The Three Angels’ Messages (16:2)

As you look over those three messages, there are many terms that call for explanation. But they are all discussed elsewhere in the Bible. That is why we really need all previous sixty-five books to understand the sixty-sixth. You may recall our discussion of one of these terms in Chapter Nine (“There Is No Need to Be Afraid of God”), the word “fear” (Greek: phobêthête), as in “fear God” (Rev 14:7). In contexts like this, the word does not mean terror. It means reverence. Since this angel brings good news (Rev 14:6), he must not mean that we should be terrified of God. A number of versions have ventured to clarify this, for example: “Honor God” (Rev 14:7, GNB) and “Revere God” (Berkeley). Words like that can also express the meaning of “fear.”

Still, there is much fearsome wording in these three angels’ messages. If this is God’s last pleading with His children, would it not have been better to have just the first angel’s message, and then the last sentence of number three? If God is pleading with us to trust Him, wouldn’t that have been better? The message could then say, “Honor God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the seas, and the springs of water” (Rev 14:7). And then go straight to, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (Rev 14:12). Why do we need all that fearsome wording in between? Wouldn’t the shorter version have seemed more like pleading?

In answering these questions, it is important to note what has gone before, particularly Revelation 12, 13, and then 14. Chapter 12 describes the war between Christ and Satan, and all the efforts of Satan to deceive both angels and men. Then Chapter 13 describes Satan’s final effort to deceive, which is the subject of the next chapter in this book (“Satan’s Final Effort to Deceive”). In his final effort, Satan is primarily seeking to deceive the people living on this planet. Revelation 13 describes his almost complete success. The whole world worships him, except for a certain few. The chapter even describes the powers and the organizations that Satan works through in order to accomplish his deceptive purposes. They are represented by biblical symbols drawn from the other sixty-five books of the Bible. More than that, near the end of Revelation 13, his loyal followers are pictured as bearing a mark of their preference for and trust in Satan’s end-time emissary—that mark is notoriously known as the “mark of the beast” (Rev 13:16-18).

Then comes Revelation 14, God’s last pleading with His children, the three final messages of warning and invitation that are the subject of this chapter. Knowing the whole history of earth, one is not so surprised at the fearsome words of warning in the second and third angel’s messages (Rev 14:8-11). But we should always read these in light of the first angel, who comes with good news, the everlasting gospel (Rev 14:6). That’s what the word gospel means; good news. The first angel doesn’t come with new information. He brings the everlasting good news. This good news has always been the truth. It will always remain the truth. It will always remain the basis of our faith and trust and freedom for eternity.

2 thoughts on “The Three Angels’ Messages (16:2)

    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      That’s odd. I distinctly remember posting that, but sometimes Facebook doesn’t publish what you thought it did. For your information, here’s the blog.

      Chapter Sixteen: “God’s Last Pleading with His Children” (16:1)

      The last of the sixty-six books of the Bible, the book of Revelation, describes the war that began up in heaven, triggered by distrust regarding God’s character and government (Rev 12:4, 7-10). A lack of trust led one-third of the brilliant and intelligent angels to rebel against God. That war is further described (Rev 14:6-12) as culminating in three final messages of warning and invitation, all sent from a heavenly Father who wants none of His children to be lost. So the same Bible book that describes the beginning of the war also speaks of its end.

      The final resolution of this conflict of distrust includes the second coming of Christ and the restoration of this damaged planet to its original beauty and peace. But Revelation also tells us that some great and terrible events stand between us and that full restoration. We can trust the God we worship and admire not to leave His children unenlightened and unwarned. So He gave us a picture of three angels, bringing three messages from heaven. Each of these angels proclaims a special message of warning and invitation. I share the whole passage here:

      Then 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 (Rev 14:6-12, NIV).

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