels. Our position as Christians is in the heavenlies. We are seated in the heavenlies. Our worship ought to be heavenly also. This is an issue that is going to cause many problems for us in the coming years as we are forced to deal with this tidal wave of change sweeping across the country. Change is not always good. Some change is good, but not all. When we see changes in the way men worship and approach God today, it ought to be based on astudy of the Scriptures. What we are seeing instead in a change in the way that God is worshipped based on a study of the television talk shows, the foot ball stadium, Hollywood and the entertainment world. That is no way to approach God.
It says in II Kings 16:10-13, "And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and" and guess what? He "saw an altar that was at Damascus," (a really nice altar), "and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar." He sent a blueprint down "and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus. And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon. And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar." He thought he was really worshipping God, but it made the Lord sick! Here was a king, who had already been given a pattern from God, handed to Moses and recorded in the Bible as to how the altars were to be constructed and exactly howGod was to be worshipped through the priesthood. Where did this king get the idea to change the way God was to be approached and worshipped? He saw the world doing it. He looked at the way the pagans in Assyria were worshipping God and he liked their style. It was an attractive altar. So, he sent the blueprints down and had one built in Israel. Why don’t we worship God on this? This was so much nicer. It is so much more appealing. It is a beautiful altar. Let us worship God on this. He did not get that pattern from studying the Scriptures. The book of Exodus was explicitly clear on how that altar was to be constructed. This king got his style of worshipfrom copying the way the world worships. And it was wrong! We are never going to change the tidal wave of change in worship that crossing the country. But by God’s grace we can stem the tide right here in our little Body! We are going to look like an insignificant, out dated, old relic to some. So be it. It does not matter what others say about us. What matter is that we keep God in the center of our worship, that we not come here to please me or you. We ought to be invisible. We ought to be looking up to God, bowing our hearts in humility and reverence and awe before Him, worshipping Him in accordance with what the Scriptures say. There is only one way to worship God – it is God’s way. He does not accept alternative styles of worship. He does not accept alternative doctrines. When it comes to knowing God in a saving way, Jesus said the very same thing, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (Jn. 14:6). There is only one way to be saved. There is only one way to approach the true and living God. We need to follow the principles in God’s Word.
If you are not born again… you need to believe on Christ and be born again today! God is a particular God. There is only ONE way to approach Him. He accepts no other ways. (cf. John 3:3-7)
We see, in Revelation chapters four and five, living creatures called beasts. They are the same as theliving creatures of the book of Ezekiel. These are angelic beings seen around the throne of God who join in with the twenty-four elders, picturing the Church. They worship God (Rev. 4:9-11) as the Creator. They are praising God because He created all things. They were created by Him and they were created for Him. Every single thing that exists in the created universe, everything that our eye can see, was created for God. He made it for himself. They angels know that. They worship Him for that.
What we want to see here is that angels worship God with praise and thanksgiving for Who He is. He is the Creator and they know it. We learn from the book of Job that on the first day of creation they were there shouting for joy when God created the foundation of the Earth. They were only moments old themselves when they began to sing and praise God for His work of creation. Although they were not part of God’s plan of redemption, it says in Revelation 5:9-10, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." Here we have the great song of redemption which is being sung by those who have been redeemed - human beings that have been redeemed out of every tongue, every kindred, every tribe. Depending on what the pronoun is here, (they) it appears that the angels join in with them, although they have never experienced redemption. There has never been any blood shed by the Lord to pay for the sins of fallen angels. There is no redemption for fallen angels. Yet we see them joining in when the Body of Christ is around the throne praising God as their Redeemer. Whether they sing the song of redemption or not, at least as the Church is singing about their redemption John says, "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5:11-12). The Lord Jesus took on a human body to die for mankind. He was slain for us. The angels know nothing of that, yet they learn through the Church "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). Peter tells us that the angels through out the ages have been desiring to look into these things, about "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (I Pet. 1:11). We see in Revelation chapter five, they finally understand it. It clicks and they now understand that the exalted, resurrected, and glorified Lord Jesus (the God-Man!) is the One they worship now, and will forever and ever! They ascribe worthiness unto Him. "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5:12). So they join in on this song of praise to God as the Redeemer of mankind. Angels love to worship God.
In I Peter 2, there is a fantastic passage where Peter lists our responsibilities as believers. This is one of the reasons why God chose us before the foundation of the Earth. He did not save me or choose me just to give me a ticket to Heaven. Peter writes in I Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;" (and here is why God chose us and made us priests unto Himself, made us unique people), "that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." God saved usthat we might praise Him. God saved us, He drew us out of the darkness, He placed us in the light, so that our whole life would radiate with praise and thanksgiving and worship to God. That is why He saved us.
I think that as Christians we grossly underestimate the value of praise and worship in our day to day lives. We need, as Bible believing Christians, to praise God more and more. But, how do we do that? How can we incorporate more praise into our worship service? Well, in some streams of Christianity today worship seems to be confused with action. Men attempt to stir up emotions to the point where men seem unable to constrain themselves. Often they explode into an emotional experience, wave their arms, shout out, shake their bodies, or let out the excitement in one way or another… as a volcano lets off steam! Yet, as I read in I Corinthians 14:32, when Paul was telling the church of Corinth how to worship, he said, "the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." His point was that it is good to praise God. It is good to express praise and adoration and worship and thanksgiving, but when we do it, our spirits need to be controlled. That is a sign of the Holy Spirit. The spirits of the prophets are subject unto the prophet. It is not that our inner man is to blow up whenever we feel like it. The fruit of the Spirit is temperance – self control. Our worship must incorporate both temperance and joy from the Holy Spirit. The filling and fruit of the Spirit, will give us perfect self control by God’s power, and also a joyous expression of praise and worship and adoration. We do not want to stifle worship. We do not want to stifle praise. We do not want to quench the Holy Spirit. We ought to be expressing that. Singing is not just a filler for our worship time. We gather here and sing praises unto the Lord. It is not just a time to daydream. I want to share a little confession. Because I have been thinking about this in preparing this study, as it was time to sing, (since I knew what I was going to preach on), I was extra conscious of the words and the meaning of the songs of praise. Hence, the singing was a special delight to me tonight. The words of those hymns were so clear and so encouraging. I have to confess that it not always that clear when I sing. The words are great, but I do not always appreciate the greatness of them. I often slack off and my mind gets lazy and sluggish. But when I concentrated, when I really thought about it, these are wonderful old hymns of the faith in which we can express emotions to God – How Great Thou Art!
Testimonies – they are another great way to express our worship, our praise and our admiration for God for how He works in our lives. Angels worshipped God and they praised Him and thanked Him. And we ought to do the same.