Rev. 7:9-17: Worship in unity with humility, God does not forget what we do for Him.

Intro:

We have talked about why we worship and the answer is Jesus was slain for us. We have also talked about worship because God is worthy. Is He worthy of our worship? We have looked at worship in prayer and we have looked at worship in the Scriptures, specifically the Psalms. Today, we go back to the book of Revelation to look at worship in the throne room of God, once again. Today, we will look specifically at martyrs worshipping the Lord in Heaven.

Persecuted Nigerian Pastor Praises God
The Nigerian city of Jos sits on Africa’s great fault line between the Muslim north and Christian, and thus has faced terrible things in recent years. A Nigerian Baptist church was attacked by Muslim extremists who burnt the church building and the house of the church’s leader, Pastor Sunday Gomna. On the second Sunday after the violent outbreak, when the people of that Baptist church returned for worship, they gathered in a little mud wall community center about one kilometer from the burnt church.
Pastor Gomna stood up and offered some beautiful words of gratitude. He said, ‘First, I am grateful that no one in my church killed anyone.” Apparently, during the chaos of the attacks, Pastor Sunday had gone around the community and some of the Muslim people said, “Pastor, thank you for the way you taught your people. ‘Your people helped to protect us.'” So Pastor Sunday was proud that his people did not kill any Muslims.
“Second,” he said, “I am grateful that they did not burn my church.” Everyone looked at Pastor Sunday with disbelief. After all, everyone was meeting in a small, uncomfortable Mud hut had been burnt to the ground. But Pastor Sunday continued: “Inasmuch as no church member died during this crisis, they did not burn our church. They only burned the building. We can rebuild the building but we could not bring back to life any of our members. So I am grateful that they did not burn my church.”
He continued, “Third, I am grateful that they burned my house as well. If they had burned your house and not my house, how would I have known how to serve you as pastor? However, because they burned my house and all my possessions, I know what you are experiencing and I will be able to be a better pastor to you. So I am grateful that they burned my house as well.”

Wow! That is all I can say to that story. But you know what? I have read other stories that were similar.

Today, I want us to turn to Revelation 7:9-17 and let’s look at a passage giving us a picture of worship in Heaven. I have one theme and that is Worship in Heaven. I have two applications:
1) Worship God in humility and unity as we see in this picture of Heaven, we may be there.
2) Be encouraged, God does not forget what we do for Him (also Hebrews 6:10), we see in this passage martyrs rewarded by being being given the opportunity to serve in God’s throne room for eternity.
Turn with me to Rev. 7:9-17:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen! Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
I answered,“Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

I. Worship God in humility and unity as we see in this picture of Heaven, we may be there. I notice this from verses 9-12.
a. First let’s notice unity.
b. Here we see a picture of worship in Heaven. This is sometime during the end times. This is likely before the New Jerusalem comes down out of Heaven.
c. Verse 9 begins to describe a great crown. No one was able to count this crowd.
d. Someone joked that John could not count this large crowd but if a Baptist evangelist was there he would find a way.
e. The text says it is a large crowd.
f. Every nation, tribe, people and tongue are in this crowd. This is John’s way of saying that every people group from the world is in this crowd.
g. Unity: what is uniting them? Worshipping our Savior is uniting them, we’ll get to that.
h. So, one day Martin Luther King Jr. shared the following words:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
i. I believe we have come a long way, but I speak only from one point of view, the point of view of a suburban white male. But we have not gone far enough.
j. We see in this passage that Jesus can bring us together.

