Alive, Active . . . and Worshiping!
I’ll praise my Maker with my breath;
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers;
My days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life and thought and being last,
Or immortality endures.1
Last week, we told you the departed saints in Heaven are alive, active, and praying, and as this old hymn states, they are also worshiping and rejoicing in God’s presence. The Book of Revelation gives us many glimpses of the ongoing worship service that is happening right now in Heaven. The four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, the angels, and “every creature which is in heaven” (including departed saints) worship God with these words in Revelation 5:13: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Check out another worship scene John witnessed in Heaven:
I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice . . . saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”2
Can you imagine worshiping God with every nation, tribe, people, and language? We were created to worship God, and just as it is to be now on earth, our entire life in Heaven will be one big act of worship, only everything will be maximized beyond words compared to our best attempts at worship here on earth.
In addition to worshiping God, the saints in Heaven are also rejoicing in God’s presence. Jesus said, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). This is one of the most misquoted verses in all of the Bible. The verse doesn’t say the angels are rejoicing. It says there is joy “in the presence of the angels” (emphasis added). We’ve traditionally given that job over to the angels because surely it couldn’t be the departed saints . . . because they just sit around and do nothing, right?
Wrong. We’re sure God and the angels do rejoice when someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ. But Luke 15:10 specifically says there is joy in the presence of the angels, and we believe wholeheartedly that this joy includes the departed saints. These saints have been praying and hoping and praying and hoping that their loved ones on earth, whom they can see, would come to Christ. Then, when that person comes to Christ, they rejoice! The departed see, and they know when someone comes to Christ. We believe that with all our hearts.
1 Isaac Watts, “Psalm 146” [I’ll Praise My Maker], The Psalms of David (Boston: Lincoln & Edmands, 1813). Original publication in England, 1719.
2 Revelation 7:9, 10, 12