Revelation as Worship

Image result for Angels worshiping in heaven

Despite the fact the book has a great deal to say about coming events, Revelation is not a roadmap of the future.  It is, rather, an exhortation for today.  It is possible that people living in the tribulation will pick up the book of Revelation and see the things spoken of being fulfilled in their lives, but the people living at that time will be under a delusion (2 Thess. 2:11).  It is unlikely that those under the judgment of God will have the spiritual insight to believe what the book teaches (see Rev 6:12-17).   Revelation was intended to be read by the church living in the shadow of the Second Coming bearing up under persecution for their belief in Jesus, in order to encourage them to be strong and endure until the end.  As such, the book is an excellent conclusion to the Jewish-Christian literature in the NT.

I am convinced that the main theme of Revelation is worship.  The fact that God is worthy of our worship appears many times in the book.  There are several scenes of heavenly worship around the throne of God (Rev 5:13, 7:11-12).  The reason for God’s worthiness is that he is the creator (Rev 4:11)  It is evident that since God is the creator of all things, he is sovereign over them and can use them in what ever way he chooses.  In Rev 10:6 the elements of nature that God is declared to be creator of are the elements of creation that are used to judge in the book.

God is also described as a just judge who will avenge the wrongs done to his people.  Even this can be seen as a sub-theme of worship.  Rev 16:5, for example, describes an angel worshiping God as the one who is “just in all his judgments.”  In Rev 18:20, the saints are to rejoice because God has judged the Great Whore of Babylon.

Bibliography: M. Eugene Boring,“The Theology of Revelation, ‘The Lord Our God the Almighty Reigns,’” Interpretation 40 (July 1986), 261.

28 thoughts on “Revelation as Worship

  1. “I am convinced that the main theme of Revelation is worship.” (P. Long)
    When I asked my students what they wanted to study this year they said “Revelation.” (It was that or Songs of Solomon) When I did my preliminary study of the book, I came to the same realization. It’s also very helpful to read the book from this perspective as well. One isn’t caught up in the particulars of metaphorical and literal interpretation. (Even though they exist) Instead, one is challenged in their own worship life to measure up to that of the heavenly beings. “The great throne room scenes of chapters 4-5 invite believers to worship God on earth even as He is perfectly worshiped by the heavenly beings.”(FttE, 304) The Lord God is worthy of all of our honor, he is worthy of all power and majesty. Nothing that we can do will ever be able to express the glory that God deserves, but we can at least, as John points out, mirror the angels and trust in the Lord’s judgment.

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  2. “I am convinced that the main theme of Revelation is worship.” (P. Long) I am not sure this is the main focus of the book. Of course this is the main focus of the Christian faith, but Revelation is the glimpse of the final chapter of God redeeming the world. This book is about God finally completing what Christ started on the Cross. Revelation ends with the Kingdom of Heaven finally being completely ‘here’. Though Jesus is King now, it will be fully realized when God lays waste to the powers of man and brings His Kingdom to its fullest. Revelation is of course about worship, but isn’t all Scripture really about the focus of Worshipping the Lord?

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    • I suppose “all scripture is about worship” – but outside of Psalms, what other book int he whole Bible has some sort of worship scene in nearly every chapter? Heavenly worship and adoration of a powerful God who judges justly is on every page.

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    • “Of course this is the main focus of the Christian faith, but Revelation is the glimpse of the final chapter of God redeeming the world. This book is about God finally completing what Christ started on the Cross.” (J. Austin)
      I would agree that if you read the last few chapters of Revelation that you do indeed find Christ coming to restore the kingdom and redeem the world, but the entire middle section of the book is about God judging the nations and bringing his wrath down in order to punish those that are engaged in false worship of the ‘beast’. In my humble opinion, I would say that theme of Revelation is right worship and vindication for those that have right worship. Alongside of that are examples of false worship and the eventual condemnation of those engaged in apostasy. This letter is a polemic against those in the church that are apostatizing due to pressure from the Roman government, and thus giving up the right worship that God deserves.

