THE MESSAGES OF THREE ANGELS
Rev 14:6-12 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 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 for ever 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. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Although no angels have been mentioned in the chapters immediately preceding this one, but since many angels have been previously seen and recorded by John in this book, he simply writes that the angel mentioned in verse 6 is another one different from those previously recorded. Angels have always been interpreted as messengers, sent to deliver God's words of comfort, strength, knowledge or instruction. The fact that the angel flew in the midst of heaven for the apostle John to witness, probably means that the message delivered would have an immediate impact on those that were destined to read and understand that which was recorded by John for their learning.
This messenger of God had the everlasting gospel in its possession, and its mission was to preach (that message) unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. It was everlasting because, although its meaning was not fully revealed until the Day of Pentecost, after the resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus, it had existed in the mind of God from the beginning of time, and was to last until time on earth ceases. It was also everlasting because it was the only gospel, the complete and final gospel, that was meant to be preached throughout the whole world - to all nations, in all languages, to all people. Then verse 7 tells us that hearing, believing, and obeying the everlasting gospel message will lead men and women of the world to a home in heaven, but to those that reject it, God, in the hour of His judgment, will grant them nothing but eternal condemnation.
The second angel followed, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. The previous verses represent a revival of New Testament Christianity, but this verse symbolically tells of a great enemy of Christ that is doomed to fail, to the extent that it would never rise and regain the power it once exercised over the world. This fallen power is represented as a great city named Babylon. This literal city, located on the Euphrates River, was extremely oppressive to the nation of Israel during the Jewish dispensation. However, at the time this book of Revelation was written, the original city of Babylon no longer was in existence. Therefore, the reference in the lesson text could not mean the literal Babylon.
To determine its meaning here, one must look for a national power resembling that ancient city, that is, characteristically similar to the original city of Babylon. The vast majority of bible scholars agree that the modern Babylon, noted here, refers to the city of Rome, the capital city of the Latin portion of the Roman Empire. Like ancient Babylon, Rome, in its earlier years, became the head of the Pagan world. It too, was arrogant and oppressive to the world around it, and became well known for its military power and worldly conquests. Both Babylon and Rome laid siege to the nation of Israel, and destroyed its capital city of Jerusalem, including its temple of worship. An ancient historian named Gibbon gave us this comparison, "The edification of the New Jerusalem was to advance by equal steps with the destruction of the mystic Babylon; and as long as the emperors who reigned before Constantine persisted in the profession of idolatry, the epithet of Babylon was applied to the city and to the empire of Rome" (Vol. i.p. 263).
This was the predicted lot of Rome at the time John witnessed this symbolic, prophetic vision from heaven - Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. The civil government, driven by the apostate power of Roman Catholic papacy, lured the world around it into an apostate religion, just as an infidel attracts their prey with intoxicating beverages. So Rome intoxicated the world, and lured it into a sinful state, that defied God's New Testament doctrine, by accepting a corrupted, human-driven religion, as well as its pagan idolatry and humanistic superstitions, which it tolerated.
Finally, the third angel appeared and, with a loud voice proclaimed, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, they would suffer God's wrath. As discussed previously in chapter 13, the beast and his image represent the civil, imperialistic government of Rome. It was these ruling emperors that were chosen, and installed, by the Roman papacy. As such, they were symbolically marked as belonging under their control, and required to enforce their edicts upon all of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire. All men and women of their realm, who accepted their rule and Roman Catholicism, which they established as their national religion, were said to be worshippers of the beast and his image. Having given themselves to this nationalized religious order, each person was to be identified by receiving, and openly displaying, the mark of the beast in his forehead, or on his hand.
By their obedience to this apostate, government-supported religion, the second angel (Vs. 8) tells us that they symbolically drank of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Now, in verse 10, the third angel tells us of God's condemnation for such disobedience to His will, and the punishment that He will mete out to those that refuse to submit to His New Testament doctrine. In retribution, God's judgment for these rebellious sinners is to drink of (His) ...wine of wrath, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation. As punishment for their unrighteous acts, God will exercise maximum severity. The consequences of their sinful life will be as extreme, and distressful, as the full intoxicating effect of undiluted wine served and ingested at full strength. Those that perish in an unforgiven state, such as this, must suffer eternal punishment described here as being tormented with fire and brimstone.
In his gospel record, Matthew describes this place of punishment as having everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41, also see Matt. 5:22, 13:42, 18:9; Mark 9:44-48). Also, according to this verse, the eternal punishment of these unforgiven sinners will take place in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb (Christ Jesus). Whether this witnessing will take place at their condemnation by Jesus on the Day of Judgment, or during their Hadean torment, is not firmly noted, and its reference here may be mere speculation. A further description of the eternal punishment that awaits those that reject God's New Testament commandments and worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name is recorded: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night. Once condemned to eternal death, the punishing anguish will be eternal - there will be no respite to relieve the pain and suffering that will be experienced by the fires of the satanic world.
To those Christian saints that patiently endure the trials, tribulations, pain, and suffering at the hands of the Roman governors, and by the order of the Catholic papacy, during the 1,260 years of persecution, God offered the consolation of a peaceful reward, knowing that the enemies of Christ will be justly punished for their unrighteous ways. God rewarded the faithful saints in Christ during this past era of history, and His promise still stands today. Those that patiently keep the faith of Jesus will be justly rewarded with an eternal home in heaven in the presence of of Christ Jesus and God, our Heavenly Father.