Today we continue chapter 14, yesterday we read about the Lamb on Mount Zion with the 144,000. The chapter continues with angels who have messages that must be heard. Today we will hear the messages the whole earth has waited so expectantly to hear.
Verses 6-7 read,
“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
The message of the angel is an announcement that the hour of God’s judgement has arrived, the time is here, the time is now. Yet look at the description of what the angel says. His message is an eternal gospel to proclaim. How can a message that says the hour has come be an eternal gospel?
This has been God’s message from the beginning. We fell away from Him and brought death, the price for sin into the world (Romans 3:23). The price had to be paid. But God waited for all who would come to come to Him and let Him pay the price for us (2 Peter 2:9). Whether people chose to let Jesus, the Lamb of God be the payment or reject Him and pay with their own blood, the time for payment would have to come. This message is worded so that not only will we understand the import of telling people the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but so that we will be reminded that it is our commandment and directive from Jesus Christ to do so. Matthew 28:18-20 records Jesus charge to us.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In fact, we are an important part of God’s plan. He wants everyone to come. He doesn’t want anyone to die without the chance to know Him. That is why He commissioned us with that great assignment. He described the end times and the hour of its end in Matthew 24:13-14,
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
God has charged us with warning the people that His judgement is coming from the beginning. Jeremiah 25-28-29 says,
“And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: You must drink! 29 For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
It is an eternal Gospel. God made the heavens and the earth, everything in it is His (Psalm 24:1), but the pride of man that caused us to fall tried to steal all that belongs to God. God is taking it back. The truth is good news to believers but woe to the ones who rejected Him. Verse 8 says what happens when the hour of judgement arrives.
“Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”
Babylon will fall, the blasphemous and profane city that represents the antichrist’s power and leads the world in pride, pleasure, and profligacy will fall. Look around you. Is that the nation where you live? Is the world around you self-seeking, arrogant, and indulgent? Are you? What is more important to us, telling the world that Jesus loves them enough to be the Lord God of Hosts or comfortably drinking our latte? Does normal include having an HDTV, smartphone, and car? Is poverty marked by having to eat macaroni and cheese instead of steak and potatoes? Many nations mark wealth by having any meal to eat. Maybe, we are living in Babylon. Maybe the desires of the flesh are the fruit that is showing in our lives and leading others to self-indulgence as well. Maybe instead of glorifying God through the Fruit of the Spirit, we are glorifying ourselves through the desires of the flesh.
When that hedonism comes crashing down then Jesus’ wrath will come down. Verses 9-11 delivers the part of the Gospel that we do not like to share.
“And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
Hell is real. Of course we don’t share the gospel by starting off with ‘you will be tormented with fire and sulfur to pay for your sins.’ We begin with Jesus love and sacrifice, but at some point discernment must allow us to share the whole truth and that is that if Jesus doesn’t pay for their sin with His blood that they will pay with theirs. The people who worship the beast and who received the mark will be tormented forever. They drank from the cup of decadence and debauchery even while the world got worse and worse. Natural disasters hit, but they kept right on living in excess. The economy fell but they kept serving money. They lost every civil liberty to a world leader but they kept on freely feeding the flesh. We either drink from Jesus cup, His life giving blood or we will drink from the cup of Jesus’ wrath.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 reminds us,
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”
Taking the Lord’s Supper doesn’t save us. It reminds us that Jesus blood paid the price for our sin. It proclaims the Gospel. As it reminds us of Jesus’ death for our life, let it also remind us that there is another cup, the cup of wrath which brings eternal torment to those who refused the cup of the crucifixion.
This is heavy news, yet it is still the Truth, the Gospel, and it is good news for the hearer if he believes. But not everyone or even most will believe. Their impending eternal doom is also our imminent and approaching eternal hope. While we proclaim the Gospel to the every tribe, nation, and tongue, let us remember the goodness and love of Jesus and our present and future eternity with Him to carry us through the suffering of the last days. Verses 12-13 reads,
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
Today our reading and the Gospel seemed more full of bad news than good news, but the best news, the harvest is waiting for us in the next verses of chapter 14. We will, God willing delve into the harvest tomorrow.