Some Doxologies

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Some New Testament Doxologies

The book of Revelation. It’s the one book of the Bible that’s cool to quote from, even if most people refer to it as Revelations. To the uninitiated, the book of Revelation is all about “the end of days,” the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Antichrist, the battle of Armageddon, and so on. Yet the last book book of the Bible is really all about Jesus Christ and His final victory over sin. Tucked in among all the drama, death, plagues, and supernatural events recorded in Revelation, are some profound doxologies. A “doxology” is fancy word for a “short hymn of praise to God,” in which He is exalted for many reasons. Let’s consider some doxologies found in Revelation.

Praise God because He is omnipotent, Revelation 4:8—11; 7:11, 12

This doxology follows a record of letters John sent to seven churches in Asia. In chapter 4, the action in this book shifts from churches on earth to the throne room in heaven. How fortunate we are to be given this tiniest glimpse into God’s world! The doxology is sung by “four beasts,” or more accurately, “four living beings.” These are not angels, although they do exist and function alongside angels (see 5:11). Some scholars believe these “four living beings” were created solely for the purpose of worshiping God and extolling His virtues. We may think of them as heaven’s worship leaders.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty—the one who was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 4:10 TLB)

Their song of praise begins with praising God’s holiness. The phrase, “holy, holy, holy” has a reference to the Triune God. Yahweh is completely holy. This attribute is the one that separates God forever from anything or anybody tainted with sin. This holiness of God’s is active; it is revealed to sinful man so as to make them holy through salvation or to cast them away forever in judgment.

O Lord, you are worthy to receive the glory and the honor and the power, for you have created all things. They were created and called into being by your act of will.” (Revelation 4:11 TLB)

The words of praise offered by the heavenly worship leaders is responded to by the 24 elders. Who are these people? Some believe they represent the Church around the throne, but that is unlikely. The 24 elders, like the four living beings, are likely creations of God who act in harmony with each other. They live to worship God; to draw attention to aspects of His character. In response to God’s holiness, the elders “cast their crowns” before Him; they fall prostrate before Him. As they do, they exclaim praises God alone deserves. God is holy, God is eternal, and He is worthy to receive: glory, honor, and power. Why? Because He is the great Creator; from His mind and will sprang all things. And this fact moves these heavenly elders to fall face down at Yahweh’s throne.

This vision of John’s did not come out of his imagination. What human mind could conceive of such a scene? John was given a sneak peak into heaven and he wrote down what he saw. This vision is absolutely foundational and fundamental for the rest of the events of Revelation. It is also the foundation and is fundamental for your life. The throne of God is central; He is the One in control of the events of earth and of the events in your life. And ultimately He is the One worthy of your praise.

In chapter 7, there is another short doxology:

And now all the angels were crowding around the throne and around the Elders and the four Living Beings, and falling face down before the throne and worshiping God. “Amen!” they said. “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be to our God forever and forever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:11, 12 TLB)

A new creature is added to the worship chorus. All the angels in heaven now gather together with the four living beings and the 24 elders in praise and worship of God. Again, the throne is at the center of attention. In this hymn of praise, seven points of praise are sung to Him: blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might. Some scholars have noted that the number “7” symbolizes completeness, and suggests that the angels, the Elders, and the four living beings worship God to the fullest extent, for all eternity. And it is God’s greatness—His omnipotence— that motivates them! Does it motivate you to do the same?

Praise Christ, the Redeemer, Revelation 5:9—13; 7:9, 10

A “new song” is started here in verse 9. The song is new because of what it contains, even though it begins the same way as the doxology in 4:11—“You are worthy…” Yet it’s different. In chapter 4, God is praised because He is worthy. Here, the worthiness belongs to Christ. He is worthy to receive the book and read it. But ultimately Christ is worthy because He shed His blood and purchased sinners from the slavery of sin. We were bought for God and we belong to Him and this is cause to praise Christ because He made that possible.

And you have gathered them into a kingdom and made them priests of our God; they shall reign upon the earth. (Revelation 5:10 TLB)

Christ’s redemptive act made us into a kingdom and made us priests. What a privilege it is to minister before God and to God! The last phrase, “they shall reign upon the earth” suggests a future event. Some scholars see a reference to the Millennial Kingdom here. Saints of God will rule and reign with Christ. But the tense of this verse begins with a past action: God “made” us into a kingdom, not He will “make us” into kingdom. In a sense, Christians, saints, exist in the Kingdom now. Both tenses are correct. We are a kingdom and we will reign with Christ.