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      • I would have to agree with Jacob’s observation that the middle section of the book is completely dominated by the wrath of God. It may be the final chapter of God’s interaction with earth as we know it, but particularly in the middle of the book, God is not redeeming man, but judging them. Jon is correct that the book ends with the fulfilling of God’s plan of redemption, but it seems incorrect to declare the theme of the whole book based on a few chapters. In looking at the book as a whole, you have to admit that there is the underlying theme of worship. In almost every chapter, as p. long says, there is a scene of worshipping God.

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    • I see your point John. If Revelation is indeed a book about worship, then John arrives at this through discussing the end time redemption of the world. For this reason the people are to praise and worship God. John is addressing their current needs, and that need is to no longer be afraid, to continue in the faith through worship. John gets there through apocalyptic weird stories.

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  3. As much as I initially wanted to argue with the perspective of P. Long, I had to agree with most of his statements about the revelation. Although, I do think that the Revelation has much to say about the final salvation of God’s people. The book has a focus of the future events and exultation of God along with the present. The symbolism is what makes everything so confusing. If what is taking place is present day worship, then why have we never seen such things. There is a most definite emphasis on the worship of a wise and honorable God of power and strength (7:12), but also a continual theme of unfathomable things to come and praising God for ever and ever (into eternity). So I believe that the events explained will actually take place and that the worship spoke of will also. In other words the book is a raodmap of the future? I don’t think I want to find out if I am right (mid-tribulation rapture). Lets hope that you are right P. Long in rapture and worship.

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  4. Whenever you think of Revelations, you do think about the end times and that that is all the book is about. But I do think that you are right P. Long, I think that is a book about worship. When you read through it you can’t help but notice all of the references to worship. We see how we will one day worship God and how we can look at that and try to worship Him in that same way today. This book, even though it does tell of things to come, I think that we need to apply it to our lives today. We can look at the examples of the churches at the beginning and see what they did wrong and right and apply that to our lives today. But more importantly, we are told what is to come, so we should be living in light of that and trying to tell as many other people about it because like you said, once it happens and people read this, it will be to late.

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  5. Revelation is filled with worship, all things are meant to bring glory to God. A good verse to sum up the book would be Revelation 5:12, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

    “Despite the fact the book has a great deal to say about coming events, Revelation is not a roadmap of the future. It is, rather, an exhortation for today.” (P. Long). Revelation, like any other book of the Bible is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). I agree that Revelation is an exhortation for today, but also believe that it does have a lot to say about the future!!

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    • I agree with Rachel. The book of Revelation does have a lot to say about the future which is helpful, but as Christians we are to worship God now and take care of the Earth until he returns. This makes the main important teaching of the book worship. How to worship God like the angels do.

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  6. When you initially read Revelation is it hard to look past all the future things that are going to be happening because they are so overwhelming and dramatic. But when you do get past those you really do see that Revelation is about worshiping our Lord. It is a wonderful book filled with angels bowing down and singing worship to our Savior for all of time. I love to read the worshipful songs that are in Revelation–I love to worship God know but how much more amazing will it be to sing those words with the angels to God? I think in order to understand that Revelation is a book devoted to worship you have to be mindful of what worship is and to want to be a part of it. When you are not in the mindset of it, it is easy to get caught up in the visions of beasts and the tragedies that will happen. But to the core Revelation is all about worshiping our Lord.

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  7. I am quite intrigued by this perspective, perhaps due to what seems to be the mainstream hype about the end-times and the extremism derived from such currently. But that reaction aside, the point is well supported, especially in the sub-theme in which God avenges his people and brings justice. And even if this does in fact have things to say regarding a future eschatological event, the hope and anticipation that is present in God’s final chapter of redeeming the world is yet another cause for worship, if not possibly one of the strongest. Regarding the eschatological events that may be found in Revelation or throughout anywhere else in Scripture, I think that the fact to be stressed in a much lesser sense are the details of such events. In church today, as the pastor was surveying the Olivet Discourse of Matt. 24, the emphasis was less about the when, where, ans how but more about “readiness.” Albeit, Revelation seems to have a good lot to say on future events, but I would think it safe to say that a great deal of this is not all to clear when we read it. Revelation has probably received a great deal of raised eye brows and blank stares and left a good deal of question unanswered, and possibly accompanied whit more unanswered questions. Therefore, I find it fitting to place the greater emphasis on the theme of worship.

