What on Earth Is Going on in Heaven?
I want you to know something: Satan has a vested interest in lying to people about heaven. It must drive him nuts that our future home is his ex-home, so he tells all sorts of misconceptions about what it's going to be like --especially when it comes to worship. Last week, we looked at what happens to Christians when they die. This week, let's look at one of the things we'll be doing in heaven: worshiping.
One of the things you can do right now that you will do forever is worship God. It's pretty exciting to even think about. In Revelation 4-5, John described the inhabitants of heaven and their worship. Let's consider the kind of worship going on in heaven and how our worship here can reflect that.
First, worship must be intellectual. "Now when He [the Lamb] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp. ... And they sang a new song" (Revelation 5:8-9). The Lamb, Jesus Christ, took the title deed of the earth -- implying full redemption through a series of judgments and His second coming -- and when the inhabitants of heaven saw this, they worshiped. Worship is the human reaction to a divine action, and it involves the mind: We must think about who God is and what He has done. Jesus said in Mark 12:30, "You shall love the Lord your God ... with all your mind." Please dismiss the idea that worship is a mindless activity. Powerful worship is when your mind is stretched to a fuller understanding of God.
Second, worship is physical. "The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever" (Revelation 4:10; see also 5:8). The most common Hebrew word that is translated as worship is shachah, which means to bow down, to fall, or to stoop. It's a physical affirmation of honor, authority, and respect. There are other things the Bible talks about that enhance the physical expression of worship: the raising of the hands (see 1 Timothy 2:8), kneeling (see Psalm 95:6), standing (see Psalm 135:1-2), and the lifting of the eyes (see Psalm 123:1; John 17:1). Somebody once asked me, "Can Christians dance?" My answer: "Well, some can, and some can't." I'll tell you what the Bible says about it: "Let them praise His name with the dance" (Psalm 149:3; see also Ecclesiastes 3:4). Closing your eyes and folding your hands aren't even in Scripture. That doesn't make them wrong; they just didn't make God's top five.
The third thing I'd like you to notice is that the worship of God is musical. The inhabitants of heaven have harps (see Revelation 5:8). The first time I read this, I thought, Great, I'm going to be sitting on a cloud with a harp all day long. But I found out that the harp is an ancient trapezoidal instrument with strings that are usually strummed with a pick. Hmm, sounds like a guitar. Heaven sounds a little cooler to me now than when I first read that. Throughout the Bible, the worship of God is musical. And we love music, don't we? It's how we're made. And it's going to be in heaven.
Finally, worship is emotional. When you read these two chapters, you get the idea that the inhabitants of heaven put their whole being into worship. Why is it that in this one area, we feel we have to shut it off? Have you ever been to a sports game or a concert? Pagans know how to get excited, so why do Christians think that enthusiasm about the most worthy thing in the universe must be carefully contained?
There are a lot of things God allows in our lives that we can look at and say, "Thank you, Lord. I worship you, Lord." If you do that throughout the day, I can almost guarantee you that by the time we gather corporately, your worship will be exuberant. And when we get to heaven, we'll have all of eternity to live that out and worship our awesome Lord.