John Ortberg Considers the Ongoing Battle with Racism
Psychologists have found an intriguing way to study what it is that we really like and dislike. It’s called “affective priming.” They print a word over a bouncing dot on a computer screen. If people’s response is positive, they push any key with their left hand; if negative—any key with their right.
Too discover our deeper responses, researchers will use subliminal stimulation. They’ll print a negative word (like “fear” or “storm”) subliminally, below your level of awareness. Your intuitive system is so fast it reads those words and responds to them before you are aware. So if they show a negative word subliminally, then a positive word slowly, it takes you longer to move toward a positive response.
Sometimes they will flash a subliminal picture instead of a word. When it is a picture of an African American, “Americans of all ages, classes, and political affiliations react with a flash of negativity.” Including people who report they have no prejudice at all.
Mark Noll has written a fascinating little book called The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. He notes that all the wrangling between North and South over the Bible and slavery overlooked one huge difference between slavery in ancient Mesopotamia and slavery in 19th-century America—the latter was race-based, race-soaked, racist. The deepest evil over slavery was not just the economics of it, it was the racism of it. Even northern Christians, who were opposed to slavery as an institution, were much slower to oppose racism.
Noll also notes that, over the long haul, Christian theology always tends to have a radicalizing effect on society because of one belief: that all human beings come from the same ancestor, that all human beings bear the image of God.
I thought about these stories, and many others, when I watched the nation respond to the presidential election results. I wondered what my grandfather would have thought about a man, who could not have spent the night in his town, now governing his country. I imagined the response of the retired Louisiana colonel. Quite apart from party preference or position on any number of political issues, I cannot imagine living through that moment without hoping that there might be healing for wounds that go deep and raw.
I thought about how Paul said there was a time when the dividing wall of hostility that separated the “us” group from the “them” group came down. I thought about the Azusa Street Revival and how, for a few years, black people and white people defied all polite society and worshiped together, and then when the fervor cooled and things got respectable, they stopped and mirrored the rest of society.
I thought of how when God sits in front of his computer—whatever face gets flashed on a screen—the only button he pushes is marked love. Love. Love.
I wonder about the church…
Condensed from our sister publication Leadership Journal, © 2008 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Leadershipjournal.net.
k. So, God loves all and tribe, tongues and nationalities, all of them will be in Heaven. It is not the color of our skin, but our great Savior. All these groups are worshipping the Savior together.
l. Now, notice humility: they cry out with a loud voice saying salvation belongs to the Lord sitting on the throne and to the Lamb.
m. Then we see in verse 12: the angels, all of them, the elders, the four living creatures bow down, faces down before the throne.
n. There is great humility in worship.
o. They said:
i. Praise
ii. Glory
iii. Wisdom
iv. Thanks
v. Honor
vi. Power
vii. And strength belong to the eternal God.
p. They give God the glory due His name.
Let’s now break for Revelation Song
II. But I also talked about these martyrs.
a. As we look at the next few verses we see that John is asked who those in the white robes are.
b. The elder explains to John that they are martyrs. They died in the great tribulation because of the testimony of Jesus Christ.
c. There robes are washed in the blood of the Lamb, in Jesus’ blood.
d. Notice verses 15-17:
Therefore,“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

e. God does not forget what we go through for Him. In this case these people were martyred in the great tribulation and God rewarded them.
f. What was the reward?
g. The reward was worship.
h. They went through death, martyrdom for God and He rewards them with worship. Now, some of us may not think that is so awesome. Think about this.
i. They are given the privilege to worship God day and night. That is something I must get excited about.
j. But, more than that: they are given the privilege to serve in God’s Temple.
k. That is what this passage says: they are able to witness the awesome presence of God and the Lamb, Jesus, next to the throne. They are able to worship alongside the angels, the elders, the four beasts. They are able to be in the throne room of God.
l. Historically, it has always been a privilege to serve in the presence of a king, so what about the King of Kings.
m. There was a movie made a year ago about a Butler. It was a good movie, called “The Butler.” The movie was about an African American man who served presidents in the Whitehouse. I want to say that he served from Johnson to George W. Bush. What a privilege that would be.
n. These martyrs are remembered by God and God places them in His throne room to worship.
o. I think this has to be too exciting to imagine.

Close:
Worship, is your desire to worship God? As I look at these passages I must apply them and ask God to fix my attitude and make me desire Him more.

So, what is your focus on life? Remember the story I told at the beginning of this message? I told the story of a Nigerian Pastor who had his church and house burned down, yet praised God in church. That is a different focus on life than say the following:

You Can’t Just Sit There
Several years ago, I heard the story of Larry Walters, a 33-year-old man who decided he wanted to see his neighborhood from a new perspective.
He went down to the local army surplus store one morning and bought 42 used weather balloons. That afternoon he strapped himself into a lawn chair, to which several of his friends tied the now helium-filled balloons. He took along a six-pack of beer, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and a BB gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was ready to land.
Walters, who assumed the balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air, was caught off guard when the chair soared more than 16,000 feet into the sky–smack into the middle of the air traffic pattern at Los Angeles International Airport. He had just begun shooting the balloons when he lost his grip on his pellet gun, and it dropped from his hands. He stayed airborne for more than two hours.
Soon after he was safely grounded and cited by the police, reporters asked him three questions:
“Were you scared?”
“Yes.”
“Would you do it again?”
“No.”
“Why did you do it?”
“Because,” he said, “you can’t just sit there.”
His answer caught my interest. I pondered that story and its implications for several months. Then, as I was preparing a sermon, “The Crisis Called Christmas,” my thoughts came together.
I used the Walters story in the introduction to set the stage for the idea that each of the birth narratives called for a response–or reaction–from its participants. When it comes to God’s intervention in our lives, we can’t just sit there.

So, again, where are you at? Are you bored spiritually? Look at this Bible passage of worship in eternity and tell me as a Christ follower how this whole idea cannot not pump you up and get you excited about worship.

1) Worship God in humility and unity as we see in this picture of Heaven, we may be there.
2) Be encouraged, God does not forget what we do for Him (also Hebrews 6:10), we see in this passage martyrs rewarded by being given the opportunity to serve in God’s throne room for eternity.

These people, too many to count, went to their graves for Jesus. Then on the other side of death, here they are worshipping the Lord.
Jesus is worthy, He was slain for us, the Bible models worship for now and eternity. Worship Him today and this week.

Choir Anthem:

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
Pray

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