FOCUS ON REVELATION - LESSON 16

Message from the Angels
Revelation 14

 

A young man named Sushil belonged to a non-Christian family. One day he ran across an advertisement for a Bible correspondence course and immediately wrote for the lessons. After they arrived, he soaked up the messages like dry, parched ground soaks up water. The more Sushil studied, the more the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart. Finally he accepted Jesus as Savior of his life and determined to follow Him.

When Sushil's parents heard about this they became extremely angry. They demanded that he reject Christianity. Sushil refused. So his father dragged him before a local committee which dealt with the "heretics" of the village. The father hoped these religious officials could convince his son to recant. Sushil stood firm. The committee decreed a punishment. Sushil was to be humiliated. His face was blackened. He was dressed in rags and led through the village amidst the jeers of his neighbors.

As the noisy procession following Sushil wound its way down the street, it passed a blacksmith shop. Wild with rage, Sushil's father grabbed a red hot steel bar from the shop, rushed up to his son and branded him on his left thigh. Sushil was left to groan in agony. Fortunately, kind villagers took the young man in and cared for him. Though rejected and abused, Sushil remained firm in his decision to follow Christ. He would not give up the beautiful truths he had discovered in the Bible.

What is this message that has compelled Sushil, and countless others, to stand faithful in spite of persecution, ridicule, imprisonment, and even death? It is the central truth of Christianity: Jesus, the Savior of the world, gave Himself up that we might live. The apostle Peter expressed it this way, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

The Bible clearly teaches that all of us are lost in sin and face the penalty of death (Romans 6:23). All have sinned (Romans 3:23), so all face death. Every person needs to be rescued from the condemnation of sin. Jesus is the only one who can provide that rescue, that salvation. We are not saved by works, but by God's free gift. We are saved by Jesus, and Jesus alone. He gives us this assurance in John 6:40, "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life."

The following verses reveal God's purpose for your life:

  • "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
  • "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).
  • "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:14-17).
  • "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
  • "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).
  • "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
  • "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

What wonderful assurances! What fantastic promises! Who would want to say "No" to a God who has expressed His love in such a powerful way? If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, why not bow your head and repeat this prayer of acceptance, "Dear God, I need You. I am sorry for my sins and ask You to forgive me. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I give You my life and receive Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You for hearing me and helping me to follow Jesus. In His name, Amen."

If this is your first decision for Jesus, then welcome to the family of God!

Belief in Jesus is the foundation of genuine religion. It's what the church of Jesus Christ is built on. We can get to know Jesus through His Word, the Bible. He said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39).

The more we study the Bible, the clearer our picture of Jesus will become. Jesus wants the good news about Him to be shared with the world. He wants all to be saved for eternity. Jesus has made it easy for everyone to be saved!

This essential good news about accepting Jesus and worshiping God is part of a special message for last-day Christians. This threefold message appears in Revelation 14:6-13. Verses 14-16 tell us that after these three messages have been delivered to earth's inhabitants, Jesus will come for His people. Christ's second coming is described as a harvest of Earth.

Let's study these messages in the context of what we have already studied in Revelation 13.

Immediately following the vision of Revelation 13, John sees the Lamb of God standing with 144,000 people who have God's name written on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1-5). This special group of people are those who have been completely loyal to Jesus. This group did not receive the "mark of the beast" because they were faithful to God's commandments and accepted His free gift of forgiveness.

Next John sees three angels with special messages from God. These three messages (vss. 6-13) are end-time messages; they precede the harvest of God's people at Jesus' second coming (vss. 14-20). Let's take a closer look at these three messages.

Read Revelation 14:6-13.

The angel is a blur of white streaking across the heavens with a special message from God to Earth's inhabitants. This is a message for those living on South Pacific islands, for those hunting in the snow-covered expanse of the Arctic, for those farming in the jungles of Malaysia, for those working in the factories of Russia. No matter where you live, no matter what you're doing, God says, "Stop! Look up into the heavens. Listen to the angel's message! It is for every nation, tribe, tongue, and people."

The entire series of messages is described as the "everlasting gospel." But it will be delivered in three parts, by three different angels.

