After this I beheld, and, see, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds…
Heaven's worship is the worship of praise. Prayer Is not offered there. The ordinance, "Every one that asketh receiveth," does not extend to heaven. Heaven's tenants are always receiving; but they receive everything without asking. The spiritual discipline of asking is not needed in heaven. Complaint is not heard there; deprecation is not heard there; intercession is not heard there. God's attributes are celebrated in chant and song. If the spirits in heaven were disembodied there would still be worship; but it would be silent worship — worship in affection; worship in volition. But if corporeal form shelter human souls there, and the faculty of utterance be given to those forms, surely that faculty must be consecrated to the purposes of devotion. There are bodies, and there is utterance. The praise of heaven is common — not solitary. There are no mere listeners there — all worship. And this praise is melodious. It is not praise in common speech, or ordinary language. There is music as well as voice. There are harmony and melody. The celestial congregation do not speak praise — they sing praise. It is known to all, moreover, that the worship of heaven is neither localised nor limited to seasons. There is incessant worship. The worship of the Paradise regained corresponds with the worship of the Paradise lost. All the ground is hallowed; every day is a holy day; every hour a season of worship; and worship is always in season. Is it possible for us men ever to be engaged in this worship? What are the qualifications of redeemed men for the worship of the skies? Capacity, qualification even for the worship of the skies, is involved in all that constitutes your salvation; involved in your new birth; involved in the position which you occupy as justified before God; involved in your sanctification.
1. A saved man has a capacity for the worship of heaven in his personal holiness, and in the knowledge of God with which that holiness is associated. Born with a sinful nature, and going astray from the beginning of life, he could not always see God in himself. Conscience then was smarting; but the wound is healed. Memory was then burdened with a load of transgression; but that load is taken away. Sin in various forms had dominion in that heart; but the dominion of sin is for ever destroyed.
2. Glorified saints have ability to worship in ever increasing knowledge of God; for in all celestial objects God is seen, and seen in those objects more and more.
3. The saved in heaven are capable of celestial worship through the influence over them of superior spirits. Before redeemed men rank angels and seraphs; and rising above them are thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. All these worship, and they excite, and they encourage the saved man to worship. To be silent would be to imprison his own heart, and to fetter his own mind.
4. The serenity, the peace of mind which characterises the redeemed is another element of power for worship. The peace of God — that quietness of soul which, as you know, is essential to the highest worship, to adoration and to praise — keeps their hearts and minds; and there is no confusion of mind, no perturbation of soul. The troubled sea is an emblem of an unpardoned soul; but a sea of glass is a symbol of the glorified spirit. Understanding, reason, imagination, conscience, emotion, will, are all in their place, performing with accuracy and vigour the functions assigned to them. Here is no intellectual dulness or obliquity, no misguided or misplaced affection. The harp is strung and tuned, every string perfect, and the tension complete. The voice is strong, and sweet, and clear: there is no harshness, no lack of melody.
5. The equal develop. ment of every spiritual faculty and grace increases the capacity for worship. Inequality in our spiritual development is a great hindrance to worship. Here we often see narrow minds, feeble hearts, weak faith, fickle love, wavering hope, or broken utterance. In heaven the development is like that of a full-blown flower, or of perfectly ripe fruit.
6. Conscious identity is another element of power. Into the "I am," and the "I was," the glorified Christian fully enters; and the contrasts prompt him to worship. "I was," he says, "in danger — I am safe. I was a criminal — I am a righteous child. I was a sufferer — I am now without a tear, without a sigh. I was poor — I have now an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
7. They have qualification also in the knowledge of all things with which they need to be acquainted. Many a matter that we have here called a mystery will there be fully explained.
8. A mighty power in worship is that of love — the love of gratitude and the love of complacency. We mean a deep sense of obligation to God, and a thorough joy in God.
(S. Martin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
WEB: After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.