Three Other Angels

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THREE OTHER ANGELSThen I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 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.” A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:6-13)

The First Angel Proclaims the Gospel – Here the focus begins to shift from the Jewish people to the gentile world. Before the end the Gospel will be proclaimed to all “those who live on the earth.” This does not mean that all will be converted, but that all will have had a clear opportunity to choose whether they will be for Christ or against Him. This last measure of God’s grace is offered for them to repent during this age of God’s wrath before “the hour of His judgment” comes. If not,
they will be left without an excuse, just like the ancient world that resisted the preaching of Noah during the one hundred and twenty years leading up to the flood. So also, the prophets of old gave the people a last opportunity of repentance before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem.(1)The hour of his judgment has come” means that the judgment is imminent.(2)

During this present age, the angels have not been privileged to preach the Gospel. That responsibility has been given to the Church. While the nations will fear the anti-Christ, and give honor to him, this Heavenly messenger will summon them to fear and honor God alone.(3) For many, the fear of God will be the beginning of salvation, just as elsewhere it is said to be the beginning of wisdom.(4) The reminder that God is the Creator and that He alone deserves worship could be a reference to the natural theology message of Romans 1:18. All creation bears witness to God’s existence as well as to His power and wisdom. It also counters the message of the anti-Christ that he is in charge of the world, and that their destinies are in his hands. The message of the angel calls men back to the basics. God is Creator—worship and serve Him. The fear of the true God, not the fear of the anti-Christ is the source of true wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).(5)

The Second Angel Proclaims the Fall of Babylon – This proclamation anticipates the events of Revelation 18 (see also Revelation 16:18–19), which we will consider it in detail later. The city of Babel, mentioned in Genesis, was the original “type” of a God-opposed world-power.(6) Subsequently, the Babylonian Empire became that symbol. Here in Revelation, many believe is a reference to a final anti-Christian “Babylonian-type” world-power, led by the anti-Christ. There are a variety of viewpoints on the identity of this world-power.

Revived Babylon – Some see Babylon as merely a veiled reference to ancient and literal Rome. The Roman empire was guilty of the same sins that brought destruction on the ancient and literal city of Babylon (pride, idolatry, and persecution).(7) Under this viewpoint, Rome is, in essence, a revived Babylonian Empire during John’s time.

Revived Rome – Some see an end-times revived Roman Empire of which the previous world-powers (Babel, Babylon and the ancient Roman Empire) typified.(8) Thus, Babylon would be God’s name for the economic and political world systems that the anti-Christ rules. The harlot (Revelation 17) would be viewed as the religious system that the anti-Christ, through his false prophet, will use to help build his kingdom. But once the anti-Christ establishes his own religion (Revelation 13:11–15), he destroys the religious system of the harlot. But it is God who will destroy the anti-Christ’s Babylon.(9)

Anti-Semitic Nations – Jewish writers of John’s day viewed all empires that subjugated Israel as a type of ancient Babylon. In general, they believed that Rome was the final such power. Babylon and its synonym, the Chaldeans, were used as ciphers for Rome in Jewish texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, 4 Ezra and the rabbis (although the rabbis use Edom more frequently).(10)

Fallen (“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great”) is repeated for emphasis and to communicate the complete devastation that would befall Babylon the Great (Revelation 18:2; Isaiah 21:9). John foresees or predicts the eventual demise of the city as judgment from God, although it did not actually occur in his day.(11) Since John’s day, The Roman empire eventually did fall, yet the end of the age did not come. Perhaps the second “fallen” refers to an end-of-the-age empire that is typified by all such kingdoms (Babel, Babylon, Rome) that preceded it.

Wine (“the maddening wine of her adulteries.”) was a symbol of enthusiasm, while adultery was a symbol of idolatry. Both were characteristics of the religion of ancient Babylon.(12) The Old Testament normally reserved the symbolic use of harlot for the sins of God’s people (with only two exceptions). But here the allusion is to Jeremiah 51:7 and Babylon, who made all the nations drunk with the intoxicating wine of its false religion.(13)

The Third Angel Proclaims God’s Wrath on Followers of the Beast – Wine is referenced again (“he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath“), this time as a punishment that fits the crime. Wine was commonly mixed with water to dilute it. The wine of God’s wrath is undiluted and sits in opposition to the wine of the beast’s adulteries. There will be no drop of water to cool its heat (rich man and Lazarus), nor is there any grace remaining to be blended with it.(14) It is full strength, and no one will be able to excuse himself with the plea that the Beast or the False Prophet seduced him (the Devil made me do it). There is also no repentance, as the offence continues. It is not who worshipped the beast, it is who “worships the beast.” The crime which led to the punishment continues without repentance.(15)

Images like “burning sulfur” and “smoke of their torment” are upsetting to some people who cannot believe that a God of love will ultimately permit His creatures to suffer eternal torment. But we must keep in mind that God’s love is a holy love, not a sentimental love. He must justly deal with sin in keeping with His Holiness. God has repeatedly warned sinners and given them ample opportunity to repent (during the age of grace that preceded the Great Tribulation and even in the age of wrath of the Great Tribulation).

First an Appeal – The first angel’s message is an appeal directly from Heaven offering sinners yet one more opportunity to turn to God.

Then by a Warning – The second angel’s message warns the people that the whole Babylonian system they are following will be destroyed.

Finally, Judgment – The third angel’s message is that if they persist in their sins, even after God sends appeals, warnings and judgments, they have only themselves to blame.(16)

Revelation 14:11 and 13 describes the stark contrast between the fate of the wicked and the fate of the redeemed. There is no rest for the wicked (“the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever”), but eternal rest for the saints (“they will rest from their labor”). See also 2 Thessalonians 1:3–12.(17) The phrase “in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb” only serves to accentuate the punishment of the wicked.(18) Apparently, this is meant to be taken literally, and is supported by the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.(19) Thus, they may be able to observe the joyous fates of those who chose to worship the Lamb rather than the beast.(20)

Some see certain Old Testament passages (Psalm 49:14; 58:10; 139:21; Isaiah 66:24) as indicating that those in Heaven will also be able to see the suffering of those who rejected Christ. In these passages, they see the minds of the saints in their glorified state so entirely one with God’s that His enemies will be regarded as their enemies and they shall rejoice at visibly witnessing God’s righteousness punishment of the sinners. Given that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23) and that we may have loved ones that are numbered with the sinners,(21) this viewpoint may be difficult to understand and accept. However, we must keep in mind that that the rejoicing is over the righteousness of God being vindicated, not that sinners are receiving their just punishment.

In the final analysis, the doctrine of eternal punishment, though unpopular with some scholars and difficult to accept by our culture, is clearly taught in the Bible. In fact, Jesus and the Apostle John say more on this subject than does all the rest of the Bible.(22) But there is still hope for those to heed the warning. “Patient endurance on the part of the saints” refers to their perseverance in the pursuit of righteousness and faith. This is an encouragement for believers with a view toward their eternal destiny. Those who persist in faith and do not take part in the worship of the beast will avoid the eternal fiery torment.(23)

Up Next – The harvest of the earth.

__________________________

References

  1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 585). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  2. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 14:7). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 607). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 285). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 607). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (pp. 285–286). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  7. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 14:8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  8. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 14:8). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  9. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 607–608). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 14:8). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  11. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 14:8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  12. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 286). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  13. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 14:8). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  14. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 586). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  15. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 287). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  16. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 608). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  17. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 608). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  18. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 14:10). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  19. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 286). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  20. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 14:10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  21. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 586). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  22. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 964). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  23. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 14:12). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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