Three Angels' Messages Part 7

Thank you for participating in our study of the Three Angels’ Messages found in Revelation 14:6-12, God’s last appeal to Planet Earth. As part of His marvelous plan, God wants to save us and use us as His instruments of blessing, so that everyone has a chance to know “what’s happening” on this globe and become acquainted with His great plan of salvation. You and I are the “angels” who can share the “message” of His love!
We saw last time that the first angel is depicted as “having the everlasting gospel,” the evangelion, or “Good News.” Significantly, it’s the first thing that stood out to John as he was in vision. Being first in position, it’s telling us that this is the primary emphasis or essence of the messages. In other words, God wants us to know that these messages are based in love. Though they contain startling language, they are baptized in His agape love. We must never lose sight of that! The very same Jesus Who walked the earth and demonstrated God’s love in person 2,000 years ago is the One Who is giving these messages. These messages come from the book which is titled “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”
We’re going to see how God’s Good News can be viewed as an entire package, composed of three identifiable parts, which together form a comprehensive strategy for salvation. Today we will look at the first part of God’s plan for our redemption.
On March 26, 1942, the Dixie Arrow, an oil tanker carrying 96,000 barrels of crude oil, was traveling near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. She was one of several tankers, including the China Arrow, the India Arrow, the Yankee Arrow and others, built for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, which later became known as Mobil Oil.
         The United States had just declared war against Japan, having been attacked a few months before this, December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Germany declared war against us and so America found itself engulfed in what became known as World War II. While the Pearl Harbor raid in the Pacific is known by almost all Americans, what is not as well known is the threat to American sea vessels that lurked off the coast of the Atlantic in those years posed by German U-Boats, or submarines. The sinking of supply ships traveling off the Atlantic was colossal. Virtually all of the Arrow tankers belonging to Mobil Oil were sunk or crippled by German submarines.
         On that morning of March 26, 1942, the Dixie Arrow, traveling along the coast of North Carolina, had left Texas City, Texas and was in route to Paulsboro, New Jersey with her precious cargo of fuel. The German submarine U-71 had been lurking near Diamond Shoals, off Cape Hatteras, hoping to encounter American ships. As the light of day approached, Captain KK Walter Flascheenberg was about to give the order for his submarine to go to the bottom when he spied the masts of the Dixie Arrow. He skillfully guided his U-Boat into position and at 8:58 a.m. fired three torpedoes into the starboard side of the Dixie Arrow. It took only a minute, with her cargo of volatile crude oil, for the ship to be mortally wounded and wrapped in flames.
         The first torpedo hit at the midship deckhouse, killing most of the deck officers. Then about a minute later torpedoes two and three struck, resulting in the tanker being cut in two. You can only imagine the scene as the oil poured from the ruptured vaults and ignited, turning the deck of the ship as well as the surrounding waters into an inferno. Because of the direction of the wind, the flames whipped from the bridge to the bow, trapping a group of men who now faced the terrible choice of remaining on board and being burned to death, or jumping into the sea, now a veritable lake of fire.
         At that critical moment, seaman Oscar G. Chappell made a decision. Though he was injured, he remained at his post in the wheelhouse. Chappell banked the ship hard to the right and held the Dixie Arrow into the wind, which drove the waterborne flames away from the men who were trapped on deck and allowed them the life-giving opportunity to jump into a portion of the sea which was clear of burning oil. However, by turning the ship in that direction, it drove the flames directly toward his station at the wheelhouse, and he soon perished. His conscious choice and sacrificial action resulted in the saving of his shipmates, who were rescued by the Destroyer USS Tarbell.
         After his death, Chappell was awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal and a ship was later named in his honor. Today the Navy League annually awards the “Able Seaman Oscar Chappell Award For Outstanding Maritime Stewardship” to recognize “selfless dedication to shipmates.” See http://www.nc-wreckdiving.com/WRECKS/DIXIE/DIXIE.HTML
         As amazing and inspiring as this story is, it doesn’t come close to what Jesus did for us. His sacrifice goes far beyond what any human has done. Seeing this world in a desperate situation, “torpedoed” by Satan, He voluntarily put His life in danger, knowing that the “flames” would be brought against Him by so doing. Leaving His throne of exquisite glory and honor, Christ, the world’s Redeemer, paid an infinite price for our salvation and having invested so much in it, will spare nothing to see that every opportunity for salvation is provided us. The Holy Bible says, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10. Paul later wrote, “He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32.
         God’s great mercy is bestowed upon us freely. The word “mercy” suggests kindness toward the erring and presupposes need. From that perspective, mercy was not needed in the perfection of heaven. It was not extended to unfallen angels before sin entered the picture, because there was no necessity of it. But mercy has always been a part of God’s character. It wasn’t evidenced and made manifest until the need arose, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t part of His divine attributes before sin.
         “The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting.” Psalm 103:17. We can’t conceive of eternity in the past, but God’s mercy was there. It is “from everlasting.” Mercy has always been within God’s great heart of love. Jesus was the Lamb slain “from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. The plan of salvation was not an after-thought, but was there in God’s mind from the very beginning.
When you look up at the sky in the bright sunshine of daylight, it’s unlikely that you will see any stars, but that doesn’t mean they are not there. So it is with God’s mercy. It was always there, but when the dark night of sin came upon the earth, the shining star of God’s mercy became visible. Just as soon as sin came into the picture, God’s mercy was proclaimed. It was first announced to fallen man in Eden, when God promised He would “put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman.” Genesis 3:15.
         Next time we’ll continue our study of God’s amazing grace expressed in the Good News of salvation, something God hopes the whole world will know about and accept before it’s too late. Though Satan has cast a dark shadow over the character of God, and told many lies about who He is, the Bible reveals the truth of this marvelous God of love and mercy, Whom to know is life eternal. John 17:3. You and I have the blessed privilege of being His messengers to share the evangelion, the Gospel, with everyone today. Be praying that God will lead you to someone this week, and give you the opportunity to share His love with them!

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