God’s Final Message to Mankind
Robert D Pace
I want to begin with a question. Imagine that you are given the opportunity to deliver a message to the world. Any message. It’s your moment to present your topic of choice. You can express your opinion, your worldview, or whatever you choose without any limitations. There are no language barriers, either. You have unfettered access to address every nation, tribe, and tongue. In light of all the Biblical knowledge you possess; in light of all you know about the world’s state of affairs; and in light of all wisdom that lies within you, what would you say?
Do you realize that God has preplanned his last speech to the world? It’s all recorded here in the fourteenth chapter of Revelation. John discloses the LORD’s announcement by use of three angels in Revelation 14. Part of his message is presented in the form of a Gospel, which means “good news.” You may wonder, There is good news in Revelation? Yes, there is! But once God’s Good News reverberates, and people accept or reject it, God’s beckoning voice to sinners will never again be heard.
(Insight) I want to show you why this angelic trio appears, because there is no scene in the Bible that corresponds to this scenario! Did you notice that Revelation 14:6 shows that every person on Earth hears this announcement? It is an irrepressible warning that reaches all “NATIONS, TRIBES, LANGUAGES, AND PEOPLE.” There is a reason for this: It is so God will be without recrimination. God will use every means possible to warn mankind.
He uses the 144,000 Witnesses.
He uses Moses and Elijah.
He uses this trio of angels here in Revelation 14.
And he uses the witness of his Holy Word.
In so doing, God will have exhausted his grace, expended his mercy, and emptied his love in his final effort to redeem sinners. Thus, God will exhibit the fullness of his fairness and prove himself as faultless, in the least measure, from anyone facing him on Judgment Day and alleging they had insufficient opportunity to believe the Gospel.
(Transition) Now we are ready to investigate the content of this first angel’s message to the world. What does this angel exclaim? I will say this: It is the One-Sentence Manual for Surviving the Tribulation. Now, let’s read today’s text and discover what God’s last message to the world is.
Revelation depicts humanity being perched upon the threshold of the Great Tribulation when utter desolation will befall the world. But, in keeping with God’s grace, he will not permit mankind to walk blindly into the Apocalypse. Thus, Revelation 14, shows how God does everything possible to save sinners and spare them from the coming wrath!
(Transition) Part of God’s final appeal to humanity involves dispatching three angels to circumnavigate the globe and make a final proclamation to every living soul. It’s important to understand that these three angelic messengers of Revelation 14 are making an unprecedented scene for the inhabitants of Earth. You’ll see what I mean as I introduce the first of these three angels.
First Angelic Messenger
Depending on which version you read, this angel is described as taking his stage at a unique place: the ESV says he is “flying directly overhead”; The NIV shows him “flying in midair”; and the NASB shows him “flying in mid-heaven.” Regardless of which version you prefer, God demonstrates that the proclamation of these angels arises from an altitude that best gains man’s attention. Nobody will be able to ignore them!
The question is, should this passage be interpreted literally or figuratively? Does an angel literally navigate the world preaching the gospel? Rather than detailing the conjectures of others, I’ll simply share what seems most plausible.
I believe we should translate this passage literally. I have adopted this view in light of the unbounded scope of this announcement. Revelation 14:6 shows that everyone on the planet hears the identical message. In some mysterious way, this angel proclaims his message to “every nation and tribe and language and people.” Not one person will be excluded! It’s, “The word heard ‘round the world!”
It’s the sweeping range of this messenger that makes it unprecedented, it’s not that angels have never appeared in the sky and delivered a message from God. For example:
Angels alerted the shepherds to the birthplace of Jesus the night he was born.
Angels announced that Jesus was the Son of God in Mark 1:11 and John 12:28.
And an angel spoke to the Israelites gathered at Mount Sinai.
So yes, there are precedents for angels speaking from the sky, just not to the whole world!
(Transition) With this dramatic angelic entrance into the world, what is this vital message he announces? Let’s reread verses 6—7.
Proclamation of an “Eternal Gospel”
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.
