For nearly over 175 years, Seventh-day Adventists excited about Christ’s return have looked to Revelation 14 for parameters of our socio-spiritual context, and the primary content of our last-day message in response. Adventist leaders in the fledgling Sabbatarian movement found these messages provided not only a reason for existence, motivation for mission, and compelling communique for the world, Revelation also situated these messages in a prophetic timeline that allowed the believers to situate themselves in God’s unfolding Revelation in the last days. Adventism was animated by these messages, driven forward in growth as a church, in transformed lives through repentance and sanctification at the hearing of these timely announcements.
This quarterly examines the three Cosmic Messages. But at the start of the quarter—and we will likely say more throughout this study—we must remember that these messages have a context in Revelation. Sequentially, these three angels are the initial trio in a parade of seven angels, of whom the 4th, the central messenger in the sequence, appears to be Christ coming on a cloud to harvest his ripened harvest. We must study Revelation more broadly, to see the themes that are developed, to watch for the sequences of seven that function in a linear fashion, in order to understand the message in total. Taking a verse here or a verse there with this amazing book does an injustice to its intent. We must read the whole and understand it well before subdividing sections, and seeking deeper meaning in individual verse content.
I recommend that you take the book of Revelation in your favorite modern translation, and read it cover-to-cover, ideally in one sitting. It will take you about 2 hours, minus water/snack and bathroom breaks. You will see patterns and themes emerge. New questions will be raised in your mind, and some old ponderings may find answers. When you come to Revelation 11:18, slow down. Read from 11:18 all the way through chapter 14, and recognize that these verses form a sectional whole. The Dragon and his allies—a creature from the Sea and a creature from the Land—make war against Christ and His body, the faithful church. This sets the spiritual-contextual stage for the three prophetic messages given to prepare God’s people for the judgment, that time when Christ will figuratively separate the wheat harvest from the grape harvest; this is the hour of God’s judgment!
It is my prayerful hope that these messages find new place in your Christian experience, and fresh and timely meaning during these tumultuous times. They may not be popular messages, as God’s messages rarely resonate with those on the broad path leading many to destruction. Rather, these messages will ring in the hearts of those on the narrow way, and we pray that others will join us on that path toward the New Jerusalem.
This study guide is meant to accompany the Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School lesson for the 2nd Quarter of 2023. The format of this guide follows a similar pattern for each week’s lesson: an introduction to the topic, a short discussion on several verses or a bullet list of concepts for a passage, followed by questions in bold type. Please read through the Biblical passages, and then prayerfully consider the bolded questions. Perhaps you’ll find better questions that should be asked, and even answered!
May the God who gave John the Revelation illumine your study by His Spirit as the consummation of Christ’s atoning work and second coming draw near!
March 17, 2023