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The Three Angels’ Messages

Revelation chapter 13 describes the last great crisis which is to face God’s people on planet Earth. This crisis centers around the issue of the mark of the beast, and the Bible makes it clear that the governing authorities of earth will demand that every person, every institution, must submit to the requirements of the beast and receive its mark.

Immediately following the description of this crisis, we move to Revelation chapter 14. This chapter is clearly a continuation of the description of the crisis caused by the beast and his mark. Men have placed chapter divisions in the Bible which help us to find Scriptures much more easily. These sometimes help, but they can also sometimes cause confusion, and in this case, we should not allow the change of chapters to make us think that the subject has changed.

The first thing we see is the 144,000 standing on Mount Zion. We already discussed this group of people in our commentary on Revelation 7 and we won’t spend time on them here now. But let us notice that this group is shown at this point in time, for a reason. The reason is that they represent the group who pass through this mark of the beast crisis, and who remain faithful to God and his truth in spite of all the pressure which is applied by the beast and those who support it. God shows us that in spite of the death threats, in spite of the fact that all earthly support is cut off, there will be those who remain faithful to God regardless. This is the group represented by the 144,000. As we noted in our comments on Revelation 7, these are the ones who pass through “the great tribulation,” and who wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:14)

Immediately after showing us this victorious group, God takes us back to the narrative. Now John sees an angel flying through the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach to all the inhabitants of the earth.

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, (Rev 14:6)

Let me repeat; we should remember that Revelation was not written with chapter divisions. Chapters and verses were put in hundreds of years after the Bible was compiled. Whenever we read the Bible, in order to get the context right we sometimes have to just ignore the chapter divisions. What we are to understand is that the message of this angel is a response to the mark of the beast crisis which we saw described in chapter 13. At this time when the entire planet has come under the control of the beast and his image, when almost the entire world has embraced these principles of evil, when it seems that no one can live unless he adopts Satan’s way, a special message from God is to go to the entire world. This message is described as “the everlasting gospel.”

What we can clearly see is that God’s message for the world, in all ages, has always been the same. That message is the gospel, here referred to as “the everlasting gospel.” In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said:

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matt 24:14)

Jesus said that before he comes again, the last thing that would happen would be the preaching of the gospel to the entire planet. Here in Revelation 14 we see the fulfillment of that promise. When the mark of the beast crisis arises on the earth, in this darkest moment of earth’s history, it is then that the gospel will be preached to the entire world, in a short moment of time.

Three Angels

Now notice that Revelation 14 speaks of three Angels flying in the midst of heaven having three messages to preach to the entire planet. It is clear that these angels represent the people of God, carrying special messages. It is not angels who have been commissioned to preach the gospel, but the people of God, therefore it is clear that these angels represent God’s people carrying his messages at the end of time.

The first angel says:

… Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. (Rev 14:7)

the second angel says:

… Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. (Rev 14:8)

the third Angels says:

… If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: (Rev 14:9-10)

Seventh-day Adventists have always believed that these three messages apply in a special way to the Advent movement. They believe that the first Angels’ message began to be preached in 1844 when Adventists began to teach the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment. They believe that Babylon represents the protestant churches which rejected the teachings of the Advent movement in 1844. They believe that the mark of the beast is the mark of the Roman Catholic Church and that it represents Sunday observance. Adventists believe that they have been preaching these three messages since 1844.

However, when we look at the context of the three Angels’ messages, we see that the preaching of these three messages comes immediately after Revelation chapter 13, where we see a description of the mark of the beast crisis. In other words the preaching of the three Angels messages takes place after the mark of the beast is imposed on all the world, not before. There is no denying the fact that Seventh-day Adventists have called the attention of the world to the three Angels messages, however, it is also a fact that the preaching of the three messages as described in Revelation 14, does not take place until after the mark of the beast crisis actually becomes a reality.

Three faces of one crisis

These three messages are in fact, three different aspects of the same crisis. The first Angels states that the hour of God’s judgment has arrived. It is the mark of the beast crisis which is to judge the world, it is to be the test which will separate the wheat from the tares. In Revelation chapter 3 when Jesus speaks about the coming crisis here is what he says to the church of Philadelphia:

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Rev 3:10)

He says that the hour of temptation will come upon the whole world in order to try, or to test, or to prove, or to judge those who dwell upon the earth. So the hour of God’s judgment arrives in the truest sense, when the mark of the beast crisis comes upon the whole world. This is the hour of God’s judgment, it is the means by which he will separate the wheat from the tares among all those living on earth.

