“O Come Let Us Adore Him” (Revelation 4 & 5 sermon)

Christmas celebrations like many of us experience today haven’t really been in existence that long. Many old-time religious folk didn’t believe Christ was born on December 25, so they actually FORBID making it a special day of any kind. The Pilgrims, for example, did not celebrate on December 25; to them it was a work day like any other. In fact, the people who came over to America with the Pilgrims, but who didn’t share their religious views, whom the Pilgrims called the “Strangers” DID celebrate Christmas on December 25, and the Strangers had what was basically a big cricket or baseball game — and the Pilgrim Governor Bradford got mad came and took their bat and ball away and said you aren’t going to play ball while the rest of us are all out working! (Kind of a spoil sport, we might say today!)

In the South years ago, they had a tradition of the Christmas log: they would put this special Christmas log on the fire, and until that log burned completely down, nobody had to do any work. So the servants and slaves would come by, and sprinkle the log with water to keep it from burning up, so they could have more time off!

So as we read history, we see people who have celebrated Christmas in a number of very different ways. But for God’s people, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, and it ought to be about worship:

— When Jesus was born, Luke 2 says the angels sang in worship

— Then the shepherds came, and they worshiped Him

— And when the magi arrived, they too fell down and worshiped.

So the birth of Jesus is all about worship. One of our favorite Christmas songs says “O come let us adore Him.” Christmas is about worship. We read a lot about worship in our daily Bible readings last week in Revelation chapters 4 & 5. So as we close in on Christmas next Sunday, let’s look at what these chapters tell us about worship — and especially where our worship should be focused during this Christmas season.  There are several things for us to remember:

I.  REMEMBER: Our Focus Should Be on God:

Revelation 4 opens up with John being given a vision of heaven, and :2 says “Immediately I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne was standing n heaven, and One sitting on a throne.” Let’s stop it right there! “Behold, a throne”! The first thing John saw in heaven, was GOD on the throne! 

The chapter goes on to describe how the throne is surrounded by other thrones, by elders, by living beings — but the thing is, they were all worshiping HIM:

— Verse 8 says “Day and night they do not cease to say, ‘holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” 

— Then :10 says all the elders fall down and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You have created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

In heaven, God is the center of everything; it’s all about worshiping HIM.

And in the same way, God should be the center of everything for us as His people today — and He should especially be the center of our attention during the Christmas season.  Yet how often is that not the case.

I shared with our Sunday School teachers about the manger scene in St. Albans, West Virginia a few years back. It got national attention because it included a stable, some sheep, camels & a donkey, and even some “visitors” – wise men – but that was it!  There was nothing IN the stable – no Mary, no Joseph — and no baby Jesus!  Interestingly, the two town officials who were contacted had differing stories about why there was no one in the stable.  The parks superintendent said that the Holy Family was left out because of “separation of church & state” concerns. The mayor, on the other hand, (the politician!) said it was just a “technical difficulty” – too hard to get all those characters to fit inside the stable! Either way, it was definitely ironic that the One the nativity scene was supposed to celebrate was left out! 

But whatever happened in St. Albans, West Virginia, is not really under our control. What IS in our control in what happens in OUR church; in OUR house; with OUR family; in OUR own life.

Let’s determine: MY house is not going to be like that.

MY life is not going to be like that. 

Let’s be committed to make GOD the center of this Christmas season.

God is the center of heaven.

And He should be the center of each of our lives.

And God should be the center of our celebrations this Christmas.

It’s an old saying, but “HE is the reason for the season”!

People make it about Santa Claus

They make it about Rudolph

They make it about Charlie Brown

They make it about family, food, and everything else under the sun.

But Christmas is primarily about GOD; “For GOD so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” THAT is what Christmas is about!

We want to help you do that as a church:

— That’s why we’re having services at 5:00 on Christmas Eve: to give individuals and families an opportunity to worship Jesus. That service will not be long, but you and your family will get to hear the Christmas story, we’ll worship Him with singing, and share in the Lord’s Supper.

— And that’s why we’re having worship service on Christmas morning too. Because Christmas is not as much about families opening presents in their living room on Christmas morning, as it is about worshiping Jesus! So I know it’s going to be hard for some of us; many of us will have family with us; many of us will have kids opening presents, and all kinds of things going on. But let’s make a decision right now, before we ever get to those crazy moments next Sunday morning; let’s make a commitment right now: we’re going to worship GOD on Christmas. HE is the One this is all about. Let’s keep Him in the center this Christmas season. And not just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, either — but this whole next week. Let’s keep Him in mind in everything we do. 

