To help John understand the revelations he is seeing and probably to strengthen him so he can endure the intense presence of the Holy Spirit, God has sent an angel to stand beside him. He is one of the seven angels who earlier poured out the bowls of wrath (Rev 17:1). Hes not named, but it may be Gabriel who cared for Daniel in a similar way hundreds of years before (Da 9:21-23; 10:10-18; 12:8). But in the midst of all hes seeing John becomes confused, not once, but actually twice (Rev 19:10; 22:8). He tries to worship the angel. That John would record this failure so candidly tells us a lot about the integrity and humility of this man. Yet, I believe God also wanted it recorded as a way of warning His Church. If John the beloved disciple can fall into such confusion then there must be a dangerous temptation here to which any of us can fall prey. And, in fact, one of the most subtle and dangerous of all is to mistake Gods servant for God Himself. So to protect our hearts, and the hearts of others, lets look more closely at Johns experience, then lets recognize the underlying spiritual battle behind all of this, and finally lets apply this warning to our own lives.
A. An Assisting Angel
1. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls
2. Revelation 17:1; 21:9; 22:6-9, 16
3. Gabriel did this same ministry for Daniel (Da 9:20-23; 10:2-21; 12:8)
4. Ministering spirits (He 1:14; Psa 91:11) (Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?)
B. John tries to worship him
1. If even John can become confused, none of us can assume we are above this danger. We must diligently guard the adoration of our hearts.
2. This moment was also a temptation for the angel. It is addicting to be worshipped, yet this angel instantly corrected John. He had seen firsthand the danger of angels who want to be worshipped.
a) Lucifer: Isaiah 14:12-14 (King of Babylon); Ezekiel 28:2, 12-19 (King of Tyre)
b) Demons: 1 Corinthians 10:19, 20
the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons.
c) Other Angels (Rev 12:4, 7-9; Da 8:10)
3. The angel helped reorient John by
a) Identifying himself as a fellow servant with you and all your brothers having the witness of Jesus (literal)
b) Pointing John back to God: worship God
c) Reminding John that all true prophecy and all true prophets draw peoples hearts to Jesus alone. Any message which does not do this is a false prophesy.
1. There is a danger when God works through a person powerfully that those who receive that ministry can become confused and worship the vessel rather than the Lord.
a) Why do you call me good? (Lk 18:19)
b) Peter at the Beautiful Gate (Ac 3:12)
c) Peter at Cornelius house (Ac 10:25, 26)
d) Paul and Barnabus at Lystra (Ac 14:11-18)
e) Moses put a veil over his face (Ex 34:33-35)
f) Davids mighty men (2Sa 23:13-17)
2. Theres another danger, and that is that we ourselves became confused and think that the life that flows from us comes from us.
a) Not that we are adequate in ourselves... (2Co 3:5)
b) We have this glory in clay vessels... (2Co 4:7)
c) A thorn in the flesh... to keep me from exalting myself (2Co 12:7)
We must continually remind ourselves there is only one God. All wisdom comes from Him.
The mature Christian refuses the temptation to become self-sufficient, but increasingly depends on God. (Gal 5:22-25; fruit of the Spirit)
D. Discussion Questions
1. Have you ever found yourself relying more on a person than on God? What did you hope that person could do for you?
2. Has anyone ever idolized you? How did you handle it?