‘In heaven’, there’s ‘an open door’ – This is the great declaration with which Revelation 4 begins.
This ‘open door in heaven’ speaks to us of the great love God has for us. We sing about the opening of heaven’s door when we sing the well-known hymns, There is a green hill and Jesus loves me.
In the hymn, There is a green hill, we sing of Jesus Christ our Saviour:
‘There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate of heaven, and let us in.’
In the hymn, Jesus loves me, we sing of the wonderful love our Saviour has for us:
‘Jesus loves me! He who died heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in.’
From heaven’s door, we hear the voice of love. It is the voice of our Saviour calling to us. He says to us, ‘Come up here’. What a gracious and glorious invitation this is! From heaven’s open door, Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, calls out to us, ‘Come up here’.
What happens to us when we respond to Christ’s call? John tells us in verse 2 – ‘At once I was in the Spirit’. To all who come to Christ in faith, God gives the gift of His Holy Spirit.
When we think of the opening of heaven’s door and the sending of the Spirit into our hearts, we can only bow before God in worship and say,
‘This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes’ (Ps. 118:23).
As we worship, we catch a glimpse of the glory of God. He is the eternal God. He is God the Creator. He is God the Redeemer. This threefold revelation of God as the eternal God, the God of creation and the God of redemption is found in 4:8, 4:11 & 5:12.
In 4:8, we catch a glimpse of the glory of the eternal God:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is
In 4:11, we catch a glimpse of the glory of God the Creator:
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour
and power, for You have created all things, and by Your will they
were created and have their being.’
In 5:12, we catch a glimpse of the glory of God the Redeemer:
‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!’
Looking through heaven’s open door, catching a glimpse of the glory of God. This is the heavenly and eternal context within which our worship takes place. We have gathered for worship as those who have heard the gracious call of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have heard His voice of love, calling us to worship. He still says to us, as He said to John, ‘Come up here’.
Humanly speaking, we have come down to the valley. Our place of worship is set in a valley surrounded by hills. Spiritually speaking, we have come up to the mountaintop – the high place of heaven itself. Here, in the low place that we call the valley, we lift up our eyes beyond the hills to the Maker of the hills, the eternal God, the God of creation, the God of redemption. We catch a glimpse of His glory, His heavenly glory, His eternal glory.
In our worship, we focus attention on three glimpses of God’s glory – the glory of the eternal God, the glory of God the Creator, the glory of God the Redeemer.
For our first glimpse of glory, we look at God as the eternal God. He is the God ‘who was’, the God ‘who is’, the God ‘who is to come’. The Bible begins with the eternal God. Before the world is even mentioned, we have the words, ‘In the beginning, God’. Before the world was created, there was God. Before He became God the Creator and God the Redeemer, He was the eternal God. The Bible ends with the eternal God. In the Bible’s final chapter, the eternal God gives us this majestic description of Himself:
‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the
Beginning and the End’ (v.13).
The eternal God calls us to put our trust in Him:
‘Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord God is the eternal (or
everlasting) Rock’ (Isaiah 26:4).
The eternal God gives great promises to those who put their trust in Him:
‘The eternal God is your Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting
arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27).
‘The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no-one can
fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of
the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men
stumble and fall; but those who wait on the Lord will renew their
strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not
grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ (Isaiah 40:28-31).
In this precious promise concerning the renewal of our strength, we have a description of God which leads us on to our second glimpse of glory – ‘The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth’.
For our second glimpse of glory, we turn our attention to God the Creator. He is the God who ‘created all things’. The first half of the Bible’s opening verse speaks to us of the eternal God – ‘In the beginning, God’. Before everything else, there is God. In the second half of the verse, we learn that the eternal God has become God the Creator – ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’. Here is love, the love of the eternal God. By creating the heavens and the earth, the eternal God pours out the love that is in His heart. This love – His love – is everlasting love.
When we speak of God as the God of perfect love, we will be challenged by unbelieving critics of the Christian Faith. They will say to us, ‘How can you believe in a God of love if He created a world like this?’ How are we to answer this kind of criticism? We must go back to the first three chapters of Genesis. There, we will learn about the world God created. We will learn that the world created by God is very different from the world as it is today. In the final verse of Chapter 1, we have a description of the world as it was created by God:
‘God saw all that He had made, and it was very good’.
We look at the world today, and we say, ‘What’s the world coming to?’ Why is there such a difference between the world as it is now and the world as it was created by God? The answer to this question is found in the third chapter of Genesis. The Bible’s answer to this question can be summed up in one word: sin. It is our sin which has spoiled the good world created by the God of perfect love.
As we read of Adam and Eve disobeying God, we must see ourselves in their story. We must see our sin, our rebellion against God. We have disobeyed Him. We have gone our own sinful way rather than walking in His perfect way. We have done what we wanted rather than walking in the centre of God’s perfect will for us. This is not only the story of Adam and Eve. It’s the story of every one of us – ‘All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory’ (Romans 3:23).
Sin – This is the reason why the world as we know it is so very different from the ‘very good’ world that was created by God.
The loving God created a ‘very good’ world. The sinful creature – that’s every one of us – has spoiled God’s world. That’s the basic message contained in the first three chapters of Genesis. From here, we now move on to our third glimpse of the glory of God: the eternal God, God the Creator, has become God the Redeemer.
Our third glimpse of the glory of God brings us to the very heart of the Christian Gospel. ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain …’ (5:11) – These marvellous words direct our attention to God the Redeemer.
In the opening chapter of the Gospel of John, we have profound teaching concerning our Saviour, Jesus Christ. This teaching, in verses 1-3 & 14 brings together our three glimpses of God’s glory – the eternal God, God the Creator, God the Redeemer.
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all
things were made … The Word became flesh and lived for a while
among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’.
Why did the eternal God take on human flesh? Why did the Creator of all things live for a while among us? The answer becomes clear as we read on in the Fourth Gospel.
In Revelation 4 & 5, we are invited to enter more deeply into the worship of God – the eternal God, God the Creator, God the Redeemer.
The words of John’s Gospel will help us to do this. In 3:16, John speaks to us of the love God has for all of us:
‘God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life’.
This is the eternal God, the God of eternal love, reaching out to guilty sinners, providing a way for us to share in eternal life with Him. In 1:29, John points us to our Saviour:
‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’
Twenty-nine times in the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ is described as ‘the Lamb of God’. ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!’ By praising our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ in such wonderful words of worship, the book of Revelation teaches us to pay special attention to the love of Christ.
We must not think only of the greatness of the power of God without also thinking of the greatness of the love of Christ. The power of God and the love of Christ belong together. We must not think of God only as the eternal God, the God of creation. We must think of Him also as the God of redemption.
We will focus on the God of redemption, when we ‘turn our eyes upon Jesus’. As we ‘look full in His wonderful face’, ‘the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glorious grace.’
May God, the eternal God, the God of creation ‘who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, make His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Cor. 4:6).