The worship of God was central in Revelation 4, and the worship of God should be central for us this Christmas season too. Let’s keep Him at the center of it. 

II. (Let’s Remember) The Lion Who Became A Lamb

After the praise of God on the throne in Revelation 4, Revelation 5 moves on specifically to the worship of the Lamb. At the beginning of Chapter 5 it says that John saw a scroll, or a book, all sealed up, and in :2 an angel asks: “Who is worthy to open the book?” But no one was found worthy, and John began to weep. Then in :5 one of the elders said, “Stop weeping! The Lion that is from the Tribe of Judah … has overcome so as to open the book!” Then :6 says, “I saw … a Lamb, as if slain” and HE took the book, and then :9 says “Worthy are YOU to take the book”! So Revelation 5 tells us that Jesus is the Lion, who became the Lamb, who is the only One who is worthy of worship. 

The two animals here, the Lion and the Lamb, picture for us who Jesus is: — First, Jesus is “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The Lion is “the king of the jungle.” So this is saying that Jesus is the powerful King, God. He’s the Lion!

— But Revelation tells us this Lion also became a Lamb. In the Old Testament a lamb was the animal which was offered as a sacrifice so that God would pass over the sins of His people. So the Lion, the King, God,  became a Lamb, who gave Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. 

That’s what the movie, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” is all about. (How many of you have seen that movie?) It’s based on C.S. Lewis’ book, in which Aslan the Lion was King of the Land of Narnia. Four English children, Peter, Suzy, Edmund, and Lucy, magically come to Narnia, but Edmund betrays his family, and by the Laws of Narnia, he deserved to die. The evil witch Jadis demanded his death. But Aslan the Lion, the King, traded himself to the witch in Edmund’s place. So Jadis and her cronies took Aslan, and bound him with ropes. They put him on the Stone Table, humiliated him, cut his royal hair, and finally plunged a dagger into his heart and killed him — like a lamb at the slaughterhouse. Jadis thought that she had won, and now SHE would be Queen of Narnia. But Aslan came back alive, to rule as King once again. Aslan was the Lion, who sacrificed Himself like a lamb for Edmund, so that he could be saved.

If you haven’t seen that movie, you ought to watch it this next week; it’ll help you celebrate the real meaning of Christmas, because C.S Lewis showed us in that movie is what Christmas is really all about. Aslan the lion, of course, is a symbol of Jesus. Jesus is “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” He was and is GOD, the King of the Universe. But because like Edmund we all sinned and deserve God’s punishment, Jesus humbled Himself and came to earth to be born as an innocent Lamb at Bethlehem — and He would give Himself to DIE like a sacrificial Lamb on the cross, which paid for our sins, so that we could be saved. 

That is what Christmas is all about: the “Incarnation” of Jesus. The Lion who became a Lamb to die for us.

Wanda Craig told me that her grand daughter So-phEE-uh was at her day school the other day, and the teacher asked the class, “Why do we celebrate Christmas?” The teacher said Sophia was the only one who raised her hand and said that it was Jesus’ birthday! Sophia got it right, didn’t she? Christmas is about Jesus birthday. And not only Jesus’ birthday, but also what He ultimately came to do for us: dying on the cross for our sins. Wanda said that when Sophia first started coming to our services, she would sit and color quietly during my message. But kids listen, don’t they, some times even when we don’t know they are! One day Sophia told Wanda, “That man up there (me!) said that Jesus died for us.” And Wanda told her, “Yes, baby, He did.” I know Wanda and Jerry & Suzanne are proud of Sophia — and I am too! 

Sophia GOT what ALL of us need to get: that Christmas is about Jesus’ birthday, and the ultimate purpose of His birthday, that He came to die on the cross for us: the Lion, who became a Lamb, so that we could be saved. 

Have you ever received what Jesus came to do for you on Christmas? People are going to open a lot of gifts this Christmas, but make sure you have received the most important gift ever: the forgiveness of your sins, a home in heaven, and a relationship with God — all bought by the Lion, who became a Lamb, and died for you.

Christmas worship is about the Lion, who became a Lamb.

