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John’s Improper Behavior and the Gospel

05 Apr
Worship of Angel

from Google Images

Presently I am involved in a study of the Apocalypse, chapter 19. The faithful in Christ had been called to echo the praises for the Lord, which they heard from heaven. Immediately after it was announced that the Lord God, omnipotent, reigns (Revelation 19:6), John was told: “Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And the angel told John, “These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation 19:9).

If we are to understand that the wedding of the Lord and his people represents the establishment of the New Covenant, then it must follow that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb also represents the judgment of the Lord upon the great harlot, Jerusalem, thus, vindicating the elect. The wedding feast cannot be a literal banquet, to which folks might come and eat some of their favorite foods. After all, the wedding feast seems to be “the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great” (Revelation 19:18). Therefore, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb must be understood, at least in part, as symbolic of the Lord’s judgment upon the great harlot, the persecutor of his people.

After John saw all these things, he fell down with the intention of worshiping the angel who spoke with him (Revelation 19:10). Why would John, a Jew, do such a thing in light of the fact that every Jew was brought up by his parents and educated by his teachers and the priests that only the Lord was to be worshiped (Exodus 34:14; 2Kings 17:36? Yet, John seems to be overcome in the moment and falls down upon his face to worship his angelic revelator, and this isn’t the only time John tried to worship an angel (cp. Revelation 22:8-9). Moreover, we need to keep in mind that John also acted inappropriately when he first saw the great harlot (Revelation 17:6). What should we make of these things?

First of all, I don’t believe John’s worship was of the type we see in the pagans’ efforts to worship Paul and Barnabas at Lystra (Acts 14:11-13). It doesn’t seem that John was ready to sacrifice a lamb at the feet of the person before him. Years ago, I found it somewhat embarrassing when some folks I taught in a Sunday school environment expressed their appreciation for my studies by pouring out compliment after compliment upon me. It was very uncomfortable for me, because I believed then and still believe that it wasn’t through my own skill that I’ve derived my studies from the word of God and wrote them down. I simply replied that I love the word of God, and appreciate the understanding that he gives me. At the end of the day, if I am serving the Lord, then I owe my understanding of his word to him. In the same manner, the angel who reveled what he did to John owed his own understanding to the Lord, and was equally uncomfortable with the undo admiration John gave him. I believe it is in this light that we should understand John’s worship in Revelation 19:10.

Similarly, we need to understand John’s inappropriate admiration for the great harlot (Revelation 17:6) to be love and zeal for the land that he had always held dear. Yet, this very land had gone beyond the time when repentance would have meant anything. Paul had wished he could trade places with his beloved country, but that, of course, was impossible (Romans 9:3-5). Samuel, the prophet, had the same difficulty with the Lord’s rejection of Saul (1Samuel 16:1). So, I think we need to understand John’s inappropriate behavior, concerning the great harlot, as something quite common and acceptable in its own context. Nevertheless, by the time we get to the sixth seal and the sixth trumpet, the harlot’s repentance wouldn’t be a factor (cp. 2Chronicles 36:16; Proverbs 6:15; 29:1). Therefore, John was rebuked and told to stop what he was about to do. In other words, it is the Lord who should be praised and worshiped, not the angel who was merely given this message to give to John.

The phrase “the testimony of Jesus” appears five times in the Bible and is found only in the Apocalypse. It occurs twice in the first chapter (Revelation 1:2, 9) where John tells us that he was on the isle of Patmos due to his testimony on Jesus’ behalf. In other words he was there because of the Gospel he preached. Next, it occurs in Revelation 12:17 where a war in heaven is described, which was between the dragon and his messengers and the Lord and his messengers (Revelation 12:7). There, the dragon made war with (persecuted) the woman who had the testimony of Jesus, i.e. the Gospel. The remaining two occurrences are found in Revelation 19:10, where John is told the angel serves those who have the testimony of Jesus (the Gospel), for the Gospel (i.e. the testimony of Jesus) is the spirit of prophecy. In other words, the testimony of Jesus (the Gospel) explains the word of God given under the Old Covenant.

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2020 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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