The Three Angels

THE FIRST ANGEL ANNOUNCES THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL (14:6-7). An angel announced Christ’s First Advent (Luke 2:8-12) and here an angel announces His Second Advent. This angel is flying in mid-air in the sight and hearing of all. Some view this angel as a type or figure of the good and faithful servants of God who proclaim the Gospel. Any agency that does God’s work or carries his message may be an angel (messenger). However, this appears to be the first and the last time God commissions a heavenly angel to preach the Gospel to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people.

There is the Good News of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14); the Good News of Great Joy (Luke 2:10); the Good News of Peace (Acts 10:36); and the Good News of God (Book of Romans); the latter three are specifically about Christ. Notice that the Eternal Gospel the angel announces does not mention the vicarious death and resurrection of Christ but focuses on God the Creator:

He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

This Gospel is not localized in certain periods of history, but one for all ages—it is eternal. Hence, the Everlasting Gospel is an announcement of Divine judgment upon the wicked. Those who refuse to worship God in any age as well as in the coming Great Tribulation can expect His judgment to come. From the very beginning of creation, worship of anything other than the Creator merited Divine judgment. Yet, there is a measure of mercy in this announcement for those who fear God and worship Him. There are seven great occasions of the Bible where God’s wrath and mercy are manifested:

1. The Garden of Eden
2. The Flood of Noah’s Day
3. The Tower of Babel
4. The Exodus of Israel from Egypt
5. The Cross of Christ
6. The Fall of Babylon the Great
7. The Battle of Gog and Magog

From the beginning, all intelligent creatures were to fear God and worship Him. Fear and love are the two greatest motivations in the universe. Observe how Yahweh employs fear and love in Deuteronomy 10:12-13:

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

What does the expressions “fear God” or to “fear the LORD” imply?

1. Fear is faith and trust expressed in childlike humility (Deuteronomy 9:23-24; Matthew 18:24; James 3:13; Isaiah 57:15; 66:2).
2. Fear is awe in the sense of respect, honor and greatness that we cultivate toward the superior and almighty God (Exodus 19).
3. Fear is being afraid and terrified of the LORD (cf. Ezekiel 30:13; Jonah 1:10, 16).
4. Fear is reverence, consecrating oneself to the LORD for living in harmony with God and with other people. The best expression is imitation of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). God’s Law teaches us in detail to imitate God in being compassionate, gracious, forbearing, loving faithful, forgiving and just.
5. Fear is ethical integrity, a progressive sanctification, whereby the believer aligns himself or herself more and more with God’s will. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Job are OT examples of a blameless and righteous walk with and before God.
6. Fear is the foundation of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). Consequently, we are not to fear man, the Antichrist nor Satan; we are to fear God.

THE HOUR OF HIS JUDGMENT HAS COME. This angel sounds the warning that the last moment has arrived to repent and believe before God’s wrath is poured out.

ALL CREATION. The heavens signify the three heavens, earth is the physical earth, the sea is the world system, and the springs of water signify Paradise.

Historicists hold this angel represents the missionary era and the Great Awakening in the time of the Wesleys, Whitefield, Edwards and Finney in England and America, while the bowls of wrath were poured out on the papal system on the Continent through the French Revolution.

Preterists believe the angel is the Church preaching the Gospel of salvation as the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Idealists hold this angel is not literal but a general concept based on Galatians 1:8 and Jude 3. The Gospel is a warning for earth’s inhabitants to awake to God’s rule before it is too late.

Futurists distinguish the Eternal Gospel from the “Church-age” Gospel; others hold it is the latter Gospel; and still others a Gospel including the various messages of the Bible, where men of all nations and times are summoned to repent.

THE SECOND ANGEL ANNOUNCES THE FALL OF BABYLON THE GREAT (14:8). Chapters seventeen and eighteen record the details of this fall under the seventh bowl. The warning is over and God’s judgment has come. Babylon, mentioned for the first time in Revelation, refers to the entire worldwide political, economic, and religious kingdom of the Antichrist (cf. Revelation 16:17-19). There are three additional views held: Babylon refers to (1) the city of Jerusalem, (2) the city of Rome, and (3) the rebuilt city of Babylon.

