Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven... Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty — the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come."Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, "You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased" (Revelation 4:1-11 NLT).
I knew the day would come. I took our Jr. High aged boys to Six Flags Astroworld on a hot day for some summer fun. Not too many were there, so we rode rides with abandon until the Ultra Twister Pipeline. I got on, strapped in, and off we went.
That's when it happened. After several turns in a row, the Twister straightened out and came to a stop. Then it went backwards through the same twists and turns. And then it stopped again. But, I didn't. My head kept spinning. My stomach kept churning. It took a full ten minutes before I found my center again. Then I realized the day had come when I would need to say "no" to any ride that makes me an experiment in a centrifuge designed to distort my center.
If you're not at that point now, you will be one day. Even if you can handle the wild and twisting rides, what about life? It doesn't take much to move us off-center, does it? Bombs in Boston rock our security. Relationship issues spin us around. Wreckage in West, Texas, shakes our foundation. Mistakes send us reeling out of control. We need a place to pause and regain our center.
So did the Christians at the end of the first century. The old apostle John writes to help them regain their center. Every day their world was spun wildly out of control by the ever-present threat of persecution. Their numbers were small as they gathered for worship of the One they claimed to be Lord. Up against the "powers that be" — both political and religious — their gatherings looked weak.
So John was given a different vision; one that showed him what was going on behind what was happening on earth. In Revelation 3 Jesus is standing at a door, knocking. In Revelation 4 there is an open door. John looks into heaven from a world that seems to be spinning like a drum in a washing machine What John sees has to do with what we today might call "a worship service."
He sees many things, but the main thing he sees is a throne. And let's just say you and I are not occupying the throne, but we are gathered around it. The "twenty-four elders" represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the church — the old Israel and the new church. And they all lay down their crowns before his throne.
The act of worship rehearses in the present God's promised future that lies ahead for us and is happening right now in God's presence. Heaven is introduced into the present. The church at worship is centered and gathered at God's throne. We receive the revelation of what is preached and the preaching of Christ. We sing songs that affirm that God alone is on the throne and we are affirmed by him reminding us that we are wanted and that we belong.
We get off the Twister of this crazy world for just a few minutes and re-center our lives. Our world stops spinning and we are reminded Who is control and what our future will be. And we choose to live faithfully for Jesus no matter the cost!