“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy…And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:1,8)
It is astounding that of all the possible options, the final question asked of humanity at the end of the age and the earth as we know it now, is this, “Who will you worship”? If you can grasp this, and take hold of it, it will revolutionize your life, because this fact reveals just how profound and crucial the act of worship truly is.
It is not a simple question relevant only to the end of time. From the very beginning of man’s existence on earth, the question of worship has impacted us deeply. The first death in human history, a murder, was a result of a difference of opinion concerning the expression of worship. Abel understood something about the patterns of worshipping God that Cain didn’t, and Cain hated that. Instead of seeking God concerning the situation, his pride took over. He decided to make the problem go away, by getting rid of Abel.
We know that pride and the question of worship took centre stage in the setting up of the spiritual circumstances in which we all, as humans, find ourselves throughout history. Isaiah chapter fourteen describes Lucifer’s desire to be worshipped above God, seeking to place his throne above the throne of Almighty God. Verse thirteen says he sought to be worshipped on “the top of the mountain of the assembly” (Isaiah 14:13).
In other words, he coveted a corporate expression of being worshipped and exalted above any other. We have plenty of examples of this today. Have you ever been to a rock concert, a major football match, or any other premier sports event? The cheering gets louder and louder and people get more and more enthralled and passionate about elevating what they are witnessing. There is something mighty and clearly electrifying when an incredible roar is released by a multitude of people. It’s the sound of exaltation and it is all together exhilarating. It is worship, but not of God.
The book of Revelation describes how false, Luciferian, worship will impact us at the end of time: “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelation 13:13). Whoever does not engage in the worship of the beast will be put to death. Do this, or lose your life. Nothing less.
Sound familiar? It parallels events surrounding King Nebuchadnezzar, whom we read about in the book of Daniel, a book incidentally that also contains valuable prophetic insight into the end times*. King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image of himself and ordered that all should bow down and worship the image while certain music was played. Those who refused would be killed.
Just as it was then, and will be at the end, we too are faced with this decision in our lives today. Are we bowing down to the gods of this world, or will we remain faithful, never deviating even a little, steadfast unto death? If you want to be a person who remains faithful to the end, you must recognize what prevents you from living a life of worshipping God.
Since you were made in God’s image, and you become what you behold, as you worship God you become more like him. The devil however, will do whatever he can to derail your worship of God. His end goal is always that you should worship him and become more like him. In the book of Isaiah we read that Lucifer, the director of worship in heaven, fell to earth and was stripped of his ability to worship God (Isaiah 23:18). This is why satan hates all those who worship the King of Kings and is actively working against humanity worshipping God. It also means that every time you choose to worship God, you are rejecting the enemy’s attempts to change you into his image. This is why the act of worshipping God is, in and of itself, inherently powerful and valuable.
Yeshua (Jesus) too was tested in this question of worship. After being baptized Yeshua is led into the desert and fasts for 40 days. Enduring two other tests, the son of God is now tested in the matter of worship. Satan shows him all the kingdoms of the earth and offers them to Yeshua if He will just bow down and worship him (Matthew 1:9). Yeshua’s goal was to take dominion of these kingdoms and restore the people to a right standing with God. Satan offers Him a much easier way out than death on a cross, all He has to do is bow down to him, but Yeshua resists the temptation and overcomes.
Some time ago I was watching a TV program about slums and the inner cities in the USA. The program was documenting the origin of a new dance form called Krumping which originated from a form of street dance called Clowning. Danced in street dance battles, the program was promoting these dance clubs as they were saving these children from gang membership and violence. Instead of joining the deadly gangs, the program reasoned, these kids did battle in dance. Standing in a circle on a street corner the kids would clap and encourage the dancer who would improvise a dance in the middle of the circle. The dance was made up of particular moves and then two or more kids stepped into the circle and started to interact with one another in dance.
Suddenly the film cut to a scene in a village somewhere in Africa, showing idol worshippers. Standing around in a circle, dressed in ancestral attire (painted bodies, bones and other necklaces hanging around their necks) they were performing the exact same moves that the kids in Compton, Los Angeles were performing. At some point several of the men in the African village started to interact together in the dance, creating certain animal poses; the film then cut back to LA where the kids were doing the exact same motions.
I remember sitting up. This caught my attention. I was certain these kids from the inner city had never been to that village in Africa. How was it then that they were “spontaneously” moving in the exact same way as idol worshippers in Africa? Thinking it through I realized that these kids are descendants of African people who were brought to America, sadly as slaves. They instinctively moved their bodies in very specific ways, the same way as those people who lived far, far away from them. The idol worshipers were performing a spiritual dance that had passed on from generation to generation, keeping alive the way they knew to worship and access their gods.
Inadvertently, this program showed that the idol-worshipping men in Africa and the kids in LA were connecting to the same source, in what could only be a spiritual connection**. This dance is passed down the generations in Africa, but yet the kids in LA had never seen it, which shows that they were tapping into the same spiritual source. It also shows that the same spiritual forces are at work throughout the ages and generations.
If this is true of them, it is also true of us who believe in Messiah. It means that we too carry an inheritance. It is of a different kind of worship that has been going on since the beginning of time. Reflecting on this, I remember being struck by this exciting realization; I am a descendant of the people who stood before the tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem in worship of the one true God – the God of Israel. It means that I carry an inherent identity, that of their worship expression DNA. I am connected to the same source King David was – the spirit of the living God.
The tabernacle was built by Moses and the people of Israel in the desert, according to a precise plan that God showed Moses (Hebrews 8:5). It was the heavenly plan and pattern of worship. From my own experience, I know that when we come into alignment with that kind of worship there is a sense of true peace, joy and fulfillment. You feel like ‘this is what I was made to do’. Why? Because this is God’s heavenly pattern and we are destined to be in it, with Him, for eternity. Separation from God was never His plan for us.
You may think that idol worship is a thing of the past, or that it only exists in other “idol worshipping” cultures. But anything that exalts itself in your life in place of the rulership of God is an idol. Those who put ‘self’ to death, who bow down before God and do not exalt anything above the knowledge of God, are following the pattern of biblical worship.
God’s word in both the first and the second (new) covenants reveals to us the patterns of biblical worship and uncovers our spiritual heritage. It is up to us to take hold of this inheritance. Through meditating on the Lord and His word in worship and prayer we are transformed and restored to our true identity and destiny. The constant choice to worship God is how we make sure that we will never bow down to the beast.
Sometimes there are remnants of idol worship in our life that elude us, but the spirit of God will illuminate the truth to us, if we but ask. I want to encourage you today to examine your heart and life and see what things you worship other than God in your life.
Your true worship of God is uniquely valuable, it is powerful and its impacts are far reaching. This kind of worship puts the devil in his place, under your feet. Once you grasp your identity as a child of God, made in His image, you can cast out all else that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God in your life. It is a key to living a victorious life, walking towards your ultimate inheritance – eternity with God, with His joy and the peace that passes all understanding.
*Interesting to note that all these references relate to Babylon. Isaiah Chapter 14 describes the king of Babylon, the book of revelation speaks of mystery Babylon and the book of Daniel is written in and of the kings of Babylon.
** Krump is a backronym for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise, presenting krumping as a faith-based art form.
This article originally appeared on Ascend Music blog, March 7, 2018, and reposted with permission.