A Threefold Warning
600 tons of solid explosive slowly but surely lifts the 2,820 tons of space craft and payload from its launch pad. The burning trail of ignited fuels leaves its trace as the projectile gathers momentum. When the monstrous craft attains an altitude of 62 kms and a speed of 9,850 km/h the first stage separates, fully expended, as the second section of 100 tons of solid fuel thunders into life to propel the module forward to a speed of 25,252 km/h and an altitude of 185 kms before it too is expended. The third stage is briefly ignited and carries the spaceship into orbit at 190 kms and a speed of 28,200 km/h. For a space flight the third stage is re-ignited on the second or third orbit to accelerate the assembly out of earthâ€™s gravitational field on its destination and mission.
For years scientists investigated and experimented to see how space exploration could become a reality. The great problem of producing enough power to thrust a rocket beyond the earth’s gravitational field was not solved until scientists developed the “three-stag” rocket.
So it is with the gospel message. Our previous lesson demonstrated the strength of the opposing forces, while lessons eight through eleven demonstrated that the gospel is charged with tremendous solid power, enough to save every person that has ever lived, is living, or will ever live. As we approach the end, the final thrust of the gospel is made, while the attraction of worldly influences downward has never been so strong. The Lord of heaven has prepared a plan by which this gospel message will prepare a people to be overcomers and break through all the opposing forces that may be brought to bear against them. He has given three successive messages. What tremendous efficiency is achieved as each successive message joins with the previous message to add its force and propel Godâ€™s work through the final scenes.
These messages are found in Revelation 14:6-11. So many prophecies have been fulfilled, but these messages are a warning for us today. These three messages are for the time of the end and are in the process of being fulfilled before our eyes.
The First Angel’s Message
The prophet John beheld an angel 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 water.” Revelation 14:6, 7.
This message is declared to be a part of the “everlasting gospel”. The angel represents a movement. The work of preaching the gospel has been committed to humans. The angel also signifies the purity, glory and power that attend the message. The angel’s flight “in the midst of heaven, the “loud voice” with which the warning is uttered, to all â€œthat dwell on the earth”, “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” give evidence of the rapidity and worldwide extent of the movement. The time of this message is indicated in the proclamation of the opening of the judgment, which could be proclaimed only in the last days, for only then would it be true that the hour of judgment had come.
The prophet Daniel declared that at the time of the end â€œmany shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel 12:4.
The judgment hour referred to in this message is not the last judgment when all will receive their reward as described in Revelation 20:12,13, for this is still future. The judgment spoken of in this message is found in Daniel.
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9,10.
This judgment takes place in heaven. It is an investigative judgment in which the lives of all who have accepted Christ and have had their names entered in the Book of Life, have lived, and are living on the earth, are examined from the infallible heavenly records. The decision made in this judgment will determine whether a person will be saved or lost. The time for the message which warns about this judgment was prophesied to be the “time of the end”. The prophecies we studied in lessons seven and eight reveal when the time of the end is.
The first angel’s message proclaiming the beginning of the judgment hour was first preached in the early part of the nineteenth century. This movement appeared in various countries of Europe and America at about the same time. Men of faith and prayer were led to the study of the prophecies and they saw convincing evidence that the end of all things was at hand. In America, William Miller and Josiah Litch were among those who first preached the message. In Europe, Henry Drummond and Dr. Joseph Wolff, a converted Jew, began to proclaim the Lord’s soon coming. Dr. Wolff did not remain in Europe, but became known as the â€œmissionary to the world”. He traveled in many of the most barbarous countries of Asia, and was robbed, beaten, and persecuted many times. He carried the message of the judgment to many of the remotest parts of the globe. The judgment hour message was also preached in England, South America, Germany, France, Switzerland and Scandinavia. In Scandinavia the state church caused the advent preachers to be thrown into prison. The voice of the mighty angel could not be silenced and God was gave the message, in a miraculous manner, through little children, some of them not more than six or eight years of age. As they were underage, the state could not restrain them, and they were permitted to speak unmolested about the judgment and the coming of Christ.
The Second Angel’s Message
“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.” Revelation 14:8.
The term “Babylon” is derived from “Babel” and signifies confusion. In the Bible it designates the various forms of false religion. In Revelation 17, Babylon is represented as a woman, a figure which is used in the Bible as the symbol of a church. A virtuous woman represents a pure church, and a vile woman, an apostate church.