Babylon signifies the revival of its namesake, which was the birthplace of idolatry and rebellion against God under Nimrod after the Flood (Genesis 10:8-10; 11:1-9).

THE MADDENING WINE OF HER ADULTERIES pictures Babylon causing the world to become intoxicated with her pleasures and idolatry.

Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad (Jeremiah 51:7).

This cup of madness becomes a cup of wrath poured out on the rebellious who worship the Beast instead of God.

In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs (Psalms 75:8).

This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it (Jeremiah 25:15).

Historicists tend to identify Babylon with Ancient Rome, especially the papacy.

Preterists identify Babylon with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, immediately after the preaching of the Gospel.

Idealists see Babylon as a symbol for human society organized against God throughout the centuries.

Futurists refer to Babylon in Revelation as a literal city, a religious system, and a political system, all stemming from ancient Babylon. The city of Rome of the Tribulation is often identified as Babylon.

THE THIRD ANGEL ANNOUNCES THE DOOM OF THE BEAST WORSHIPERS (14:9-12). The third angel will fly in mid-air warning all people in the kingdom of Antichrist. If they do take the mark, the name, or the number of the name of the Beast and worship him they will seal their own doom and be punished in eternal Hell. “Anyone” and the personal pronoun “he” indicates that judgment comes upon the individual, who is personally responsible for his own rejection of the Eternal Gospel.

THE WINE OF GOD’S FURY (14:10) is poured out full strength; this wine of God’s wrath is undiluted; there is no drop of water to cool its heat.

“Fury” (yumov thumos) denotes wrath, fierceness, and indignation. This is a passionate anger that turns to red-hot heat and boils up. Is it any wonder that God will be so indignant when people will reject His written Word? When they refuse to repent after judgments from heaven are sent upon them? When they reject the preaching of real angels flying in mid-air? When they ignore the preaching and miracles done by the two witnesses, the 144,000 sealed Israelites, and the testimony of multitudes of martyred Tribulation saints?

TORMENT FOR THE WICKED (14:10-11). No passage is clearer than this one on the eternal punishment of the wicked. Today, it is popular to deny the existence of Hell and teach annihilation of the wicked. But the Bible teaches that Hell is a real place where the wicked are tormented forever! The imagery is taken from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Burning sulfur (puri kai yeiw equals fire and brimstone, a fiery sulfur) signifies God’s judgment on the wicked (Genesis 19:24-25: Isaiah 34:8-10; cf. Revelation 14:10-11; 20:10-15; 21:8; 22:15; Isaiah 66:22-24; Matthew 8:12; 13:39-50; 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43-49; Luke 12:5).

“In the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb” most likely indicates the angels will be employed to carry out the sentence of the wicked, while the Lamb—the Lord Jesus Christ—will act as their Judge.

ASSURANCE FOR THE BLESSED (14:12-13). “Blessed” reminds the reader of the blessings Jesus outlined in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-12). Three characteristics of the blessed are: (1) patient endurance [in suffering]; (2) obeying the commandments; and (3) remaining faithful to Jesus Christ. Those who persevere in the faith until they die in the Lord have the assurance of rest and reward. This is the second beatitude in Revelation.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them (Hebrews 6:10).

Historicists view fire and brimstone as eternal pangs of remorse and conscience, while Christian death is a blessed event.

Preterists are divided with some viewing the symbolic language depicting either Ancient Rome or Jerusalem as already judged by God. The language does not indicate personal damnation of the inhabitants but rather a visible destruction of the cities as a historical witness to God’s wrath.

Idealists see the system in every age that opposes God already judged. Some speculate if the fire of Hell is literal, or simply a figure. The punishment of the wicked should provide incentive for the patience of the saints.

Futurists hold that eternal judgment is described in graphic detail, showing the horrors of a literal Hell. This is a warning to both the pagan and the believer of what happens when one denies faith in Christ and worships the Beast.

The contrasts in this chapter are: (1) fear God and worship Him with the assurance of rest and rewards; or (2) fear the Beast and worship him with the assurance of everlasting torment in burning sulfur. It is a matter of personal choice!

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