This “new song” is really a vindication of the historicity of Jesus Christ; He is the Savior who worked and works in the stream of man’s history. By an act of His will, the Son of God sacrificed Himself to purchase sinners for the service of God, established an empire, and gave redeemed man the supreme purpose of priestly service to the Lord.

Then in my vision I heard the singing of millions of angels surrounding the throne and the Living Beings and the Elders… (Revelation 5:11 TLB)

There is no way of estimating how many angels joined in this song of praise to God. The idea from the Greek is something like this: ten thousand times ten thousand. In other words, in heaven, there exists an uncountable number of angels that, at least periodically, join in the worship of God started and carried on by the four living beings and the 24 elders. But the scene gets even more profound:

And then I heard everyone in heaven and earth, and from the dead beneath the earth and in the sea, exclaiming, “The blessing and the honor and the glory and the power belong to the one sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.” And the four Living Beings kept saying, “Amen!” And the twenty-four Elders fell down and worshiped him. (Revelation 5:13, 14 TLB)

This is John’s way of conveying the impossible: somehow, God enabled John to “hear” every single word of praise to Christ uttered all over the material universe. Only God could make this happen. The point of this whole scene is that Jesus Christ, the slain Lamb, is worthy to praised by every single created thing everywhere.

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from all nations and provinces and languages, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God upon the throne, and from the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9, 10 TLB)

With group of verses, John finally sees something he is familiar with: the church. Up till now, John has seen some strange creatures nobody else has seen: angels and other heavenly beings. But here he sees redeemed human beings (the vast crowd) doing exactly what all the supernatural beings have been seen doing: shouting praise to Christ. Spurgeon once remarked:

Does not all nature around me praise God? If I were silent, I should be the exception to the universe.

Naturally, these saints of God praise the Lord for His salvation.

Praise God because He reigns, Revelation 11:15—18; 19:1—7

The blowing of the seventh trumpet of God’s judgment is the motivation for this doxology.

The Kingdom of this world now belongs to our Lord, and to his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 TLB)

The result of God’s stunning judgments on the earth will be result of the surrendering of its kingdoms to Christ. In other words, He becomes the rightful King of Kings. Now, technically, this is not really a doxology but rather the declaration of a fact. What follows reveals what was (or from our vantage point, what will be) involved in the world’s kingdom becoming the Lord’s:

We give thanks, Lord God Almighty, who is and was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign.” (Revelation 11:16 TLB)

He “assumed” His great power. The suggestion is that of unstoppable, immeasurable power. Right now, our Lord is holding that power in check. But when He finally “lets go,” the nations of this will not be able to stand up before Him.

The nations were angry with you, but now it is your turn to be angry with them. It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants—prophets and people alike, all who fear your Name, both great and small—and to destroy those who have caused destruction upon the earth.” (Revelation 11:18 TLB)

And here is how the end will come: judgment. An awful destiny awaits those who “caused destruction upon the earth.” This refers, not just to wars we have been through over the centuries, but also to the absolute hostility to the rule of God. In fact, all enemies of God and mankind will be done away with once and for all.

The nations of this world, including our own, have always been in opposition to God and His ways. The return of Christ will provoke all nations to stand in blatant opposition to His new kingdom. Of course, that puny opposition will amount to nothing whatsoever.

In chapter 19, we have a wonderful doxology which celebrates God’s justice and victory over Babylon and the vindication of all the martyrs. One “hallelujah” or “Praise the Lord!” won’t be enough! Four of them ring out in unison. The hymn of praise deals with a number of things involving God’s perfect judgment. That’s a cause for rejoicing!

God is praised for four things: His redemption; His righteous judgments, especially upon Babylon; for His inestimable worth; and His coming reign.

The whole scene ends with the beginning of what we call “the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

Let us be glad and rejoice and honor him; for the time has come for the wedding banquet of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She is permitted to wear the cleanest and whitest and finest of linens (Revelation 19:7, 8 TLB)

Normally, a wedding is all about the bride—she is the center of attention. But this marriage will be different, here  He, Jesus Christ, will be the center of attention. In this single verse, we see the very delicate balance between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Note: “the bride has prepared herself,” something she, the Church, does herself; “she is permitted to wear” that which was given to her, righteous acts done in this life. The bride is the bride because of the righteousness of Christ worked through her. Righteous deeds spring from righteous character, which is entirely the result of God’s grace.

When you stop to consider God’s greatness in His character, His nature, His deeds, and His actions, you can’t help by offer Him a doxology.  Try it.

 

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