The fourteenth chapter of Revelation outlines the work that is to be done by the people of God just before the second advent of our Saviour. Three messages are there represented, which must go to all the inhabitants of the world.
John writes of an angel which he saw flying “in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”
These three angels represent the people who accept the light of God's messages, and go forth as His agents to sound the warning throughout the length and breadth of the earth. Christ declared to His followers, “Ye are the light of the world.” To every soul that accepts Jesus, the cross of Calvary speaks: “Behold the worth of the soul. ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.’”
Nothing is to be permitted to hinder this work. It is the all-important work for this time, and it is to be far-reaching as eternity.
From the beginning of this world's history, there has been opposition between the forces of good and of evil. God declared, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” Man vainly attempted to exalt himself by following his own way, in harmony with Satan's temptation and in opposition to the will of God. He thus gained a knowledge of evil, but he gained it at the cost of his loyalty; and his disobedience opened the flood-gates of woe upon our world.
Ever since the fall of Adam, men have been trying to exalt themselves by the same means. When will they learn that the only way to true exaltation is the path of obedience? Men's plans may seem to them to be exceedingly wise, but there is no safety in following them unless they are in accordance with a “Thus saith the Lord.”
Separate from the World
The Lord called out His people Israel, and separated them from the world, that He might commit to them a sacred trust. He made them the depositaries of His law; and He designed through them to preserve among men the knowledge of Himself. Through them the light of heaven was to shine out to the dark places of the earth, and a voice was to be heard appealing to all peoples to turn from their idolatry to serve the living and true God.
Had the Hebrews been true to their trust, they would have been a power in the world. God would have been their defense, and He would have exalted them above all other nations. His might and truth would have been revealed through them, and they would have stood forth under His wise and holy rule as an example of the superiority of His government over every form of idolatry. But they did not keep their covenant with God. They followed after the idolatrous practises of other nations; and instead of making their Creator's name a praise in the earth, they brought it into contempt.
Yet the purpose of God must be accomplished. The knowledge of His will must be given to the world. God brought the hand of oppression upon His people, and scattered them as captives among the nations. In affliction many of them repented of their transgressions, and sought the Lord. Thus scattered throughout the countries of the heathen, they spread abroad the knowledge of the true God.
In this day, God has called His church, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth,—the messages of the first, second, and third angels,—He has separated a people from the churches and from the world, to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositories of His law, and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world.
Prophecy declares that the first angel would make his announcement to “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” The warning of the third angel, which forms a part of the same threefold message, and is the message for this time, will be no less widespread. The banner on which is inscribed, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,” is to be raised aloft. The power of the first and second messages is to be intensified in the third. It is represented in the prophecy as being proclaimed with a loud voice by an angel flying in the midst of heaven, and it will command the attention of the world.
The most fearful threatening ever addressed to mortals is contained in the third angel's message. That must be a terrible sin which calls down the wrath of God unmingled with mercy. But men are not left in darkness concerning this important matter; the warning against the worship of the beast and his image is to be given to the world before the visitation of God's judgments, that all may know why the judgments are inflicted, and may have opportunity to escape.
A Dividing Message
In the issue of the contest, all Christendom will be divided into two great classes,—those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and those who worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark. Altho church and state will unite their power to compel “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,” to receive “the mark of the beast,” yet the true people of God will not receive it. The prophet of Patmos beholds “them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God,” and singing the “song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.”
The third angel's message increases in importance as we near the close of this earth's history. It is the last offer of mercy to the world, the most solemn message ever given to mortals. In heaven there is a record kept of the impieties of nations, of families, of individuals. God may bear long while the account goes on; calls to repentance and offers of pardon may be given; yet a time will come when the account will be full, when the soul's decision will have been made, when by his own choice man's destiny will have been fixed. Then the signal will be given for judgment to be executed.
The forbearance that God has exercised toward the wicked has emboldened men in transgression; but their punishment will be none the less certain and terrible for being long delayed. “The Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.” To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act. Yet He will “by no means clear the guilty.” By terrible things in righteousness He will vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. The very fact of His reluctance to execute justice, testifies to the enormity of the sins that call forth His judgments, and to the severity of the retribution awaiting the transgressor.
All the inhabitants of earth are soon to meet the great Lawgiver over His broken law. There are many, many in the popular churches who know little of the real meaning of the message for this time. I appeal to them not to disregard the fulfilling of the signs of the times, which say so plainly that the end is near. O how many who have not sought their soul's salvation, will soon make the bitter lamentation, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!”
When will men learn that God is God, not man, and that He does not change? Every calamity, every death, is a witness to the power of evil and to the truth of the living God. The Word of God is life, and it will abide forever. Through all eternity it will stand fast. How can man, knowing what God is and what He has done, choose Satan's way instead of God's way? There is only one path to Paradise restored,—the path of obedience. ~ The Signs of the Times, January 25, 1910