April 22, 2018

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

The Lord God the Almighty
Revelation 4:1-6, 8-11

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Although Yahweh had appeared in glory before this (e.g., to Isaiah and Ezekiel), Revelation is an unusually extended vision of the divine realm. This series of visions begins with the exalted Jesus (Revelation 1) and continues in chapter 4 with God the Father.

This epiphany serves to emphasize the glory of God. That today’s passage should provide a pattern for our human worship is not indicated. Nonetheless, the songs of the four living creatures have been an influence on hymns and worship songs.

In English, the words worship and worthiness have the same root. Yahweh’s worthiness relates to God’s creation of all things and God’s power to accomplish this work. Similarly, in chapter 6, Jesus is proclaimed worthy to open the seven seals because he has ransomed us through his blood.

In contemporary society, we have political leaders who demand to be exalted above all other people. Likewise, entertainment figures and celebrities are given special status. In human terms, the phrase rock star is a superlative, which can even be used to praise God, as in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Caught up in the hype, we may give our worship to those who are not worthy.

The four living creatures and the 24 elders praise God because God is holy, eternal, and our Creator. But as G. K. Chesterton said, we clearly perceive that our human idols did not make the heavens and the earth.

Just as our powers of technology confer political and military might, so our advances in communications make it easier to attribute special qualities to those not possessed of them. It is also true that materialism has blunted enthusiasm for nonmaterial qualities.

Our passage immediately follows Jesus’ messages to the seven churches, in which their good and bad works are highlighted. Thus, the connection is made between the scene in the heavenly courts and the churches on earth. This reinforces God’s intention that God’s “will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). These messages include the promise to the churches that whoever overcomes evil will also join with all the saints and heavenly beings in worshiping God forever and ever.

—Kevin McCabe, Kmccabe57@hotmail.com

© 2018

Kevin McCabe is a writer, teacher, and poet. He was formerly an instructor in Classics at several universities, and has also been the author and editor of two books on Lucy Maud Montgomery and a number of works on the history and literature of the Niagara Peninsula. Kevin is a member of Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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