Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” – Revelation 5:11-12
Take a moment to imagine the scene with me. The setting is the eternal kingdom of God. The form of this world has passed away. According to His promise, we are in the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells. There are no more polls, no more elections. Regardless of where you are from or what type of government you’ve been accustomed to on this earth, there is now an eternal type of government that will never come to an end. There are no more democracies, and it’s more than a monarchy. The eternal kingdom is a theocracy where Jesus Christ is King:
Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. – Isa. 9:7
In this post, I want us to consider what is honorable. Most likely you’ve heard the slogan to “give honor where honor is due”. This is taught by Paul in Romans 13 when he says, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” Then comes the question, to whom is honor due? Who or what is honorable? No doubt there are many people and ideals that are in their own measure honorable in our world. But for now, I’d like to specifically focus on what transcends earthly honor and ultimately gives it meaning.
1. The Problem
When I think of honor, what prominently comes to my mind is royalty and nobility. For myself, because of the culture and the time I live in, I fear I’m not able to truly understand it from a biblical perspective. The concept of a king can really only exist in my mind as a connotation rather than a reality at this time, since it is so far removed from my daily experience. Kings and Queens are a common theme in Disney movies, and in that respect seem more like something for fairy tales rather than reality. Even of the countries left that have a monarchy, there are pretty few where the monarch rules sovereignly. If you can relate to what I’m saying at all, then you begin to see the problem. One of Christ’s titles is “King of kings and Lord of lords”. And I sit here in America under a democracy and say, “Oh wow, that’s really awesome!”, but the weight of that truth doesn’t fully sink in.
And that’s really only the first part of the problem. The other issue is that having another human rule over us will never work out long term. Towards the beginning of Israels history as a nation, God did appoint leaders, but His purpose for them was to have leaders under God, and for them to be ruled only by His word and His ways. He warned them about having a king like the other nations. No matter how naturally virtuous a person may be, everyone is susceptible to great wickedness. In Psalm 14 we are told how God looks down from heaven and basically assesses mankind in their fallen nature. His conclusion is:
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. – Ps. 14:3
Human nature is corrupt. People are liable to change, to deceive and be deceived. Power and pride cause people to look out for their own interests and build their own kingdom at the expense of other people’s well being. What then?
2. The Solution
I think in short, the answer to the first part of the issue is to use Scripture as our guide to orient our minds to the majesty of God, and the answer to the second part is to recognize the One who can and will always rule with righteousness and justice.
In Revelation 5, as John is describing the scene, it seems like the worshipers in heaven are taking every possible royal and noble virtue and ascribing it to the Lamb who was slain. It all goes to Him. Under God and in Christ there are many people who deserve a measure of honor, but God transcends this and is the focal point of all worship. Power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. It’s all His. And something that’s important to understand is that we don’t actually give Him any of this, as if He were lacking it and we need to make sure He gets it. Rather, this worship shows that we ascribe it all to Him as the source and the one who is ultimately most worthy of it. Take wealth as an example. What is He going to do with it? For it is God “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul says, “To Him be honor and eternal dominion.” The word he uses for honor here literally means a valuing or a price. In the act of honoring we are valuing or esteeming something highly. To be honorable then, I would say is to be valuable, and highly priced. From God’s being and character I gather that He is the most valuable, worthy Being in existence. In all the pomp and circumstance of presidential inaugurations and British coronation ceremonies, while significant events, we should esteem them lightly compared to the majesty of God.
The LORD reigns; He is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; He has put on strength as His belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. – Ps. 93:1-2
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. – Revelation 5:13-14
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. – Revelation 19:11,15-16
My hope is that through these verses and many others, our minds would be renewed to see Christ as exalted and glorious. Let’s value Him highly above all, and may the things of this earth grow strangely dim. Two final thoughts I want to point out are provided in one verse.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness. – Ps. 45:6
You’ll remember that one of the issues I mentioned is that no one is perfect. Thankfully the government of God’s eternal kingdom doesn’t rest in human hands. God’s throne, representing his power and rule, will never end. And we don’t need to worry about ever trying to get free of His reign, since He will forever and always rule with righteousness and justice. There is no one like God. His character will always be the same, for in Him “there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Let us see Christ exalted, glorious in majesty, and more valuable than any thing or any one else. Let us say with Paul that God is:
“the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 6:15-16
*For further reading and meditation check out Psalms 45, 89, 93, and Revelation 4, 5, and 19.