The prologue in Revelation 1:1-3 stressed that John was writing a revelation from God, sent by an angel as a testimony from Jesus Christ concerning things that were soon to come. John wrote: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3). Now at the end of his remarkable book, John provides nearly the identical exhortation: “These words are trustworthy and true…Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (22:6-7). John’s concluding interest concerns the book’s authenticity as a revelation from God and the urgent response merited by its message.
Included with these emphases is an implied challenge to us that comes not from John but from Jesus Christ: “How are you going to respond to reading this message?” All the information we need has now been provided; no further visions are needed for us to know what to do. The question now is whether we will do it! Will John’s readers commit themselves to worship and serve only Jesus Christ, living faithfully as His people, relying on His sovereign rule over history to ensure our salvation, and rejoicing now to give our testimony to God’s saving grace through the blood of Christ the Lamb?
In order to respond properly to the staggering message of Revelation, we must first be persuaded of its truth. The angel thus said to John, “These words are trustworthy and true” (v. 6). By recording this testimony John assured us that we may rely on Revelation’s visions to accurately depict our present age as well as its ending. We may safely obey the exhortations that accompany the books visions. If we commit ourselves to the faith and life urged by Revelation, we will experience the blessings promised with them.
When John claims that God’s Word is “trustworthy and true,” he is echoing the uniform teaching of the Bible about itself. According to the Bible, the Scriptures may be trusted completely because they are the Word of God. You see this view in Paul’s writing. In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul criticizes his opponents for not understanding God’s plan and purposes. Speaking of his own teaching, he adds, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:10). Second Timothy 3:16 states: “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” It is on this basis that what John says of Revelation is true of the entire Bible: “These words are trustworthy and true” (v. 6).
As the angel continues in verse 6, he describes God as “the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets.” By referring to the “spirits” of the prophets in the plural, John speaks of the inward faculties of the various men who wrote the Bible books. The Bible was written by men in a wide variety of situations, and their spirits were fully engaged in writing their histories, poems, and prophecies. Yet God was ruling over this entire process: the Lord is “the God of the spirits of the prophets.” The angel’s statement accords with the classic definition of the inspiration of Scripture, which states that the Bible’s human authors wrote under God’s control.
John offers a final attestation to the truth of Revelation by noting that it was recorded by an eyewitness of the visions who also was an authorized apostle of Jesus Christ. Verse 8 states: “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.” The apostles were Christ’s authorized servants in recording the New Testament. What Paul said about his message is equally true of John’s teaching: “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:12). For this reason, the teaching of the apostles is to be “accepted…not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13). In this capacity, John assures us that the visions he has seen and heard are “trustworthy and true” (v. 6).
While believers await the appearing of Christ, John gives clear instructions in Revelation’s sixth beatitude: “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (v. 7). To “keep” God’s Word is to receive it in faith, hold fast to it in hope, and obey it in action. Verse 7 informs us how to receive the entirety of God’s Word. We are to keep its words and its prophecy. Receiving the words of the Bible means that we are to study it carefully, believing and putting into practice everything that it says. Christians believe not only the general message of the Bible but its actual words, since they are spoken to us by God. We therefore take seriously whatever the test of Scripture says. Jesus asserted, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
The angel especially emphasizes keeping “the prophecy of this book” (v. 7). This means that the history revealed in Revelation – some of it present and some future – becomes the truth by which we live. We are to resist evil, knowing that it is soon to be judged and that Christ will not allow His people to be defeated. Knowing the certainty of our victory in Christ, we are to do the will of God and bear testimony to Christ’s blood.
The angel had reminded John the truth of these visions, and then, in verse 7, Jesus either interrupts to say that He is coming soon or says this to John through the angel. In response John is so overwhelmed that he loses his bearings: “I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me” (v. 8). We see in John that when we receive God’s Word as truth and keep its visions of glory, we will be cast down in an attitude of worship.
In responding to John’s action, the angel instructs us in the vitally important matter of worship. Angels are worship specialists, so we should listen carefully when they teach us about this topic. Here, the angel responds in outraged horror: “You must not do that!” (v. 9). We should not think that this interplay between John and the angel is disconnected from the exhortation to keep the message of Revelation. John is being shown, and we with him, that the first and single most important element in keeping God’s Word is to give God alone the glory that He is due. The angel reacts out of a consuming passion for the exclusive glory of God, and this same passion must be seen in the hearts of all those who keep the words of God’s Book.
We should consider the angel’s reaction not only negatively but also in three essential and positive statements that he makes to John. First, he tells us that the worship of God is a command and duty for all His servants in Jesus Christ (v. 9). The call to “worship” is in the form of an imperative, which means that it is a command. We do not worship God merely when we think it would be pleasing to do so, or would otherwise serve our interests, but we are to devote ourselves fully and constantly to the praise of God.
Second, note that “worship” in verse 9 has a direct object. Worship always has an object. The problem with many churches today is that the object or recipient of worship is man. But the angel insists that only God is the true object and consumer of worship. “Worship God!” he says. This means that we come to church not primarily seeking what we will get out of worship but what God will get out of worship. The best way to achieve this is to worship according to God’s Word. Through worship that follows the example of Scripture and fervently proclaim God’s Word we fulfill the command of Hebrews 12:28, “Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
Third, the angel tells us that it is in true worship directed to God that we most thoroughly realize our high identity and privilege as God’s people. The angel tells John, “I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book” (v. 9). What an incredible dignity the angel conveys upon John if he worships God as he should. In worshiping God, he becomes a fellow servant with glorious, unfallen angels in the splendor of their holiness. This is also the true dignity of every Christian man and woman, when the worship of God through Jesus Christ we are elevated into the fraternity and brotherhood of angels!
In light of this instruction, we must not think we have kept the words of the prophecy of the book of Revelation until we have imbibed the passion for the glory of God that we see in this angel. This is our true calling, and it is the purpose of Revelation that even in this present evil age we would enter into it: that we would possess and overwhelming concern for the glory of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Moreover, we must not think we have suitably given testimony before the world to the gospel message of this book until the world has seen in our lives the consuming passion for the glory of God that Revelation is intended to inspire.
Revelation 22:6-9 Study Questions:
Will you commit yourself to worship and serve only Jesus Christ, living faithfully as His people, relying on His sovereign rule over history to ensure your salvation, and rejoicing now to give your testimony to God’s saving grace through the blood of Christ the Lamb?