1 June 2013

Revelation 4:1-11

"They cast their crowns before the throne, singing, 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.'" (vv. 10-11)


The last book of the Bible - The Revelation to John - is sometimes called The Apocalypse of John and is mostly made up of 'apocalyptic', 'hidden' or 'symbolic' language about the future. The most enduring sections of the book try to convey the atmosphere of heaven.

Given the impossibility of this task, John uses the language of a magnificent royal court with a great throne room. In his vision he sees a vast hall of judgement and massed choirs of saints and angels. The primary purpose of the occupants of heaven is to worship God.

The sound of the trumpets, the white-robed elders, the flashing of the lightning, the flaming torches, the crystal sea and the flying creatures are all dedicated to praising God. All of heaven gives glory, honour and power to the one who brought the entire creation into existence.

To Ponder

  • Do you have a favourite choral work in which massed voices render a mighty piece of glorious music that stirs you when you hear it? What is it? In what way does it affect you?
  • When George Frederic Handel wrote the Hallelujah Chorus in 1741 he echoed the words of Saint Paul (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-3) to describe his experience - "Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows". What do you think he meant?
  • In Edward Elgar's musical work The Dream of Gerontius, based on Cardinal Newman's 19th-century poem, the man who has died is given a glimpse of the sight of God. He is devastated by the beauty of what he sees and sings, "Take me away". Again, what do you think he meant by that?

Bible notes author

The Revd Prebendary Norman Wallwork

Norman Wallwork is a supernumerary Methodist minister and a retail chaplain in central Exeter. He is also a prebendary or canon of Wells Cathedral.