How the Angels Worship
Angels Worship in Humility
In studying Hebrews chapter one, one of the arguments the author used to demonstrate the superiority of Christ, is the fact that the angels worship the Son of God. If the angels worship Him, obviously He is a superior Person to the angels. As I considered that, it made me a little curious how the angels worship the Son of God. Therefore, I would like to look at the Scriptures and see what the Bible says about how God is worshipped in the angelic realm. There is so much change in the air in America today and around the world as to how God ought to be worshipped. I think it would be instructional and wise for us to look into the Bible. How is God worshipped in Heaven? We can learn a lot from the angels as we see how they worship God.
How is it that the angels worship God? We have a picture of that in Isaiah chapter six. We actually have quite a few pictures of angels worshipping before the throne of God in Heaven. One interesting thing to observe in verse two are the wings of these angels, the seraphim. With two wings they covered their face. It is a concept that the New Testament speaks of as shamefacedness. When the angels stood before the throne of God they took two wings to cover their face. It was not because they were sinners. These were holy angels, elect angels. These were angels that loved and served God. There was not a trace of sin in them. Yet, there was still this sense of utter humility before God Almighty. Angels, first, worshipped God in humility.
In the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah gathered the people together and it says as he stood there to preach and he opened up the Scriptures, and as the people began to worship it says that as he began to speak, they bowed their faces to the ground. This is a concept that we see in the Bible over and over again. The very essence of worship is bowing down before the Creator. It involves two things. When we bow ourselves down as creature, we are lifting Him up. That is what worship is all about. It is about exalting God and humbling ourselves. Bowing down is the natural response of a creature who senses the presence of God. Our English word for worship comes from an old English word that means worth-ship. It is attributing worth to God. It is exalting God for Who He is. That is exactly how we see God worshipped in the Scriptures. Blessed is God. The angels ascribe blessedness, holiness, majesty, might, power, wisdom, honor, and glory to God because of who God is. These are His attributes, His characteristics. As God’s worth is considered, it is humbling to mere creatures. The creature is abased and the Creator is exalted. As soon as we really stop and think, and meditate on the majesty of Almighty God, we are humbled. It exalts the Lord. When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up (in chapter six), he said, "Woe is me!" (Isa. 6:5). He said he was undone and so were all his people who come into the presence of an infinitely holy God.
In Genesis 17, when the Lord Himself appeared unto Abraham, Abraham fell on his face before God. The book of Ezekiel begins with the same picture. Ezekiel got a glimpse of the throne of God in Heaven. And it says when Ezekiel got a glimpse of that throne (in chapter one), that he fell on his face. Again in Ezekiel chapter three it says he got another glimpse of the throne of God and he fell on his face. When Job finally understood Who he was dealing with, he said "Wherefore I abhor myself" (Job 42:6). He had to rejoice in the Almighty character of the Lord. When Daniel (in Daniel chapter ten) got a glimpse of God, his strength left him. He strength just failed him. It was as if the wind was just knocked out of him. In Matthew 17 when the disciples were on the mount of Transfiguration they heard a voice, the voice of Almighty God. The text says they just fell on their face before Him. What else can you do in the presence of God? In the very closing book of the Bible, in Revelation chapter one, there is that vision of the risen, glorified, Lord Jesus Christ. And John said when he saw it, he fell down as a dead man before Him!
In the Scriptures, God is worshipped with a sense of humility. It is a sense of unworthiness of being in His presence. Keep in mind, this concept of shamefacedness, or bowing down before the Creator is not a response to a command. It is not the physical bowing down that God commands us to do. It is not a ritual like genuflecting. Nor is it a learned or a cultural response that varies from place to place. Worship at its very essence is the creature bowing before the Creator. Whether we bow physically or in our hearts, we ought to be humbled in the presence of Almighty God. That is how the angels worshipped the Lord.
