"And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: 'We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.'” - Revelation 11:16-17
The Book of Revelation gives us a priceless glimpse into the heavenly realms so that we may understand the nature of the perfect worship that goes on there. By this, we are instructed how to worship, so that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.
One of the details that fascinates me is the issue of thanksgiving in heaven. God makes much of giving him thanks in Romans 1, specifically in describing the deep corruption of wicked sinners who, “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…” (Rom. 1:21). All creatures owe God thanks for the many blessings he has poured out, even if we ourselves have not directly benefitted from those blessings. To thank God means to ascribe to him the origin of all blessings, for “Every good and perfect gift comes down from above” (Jas. 1:17); and “From him, and through him, and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). When we are redeemed, we begin a lifetime of thanksgiving so beautifully captured in Colossians 3:15-17:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
It is therefore very instructive to us to note the three times that the Book of Revelation speaks of thanksgiving in heaven. In the first, it is the living creatures that give God thanks in Revelation 4:9. In the second, it is the angels that give God thanks in Revelation 7:12. And in the third, quoted above, it is the twenty-four elders giving thanks to God. Every glorious creature in heaven gives God thanks for his perfect character and his powerful works on earth. And they do it again, and again, and again. Revelation 4:9 says “Whenever” the living creatures give thanks… as though it is pulses and ripples of thanksgiving; something new hits them, and they give thanks again. And in response, the twenty-four elders fall down before God and cast their crowns before his throne. This is the dynamic worship that is going on now in heaven, and that will continue for all eternity. It is not static, a once-for-all expression of praise; but as heavenly creatures learn some new aspect of God’s greatness, it is time to thank God again.
"Revelation 4:9 says 'Whenever' the living creatures give thanks… as though it is pulses and ripples of thanksgiving; something new hits them, and they give thanks again."
So, as we express thanksgiving to God here on earth, understand that you are joining heavenly creatures who are doing it continually. Ask the Spirit to move in you more than ever before to see the activities of God so that you can return to him the thanks he so richly deserves. As you do, you will be preparing for your role in heaven!