Three Preaching Angels (Revelation 14:6-11)
We believe that angels minister to man. When Peter was in prison, we read, “Behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:7). “Are they not all ministering spirit sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). I don’t know exactly how angels minister to man, but that does not change the fact that they do.
We see part of their ministry in Revelation 14 where they proclaim the will of God. In fact, the term “angel” literally means “messenger” in Greek; here we see angels serving as messengers, conveying the will of God to man. This evening, we want to examine the proclamation of these three angels to see what we can glean.
The Proclamation of the First Angel, vv 6-7
This angel ﬂew in the midst of heaven. The heaven here applies to the sky, not the heaven where God dwells. He ﬂies in the midst of heaven, or mid-heaven. where he can be seen by all; if he were ﬂying way up in heaven, he would have been difficult to see. The angel is also depicted as having a loud voice (v 7), for the same reason: so that he can been heard by all.
This angel had an everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth— to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. The everlasting gospel this angel proclaims is that God should be honored and worshiped. That this gospel applies to the honor and worship of God, rather than salvation in Christ, is obvious from what the angel proclaims: God should be honored and worshiped. This message is the everlasting gospel because God should always have been honored and worshiped. This message was for those who dwell upon the earth. “Those who dwell upon the earth” is common nomenclature throughout Revelation for the sinful world. Thus, the message to honor and worship God was for those who worshiped the beast, for those who were part of that sinful world. This everlasting gospel was for every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—everybody needed to hear this message and respond to it.
The message of this angel was: “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 world was to fear God and give glory to him. “Fearing God” does not mean to be frightened of him. Although the Greek term used here can mean to fear in the sense of frighten, the term often means “reverence” or “give respect,” and that’s the obvious meaning here. “Giving glory to God” means to give him renown or honor. Thus, this angel tells the world to give God respect, reverence, and honor.
We need to be about giving God respect, reverence, and honor. “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17). “In every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:35). Do we give God the reverence and honor he deserves? Do we worship him reverently? Do we serve him faithfully? Do we pray to him as our Father? Are we reverencing and honoring him?
The time of God’s judgment had come — because of the irreverent attitude of the people, God’s judgment would come. But, he was providing them an opportunity to repent by telling them to honor him.
God is to be worshiped—instead of honoring and worshiping the emperor, the people needed to worship and honor God. We need to see that we worship God. We can’t say that we’re too busy, that we just don’t feel like it today, or anything of the sort—we need to be worshiping the Lord.
God is depicted as the One who created all things—he has power the emperor never will have.
The Proclamation of the Second Angel, v 8
Another angel came saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”
This is the ﬁrst time we ﬁnd Rome portrayed as Babylon in Revelation. “Babylon” and its synonym the “Chaldeans’” were used to refer to Rome in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Jewish texts of this era. Babylon and Rome were comparable because both were centers of world empires and Babylon destroyed the temple and Rome would destroy the temple soon.
Babylon, the great city, is fallen. Although Rome had not yet fallen, it is depicted as fallen, for when God decrees a city will fall, it is as good as fallen.
The city is fallen, because she “made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” This verse sounds much like Jeremiah 51:7: “Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad.” Making all nations drink of the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality refers to enticing the world to follow her pagan ways. Rome had led the world astray from God by the worship of the emperor.
The Proclamation of the Third Angel, vv 9-11
The third angel said that the one who worships the beast shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of his indignation. Those who refused to worship the beast were killed, but a worse fate awaits those who worship the beast.
They shall drink the wine of the wrath of God. The author probably means to connect the two cups—if one drinks the cup of fornication from Babylon. he will drink the cup of God’s wrath. In the Old Testament, God’s wrath is often pictured as an intoxicating drink (for example, Psalm 75:8 and Isaiah 51:17). In the fast century, wine was seldom—if ever—drunk full strength, rather it was diluted with water. People who drank their wine with diluting it were considered barbarians. But, God will pour out his wrath unmitigated by grace and mercy. God is gracious and merciful, but his grace and mercy will run out.
This text speaks of the wrath of God. There is no doubt but that God is gracious and merciful; out of his mercy and grace, God sent his Son to die for our sins. But, we make a huge mistake if we only speak of God’s love and mercy; God becomes angry and he exercises wrath on the ungodly. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).
The one who worships the beasts shall be tormented with ﬁre and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Fire and brimstone are appropriate means to execute God’s wrath, for fire and brimstone were used to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-28). Jesus speaks of the ﬁnal destruction of the wicked as being in fire. In explaining the parable of the weeds in the ﬁeld, Jesus said the weeds were evildoers in the kingdom; they would be cast “into the fiery furnace” (Matthew 13:42). In telling of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus said the rich man was tormented in ﬂames (Luke l6:24). These beast worshipers will be tormented in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. No doubt part of the terror of hell will be seeing others enjoying the beneﬁts of heaven. Remember, the rich man could see Abraham and Lazarus in his bosom (Luke 16:23).
The smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night. There is no escape for those who worship the beast, for the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; they will never get out of hell. They are continually tormented—they have no rest day or night; they are never given the opportunity to rest, but new tortures come one after the other.
We need to pay careful attention to the proclamations of these angels—we need to see that we fear God and worship him, we need to understand that when God decrees a thing it comes to pass, and we need to be careful that we do not drink the wrath of God. Are we paying needed attention to the proclamations of these angels?