I can remember a few years back standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was so big that it just took my breath away. In New England the roads are so crooked that you can only see a few feet in front of you. There you could see what looked like forever. I felt so puny. And if we feel so small before a little crack in the Earth, how much more humbling is it to stand before the Creator of the universe! When David looked up into the heavens and saw how vast they were, he could just see with his eyes. He had no idea how many more stars and galaxies there were that his eyes could not see. But what he could see humbled him. He said, "What is man" (Ps. 8:4). It took the breath out of him. When he saw how immense the creation was, he thought how immense the Creator must be. You see, there is a tendency in coming before God’s presence to be shamefaced, to be humbled before Him. This overwhelming sense of humility before God is not necessarily based on the guilt of sin because the angels were holy angels. There was no sin in them whatsoever. Yet they were still humbled in God’s sight. Yes it was true of Isaiah, that in part, his shrinking away from God had to do with the fact that he was a sinner. He said, "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" (Isa. 6:5).
When Peter got a glimpse of Jesus in the boat, he said, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Lk. 5:8). But when we see the angels standing before God in humility, with shamefacedness, there is not a trace of the guilt of sin. The contrast is between the infinite holiness of Almighty God and a puny little creature that is able to reflect just a bit of that glory. As majestic as we might envision the angels to be, they see themselves as quite small before God. True worship has to take place in an atmosphere of humility. That is why there is no room for once ounce of showmanship in worshipping the living God.
Angels Worship in Reverence
Also in Isaiah chapter six, we see that angels worship not only with a sense of humility, but also with a deep sense of reverence. They chanted before God’s throne (in Isaiah 6 and later on in Revelation 4), "Holy, holy, holy" (Isa. 6:3). You see, holiness is the preeminent characteristic of God. It, above all others, is to be accentuated in our worship. God is faithful. He is just. He is kind. He is compassionate. But the angels are not standing before the Lord saying wise, wise, wise or compassionate, compassionate, compassionate. They stand before His throne day and night saying, "Holy, holy, holy" (Isa. 6:3). His holiness incorporates all these other attributes. So whatever we do in our worship time it should enhance our appreciation of God’s holiness and our reverence for Him. Anything that diminishes or detracts from this sense of awe before His holiness ought to be removed entirely from our worship. That is one of the reasons you will never see Rock and Roll music in the Salem Bible Church. Music, more than anything, creates a sense of atmosphere. The atmosphere that we want before our infinitely holy God is not the sensual type of music of the world, but rather that which is pleasing in God’s sight. Good music is joyous. It is thrilling. It is exciting. But, it ought to be reverent. It ought to be an appropriate form of worship for the Lord.
We are a little handicapped in this building because our assembly room is our hallway and our grand central station and all the rest. But by God’s grace with our building program we are going to put up an assembly room where we go to worship, where we go to quiet our hearts, and to prepare our hearts to worship the true and living God. As the angels worshipped before the throne and God and chant holy, holy, holy, there was no one snapping bubble gum in the background or sipping a cup of coffee. There was no one telling jokes or chatting about the Super Bowl in the background. When they went into God’s presence it was to worship Him. It is our responsibility, as we gather together as God’s people, to bring with us a sense of reverence for God. It really does not matter what the size or the shape of the building is. There could be sense of worship when believers gather together to worship in a grass hut in a jungle. But, the important element in worship is that we are acknowledging Who God is. That He is holy and that we bow before Him and express our appreciation, and that we demonstrate a genuine sense of reverence before Him. He is worthy.
When a visitor comes here, he may not understand our doctrinal position. He may not have a clue as to what we believe. But I hope and pray that he can sense the spirit of worship here, that we honor God, that we want to worship Him with our whole heart.
Angels Worship in Wonder, Awe, & Fear…
The writer of Hebrews (in chapter twelve), exhorts his readers to serve (and that word for serve is for priestly worship) with reverence and godly fear. That is what we see in the Scriptures when believing men gather to worship the Lord. It was with a sense of reverence. And to take that one step further, it was with a sense of awe and fear.