The second angel says that Babylon is fallen. Babylon is the great false religious system which dominates the whole world, and which is made up of the organized religious bodies which have entered into illicit relationships with the political systems of the world. This includes almost all, if not all, of the recognized denominations which exist in the world today, with the Roman Catholic Church being the chief of them. Babylon is fallen in the sense that it has become deeply corrupted. This is true in a special sense at this point in time, because these denominations which constitute Babylon have at this time embraced the mark of the beast. They have become so spiritually blinded by their association with the world that they cannot recognize that the mark is a symbol of rebellion against God and in their blindness they have accepted it.

This spiritual fall however will be accompanied shortly by a physical fall. Babylon itself is to be utterly destroyed. In Revelation 18 we see her destruction, and God’s people are warned to get out of her before it is too late. But the main point is that this fall of Babylon takes place because she has accepted the mark of the beast. So again we see that the second angel’s message is one aspect of the mark of the beast crisis, just like the first angel’s message.

It is not necessary to comment on the third angel’s message because it is very clear that this message is preached as a warning against receiving the mark of the beast. This message has no relevance, has no impact, until the mark of the beast actually becomes a reality. We may preach about it and warn people about it today, but our preaching will have very little effect because it is not present truth until the crisis actually becomes a reality. When the mark of the beast crisis comes upon the world, then the preaching of the third angel’s message will be “present truth”, it will have a tremendous impact upon the people who live on the planet because everyone will see exactly what the message is about. This is why it will become a means of separating the sheep from the goats. Everyone will demonstrate whether or not he serves God, by how he responds to the mark of the beast. Those who belong to God will reject it, regardless of the consequences, while those who reject God will receive this mark. This is how the sheep will be separated from the goats.

Only one gospel

We should take careful note of the fact that in spite of the three angel’s messages, the everlasting gospel remains the same. The gospel is, was and always will be the truth of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. In essence, it is, “Christ in you.” This is the message to be given to the world. However, the mark of the beast crisis gives us the context in which this message will be preached for the last time, with the greatest power on planet Earth. It will be during the time of the judgment, when popular religion has fallen to an all-time low, when the powers of earth seek to compel everyone to worship the beast, that the gospel will be preached with power and glory. It is then that Christ will be lifted up as never before as the only hope for mankind, as the only answer to the mark of the beast, as the only defense in the judgment, as the only place of refuge when Babylon falls. The message never changes, it is, and always will be the everlasting gospel, the gospel of the kingdom.

It is important that we understand what the messages of these three angels really is. However, it is far more important that we understand where our safety lies when the crisis comes, as described by these three angels. The person who understands the three angels’ messages but does not understand, nor receive the gospel will be lost. This is why, even though we need to understand the message of the three angels, the message for the time is really the everlasting gospel.

Immediately after the three angels’ messages John saw Christ sitting on a cloud with a sickle in his hand:

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. (Rev 14:14)

There is no mistaking what this means. The sickle is an instrument used for reaping crops. What we’re seeing here is the reaping of the harvest of the earth and again we should note that the harvest takes place at this time, because the mark of the beast crisis has already divided the world into two camps. Jesus is represented as sitting on a cloud, but this does not represent the return of Christ, notice what it says in the following verses:

And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. (Rev 14:15-16)

the harvest of the earth is reaped, but what is simply means is that God’s people have been identified, they have been sealed and there is no longer any possibility that they can be lost. The following verses make it clear that Christ has not yet returned at this point.

And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. (Rev 14:18-19)

After the harvest of the earth is reaped, then the grapes of the earth are reaped. The grape harvest here, represents those who have rejected Christ. Notice it says, that they are thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God. In the following chapter, chapter 15, we are told that the wrath of God is filled up in the seven last plagues.

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. (Rev 15:1)

So first of all, we have the reaping of the harvest of the earth, then we have the reaping of the grapes of the earth which are then thrown into the wrath of God, which is the seven last plagues. Jesus does not return until after the plagues, so it is clear that this harvest does not represent the return of Jesus, but rather a point in time when the destiny of all men is eternally decided.

This is what the three angels’ messages are really about, it is the means by which God will divide the world into two camps, those who are lost and those who are saved. This is why it is very important that we understand what these messages mean, that we interpret them correctly, and most important, that we understand and receive the only protection which can preserve us in that crisis. This protection is Christ and his righteousness.

(Source: by David Clayton from Restoration Ministry)

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