“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” — Mark Twain
Heavenly Songs, Earthly Noise
“In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures. . . . Day and night they never stop saying: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” – Revelation 4:6, 8
In chapter 4 of Revelation, the Apostle John has a vision of the throne in heaven. He sees one sitting on the throne with the “appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling and emerald, encircled the throne” (vs.3). I’m not exactly sure what jasper and carnelian look like (they are colorful types of quartz), and I’m not sure how to envision a rainbow that looks like an emerald, but I think that is the point. Our minds cannot comprehend the beauty and magnificence of the throne while we remain on the earth side of heaven. But then, who is to say we’ll be able to wrap our minds around it when we finally see it?
However, that is not what bothers me. What bothers me is the day and night singing of the cherubim.
Cherubim, like us, are created beings. They are not all powerful and all knowing, but they do pre-exist mankind. Although most of us think of cherubim as supernatural angelic beings covered with eyes and having four faces, who protect the throne of God and may even have tremendous power, there is one thing we have that they do not: an experience of the saving mercy and grace of Jesus.
And yet, without this unique relationship and ultimate reason to praise the name of the Lord God Almighty, they still sing His praise and worship at His throne twenty-four hours a day.
I have trouble remembering to worship Him for five minutes in the morning before I go to work. That’s why this passage bothers me.
The cherubim sing constantly without experiencing the saving love of God, but I allow too many earthly distractions to remember to praise His name. Part of me thinks God created cherubim just to praise Him and therefore they have nothing better to do. But I, too, was created to glorify Him, yet spend most of my time looking out for myself. It bothers me that they never experienced the grace, mercy and soul-cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb, but still find themselves in constant praise and worship of the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come, Amen.
Not to change the subject, but that is one of the things that challenges me about the twelve disciples of Jesus. They left businesses and family to follow a man they thought could be the Messiah before they ever saw the world-changing miracle of the resurrection. And I, 2,000 years after the resurrection, still have difficulty believing that Jesus understands my need to have a prosperous job and take care of my family.
It seems that in some ways, cherubim and fishermen have a better understanding of the holiness and worthiness of God than I do. And if their actions and habits are any indication of their gratitude and appreciation of who God is, then my actions and habits have plenty of room to grow. I may not be able to worship God 24/7 (I do have to sleep some time), but I know I can do better than I have. Maybe I’ll start by learning to sing this simple tune: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
Did you do better on the worship God 24/7 as a monk?
I can only imagine they get to see the glory of the Lord in a different fashion that us in mere mortal state. I’ve wondered and been “bothered” with that scripture as well.
I am bothered by the whole disciples leaving their families thing too. Because I know God values families. Suppose it was for three years though right? I wonder if they knew it would be for a season. But I digress.
I don’t think it was only for three years, and I don’t think they abandoned their families. Christian discipleship is a life-long commitment, and we read that many of the Apostles had families. Some may have left their parents and their family jobs, but no one was required to leave their wife and children to follow Christ.
In some ways, yes. I had nine hours a day of alone time to be with God, plus the three times a day the community gathered for worship and prayer. When you live in a Christian community, everything you do is colored and enhanced by your surroundings. You don’t have to go to a “secular” job, for your work is for the community, and by extension, for God. However, one can still worship God in the “secular” world — it just takes more practice and discipline.
Now see? That’s good to know. I never looked at it that way. It was always presented to me like to be a Christian one had to be willing to just forsake all in that context. Leave the family, wife, kids, whatever to show loyalty to Christ.
I didn’t believe that putting God first meant that type of interpretation – more of a contextual thing of the heart and following the precepts in the word than personal views of the way to handle things.
“they never experienced the grace, mercy and soul-cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb,” – My initial reaction on reading this was “Wow!! never thought of it that way.”
But then I spent some time thinking of it, and it felt that even without experiencing it themselves, they understood the meaning of these things. They knew what it meant to be lying in the dumps, and then being raised up by His grace and mercy. My thought is that they learnt it by looking at our lives and how God has healed and adopted us inspite of who we were.
This is where we lack. We are not ready to look at those who are healed and rescued by the Spirit, through the eyes God sees them. When we look at those people, we continue to look at their past.
When we look at the end result of God’s work, we should be able to see His grace and mercy, without even experiencing it first hand.