In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Isaiah 6:1-5
How glorious is the LORD? Here in this awesome theophany Isaiah the prophet got a glimpse of the unrivaled splendor of YHWH. Countless thousands of angels join in the song of the seraphim in the anthem of the ages "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!!" The only response to seeing such grandeur is for Isaiah to fall down and cry out..." I am worthy of destruction, He is holy and I am not!" (keep in mind that Isaiah is probably the most holy man on the planet during this time....). How high is this glory? How holy is our God?
The angelic choirs get the unthinkable privilege to stand before this terrifyingly beautiful God and gaze on someone so devastating; someone so beautiful; that the only word that seems to be able to describe the ONE they are looking at is HOLY....[transcendent, totally other than, not like any created thing....HOLY]. Can you imagine being one of these angels? What if this was how you spent your time? What if you stood before the uncreated God who is a consuming fire to worship Him? Undoubtedly, the angelic choirs would rather be nowhere else but in the center of the everlasting burnings of the presence of YHWH and try to endure the fire of His presence to cry out yet again HOLY! (the good news is that in just a blink of an eye we the redeemed will be there with them singing that song)
You know angels have free will. They choose to worship. They are not robots.... and they are very intense about their devotion to only worship YHWH. Check out what this angel tells John the beloved.
Then he [the angel] said to me [the apostle John], "Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!" He also said to me, "These words of God are true." Then I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow slave with you and your brothers who have the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, because the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Rev. 19:9-10
Sometimes we forget that worship is an action that is only reserved for GOD alone. Jewish Monotheism which is the bedrock of Christianity clearly puts forth a very strict worship liturgy in which YHWH alone is deserving of worship. Here is a quote from scholar Richard Bauckham "However diverse Judaism may have been in many other respects, this was common: only the God of Israel is worthy of worship because he is sole Creator of all things and sole Ruler of all things." (Bauckham, Paul's Christology of Divine Identity p. 4)
Because we don't understand the majesty of God we don't see how vast the chasm is between Him and every other created thing. When this is rightly seen its very clear that YHWH alone deserves worship. I love how A.W. Tozer says it:
We must not think of God as highest in an ascending order of beings, starting with the single cell and going on up from the fish to the bird to the animal to man to angel to cherub to God. This would be to grant God eminence, even pre-eminence, but that is not enough; we must grant Him transcendence in the fullest meaning of that word. Forever God stands apart, in light unapproachable. He is as high above an archangel as above a caterpillar, for the gulf that separates the archangel from the caterpillar is but finite, while the gulf between God and the archangel is infinite. The caterpillar and the archangel, though far removed from each other in the scale of created things, are nevertheless one in that they are alike created. They both belong in the category of that-which-is-not-God and are separated from God by infinitude itself. (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (HarperCollins: San Francisco, 1961), p. 70.)
The LORD alone is deserving of praise, glory and honor because He alone is God! Angels know this very well... remember that Lucifer was cast out of heaven for wanting to receive worship unto Himself (Is. 14:13-15) ... so those angels that were faithful to YHWH would never dream of worshipping anything but YHWH alone.
Now that we can see and understand angelic worship only given to YHWH and none other we see a transition of monumental proportions in their worship.... the incarnation
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:8-14
At first glance it seems that these angels are just coming out of heaven as messengers to announce the birth of Jesus the Messiah to the shepherds. But a deeper look reveals something simply staggering.....
For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father " ?Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son" ? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world [the birth of Jesus], he says, "Let all God's angels worship him. [the newborn babe]" Hebrews 1:5-6
I wish right now I could shout! Does anyone else see what is happening! There is no other story in scripture like this!!!! Since the dawn of time YHWH has sat upon His cosmic throne rapped in splendor unapproachable and the angels stared into His brilliance and worshipped Him with unbroken praise. But now we see those same angels coming out of heaven to worship!!!!! No where in scripture do we ever see angels coming out to heaven to worship... for worship is a response to a person... they would see YHWH and the only appropriate response to His glory was to worship. Worship follows His person, His identity; for where He is then whoever sees Him will worship Him.
So where are these angels going? Why are they coming out of heaven to worship? Again I wish I could shout! They are going to a little town called bethlehem to worship a baby in a manger!!!! These angels came to worship a poor Jewish baby??!?!?! Does anyone else feel the weight of this? Since the moment the choirs of heaven were created they stared into the glory of YHWH and worshipped Him, but now that same YHWH has set aside His outward form of glory (while still retaining all His divine attributes and identity), and He has put on the form of a bondservant.... a little Jewish baby, and He is being worshipped for it!
Beloved just because we are somewhat dull to the divinity of Jesus the angelic choirs were not. They comprehended what happened at the incarnation and the only thing that they could do was to follow God down into the earth and worship Him... He has always received their praise in heaven, and now it is only right that they worship Him on the earth. What was it like for the angels who had always worshipped God in His raw terrifying glory to now worship Him as a little poor baby laying in a feed trough? You know its not just beauty radiating from the throne that evokes worship its also His radiating character that is like no other. The humility of the uncreated GOD becoming a man must have been utterly staggering to the angelic choirs who perceived what had transpired. The impact upon them was so tremendous that they had to go to that stable and worship God in the flesh!
Beloved, there is no greater statement of Jesus' divinity and of His humanity. Here the Godman lays needing milk from Mary to sustain Him while He receives the worship from the choirs of heaven.
You know as Jesus grew up there was no change in His identity. If an angel would have been flying by and seen Him at age 6 playing with the other children in nazareth that angel would have stopped and would have cried out HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. Jesus was a real boy who was growing up remembering when He created all things and He went totally unnoticed by Humanity. He was in the world that He created and the world didn't recognize Him ! (John 1:10). I mean His own family in Mark 4 thinks He is loosing His mind... those closest with Him were totally disconnected to the reality that He was the GOD of heaven in the flesh. I wonder what this was like for Jesus. There was never a man so misunderstood.
Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead bodily. So lets join the choirs of heaven. Let us meditate upon his manger and join the angelic chorus GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST! We too should run to the manger with the shepherds and fall down and worship this little baby lying in the feeding trough? Beloved, Jesus has and always will be worthy of worship.... He rose from the dead as authentically human and ascended back into heaven as a man where for the last 2000+ years this Jewish man has been receiving unbroken adoration from all the hosts of heaven.
When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed [people] for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth. Then I looked, and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures, and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. They said with a loud voice: The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing! I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped. Rev. 5:8-14