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  8. I would have to agree with this conclusion that worship is the main theme of revelation. However, there are specific ways in which John addresses his audience to give reason for this response of worship. He chooses to do this through the literary style of apocalyptic. Under the persecution of Nero, the audience struggles to maintain a steadfast faith and are in need of exhortation to encourage continual worship in Christ. Chapter 5 of Revelation speaks of Christ who is worthy, worthy to wipe sins away and worthy to rescue everything. The Lord is stated as being the first and the last the one who holds all authority; for these reasons, he is to be praised. John’s audience should have no fear in their persecution but to praise one who has the power over death, a power that outweighs the consequences of persecution.d

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  9. I confess I never thought of worship as being the the main theme of Revelation, but I think that is correct. I’ve always noticed it and was struck by it. Mostly by how odd and strange the images in Revelation are. But I have also always enjoyed the descriptions of Christ. For I too long to look upon my Savior face to face. Perhaps I have spent too much time approaching the book with trying to under its eschatology that is with in it. It is true that the book is not a clear road map to future events, but somethings are clear: God is control; God has a plan; God will judge the wicked and reward the righteous; Christ is coming again with power to rule the world; Satan’s final destiny is sure; God has prepared a place for us; and Jesus is worthy of all honor and praise forever more. In Revelation we are given hope and are assured that God will deal with all the injustices in the world and that are about to come. The original readers were definitely dealing with serious issues under Domitian’s rule. They needed just such encouragement at the time. That it will be worth it all when they see Jesus in glory.

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  10. “Despite the fact the book has a great deal to say about coming events, Revelation is not a roadmap of the future. It is, rather, an exhortation for today. It is possible that people living in the tribulation will pick up the book of Revelation and see the things spoken of being fulfilled in their lives, but the people living at that time will be under a delusion (2 Thess. 2:11).” -P.Long

    I think this is correct to an extent. Particularly if there is a blief in a pre-trib rapture, this statement is something that should be taken into account when studying the book of Revelation. If we are going to be ‘caught up’ before any of this happens, then it is clearly not a ‘roadmap of the future.’ However, there are a couple of things that come to mind. First, for people who are holding to a mid- or post-trib rapture, they could easily see this as a roadmap, outlining what will happen to them before they are caught up with Christ into the clouds. It is also interesting to take into account the 144000 witnesses who will be present and proclaiming God during the period of the tribulation, because they will be present and they will not be ‘under a delusion’ because they will be right with God as they proclaim his truth.

    Just some more food for thought.

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  11. I think that Dr. Loverin had a good point and that is that theology is worship. This is from another class by the way. The thought of knowing the scripture and then constructing in it in a concise and coherent language (theology) does in my mind come to be a good way to worship. Thus, Revelation, as well as the rest of the scripture is a form of worship by just knowing them, the scriptures, well.

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  12. I also agree with Keith in the fact that unity under oppresion, the background of Revelation (social not textual) is a fantastic way to initiate worship and coordinate it in a fashion that unifies the oppressed. I think he touched too lightly on the emphasis of God’s power and authority. Nero was the “first and the last word” in his time. The very fact that he could burn down a city for his own gain, openly, and then burn the Christian community as well (and literally) to glance the blow of consequences, openly; would put a mindset of fear and weight on the minds and hearts of the fledgling churches of the area. As Keith stated, it is the thought that God has the first and the last word and cannot and is not deceived by Nero’s lies and also frowns at his decadence would be a bastion of unity for the entirety of the Christian Church. It is the Power and Authority of God that is the focus of worship in Revelation.

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  13. Such a robust discussion your post has produced! I read Revelation as both a roadmap of the future, as well as an exhortation for today.  Like writings of the Old Testament prophets, I see a multi layers of time and events in Revelation. A message for then, a message for today, and a message for tomorrow.

