And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,
"Jesus shall reign where'er the sun I. THE SUPREMACY OF THE DIVINE RULE SHALL BE UNIVERSALLY ESTABLISHED AND ACKNOWLEDGED. "The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ." II. THE DIFFUSION OF DIVINE TRUTH SHALL BE UNIVERSAL. "The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea." III. THE PRINCIPLES OF THAT GOVERNMENT SHALL PERMEATE NATIONAL LIFE, LITERATURE, AND INSTITUTIONS. "The little leaven shall leaven the whole lump." IV. UNDER THIS GRACIOUS RULE NATIONAL ANIMOSITIES SHALL BE AMELIORATED. "The swords shall be beaten," etc. V. CONFLICTING AND ANTAGONISTIC FORCES SHALL BE HARMONIZED. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid," etc. VI. HUMAN LIFE SHALL BE BEAUTIFIED, ADORNED, AND BRIGHTENED. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert blossom as the rose." VII. TO THE MILD AND BENEFICENT SWAY OF THE REDEEMER SHALL BE HANDED OVER THE OUTLYING AND OUTCAST NATIONS OF THE EARTH. "He shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession." VIII. THIS REIGN SHALL BE CHARACTERIZED BY THE MOST BLESSED CONDITIONS. "In his day shall righteousness prevail, and abundance of peace, so long." etc. - R.G.
I. THE SUPREMACY OF THE DIVINE RULE SHALL BE UNIVERSALLY ESTABLISHED AND ACKNOWLEDGED. "The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ."
II. THE DIFFUSION OF DIVINE TRUTH SHALL BE UNIVERSAL. "The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea."
III. THE PRINCIPLES OF THAT GOVERNMENT SHALL PERMEATE NATIONAL LIFE, LITERATURE, AND INSTITUTIONS. "The little leaven shall leaven the whole lump."
IV. UNDER THIS GRACIOUS RULE NATIONAL ANIMOSITIES SHALL BE AMELIORATED. "The swords shall be beaten," etc.
V. CONFLICTING AND ANTAGONISTIC FORCES SHALL BE HARMONIZED. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid," etc.
VI. HUMAN LIFE SHALL BE BEAUTIFIED, ADORNED, AND BRIGHTENED. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert blossom as the rose."
VII. TO THE MILD AND BENEFICENT SWAY OF THE REDEEMER SHALL BE HANDED OVER THE OUTLYING AND OUTCAST NATIONS OF THE EARTH. "He shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession."
VIII. THIS REIGN SHALL BE CHARACTERIZED BY THE MOST BLESSED CONDITIONS. "In his day shall righteousness prevail, and abundance of peace, so long." etc. - R.G.
&&& The four-and-twenty elders... fell upon their faces and worshipped God.I. IT IS A LIFE OF WORSHIP.
1. The persons who are worshipping are described as twenty-four elders. They are the Universal Church, the blessed of the old covenant and of the new; and yet, as persons and representatives, are portrayed as leaders of the heavenly worship.
2. Their dignity. They are "before God," i.e., in His immediate presence, and sit upon thrones. They are said also to have crowns (Revelation 4:10). This is a picture in which vision, repose, kingly power, and victory each has a place.
3. Their worship. Observe, it is an act — they "fell upon their faces and worshipped God." Sitting upon thrones, contemplating God, was their habitual condition; but worship was the active expression of their sense of the Divine majesty. They offer Him inward and outward adoration.
II. IT IS A LIFE OF THANKSGIVING.
1. This arises from the clear realisation of their indebtedness to God for all. Gratitude is apt to be chilled by the sorrows, the sufferings, and the uncertainties of this present life. When it exists in the soul it has to struggle with life's burden, and its expression is like the transient rays of light which pierce the cloud that darkens the landscape. But the song of the redeemed is called forth by the sight of the Giver, and the dark problems of earth are solved in the light of heaven (John 13:7).
2. It arises from the possession of "the gift of glory." Grace is more precious than all the gifts of nature; but glory is greater than grace, as the flower is more than the bud. The consciousness of having "attained to the true end of their being elicits from the worshippers the anthem of thanksgiving with a fulness and a sweetness in the heavenly Jerusalem with which the songs by the waters of Babylon could never compare.