Job tells us in Job 38, that when God created the heavens and the earth, the angels were there. On the very first day of creation the angels were there and it says that "the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7) at the creation that came from God’s spoken Word. So, here we have a picture of angels standing in absolute awe and wonder and amazement at what they saw before their eyes. They were just recently created and suddenly they are seeing God put together the Earth, the Sun, the Moon and the stars and a vast universe. They stood there and observed, and their breath was taken away from them. They could do nothing but shout for joy. They watched God create and they did so in wonder and awe. They sang with hearts full of worship, and that worship was characterized by a sense of awe and wonder at the majesty of God.
The angel had a sense of wonder and awe at the mighty works of God. In Isaiah 9:6 we read of the Son of God: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful." The very first characteristic that Isaiah gives us of this God/Man child that was to be born into the world is that He is full of wonder. It is an interesting word that is used here. In Genesis 18:14 it us used in the sentence "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?" Literally it means: is anything too wonderful for the Lord? The term wonderful means something that is beyond our capability of totally grasping. It is something that is extraordinary, that fills us with marvel and awe and wonder. The very first description of the Son is that He is full of wonder. That ought to characterize our worship.
The Angel of the Lord appeared in the book of Judges unto Manoah and his wife. Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, "What is thy name?" (Jud. 13:17). He sensed that he had seen God, and he said, what is your name? And the Angel said, "Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?" (Jud. 13:18). That word for secret is wonderful. It is the name of God. And everything about God and His name is full of wonder. It is beyond our complete comprehension. If we could understand everything there is to know about God, He would be pretty small.
Angels stood in awe and wonder when Jesus was born. They stood in wonder and awe when He rose from the dead. And angels attended Him in wonder and awe as He ascended into Heaven. As He was seated at the right hand of God, angels worshipped the Son. They stand in awe of God’s plan. As we come together for worship there ought to be a sense of awe and wonder in our worship too. There should be a sense of humility because we do not know everything there is to know about God. He is much bigger than we are. There ought to be a sense of mystery where we come together to worship God. Oh, we can know what is revealed about Him, but we are going to be learning about God forever and ever. We do not know it all. When we lose our sense of wonder and awe in our worship there can be only one reason. It is because of diminished view of Who God is. If we have the right concept of God, (that He is infinite in His understanding, He is omnipotent, He is everywhere, He is Almighty God), then we are going to stand in awe and wonder before our Creator. The angels have never lost the wonder of it all. And, we need to pray that by God’s grace, we will never lose the wonder of it all. When that happens, our concept of God is diminishing, and self is exalted. At times, in our pride, we think we have God all figured out.
If astronomers can stand in awe of the stars, should we not stand in awe of the God that made them? If scientists and physicians stand in wonder and awe at the marvels of the human body, should not we stand in awe of the God that created the human body? Good grief, we stand in awe of a computer! What about God? There ought to be that sense of wonder and of awe, when we come into His presence to worship.
Angels Worship Unceasingly…
In Revelation chapter four we find another characteristic of angelic worship. Revelation 4:8 says, "they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." Here we see that the angels round about God’s throne never stop. Their worship is with a sense of awe and of wonder and it is also unceasing. They never stop worshipping God day and night before His throne, chanting holy, holy, holy.
Worship is something that ought to characterize our whole lives, not just on Sunday morning, not just when we get together, but the sense of humility before our Creator ought to follow us around everywhere we go. It says in the gospels that it was the custom of our Lord on the Sabbath day to worship God. (Lk. 4:16) He made it His habit. He made it His custom. What we are seeing today is a change in the way worship is taking place.