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  14. Revelation as Worship! This was quite interesting to read all the comments from former students and their view. I think the way you look at the book and interpretation that one has on the book will guide how you view the book. Some can view as a worship to God that he coming back and is going to demolish evil. Some may view it as a book of end times with severe judgement coming to the church and those within. Both sides can provide cases for how the book should be interpreted, but it does come down to a focal point of what is real and what is going to happen. The excitement of watching all of this would be sitting through an i-max movie but in real life. However, at the end of it all there will be a time of rejoice and praise as Jesus puts an end to Satan’s reign. The author of the book must have been very interested in the topic that he probably wrote from all different ways.

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    • Trent,

      I agree with you that this is an interesting take on how Revelation should be interpreted. However, it makes sense because this being the last book God would want to point out to us that some of the last things we should do is to give all our praise and worship to Him. For example, as Dr. Long stated Revelation 16:5 talks about an angel worshipping God by being just in all His judgments. This gives support to the fact that Revelation could have very well been about worship. Also, as you said we should sit through an i-max movie but in real life in order to understand what this book truly means. There are always going to be different interpretations of this book but this one will always be the most compelling.

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      • Adam and Trent,

        I tend to always read former students posts after reading the original post as well. I like to see what students are thinking and how my thoughts intertwine. When the book of Revelation comes up in Church or just in conversation i have always gotten so many different interpretations from it from people. Like you said Trent, people look at it as a good thing and interpret it as worship to God that he is coming back and getting rid of evil. On the other hand like you stated (and also what i have heard) is the other side that looks at it as judgement to come. I like to look at Revelation 4:10-11 which states, “the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Worship him who lives forever. I just like to take that literally and think that worshipping in Revelation is appropriate.

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  15. I would agree that Revelation has the theme of worship, and I never thought of it from that viewpoint before. Revelation provides us with a glimpse of what worship is going to be like in Heaven. I find it interesting that even God as a judge can be seen as a theme of worship. Thinking about the rapture, can even be seen as a form of worship, because it is dedication that Christians lived their life serving Christ, and they are about to go spend eternity in his presence, to me that just screams worship.

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  16. There definitely seems to be a focus of worship in Revelation, and I can see easily why those under God’s judgement would have a hard time understanding this material. Even reading Revelation myself I find so much confusion as to what exactly is in the pages, beyond that after much turmoil and many things there will be worship and glory in heaven, and that Jesus will come to rule over us. Among the many horrible things the book seems to speak about and the many dangers present, there is worship; from the trumpets, to the general theme of God’s glorious triumph over evil.

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  17. I wish that this would have been posted when I wrote my research paper on Revelation 12. When looking at the themes found in Revelation God sovereignty is definitely one that I see very often. God is faithful in all circumstances even when the odds seem insurmountable. This is why he is worthy of praise and the more you read the more you see it. Even in Revelation 12 we see a woman rescued in the wilderness and Satan being defeated by the blood of the Lamb. All of these are things God did. All of these are things that are worthy of praise.

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  18. From the comments above, I agree that Revelation focuses on worshipping.. Throughout Revelation, it gives us a little sneak peak on what it is going to look like in heaven worshipping. When you first think of the book of Revelation, you think of the end times where it describes what the coming events leading to Christ return. This book teaches us on how to worship and what does it like when we do worship and we are responsible as Christians to take care of the Earth until Christ return. The book also showed me how faithful God is throughout all his challenges and promises. This was convenient that this was one of the blogs to do for this week because for my major paper, I wrote about Revelation.

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  19. I think that even today people who read the book of Revelation will compare it to what is happening in the world right now. They think that since there is persecution, war, famine, and other bad things going on in the world right now that that means that we are in the end times, and Jesus is coming back soon. People will say ‘oh it can’t get any worse than it is now, so that means that Jesus is coming back’, but I bet that the Christians who were being fed to the lions in Rome were saying the same thing. I think that when reading the book of Revelation, that it can also be looked at as encouragement. We can read about what will eventually happen and because of this we can be encouraged to persever to the end. I also agree that reading this book and it’s events, point us to worship; not only for what God has done but what He is going to do in the future.

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