Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple…
I. OUR SPIRITUAL HEAVEN. Its great and representative idea is worship, in which we reach at one bound the highest conception of our nature — humanity perfected, humanity in its highest conclusion, and humanity in its highest act.
1. The condition or character of the worshippers is described. Christ, in the sanctifying influences of His sacrificial work, was the reason of their heaven. The condition of their spiritual heaven, therefore, was the perfection of the spiritual part of their nature. It was not the locality merely — not the mere presence of God — not the employment, the robe, the palm, the harp, the worship: it was the perfect moral sympathy of their spirits with holiness, the holiness of God.
2. Their moral victory. "They came out of great tribulation."(1) Remark how strikingly the two affirmations are brought into conjunction. Their position before the throne is in the same sentence ascribed to the blood of the Lamb, and to the moral results of their tribulation, that is, to the meritorious cause, and to the efficacious instrument. In our ordinary logic we are apt to deem one agency exclusive of another. "It is God who works in us," therefore, we conclude we need not work. The logic of Scripture is "Therefore let us work."(2) The natural and uniform tendency of affliction to produce tenderness and sanctity of heart. In the light of human experience we feel no surprise at this sequence of "tribulations and glory," of "light afflictions," and an "exceeding great and eternal weight of glory." And the beatitude that is described here — exemption from hunger and thirst, and all the evils of which they stand as the representatives — is quite congruous to our thoughts and feelings, with the tribulation that preceded.
3. Their worship itself. In heaven they only praise, they sing a new song; the old song of lamentation, the wail of sorrow, the misery of sin is forgotten.
(1) Their worship is immediate. The worship of "faith is lost in sight," the worship of symbols in the thing signified; they "see the King in His beauty."(2) It is united and catholic. There is but one robe, one palm, one song, one Father's house, one glorious Model to which all are to be conformed.
(3) The constancy of heavenly worship. "They serve Him day and night." "They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." God's work hinders not His rest, neither does the service and worship of the glorified. Their praise is but the utterance of their love; and the constant utterance of love is its rest and joy.
(4) The fervour of their worship. Oh I how unlike our cold and formal service here — our words, our acts of mechanical conformity, of unspiritual temper, of unloving prompting.
(5) Its purity and joy. They who ascribe the heavenly sanctus, themselves are holy. They "see God," because they are "pure in heart." There is no blemish in their sacrifice, no drawback in their joy; they have "come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads, and sorrow and sadness have fled away."(6) Its perfect satisfaction. "The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them to living fountains of waters." As on earth, so in heaven, their dependence is on Him; "they live, yet not they, it is Christ who liveth in them."
II. Such is the spiritual heaven of our spiritual humanity. Of THE MATERIAL HEAVEN of our material humanity we can say but little, and that only in negations. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat." No painful want, no painful infliction, finds its way into that kingdom of blessedness. As it realises all the good that we can crave, it excludes all the evil that we can deprecate. The condition and necessity of probation, and therefore of discipline will be ended; the effects of sin will be destroyed; character will be perfected; reward will be realised; our heavenly Father's hand will wipe every tear from the eye, and pluck every thorn from the heart. Such is the glorious heaven for humanity, both soul and body, which the seer beheld, such the multitude before the throne.
(H. Allon, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.