John calls the content of this message an “eternal gospel.” This is the only mention of the word gospel in Revelation. It is not that there is no other good news in Revelation, but it is the last call for salvation. If people want to join the ranks of God’s kingdom; if they want to inherit everlasting life; if they want to avert the fiercest of judgments then they must accept the gospel of this angel.
But this is not just any gospel the angel is proclaiming. He has not been assigned the task of proclaiming “the [t-h-e] eternal gospel.” Your translation might say, “the” eternal gospel,” but in all ancient Greek manuscripts of this verse the article “the” is missing. And the Holy Spirit is conveying a secret here. He is showing us that the Gospel of this angelic messenger is different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John calls it “an eternal gospel,” which means it existed from the eternal ages of the past—even before God created Adam in the Garden of Eden.
I want to show you why this angel’s message cannot be the Gospel of Christ Jesus. It is because angels are not qualified to preach the Gospel of Salvation. When you study the rules of engagement between angels and the human race you discover several interesting facts:
Angels cannot instruct people to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.
They cannot tell people to repent.
And God has strictly precluded angels from preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let me explain what the Gospel of Christ is: it is the proclamation of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection. Angels cannot announce that. Angels can preach a “gospel” and share good news with humans, but Scripture never pictures them proclaiming the message of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection. And there is an explanation for this:
When Jesus descended from Heaven to Earth, 2000 years ago, he was incarnated, which means he became human flesh. Jesus did not assume angelic substance but of human substance! He partook of human flesh and blood. This means when Jesus died on the Cross he took mankind’s place for sin. It was not a redemptive work for angels.
Now you see what this means. It shows that the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ belongs strictly to humans.
I want to share a Biblical example that illustrates how angels cannot preach the Gospel of Christ.
(Example) In Acts 10, the story is told of Cornelius’s conversion. He was the first Gentile that the Bible records accepting Jesus. It shows how an angel appeared to Cornelius in a vision, telling him to call for a stranger named Simon Peter. Upon accepting Cornelius’ request, Peter travelled from Joppa to Caesarea and preached the Gospel of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Cornelius, with his entire household, became Christians.
Angels can direct sinners into churches; they can fill the sky and point shepherds to the manger; they can pick up Philip and translate him from the desert to the city to preach, but they cannot take the place of man and preach the Gospel of Christ. These messengers come strictly from Adam’s race—those for whom Christ died.
This means there is something unique about this “eternal/everlasting gospel” in Revelation 14, that this angel proclaims:
As an “everlasting gospel” it predates the NT and is found in the OT.
As “everlasting,” it predates the Old Testament and was part of the unrecorded ages of eternity past. But as everlasting it will also continue through the eternal ages to come. That means there is an “everlasting gospel” that is forever past, present, and future. And this means there is “a” Gospel that does pertain to angels.
So what is the content of this “eternal gospel”? What are angels authorized to tell people of the world? Notice, once more, verse 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.
That’s a message any angel can propagate! There’s nothing about repentance or the “death, burial, and resurrection” of Jesus Christ in it. But it is indispensable to the inhabitants of Earth! And what makes this message so important regards its timing.
Timing of the First Angelic Message
When you calculate the exact moment this angel makes this declaration, it helps clarify several aspects of Bible prophecy.
First, it occurs at a moment when an imposter has taken his place on the world stage—the Antichrist. The Antichrist is about to deceive and mislead people from all nations. The proclamation is concurrent with the issuance of the mark of the beast, which will seal the doom of millions.
Second, the timing of this angel that is suspended in midair informs mankind that the “THE HOUR OF GOD’S JUDGMENT HAS COME.” That is an incredibly important phrase: “THE HOUR OF GOD’S JUDGMENT HAS COME.” God is outright informing the world that its day of doom has arrived and evil will finally be expelled from the world.
(Prophecy) There is a foreboding prophecy of Christ that I believe corresponds exactly with this “hour of judgment” here in Revelation 14:7. It’s recorded in John 9:4. Here is what Jesus prophesied to his Apostles:
“WE MUST WORK THE WORKS OF HIM WHO SENT ME WHILE IT IS DAY; [Here’s his prophecy] NIGHT IS COMING, WHEN NO ONE CAN WORK.”
