Three Angels' Messages

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The "three angels' messages" is an interpretation of the messages given by three angels in Revelation 14:6-12. The Seventh-day Adventist church teaches that these messages are given to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and sees them as a central part of its own mission. (Find out more about the beliefs of the church.)

Messages[edit]

The Three Angels' messages of Revelation 14 are highly significant to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the SDA Church's official mission statement, the Three Angels' Messages are prominent: The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to proclaim to all peoples the everlasting gospel in the context of the Three Angels' messages of Revelation 14:6-12.[1]

First angel[edit]

"I saw again 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, 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.'" (Revelation 14:6,7 KJV)

The First Angel’s Message is a prophecy that states that the gospel will be preached to every nation on earth and was to remind God’s people fear God and worship Him as Creator, because the judgment is coming.

Who or what do the angels represent?

The Greek word translated as an angel (Strong's G32 - aggelos) simply means: messenger, one who is sent. In Luke 7:27, speaking of John the Baptist, we read: “This is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

In Revelation 14:6-12 the word angel is mentioned five times. Only one time adjective holy is added which indicates heavenly angels while the other four simply represent messengers. Speaking of the first deacon Stephen we read in Acts 6:15: “And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” Also, apostle Paul writes in Galatians 4:14: “And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.”

What is the everlasting gospel that these messengers proclaim?

Greek word translated as the gospel simply means the glad tidings. The Bible definition of the gospel is found in Romans 1: 16, 17 where we read: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein (in the gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

In other words, the gospel is the power of GOD given to those who believe in His righteousness for salvation.

In Galatians 1:6-9 we read: ”I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

We see that these messengers (angels) proclaim the same everlasting gospel of “the grace of Christ” which is an “everlasting gospel”. The term grace also represent the power of God. In the New Testament we read several passages that testify to that fact:

“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.”Ephesians 3:7

The phrase “to preach” can be also translated as “#good tidings”G2097 of salvation throe Christ. Who is this message intended for?

It is for “all”G3956 that “dwell on the earth” as indicated into four categories of people. The word all is defined as individually.

Nations

in the OT, the word “nation” is used to describe foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans, Gentiles. Paul uses the term “nation” for Gentile Christians.

Kindred

This word means a tribe, thus indicting that this message is to go even to the primitive people as well. Another use of the word “kindred” in the NT referred to all the persons descending from one of the twelve sons of the patriarch, Jacob.

Tongue

The word “tongue”G1100 is used to represent a member of the body, an organ of speech as well as the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.

People

A people, people group, tribe, nation, all those who are of the same stock and language or of a great part of the population gathered together anywhere. The word “people”G2992 is almost always there a title reserved for the elect people, the Israel of God. Still there are exceptions.

Apparently the “everlasting Gospel” is to go to all people individually.

What does it mean to fear God?

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14

“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” Deuteronomy 5:29

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” Psalm 111:10

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an uprightH3477 man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Job 1:8

“And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right (same root word as Job1:8 - “uprightH3477”) in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee." Exodus 15:26

What does it mean to give glory to God?

In Revelation 4:11 we read about the scene that is happening in heaven where heavenly beings are giving glory to God. And the reason given is that God is the Creator of all things. This is the reason that we are to give glory to God.

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

Psalmist David points out what sets God apart from all other gods. If we don’t give glory to God as the Creator it is as we worship other gods. Psalm 100:3:

“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

Again we read that glory belongs to God because He is the Creator.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalm 19:1

"The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works." Psalm 104:31

Since the Bible admonishes us to “fear God” by keeping his commandments and to give Him glory as the Creator we find that the fourth commandment of the moral law points us to God as such.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11

The phrase “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth...” or because of gives us the reason why should we keep the “seventh day” Sabbath. It acknowledges God as the Creator of all and commemorates it.

Paul admonishes us that in everything we do we should do it to glorify God. Even in our eating and drinking.

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

How we treat our body is important to God consequently it shows how we glorify God by what we do with it.