3. It arises from a deeper sense of unworthiness than can ever be felt on earth. What was the casting of their crowns before the feet of the Most High but a protestation that their excellence and their victories were due to the grace which He had vouchsafed to them?
4. It was a corporate oblation of thanksgiving — "We give," etc. Each has his own joy, and each can enter into the joy of all.
III. WHAT DIVINE PERFECTION DID THEY HYMN? THE ETERNITY OF GOD.
1. This perfection belongs to God alone. He alone is without beginning. This is the root-distinction between Creator and creature. He is, in the language of Daniel, "the Ancient of days" (Daniel 7:22). He is from Himself; with Him is "the well of life." None other is self-derived. He alone possesses His life without succession, unchangeably (iota simul).
2. Every creature has a beginning. "The creature is from that," says St. , "which is as yet not." As being is a base of all gifts, so creation is at the root of all worship. The realisation of God as the Beginning and End of our being is essential for worship. The elders grasped the difference between Creator and created. They offered Him, their God, "glory, and honour, and praise." Why? "Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are, and were created." Here every one and everything we see is created and transient; the line between eternal and temporal is clearly marked where the Eternal makes Himself known and seen.
1. The importance of worship as a preparation for the heavenly life.
2. The spirit of thanksgiving should enter more fully into our religion, which is sometimes lacking in brightness, trust, and unselfishness.
3. The contemplation of the eternity of God, "Thou art from everlasting," produces many fruits. There is a certain delight in the contemplation, as in regarding some vast and magnificent object, as the heavens or the sea. Then the thought of an eternity in the future, of the endlessness of human life, must stir within us hopes and fears — "hope of glory," and fear of missing it. Such a conception will always create in us a sense of the littleness of things present, in comparison with things eternal.
(Canon Huchings, M. A.)
We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to comeI. IN THE ORIGINAL PRODUCTION OF ALL CREATURES. It is God alone who can create. Man, in the exercise of his wisdom and ingenuity, may indeed form and invent many things, but he must have the materials to work with: when God formed the world He found no materials to work with — He created the materials Himself. He called them into being with His irresistible voice: and when He surveyed the various works of His hands, we are told, they all met with His full approval: "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good." All the works of God are finished works; they will bear, as they invite, the closest and most minute inspection; and unlike the works of man, when most examined they will be the most admired. We may notice also the power of God in the greatness of some of His works, and in the smallness of others. The earth which we inhabit is said to be eight thousand miles in diameter, but what is this when compared with the body of the sun, which gives us light day after day, and which is said to be a million of times larger than the earth we inhabit, and ninety millions of miles distant from it. The smallness again of many creatures is equally surprising, as is the greatness of others.
II. IN THE PRESERVATION AND GOVERNMENT OF HIS CREATURES. "He upholdeth all things by the word of His power." The planets revolve in their appointed circuits with the most unerring and minute exactness. The various seasons succeed each other in their regular and appointed order. The great and wide sea also, whose billows roar and threaten to overwhelm the earth, is kept by the power of its Maker within its proper and prescribed limits. We may again observe the same Almighty power in making such constant and abundant provision for the vast family of the universe. All the innumerable tribes of beings which inhabit the earth, the air, and the water, "these all wait upon God." The moral government of God is still more wonderful to contemplate.
III. IN THE WORK OF OUR REDEMPTION BY CHRIST JESUS. How manifest was this in the person of our Divine Redeemer Himself! And when we come to consider the first planting of our holy religion in the world, by means so feeble and so unlikely to all human appearance, and notwithstanding obstacles so great, we shall see with what propriety the gospel is spoken of as "the power of God unto salvation." The gospel also is intended to produce a great inward change. The corruption of our nature is such as to render this change absolutely needful; and it is a change so considerable and complete, that it is called in Scripture a "new creation"; this, of course, can only be effected by the power of God. And the apostle, as if wanting language to express the greatness of this power, says, "and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward, who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." One exertion more of the Divine power let us dwell on. When Moses beheld a hush on fire, and yet not consumed, he turned aside to behold it with admiration. In that burning bush he beheld the emblem of Israel afflicted in Egypt, yet not destroyed; and may we not also perceive in it an emblem of the true Christian, "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation"? And what but the power of God is sufficient for this purpose? Lessons:
1. That God should be held in reverence and adored.
2. Let this Almighty God be also feared.
3. Blessed are they who put their trust in Him.
(J. L. F. Russell, M. A.)
