A few years prior to the end of the period of 2300 years (Daniel 8:14), shortly before Christ as our High Priest entered into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, there began a worldwide revival in expectation of the soon coming of Christ. Faithful Advent believers recognized the message of Revelation 14:6-8 as being entrusted to them by God. Although the majority among the Christian denominations rejected the solemn message of preparation, the first angel’s message, and thus became Babylon (confusion), the second angel’s message, serving as a warning, prepared the way for the third. Revelation 14:9-12. Since then, the everlasting gospel truth, which includes the commandments of God, is being proclaimed to all peoples, nations, and tongues. The gathering of the last church before the second coming of Christ is under way.
The closing work of the Gospel is represented in prophecy as being accomplished by three angels with important messages of present truth for mankind. These angels symbolize the people of God (movements) who proclaim the warnings entrusted to them. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, these messages call for men to make their final decision between truth and error and prepare to stand before the judgment seat of God and to be ready for the second coming of Christ.
“The three angels of Revelation 14 represent the people who accept the light of God’s messages and go forth as His agents to sound the warning throughout the length and breadth of the earth.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 455-456.
The First Angel
The message of the first angel, having the “Everlasting Gospel,” calls upon all nations to fear God, give glory to Him, and worship Him as the Creator. Romans 1:16; Mark 13:10. It also points to the fact that the time of the investigative judgment has come. Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12; 1 Peter 4:5, 17. Many, having forgotten God, felt that they were the rulers of their own destiny. Therefore, their allegiance must be called back to their Maker. It is their responsibility to obey God instead of pleasing themselves. This message points to the work of restoration of the original principles and institutions given by God in the beginning. Revelation 14:6, 7; Acts 3:19-21.
The Second Angel
After the great Deluge in the time for Noah, God promised never again to destroy the earth by a flood. Unregenerate man disbelieved the promise of God and began to build the tower of Babel, which resulted in confusion. Genesis 11:1-9. During the early centuries of the Christian era, compromise between Christianity and Paganism led to the development of the papacy as prophesied in Revelation 13:1-10. In the book of Revelation, Babylon, represented by the woman riding upon a scarlet colored beast, together with her harlot daughters, is a fitting symbol of all apostate professed Christian denominations that have turned away from the law of God. The message of the second angel announces the fall of Babylon because they rejected the message of the first angel and denounces the corruption of the Protestant churches which are following the example of the Roman Catholic church. Apostatized Christianity, united with the State, will bring about persecution of the faithful believers and the final crisis. Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:3-6.
The Third Angel
The third angel’s message is a strong warning against worshipping the beast and his image and receiving the mark of the beast (deliberate Sunday-keeping). “The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. The second commandment, forbidding image worship, has been dropped from the law, and the fourth commandment has been so changed as to authorize the observance of the first instead of the seventh day as the Sabbath. But papists urge, as a reason for omitting the second commandment, that it is unnecessary, being included in the first, and that they are giving the law exactly as God designed it to be understood. This cannot be the change foretold by the prophet. An intentional, deliberate change is presented: ‘He shall think to change the times and the law.’ The change in the fourth commandment exactly fulfills the prophecy. For this the only authority claimed is that of the church. Here the papal power openly sets itself above God.”—Great Controversy, p. 446.
This angel identifies the remnant people of God living in the last days. When Protestantism in America shall call upon the secular powers to enforce Sunday observance (the false sabbath), then an image to the beast will have been formed. All will then be called to decide between showing allegiance to the law of God on the one hand or accepting the decree of the beast (the Antichrist) on the other hand. And God will honor the choice of each individual. He will render eternal life to those who, in spite of the death decree, keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and eternal death to those who disobey Him. Revelation 14:9-12; 13:11-18.
“The third angel’s warning is: ‘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.’ ‘The beast’ mentioned in this message, whose worship is enforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopardlike beast of Revelation 13–the papacy.”—The Great Controversy, p. 443.
The Image of the Beast
“The ‘image to the beast’ represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas.”—The Great Controversy, p. 445.
“The professed Protestant world will form a confederacy with the man of sin, and the church and the world will be in corrupt harmony.”—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 975.
“When the Protestant churches shall unite with the secular power to sustain a false religion, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution; when the state shall use its power to enforce the decrees and sustain the institutions of the church–then will Protestant America have formed an image to the papacy, and there will be a national apostasy which will end only in national ruin (ST March 22, 1910).”—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 976.
The Mark of the Beast
“The sign, or seal, of God is revealed in the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, the Lord’s memorial of creationò.The mark of the beast is the opposite of this–the observance of the first day of the week. This mark distinguishes those who acknowledge the supremacy of the papal authority from those who acknowledge the authority of God.—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 117.
“John was called to behold a people distinct from those who worship the beast and his image by keeping the first day of the week. The observance of this day is the mark of the beast (Letter 31, 1898).”—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 979.
The third angel identifies the remnant people of God by the following three main characteristics:
(a) The patience of saints, which is developed under great tribulation. Romans 5:3, 4; James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7.
(b) The keeping of the commandments of God, including the seventh-day Sabbath, which is the seal of the living God and the special sign between Him and His people. Matthew 5:17-20; Luke 16:17; James 2:10-12.
(c) The upholding of the faith of Jesus which is the everlasting gospel and faith in His power to save to the uttermost those who accept Him as their personal Saviour. Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 1:9; 2:1-6; Ephesians 2:8.
