The Danger of Worship

It is my premise, child of God, that “worship” is the highest, holiest, most powerful, and perhaps most coveted expression of interpersonal relationship in all of heaven and earth; and that it is, therefore, reserved exclusively for God. The Apostle John, overcome with emotion at the revelation given him, fell down at the feet of the angel guiding him. But the angel said, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!” (Revelation 19:10, NASB)

So immeasurably powerful is this concept of “worship,” that many human beings, and even some angelic beings, have desired it for themselves above all else. In 1943, Abraham Maslow published his “hierarchy of needs” in a paper he entitled “A Theory of Human Motivation” (Maslow’s, 2013). His famous pyramid portrayed an ascending range of human needs and motivation. However, in the context of our current discussion, it’s safe to say that Maslow fell short at recognizing some of the highest motivations capable of driving sentient beings. If we were to extend Maslow’s hierarchy to include the greatest desires and motivations among people in general, we would need to add at least three more ascending categories: prosperity—not just sufficiency, we’re talking wealth and abundance; authority—power, position, control, not only over one’s own life, but over others as well; and finally, at the highest pinnacle, after achieving pretty much everything else, “worship”—to be praised, honored, revered, and exalted above others – (see illustration):

Worship Pyramid

So powerful and dangerous is this desire to be worshipped, that it is attributed to the very downfall of Satan. In a mysterious Old Testament prophecy, the context of which involves the fall of the King of Tyre—but prophecy often has duel meaning—we read:

You had the seal of perfection,

Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

You were in Eden, the garden of God;

Every precious stone was your covering:

The ruby, the topaz and the diamond;

The beryl, the onyx and the jasper;

The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald;

And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you.

On the day that you were created

They were prepared.

You were the anointed cherub who covers,

And I placed you there.

You were on the holy mountain of God;

You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.

You were blameless in your ways

From the day you were created

Until unrighteousness was found in you.

By the abundance of your trade

You were internally filled with violence,

And you sinned;

Therefore I have cast you as profane

From the mountain of God.

And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;

You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.

I cast you to the ground…

(Ezekiel 28:12-17, NASB)

And in another Old Testament prophetic passage concerning the overthrow of the King of Babylon, we read:

How you have fallen from heaven,

O star of the morning, son of the dawn!

You have been cut down to the earth,

You who have weakened the nations!

But you said in your heart,

‘I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne above the stars of God,

And I will sit on the mount of assembly

In the recesses of the north.

‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.’

Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.

(Isaiah 14:12-15, NASB)

From these passages, and others similar to them, scholars have surmised that, perhaps, when Satan was created, he was one of God’s highest and holiest angelic beings with immense beauty, intellect, and responsibility. However, because of pride, he sought that which belongs only to God; he sought “worship” for himself which, of course, led to his complete downfall. Whether these passages are actual prophecies concerning Satan, or whether they were meant to apply only to mere mortals, the lesson we glean from them is the same. Worship is a dangerous thing when misdirected and sought by, or given to, anyone other than God.

Furthermore, whether or not these Old Testament prophecies can be applied directly to Satan, we know that his desire to be worshipped is so strong that when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he was willing to turn jurisdiction of all the nations on earth over to Him if Jesus would but worship him; we read:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:8-10, NASB)

There is, in fact, such a great danger involved in worship, and in the desire to be worshipped, that the very first two of the Ten Commandments succinctly state: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3, ); and, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them…” (Exodus 20:4-6, NASB).

Due to the moral turpitude inherent in misguided worship, idolatry in all its forms is strictly forbidden throughout scripture. This principle applies not only to religious idols and false gods, but to anything and everything in this world that would supplant one’s devotion to God; even the pride—self-adoration—that continually plagues humanity. The Apostle John writes:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:15-17, NASB)

There is good reason for God reserving “worship” for Himself alone. For not only is God the only living being Who is truly worthy of our worship, He is also the only One who can actually handle being worshipped and it not infringe upon, alter, or change the essence of His personal being.

This is not true, however, of any other created being. We have all witnessed the old cliché proven true time and again down through the annals of human history: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!” We commonly speak of people who, when given a little bit of power or authority, let it go “straight to their head”; they take it to the next level—the level of self-worship—and end up abusing their authority and hurting others.

But nowhere are the dangers inherent in worship better illustrated than when the scriptures speak of the appearance of the antichrist upon the earth. The Bible notes that he will, above all else, seek the worship of all men everywhere; even if such worship has to be forced. The scriptures call him, “the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, NASB). Concerning this being, the Apostle John informs us, saying:

And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names… And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority… And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”… All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain… Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed… And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:1-17, NASB)

Note the emphasis on “worship” throughout this prophecy. It seems as if beyond wealth, beyond power, beyond everything imaginable, at the top of the pinnacle, Satan desires worship. Well, you know the age-old adage, “What else do you give the man who appears to already have everything?”

That He alone may be glorified in us,

~ Philip ~

Luke 17:10

References

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (2013). Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs

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