Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12
Last week we studied Revelation 13 and the work of the dragon, the sea beast and the land beast in deceiving the inhabitants of the earth. They are deceived into worshipping Satan’s unholy trinity.
This week we turn to Revelation 14. The opening verses of Revelation 14 contrasts with chapter 13. While many of the people living in the end-time succumb to the world-wide deception and render their allegiance to the Satanic trinity, God has a true remnant of those who withstand the final conflict and remain loyal to Him until the very end.
Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads… These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being first-fruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. Revelation 14:1, 4, 5
Prophesying about the Day of the Lord, the prophet Joel said, “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:32
In Revelation 14:6-13, we are also shown that the faithful remnant will proclaim God’s eternal gospel (in contrast to the false gospels of Satan and his agents). It is God’s last message of salvation to the world. It is also a message of warning about the consequences of not accepting the gospel and choosing the spiritual apostasy of Satan.
The rest of Revelation 14 portrays in symbolic language the great harvest of the world after the final gospel proclamation is completed and mankind has had a final chance to accept or reject the gospel (Revelation 14:14-20).
The Three Angels’ Messages
The three angels have one message, but each angel states it in a different context.
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth… (14:6)
And another angel followed (14:8)…then a third angel followed them (14:9)
The word ‘followed’ in the KJV also means ‘to accompany’ or ‘to join’.
The first angel has in his hands the everlasting gospel, the second angel joins that first angel, and the third angel then joins them both.
The First Angel’s Message: Revelation 14:6-7
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach… (14:6)
‘another angel’…this angel is a messenger (the word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’)…‘flying in the midst of heaven’…this message is from God.
The message is entrusted to the church. The message is ‘the everlasting gospel’.
The word ‘everlasting’ in Revelation 14:6 (aionios – eternal, everlasting) also means ‘eternal’; e.g. the same word is used in Matthew 25:46, Mark 10:30, John 3:16, 5:24, 10:28 and 17:3.
This gospel is eternal; it is the saving purpose of God from eternity; the gospel ordained from eternity. In all times and all ages, God has had only way of saving mankind and that is through the gospel.
Having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people (14:6)
God not only has one message throughout time; He has one message for all people. That message is the everlasting gospel and it is be proclaimed to everyone who dwells on the earth. It is a universal gospel; all mankind needs the gospel, for ‘there is none righteous, no, not one’ (Romans 3:10) and ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ Romans 3:23
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14
Saying with a loud voice “Fear God and give glory to Him…” Revelation 14:7
People today fear God for many reasons. Some are simply afraid of Him. Others respect Him and do what He asks of them because they perceive that this brings them many blessings. The people of God in the end-time will have only one reason why they have holy reverence for God: they desire to give Him glory.
The message is both negative…turn away from anything that takes away from God’s glory…and positive…give glory to God in all things.
(On a personal note, my father many times gave us children his definition of fearing God…’to fear God is to be afraid to be out of God’s will for you, for His will is the best plan for your life’…I have personally found it a very useful definition and practice to live by).
“Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come…” Revelation 14:7
Judgment is related to the gospel. It is good news (vindication) for the faithful and bad news (condemnation) for those who reject the gospel. Men and women are vindicated or condemned by their response to the gospel. Whenever the gospel is preached in its fullness, judgment follows. Christ came to the Jews and demonstrated to them the love of God. Judgment followed His ministry (Matthew 23:37, 38; 21:43). So it will be in the end time. The preaching of the gospel will be followed by judgment and the close of probation for mankind.
‘and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’ Revelation 14:7.
Why the focus on God as Creator, and not as Redeemer?
In the beginning…was the Creator and His creation – the crowning glory of which was Man. God the Creator takes responsibility for His creation. This includes the responsibility that arises from giving mankind free-will. The God who loves us unchangingly and unconditionally did not leave us to the consequences of choosing independence from Him. He knew the consequences and so, before Time began it was in the mind of the Godhead to redeem fallen mankind and restore them to the image of God, so that they could enjoy eternity and eternal life.
