Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

This is from a message I shared at my home church a few weeks ago.

It’s my passion.  It’s the reason for the name of this blog.  It’s changed my life.  I  believe it will continue to change my life going forward as well.  I pray it will change yours, too.

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Read Revelation 4.

Here it is in the NIV (thanks to Biblegateway.com):

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits[a] of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’[b]

who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.”

Is it just me, or does that all remind you of the scene in the movie The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion enter Oz’s great and terrible emerald throne-room?

Can’t you just hear the booming voice in your head?  “COME FORWARD!”

I have loved that Oz story for a long, long time, and I could spend several blog posts telling you all the reasons why, explaining all the symbolism that exists in it for me (regardless of L. Frank Baum’s intent).  But I won’t today.

Because today the point is this:  most of my life I read Revelation 4 and saw God’s throne through Dorothy’s eyes, and subconsciously played the scene forward to…

DISAPPOINTMENT.  Betrayal.  Confusion.  Despair.

There was no great and powerful Oz.  There was only a man  behind the curtain, a man who hoped we would not notice how small and weak he was…hoping we would not find out that he was a humbug.

This is the experience of so many people who go to church looking for God.

They enter through the glass doors thinking that’s the way to enter the throne room of God.  They have a need that must be met; they tremble in fear of what will happen to them, and they receive orders to carry out difficult tasks so that they might receive blessing and provision.  (Read your Bible more, give to the poor more, bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West…)

At every moment they fear that Toto will pull back the curtain to reveal that it’s all humbug, just a show, and they will be left in despair.

The truth is that many people ARE betrayed…because they don’t realize that they are in the wrong throne room.

The organization called the church is not the throne room of God.  It was never intended to be.  You are no closer to God in a formal church service than you are all the time because the Spirit of God dwells within you if you are born again.  We do not come to church to meet with God.

We come to church to meet with EACH OTHER so that we can encourage one another to stay AWARE of GOD’S PRESENCE in our lives 24/7.

For many people, the confusion over entering the presence of God, His throne room, leaves them feeling betrayed.

If you believe that coming to a church service is the way to enter the throne room of God so that you can be close to the King, you will be disappointed every time the worship team hits a sour chord, every time an elder prays with you and you are not instantly, miraculously healed, every time the pastor’s preaching doesn’t quite touch your heart.

So, what IS the throne room of God?

The throne room of God is YOUR HOME.

It is where you were designed to live.  When you begin to spend more and more time there, breathing as He created you to breathe, you will find power to live like you have never before experienced.

The church will no longer be the place you come to meet with God.  It will become the place you come to encourage your brothers and sisters by sharing all that God has been doing with you all week.

What does Colossians 3 say about this throne-room-home of ours?

(Thanks again, Biblegateway.com.) (NIV)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

If we do not have to come to a church service to FIND the throne room of God, if we actually LIVE THERE, let’s explore it.

The door is open (v.1).  We ask, seek, knock, and the door is opened to us.  There’s a voice like a trumpet – it extends an invitation, a plan.

Immediately we are equipped to obey (v.2).  “At once I was in the Spirit…”

(v3) The Person on the throne is even more riveting than the incredible throne itself.  (Quite the opposite of the humbug of Oz, hmm?)

Who else is here?  If this is my home, I want to be familiar with everyone who lives here.

Twenty-four Elders (v4) who may represent the Sanhedrin…the 12 tribes of Israel….the 12 apostles….WHO CARES?  Regardless of what they represent, they are clearly named “ELDERS.”  They are respected, worthy of my attention, forefathers equipped to direct other younger followers of Christ.  I should learn from them.  I should imitate them as they live in obedience to Christ.

(v5) The throne itself is crazy – lightning and thunder – and there are blazing torches that are the 7 Spirits of God.  Again, there’s hours worth of study we could explore about these spirits, but suffice it to say for now that there is power and life abounding, the presence of God in fullness.

(v6) A glassy sea in front.  That means the floor is a glassy sea.  That means when I stand at the foot of the throne of God I am walking on water.  Too cool for words!

There are the four living creatures.  Again, without digging too deeply into all that they represent, let’s acknowledge the basics:  they are knowledge (eyes all around), personality (faces), power (wings) and voices (speech).  And all they do, all the time, forever and ever is say:

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

who was and who is and who is to come.

And what do our role-models, the Elders, do?  They fall down in worship, throw down their crowns (their own awesomeness), and cry “Worthy!”

When do they do this?

Every time the four living creatures say, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

And when do the living creatures say that?

Day and night, always; they never stop.

So when do the Elders fall in worship?

Day and night, always; they never stop.

They don’t fall down, hit the floor, get up, pick their crowns back up, sit back on their thrones, then fall again a minute later.

Somehow, unfettered by space and time, they PERPETUALLY FALL in worship.  They never hit the floor.  They never put their crowns back on their heads because they are perpetually taking them off to throw at the feet of the Lord.

And they are my role model. 

I was designed to be perpetually falling in worship.

The throne room of God is my home.

The praise of God is my native language.

There is no man behind the curtain; this throne is the real deal.

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How would your life look different if you meditated on this truth for a moment or two every day?