Three Angels Messages Part 47

Thanks again for joining us, as we continue our study of the Three Angels’ Messages found in Revelation 14. We are just now beginning our study of the message of the third angel, the first part of which reads, “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.’”

            We must being by identifying what or who is represented by the term “beast,” a term which is obviously used in a symbolic way. We saw that the beast that has the mark to be avoided is the first beast, the beast from the sea, introduced in Revelation 13:1-10. We noted that Scripture often uses symbols and figures to teach truth, and that there is a danger in being too literalistic when studying the Bible.

We’ll begin by looking at the clues given in the first 10 verses of Revelation 13. As we have seen, this passage contains the clues that identify the beast which has the deadly mark. It was seen to be “rising up out of the sea.” What does this signify? In the symbolic language of Bible prophecy, water stands for people. “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. So, since this beast arises “out of the sea,” we would expect it to emerge within a populated area. This will be in contrast, as we will see, to the second beast, which is seen “coming up out of the earth,” or an unpopulated area.

We need to pause here to consider a vital point. People talk a lot today about “hate speech.” It has become a criminal act, punishable by fine or imprisonment. When identifying the Roman Catholic Church as the beast of Revelation 13, someone might wonder, “Isn’t that harsh language? Isn’t that ‘hate speech’? What do you have against Catholics?” Let us be very clear on this matter. This is not about Catholics; it is about Catholicism. It is not a message against individual believers; it is a message about a system which has been used by Satan to remove or change the teachings of God’s Holy Word, the Bible. There are many who today are within that community of faith who will yet hear God’s call given in the messages of the three angels, and will respond.

            Realizing that we live in a world that has been hijacked by a great and powerful deceiver, we pose the question: is a message given in love designed to warn against and save from the devil’s schemes “hate speech”? Absolutely not! Would the forceful and explicit warning of a New York firefighter giving directions to those trapped in the burning twin towers on September 11, 2001, be considered inappropriate? No! Messages such as those were borne of love, and yes, of sacrifice, but they had to be direct and unequivocal under the circumstances. Would the screaming sirens warning of a coming Kansas tornado be considered harsh and inappropriate? No! As unpleasant as those sounds might be to ones ears, they are given to save lives.

            Was it “hate speech” when Noah warned his world of a flood and gave a message contrary to all the scientists and pundits of his day? Was it “hate speech” when the prophet Nathan looked King David in the eye and said, “Thou art the man”? Was it “hate speech” when John the Baptist rebuked the hypocrisy and excesses of his day? Was it “hate speech” when Jesus censured the unbelief and ungodliness of His times? No! These messages, though stern and uncompromising, were given in love. There were tears in the voice of the Savior as He uttered those scathing rebukes. They represented a message of hope and salvation to a dying world. So also are the messages of the three angels.
           Because the devil has infiltrated the Church, as he did in Jesus’ day, and twisted God’s message so that is hardly recognizable as being the Gospel that Christ preached, the language that is used must be clear and cutting in order to save those who will listen and heed. When Peter preached to the Jews who put Christ in the cross, his message didn’t cut corners, it “cut to the heart.” Acts 2:37. Strong language was necessary and was used, but it led to the salvation of those who would hear.
          “But,” someone says, “You’re talking about a Christian Church; you’re talking about the largest Christian denomination in the world.” Yes, the size of the Catholic Church is impressive, having more than a billion adherents. But, is it a shocking thing to consider that evil has infiltrated the church? It shouldn’t be surprising. Jesus and His apostles gave clear warning about this. Christ said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15. Think about the metaphor Jesus used, “sheep’s clothing.” Who in the Bible is the Lamb? It is Jesus. To wear “sheep’s clothing” is to wear the garb of Christianity; to profess belief in the Savior. Yet Jesus warned about these as being “ravenous wolves.” Hate speech? No, a warning given in love.
           Paul gave a similar warning to the elders of the church of Ephesus saying, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Acts 20:29, 30. There would be danger from without and danger from within. Paul wrote that this power, representing a “falling away” from truth, “sits as God in the temple, showing himself that he is God.” II Thessalonians 2:3, 4. Don’t be shocked at the thought that the “beast” which has the deadly “mark” would be an organization claiming to be Christian. The Bible foretold it.

            When we think of the startling language of prophesy, consider this example of how God used extreme measures to save one of His children. The same Peter who gave the “cutting” sermon on the Day of Pentecost was later imprisoned and slated for execution. Look at the words of the following passage very carefully; let them speak to your heart. As he slept, “Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, ‘Arise quickly!’ And his chains fell off.” Acts 12:7. The text doesn’t say that the angel “lightly touched Peter on the side.” It doesn’t say that he “gently tapped Peter on the arm.” It says he “struck” him.

            The KJV reports that the angel “smote” him. This word is emphatic. It’s the very same word which Dr. Luke used to describe the action of Peter on the Thursday night before Christ’s crucifixion. “And one of them (that was Peter) struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.” Luke 22:50. Fortunately, the angel of the Lord who “struck” Peter didn’t have a sword in his hand. But notice that Peter wasn’t “tapped” or gently “touched.” He was struck; he was smitten. Sometimes, metaphorically speaking, what we need isn’t a gentle nudge; it’s a “slap.” We’re sleeping so soundly that it takes something of strong impact to “awaken” us.
           That’s what was needed for Peter to wake up from his sleep. It was the act of smiting him that brought him salvation. Do you think Peter complained that the angel “smote” him? I think not! Consider this story of Peter as an illustration. If the Lord graciously extends His “light” to those who are in the “prison” of falsehood and “strikes” them with a message of truth designed to “wake them up” from spiritual error, so that the “chains” of inaccurate doctrine fall off, should it be thought of as “hate speech,” or should it be thought of as a “warning message given in love”?

            On November 5, 2009, one of the worst massacres in United States history occurred at Fort Hood, Texas, as Nidal Malik Hasan, an American military psychiatrist and Muslim of Palestinian descent allegedly shot and killed 13 people and wounded another 29. Were there no warning signs that this man “from within” could erupt into volcanic violence? Were there no red flags in the past that could have saved these innocent individuals? Apparently there were many indicators. But not wanting to take direct action, perhaps because of not wanting to hurt his feelings or being accused of being “prejudiced” and engaging in “hate speech,” those who had seen the clues and should have known that this man was dangerous withheld their warning voices.

            What is the lesson of Fort Hood? When the clues are present, the warning message must be given, though it may seem stern to some. It would actually be a message of love to those whose lives would be saved. Talk to the families of the deceased about how they feel concerning the clues that seem obvious to us now that were ignored. The Bible says, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11.

            We have proof that the warnings of Revelation are given in a spirit of love. The 13th chapter talks about a “dragon,” the devil, and  features two beasts who collaborate to bring about the construction of the image of the beast and the establishment of its mark. Against the actions of these two beasts, the one from the sea and the one from the land, strong and stern warnings are given. But take notice that beside these two “beasts” and the “dragon,” there is a fourth “beast” brought to view in that same chapter! Where is a fourth “beast” spoken of in Revelation 13? Go back to verse 8 which reads, “And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

            Who is this “Lamb”? It is most certainly Jesus. Within the context of the fierce warnings against the designs of the “beasts” from the sea and from the land under the influence of the “dragon,” in the very heart of this chapter reference is made to Another, the Lamb. Salvation by His blood, through faith in His atoning sacrifice is included in the language of warning! These warning messages are given in love, with the hope that humanity will wake from its slumber and leave behind the deceptions conceived by the enemy of souls. God speaks in pity and love to His creatures who have been seduced by the master deceiver.

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