The First Angel's Message (verses 6, 7)

What is the gospel? (Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-19.)
The gospel is good news—that Jesus lived a perfect life and died for us.

This is not a new gospel. It is the same message of salvation that people in the Old Testament accepted by faith. It is the same gospel taught by Jesus and the apostles. This is the same gospel that has circled the globe down through the centuries. It is the message that God's people share with their friends and neighbors. It must reach men and women who live in every home around the world. That is why so many believers have left their families, left their homes, left their own countries, and gone out to live in the remotest villages and relate to all kinds of cultures. They are compelled to go by Jesus Christ to share His everlasting gospel.

1. What reason does the first angel give for fearing God and giving Him glory? (Revelation 14:7.)
   Because He is all powerful.
   Because He demands our worship.
  
Because the hour of His judgment has come.

  • To fear God means to give Him utmost respect. We show that respect by giving God praise and honor.
  • To glorify someone also means to show utmost respect. We show this type of respect for God by demonstrating before others His character of love. We do this by our kind words and by our acts of compassion. A life changed by Jesus is the ultimate reflection of who He is and of the power available through Him.
  • Judgment: We learned in our study of the 2,300-day/year prophecy in Daniel chapters 8 and 9 that Jesus began
    the work of preparing for His coming to Earth in 1844. This preparation is the "pre-advent judgment." "Advent" means "coming." "Pre" means "before." This means God's judgment is taking place now!

That is why it is so urgent for God's people to preach the messages of these three angels. They are special messages for the time we live in. They are special messages that prepare us for His soon return to Earth.

2. What else does the first angel tell us to do? (Revelation 14:7.)
    Worship Him who made the heavens and the earth.
    Promise that we will never disobey God.
    
Ask God to forgive us for our sins and give us power to overcome them.

This is a call to worship God, the Creator of the Earth. We are to honor God every day. In addition, we have learned that the Bible calls on God's people to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy"— to worship Him on the Sabbath. Why? "Because in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" ( Exodus 20:8-11). One of the ways we respect (fear) God and demonstrate our respect (give Him glory) is by living a life that is obedient to His scriptural teachings. We don't do this to earn salvation; salvation is a free gift. We do this as a loving response to a loving God.

The Second Angel's Message (verse 8)

3. What announcement does the second angel make? (Revelation 14:8.)
  
The beast power is about to attack God's people.
  
Babylon is fallen.
  
God has decided on the day and hour of Jesus' return.

As we previously learned, "Babylon" in prophecy represents religious confusion. This second message strongly warns us against compromising our faith. Revelation 17 pictures Babylon as an immoral woman (vs. 5). She is contrasted with the pure woman of Revelation 12, who represents the Christian church. Teachings that stand in opposition to God's Word will fail us in the end. We need to make sure we are clinging to the truths that God Himself has revealed.

God calls people to "come out" of Babylon and into whole-hearted devotion to Jesus. He wants a people who desire to follow Him on every point, not just on the issues they choose. He wants genuine disciples who depend on Jesus by faith and follow His teachings in the Bible. Individuals can keep the commandments only through faith in Jesus. This faith trusts in the power of God to give us the strength we need to become His faithful followers.

Those who "come out" of Babylon reject anti-biblical teachings. They follow all of God's commandments. They worship God as revealed in His Word because they love and care for Him, not because they have to. A healthy relationship with Christ is a love relationship. Couples in love do special things for each other. They go the extra mile because they want to, not because someone forces them to. Serving each other is a pleasure, not a burden. Why? Because they are motivated by love. Because they have chosen the way of love. They have chosen to invest themselves in someone else. They have chosen to give themselves up for the good of the other person. That is their source of satisfaction and fulfillment.

The Third Angel's Message (verses 9-11)

These verses describe the punishment and torment that result from persistently rejecting Jesus' free gift of eternal life.

4. Who receives the terrible punishments described by the third angel? (Revelation 14:9.)
    Those who worship the beast and its image and receive its mark.
    Those who neglect to pray and stay close to God.
    Those who persecute others who believe differently than they do.

