The images are familiar—three angels flying in the midst of heaven. We see them in beautiful paintings and colorful stained-glass windows, on church signs and evangelistic presentation slides. We can even discern a stylized version on the official Seventh-day Adventist Church logo.
Yet how well do we know these heaven-sent messages found in Revelation 14, and how comfortable are we in proclaiming them? Isn’t there a more loving and more sensitive way to share our faith?
Certainly we are called to do the work of Jesus in showing compassion and providing relief for those in need. As we know, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”1
Making the Message Accessible
We are called to show the world God’s love, and part of that love is compassionately sharing complete Bible truth, not just the parts with which we are most comfortable. Making the astonishing, life-changing messages of truth and warning found in Revelation 14 accessible to everyone is one of the most loving and responsible things we can do—and it is not something we can do on our own. Ellen White wrote, “There are men and women everywhere whose hearts are susceptible of being inspired with the truth. If those who have a knowledge of the truth would now work in unison with the Spirit of God, we would see a great work accomplished.”2
We are living in exciting yet serious times. Around the world, people sense something out of the ordinary taking place. Societal destruction through secularism, chaotic world politics, the instability and extensive greed of world economies, massive natural and human-made disasters plaguing the planet—all bring unrest and uncertainty. What better time to share the hope we have in the soon coming of Jesus and the urgent news found in Revelation 14?
Seventh-day Adventists “have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance.”3 Given the crucial nature of these messages, how important it is to study them carefully and be ready to share them with a dying world.
First Message: Worship God
While the announcements of the first and second angel were first presented by the early Advent believers in the mid-1840s, they, along with the third angel’s message, will be given again near the end of time as God’s final appeal to this world.4
The first message, found in Revelation 14:6, 7, proclaims Christ’s wonderful everlasting gospel—salvation through Christ’s righteousness and grace—His justifying and sanctifying power. The same angel announces that the time of judgment has come upon the world, and calls people back to the true worship of God, recognizing Him as their Creator. The announcement that we are living in the time of the judgment is based upon the fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 8:14—after 2,300 years the sanctuary would be cleansed. Since October 22, 1844, we have been living in the period of time known as the investigative or pre-Advent judgment—the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.
The call to worship God as Creator automatically places upon all people the responsibility to observe the day that honors His creative act. A created being cannot honor His Creator while defying the command to keep Saturday, the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, holy. God Himself set this day aside as a memorial of His creation.
But there is more to recognizing and worshiping God as the Creator. There must be a willingness to reject false theories about the origin of life. It is impossible to believe in evolution and say that God is Creator of heaven and earth and all the life they contain. The two concepts are not compatible. Evolution is essentially a false form of religion. Realistically, it involves more faith to believe in evolution than in creation. Evolution is not only a religion, but is a part of spiritualism, as “spiritualism teaches ‘that man is the creature of progression; that it is his destiny from his birth to progress, even to eternity, toward the Godhead.’”5 Spiritualism, in its many forms, will play a major role in the closing events of Earth’s history.
Second Message: Leave Babylon Behind
The second angel’s message, found in Revelation 14:8, announcing the fall of Babylon, was first presented in the summer of 1844. Because this announcement follows chronologically, in the prophecy of Revelation 14, the preaching of the judgment, and because the churches to which this message applies were once pure, Babylon here refers to churches that rejected the warning of the judgment. The second message, “Babylon is fallen,” is so important that it is repeated in Revelation 18:1-4. God’s people who are still in Babylon are called out so they will not be guilty of participating in her sins and will not receive her plagues. Therefore, Babylon is constituted by churches that teach the theological errors passed down through the church of the medieval era.
Although the fall of Babylon began in the summer of 1844, it is a gradual process and will not be complete until the following two conditions exist: (1) the churches reject the three messages of Revelation 14 and accept the strong delusions and lying wonders presented by Satan, and (2) the apostate churches are fully united with the world, accepting and believing what the world accepts and teaches.6
For God’s people who are still in Babylon to understand the urgency of getting out, they must understand the sins and errors of Babylon. This puts a tremendous responsibility upon God’s remnant people, identified in Revelation 12:17, who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
The preaching of the three angels’ messages will be met by intense anger and fierce opposition for exposing Babylon for what it is, even though it is done with Christian love and biblical authenticity.
Third Message: Be Faithful
The third angel’s message in Revelation 14:9-11, contains a clear warning: don’t worship the beast, his image, or receive its mark. Doing so will result in annihilation. This message is based on the prophecy of Revelation 13. The beast represents the apostate church. The second prophetic animal in chapter 13, which represents the United States of America, makes an image to this beast.
Although the U.S.A. has been known as a land of religious freedom, according to Bible prophecy a time is coming when that religious freedom will be reduced and religious forces will so control the government that laws will be passed fulfilling the wishes of apostate Christianity. The end result is intolerance toward anyone who disagrees with what this church/state relationship demands. While this scenario might seem unlikely with the rapid rise of secularism around the world, we can know with absolute certainty that this prophecy will be fulfilled, just as previous prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled exactly as predicted.
The mark of the beast—observance of a day other than the seventh-day Sabbath—is an institution that clearly sets forth the authority of the beast. One church boldly boasts that it has changed the seventh-day Sabbath instituted at Creation from Saturday to Sunday. Other churches indicate that they worship on Sunday as a memorial of Christ’s resurrection. Neither assertion has biblical foundation or merit. As a result, the recognition due the Creator is removed.
Results of Apostasy
Several events will contribute to the United States forming an image to the beast, demanding that the government enact a law requiring everyone to observe Sunday as the Sabbath, and given the superpower role of the United States, the international impact of this change will be enormous. The first event is severe moral decline in society. The second is frequent natural and human-made disasters, along with financial trouble. The third factor is the pressure brought on the government by religious leaders, who will blame true Sabbathkeepers for causing the crisis.
Apostate religious leaders will not be able to refute scriptural evidence for the sacredness of Saturday, and this will fill them with anger. As a result, Sabbathkeepers will be persecuted and imprisoned. Amid all these events, the proclamation of the third angel’s message will have an effect that has not been seen before. People will see that prophecy is being fulfilled exactly as stated.
The formation of the image of the beast and the enactment of the Sunday law will be enforced upon the entire world by the lamblike beast of Revelation 13, and will lead to national and international ruin.
Faithful to the End
Those who have accepted Jesus and His messages given by the three angels of Revelation 14 will hold fast to their Savior, refusing to abandon these vital truths. They will realize they must perform their duty in presenting these messages and they leave the results with God. They will have “faces lighted up” that will “hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. . . . Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. . . . Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand. The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. . . .The rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. . . . Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord’s side.”7
I urge you to study prayerfully the three angels’ messages found in the fourteenth chapter of the “Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him to show His servants . . . things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1).
Source: Adventist World│September 2013─Digital Edition
Author: Ted N. C. Wilson, is the current President of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as of his naming to that position in June, 2010. Prior to this appointment, he served as General Vice President of the church since July, 2000. Wilson holds a doctorate in religious education from New York University, a Master of divinity degree from Andrews University and a Master of Science degree in public health from Loma Linda University's School of Public Health.His nomination and subsequent election had been expected. In the 2010 General Conference session, President Wilson emphasized the need to turn to the scriptures and affirmed the church's strong and standing belief in Ellen White ... more
References: 1 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 143.│2 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 3, p. 64.│3 Ibid., vol. 9, p. 19.│4 Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. 604.│5 Ibid., p. 554.│6 Ibid., p. 390.│7 Ibid., p. 612.