“I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!””
Revelation 22:8-9 NLT
John was so overcome with his conversation with the angel, that he felt the urge to fall on his knees before him and worship him. What was there about the angel that induced that feeling in John? But John had been there before. We read in Revelation 19:10 about another time when he felt he had to worship an angel. We read, “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.…..””.
What is there about angels that can perhaps invite their worship? It may have been a problem in early church days, because the Apostle Paul warned the Colossians church about it. We read in Colossians 2:18, “Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud,”. Angels are created beings, but they are eternal and they have the powers to travel through space and time. They serve God continually, and they have a form that is supernatural and beyond our understanding. Many books have been written about angels, and the Bible is full of references about them. We may even be able to sense the presence of angels, keeping us from danger. But mankind has a tendency to be wowed by something amazing, and that perhaps initiated John’s feelings of a need to worship.
The angel claimed that he was a “servant of God”, just, as he said, like John and his “brothers the prophets“. But in what way did the angel serve God? In the case before us, God had obviously assigned him the task of showing and explaining all that he did to John. And he did it with patience, gentleness and kindness, threads we see throughout the Book of Revelation. But what about the brothers, the prophets? How do they serve God? Paul gave us insight, in Colossians 2:23-24, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” There is a connection here between living our earthly lives and service to God. Many church people have claimed to do “the Lord’s work”, preaching, teaching, being missionaries and so on, but the reality is that serving God can be a job as mundane as cleaning the toilets or drying the dishes. We read in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticise you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” That’s serving God in the way He expects.
In our societies today, we don’t tend to think of worship as something we do outside a church building. But we pilgrims know what it means to worship God. And we do so continually. We must worship only God, and not one of the false gods that can sometimes wheedle their ways into our lives. We see people worshipping on a golf course, at football matches, polishing a piece of metal in their driveways. The list of false gods is endless. We make something a god when we elevate it higher than the true God. We need to pay attention to who and how we serve, and who or what we worship. Get the priorities right and we won’t go far wrong.
Father God. We need some help here. You know our tendency to get caught up with false gods and how we grumble and complain. Please help us! Amen.