Worship has been a part of the religious life of the Church since the first days of its inception. It has lain at the center of what being a member of God’s community of believers on earth means. Despite this, many people do not have a clear theology of what worship is or its role in their religious experience. They may participate in worship services, sing the songs, go through the motions, yet it remains disconnected from the deep root system of thought and experience which controls their perception of reality. In short, their worship lacks the deep roots of theology necessary to support it.
Revelation 4 and 5 give a clear picture of what worship is. Within these chapters we are given a window into the activity around God’s throne to see the sort of worship which happens there. Beginning to look at this passage we can see three principles of worship with are expressed there.
1) Worship is connected to history. God is worshiped because of how he has made himself known. When singing to him the basis of their worship is, because “you created all things and by your will the existed” (4.11). The worship of Revelation is intimately connected to the space-time world where God has made himself known.
2) Worship is redemptive. The songs of revelation are connected to not only what God has done but what he will do. That is, they praise the Lamb because he “was slaughtered” and “ransomed’ saints for God (5.9), yet the result of their worship is that the Lamb may “take the scroll and… open its seals” (5.11). Worship is a part of the unfolding of God’s plan, in extolling his past redemptive acts and expecting his coming redemption.
3) Worship is ever expanding. The purpose of worship is to fill the cosmos. The structure of chapters 4 and 5 begin with worship from the four living creatures (4.8), then from the twenty-four elders (4.11), then both the living creatures and the elders (5.9-10), then all the angels in heaven (5.12), and finally all creatures in heaven, and on earth and under the earth and in the sea (5.13). The worship of God is meant to expand to fill all in all.
When we connect what worship means to the picture of worship in heaven we find that our worship is no longer a random act or a meaningless ritual but that it is connected to the deep roots of theology that is throughout the whole Bible. When we see our worship as a participation in that very drama around the heavenly throne, then our worship can be full of life, depth, and understanding.
Our weekly Prayer Team functions as a touch point for the Biblical Studies Students on the NightWatch at IHOPU. We meet a half hour four nights a week for encouragement, teaching and prayer together. Each meeting someone shares about either the acts of God in History or on developing a spiritual life. It is a great time to connect, grow, and learn.
Writing and Research
The last weeks have been filled with writing. My Topical Study class required us to write a twenty-page paper on a subject of our choosing. I have spent much of my free time over the past weeks holed up in the library digging though commentaries, biblical dictionaries and encyclopedias, and theology books trying to pull together information about my topic, The Throne of God and the Exaltation of Jesus.
My research took me all over the place, from the Ark of the Covenant, though the prophets, the Gospels, Acts, Paul, Hebrews and Revelation. I think I bit off a bit more then I expected, since my final project turned out around thirty-eight pages in length. I learned a lot in the process, though I am not sure how much of that was about my topic.
1) I learned how not to write a paper. Like, don’t wait till the last minute to start writing, or leave key parts unresearched until the day before it is due. Like, a good outline will serve you well, don’t put off figuring out your structure, or as great as computers are, sometimes paper and pencil are your best friend.
2) There is a lot more information out there then I could ever hope to cover. I knew this already, but as I actually got into the books, I realized how broad the subject was and just how much could be said, or had been said, or how much approached it in a totally different direction then I was planning too.
3) I enjoy this. Even with all the crutch time and being behind and working long hours, this was one of the most fun I have had doing an assignment for IHOPU. I enjoyed being able to actually put together a paper, think through my own topic and hopefully produce something worth reading, or at least, worth having been worked on for all I learned in the process.
The paper turned in, this quarter in now finished and we start new classes, the History of Revival and The Gospel through Writing, this next week. I am looking forward to a change of pace, and hoping for more papers to come. I guess well see what the next month brings.