Friday, January 5, 2024

Worship in Heaven (5.8–14)


And when he had taken the scroll the four animals and the twenty-four elders fell down in front of the lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the holy ones). And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals because you were slain, and you bought with your blood for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on the earth.’

And I saw, and I heard the sound of many angels around the throne and the animals and the elders, and their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying in a loud voice, ‘The slain lamb is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’

And I heard every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To the one sitting on the throne and to the lamb, blessing and honor and glory and power for ever and ever.’

And the four animals were saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped.


The chapter features a multi-step doxology, which expands the sphere of worshipers with each step: first the heavenly temple’s innermost residents (the four animals and twenty four elders), then an immense crowd of angels, then all of creation. The ‘bowls full of incense’ again indicate to the reader the setting of a heavenly temple.



33.3 Sing to him a new song; play skilfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

40.3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our god.

96.1 O sing to Yhwh a new song; sing to Yhwh, all the earth.

141.2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.


42.10 Sing to Yhwh a new song, his praise from the end of the earth!


12.12 ‘it was I who brought and read the record of your prayer before the glory of the Lord’

13.11 many nations will come to you from far away, the inhabitants of the remotest parts of the earth to your holy name

Dead Sea Scrolls

4Q400 2 In all the highest heights they shall sing marvelous psalms according to all their understanding, and the glorious splendor of the King of the gods they shall recount

Revelation of Zephaniah

8.2–4 Thousands of thousands and myriads of myriads of angels gave praise before me. I, myself, put on an angelic garment. I saw all of those angels praying. I, myself, prayed together with them, I knew their language, which they spoke with me.

3 Baruch

11.4, 7–9 And he said to me, ‘Michael is descending to accept the prayers of men.’ […] And I saw him holding a very large receptacle, and its depth was that from heaven to earth, and its width that from east to west. And I said, ‘Lord, what is Michael holding?’ And he said to me, ‘This is where the prayers of men go.’

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