The Message of the Third Angel
Revelation 14:9, Part 1
r14n

14:9, note a
When does the third angel fly?

   "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." (Rev. 14:9, 10)

The words, "And the third angel followed them," indicates that he appears after the first two angels have begun their preaching. As we saw earlier, re1406b, the first angel comes at the time when the preadvent judgment begins.  ". . . Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come. . . . (Rev. 14:7).
The third angel also describes the punishment of the beast worshippers. The future tense is used so the message is preached before the event. The angel says that anyone who worships the beast "shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God" and "shall be tormented." The time of preaching is before the time of punishment.
The description of their punishment in chapter 16 adds information. It indicates that they will not repent. "And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." (Rev. 16:10, 11).
In harmony with the idea of firm refusal to repent we see that the wrath of God is described as unmixed. Through the centuries God's justice has been mixed with mercy (Ps. 89:14; Ex. 25:21). When this wrath is poured out, the time for character change will have passed. The wicked remain wicked.
   God does not arbitrarily close human probation. Mercy for the wicked ends when it has been persistently refused.
   Then there will be only two classes of people: the righteous who have the seal of God and the wicked who have chosen the beast's mark. Then probation closes and Jesus comes with His reward for all.
   "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Rev. 22:11, 12).

   So the third angel flies after the judgment in heaven has begun and before the final climax at the end of human probation. The close of probation is also the end of the preadvent judgment. This judgment is not only a time for going over the records in heaven to leave no doubt about those Jesus accepts into His kingdom, but it is a time of preparation as we see from the sanctuary system. It was also a time of judgment in that those who refused to humble themselves were cut off from among the Lord's people.
   "And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD." "For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people." (Lev. 16:29, 30; 23:29)
   I believe we are living in this period while the third angel is calling. Thank God for mercy. It's a time to be ready and to pray for our own souls and for those we love who have not given their hearts to the Lord. See the angel timeline chart for a similar explanation, 1406b+. The motif of the messages of the three angels is seen in Zechariah. For the third: zr0208.

14:9 b
Heaven's warning neutralized

  "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." (Rev. 14:9, 10)

Image © goodsalt
   We cannot isolate this message of the third angel from its context. The first angel preaches the everlasting gospel calling everyone to worship the creator. The second, announces the fall of Babylon. And now the third warns of the terrible consequences of choosing to follow the enemy of God. It is God's purpose to redeem rather than destroy (1 Tim. 2:4). Only when the wicked totally refuse salvation will the offer of eternal life be withdrawn. The way of sin is the way of death because it is rebellion separation from the life giver (Matt. 23:37, 39; 21:1-14; John 15:5; Acts 17:28). In love, God sends the messages of the three angels to preach the good news of salvation calling for true worship and to clarify the fearful result of choosing the way of sin.
   So how can God's three-part appeal at the end of time be robbed of its sobering influence? How would Satan turn souls from salvation? Of course the answers are complex but I suggest that the lifeline he wants to cut is best understood in the following verse: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
   Knowing God is more than giving the right answers on a quiz. It is keeping a personal relationship with Him in recognition of who He is. To keep us from this, the devil and his helpers, both evil angels and humans, paint false pictures of God that turn people away from His true saving grace. Here are a few counterfeit portraits:
Many show God as opening the door to glory according to the merits of the good things we do. The majority of the world, the non-Christian religions and the Catholics, believe this. No doubt many of them ignorantly depend on works with a pure heart which God will judge as He knows best. But many others seek Him with a false heart rejecting the call of Jesus we know in the following words: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30).
Some show the way of salvation as through the authority of the church instead of by direct access to God through Christ. (See 1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 10:25, 26).
Some present God as vengeful, eager to torture those who refuse salvation. More on this as we come to verse 11. Statements about His character of love are thus seen as insincere. Thinking people are led to hate him and to seek pleasures of sin while they have a chance. Example ("sinners under an angry God)..
Some agree that seeking Christ is essential to salvation but teach that those who refuse now will have another chance after selected ones are taken away to heaven. If you happen to hold this view, I urge you to continue to study the Scriptures. The temptation in this is to put off being ready, waiting for a chance that I believe will never come. (Isa. 55:6; Luke 12:45; Hab. 2:3; Cor. 6:1; Rev. 22:11, 12 as we have discussed).
Some feel that our eternal destiny has already been decided leaving us no choice. Although following Christ is encouraged, this picture of God brings the temptation to follow the broad path, feeling that how we respond to Christ makes no difference in the end. Thus by neglect, misguided souls may be lost. In a sense, we are all predestined to be saved (Eph. 1). Jesus died for the whole world (John 3:16). Also God knows the future (Isa. 46:9, 10). Although He knows how we will choose, the choice is still ours.
In a similar picture God may be described as giving us the choice to be saved or lost but withdrawing the opportunity to change our minds after we have chosen salvation. Can saved people later be lost? Read Rev. 3:11; Ezek. 28:13-15.
   These clear passages say that we can be in a saved condition and later slip out of it. One statement of Jesus, however, seems to say we cannot later be lost. "And I [Jesus] give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28). Certainly no one can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35-39), but can we ourselves choose to leave His hand and the heavenly gift of life? Yes, according to Heb. 6:4-6. But can't we come to the point where our commitment is unshakable? Yes. We discussed this in connection with the end-time sealing. re1401b. However, we cannot assume we are sealed. Only God knows this.
   The danger in this whole picture is in a false security, assuming that, because we have once accepted to be saved, the sins we choose will no long er separate us from God. (Isa. 59:1-3). Can we have assurance? Yes, as we rely constantly on Christ. (Isa. 32:17).
Many believe that we cannot put sin out of our lives that Jesus will remove it when He comes. This, too, is a tricky issue. We have a sinful nature. Our natural tendency is to sin (Rom. 7:18). I believe this will be removed at Christ's coming. But to doubt that we can have victory over known sin is to deny the promise: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13). To continue in known sin, whether mistreating our bodies which are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16), or killing people, or any other evil, assuming that God will overlook our sin, is to miss heaven. Those who enter will not be made righteous at Christ's coming, He finds them that way. (2 Peter 3:14; Rev. 22:14, 15).
Some teach that all will eventually be saved. This is called universalism. It is based partly on a misunderstanding of the destruction of the wicked and partly on other assumptions not justified by the Scriptures.
General skepticism about the inspiration of the Scriptures, even among scholars, breeds a liberal attitude which turns the Christian message into simply Smile and be nice to your neighbor most of the time. Jesus, some feel, was partly fictional and morality is a matter of personal interpretation.
   There are other misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the divine character that might cause us to believe that the warning of the third angel against false worship is not for us. Our only security in constant dependence on Christ.

