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The Heart of Worship

• Dan Kent

The twenty-four elders fall before the Lord in perpetual worship, giving us a radical image of life in the presence of God. In this sermon, Dan Kent explores the meaning of worship by showing us that the key is our allegiance to God demonstrated by the choices that we make in laying down our crowns before him.

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In this sermon, Dan Kent addresses the nature of worship that we read about in John’s vision of heaven. In this vision, the twenty-four elders perpetually and continually lay down their crowns before the Lord. Dan asks if this is to be understood literally, and if it is literal does this mean that our time in heaven we will be spent in perpetual worship? Dan proposes that, like other images in Revelation, we need to read this passage as part of an apocalyptic text, where the author employs unusual images to point out deeper truths. Here there is something going on beneath the surface of the literal words, inviting us to see what is not immediately obvious.

Dan takes us beneath the surface to see how worship is really operating by talking about the nature of creativity. The twenty-four elders are creating poetry and singing songs in the fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation, and if we think about how creativity works, then we might see how their worship works. There are two points about creativity that Dan makes. First, humans don’t actually create. Any creative act is merely an expression of a possibility that God has always known. The Lord created all things, and humans make things. Whatever we make in this life actually already existed because it was formed as a possibility in the mind of God. We just form it in our action as we actualize the possibility in history. The elders in Revelation 4 were given their crowns by God and now they are giving them back to God.

The second point is that humans do actually create one thing because there is one thing that God does not already have. This one thing is our allegiance. God gives us the freedom to choose, and we cannot be forced to go one way or the other. We create our choices, and we express this through the things that we make. No one else can be who you are, and no one else can choose to do what you can do. The real masterpiece is who we are, not the art that we might create. God longs for us to choose to give our allegiance to him because this is ours to freely give. We can do this in many different creative ways.

The image of the twenty-four elders falling down demonstrates how they choose to give their allegiance to God. This image contrasts with giving allegiance to Caesar, as the language draws from poetry of worship of Caesar during this time. This raises the question of to whom we will give our worship, to Christ or to Caesar. Our worship, therefore, is not about the songs we sing or even how we sing them. It is about the allegiance of our hearts, our devotion to God.

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Topics: Heaven, Worship

Sermon Series: Good Heavens!

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The MuseCast: June 11

Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 4:9-10

    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.”

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