Angelic Messengers

The first entry in this series can be found here.
The previous entry can be found here.

The word angel means “messenger.” So yes, the title is an overstatement. All angels are messengers.

If we remember back to Revelation 2-3, we repeatedly saw mention of “the angel of the church at x.” Were these spiritual beings or physical beings? Was it the messenger of the church or something more akin to the church’s guardian angel? In those passages, I’m inclined to see the angels as human messengers who declare the Word of God (or the words of the apostles) to the church.

However, in our passage today, John tells us about three more angels:

Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, having the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He spoke with a loud voice: “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

A second angel followed, saying: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.”

And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.”

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

Revelation 14:6-13

Odds are that these angels are spiritual (since they fly), but it does not have to mean this, especially since these three angels are doing what all Christians have been commissioned by Christ to do (cf. Matthew 28:19-20). But we’ll come back to this idea.

Last time we learned that the saints are victorious in the end. It was a beautiful and encouraging promise. In a book filled with so much judgment, so much wrath, so many frightening images, it is important to remember that the Christian’s eternal destiny is certain.

However, it is only natural for us to turn our attention to those whose eternal destinies are less certain when we are reminded of our certain victory. This should be the very heart of every Christian. “I’ve been saved by grace. I hope the rest of mankind can be saved by grace as well.” This hope and prayer should then spur us on to do whatever it takes to reach the lost wherever we find them.

And John shows us this reality in our passage today. The Christian is secure, but the non-Christian is on perilous ground. John shows this by telling us about three angels.

The Gospelling Angel

Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, having the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He spoke with a loud voice: “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

Revelation 14:6-7

The first angel is the gospelling angel. It goes out, proclaiming loudly, “Fear God and give Him glory.” This is important, because one of the primary sins of the world–especially in Revelation’s time period–is idolatry. John explained in 9:20, “The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which are not able to see, hear, or walk.” Additionally, the beast commands people to worship his image, which is idolatry.

This is why the primary signs of repentance in these verses are “give Him glory” and “Worship the Maker of [everything].” When we understand “Fear God” as synonymous with “Believe!” then what we have here is synonymous with Jesus’ command in Mark 1:15.

“Repent and believe in the good news.”

It is also important to note that this Gospel is for “every nation, tribe, language, and people.” Too often we think that our missionary efforts should be focused on those overseas. We train and plan and prepare for a trip overseas, thinking, “This is all critical to help those people understand and believe the Gospel,” but when it comes to reaching our neighbors we either 1) don’t do it at all, or 2) we content ourselves with preaching at them. Why is it important to live among foreigners to properly win them to Christ, when all we think is necessary locally is to speak? The methods should be more similar for both groups, especially since we–as Christians–are more culturally separate from both groups than they are from each other (especially if we’ve run in Christian circles for any length of time).

But this leads us to the second angel.

The Judging Angel

A second angel followed, saying: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.”

Revelation 14:8

The second angel is the judging angel. This angel explains the reason why the first angel so urgently proclaims the Gospel to the world. People are guilty of spiritual sexual immorality–idolatry. This need not exclude physical sexual immorality though, because idolatry in the ancient world often had a sexual component to it.

When Babylon falls, all those within her will fall too. The angel declares that it has fallen–this is not chronological, but a statement of certain fact. Babylon’s fall is so certain that it can be declared as already having happened. However, it is also a statement of imminence.

When will Babylon fall? No one knows exactly. But it will. And because it will, it behooves all of those within Babylon to flee. God’s wrath is coming, and the only escape is by trusting and fearing God.

This leads to the third angel.

The Warning Angel

And a third angel followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.”

Revelation 14:9-12

The third angel is the warning angel. This angel gives the specifics of the coming doom on Babylon. This will all be further expanded on in Revelation 15-20, so it is not necessary to say much specifically now. I will content myself with two notes.

First, even though Babylon is what is judged, the individuals within Babylon are the ones being warned of the coming judgment. The individuals who worship the beast are the ones who will end up in hell for eternity. It is not merely corrupt governments that will be judged, but even the citizens of corrupt governments who fail to worship Jesus will be judged.

Second, the perseverance of the saints is mentioned again here. Previously, we had seen it in Revelation 13:10. In that context it referred to resisting the beast and maintaining faith in Jesus, even in the midst of potential death. Here, it comes at the conclusion of the promised judgment on those who fail to worship Jesus. These should be read together.

“Saints, this is why you are persevering. Don’t let the fear of physical death allow you to fall back and worship the beast. If you do, it’ll lead to eternal death. Keep pressing on, even in the face of death. And while you’re at it, try to help the idolaters come to know Jesus, even if it costs you your life in the process. Persevere!”

The Holy Spirit’s Promise

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

Revelation 14:13

And our passage today concludes with an absolutely beautiful promise. While the initial loud voice could be from anyone (see discussion here), I think the best understanding of the identity is the same as in that passage. The saints make this announcement. And the Holy Spirit confirms it.

Perseverance of the saints leads to eternal blessing. Martyrdom for the faith leads to eternal blessing.

The Christian life is hard work, but its end is eternal rest. This is a beautiful promise.

If you ever feel like life is monotonous and hard and often pointless, might I interest you in considering Jesus?

The fact of the matter is that He likely won’t make your life any easier (Satan will certainly make you a bigger target of his attacks if you choose to follow Jesus), but Jesus will give your life a purpose you won’t find anywhere else.

Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago and rose from the dead three days later so that we need not fear death. Death does not have the last word. And actually–as our text today showed–death doesn’t have the last word even if you’re an unbeliever. Hell is waiting if you fail to believe in Jesus.

I promise you that hell is worse than anything you’ll face in your current seventy-or-so years. Please don’t put off trusting Christ, since the worst that can happen to you in Christ is death. But Christ beat death, so we need not fear it anymore. However, we should fear hell, and it should spur us on to persevere in the faith.

Trust Christ today!

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Sola Fide
Solus Christus
Sola Scriptura

Thanks for reading.

The next entry can be found here.


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