As I was walking the dog one particularly beautiful afternoon some weeks ago, the sun and breeze startled me from my screen-induced stupor and called my attention upward. A band of cirrus clouds slowly passed overhead as if to shout, “Hey! Look up here! What have you been so busy with indoors?” The nearby Ficus branches roared in the wind and reminded me of Isaiah’s words: “the trees of the field will clap their hands [in praise].” Foraging birds and squirrels froze at first sight of my four-legged best friend and then, all at once, scattered for shelter.
The wonder of the new heavens
I marveled at how effortlessly “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2) Everything God created ceaselessly proclaims His praise with unquestioning ease. Everything, that is, except the one creature to whom He gave a rational mind and an everlasting soul.
Why do we struggle to give God even the slightest bit of our time and energy? What is this sense of self-importance we possess that leads us to forget our Creator and the purposes He has for us? Our reasoning and intellectual faculties are exceedingly greater than every other living creature, and yet we alone deny God the worship that He is due.
I began to wonder…
“How will our worship be different when sin is no more, and we are raised to Him in glory?”
I turned my thoughts to the Garden of Eden, thinking it may serve as a model of what the worship of heaven will be like. How effortless must it have been for Adam and Eve to rejoice in God’s beauty as He walked among them in the cool of the day! They enjoyed full and immediate access to His presence, unhindered by sin or its soul-blinding effects. They knew no other way of life but continual self-emptying in joyful service of their Creator.
I thought about it for days and invited others into the conversation. In the end, it became clear from scripture and the arc of redemptive history that, despite some circumstantial similarities, our worship in eternal rest will certainly not be the same as it was in Eden. It will be far, far greater, even to the point that comparison will be impossible.
Creator and Redeemer
For one thing, in Adam’s sinless state he knew God as the Creator, but we know Him also as the Redeemer. Adam could rejoice in God’s wisdom and power, but he could not know the mercy, forgiveness, grace or full measure of His love. We will possess the purity of the first man and the compassion of the Second. Our souls will marvel at the epic works of God, who spoke all things into being, and also the lyric, tragic and comic dimensions of His character, as revealed in Christ. We were created “a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:7), and yet our praise will exceed theirs in infinite and ever-increasing measure.
After meditating on creation’s ceaseless praise, David concludes Psalm 19 with a prayer, asking God to help him do the same. “The heavens declare the glory of God… [Likewise, therefore,] Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” May it be so!
Ryan Brasington is the Worship Leader at Rio Vista Church. If you’re a worship leader interested in getting involved with Village Hymns, please email [email protected] or visit our website at villagehymns.com.
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