Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” Revelation 22:9
With John’s falling down before the feet of this messenger in order to worship (whether God, or – erringly – the angel), there is a response. John says, “Then he said to me…”
A note of correction is necessary for John’s actions. There is to be no misunderstanding of what the idea of proper worship is. With this, the messenger says, “See that you do not do that.”
As in verse 19:10, the Greek is much more abrupt – á˝Ťρα μÎ® (Hora mÄ“, or “See not!”). The suddenness of the words is intended to arrest the attention of John and have him think clearly concerning his actions. With this, the angel next states, “For I am your fellow servant.”
The words of this angel (the Greek simply meaning “messenger”) lean to the idea that he is quite possibly human. It may be that he is a spiritual being, but either way, he clearly identifies himself as being on the same level as John in regard to his servanthood before the Lord. To further express this, he says, “and of your brethren the prophets.”
A spiritual connection between John (an apostle) and the prophets is conveyed here. Each office has a particular purpose, which is to convey the word of God. And like the prophets, apostles were no more entitled to receive worship than they were. The angel is conveying a prophetic message to John, John is receiving it and will convey it to the church, but the Source of the revelation is God. Each is simply a messenger in his own right, and thus a servant of the Source of the message. From there, the angel then says, “and of those who keep the words of this book.”
There are different responsibilities in the government of God, but all are subordinates to Him. Some bring the message from God, some receive it and proclaim it to the people verbally or in a recorded fashion, and some are to hear the word and then keep (meaning observe) that which is proclaimed to them. The angel notes that all subordinate levels are actually fellow servants. Servants are not masters. As such, there is One, and only One, who is to receive the honor of worship. And so, he clearly proclaims to John, “Worship God.”
The angel exactingly repeats his words from Revelation 19:10 again. Only God is to be worshiped. Therefore, one must have an understanding of who God is. This is one of the main purposes of Scripture, the revealing of God in a manner so that man can understand Him in an intimate way. The God revealed in the Bible – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is the God who is to be worshiped. He and no other.
Life application: Whatever was on John’s mind when he fell at the angel’s feet to worship, it sent the wrong signal. Somebody may fall at the feet of the pope while worshiping God, thus indicating that he believes the pope is a valid intermediary. This would be an error. One does not need such an intermediary. Jesus Christ is the one and only Mediator between God and man. Thus, the expression of falling before a pope actually deprives Jesus of His rightful due.
John may have fallen to worship God, but by doing so at the feet of the angel, he has made the same mistake. He may have thought, “I am worshiping God, and my worship will be transmitted through this angel to Him.” It is inappropriate.
The prophets and apostles are noted as having especially high stations among men because they conveyed the words of God to the people of God. However, no person holding such an office, or any other high office granted by God, is worthy of worship, or even of being an intermediary in worship. This is noted in Acts 10:25, 26 – “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I myself am also a man.’”
Along with the apostles and prophets who relayed God’s word to humanity are those who keep the words of God through obedience to them. All of God’s saints who hear the word, receive it, and keep it are considered co-heirs with Christ and are even now seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:4-7). However, this is only a conferred honor and was granted by God for His glory.
The angel speaking with John places himself in a category like the apostles, prophets, and saints. Psalm 8:5 says that man was made “a little lower than the angels.” This implies that although angels have a higher station than man at this time, they are also created beings. Their job is not to receive glory, praise, and worship, but to ensure those are directed to God alone. And so, whether this angel is a man or a heavenly messenger, he is not to be worshiped.
Let us never set up an idol in our hearts through improper worship, and may we be proper examples to others of how to conduct ourselves before our God. God has given us the proper revelation in His word to teach us how this is to be accomplished. He has revealed Himself through the sending of His Messiah. Let us worship Him, then, through JESUS.
Help us, O God, to act rightly in our worship of You. Help us to never bow to another part of the creation and thus take from You what You alone rightfully deserve. You are glorious in all ways and surely You are worthy of all praise! Thank You for allowing us to come before You in worship and adoration. Amen.