I don’t often listen to the radio when I’m driving in my car. However, since returning to Orlando in April I rediscovered this great Christian radio station–Z88.3–that I used to listen to when I previously lived here. Twice in the past week or so I heard a song that I was very familiar with but had not heard in a very long time. It is, to me, one of the greatest worship songs out there today, and it always moves me to tears, which isn’t exactly safe when driving a car down a busy road in Orlando. Since I don’t have the latest technology (well, my car is almost ten years old now), I didn’t know the title of the song or the name of the group who sang it, but it was very familiar.
Since I wasn’t too far from a local Christian bookstore the second time I heard it, I decided to drive there and sing a few bars of the chorus to a store clerk to see if he knew the song as well as who sang it (I apologized in advance for the lack of any real singing talent). As I began to sing not only did the clerk recognize it but two young male customers did, too, but none of them knew the actual title of the song. One of the customers pulled out his smart phone and did a search using the words from the chorus and discovered the title, “Revelation Song.” The song was written by Jennie Lee Riddle and it “first got national exposure by Gateway Worship (YouTube Video below) and was also included on Kari Jobe’s self-titled album. It was later released as the first single from an album titled, ‘Fearless’ by Phillips, Craig and Dean” (quote source here). It was Phillips, Craig and Dean’s rendition that I knew (YouTube Video below).
The words to the chorus of the song come from the last part of Revelations 4:8 which states, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” The Book of Revelation (the last book in the New Testament of the Bible), also known as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” details what will transpire during the “tribulation period,” a seven-year period of time that transpires before the second coming of Jesus Christ. The “Revelation” was given to one of Jesus’ original disciples, John, when he was an old man imprisoned on the island of Patmos. The vision that John saw was, of course, described in 1st Century terms since that is when he lived, but it was describing future events that have not yet taken place. Many books have been written on the various interpretations of the Book of Revelation; however, I’ll leave that discussion to the scholars and anyone who reads or studies the Book of Revelation for themselves.
With that background information, there is a YouTube Video titled, “The Story Behind Revelation Song,” that describes how the composer of the song, Jennie Lee Riddle, was inspired to write the song back in 1999 (click here for video). She describes how so many of the worship songs of that time were prayer focused on “I” or “me” and how she had “had enough” of “us.” The focus of “Revelation Song” is totally on Jesus Christ and his majesty, holiness, and power (and soon return). And he is the focus of our worship.
The frenetic pace of our 21st Century society leaves us little room on a daily basis to contemplate God, let alone truly worship him, especially without getting our own wants and needs in the way as the primary focus of our prayers. We may not even know what “true worship” looks like, and it’s probably not what we think it is, either. The fact is that true worship has nothing to do with us (except for our submission and our praise). A good definition of true worship (as stated in an article on GotQuestions.org that answers the question, “What is True Worship?”) is as follows:
True worship is God-centered worship. People tend to get caught up in where they should worship, what music they should sing in worship, and how their worship looks to other people. Focusing on these things misses the point. Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This means we worship from the heart and the way God has designed. Worship can include praying, reading God’s Word with an open heart, singing, participating in communion, and serving others. It is not limited to one act, but is done properly when the heart and attitude of the person are in the right place.
It’s also important to know that worship is reserved only for God. Only He is worthy and not any of His servants (Revelation 19:10). We are not to worship saints, prophets, statues, angels, any false gods, or Mary, the mother of Jesus. We also should not be worshiping for the expectation of something in return, such as a miraculous healing. Worship is done for God—because He deserves it—and for His pleasure alone. Worship can be public praise to God (Psalm 22:22;35:18) in a congregational setting, where we can proclaim through prayer and praise our adoration and thankfulness to Him and what He has done for us. True worship is felt inwardly and then is expressed through our actions. “Worshiping” out of obligation is displeasing to God and is completely in vain. He can see through all the hypocrisy, and He hates it. He demonstrates this in Amos 5:21-24 as He talks about coming judgment. Another example is the story of Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve. They both brought gift offerings to the Lord, but God was only pleased with Abel’s. Cain brought the gift out of obligation; Abel brought his finest lambs from his flock. He brought out of faith and admiration for God.
True worship is not confined to what we do in church or open praise (although these things are both good, and we are told in the Bible to do them). True worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of praise and worship is obedience to Him and His Word. To do this, we must know God; we cannot be ignorant of Him (Acts 17:23). Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration to our Father. ~Read more at www.gotquestions.org~
Another perspective on what is true worship comes from Kari Jobe, who is not only a worship singer but also as associate worship pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX. In a July 2013 article titled, “God Isn’t Looking for Performance But for True Worship,” in Charisma Magazine, she states:
In John 4:23, Jesus says, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” This verse tells me that God wants our love and our worship toward Him to be pure.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m striving and stressing to impress someone and make them love me, well, that’s not really love; it’s performance, and it’s not exactly what I would call pure.
The Lord wants our honesty and truth. He wants our hearts and spirits to be completely connected to what our mouths are saying to Him and singing to Him. He wants our pure worship.
The only way for our worship to truly be pure is for us to receive His pure love for us. We must realize that no matter what, He loves us. His love is completely pure. He does not love us because we can give anything to Him or do Him any service. He loves us without an ulterior motive. He simply loves us for us and wants us to know Him and experience that love.
We can’t earn His love because He’s already given it to us! That’s absolutely incredible to me and makes me want to worship Him and give Him all of my love.
True worship takes the focus completely off of ourselves and places it on God and Jesus Christ. As Revelation 4:11 states: “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.” True worship glorifies God and no one and/or nothing else. And it flows from a grateful, submissive heart to the Creator of the universe. So let’s find time to praise him today . . . .
Holy, holy, holy . . .
Is the Lord God Almighty . . .
Who was, and is, and is to come . . . .
He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
~ Revelation 22:20
YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” sung by Phillips, Craig and Dean (many of the scenes in the video are taken from the movie, “The Gospel of John,” a very powerful rendition of the account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection (2-DVD set available at this link–contains both the shorter version–2 hrs, 9 min–and the longer version–3 hrs):
YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” (Extended Version) led by Kari Jobe at Gateway Worship: