Harp and Bowl

You might have guessed that I am currently reading through Revelation. I am happy that the readings come in chapter-sized chunks and I have time to read, reread and absorb the wonder that is in there. As an aside for anyone interested I have been reading through the Bible in a year using this guide. Maybe you think you can’t read the Bible, maybe you find time pressing. But this takes 15-20 minutes and is such a blessing I cannot recommend it highly enough, and if time really is pressing then there are custom guides to take 2 years or however long you need. I just recommend reading daily. I think once you start you’ll find you want to read more. There are a zillion plans out there, google is your friend. I am going chronological next year I think 🙂

Anyway, back to Revelation. Today was chapter 5. What a vision! It makes my heart soar and tremble at the same time as I look at this description of the Lamb who was slain. I don’t claim to be a scholar of this book, I have heard some teaching on it, but it tends to be a book we shy away from. It’s full of imagery and language that is alien to us even though it somehow resounds with our hearts when we read it carefully. I kept returning to verse 8.

And when He took it, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell prostrate before the Lamb. They worshiped Him, and each one held a harp and golden bowls filled with incense (the prayers of God’s holy people).

Revelation 5:8

The first thing was the bowl filled with incense because God has been speaking to me about intercession, reminding me of some things He said before that I had let slide. But then I looked at the whole verse. I thought about these elders falling on their faces before the Lamb. What else could one do? The Lamb that was slain. The perfection of God’s plan and purpose. The Conqueror, the One able to open this scroll held in the hand of the One on the throne. It’s mindblowing and utter surrender and worship is really the only response.


I needed to insert a break there but the page won’t let me, so if you rushed past to read on please go back and read again.

They each held a harp and a bowl. What purpose does a harp have except to make music? Beautiful, cascading, rippling music – The Voice interprets that they worshipped, but the original text just says they fell down. In my opinion, the harp in their hand says they submitted their worship to the Lamb. Whether they were speechless or able to stutter words of worship or so overcome that from the abundance of their hearts their mouths overflowed beyond their control I don’t know yet. But in falling down, harp in hand as they offered, surrendered themselves they brought worship to the Lamb.

The bowls were filled with incense, that incense is the prayers of the saints, of God’s holy people, of you and me. This intercession is again surrendered to the Lamb, placed before Him because that is all we can do.

And I thought again about the great commandment – love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself. Those two are summed up in the harp and the bowl. The harp is worship, to love God is to worship Him, to love Him is to acknowledge who He is and that He is worthy of all glory and honour and power, He is worthy of my worship. To love my neighbour is to pray for them, to intercede for them, to stand in the gap and talk to God  with them or when they cannot or do not stand.

I am not one of the elders but I have worship and intercession to bring to God. I have these two things that ought to consume my life. People who don’t know what worship really is, what intercession really is might think that’s weird. Maybe it is weird to the world but to God, it is sweet incense and beautiful music. It’s not about being locked in my room on my knees 24/7 it’s about every aspect of my life submitted to God and aimed at pleasing Him, demonstrating Him, loving Him.


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