1. God is παντοκράτωρ, as having a just right and authority over all thing, being naturally the sovereign Lord and Emperor of the world.
2. He is also such inregard to His infinite power, as that word may signify omnipotent.
3. He is also so, because He doth actually exercise all dominion, and continually exert His power, according to His good pleasure; "for the Lord hath prepared His throne in heaven, and His kingdom ruleth over all," etc.
4. God is παντοκράτωρ, as the true proprietary and just possessor of all things; "the heavens," saith the Psalmist, "are Thine; the earth also is Thine," etc.
5. Also as containing and comprehending all things by His immense presence and infinite capacity. "I fill heaven and earth," said God in Jeremiah; and King Solomon in his prayer observes, "the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee," etc.
I. IF GOD BE THE JUST SOVEREIGN OF ALL THINGS, HAVING A RIGHT TO GOVERN THE WORLD, AND ACTUALLY EXERCISING IT, then —
1. We see our condition here; that we live not in an anarch, or in perfect liberty to follow our own will, etc.
2. We understand our duty as subjects and vassals, etc.
3. We may hence discern the heinousness of every sin as committed against the crown and dignity of God.
4. We may learn what reason we have to be content in every condition, since our station is allotted to us by unquestionable right.
5. It is a matter of great consolation to reflect that we and all the world are under such a governor, who is no usurper and tyrant, but a most just, wise, and gracious sovereign.
II. THE BELIEF OF GOD'S IMMENSE AND UNCONTROLLABLE POWER IS ALSO OF GREAT IMPORTANCE AND INFLUENCE ON PRACTICE.
1. It serves to beget in us a due awe and dread of Him.
2. It consequently dissuades and deters us in a high manner from sin, nothing being more reasonable than that advice of the preacher, "contend not with him that is mightier than thou."
3. Whence the consideration of this point may dispose us to weigh well our counsels.
4. It may also serve to depress confidence in ourselves, and in all other things, as to any security they can afford.
5. It may be of special efficacy to quell and mortify in us the vices of pride, arrogance, self-will.
6. Also to breed and nourish faith in God, as to the certain performance of His word and promises, which, be they never so difficult, He is so able to perform.
7. Hence also particularly it may produce and cherish faith in the sufficiency of God's providence, and induce us entirely to rely on it.
8. It affords comfort and encouragement to us in the undertaking and prosecution of honest and prudent enterprises, giving us hope and confidence in their success.
III. THAT NOTION OF THE WORD "ALMIGHTY," WHICH IMPLIES GOD'S BEING UNIVERSAL PROPRIETARY AND POSSESSOR OF ALL THINGS, HAS ALSO MANY GOOD USES. We may thence learn —
1. That we are not our own, and therefore are obliged to submit with patience to His disposal of us.
2. We ought to be content with that share of accommodations which He allows, since all things are His, and we can claim nothing from Him.
3. To be satisfied when He withdraws that of which He has before afforded us the enjoyment.
4. To be heartily thankful for all we ever have or enjoy.
5. Carefully to manage and employ all which is put into our hands for His interest and service.
6. To be humble and sober, not to e conceited, or to glory in regard to anything we love.
IV. THAT SENSE, ACCORDING TO WHICH THE WORD SIGNIFIES GOD'S CONTAINING ALL THINGS BY HIS IMMENSE PRESENCE, IS ALSO OF MOST EXCELLENT USE. We thereby may learn with what care, circumspection, modesty, and integrity we ought always to manage our conversation and behaviour, since we continually think and speak and act in the immediate presence of God, "whose eyes are on the ways of men." Hence also we are prompted to frequent addresses of prayer, thanksgiving, and all kind of adoration.
V. THE CONSIDERATION THAT GOD UPHOLDS ALL THINGS, AND CONSEQUENTLY OURSELVES, IN BEING, MAY POWERFULLY DETER US FROM OFFENDING HIM; for put the case that our life and all the comforts of living depended on the bounty and pleasure of any person, should we not be very waxy and fearful of offending such an one?
(Isaac Barrow, D. D.)
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