We see in I Kings 12:28, a time when the nation was divided into northern and southern potions of the kingdom. There we read, "Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Notice what the king is doing here. The nation was divided, so he told his people in the north, Oh, it is so far to go to Jerusalem. It will be so inconvenient for you to go way down there to worship God in the Temple. Why do we not worship right up here? There were three annual feasts in Israel in which every single male of a certain age group was to go to Jerusalem and worship. Rest assured that was very inconvenient for all those families. They did not just hop into an air-conditioned bus. They had to go by foot or on a donkey. They had a long way to go. Some of them that lived on the fringes of the land of Israel. Three times a year God had commanded them to interrupt whatever they were doing and come down and worship God. Looking at I Kings 12:27, why did this king want to make worship more convenient for his people? The king said, "If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah." Do you see what this apostate king of Israel was thinking? He was afraid that if these people went way down to Jerusalem, (that long inconvenient journey to worship the Lord), then maybe they would turn back to God’s appointed king. Maybe they would turn back to the old system of worship and he would be out. Maybe it would stir up a real love for God in their hearts. If the people turned back to worship the Lord that would mean disaster for the north. So, he devised a system of worship in the north that would be easier. It would be much more convenient. It would not interfere with their busy schedules and their lives. We see the very same spirit in our churches across the country today, exemplified in changing the worship service from Sunday to Thursday, (why interrupt our weekend?), canceling evening services, doing away with prayer meeting, casual kinds of services, dressing down, changing the times of services so that they will not conflict with all our pleasure and all of our fun, and bringing in the easy listening music. The trend is to make worship more comfortable, casual, easy and convenient. It is a new kind of worship geared to please those that are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. It has caught on as wild fire.
I would like to suggest that worship that is based on the convenience of the worshipper is missing the most essential ingredient in worship – and that is sacrifice. Open up your Bible. The very first time worship is ever mentioned in the Bible is when Abraham offered up his son as a sacrifice to God. That is worship. The first occurrence is sort of a foundation for the theme throughout the rest of the Bible. Worship, if it is anything at all, is offering something to God. It is giving up for God. It is sacrificing for Him.
In II Samuel 24, a plague had struck the nation Israel because of David’s sin. He desperately wanted to stop that plague. Therefore, David decided to offer a sacrifice. One the farmers said, King David, I will give you my land, my animals, and all you need to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. David said, No way. I will not offer to God anything that does not cost me something. David understood rightly that worship, if it is worship as all, has to involve sacrifice. (II Sam. 24:21-25)
In Malachi 1:13, God is rebuking the priests and the way the system of worship had degenerated in Israel. He said, "Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD." Notice here that not all worship is accepted by God. God is telling the priests, that although they are sincere, and although they are working hard, and although they are worshipping God, and although they are worshipping the true and living God, He would not accept their worship. It was because of the attitude of heart of the worshippers. Notice, in verse 13, how He describes the attitude of the people in their worship: "a weariness is it!" All of these sacrifices, all on these animals, all of this blood shed, all of these trips we have to take to Jerusalem, it is such a burden, so wearisome! In Malachi 1:7 God rebukes them, "Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible." They were offering sacrifices that were polluted. They were offering in Malachi 1:8 "the blind… and… the lame and sick" animals instead of the animals without blemish. And God said they had removed the essence of true worship, namely, sacrifice. God was not going to accept their worship. Ultimately they came to the place (Mal. 1:13) where they said it is too much. It is so inconvenient. It interrupts my schedule too much. It is cramping my lifestyle.
I wonder, is worship wearisome to us? Is it a burden? It is a nuisance to have to get out of bed on a Sunday morning? It is a nuisance to have to come to prayer meeting and pray? Is it burdensome to us to have to worship before God and to have to put God first? If it is, the problem is our hearts. Our attitude in worship is really a reflection of our attitude toward God. To lovers of pleasure worship is weariness. To lovers of pleasure worship is a burden; it is an interruption. But to lovers of God it is delight! The angels loved worshipping God. Godly men and women in the Bible loved to worship the Lord. They came into His presence with singing and joy in their hearts. There was not thought of it being burdensome. In Israel, families had to rearrange their whole schedule to get their family all the way down to Jerusalem. They had to rearrange everything and put all their plans and activities on hold in order to get to Jerusalem for the feast days. And they were willing to do so. We read the accounts in the secular writings of the Jews, and in the Psalms, that they came singing. It was a festive occasion. They came singing and praising God all the way there. They were willing to sacrifice to worship God.
