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Background Considerations:

The severe warnings of Revelation 14:6-12 should be seen as God’s response to the threats of the unholy trio in chap. 13. God lets us know he poses a greater threat than the unholy trinity. Later in the book of Revelation, the 7 last plagues will demonstrate that God can take care of his followers, while the dragon is unable to care for his followers. Note the language: “Fear God [not the monsters of chap. 13] and give glory to him [not the dragon of chap. 12].

A basic Biblical pattern is that before God comes to his people he mercifully sends a messenger whose job it is to prepare the people. This was true of the first coming of Christ, according to Mark1:2-4, where John the Baptist fulfills the promise of God, “Look, I will send my messenger and he will clear the way before me” (Malachi 3:1). So it is also to be before the second coming. This time God sends three angels (Greek: aggelos, the same word used for “messenger” in Mark 1:2.)

Another way of noticing this pattern is to keep an eye on Elijah, the Old Testament prophet who turned the people back to the worship of God (2 Kings 17-18). In Malachi 4 God promises that “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” he will send Elijah the prophet to his people to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” The writers of the NT understood John the Baptist to fulfill this promise, as well. See Mark 9:9-12 and Luke 1:13-17. So also, it should not surprise us to expect the work of Elijah to be assigned again before the second coming of the Lord.

If the three messengers in the sky are symbolic, rather than literal, we should expect the message of warning to be given by humans. Adventist Christians have made a connection between the heavenly angels and the saints described in 14:12, who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. The saints are called to speak, to bear their testimony.

For Discussion:

  1. Why do Seventh-day Adventists consider the three angels messages of Revelation 14:6-12 to be important?
  2. The first angel comes bearing “the everlasting gospel” and yet announces God’s threat against the beast. How is this warning to be construed as “gospel” or as good news?
  3. Can we serve God out of fear? What risks does God run by issuing threats: Is this a case of “love me or I’ll kill you”?

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