God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:9, 10
The message we preach to the world is that we belong to God by Creation; we were estranged by rebellion, but the God who created us has redeemed and restored us to Himself by His unconditional, unchanging, eternal and self-giving love. In allowing His Spirit to re-create His image in us, we are fulfilling His original purpose for our lives. He is indeed worthy of worship.
Worship the Creator…
It is worth remembering that the Creation week consisted of seven days. Though God completed His creative work in 6 days, He included the Sabbath rest of the 7th day in the Creation week. The Sabbath rest is an acknowledgment of God as Creator and of Man’s call to rest in the acknowledgment that he can do nothing to add to God’s perfect work of Creation, Redemption and Re-creation in righteousness. Man in and of himself is always incomplete until he acknowledges God as Creator and God’s perfect work in his life.
The Second Angel’s Message; Revelation 14:8
And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
The second angel’s message warns us not to have the spirit of Babylon and not to follow her counterfeit gospel. Babylon is symbolic of rebellious mankind who sets up counterfeit gods and the apostate church that perverts the true gospel and makes all nations drink of her spiritual immorality and apostasy.
So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Revelation 17:3-5
The symbolism of Babylon is taken from historical Babylon which from its inception set itself up as arrogant and rebellious against God – see Genesis 11:1-9; Isaiah 14:12-15, 22-23; 47:8, Daniel 4:30.
The fall of Babylon was prophesied in Jeremiah 51 and Isaiah 21:9.
Then he answered and said, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.” Isaiah 21:9
The fall of end-time Babylon is described in Revelation 18:1-8:
After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
The Third Angel’s Message: Revelation 14:9-11
The third angel’s message is a serious message. It is a warning to all those who persist in following and remaining in Babylon despite the clear message of the second angel that Babylon’s doom is sure.
Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
‘Drinking the wine of God’s wrath’ is an Old Testament symbol of judgment.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out. Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down. Psalm 75:8
Let his eyes see his destruction, and let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty. Job 21:20
You who have drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of His fury; you have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out. Isaiah 51:17
This cup of God’s indignation is seen in Revelation chapter 16 as the seven plagues visited upon the earth and upon unbelieving mankind.
‘Fire and brimstone (sulphur)’ is also an Old Testament (OT) symbol of judgment – see Genesis 19:24, Isaiah 34:8-10.
‘And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever…’ is another OT symbol of judgment.
Isaiah describing the judgment on the nations, says, ‘For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever.’ Isaiah 34:8-10
Jude describes the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, ‘as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.’ Jude 1:7
These passages clearly indicate that the fire and smoke are NOT eternal (neither Sodom or Gomorrah or Edom or the other enemy nations of Israel are still burning). The nations and people on whom God’s judgements fall are totally consumed or annihilated by fire; the fire itself is not eternal.
The third angel is describing the Great White Throne judgment found in Revelation 20:11-15.
The End-Time Saints: Revelation 14:12, 13
Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.”
The message ends with a description of God’s saints who are entrusted with preaching the gospel message in the end-time. Despite Satan’s rage against them (Rev12:17) they have been undaunted and have patiently endured all the fiery darts of Satan. In contrast to the wicked who have no rest (14:11), the saints are promised rest from their labours.
Like Jesus who said, ‘I have come to do Thy will, O God’ (Hebrews 10:5-9) these end-time saints delight to do God’s will and live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4). They do God’s will by having the faith of Jesus; a faith that depended on God for everything.
God’s people in the end-time have put their trust in Christ alone and their eternal destiny is secured.
We saw in our study last week that before the Day of Christ, the eternal gospel will be perverted. The threefold message of the church in the end-time to a world that is under condemnation is the restoration of the true gospel – the good news that Christ has paid the penalty for sin, He has removed the guilt and condemnation of sin and He provides His righteousness as a gift both imputed and imparted. We are called to draw men to Jesus, by lifting Him up. We are called to demonstrate the power of the gospel by denying self and trusting God to reveal His righteousness through us (Romans 1:16, 17). We are to warn the world of the consequences of rejecting so great a salvation, for the judgment is at hand. And we must search our own hearts, and ask God to reveal to us if (as individuals) we have any form of the spirit of Babylon within us.