Revelation 4 is what we expect to read when we open up Revelation. Excessive grander, blinding lightning shows, and strange scenes of wonder.
Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;6 and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.7 The first creature waslike a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature waslike a flying eagle. (Revelation 4: 5-7)
These images might be what is always going on in heaven or they might just be what happens at a particular moment in heaven but in the vague religiosity that is the American church, we don’t usually draw this image up when we think of heaven. This image revealed to John in Revelation 4 is frightening, strange, and mysterious. But there is no question what this whole scene is centered on – the “one who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever.”
Some people grumble about being in heaven and having to sing and praise all day but that is with the image of the lonely cloud with us plucking on a harp stuck in our head. If I am in the scene found in Revelation 4, I don’t think it will be difficult to pay reverence, honor, and glory to him who lives forever.
In today’s church climate, worship has more of a love letter feel to it but the scene described in Revelation requires less words of adulation and more words of glory, hallowedness, awe, and wonder.