Chapter 13 of Revelation: What is True Worship?

CloudsBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

You are commanded … that when you hear … every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace (Dan 3:4-6).

What is true worship? What is not?

In her book, Just Give Me Jesus, Anne Graham Lotz (1-2) recalls a story of a conversation that her mother, Ruth Graham, had with the former head of Scotland Yard. She suggested that he must have handled a lot of the counterfeit money over the years. He responded: On the contrary, Mrs. Graham, I spend all my time studying the genuine thing. That way, when I see a counterfeit, I can immediately detect it.

We see counterfeit worship in Revelations 13. The dragon, a sea monster, and an earth dwelling beast compose a counterfeit trinity complete with a counterfeit resurrection (vv 3-4). This is a blaspheming counterfeit (v 4). Everyone whose name is not written in the book of life worships this counterfeit trinity (vv. 4, 8, 12, and 16). Much like in Daniel 3, anyone not worshiping this counterfeit trinity ends up being persecuted (v 10) and this persecution includes loss of income (vv 16-18).

The Apostle John is lampooning Rome here. The seven heads in v 1 are widely interpreted as the seven hills overlooking the city of Rome. The Romans emperor cult had temples and statues all over the empire dedicated to emperor worship. The resurrection motif in v 3 is a parody of the myth that Emperor Nero was still alive even after he committed suicide in AD 68. Numerologists often interpret 666 as referring to Nero.

But, what is true worship?

In his book, The Air I Breathe (117), Christian musician Louis Giglio defines true worship as: centering our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on the Lord. What do we really worship? Giglio (13) writes: follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, and your loyality…[that] is what you [really] worship.

Revelations 13 is a dark chapter. However, for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecc 3:1). Satan’s counterfeit trinity is given authority for only forty-two months (three and a half years; 1,260 days; v 5). The appearance of exotic creatures (like Behemoth and Leviathan of Job 40-41) should also remind us of Genesis 1 where God creates them all and declares them to be good.

This implies that God is still sovereign.


Lotz, Anne Graham. 2009. Just Give Me Jesus. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Giglio, Louis. 2003, The Air I Breathe. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Publishers.

Caesar Nero (NRON QSR)

The Greek version of the name and title transliterates into Hebrew as (נרון קסר), and yields a numerical value of 666:
Resh (ר) Samekh (ס) Qoph (ק) Nun (נ) Vav (ו) Resh (ר) Nun (נ) Sum 200 60 100 50 6 200 50 666


  1. What does the symbolism of vv 1-2 refer to? (Daniel 7:2-6)
  2. What do the seven heads refer to? (v 1)
  3. What is the trinity? What is not? (vv 3-4)
  4. What is your definition of blasphemy?
  5. What do we see here? (v 4)
  6. What is true worship? What is not? (vv 4, 8, 12,16)
  7. What is resurrection? What is not? (v 3)
  8. What does the forty-two month timeframe imply? (1 Kings 18:1)
  9. What do exotic creatures remind us of? (Genesis 1; Job 40-41)

Chapter 13 of Revelation: What is True Worship?

Also see:

Chapter 12 of Revelation: The Woman and the Dragon

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

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