Jesus literally identified a point when the work of evangelizing the lost would expire! And it seems to find fulfillment at the time these angels are pronouncing “THE HOUR OF GOD’S JUDGMENT.” This is when all redeeming work for Christ ends. And so here we see God’s final, thorough, global call to lost humanity to recognize God’s sovereignty over the earth. An in so doing, this angel fulfills a major prophecy of the Endtime! And it’s a prophecy uttered by Jesus in Matthew 24:14 when he said,
THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM WILL BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE WORLD AS A TESTIMONY TO ALL NATIONS . . . THEN THE END WILL COME.”
Many Christians have assumed that once the church fulfills the Great Commission and reaches the world with the Gospel Jesus will then return. However, it is an impossible task for the Church to reach every living soul with the Gospel. So, God dispatches an angel to circle the earth and deliver “an eternal gospel” to all mankind. Then with only a brief lapse of time, “the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). Consequently, the prophecy of Jesus will be fulfilled!
(Transition) This only begins to tell the story of this first angel of Revelation 14. But now I want to investigate the message of the second angel, and he arrives to announce the fall of Babylon. Look now at Revelation 14:8.
Second Angelic Messenger
Another angel, a second, followed, [Remember, this angel follows in the same fashion as the first—“in midair”] saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”
There has been endless debate over which city Babylon represents, and my insights would hardly settle this wonderment. But here is what is definitely known about this mysterious metropolis. Babylon’s industry, influence, affluence, and debauchery make it chief among the cities of the world. And in this corrupt world, this angel identifies the collapse of the vilest, most reprehensible place on the planet.
While much could be noted about God’s purpose for telling the world of Babylon’s fall, I will limit my comments to this: whichever city this is, its demise will instantly destabilize the world and cause global economic collapse. The US, European, and Asian Stock Markets will implode! The world’s brief years of prosperity under the governance of the Antichrist will suddenly end. Babylon’s fall will be but a harbinger of the collapse of all earthly kingdoms.
(Transition) And this leads to much of what the next angel discloses.
Third Angelic Messenger
The third angel of this trio shows how God’s wrath befalls those who take the mark of the beast. Look at Revelation 14:9—10.
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.
This is a horrific scene! That’s because those that take the mark of the beast will suffer double-wrath. They will suffer the wrath of the Tribulation, and then they will endure hell’s eternal wrath. Notice how John describes their tribulatory suffering.
Once people accept the mark of the beast, God hands them a chalice called, “the cup of his anger.” While most don’t realize it, if they take the mark God forces the “cup of his anger” into their hand. Then, with cup in hand, God will pour a noxious drink called, “the wine of God’s wrath.” Can you imagine holding “the wine of God’s wrath” in his “cup of anger”?
This is what happens to people that take the mark of the beast. They will seal their eternal doom into the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:14 calls the Lake of Fire the “second death.” It’s called the “second death” because it forces people to die twice! First in this life and then a second time in hell throughout eternity.
(Transition) But there is also another tribulatory omen that emerges when this angel announces the “hour” of God’s judgment. And I believe you will find this most fascinating.
The Mark of the Beast
Always remember that God has divinely ordained the appearance of these three angels. As soon as one completes his proclamation the next angel quickly follows with his announcement. As a team, they are conveying an overarching word from God. They are calling for all “nations, tribes, languages and people” to make a decision. They are calling for people to choose God rather than Satan.
What’s remarkable about this is, 800 years before John penned Revelation the OT prophet Joel also wrote about a global moment of decision. In fact, Joel called it the “valley of decision.” I want to read his vision from Joel 3:14—16.
MULTITUDES, MULTITUDES, IN THE VALLEY OF DECISION! FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD IS NEAR IN THE VALLEY OF DECISION. (15) THE SUN AND THE MOON ARE DARKENED, AND THE STARS WITHDRAW THEIR SHINING. (16) THE LORD ROARS FROM ZION, AND UTTERS HIS VOICE FROM JERUSALEM, AND THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH QUAKE. BUT THE LORD IS A REFUGE TO his PEOPLE, A STRONGHOLD TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.
Once more, there is an irrepressible demonstration of signs and wonders that converge upon this “hour of God’s judgment.”