   One danger we must not overlook is assuming that the beast will arise sometime in the distant future, perhaps during the millennium. False Christianity began already in time of the early church. (1 John 2:18). As we have seen, the threat of the beast's mark is just before us.
   "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." (1 Thess. 5:2, 3)

   Again, thank you for your patience. I have shared my understandings with you, perhaps challenging some of your own ideas. Please accept this as an invitation to study. "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" (1 Peter 3:15)

14:10~  (tagged as 14:9c)
The time of wrath

   The time of wrath is declared in verse 10. Perhaps most important to learn from the present note is that this time is pictured in several different ways in the Bible.

   As the cup of iniquity of the wicked fills (Gen. 15:16), God's cup of wrath will fill in response. When the cups are nearly full, the judgment will be convinced (Dan. 7:8-10).
   In discussing re1409b, I shared some ways I felt God's character could be misunderstood, leaving people unprepared for the time of wrath. Whatever you believe about the various ideas of salvation we looked at, we all need to be ready to stand for God. What does it take to be ready? Before we can answer, we need to clarify what is happening. As we began this chapter (14) we saw the people who are symbolized by the number 144,000, standing on Mt. Zion, the symbol of heaven. They have the Father's name in their foreheads. Here's the verse:
   "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads." (Rev. 14:1).
   We saw this group earlier, in chapter 7. The apostle says: ". . . I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
   "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. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel." (Rev. 7:2-4)
   In the New Testament, the true Christian church is called Israel (Eph. 2:11-14; Gal. 3:26-29) so we are not looking at ethnic Jews in this symbolic picture. The faithful ones will have the seal of God in their foreheads to enable them to survive the blowing of the winds. We see the same 144,000 with the Lamb's Father's name in their foreheads, so we may understand the seal and the Father's name to be the same thing or certainly characteristics of the same situation. And coming to the message of the third angel, we may see that the faithful ones will stand firm during the time of the Lord's wrath when the four winds blow.
   "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:" (Rev. 14:9, 10)

   This will clearly be a fearful time. Although we don't know everything about it now, the Scriptures do help us understand enough be prepared. Our question is, What will be happening when the wrath of God is poured out undiluted?
   Every person on this planet will be faced with the choice of following the beast and his image as described in chapter 13 or the Lamb of chapter 14. This will be the final battle for souls, the conflict we will see symbolized in chapter 16 as the battle of Armageddon.
 

Terms used to describe the final wrath of God
The wrath of God also seen in other metaphors:
Blowing winds - ch. 7
Seven last plagues, especially the 7th - ch. 16
Time of trouble - Dan. 2
Day of the Lord - Joel 2, Mal. 4, Acts 2, etc.
Heavens rolled up, etc. - ch. 6
Punishment by two hundred million riders - ch. 9


   During this time of wrath, life will not be "business as usual." It will be a "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time." (Dan. 12:1). But we have assurance that the righteous "shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book [of the judgment]."
   This period of wrath is shown in time relationship to other events in a list near the end of chapter 11. It will come during the trumpet sound of the seventh and final trumpet angel. At that time, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 11:15) It is the final curtain on the stage of our planet. Let's read more in chapter 11.
   "And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come [the wrath we have been discussing], and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." (11:18, 19)
   Notice that just before the time of God's wrath (evidenced by the past tense), the nations or people groups were angry, a situation now developing in the world. Also, just before it the temple in heaven was opened revealing the ark of the covenant (ten commandments). This signals the end of the preadvent judgment, as we saw in Daniel 12. And what happens just after the wrath of God? The judgment of the dead which takes place during the thousand years (Rev. 11:18-ju-d). We will see this more clearly as we study that chapter.
   I have sketched this time sequence so we can see that the "wrath of God" is just before us and that we need to be ready. Also, it involves people living at the very end of time. I believe this will be soon, but we do not know how soon.
 

Time sequence involving the 7th trumpet call
angry nations (beginning slowly now. (late 1900s)
God's wrath (soon, at 7th trumpet) 
Judgment of the dead (during 1000 yrs.)
servants rewarded (after 1000 yrs.)

 
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