The sacred and enduring character of the relation that exists between Christ and His church is represented by the union of marriage.
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” II Corinthians 11:2.
The unfaithfulness of the church in permitting her confidence and affection to be turned from Christ, and allowing the love of worldly things to occupy the soul, is likened to the violation of the marriage vow.
The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of Babylon must apply to religious bodies that were once pure but have become corrupt. One of the sins of Babylon is her unlawful connection with secular governments.
The second angel’s message of Revelation 14 was first preached in the summer of 1844, and had then a more direct application to the churches of the United States, where the warning of the judgment had been most widely proclaimed and most generally rejected and the declension of the churches had been most rapid. But the message of the second angel did not reach its complete fulfillment in 1844. Although the churches then experienced a moral fall, that fall was not complete.
The time will come when those who love God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” II Timothy 3:4,5.
Revelation 18:2-4 points to the time when the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her.
The Third Angel’s Message
“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: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-11.
When God sends to humanity warnings so important that they are represented by holy angels flying in the midst of heaven, He requires every person endowed with reasoning powers to heed the message. The fearful judgments pronounced against the worship of the beast and his image, should lead all to a diligent study of the prophecies to learn what the mark of the beast is, and how they are to avoid receiving it. The mark of the beast is the crowning work of Satan’s deceptions which he endeavors to enforce on every living person on earth just prior to the second coming of Christ.
But we need not be deceived or uncertain as to the identity of the beast and his mark and how to escape the terrible judgment meted out for those who receive it. A message from heaven, symbolized by an angel speaking with a loud voice, is now being proclaimed to the inhabitants of the earth. This message, combined with the first and second angel’s messages will prepare a people who, instead of receiving the mark of the beast, will receive the seal of the living God.
In order to know what the mark of the beast is, we must also know what the mark of God is. The words mark, seal, stamp and signature are synonymous. These terms are often used interchangeably throughout the Bible. It is very important to understand their meaning, because the angel warns against the mark of the beast. On the other hand we read about the mark or seal of the living God in the seventh chapter of Revelation, where the people of God are said to receive the seal in their foreheads: “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Revelation 7:2,3.
The seal of the living God is the sign of His power, or authority, as we learned in lesson thirteen. This sign or mark is found in the fourth commandment of the law of God. The Sabbath is the seal, mark or sign. If the fourth commandment were to be taken out of the law, God’s authority would never be known. Any seal must have a least three elements for its authenticity: the name, the jurisdiction and the title of the law-giver. In the ten commandments only the fourth contains all these. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” Isaiah 8:16.
“And hallow my sabbaths; and thy shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God.” Ezekiel 20:20
To know God is to know His law. To know God’s law is to know God’s Sabbath.
The seventh day of the week, the Sabbath, is the only day that God blessed and sanctified. It identifies the Creator.
For many centuries the day of the Lord, the seventh day was trodden under foot, but in the last days this day must be lifted up and put into its rightful place. This restoration is a part of the everlasting gospel. The prophet Isaiah foretold the upbuilding of the broken law in these words: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:” Isaiah 58:12,13.
Yes, in these last days the true people of God are preaching this part of the everlasting gospel, repairing the breach made in the law of God, and giving the warning against the mark of the beast. The people of God are identified as “they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.
If the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, as blessed by God at creation is the sign or mark of the living God, the mark of the beast must be a counterfeit. It would be a day of worship that denotes the authority of the beast. It can be none other than the institution of Sunday worship in opposition to God’s commands. This will be the final controversial issue. Consequently “the mark of the beast” or “the seal of God” will be a most important decision for our eternal welfare. The Sabbath will prove to be the sign of allegiance to God and His law, while Sunday as a counterfeit day of worship, will prove to be the sign of allegiance to Satan, the great law breaker.
The three angels messages will accomplish their work of bearing the final warning for these last days. God’s warning, counsels, and guidance need to be studied, so that we are not deceived.
Those who do not receive the mark of the beast on their foreheads will escape the terrible judgments of God, and being victorious over the mark of the beast they will then be found in heaven: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and 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.” Revelation 15:2.
Dear student, do you desire to be saved when Jesus comes again? How will you rank when the Lord comes to gather His own, who have the “Seal of God” and rejects those with the “Mark of the Beast”?