“And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.””
Revelation 19:9-10 NLT
In his part of the vision recorded in Revelation 19, John seems to be accompanied by an angel, who is going out of his way to keep John right over what is happening. He told John what to write about the wedding feast and the honour that is there for all those who receive an invitation. And then, for some reason, he emphasised its importance, by saying to John, “These are true words that come from God.” John took careful note of what was said, and so should we. We don’t know what the wedding feast experience will be like, but some things we do know – it will definitely happen one day, because Jesus said so, as recorded in Matthew 22, and because God said so through His servant, the angel in our verses today. And one other thing, it will be the most amazing experience that we have ever encountered. In fact, there are no words that can adequately describe what the event will be like.
John was so overwhelmed by what the angel was saying, that he fell down at the angel’s feet “to worship him”. The journey that John had been on in his vision, the journey through all the seals and plagues, the beasts, the natural disasters, and so on, were all eclipsed by the wonder of what the angel said, and it was all too much for John. He had no response other than feeling a need to worship. And the angel, in his role as God’s servant, became his focus. The angel soon put John right, with his response, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God”.
We pilgrims will understand John’s response, because there is inbuilt within us a need to worship God. But we often find that difficult because God is beyond our natural focus. Sometimes, we need a finely-tuned and sensitive spirit to detect, and respond to, His presence. The story of Elijah is such an example. In 1 Kings 19:12-13, we read, “And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?””. After a ferocious wind, an earthquake and fire, Elijah’s spirit responded to “the sound of a gentle whisper”. John’s spirit, like Elijah’s, sensed the presence of God. And he was overwhelmed by all that was happening before him. He just had to respond in worship, and the angel, as God’s messenger, became his focus.
The angel encouraged John to “worship only God”, and that is something that Jesus Himself also taught. We read in Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” We can easily become distracted by an object of beauty, such as a sunset or a piece of art, and something within us responds in worship. But we must constantly hold before us the thought – who created the sunset, or put within someone the ability to paint beautiful pictures? It is all about God, and Him alone. Only He is worthy of our worship. Stained glass windows and statues of saints won’t work. Natural beauty around us in God’s creation can’t be worshipped either. In God’s presence, as we strain to hear the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice, as we take a step back from our busy lives, it is only then that our worship can focus on God, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
Dear Father God. How can we ever be distracted by a counterfeit when You are the only One we can worship? At Your feet today we do just that, worship You. Amen.