Friday, December 23, 2011

Visions of Heaven

New Testament Challenge – Day 39
Revelation 1-11

As you know if you are a regular reading of this blog, I don’t make it a practice to write about or preach about the Book of Revelation. I do this because the Church has removed it from public reading due to its deep allegory and imagery. Since it is a book about the end why would I be so bold as to preach about the end prophecy? Jesus says, “but of that day no one knows, not even the angels of heaven.” (Matthew 24.36) So each year on these two days of the New Testament Challenge I choose rather to write about how we have been blessed with a glimpse into heaven through Revelation.

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." – Revelation 4.1-11

The worship of God is not something to be taken lightly, nor is it something that can be invented or tampered with. The angels, “do not rest day or night” in heaven to praise God and at every opportunity the residents of heaven (that will be us some day) fall down and worship God. This is the basis of Orthodox Christian worship which I fear has been totally lost by most Christians. The other day I heard one person say they “just didn’t get much spiritually out of Orthodox worship” so they attended another Church.

What does it mean to get something spiritual out of worship? Where in John’s vision do we hear of the participants receiving anything for their worship of God? Worship is something we GIVE to God, not something we receive. If we are thirsting for something spiritual “inside” during our worship then we must evaluate our hearts rather than the worship of the Church.

During Orthodox Christian worship, we are blessed and made Holy by God by virtue of being in communion with Him. If we don’t live in communion with Him, then we feel as outcasts in the Kingdom. The same will be our experience in Heaven, where worship of God is constant.

Make this Christmas the moment when you realign your life with God and begin preparing to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. We will all be there. The only difference is….will we want to be there?

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