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20

God most delights if we allow Him, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to change us back into His image from which we are created (Genesis 1:27). The only way is if Christ “lives” in us. 2 Corinthians 3:18

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:” Colossians 1:23,27,28

Stained glass depiction of 3 Angels' Messages.

Second angel[edit]

"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.'" (Revelation 14:8 KJV)

The second angel's message is a call to repentance. The second angel's message is a call for Christians attending fallen churches ("Babylon") to leave those churches and join the true remnant church that follows Gods truth.

Third angel[edit]

"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 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: and the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.'" (Revelation 14:9-12 KJV)

The third angel's message is a warning to the people of the earth, not to worship the beast or his image. (The "beast" and his "image" were introduced in chapter 13 of Revelation.) Those previous verses are the source of the famous mark of the beast.

Adventist interpretations[edit]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has traditionally believed that it is the remnant church of Bible prophecy, and that its mission is to proclaim the three angels' messages.

Official views[edit]

"The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness."
Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church [2]
"In accordance with God’s uniform dealing with mankind, warning them of coming events that will vitally affect their destiny, He has sent forth a proclamation of the approaching return of Christ. This preparatory message is symbolized by the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, and meets its fulfillment in the great Second Advent Movement today. This has brought forth the remnant, or Seventh-day Adventist Church, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual[3]

The Mission Statement of the church declares:

"The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to proclaim to all peoples the everlasting gospel of God’s love in the context of the three angels' messages of Revelation 14:6-12, and as revealed in the life, death, resurrection, and high priestly ministry of Jesus Christ, leading them to accept Jesus as personal Saviour and Lord and to unite with His remnant church; and to nurture believers as disciples in preparation for His soon return."[4]

The image of three angels circling a globe is the church's former symbol. The current logo of the Seventh-day Adventist church has three flames encircling the globe, representing the Holy Spirit; the threefold flame is also a symbol of the three angels.[5]

Historical interpretation[edit]

According to the understanding of the Adventist pioneers, the first angel's message occurred during the two decades prior to the spring of 1844. The message of the imminent second coming of Jesus preached by the Millerite movement then fulfilled the prophecy of the first angel's message.

The second angel's message was then preached during the summer of 1844, which was preceded by a significant number of Millerites leaving the movement, and resulted in large numbers of Christians leaving their churches ("Babylon") and joining the Advent movement.[6]

The third angel's message is based on the idea that the "Seal of God" (Revelation 7:2) is the Sabbath commandment of the decalogue. Therefore, the "mark of the beast" is the opposite, or the keeping of Sunday as the Sabbath. Hence the close of the message, "here are they that keep the commandments of God." It is a point of emphasis among Adventists that the mark of the beast has not yet been given out.

(The Millerites generally interpreted "Babylon" in the Book of Revelation as the papacy, up through summer 1843. This was the position of most Protestants. Well-liked Millerite preacher Charles Fitch expanded it to include all Catholics and Protestants who rejected the Adventist teaching. His message was "Come out of her, my people", which was based on Revelation 18:2,4 (see also 14:8). This had followed a shift in 1843 when the Millerites received more ridicule, and were increasingly disfellowshipped by their churches. The Millerites came to see themselves as a separate group, which became increasingly necessary as many were disfellowshipped.

Most of the eastern leaders did not initially accept Fitch's pronouncements, yet many lay people did. Eventually and reluctantly Joshua V. Himes came to advocate the message, in Autumn 1844. Miller never affirmed it, despite being disfellowshipped from his church.)[7]

Standard view[edit]

When Jesus did not return in 1844 as expected by the Millerite movement, the resulting Seventh-day Adventist movement came to see itself as the remnant of God and believed that their mission was to preach the three angels’ messages again.

