4.2. Worship of God

The first question of the Westminster Confession asks: “What is the chief and highest end of man?” To which the following answer is given: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.” [emphasis added] Like God’s sovereignty, the theme of God’s glory stretches from Genesis to Revelation. His manifest presence among His people is represented by His abiding glory (shekinah , Ex. Ex. 14:10; Ex. 16:10; Ex. 24:15-16; Ex. 40:34; Lev. Lev. 9:23; Num. Num. 14:10; Num. 16:19, Num. 16:42; Num. 20:6; 2Chr. 2Chr. 7:1; Isa. Isa. 4:5; Isa. 35:2; Isa. 40:5; Eze. Eze. 1:28; Eze. 3:23; Eze. 9:3; Eze. 10:18; Acts Acts 9:3 ).

Here in the last book of the Bible, God’s glory is seen through the visions and choruses of worship and praise offered up to God. From the first chapter, the glory of God and John’s response are clearly revealed (Rev. Rev. 1:17+).

Worship is one of [the book’s] strongest emphases. The first vision of the book brought the writer prostrate before the figure of the living Christ who appeared to him on Patmos. Through the long series of visions that followed there are repeated references to worship. . . . The implication of the book is that worship is a token of the genuineness of spiritual life now. The contrast between the saved and the lost in Revelation could be called a contrast in worship, since the latter worship the beast (Rev. Rev. 13:4+, Rev. 13:8+, Rev. 13:12+, Rev. 13:15+). Man is made to worship someone, and if he will not have the true God, he will inevitably turn to a false idol.1

Tenney notes the importance of worship in an ongoing celestial commentary of the events transpiring on earth below.2

Poetic Expressions of Praise
TitlePassageParticipantsOccasion
Tersanctus: “Holy, holy, holy” Rev. Rev. 4:8+Living CreaturesConstant worship
“Worthy art Thou” in CreationRev. Rev. 4:11+Twenty-four EldersWorship by Elders
“Worthy art Thou” in RedemptionRev. Rev. 5:8-10+Living Creatures and EldersLamb’s assumption of rights
“Worthy is the Lamb”Rev. Rev. 5:11-12+Angels, Living Creatures, EldersLamb’s assumption of rights
“Unto him that sitteth”Rev. Rev. 5:13+Every created thingLamb’s assumption of rights
“Salvation unto our God”Rev. Rev. 7:9-10+Great multitudeSealing of 144,000
“Amen. Blessing. . .”Rev. Rev. 7:11-12+AngelsSealing of 144,000
“The kingdom of the world”Rev. Rev. 11:15+Great voicesSeventh angel
“We give thee thanks”Rev. Rev. 16:18+EldersSeventh trumpet
“Great and marvellous”Rev. Rev. 15:2-4+Victors over BeastSeven last plagues
“Four Hallelujahs”Rev. Rev. 19:1-8+Great multitude, Elders, Living Creatures, Great voicesFall of Babylon, Marriage of Lamb

Whenever the reader is tempted to focus on the enormity of the events transpiring on the earth below, the scene shifts to the heavens above, the ultimate source of what is transpiring, and the destination of the glory derived from all that transpires in His creation. “No matter how many parentheses and digressions may be introduced, the Revelation maintains the celestial setting for terrestrial events. Behind the changing panorama of human history described under the symbolic pictures abides the unchanging reality of an eternal world in which God’s purpose is unfailing and His Christ victorious.”3

The importance of glory and its expression through worship is also evident in the degree to which Satan parodies God in a short-lived attempt to subvert God’s glory for himself.

Indeed, everything Satan does is a parody or “great imitation” of what God has already done. The mark of the beast (Rev. Rev. 13:16-17+) in the right hand or forehead is a mere copy of God sealing the saints in the forehead (Rev. Rev. 7:3+). The false trinity (the dragon, beast, and false prophet, Rev. Rev. 16:13+) is an obvious copy of the triune Godhead. The mortal wound that is healed (Rev. Rev. 13:3+, Rev. 13:12+) imitates the death and resurrection of the Lord. The dragon giving the beast his power; throne, and “great” authority (Rev. Rev. 13:2+) copies the relationship between God and Christ. The demand for the nations to worship the beast and dragon (Rev. Rev. 13:8+, Rev. 13:14-15+) follows the constant commands in Scripture to worship God.4

Here in the book of Revelation the attempt of the creature to occupy the role of the Creator comes to its vain conclusion (Isa. Isa. 14:13-14; Mtt. Mat. 4:9; Luke Luke 4:7; Rev. Rev. 13:4+, Rev. 13:8+, Rev. 13:12+, Rev. 13:15+; Rev. 14:11+; Rev. 16:2+; Rev. 19:20+). Near the close of the book, the angel informs John and those who would read or hear this prophecy that it is God Who alone is to be worshiped (Rev. Rev. 22:9+).5

Notes

1 Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1957), 199-200.

2 Ibid., 36-37.

3 Ibid., 37.

4 Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 34.

5 One might also wonder whether the judgments which are poured out upon the earth are an indication that those dwelling upon the earth have placed undue emphasis upon the earth, while neglecting its Creator. Perhaps this is an indication of the fully-developed fruit of unbridled environmentalism which includes an idolatrous worship of the earth.