Worth Are You Lord (Revelations 4:11)
Revelation 4:11 (NASB)
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
In this memory verse, worship is emphasized. The Revelation in chapter 4 is most often referred to as “the vision of God”. In keeping with the Old Testament, and especially the second commandment, John is careful not to try either to describe or to imagine what God looks like. That is left totally to the imagination. In fact, John does not say anything about God as such. Rather he speaks only of someone “sitting on [the throne]” (v. 2; cf. vv. 9–10). The eternal God is made known by several features: first, the One sitting on the throne is the central reality in the entire vision; second, the heavenly beings in worship use the language of “the Lord God Almighty,” acclaiming, “you are worthy, our Lord and God” (v. 11); and third, in the second part of the vision (ch. 5) the scroll that will unveil the future is “in the right hand of him who sat on the throne.” Thus despite John’s reluctance to describe God, God’s presence predominates in every way.
With this scene John moves on from what was primarily a description of the awesome scene around “him who sits on the throne” to a description of the worship given him. It begins with a final description of the worshipers themselves, in this case the four living creatures, whose presence and appearance are derived directly from Ezekiel 1:4–24 (with the single exception of their wings, which are six instead of four, imagery now taken from the description of the seraphs in Isaiah 6:2).
The reason for there being four of them was fixed by Ezekiel’s vision, where they are described as facing the four corners of the earth (Ezekiel 1:17). Their most distinctive feature receives first mention: they were covered with eyes, in front and in back, which probably points to their all-seeing nature, where nothing can be hid from them as divine heralds of some sort.
Whoever the twenty-four elders are intended to represent (most likely God’s faithful people under both covenants), their proper heavenly response to the worship offered by the four living creatures is to lay their crowns before the throne, a clear acknowledgment that nothing is theirs as an inherent right, but that everything is gift and they burst into endless praise, declaring God’s worthiness for such because everyone and everything in the whole of creation owes its existence to God.
Their song takes the form of acknowledging God as worthy … to receive the glory and honor noted in the preceding sentence (v. 9). But now in place of “thanks” they use power, which is an obvious attribute of God. The heavenly anthem then concludes with the present reason for God’s divine worthiness, all having to do with God as Creator. The two hymns of this opening scene in heaven, the four living beings, who in some way at least represent the angelic throng, in song emphasize God’s holiness, while the twenty-four elders, who represent God’s people from both covenants, emphasize God as Creator.