Having discussed who was forbidden to be worshiped in the Book of Revelation, let us turn our attention to the opposite situation, those who are worshiped properly in the Book of Revelation. As we might expect, this worship is limited to God since it does not include either angels or human governments. But let us, in looking at these references, reflect on the variety of ways that God is described, and see who is included in the reference to God as far as being worshiped in a proper fashion by human beings.
Revelation 19:3-5 refers straightforwardly to the worship given and due to God the Father on his heavenly throne: “Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”” This imagery matches what we find, for example, in Psalm 110 where God the Father is viewed as being on His throne with the one who became Jesus Christ at His right hand, and thus ties together the picture of God seen here with David’s vision recorded earlier and a look at God the Father as being the sovereign over the entire universe to whom all wills must align.
This same scene is more or less repeated from an earlier reference where this occurs in Revelation 11:15-17, which reads: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.” Here we see worship being given to God the Father but also with a comment that Jesus Christ is also worthy of worship, with God and Christ being associated here with power and rulership but where God the Father again sits on his throne. And before this there are three earlier examples in Revelation 4:10, 5:14, and 7:11 where the 24 elders fall down on worship before God the Father who sits on His throne, really hammering home the point that God sits on His throne and rules the universe and is worthy of worship, if the point needed to be emphasized.
Revelation 14:6-8 also contains a reference to the worship of God the Father whose judgement upon a wicked and rebellious earth is portrayed: Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Here it is interesting to note that the coming Kingdom of God that takes place after this occurs in the context of the fall of Babylon, an event which was hinted at as early as Genesis and prophesied in such places as Daniel 2. And there too in Daniel there is a contrast between the heathen worship of Babylon and the worship that is owed to God above.
Similarly, we see the worship of Jesus Christ described in appropriate terms in Revelation 15:1-4: “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.”” Here we see Jesus Christ being referred to as the Lamb for his sacrifice for our sins, with the reminder that all the nations of the world will come and worship before Him.
Yet while it is no particular surprise that we should see God the Father emphasized as being worthy of worship so many times, and Jesus Christ as well commented as being worthy of worship as well, it is the first reference to worship in the book of Revelation that is the most shocking. And, in light of the importance of understanding the identity of God in the past, present, and future, it is noteworthy that this passage does not receive more attention. We find this reference in Revelation 3:8-9: ““I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” Here it is said of the church of God in Philadelphia that among their blessings will be the worship of those who have hated them.
It would be best not to speculate too much about the identity of the Synagogue of Satan, although it is rather telling that this particular congregation is said to have been fiercely opposed by those who say they are Jews (or perhaps believers) but are not, and who do not obey God’s commandments (a frequent concern of John when it comes to understanding who is to count as a believer and who does not). What is most startling, though, is that the promise to Philadelphia includes resurrected believers who have inherited eternal life as being among those beings who are worthy of worship–not because of our own intrinsic worthiness as imperfect but overcoming human beings, but because our obedient lives are rewarded with the gracious and undeserved gift of eternal life that leads us to be part of God’s family, and thus sharing in the worship that is given to God the Father and Jesus Christ. How does the Bible describe what we shall be and how it comes to be?