The three angels’ messages: God’s final warning
God encapsulates His final message to a sinful world in the form of three angels’ messages. He delivers a warning to the world making clear its condition in His sight. These messages are so important that they are depicted as given by angels sent directly from Heaven - they tell us that God desires the whole world to turn to Him and to reform.
2. The three angels’ messages
The three angels’ messages are given in Revelation chapter 14.
2.1 The first angel, the everlasting gospel
Re 14:6,7 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
The first angel declares both the everlasting Gospel and the hour of God's judgement, calling the world to worship God as Creator. This is particularly relevant today when evolutionary teaching has deceived almost the whole world, relegating God’s Word to the status of a myth.
The everlasting gospel
The ‘everlasting gospel’ here is an end time Gospel. It incorporates the first century Gospel, and enhances its urgency by adding the solemn warning of judgement (end time judgment is addressed in study: 'the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary',3).
It declares both Grace and judgement. The first angel's message is to warn the world to prepare for the second coming of Jesus by returning to the pure Gospel.
2.2 The second angel, the fall of Babylon
Re 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
In scripture Babylon represents false religion.
In the Old Testament Babylon is an existing pagan nation. In the book of Revelation Babylon is portrayed as a woman, a whore, who has committed (spiritual) fornication, i.e. exalted the commandments of men in place of Scripture truth (see Mt 15:9; Mk 7:7).
A woman in prophecy
In prophecy a woman represents a church.
God’s pure church is represented by a woman who has a crown of 12 stars (Re 12:1) - she gave birth to a man child (Re 12:5) who (i.e. Christ) was caught up to the throne of God. For the duration of the 1260 years of Papal supremacy (see study: ‘Identifying the antichrist beast’,3.2) during which the faithful were persecuted, the woman was sheltered in the wilderness by God (Re 12:6).
God’s pure church is portrayed as a chaste virgin (2Co 11:2), i.e. not tainted by doctrinal error.
Note. In Rev 12:1 the sun, the moon, and the 12-starred crown are open to interpretation. The sun may represent that the pure church is the light of the world, while the moon underfoot may represent the triumph of the pure church over the darkness of pagan religions. The 12- starred crown may represent the tribes of Israel, which in the spiritual sense encompass all believers, who are counted amongst the stars of Heaven. The 12 stars may also depict the apostles, who represent all believers.
In contrast to the pure woman, an apostate church is depicted as a whore, corrupted by false doctrine.
Babylon personified as a blasphemous woman
In Re 17:3-6 we see Babylon portrayed as a blasphemous woman having seven heads and ten horns seated on a scarlet beast, and drunken with the blood of the saints.
In studies: ‘Daniel 7 and Revelation 13’ and ‘Daniel 8 parts 1 and 2’ we see the end time apostate power (the antichrist) portrayed as a blasphemous beast, which has seven blasphemous heads and ten horns (Rev 13:1), and has ‘worn out’ (persecuted) the saints.
In study: ‘Identifying the antichrist beast’ we see that the antichrist beast is Papal Rome (i.e. the system, not individual Roman Catholics).
Thus the blasphemous woman (a church) and the antichrist beast (Papal Rome) have features in common.
Note, the woman's seven heads are different to the dragon's, i.e. Satan's, seven crowned heads in Re 12:3, which depict nation states - the woman's heads have no crowns, and thus have a different meaning, as follows.
The seat of the blasphemous woman
The woman's seven heads are identified as seven mountains on which the woman sits (Re 17:9). This is a clear reference to Rome, the city built on seven hills.
The blasphemous woman herself is identified in Re 17:18 as ‘that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth’.
Given their clear parallels we can conclude that the blasphemous woman and the Roman power, which in the past claimed to reign over kings, i.e. the Papacy (Pope Innocent IV, 1243 to 1254, declared the king of England to be his vassal and bond-slave), are one and the same.
Therefore Babylon is the end time antichrist beast (the final manifestation of Satan's blasphemous power), that is, the church of Rome, the Papacy.
Babylon (Papal Rome) has fallen (Re 14:8) because she has deceived almost the whole world into accepting her false unscriptural doctrine (the wine of her wrath).
Babylon’s power source
As we have seen, Babylon receives its power ultimately from the dragon, i.e. Satan (see Re 13:2,4). However, Satan works through his agencies, which are referred to as follows:
Rev 17:12,13 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
At the time this passage was written the ten kings were yet future. However, today we see that these are the kingdoms that succeeded pagan Rome (see the studies in the section ‘Prophecy: history in advance’).
They are all in agreement, and give their power to Papal Rome that she might exercise her power with the world’s assent.
2.3 The third angel: the mark of the beast
Re 14:9,10 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,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture [Strong’s G194, undiluted] 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:
The mark of the beast
Because of its importance, the mark of the beast is addressed in depth in study: ‘Identifying the mark of the beast and the Seal of God’.
In summary here, the mark of the beast is applied to those who finally declare allegiance to Satan in the guise of false religion. In v10 (above) we see the terrible end of those who choose to accept the mark of the beast. They shall suffer the wrath of God ‘without mixture’ (undiluted), i.e. untempered with mercy.
NB. It is important to remember that v10 (above) is not referring to an ever-burning hell (see studies ‘Hell’ and ‘The end of sin and sinners’,5.5).
The importance of the third angel’s message
The third angel’s message is the most pertinent of the three because it draws the clear distinction between the faithful and the unfaithful, the saved and the lost.
The third angel confirms that the final issue for all mankind will be one of worship: true or false, God or Satan.
Note. At the time of writing no-one has yet received the mark of the beast - the final test, though imminent, has not yet been applied.
3. Another (4th) angel reinforces the messages of the three angels
Re 18:1-5 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
This fourth angel repeats the second angel's message, emphasizing the fall of Babylon because of her sins and false teaching, and how the whole world has fallen with her.
The fourth angel warns that those who remain in Babylon will become as Babylon and suffer the same end.
That the Lord sent a fourth angel to emphasize the warning to forsake Babylon and return to truth indicates the seriousness of our situation.
In v4 (above) we hear another voice addressing ‘my people’. No angel has ‘a people’ - this voice must therefore be the voice of Christ, who only has ‘a people’.
In Re 14:9 the third angel (see section 2.3) addresses 'any man', i.e. all mankind, warning all against the mark of the beast.
However, here we see Christ addressing 'His people' (those who are faithful to Him) who are still in Babylon (Christ pities them because they are misled by apostate leaders). They are urged to 'come out' of Babylon, that they will not share Babylon's fate - so great is Christ's love and concern for His people, who are ‘the apple of His eye’ (Ze 2:8).
In the three angels’ messages, which are reinforced by the fourth angel’s message, those living in the end time are given the most solemn warnings.
The situation is made absolutely clear. God's love for mankind is so powerful that He is giving mankind every opportunity to repent, to forsake error, and to be faithful to His Word.
By the three angels' messages God is calling all mankind to decide whom they worship: either the One True God or Babylon (Satan).
All must soon make the final decision either for truth or for falsehood, for life or for death - Christ urges you now to choose truth and life.