The first angel's message is the “everlasting gospel”, namely the “good news of God’s infinite love”. It is also a warning that the investigative judgment has begun and a call to worship the Creator of the world, specifically in the keeping of the Sabbath commandment. “The first angel’s message … calls for the restoration of true worship by presenting before the world Christ the Creator and Lord of the Bible Sabbath [which is] the sign of God’s Creation.”[8]

The second angel's message is a call to those in Babylon to “depart from her” (cf. Revelation 18:4). Adventists traditionally believe that Babylon represents the apostate church, which they identify as Roman Catholicism as well as Protestants who have rejected the truth. “This prophecy of Babylon’s fall especially finds its fulfillment in the departure of Protestantism at large from the purity and simplicity of the everlasting gospel of righteousness by faith that once so powerfully impelled the Reformation.” This explains why Adventists often aim their evangelism at Christians in other churches as well as non-Christians. “The message of the fall of Babylon … calls on those of God’s people who are still in the various religious bodies comprising Babylon to separate from them.”[9] However, Adventists have also made it clear that there are currently many true believers in “Babylon” who worship God sincerely, including Roman Catholics.[10][11]

Theologian Ángel Manuel Rodríguez explains the mission of the remnant in terms of the second angel’s message: “The end-time remnant is described in Revelation as having a God-given mission and a particular message to the whole world. They are to call the people of God to come out of Babylon, that is to say, to join the historical, faithful and visible end-time remnant of God.”[12]

The third angel’s message is a solemn warning against observance of Sunday as a sacred day, which Adventists have historically interpreted as the mark of the beast. “Those who reject God’s memorial of creatorship—the Bible Sabbath—choosing to worship and honor Sunday in the full knowledge that it is not God’s appointed day of worship, will receive the ‘mark of the beast.’”[13] It should be emphasised that Adventists believe that the mark of the beast will only be received at a future date, when every person on earth is made aware of their obligation to keep the Sabbath; in other words, Christians who currently worship on Sunday do not have the mark.[14]

Alternate view[edit]

Some in the more liberal wing, Progressive Adventists, typically reject the claim that the three angels' messages find unique fulfillment in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Adventists believe that God has led the Christian movements in history,[15] but progressives tend to not put Adventism on that level. Their view may be contrasted with certain of the harsher critics who do not see God's leading behind the movement at all.

Progressive Adventists such as Steve Daily have challenged the traditional understanding of the Remnant, preferring to widen the concept to include Christians in non-Adventist churches.[12] The traditional Adventist interpretation of the mark of the beast (i.e. Sunday worship) is also rejected by many progressive Adventists.[16] These developments necessarily call for a reinterpretation of the second and third angels' message; a widening of the remnant removes the impetus to call Christians out of Babylon and warn them against worshiping on Sunday.

Culture[edit]

The concept appears in the title of the Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN).

The song "Three Angels" appears on Bob Dylan's album New Morning and an unrelated "Three Angels" appears on the album Picture of Health by The Headstones.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.adventist.org/world_church/name_mission/index.html.en
  2. ^ "Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church". Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  3. ^ "Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual". Archived from the original on 2007-04-08. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  4. ^ "Mission Statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church". Official statement approved by the General Conference Executive Committee at the Spring Meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland, April 1993; and amended on October 10, 2004
  5. ^ "The Logo and its Meaning". Archived from the original on 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  6. ^ Ellen G. White. The Great Controversy. pp. chapters 20 & 21, pages 355–390. 
  7. ^ George R. Knight, A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists, p19–21
  8. ^ Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed). Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. pp. 192–194. 
  9. ^ Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed). Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. pp. 194–195. 
  10. ^ Questions on Doctrine. Review and Herald Publishing Association. 1957. pp. 197–202. 
  11. ^ "How Seventh-day Adventists View Roman Catholicism". General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM). April 15, 1997. 
  12. ^ a b Ángel Manuel Rodríguez (2002). "The Remnant and the Adventist Church". Biblical Research Institute. 
  13. ^ Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed). Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. p. 196. 
  14. ^ Questions on Doctrine. Review and Herald Publishing Association. 1957. pp. 183–186. 
  15. ^ For example, George Vandeman's book What I Like About...: The Lutherans, The Baptists, The Methodists, The Charismatics, The Catholics, Our Jewish Friends, The Adventists: Rescuers of Neglected Truth, in which he sees many groups restoring certain of God's "truths"
  16. ^ Ron Corson. "Progressive and Traditional Adventists Examined". Adventist Today. 

Other resources[edit]

External links[edit]