In our country today there is a big push to make worship casual, convenient, easy, user friendly, and sacrifice free! The very heart of worship has been surgically removed today. Worship has become little more than a religious entertainment center. This is part of the spiritual battle we are involved in today. These trends are all around us in Christendom. It is sapping the life out of real worship. The enthusiasm and excitement that we see in worship today is more closely related to fun and entertainment than it is to God. Instead of being amazed at the Savior, they are being amused by the latest gimmick. By God’s grace we must stand opposed to that. We must be willing to be different from the world and even different from other churches who seem to be following the world. We are going to encourage folks to come out to worship God, not to hear a famous singer… not to hear a famous basketball player or see a light show or some other thing, but to open up the Bible and to bow our hearts before the true and living God, and stand in awe of His person – because He is here. We need to adjust our lives and schedules to revolve around Him, not to adjust the worship of God to fit into our busy schedules.
Maybe some find morning worship, evening worship, prayer meeting, our quiet times to be burdensome. But if we love God it is a delight. I have found it to be so. We have had some young people in this church that have known nothing other than Wednesday night as a time for prayer meeting. They have grown up that way. Some of them as toddlers have come into prayer meeting and they slept through the whole thing. They did not get anything out of the prayer meeting but this: they grew up knowing that prayer is important to mom and dad. Worshipping God is important to mom and dad. It says in Revelation 4, that the angels worshipped God day and night chanting holy, holy, holy. They were not looking for a more convenient method. They did not grow weary in their worship. It was not a burden. It was their eternal delight to stand before the God they love and bow before Him in worship and adoration!
Angels Worship With a Single Eye …
There is something else instructive about these angels. In Revelation 4:10 is 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 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 attempt 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 a study 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 how God 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 worship from 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 the living 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 us that 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.
Angels Worship Enthusiastically…
Another way the angels praise the Lord was with great enthusiasm. In Revelation 5:12, notice that the angel, in Heaven, (this is good worship – worship that is pleasing to the Lord) were saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb." They did not mumble. They were not falling asleep. They were excited… thrilled! What we see here are angels around the throne of God with great enthusiasm for God, and no one else – just God. Being right there in His presence thrilled them and it caused them to have zeal and enthusiasm in their worship. You know, when we sing, it is right for us to be enthusiastic. It is right for us to have some zeal and life and emotion and feeling as we sing these songs. How can we possibly mumble the words, "How great Thou art?" We noted earlier, when the angels of God were watching God create the universe (in Job 38) it says they shouted loudly. They shouted out for joy. Read Psalm 150 sometime. It is a great psalm of praise where they praised God with a loud voice. They praised Him with sounding cymbals. They praised Him with great enthusiasm. The whole psalm is about zeal and excitement for God. That is basically the main gist of that psalm. That is the way the book of Psalms ends, on a loud and wonderful note of praise and worship for the Lord. Enthusiasm – it is not something the church leaders are responsible to orchestrate. Enthusiasm for God has to come from the heart. It is not something that we can whip up. It is not something that we can manufacture. It is not created by choreographers. It has to be found in our hearts when we arrive at church, or it is not going to happen. The excitement and the enthusiasm we see when God is worshipped in the Scriptures, is a heart that loves God and wants to offer that love, praise, worship, and adoration to Him. That is really what worship is all about. We come to offer unto God our praise. It is not the preacher’s responsibility to stir people up and to try to conjure up a man-made enthusiasm. A worship service is not a pep rally. It is not that we are to try to stir up excitement if it is not in the heart already. Enthusiasm for God is not going to be produced by loud amplifiers or purple microphones or swaying in the isles or by turning on strobe lights. It really does not help a bit. Those external things can create a sense of excitement, but not excitement for God.
