The Three Angels’ Message|
by E.H. Jack Sequeira
Now we turn to the Third Angel which is Revelation 14, verses 9-11. Let me read that first, then we’ll look at it in detail:
And the Third Angel followed them saying with a loud voice [so the Third Angel joins the second and the first angel], 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 wine 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 ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
That’s quite a message, isn’t it? Okay, let’s look at it in a little detail. The first thing that we will notice in verse 9 is that spiritual Babylon is identified here. In the second angel, all we are told is that Babylon is fallen. But here spiritual Babylon is identified as two things: the beast and his image.
Now who is this beast and who is this image? The answer is found in Revelation 13:1-10. This tells us that the beast is identified as apostate Christianity that rises up in the old world. And verses 11-18 tells us the image of the beast is apostate Christianity that rises up in the new world.
Now we as a church have identified the beast as the papal system, not necessarily the Roman Catholic Christians, but the system, and the image as apostate Protestantism in the U.S. But the thing I want you to notice is that both these powers, both these agents have received power from the dragon who is defined in Revelation 12:9 as Satan, the serpent.
Therefore the beast and the image of the beast are Satan’s agents on earth who in these last days will be used by Satan to oppose the everlasting gospel and persecute those who accept and proclaim it. So that’s what the beast and his image is.
Now it also goes on to his mark in verse 9:
Those who worship the beast [those who give him homage, those who listen to him], and receive his mark in his forehead.
Now please notice the mark on the forehead and hand of verse 9. This mark is in contrast to the seal of God which the 144,000 receive, which was mentioned in Revelation 7:3,4 and 14:1. So you have two marks or two seals. One is the seal of God which the believers will have and the mark of the beast which will be the sign or the seal of the beast and his image.
Now, if the seal of God represents the righteousness of God which is received by faith (or righteousness by faith), then, folks, the mark of the beast must represent self-righteousness (or dependence on self). And so you have here two principles, God’s righteousness, and man’s righteousness. You have God’s love, and the principle of self. And these two are in opposition. In other words, what will happen is that when the Three Angels’ Message, the everlasting gospel, is proclaimed clearly and universally, the world will be divided into only two camps, no more. There will be nobody sitting on the fence.
Those who accept Christ as their righteousness and who have no confidence in the flesh will be sealed with the seal of God. Those who willfully and deliberately reject this everlasting gospel and turn to their own ways, will receive the mark of the beast.
Now I want you to look at verse 10, those who do that,
...The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation:...
Now before we deal with that, because this is a very solemn message, the question may be raised, “What about Sabbath and Sunday?” You know, we talk of Sabbath as the seal of God, and we talk of Sunday as being the mark of the beast.
There are some facts that we must be clear on. These two days represent two different systems. And we must be clear that those two systems are not yet clearly separating the world today. Let me explain what I mean. We have seen that righteousness by faith is God’s way of salvation. Righteousness by works is man’s way. Now, the Sabbath is not yet the seal of God and Sunday is not yet the mark of the beast because these two days have not as yet been linked with these two concepts. There’s still confusion.
There are today many Sunday-keeping Christians who are resting in Christ. And there are Sabbath-keeping people who are resting in their works, too. So there is still confusion today. But when the Three Angels’ Message is clearly presented, and linked with these two days, then folks, then only will these two days represent two systems. So, firstly, please don’t ever accuse the Sunday-keeping people today of the mark of the beast. Secondly, please remember that those days simply represent a truth. It’s the truth that is at issue.
But before the end comes, the Sabbath will be clearly linked with righteousness by faith (and we shall see that in a moment) and Sunday will clearly represent those who are resting in their own works. That is not yet true today. Today there is confusion. There is misunderstanding. And so I would like to look at this in more detail as we go to verse 10 and 11.
Now look at verse 10:
The same [that is, those who receive the mark of the beast] shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation....
When that happens, when the two views, when the two concepts which are represented by two days, when they are clearly presented, every human being must make a choice: either for Christ or against Christ. Those are the only two choices. And the choices will not be out of ignorance. It will be deliberate. Please remember, Babylon has fallen because she has deliberately, willfully rejected the truth, the God of heaven.
And when the gospel is clearly presented so that there is no misunderstanding, and everybody makes a choice, knowingly and deliberately, those who willfully reject God and his grace will do so of their own choice. Then they are actually closing the door of mercy for themselves. They are choosing death rather than life.
I want to give you a couple of examples to show you how this is what the New Testament teaches. I want to turn to two verses in John 3, verses 18 and 36. Now the context is verse 16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Verse 17 goes on to say that God sent his Son not to condemn the world but to save it. Verse 18:
He that believeth on him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. He that believeth not the Son shall not see life. But the wrath of God abideth in him.
