Revelation 19:10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow-servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Angels can be so magnificent that even someone like the Apostle John is tempted to worship them. What triggered the reaction here was the angel saying, honestly enough, “These are the true words of God.” (verse 9) We are very prone to mistake the messenger for the source, in both positive and negative situations. We even have the saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” That of course applies to the bearer of news we don’t want to hear, but we’ve all at least seen situations where the bearer of good news gets hugged and even kissed. That is often harmless and even amusing (though occasionally awkward), but when it comes to someone transmitting what God is saying we need to be more careful. History is filled with cases of men of God being idolized, which isn’t good for anyone. That is even institutionalized, in the case of praying to Mary and the saints. I have seen a tract that some people find offensive, but which I find quite accurate, titled, Why is Mary Crying? The point is that she, like the angel here, is disturbed at being worshiped. Official Catholic doctrine says that she is never to be worshiped, but only deeply respected, but that line is crossed with considerable frequency. Even the official title of “Mary, Mother of God” violates this, because Jesus was part of the Trinity before He took up residence in her womb. She was the mother of His flesh, but not the mother of God. Such terminology elevates her above the Trinity, and should never be used. Back to this specific example, the angel very rightly says, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” In other words, when someone speaks the words of God, Jesus gets the credit. One of the saddest things is when someone who is used in prophecy starts believing the adulation they receive. That opens the door wide to all sorts of deception, and has led to many horrible sins. Jesus must be the focus.
Having been in ministry for many years, including in prophecy, I am all too familiar with this phenomenon. Frankly, adulation feels good! I have learned that the only right response is gratitude to God for being so gracious as to use me. I am also to be grateful for reminders of my weakness and humanity, such as Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) It is nice to be respected, but as the angel points out here, we are all brothers. If God uses me, wonderful. I am to keep myself as available as possible to Him for whatever He would like to do through me. However, conceit arising from being used by God brings to mind the Japanese expression, “Acorns comparing height.” We might feel we are better – or worse – than someone else, but compared to God, there is no difference worth speaking of. I’ve got to stay focused on my Lord, whether I am respected or reviled. He alone is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the privilege of acting as Your agent in some situations yesterday. Thank You that, yesterday at any rate, the response was good. Help me be faithful in speaking Your Word in love, whether it is received or not, so that Your will may be accomplished for Your glory. (Isaiah 55:10-11) Thank You. Hallelujah!