III.  (Let’s Remember) He Bought Us To Be A Worshiping People

If there is going to be worship, then there must be of necessity be a PEOPLE who are worshiping. And the people who are worshiping are those who have been bought by that Lamb who was slain. Revelation 5 praises the Lion who became a Lamb (Jesus) and says:

— :9 “You purchased for God with Your blood from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation”

— :10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God”

So here we see that Christmas is not ONLY about God & Jesus; it’s about what He came to do for His PEOPLE. He came to buy, or redeem a PEOPLE to worship Him. Verse 10 says “You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God.” 

When we have been bought by Jesus, the most important purpose of our life, is to worship Him. He bought us specifically for the purpose of making us “a kingdom of priests”, who would worship Him.

In our daily Bible readings not long ago, We read in I Chronicles 25 how King David took some of the sons of Asaph, and assigned them a new job: “to prophesy with lyres, harps, and cymbals.” Verse 3 says they “prophesied in giving giving thanks and praising the Lord.” Verse 6 says “all these were under the direction of their father to sing in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the house of God.”

These “sons of Asaph” were basically the first “full time music ministers,” if you want to call them that. Their whole life was set aside to sing, and play music on instruments,  and to  lead the worship of God in His house. We also see that they wrote some of the Psalms, and undoubtedly they played and sang them in worship in the Temple. It was their full time job. Their whole life was given to worship. 

We read in Revelation 4 that this is how the angels in heaven are: it says, “Day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy …’.” They never cease their worship; they continually cry out “holy, holy, holy.” They are always worshiping.

And those “sons of Asaph” in the Old Testament, and those angels in heaven, who just continually worship God, are a good picture of what Jesus bought US to do, too.. He bought us to be “a kingdom of priests” who continually worship Him.

This is where so many of us miss it. We think of “worship” as something we do for an hour a week, in a church building. But it’s so much more than that. If what the Bible says about God is really true:

— If there is really a God who spoke a word, and 300 BILLION galaxies, of billions of stars each, exploded into being

— If there is really a God Who upholds all things by the word of His power; keeping all the atoms and molecules from flying apart; 

— If there is really a God Who is the Lion, the King of the universe, yet Who amazingly humbled Himself to became a Lamb, and DIED on the cross to save US …

If there really is a God like that, then that God is worthy of more than an hour a week of our time in worship. As the old hymn says “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” 

If there is really a God like that, then we should worship Him every day. We should get up first thing in the morning and offer Him our praise and thanksgiving and songs, and then listen carefully to His orders for us in His word. Then we should pray for His kingdom work with our intercessions. Then we should go out and do our work for Him every day: and even your “work” itself is not your most important work; your most important work is praising HIM all day long; singing to Him, quoting His word in your heart; “praying without ceasing” as I Thessalonians 5 says, and doing all the work that you do, for His glory. This is what we should should be doing, every day. Praising God should be our “real,” “full-time job.” 

Many people think of guys like Bro. Kyle, and Bro. Scott, and myself, as being in “full time ministry,” and that’s true; we are. But in a very real sense, EVERY Christian is in “full time ministry.” Every Christian has been bought by Jesus; every Christian has been made “a priest to our God” as Revelation says here. And every Christian should worship and serve Him full time — not just an hour a week. 

That means YOU!

If YOU have been bought by Christ, 

Then YOU are a priest; 

And YOU should devote your whole life to worshiping Him and giving Him glory. 

The point is, if you are really a Christian, bought by Jesus Christ, then worship is not just some “little thing you add on” to your life an hour a week; worship is who you are. It is the center of your life. It is what you live for.

And that’s especially what Christmas should be all about for us too. If our whole life is about worship, then our Christmas especially should be about worship. So let’s take this special season to remember: 

— that GOD is the center; it’s all about Him. 

— That Jesus is “the Lion, who became a Lamb” to save us. 

— And that He saved us, to make us “a kingdom of priests” who have devoted our whole lives to worship Him. 

“O come let us adore Him. O come let us adore Him. O come, let us adore Him: Christ the Lord.” 

INVITATION:

— If you would say you have been bought by Jesus Christ, and you are His, then are you worshiping Him every day; getting up to spend time with Him; hearing His “orders” for your life every day in His word; are you talking with Him all through the day; singing to Him all day; doing all your work for HIS glory?

— As you look at your Christmas week plans: how are you including God in it? Is He in the center? Get with your husband/wife/family, and talk about how you are going to include Him: plan on the Xmas Eve service; plan right now to get up and come to worship Christmas Day, no matter what.

— The first and most important question for any of us today is; HAVE you been bought by Jesus Christ? Have you ever given your life to Him? If not, why don’t you make sure of it TODAY!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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