In other words, when the everlasting gospel is clearly presented, you have two choices, belief or unbelief. Both are willful. Both are deliberate. Both are done knowingly.
Now turn to Hebrews 10, verse 26. Hebrews is a lot clearer on this issue. Notice the word willful. Just as Belshazzar willfully rejected God, this is exactly what will happen with those who receive the mark of the beast.
Now there are two definitions of sin in the New Testament (two main ones). The typical definition that we know of is transgression of the law, but in this context, sin here is unbelief. Hebrews 10:26:
For if we sin [how?] willfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the [what?] truth.
What is the truth here? Look at verse 14. That is the truth.
For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
The truth is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The truth is Jesus Christ and him crucified. That’s the truth. And do you remember what Jesus said?
I am the truth, the way, and the life.
Now, if you willfully reject the truth after you have received it ... please notice, after you have received the knowledge of the truth. Do you remember what Daniel said to Belshazzar? “You knew these things, but you willfully rejected them.” This is the same thing. You heard the gospel, it was clearly presented, you saw it’s power, and you willfully rejected the truth. Then there remains no more sacrifice for sins. There is only one sacrifice that removes sin. It is not the blood of bulls and goats, it’s the blood of who? Christ. If you willfully reject the sacrifice, there is no more sacrifice for sin. What is left then? Look at verse 27:
But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
That is the mark of the beast: the willful rejection of the gospel. This is symbolized, of course, by Sunday. Please notice, it is not the day that is the problem, it is what the day stands for. It stands for self-dependence rather than God-dependence. Remember the formula of the gospel, “Not I, but Christ.” Sunday will represent “I” and Sabbath will represent “Christ.” That is not true today. Today there is confusion.
You may remember that when we studied Hebrews, we saw that one of the author’s main concerns was that we not reject the gospel. Read Hebrews 2:3:
How shall we escape [Escape what? The wrath of God which is poured without mixture.] if we neglect so great salvation spoken by the Lord and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.
You remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24:14?
This gospel shall be preached into all the world for a witness.
You see, the witness in the judgment will be the gospel. And the question God will ask everybody (especially the unbelievers) is: “What did you do with my gift that I gave you, at an infinite cost to me, but as a gift to you?” You see, they will no longer be able to blame Adam because Christ undid the damage of Adam. They can only blame themselves because they have willfully rejected the gift of God.
And that is what the Third Angel is saying. The Third Angel is saying that if you join Babylon, if you deliberately, willfully accept his ways (his rejection of the gospel) you will have to drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.
Now the word “cup” is very significant. I want you to turn to Matthew 26 and see what the cup symbolizes. Please remember Romans 8:32, where Paul tells us that God did not spare his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. What is it that God did not spare His own Son from? Matthew 26 will help us find the answer. And I want to read verse 38-42. This is Christ in Gethsemane. Jesus is talking to his disciples in verse 38:
Then said He unto them. My soul is exceedingly sorrowful even unto death. [I am going through tremendous anguish. So much so that I can’t even bear it. I feel like dying.] Tarry ye there and watch with me. And He went a little further and fell on His face and prayed, saying, O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.
There’s the word “cup.” What was the cup he was talking about? It was not the physical torture of the cross. The cup was the wrath of God, poured without mixture. He repeats the same thing in verse 42:
He went away again the second time and prayed saying “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done.”
And of course He prayed the same thing in verse 44. What was the cup? The cup was God abandonment. Matthew 27:46 says:
Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken me?
Now remember, because of the incarnation, because of the self emptying, Christ was totally dependent on the Father for the resurrection. When the Father forsook Him on the cross, Jesus was tasting the second death for all man, the wrath of God without mercy.
Why is it that God did not spare His own Son? Didn’t He love Him? Yes. I’ll tell you why, because He loved us. He said, “Son, I want you to go through this so that they may not have to go through it.” But when you willfully reject what Christ has gone through for you, when you willfully reject that, then you are saying, “God, I want to go through it myself.”
Remember what Moses presented to the Jews at the Exodus? I present you blessing and cursing. And Galatians 3:13 says that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us. That, folks, is the wrath of God. Does God want any human being to experience the wrath of God? No! His desire is that none should perish. And that’s why He wants this gospel to be clearly presented. And those who willfully reject this gospel will say, because of their own choice, “God, I don’t want your salvation.” Then they are willfully, deliberately choosing. And God will say to them what He said to Belshazzar, “You have been judged. You have been found wanting. And you stand condemned.”
