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.