In the Presbyterian tradition, all who undergo baptism class would also learn about the Westminster Standards, which includes the Shorter Catechism (WSC) that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever”. However, “Man” does not mean an individual—it is a signifier for humanity as a whole; glorifying and enjoying God is not only an individual pursuit. This is why in the Bible, God’s people are not just seen to be worshipping God on their own (e.g., the Song of Deborah, David’s psalms), but also assembling to worship God publicly at places such as the tabernacle and temple (as seen in the Old Testament), the synagogue and even in each other’s homes (post-exile and New Testament).

These gatherings were also part of God’s mission—summed up by Jesus Christ in the Great Commission—where disciples of all nations were to be made, and baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Revelation 7:9–10 gives us a heavenly glimpse of what the earthly gathering of people(s) glorifying and enjoying God forever would be like:

“[…] a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,

who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.””

The waving of palm branches and crying out reminds us of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as documented by all four Gospels (Matthew 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–11; Luke 19:28–44; John 12:12–15). The palm branches symbolised triumph, and at that point the people of Israel were waving them while calling for Him to save them (the meaning of “Hosanna)”, as the “King of Israel” and the “one who comes in the name of the Lord”.

Yet this time, in Revelation, it is not just the people of Israel but people from every nation, tribe, ethnicity, and language that would be waving palm branches and crying out. The Great Commission—fulfilled. God’s people would no longer be calling out for Jesus to save them, but to declare that salvation already belongs to God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb that was slain. They would be dressed in white, as people who were martyred, but nonetheless victorious.

On earth as it is in heaven: The Bible shows us that the mission of the worship service is to be a multiethnic, global, and triumphant one. It is not a monocultural, individualistic, and inward-looking endeavour. Notably, the words and actions of glorifying and enjoying God also arise from personal and collective experiences of martyrdom—suffering for the faith. This gives worshippers meaning for victory even in death, which is made possible by the sacrificial Lamb.

How are we glorifying and enjoying God both as an individual and a community on earth as it is in heaven? Are you surrounded by only those who are like you? Have you thought about what the Christian God means to those who do not look or think like you? As a church, what does GPC look like to those on the outside, and how is our worship service reflecting the heavenly worship that invites everyone to glorify and enjoy God?

On one hand, the pandemic has made large gatherings a challenge. On the other, it has surfaced many issues for the Church in Singapore that tends to be homogenous to think about (our census reflects that the majority of us are Chinese, English-speaking, middle-upper class folk). While we may have tried to help others outside the church as public duty, this crisis also prompts us to reflect upon whether our public worship is carrying out God’s mission towards a gathering of all tribes and tongues, and people of all walks of life. Where the different, the poor, and the neglected and even shunned are invited to experience victory through the sacrifice of Jesus, to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. Would they be able to do so when they see us worshipping, or are we actually making sure that we are the only ones who can? What does our worship on earth tell others about the God we worship in heaven? May the Spirit stir our hearts to worship God on earth as it is in heaven, and lead others to experience the same.


Benita Lim, grew up in Glory PC where she once actively served in the youth and worship ministries. She is currently a PhD student in Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena).