*June 8 - 14
The Three Angels' Messages: Revelation 14:1-12
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Rev. 14:1-12.
MEMORY TEXT: "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" (Revelation 14:7, NIV).
REVELATION 13 ENDS WHEN ECONOMIC SANCTIONS, AND EVEN A DEATH DECREE, are imposed upon God's people, those who refuse to worship the image of the beast. The enemy's intention to exterminate them stems, possibly, from his desire to proclaim himself the rightful owner of this world, which he cannot do as long as there remain those who refuse to pay him the homage that he believes he is due. Satan, as always, still wants to play God.
Though the dragon's movement and message is a worldwide one, in that he wants everyone, everywhere, to worship him, he has competition: A rival, competing message about worship is going around the world, as wellthe three angels' messages of Revelation 14.
Revelation shows two global movements running parallel to each other, each with essentially different, even contradictory, goals. Besides Satan's deceptive call for people to worship him, God is sending a last message, the last offer of salvation, to the worlda message that calls His people out of Babylon and into the faith and obedience that stems from the true worship of the Creator.
*(Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, June 15.)
Sunday June 9
What is Mount Zion and Armageddon? Ps. 27:5; 74:2; Rev. 14:1; 16:14, 16.
Parallels between God's plan and the plan of the dragon:
| 1. Instruments
Three angels (Rev. 14:6, 8, 9)
| 3. Purpose
To unmask evil powers (vss. 8-10).
To gather the remnant on Mount Zion (vss. 1-3)
| 2. Method
Proclamation of the gospel (vs. 6).
Reaching every nation, tribe, people, and tongue (vs. 6)
| 4. Final Results
Victory (vs. 4)
|THE DRAGON'S PLAN|
| 1. Instruments
Three unclean spirits (Rev. 16:13)
| 3. Purpose
Deceive the world (Rev. 13:13; 16:14)
Gather the kings of the earth in Armageddon (Rev. 16:14)
| 2. Method
Performing miracles (vs. 4)
Going to the kings of the earth (vs. 14)
| 4. Final Results
Defeat (vs. 19)
Among Adventists two main interpretations of the name Armageddon exist. Both agree that the Ar is a Hebrew word that means "mount, mountain." The first view considers megiddo to be a reference to the city of Megiddo in Israel. The name means Mount Megiddo and is taken to designate Mount Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and where God revealed Himself in fire. Armageddon would then describe the last confrontation between the dragon and the Lord, and the Lord will again reveal Himself as the true and only God.
The second view takes the term Armageddon to be a reference to Isaiah 14:14. Lucifer wanted to place his throne on the "mount of assembly" (vs. 13, NRSV) (from the Hebrew Ar-moced), where God's throne was located. Armageddon would then refer to Satan's last attempt to occupy permanently the place of God in the world. Any of these two views could fit well into the message of the book of Revelation.
|Ever since his fall, Satan has used counterfeits to deceive the unwary. What kind of counterfeits does he use today?|
What is the relation between the seal of God and the name of God? Rev. 14:1; 7:2-4.
Seals had different functions in the ancient world and in the Bible. The term seal designates the instrument itself (for example, cylinder seal, a signet ring) and the impression it leaves on the clay or wax. In the Bible a seal was a symbol of ownership (Eph. 1:13), inviolability (Matt. 27:66), and authenticity (1 Kings 21:8). What was sealed was, in fact, preserved and protected.
In the period of the New Testament, the term seal was used as a synonym for "sign." Paul refers to the Old Testament "sign of circumcision" as a "seal of the righteousness"; that is to say, as evidence that Abraham was justified by faith (Rom. 4:11). The other sign mentioned in the Old Testament is the Sabbath.
In each of these verses, the Sabbath is seen as a sign. What does it signify in each case?
Exod. 31:13 ____________________________________________________________________
Exod. 31:17 _____________________________________________________________
In Revelation, obedience to the law of God is a sign of submission and loyalty to God (Rev. 12: 17; 14:12). The seal put on the foreheads of the remnant (Rev. 7:3) is equated with the name of God and the Lamb. Two ideas are expressed here. First, to have the name on the forehead means that they belong to God and are under His protective care. Second, it means that their lives reflect the character of God, His holiness (Rev. 14:5). In the Bible the name stands for the character of the person who bears it.
The last-day servants of God will reveal in their daily lives their full commitment to Him and to holiness in obedience to the law, particularly to the Sabbath commandment, which is the sign of sanctification. Therefore, the seal of God stands for unconditional loyalty to God, manifested in obedience to His law and, especially, to the Sabbath commandment.
|Ellen White once talked about the seal of God in the context of "a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually."Ellen G. White Comments: Ezekiel, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1161. How do you understand that concept, and what does that say to us today about preparing, even now, for the seal of God as opposed to the mark of the beast?|
What is the content and target of the message of the first angel? Rev. 14:6, 7.
The message of the first angel is very nicely structured. There is first the message itself, then the audience to whom it is addressed, and finally a call.
1. The message. What is proclaimed is the "eternal gospel" (Rev. 14:6, NIV). It is eternal, because it is immutable, permanently valid, forever true. The "gospel" refers to the saving work of Christ in His incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection, and high-priestly work on our behalf. It also includes the last judgment (Rom. 2:16) and the return of Christ (1 Thess. 1:5, 9, 10). We must proclaim today that salvation is only by faith in Christ, a faith that leads to obedience.
2. The audience. The proclamation is universal, because the phenomenon of sin is also universal. The gospel belongs to all races and ethnic groups, because we are all sinners.
3. The call. This is expressed through three imperatives: "Fear God,. . . give glory to him;. . . worship him." When confronted by the greatness of God (Ps. 96:4), His justice (Rev. 15:3, 4), and His salvation (Isa. 45:21, 22), a person surrenders to Him in faith and obedience. To fear God is, in fact, to keep His commandments (Deut. 8:6).
This call also tells us to give glory to God, to acknowledge Him as the most loving and important factor in our lives. There is no one like Him, and by glorifying Him, we declare our alliance to Him and not to the forces of evil. To give glory to Him is not to give Him something He does not have, but it is to give Him His rightful place in our lives. This call is motivated by the fact that the final judgment, announced by Daniel, is already in progress. This is Christ's last work on behalf of sinners; it represents the last opportunity to join and follow the Lamb.
The call also deals with worship, which is central in the great controversy. Only God, not the dragon, is worthy of adoration, because only God (not the dragon) is the Creator. This call takes us back to the Sabbath as a sign of Creation; this call is a clear and blatant rejection of idolatry and the theory of evolution.
|Notice, the first angel's message begins with the "everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6). Why does it start with this specific truth, that of the good news of what Christ has done to save us? What validity, if any, does the rest of the angel's message have, apart from the great truth of salvation by faith alone in Christ?|
What was the result of the interaction between Babylon and the nations of the earth? Rev. 14:8.
In the Old Testament, Babylon was the archenemy of God and His people (Jer. 50:24, 28, 29); in Revelation, it functions in that same role. This enemy is represented as a city in order to emphasize its political power and as a prostitute (Revelation 17) to emphasize its religious power, as well. Babylon's origin is associated with a spirit of human arrogance and rebellion against God (Gen. 11:1-9). The Bible interprets the name Babylon to mean "confusion"the confusion produced through evil and deception.
What other symbol does the Bible use to describe Babylon, and why is that symbol used? Rev. 17:1-4.
Babylon is also described under the symbol of a woman (Rev. 17: 1-4). In the Scriptures, a pure woman is a symbol of God's people (Rev. 12:1), while a prostitute represents those unfaithful to God (see Exod. 34:15; Isa. 1:21; Jer. 2:20; Ezek. 16:41).
Spiritual unfaithfulness manifests itself in two complementary ways. First, there is a rejection of truth that leads to idolatry, as well as to a mixture of truth with error (Jer. 2:23-25; Hosea 1-3). In this case, here in Revelation, the woman gives to the nations its own wine rather than the wine that represents the blood of Christ. Second, political alliances are established between those who were part of God's people and the nations of the earth (Ezek. 16:26-29). Babylon, as a woman, became a fitting symbol of the church when it took over civil power and cast the truth to the ground.
The Christian apostasy predicted by Paul, which began soon after the Apostolic Age and developed during the Middle Ages, will reach universal dimensions with the support of apostate Protestantism. As a religiopolitical power, it will attempt to control the world before the return of the Lord. Therefore, Babylon designates a process of apostasy in the Christian world that will culminate in the crisis described in Revelation 13:15-17. Then the beast and its image will form a world alliance that will unite religious and political powers. The final fall of Babylon is in the futureEllen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 390.
|Do you have to be living in "Babylon" to be "Babylonian"? Can people be living in "Jerusalem" and yet have "Babylon" in them? If so, what does that mean, and how can they change?|
What is the purpose of the third angel's message? Rev. 14:9-12.
The message of this angel proclaims the total defeat of the beast and its image. Several times in this message the beast, the image, and the mark of the beast are mentioned, which suggests that the preaching of this third angel's message takes place during, and even after, the healing of the beast.
What is the fate of those who do not heed the warning?
1. They drink from the cup of God's wrath. The cup of God's wrath expresses the idea that God compels His enemies to drink His wine; that is to say, to receive His judgment. The severity of the judgment is expressed through the idea that the wine/wrath is unmixed. The reference is not only to the seven last plagues (Revelation 16) but also to the final destruction of the wicked. The remnant do not have to drink from the cup of God's wrath, because Christ drank from it on their behalf (Mark 14:36).
2. They face eternal punishment. The phrase "the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever" (Rev. 14:11, NIV) means that they will be totally destroyed. The same phrase is used with respect to Edom (Isa. 34:9, 10), but Edom is no longer burning. The fire is eternal, because its consequences are eternal. What it destroys will be destroyed forever.
3. They have no rest. Those who worship the beast and its image will not experience rest. Rest is a gift of God for His people, available through Christ (Matt. 11:28-30). The eternal rest promised to God's people will not be enjoyed by the wicked.
How is the remnant defined in Revelation 14:12?
The faith of Jesus could be referring to the teachings of Jesus or to the believers' faith in Jesus. The first one will stress commitment to the truth as it is in Jesus; the second, to their dependence on Jesus for their justification. Perhaps both ideas are being communicated here.
|The three angels' messages present a clear contrast between the saved and the lost. What is the best advice you can give to someone who wants to be on the right side, even now, but fears that he or she might not be?|
FURTHER STUDY: Ellen G. White, "A Warning Rejected," The Great Controversy, pp. 375-390.
Please note the following points in conclusion to this week's study:
1. Centrality of the Sabbath. "Seven times in chapters 13 and 14 the word 'worship' is applied to the unholy trinity. 'They worshiped the dragon.' 'Worship the beast.' 'Worship the image of the beast.' Only one time in this whole section is there a call to worship the true God. If true versus false worship is the central issue at the end, this passage (Rev. 14:7) is the central text of the section, perhaps of the entire book. When Revelation finally gets around to calling on people to worship the true God, it does so in the context of the fourth commandment, the Sabbath command. In a special sense, therefore, the author of Revelation understood the Sabbath to be the crucial issue in the final crisis. "Jon Paulien, What the Bible Says About the End-Time (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Publishing Assoc., 1994), p. 126; author's emphasis.
2. Babylon and Euphrates. "The angel's interpretation of the Euphrates ('peoples, multitudes, nations and languages') guards us against a relapse to the Middle East application of Babylon's river. Whenever God dried up a literal river or a 'flood' of enemies in Israel's history . . . , it always signified a providential judgment on the enemies of God's people. The drying up of Babylon's great river during the future sixth plague (Rev. 16:12) will be no exception. The judgment is set in motion when political rulers and multitudes of all nations suddenly realize God's verdict on religious Babylon and unitedly withdraw their support from her."Hans K. LaRondelle, "Armageddon," in Symposium on Revelation-Book II (Silver Spring, Md.: Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1992), pp. 386, 387.
SUMMARY: God's plan includes a final call to the world to return to Him in love and loyalty. Through the three angels' messages, God unmasks the plan of the dragon and announces its final defeat. It is God's purpose to gather His remnant out of Babylon before it is too late.
John* and his wife live in Myanmar. John's wife is a caring Christian nurse; John was a passionate and compulsive gambler. He enjoyed the excitement of gambling and was proud that he made a lot of money by taking chances. When his wife warned him that gambling would eventually lead them into poverty, John dismissed her comments, saying that he was born lucky.
Then one day John began losing games. In order to win back his money, he took bigger chances, risking more money. In one game he lost more than he had made in all of his earlier gambling wins. John went home broke. But instead of quitting his gambling, he began selling his possessions in order to continue playing, confident that with one more game he could win back all that he had lost.
But John continued to lose, and soon all the money he had obtained from selling his possessions was gone. He sold more and gambled more and lost more. Soon he had sold all the family's furniture, his watch, even his bicycle, which was his only mode of transportation. The family was penniless; his wife was terrified. But still John continued to gamble.
Desperate for something more to sell, John saw his wife's radio-the only thing left in their home. "Let me sell the radio," he pleaded with her. "I'll win this time!" But John's wife protested, "How can you sell my radio? It is all we have left, and I must listen to the news!" What she did not tell John was that she had begun listening to a new program on the radio called The Voice of Hope, broadcast on Adventist World Radio. From this program she had learned new things about the Bible. She was convinced that if her husband would only listen, Jesus would change his life.
Grudgingly, John agreed not to sell the radio. And since there was nothing else to do, he sat and listened to Adventist World Radio with his wife. He found that he enjoyed the gospel music, and for the first time he really understood the story of Jesus. He could feel a change come over him.
After ten days of listening to Adventist World Radio programs with his wife, John found a new passion in his life. He turned his life over to Christ and stopped gambling. John and his wife were baptized together. Today John and his wife are active, committed Seventh-day Adventist Christians.
*Not his real name. Sandy Dee is president of the Myanmar Union Mission.
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