Many hymns and songs include the idea of casting our crowns before the Lord, and Ive often sung those words without recognizing what an amazing statement I was making. In an earlier study we identified these twenty-four elders as the human representatives of the old and the new covenants. Daniel saw thrones set up in the courtroom of the Ancient of Days (Dn 7:9, 10) but John is the one who tells us who is sitting on those thrones. But even John leaves us with some unanswered questions. The first is, why is anyone other than Jesus wearing a crown? After all Hes the One to whom authority has been given (Dn 7:14; Mt 28:18; Rev 5:6, 7). If crowns represent governing authority, and they do, then what is a group of humans doing with these symbols on their heads? Second, why do they take them off and throw them on the ground? What are they saying by this gesture and why does it still need to be said? And third, even if the twenty-four elders receive crowns should other believers like us also expect to receive a crown in the age to come?
A. Who are these elders?
Twelve represent the true believers of Israel and twelve represent the faithful church. By having them seated together the unity of Gods people is affirmed. Saved men and women from both covenants will be joined into one new family in heaven. This same truth is expressed in Revelation 21:12-14: The New Jerusalem will have twelve gates named for the twelve tribes of Israel (21:12) and twelve foundation stones named for the twelve apostles of Christ (21:14).
1) Note: Angels are never said to be given crowns though believers are (2Ti 4:8; Jas 1:12; 1Pt 5:4; Rev 2:10) (Ryrie Study Bible, footnote).
2) Exactly who these people are is uncertain (Mt 20:17-28), but I believe I know at least two names (Mt 17:1-3).
B. Why do they cast their crowns?
By taking off these symbols of governing authority and casting them before Jesus they express:
1) Humility: This crown really belongs to You. All authority belongs to You, not us.
2) Submission: I take off my crown in your presence and submit to You as king.
3) Service: I place this crown at your disposal. I choose to use my authority to serve others, not myself.
In heaven humans still have the power to choose, or our worship would be meaningless, yet because our essential choices about Jesus have already been made (and tested) on earth, and because the influence of the flesh and the Tempter are gone, sin doesnt happen there--yet we will still be expressing humility, submission and service forever. In fact, as amazing as it may sound even now in His resurrected lordship Jesus is humble. . . submitted. . . and serving. And since you and I are being formed into His image (Ro 8:29) these qualities will always be part of us as well.
1) 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 (humility, submission)
2) Hebrews 7:23-25
C. Will all believers be given crowns?
Yes. From the beginning God intended for humans to extend His authority over all the living things on earth (Ge 1:28; Ps 8:5-8). Here are other passages that point to our destiny to rule with Him:
1) Daniel 7:18, 22, 27
2) Matthew 19:27-30 . . .you who have followed Me in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you shall also sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
3) Matthew 25:21 . . .you were faithful with a few things I will put you in charge of many things . . .
4) 1 Corinthians 6:2 . . .do you not know that the saints will judge the world?
5) 1 Corinthians 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels?
6) Revelation 1:6 . . .and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.
7) Revelation 2:26, 27 He who overcomes. . . to him I will give authority over the nations and he shall rule them with a rod of iron as I also received authority from My Father. . .
8) Revelation 3:21 . . .I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
9) Revelation 5:10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth.
10) Revelation 20:4 Then I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was given to them. . . and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
11) Revelation 20:6 . . .but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
D. How are we being prepared for this role?
1) Humans are essentially spiritual beings interacting with the physical world through our bodies. The maturity and Christ-like qualities we develop in this life will not be lost at death, but will be utilized in the age to come.
- This life is a training ground for the next.
- The lessons learned here arent forgotten there.
- The mercy, patience, wisdom, boldness, love. . . arent lost when we die.
2) In this life we are:
- Tested: how will we handle the authority were given.
- Subjected to trials: does pain drive us closer to Christ?
3) Old Testament examples: Lets reflect on the lives of some of those who might be among the twenty-four elders. What prepared them for their crown?
- Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, Daniel, Jeremiah . . .
- Do we see humility, submission and service in them?
E. How does the truth that we will reign with Christ change our perspective on this life?
1) James 1:2-4, 12
2) 1 Peter 5:1-11
1) Can you think of a time when God tested to see how you would handle authority? What did you learn about yourself?
2) Does pain drive you closer to God or away from Him? Give an example if you can.