The Bible says that it is our responsibility to come with praise and worship and enthusiasm in our hearts already. Psalm 100:1-4 says, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." Notice verse four, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." Notice how the psalmist tells his readers to come to worship God. When they came into the courts to worship God, they were to come with that praise in their hearts already. They were to come into the courts, the place they were to worship, already prepared for worship. They were to have a heart full of thanksgiving already when they got there. It was not something to be whipped up at the service. They were to enter into His courts with praise and worship, and thanksgiving and excitement and enthusiasm for God.
We often hear the illustration that we come to church to get our ‘batteries charged’ once a week. I do not like that illustration. If I am reading Psalm 100 right, the psalmist expected the worshipers to come with their batteries already charged up. They were expected to spend all week loving God and serving God and worshipping God, honoring Him in their day to day life. When they got together for corporate worship this was to be an exciting, thrilling time for them… the climax of a week already spent praising God!
Psalm 96:8 says, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts." Notice again, when the worshippers came into the courts of the Lord they were to have something with them. They were to come with the offering already. They were to come prepared to offer and to worship unto God. They were not to come lifeless, with an empty heart, and with no zeal for God. They were to come there ready to worship. Keep that in mind as we look at Hebrews 13:15 which states, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." Here we discover from the book of Hebrews that as we as Christians, as we gather together to worship, we are also to bring an offering unto God. We do not bring an animal and sprinkle the blood. But we are still required, (every one of us - not just the pastor or the choir members or the song leader), to come into His courts already with an offering. Our offering, we are told here in verse 15, is a sacrifice of praise. This is what we offer to God. We come here with a heart full of thanksgiving and excitement and enthusiasm and praise. We say, God, this is for You. The worshipper is expected to bring his offering when he comes. It is not the responsibility of the church or the church leaders to make worship exciting. Worship by its very nature, (if we know Who God is), already exciting. We can worship in a grass hut. We can worship in a cave. We can worship in a glass cathedral. The external environment does not make a bit of difference. It is God! HE is what worship is all about. And, God is exciting!!! Just think about whose presence we are coming into. We are coming before God! In a very real sense, the local Church is the habitation of God through the Spirit. (Eph. 2:22)
Now, we do not see God, but if we think, if we meditate on what we are really doing here, instead of drifting off, it is exciting to come into the habitation of God! Genuine excitement over God must be brought to the place of worship. I cannot make you excited over God. The preaching of the Word is not going to do it. Preaching is to point us in the right direction. But, if our hearts have been weaned away from the things of God all week long and we have been just feasting on the things of the world, spiritually, we are going to be "out of it" when we come here to worship. We are not coming prepared. Only YOU can do that. Only you can prepare your heart for worship. It is not the pastor’s job. It is not the choir director’s job. It is not the choir’s job stir us up and create some kind of external excitement. They do that at political rallies. They do that at football games. But, that is not what church is all about. We are to come here all prepared to worship God. That is why we have been encouraging people since we first opened the doors here, that five minutes before the service starts, let us keep it hushed and sit down so that we can open our Bible and meditate and think about God – prepared to praise.
There really is not anything boring about true worship. I know that some Christians are bored when the rest of the Body is worshipping. But, that is not the fault of the worship style or format. That is not the fault of the Body. Bringing in a celebrity or rock band will not enhance real zeal in worship. The problem is that the heart of one member is not rightly related to the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other reason. God is exciting. Coming into His presence is an exciting thing. David wrote, "In thy presence if fullness of joy" (Ps. 16:11). The only time worship is boring is when our heart is not right and when our focus is not on the Lord. If you want to put your focus on the preacher, it will be boring. If you want to put you focus on God, He is thrilling. There is a big difference. God’s Word is not boring. It does not mean that the message or the way it is delivered is exciting, that might be a little drab. But, the Bible truth itself is not boring. It is exciting. It is fascinating. It is thrilling and it will thrill our hearts the rest of our days, if our heart is right. As we sing these great hymns of the faith, they do not need to be spiced up with electric guitars. Some of the godliest men that have ever lived have penned the words of some of those hymns. Men who have been through great experiences with God have written out of sound doctrine and a love for God, something so much deeper than the trash and the silliness that is being promoted today. These songs, the great hymns of the faith, can excite us if we love the God we are singing about. The answer is not to bring in a big band. It is not to get Michael Jordan to come here and say a few nice things about Jesus. We do not need a nationally known speaker. We are not here to create excitement. We are not here to create hype over God the way the world does. It just is not the church or the church leader’s responsibility to try to make worship exciting. We would miss the whole point. It is all about God and nothing else. God, (if we know Him as we should), is thrilling. Real excitement, and real joy, and real enthusiasm come out of a heart that is sold out for Christ. It is a heart that is sold out and loves God. The excitement and joy in worship come from a heart that is in tune with God. If our heart is in tune with the world, if our heart is in tune with something else, then the new song of God is going to sound a little drab.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:31-33, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Paul is saying here that there is something that we can learn from a husband and wife relationship that is to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Christ loved the Church and He gave Himself for the Church. When two people love each other, what really matters is being together. It does not matter where you are. Two people that really love each other can have a thrilling time at McDonalds. You do not have to be at the Tavern on the Green, if you really love each other. "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" (Prov. 15:17). Two people in love can have a thrilling, exciting time just being together. They do not need all kinds of gimmicks. They do not need all kinds of external trappings. They do not have to be in Disneyland. They do not need to have all kinds of loud noises around them to get them stirred up. They love each other. That love is where the excitement comes from.
When it comes to worship, Paul says, there ought to be that same kind of intensity between the Church and Christ. We do not need all these gimmicks. Christ is what worship is all about. If we love the Lord with all our heart, we can worship God in a grass hut and it is thrilling! Believers can enjoy God just as much even if they are meeting together in a cold shack in Albania, listening to a foreign missionary butcher their language and stumble through his message. But they are getting truth from God’s Word and it can excite their hearts and souls and turn them on fire for God – if their heart is right. You see it really is not the preacher. It is not the choir. It isn’t the choreography. It is not the building. It is not some famous guest speaker that comes in or pretty flowers that make a worship service heavenly. It is Christ and nothing else. If we love Him, we will love to worship Him. If our worship is boring and drab there is something wrong with our heart. Maybe it is interrupting our schedule. Maybe it is a weariness. But, worship ought to be about God. And you know God is still pretty exciting. When our hearts a flooded and filled with the things of the world, there is not much room for God there. God is not going to be as exciting, the spiritual life is not going to be as thrilling as it used to be when I first got saved. Then, every little morsel was new and sweet and exciting. And we loved God with all our heart and were thankful to Him. Everything was just bubbling over with excitement. Now that we have been saved a while, well, maybe… Has God changed? I don’t think so. "For I am the LORD, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). What did change? If God is not exciting to us any more, if the Bible does not thrill our hearts like it used to, if worship does not thrill our soul, then our hearts have changed. It is not the responsibility of the church leaders to rearrange the way we "do worship." It is the responsibility of each of us to rearrange the priorities of our hearts. Maybe our hearts need to be shaken up a little bit. Make Christ the center of our lives – then we can enter into these gates with thanksgiving, then we can enter these gates with an offering unto God. The Lord will be delighted in that kind of worship. And then even a formerly boring little church which meets in a grass hut (with no celebrities; no big bands; no gimmicks; no exciting programs) will be a thrilling place to be. Why? It is thrilling because we are in a room full of people that all love God.
It does not matter if the preacher’s sermon is a thoroughly mediocre, or if the choir goes a little sour, their only job is to point men to Christ. That is all the pastor is here for. That is all that the choir is here for. That is all the song leader is here for. If we look to Him, our heart will be excited.