I want to give you one more text in regard to Revelation 14:10 regarding “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Holy Angels.” Do you know of any people or city that was destroyed by fire and brimstone? Sodom and Gomorrah. Keep that in mind. I will come back in a moment. I want to look at the words “holy angels.” Keep your finger here and turn to Mark 8:38. Listen to what Jesus said there. He makes a very interesting statement concerning the same issue:
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words [and His words were life] in this adulterous and sinful generation, of Him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
So, please remember that in the final judgment, the angels will witness that the unbelievers, the wicked, the lost will have deliberately, willfully rejected that salvation. What will happen to them? They will be destroyed. They will receive the torment, the wrath of God, and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb. And then verse 11:
And the smoke of their torment ascended up [for how long?] forever and ever [and these words have caused a problem] and they have no rest day or night who worship the beast and his image and whosoever receive the mark of the beast.
Now let’s look at this verse point by point. First of all, please notice that the “smoke of their torment” has to do with the fire and brimstone of verse 10. Turn to Jude 7, and I want you to look at a very fine text. You know I was discussing this with a Baptist scholar in Kenya. He was professor of New Testament in a very big seminary. He gave me Revelation 14:11 to prove that the wicked would be tormented forever and ever in hell. And I showed him Jude 7:
Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire [and other texts tell us that this was fire and brimstone].
I said to him, “If forever and ever is in terms of time, we should be looking at Sodom and Gomorrah burning up now. And you know (as a scholar, he knew a little more than the average layman) that Sodom and Gomorrah have been excavated; they’re in the dead sea. They found twelve feet of ashes; the soil was burnt up to twelve feet where they did the excavation. Therefore, what does it mean to be tormented forever and ever?”
(The word “smoke” in verse 11 symbolizes cry.)
...The cry of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
I would like to explain this by looking at opposites. Turn to Hebrews three and four. Look at Heb.3:18,19 and Heb.4:2,3.
And to whom sware he that they should not enter his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
So the rest here is referring to the peace, the hope of Canaan — heaven — which, of course, is promised to them who believe. These two verses are speaking of the Jews in the Exodus who died in the wilderness. Heb.4:2,3:
For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them...
Who is “us” and who is “them”? Two groups of people. The “us” is the Jews of Paul’s day. The “them” are the Jews of the Exodus. Did both groups have the gospel, did they both hear the gospel? Yes. But (there’s a “but” there) did the gospel profit them? No.
...But the word preached did not profit them... [why?] not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
That means they willfully, deliberately rejected God’s saving grace. Now look at verse 3 which applies to those who believe:
...for we which have believed do enter into rest.
What is this “rest”? It is the peace of justification by faith now, and eternity at the coming of Christ. Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace I leave with you, peace that the world cannot give. I give you rest.” Of which, by the way, the Sabbath is a sign. Not everyone who keeps the Sabbath has that peace. So keeping the day doesn’t guarantee you the peace. It is the Lord of that day Who gives you that peace. Remember that.
Now, in contrast, those who willfully, deliberately reject the gospel ... now, I want you to get the picture. Here comes Jesus with the saints in the New Jerusalem. They’re coming down from heaven with the Lamb and the angels. The unbelievers are resurrected. They see their friends; they see the saints enclosed in that beautiful city, and they are outside. They know that this is it. They know that they have made the greatest mistake in their lives. Probation has closed. Now, from the time they see Christ coming, plus through the process of the judgment of the wicked, plus Satan gathering them up and attacking, we do not know how long that will take. The text here says, “day and night.” But all that time they will have no rest, no assurance, no hope ... day and night.
When the door of Noah’s ark closed and the rain began to fall, I don’t know how long it took to rise up to here, especially when you climbed the mountains. It took several days. They had no peace day and night.
Now the words “forever and ever,” both in the Hebrew and Greek, can mean either time, or it can mean the effect. Were Sodom and Gomorrah burned “forever and ever” in the sense that they were never restored, that the damage was permanent? Yes. And God is saying in Jude, “I have set that as an example.”
You take, for example, the flood. The trees, the vegetation, that disappeared under the water, did they come back to life? Sure. Remember, the dove that Noah sent out came back with new leaves from an olive tree. But in this destruction by fire there will be no survival. I want to give you a text in Peter, I won’t give you the reference because I want you to find it:
The earth will be melted with fervent heat ... nevertheless, we look forward to a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
So you have two groups of people. One group will have no rest day and night. But folks, during that time every knee will confess, “God, it is not Adam’s fault any more, it is not your fault, it is ours. We have willfully, deliberately (just like Belshazzar said) sinned.” It’s too late, folks. So this is a very solemn message.