The light of the sun, moon, and stars has flickered out.
Earthquakes are ripping apart the globe.
And when Joel says the LORD’s voice roars from Zion, I believe it depicts the work of these angelic messengers calling people to make their final choice between God or Satan.
But while God is making his final appeal to the inhabitants of Earth, Satan is making his appeal, too! This moment of decision is when the False Prophet steps forward to encourage people to take the mark of the beast.
What is the Mark of the Beast?
(Insight) I want to talk about the mark of the beast for a moment because there has been much misunderstanding about how it will arrive. Will it be a microchip implant? Is it going to be a visible imprint? Or will it be less visible, perhaps like an ultra-violate stamp upon the skin? Here’s what the Bible clearly states about it: The NT repeatedly calls the mark of the beast a mark! Not an implant or a sliver of data slipped under the skin. It’s called a mark seven times in the book of Revelation:
1. Revelation 13:16 says, “It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads.”
2. Revelation 13:17 says, “so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”
3. Revelation 14:9 says, “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand.”
4. Revelation 14:11 says, “And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
5. Revelation 6:2 says, “The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.”
6. Revelation 19:20 says, “But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”
7. Revelation 20:4 says, “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.”
So, Scripture makes it clear that the mark is a mark! But there is another question that’s asked about the mark of the beast. That is, Can it be taken inadvertently?
Can the Mark be taken Inadvertently?
Some people fear they might unconsciously or inadvertently take the mark of the beast. This has been long implied but it simply cannot happen! It won’t be administered in a subtle, clever manner that causes people to unintentionally receive it. I want to point out several reasons that it cannot be taken inadvertently:
First, both Joel and Revelation show that humanity is led into this “Valley of Decision” during a time of darkness, chaos, signs and wonders, and angelic intervention. There will be unparalleled drama in the world when the mark is made available. It will be evident that something unsurpassed is transpiring.
But there’s a second reason the mark cannot be taken inadvertently: The primary purpose of accepting the mark is to profess one’s willingness to worship the Beast. There are at least five Scriptures in Revelation that fuse the act of worship with receiving the mark. For example, the third angel of Revelation 14 says, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand.” You see, it’s a package deal. The mark of the beast will not be disbursed until there is a mass, worldwide moment of decision (Joel 3) to choose one’s person of worship—Christ or the Antichrist.
But third, it is the False Prophet, not the Antichrist, who spearheads this mass movement to worship the Beast and take his mark. So nobody will take the mark of the beast until the False Prophet arises and initiates the scheme.
Then, there is a huge fourth reason people will not accidentally accept the mark of the beast. There are two renowned prophets in the Old Testament that called for people to make a choice between following Jehovah or the false gods of the world: Moses and Elijah. God raised up Moses and Elijah to bring their audience face-to-face with a moment of decision. Have these two Apocalyptic messengers stepped onto the world stage yet? No! Thus, the mark of the beast is not yet available.
All this evidence from Scripture shows that the mark of the beast will not slip up on anyone. In fact, it would defeat the purpose of the mark of the beast if this were so! Once people take the mark they will have sold their soul to the devil and sealed their fate. They will have no other opportunity to come to Christ. The “marked” ones will never again feel the Spirit’s nudge of conviction upon their soul. And it is at this point that the Age of Grace officially ends!
But even with the Bible’s recording of history in advance, the vast mass of mankind will reject this angelic proclamation. And the consequence of their negligence will be dreadful. Here is what Solomon, the wisest man in the world, said about this in Proverbs 1:28—29,
“THEY WILL CALL TO ME BUT I WILL NOT ANSWER; THEY WILL LOOK FOR ME BUT WILL NOT FIND ME. (29) SINCE THEY HATED KNOWLEDGE AND DID NOT CHOOSE TO FEAR THE LORD.”
Once people refuse the fear of the LORD and choose the mark of the beast, they will repudiate the grace and mercy of the Lord forever.
Do you see the importance of the this angel’s message to the world? I’ll summarize it this way. His message is this: It is the One Sentence Manual for Surviving the Tribulation. Look again at Revelation 14:7.
“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.”