CROWN HIM WITH MANY CROWNS
There are a great many things we should like to know about heaven, but God’s Word has given us few details. He has saved the details about the next world until we get there, to make surprises of them, so that heaven might be all the brighter because it so infinitely exceeds anything that we had conceived.
We have abundant reason for believing that saints know each other, that there is fellowship among the saints, that Abraham is Abraham, and Isaac is Isaac, and Jacob is Jacob, and the redeemed ones sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as such, in the kingdom of God.
The New Jerusalem has streets, and streets imply communication and fellowship, but there is little said about that. We are told little of the food of heaven, beyond that there is the tree of life which bears a different kind of fruit every month.
Our text this morning gives us a glimpse of the worship of heaven. We find the twenty-four elders who are the representatives of all of God’s redeemed people, sitting on their thrones before the Majesty of God, with crowns upon their heads; and they cast those crowns before the throne of God.
I. THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN ARE ALL CROWNED.
The 24 elders declare, “Thou hast redeemed us out of every people, and language, and nation,” so that they represent all. It may be that there are degrees in glory. It may be that there are none. To solve the question is above my pay grade! But if there are, there is no degree below a crowned head in heaven.“A crown of life that fadeth not away” is the very lowest portion of the very least saint who is admitted into glory.
Now, how did they come to be crowned?
First, they are all kings – and queens – Dei Gratia. The coins of many nations which have monarchs bear the inscription, “Dei Gratia,” “by the grace of God,” although typically they were about as graceless a lot of individuals as you could find. But everyone in heaven may say of herself or himself truly. They are all royalty by the grace of God. It was the grace of God which first called them and led them to Christ.
Although it may seem astonishing, in the second place they are all royalty by hereditary descent. Some day Prince Charles, or perhaps one of his sons, Harry or Andrew, will be come king of Great Britain. They will achieve that status because they were born into the House of Windsor. Believers have been “born again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Every redeemed human in heaven has been born into the House of God. Some were prodigal sons, and some at times had got into the bad temper of the elder brother in the parable; but they are all sons and daughters, and they are there because they are sons and daughters. They have come to their crown by inheritance.
Thirdly, they are kings and queens by right of conquest and of victory. In olden times, a crown was given to those who were the strongest. The crowns in heaven are all the gifts of grace, but at the same time it is true that those who have the crowns have fought for them: “These are they that came out of great tribulation.” Canaan belonged to the Israelites: it was theirs by covenant; but they had to fight for it, and dispute every inch with the Hittite and the Canaanite and the Jebusite, and so must we. We shall get to heaven by God’s grace, but we shall be kings and queens, because we have contended for the victory. The saints have borne fierce persecutions, grave temptations, and have overcome.
II. THOUGH THEY ALL HAVE CROWNS, THEY ALL CAST THEM BEFORE THE THRONE.
Why do they cast their crowns at the foot of the throne?
The first reason is for solemn reverence. They see God revealed with glory, and with his attributes more clearly seen, there is overwhelming emotion, and intense reverence; and with spontaneity they pay all the homage they can before the throne of God. Perhaps it would seem to them as though it could not be that they could sit with crowned heads in the presence of the King of kings. That head that once was crowned with thorns, when we see it adorned with the royal diadem, surely we should not bear to be crowned in the presence of such an one!
Second, they are responding in sincere humility. Reverence to God always brings a humble opinion of one’s own self. Here below, beloved, we sometimes complain at God when his will runs contrary to ours. But when we distrust ourselves, and put implicit confidence in him, we will cast our wills at the Lord’s feet. The saints around the throne have experienced the perfect will of God, and, knowing God and beholding his glory, they lay themselves at his feet completely renouncing their will and give all honor to him.
Thirdly, they lay their crowns at his feet because of their profound gratitude. They bless God that they are where they are, and what they are. If you ask those before the throne, they will tell you that not only do they owe their crowns to grace, but every single gem in their crowns. Therefore, how could they keep anything to themselves? Gratitude constrains them to lay their crowns where their crowns came from.
Fourthly, and above all, they are moved by intense affection. Loving their Lord they are glad to fling their richest goods, their choicest trophy, their most cherished treasure, at his feet. Here we love ourselves, and cherish some fond attachment to our fellowcreatures also, and our hearts are stolen away by some earthly object, but there they love God intensely, continually, undividedly, without a flaw, and consequently they cast everything down before him, and they lay their crowns at his feet because he is infinitely glorious!
III. TWO LESSONS WE MUST LEARN.
As believers, our days that are the most filled with joy are the days that we worship God the most. The Lord’s Table teaches us to place all that we have and all that we are at the foot of our God; serving him with all your heart and wisdom and strength.
Do you have you anything that you call your own to boast of? Have you done antying for which you feel you deserve esteem and honor as an acknowledgment of your distinguished services? Of all the songs they sing in heaven there is none that ever says – “I have done well: I deserve credit and honor.” Quite the reverse. There the music is,“Not unto us, Lord! Not unto us! But to your name be glory and honor!” Have we learned that lesson? Especially as we approach this table?