Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Can I Offer You, My King

The incorruptible crown. The crown of life. The crown of exultation. The crown of glory. And the crown of righteousness. These five crowns are some of the potential prizes that await us in heaven if we strive to earn them according to the rules of the race that have been laid out for us in scripture.

But what's the point? Isn't it a bit mercenary to expect "prizes" or rewards once we get to heaven? Isn't heaven itself and eternal life with Jesus enough?

And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones-- like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow.
Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads.
From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. 
And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God. In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal. Revelation 4:2-6a
In these verses, God is giving John a vision of heaven. The scene that unfolds is unlike anything we could possibly imagine, and even with the incredible imagery that John attempts to give us, we cannot possibly even begin to wrap our heads around the magnitude of it. But someday, we're going to be there!  Someday we will see these wonders with our own eyes... and we will hear and participate in a worship scene that has been going on in heaven for ages...
In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back.
The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight.
Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty-- the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come." Revelation 4:6b-8
These four living creatures are like the living Bose system of heaven. Their sole job is to proclaim the name of Jesus, to SHOUT his holiness. They are like the "worship leaders" of heaven, and there won't be any problem following along. Notice also that it says that they repeat these words "day after day and night after night." These guys don't take a break. This is what they were created for. This is what they do. They do not cease to give praise to the King. And it isn't hard to imagine why. As they stand in the presence of Almighty God, how could they help but praise his name? All they can say is "holy, holy, holy..."

Notice the response of the 24 elders as this worship scene continues... (We do not know who the 24 elders are, but we do know that they are men; they are not angels.)
Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever).
And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,
"You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased." Revelation 4:9-11 (emphasis added) 
The elders lay their crowns at the feet of Jesus.

It's not about the crowns; it's about what those crowns represent. For us, those crowns, the five mentioned above, are the result of years of selfless service to our master. They represent a life devoted to valuing righteousness and holiness above comfort and status and "happiness". It is ALL that we bring to heaven, and it will be the ONLY thing we have to give back to the one who gave all to us.

And it's not a one-time act of worship that will take place when we get to heaven and then be forgotten about as we continue into eternity. Notice that the scripture says, "whenever the living beings give glory..." This happens over and over and over again. It has been happening for ages and it will continue to be repeated throughout the ages to come. This is a form of worship which we will take part in, and the level to which we are able to participate will be determined solely by what we have put into it in these few short years on earth. We don't get a second chance. We don't get a do-over. And we don't get to keep earning rewards after we get to heaven. They must be earned now. And they will be a means with which we will forever worship our King.

But as long as we are on this earth, it is never too late to start! Maybe you have lived many years and have just now come to know the Lord. Do not feel defeated or hopeless, like you could never "catch up" to someone who has been walking with the Lord for years. Commit now to live the rest of your life in the sacrifice and service of your Savior! He knows your heart!
While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. "I tell you the truth," Jesus said, "this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has." Luke 21:1-4

*Remember, the rewarding of the crowns, and the worship and celebrations that have followed, have all been taking place in the time after the rapture, during the tribulation. Next, we will see what we can expect as we return with Jesus to earth to rule and to reign, and to watch as He puts an end to Satan and to the Antichrist, and restores the earth after the devastation of the tribulation. The sun is coming up...

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