The third angel's message cries out for a decision. There are two choices placed before every person in the world. We can either: (1) worship the beast and his image and receive the mark of the beast; or (2) reject the authority of the beast and remain faithful to Jesus, obeying His commandments (vs. 12). Notice how this message compares with the first angel's message. The first angel calls for the worship of Jesus; the third angel warns of worshiping the beast power. These two types of worship have life-and-death consequences—eternal consequences.

SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGES

God's message to those who are living in the end time of Earth's history is this: Jesus is the everlasting gospel! He came to this Earth to give us eternal life. He lived a perfect life for us. He died for our sins on the cross. He rose from the grave and went back to heaven and is coming again for us so we can live forever with Him! He holds out His hands and says, "Our walk together can begin right now. You can begin a better life at this moment."

All three angels together are crying out, "Accept Jesus before it's too late!" Why?

  • First angel: Because He is your Creator. He made you and loves you. He deserves to be worshiped because He has given us all things—the Earth we live on, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the happiness we enjoy, and the free gift of eternal life!
  • Second angel: Listen closely—God is judging the people of the earth; He is determining who has accepted Him, who is following His Word, who desires eternal life.
  • Third angel: Don't wait too long! Babylon is fallen! False religions which substitute human traditions for the Bible's clear teachings are fallen! Human ideologies will crumble like sand castles on the seashore. Those who turn away from God's Word will receive the mark of the beast. They will make a decision not to follow God completely, including all of the ten commandments. Their rebellious choices will result in destruction, in eternal separation from God.

5. Who does the third angel say will be saved to live with Jesus? (Revelation 14:12.)
    Those who resist the claims of the beast and refuse to worship its image even if it means
          losing their lives.
    Those who have been baptized and whose names are recorded as members of the church.
    
Those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

The chapter ends with a description of the wonderful harvest at the coming of Jesus. Remember, through all the turmoil of last-day events, God is with you. Jesus is coming for you. He cares about you. He loves you. His faithful ones who perish are called "blessed" (vs. 13). Why? Because death is only a pause in our lives. Because after God awakens them from the sleep of death, they will see Jesus "face-to-face."

Yes, sometimes it's hard to stand tall for Jesus. When a loved one ridicules your faith, when an employer threatens to fire you for your beliefs, when it seems you stand alone in a world that disregards God's Word, remember that God was there with Daniel in the lions' den. He was there with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. And He promises those who overcome: "I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God... and I will write on him the name of my God" (Revelation 3:12).

The "bottom-line" message of the three angels is this: Whom are you going to worship? Will you worship the beast or will you worship the Lamb of God? Worship is our response to someone's worth. What is God worth to you? Don't you believe He is worthy of your very best?

§ § §

One terrible day at a high school in Littleton, Colorado, two teenagers began planting home-made bombs and firing at their classmates with automatic weapons. They shot students outside the cafeteria. Laughing diabolically, they shot teens upstairs in the library. Many of the students were gunned down as they ran away in terror. But one young girl, Cassie Bernall, came face-to-face with the killers. As she crouched under a table in the library, one gunman asked her coldly, "Do you believe in God?"

Cassie could see the sprawled bodies of her friends. She could have said, "No," and perhaps saved her life. But this young woman had placed her faith in Jesus Christ. Like many of those kids in that terrible hour, she was clinging to Him for strength. And she just couldn't lie. She just couldn't pretend that her God wasn't real. And so she answered simply, quietly, "Yes."

The gun fired at point-blank range, and Cassie slumped to the floor and died. It was a terrible tragedy—a terrible tragedy for her family and friends, a terrible tragedy for the school. It was a terrible tragedy for all that heard the story. But that teenage girl had said "Yes" to Jesus—in the worst of circumstances. And Jesus is going to say "Yes" to Cassie one glorious day when He comes. Days before her death Cassie wrote these words, "Now I have given up on everything else—I have found it to be the only way to really know Christ and to experience the mighty power that brought Him back to life again, and to find out what it really means to suffer and to die with Him." (Reader's Digest, August 1999, pp. 53-60.)

§ § §

Friend, do you want to say "Yes" to Jesus? Do you want to be counted with those who "keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus?" (Revelation 14:12). If so, bow your head and tell Jesus, "Lord, I give my life to You. I give You my all."

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