And so when the gospel is presented clearly, each of us must make a choice, either for Christ or against Christ. Now, please, the choice is not simply saying, “I believe in Christ.” The choice is much deeper than that. And I’m going to give you the real choice. Either you have to be crucified with Christ or you have to crucify Him. Those are the two choices. Either you have to say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ....” Do you know what that means? For the rest of your life you may have to suffer. Those who oppose the gospel may seem to prosper for a season; they may persecute you. But the end result is the best.
Now I want to give you another text that may help you in terms of “forever and ever.” Turn to Jonah 2. This chapter describes what went through the mind of Jonah when he was in the whale’s belly. But I want you to notice verse 6:
I went down to the bottoms of the mountains [that’s how he felt; he’s talking in poetic language]; the earth with her bars was about me forever...
Was he there forever? No, but it felt like forever. And when the wicked face the wrath of God without mixture they will know that this means good-bye to life forever. That is the wages of sin. It is not that they are tormented. But while they are facing that they are tormented with no peace day and night. And when that happens, they will know this is forever.
By the way, Jonah 2:6 is the text that you need to use when you deal with those who teach that Christ was crucified Wednesday. Please notice: “the earth with her bars about me” was to do with the feelings of Jonah. During those three days Jonah felt that he was at the bottom of the earth. That’s exactly how Christ felt from Gethsemane onwards. “The heart of the earth” has to do with feelings, not the grave. Jonah 2:6 refers to the feelings that Jonah experienced, not the grave. And so the moment God removed His protection from Christ, which started at Gethsemane, he felt like Jonah felt, in the heart of the earth, without hope, without peace. And so we need to count from that time onwards to get the three days and three nights. But anyway, that’s a sideline.
So please remember, if you reject the gospel deliberately, you may have a wonderful time for a season, but when the crisis comes, when the judgment comes, you have nothing else left but fiery indignation, the wrath of God. And He doesn’t do it because He wants to. You have made a choice, He gives you what you have chosen. You have chosen the curse.
The world needs to be confronted with this message. It is a very solemn message, folks. So it’s not simply a question of you and me making a choice. We need to confront this world: that they need to make a choice. They may not see it right now. All we have to do now is to sow the seeds of the gospel. One day, when the issue is clear (and even Sister [Ellen G.] White says when the crisis comes, we will not be presenting the issue of the Sabbath and Sunday), it has already been done. They will understand then what the issues are, and many will come out and join the Sabbath-keeping people. And many who are Sabbath-keepers, who in heart had rejected the gospel, will join the world.
Today there is confusion. We must clearly link the Gospel of righteousness by faith with the Sabbath and we must show them the connection of Sunday to unbelief. The issue, folks, is not between Sabbath-keeping Christians and Sunday-keeping Christians. That’s not the issue; that’s where the confusion is today. The issue is between the kingdom of God, which is His church, and the kingdom of this world, which is under Satan. And Sunday will represent the day of the kingdom of this world. Today, there is confusion. And Sabbath will represent the day of God. Jerusalem will represent the capital of God’s kingdom, and Babylon will represent the capital of Satan’s kingdom, the kingdom of this world. There are only these two kingdoms, and that is what the issues will be. And what we need to present is a correct view of the gospel with the Sabbath, so that when the time comes they will say, “Now we see what the issue is.” And all who have believed the gospel will enter into God’s rest. That’s why Hebrews 4:9, talking to the Jews who were keeping the Sabbath, says:
There still remains for God’s people, a keeping of the Sabbath.
Weren’t the Jews keeping the Sabbath? No, they were keeping the day but they were not keeping the Sabbath. So, please remember that the issue is between Christ our Righteousness and self-righteousness. This is the fundamental issue. And today, that issue is not yet clear, there is confusion, but one day it’ll be very clear, and there will be a demarcation so clear that you will have to deliberately make your choice one way or the other. And it is my prayer that everyone here will make the right choice. For me and my family, it is the Lord. That’s the decision that Joshua made, and it’s a decision that we have to make, and it is my prayer that we will make that choice so that when the crisis comes we will have already made our decision.
In the meantime, let us make it clear to those to whom we are witnessing that the issue is not the days; the issue is the truth which these days represent. And when they see that, they may not see it now, they may say, “I’m a Christian, I believe in Christ as my Saviour....” They may say that now, but, when the time comes, it will become clear that those who deliberately, willfully reject the gospel will use Sunday as their day in opposition to those who are resting in Christ who are keeping the day that Christ has set aside. That will be the issue. It is my prayer that we will try and present the truth to our neighbours and our friends so that, when the crisis comes, they can make an intelligent decision.