What is worship good for?


William Blake, “The Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne” (c.1803-5) 

The fourth chapter of Revelation transports the reader the throne of heaven. In his commentary on the biblical book, Joseph L. Mangina writes: “Along with the vision of the new Jerusalem at the very end of the book, it may be the closest thing we find in Revelation to a scene that is simply beautiful.” He adds:

What John sees is extraordinary. Philosopher William Christian once defined religion as that which is taken to be “more important than anything else in the universe,” so that all else in life gets organized around this center. But for the faithful Jew, what is more important than everything in the world is, of course, no part of the world, but its Creator and ruler, the God who is the maker of all things. This is where John finds himself: before the throne, in God’s immediate presence. The scene is marked by a tremendous dynamism, an energy that flows first of all centripetally: God, seated on the throne, occupies the center, while the other characters – the elders and the four living creatures – surround him, their gaze directed toward the brightness in their midst. But there is also centrifugal energy, as power flows from the throne out into the world: thus the flashes of lightning, the rumblings and peals of thunder, and most of the seven Spirits of God, who are not static but are sent out into all the earth (5:6; cf. Zech. 4:10). 

And what is happening at the throne of God? Cosmic liturgy. “Nature and the church join together to praise the God who is the source of the life of both,” Mangina writes.

If we were to ask what purpose is served by the ceaseless service before the divine throne, what creation’s worship of the Creator is good for, we would be asking the world’s question. Pragmatically speaking worship is not “good for” anything, serving no end or purpose outside itself. At a deeper level, it is the most worthwhile thing that can possibly be imagined. If God is “the living and true” (1 Thess. 1:9), then to worship him is to participate in this life and this truth. Doxology is its own justification


One thought on “What is worship good for?

  1. Great thoughts. Love the Blake illustration! I read a book that highlighted him as a main character, describing the different things that influenced his art (beliefs, subject matter, techniques and methods).
    He was truly ahead of his time.

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