Angels Worshipped God In Unity…
Another thing about angels’ worship can be seen in Revelation 5:11. "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." That is a lot of angels! But, they praised God with one voice. Voice is in the singular. What we see here is that angelic praise and worship is in unison. They praise God in harmony. There was no chaos. There was no disorder there. When they praised the Lord, it was with one voice, one united voice. "Worthy is the Lamb," and it was the same song on every single heart of each one of those angels. They were in perfect agreement that the Son was worthy to be praised. That is what worship ought to be about here too. When the angels worshipped God there was no rivalry among them. There were no feuds. There was no strife. There was no politicking for position. There was perfect unity, perfect harmony. They praised God with one voice. There was no room for discord in Heaven. As we gather together to worship, we need to leave all the baggage that does not belong here, outside. We need to come here as like-minded believers to worship God with one united voice. "Worthy is the Lamb!"
Angels Worshipped God Intelligently and Acceptably…
Notice also in Revelation 5:8, these angels joined in the song of redemption. They had to learn redemption by watching the church and observing God’s plan unfolding. Notice as they sang their doctrine was pure. They sang about redemption. They learned these truths, but they learned them accurately. They worshipped the Son of God intelligently. They all said Amen to the great song of redemption. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 14:15, that if we are going to pray, we should pray with the understanding. Do not just babble on. Do not just recite little clichés that we have heard. Pray with the understanding. Paul says if we are going to sing, sing with the understanding. If we are going to worship God it has to be with the understanding. The Lord Jesus told us that He loves worshippers. He seeks worshippers. He seeks men and women and children that will worship Him in spirit, with great enthusiasm and excitement over God and in truth – those whose worship lines up with the Word of God. I suppose it is possible to go off on a tangent and have our worship become doctrinally sound, but nothing more than cold, dead orthodoxy. It is also possible to have our worship go into another direction and to be all human emotion and enthusiasm and no doctrine. The Lord Jesus said, here is how I want to be worshipped, "in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24). There has to be both: a heart that is on the one hand, on fire for God and enthusiastic for the things of God, and also on the other hand, a heart that is controlled by the Holy Spirit and bounded by the Word of God. When that takes place, God is delighted with our worship.
As one reads through the Scriptures, it becomes obvious that it is possible to worship God and yet have Him be displeased with our worship. It is possible to worship God unacceptably. (Gen.4:3-4) It is possible to worship God ignorantly. (Acts 17:22-23) It is possible to worship God in vain. (Matt.15:9) It is possible to worship God and in fact, nauseate Him! (Isa.1:11-15) It is possible to worship God and actually anger God! Uzziah was smitten with leprosy for attempting to offer a sacrifice to God (II Chron.26:16-20) Nadab & Abihu were burned with fire for offering strange fire (Lev.10:1-2) It is possible to worship God and actually be despising God! (Mal.1:6-10) It is possible to worship God hypocritically. (Matt.15:7-8) It is possible to worship God half-heartedly. (Jer.3:10) It is possible to worship God contrary to His Word. (Lev.10:1-2) It is possible to worship God & be weary of it. (Mal.1:13)
What God wants is worship from the heart. Worship is a very simple thing. It comes from a heart that is in tune with God, a heart that loves God, a heart that is in harmony with God and His Word, and a heart that is bowed down before Him in reverence and humility. It is something I cannot give to you. The choir is not going to make you excited about God. This is the individual responsibility of each and every one of us. I am responsible for my heart. I am responsible to stir up my heart every single day in the things God so that I do not get drawn away by the other things of the world. That is the responsibility of all of us. We need to be provoking one another and encouraging one another. The whole world is designed to drag us away from heavenly, spiritual things. But when our hearts are right, God delights in our worship. Is not that exciting? The Creator us the universe can be pleased by a little hunk of clay and dust like me and you! And He delights in it. And there is nothing more thrilling than knowing God and worshipping Him - His way.