“What constitutes the faith of Jesus, that belongs to the third angel’s message? Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might become our sin-pardoning Saviour. He was treated as we deserve to be treated. He came to our world and took our sins that we might take His righteousness. And faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus.”—Selected Messages, bk 3, p. 172.
“The proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages has been located by the Word of Inspiration. Not a peg or pin is to be removed. No human authority has any more right to change the location of these messages than to substitute the New Testament for the Old. The Old Testament is the gospel in figures and symbols. The New Testament is the substance. One is as essential as the other. The Old Testament presents lessons from the lips of Christ, and these lessons have not lost their force in any particular.
“The first and second messages were given in 1843 and 1844, and we are now under the proclamation of the third; but all three of the messages are still to be proclaimed. It is just as essential now as ever before that they shall be repeated to those who are seeking for the truth. By pen and voice we are to sound the proclamation, showing their order, and the application of the prophecies that bring us to the third angel’s message. There cannot be a third without the first and second.”—Selected Messages, vol. 2, pp. 104-105.
“Prophecy declares that the first angel would make his announcement to ‘every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.’ The warning of the third angel, which forms a part of the same threefold message, is to be no less widespread. It is represented in the prophecy as being proclaimed with a loud voice, by an angel flying in the midst of heaven; and it will command the attention of the world.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 449-450.
“The three angels of Revelation 14 are represented as flying in the midst of heaven, symbolizing the work of those who proclaim the first, second, and third angels’ messages. All are linked together. The evidences of the abiding, ever-living truth messages, that means so much to the church, that have awakened such intense opposition from the religious world, are not extinct. Satan is constantly seeking to cast a shadow about these messages, so that the people of God shall not clearly discern their import, their time and place; but they live and are to exert their religious power upon our religious experience while time shall last.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 17-18.
“The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.'”—Early Writings, pp. 258-259.
That Other Angel
Another angel (Revelation 18:1) joins the third angel to give added power to the proclamation of the warning against the beast and his image. The second angel’s message is repeated with the statement of the additional corruptions that have entered the Christian churches since the beginning of his work in 1844. Revelation 18:2, 3. The work of this angel began with the proclamation of the message “Christ Our Righteousness” in 1888, which is to lighten the earth with the glory of God. Exodus 33:18, 19; Haggai 2:9, 7; Colossians 1:27; Habakkuk 2:14.
The rejection of this message led to open apostasy among the Advent people when the requirements of men were openly placed above the commandments of God. The work of this “other” angel, together with the continued presentation of the message to Laodicea, leads to the outpouring of the “Latter Rain” and the proclamation of the final warning with a loud voice (“Loud Cry”). This prepares the people of God to stand in the final test before the close of human probation and during the time of Jacob’s trouble. Revelation 3:14-20; Daniel 12:1; Jeremiah 23:6; Hosea 6:1-3; Joel 2:23.
The coming of the “other angel,” to strengthen the third angel’s message, became necessary because this message was rapidly losing its power in the hands of the people to whom it had been first entrusted. Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 60:1, 2.
“I know that a work must be done for the people, or many will not be prepared to receive the light of the angel sent down from heaven to lighten the whole earth with his glory.”—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 468-469.
“Those who can ignore all the evidences which God has given them, and change that blessing into a curse, should tremble for the safety of their own souls. Their candlestick will be removed out of its place unless they repent. The Lord has been insulted. The standard of truth, of the first, second, and third angels’ messages has been left to trail in the dust.”—Selected Messages, bk 2, p. 394.
Therefore: “Another mighty angel [was] commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message. . . .The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel’s message as it swells to a loud cry.”—Early Writings, p. 277.
“[Revelation 18:1, 2, 4 quoted] This scripture points forward to a time when the announcement of the fall of Babylon, as made by the second angel of Revelation 14 (verse 8), is to be repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the various organizations that constitute Babylon, since that message was first given, in the summer of 1844ò. God still has a people in Babylon; and before the visitation of His judgments these faithful ones must be called out, that they partake not of her sins and ‘receive not of her plagues.’ Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from heaven, lightening the earth with his glory and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 603-604.
“The third angel’s message must be strengthened and confirmed. The eighteenth chapter of Revelation reveals the importance of presenting the truth in no measured terms but with boldness and power.”—Evangelism, p. 230.
“Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and exhort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God… The truth will not be diminished or lose its power in their hands. They will show the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 411.
Preparation for the Latter Rain
“I was shown that the testimony to the Laodiceans applies to God’s people at the present time, and the reason it has not accomplished a greater work is because of the hardness of their hearts. But God has given the message time to do its work. The heart must be purified from sins which have so long shut out Jesus. This fearful message will do its work. When it was first presented, it led to close examination of heart. Sins were confessed, and the people of God were stirred everywhere. Nearly all believed that this message would end in the loud cry of the third angel. But as they failed to see the powerful work accomplished in a short time, many lost the effect of the message. I saw that this message would not accomplish its work in a few short months. It is designed to arouse the people of God, to discover to them their backslidings, and to lead to zealous repentance, that they may be favored with the presence of Jesus, and be fitted for the loud cry of the third angel. As this message affected the heart, it led to deep humility before God. Angels were sent in every direction to prepare unbelieving hearts for the truth. The cause of God began to rise, and His people were acquainted with their position. If the counsel of the True Witness had been fully heeded, God would have wrought for His people in greater power. Yet the efforts made since the message has been given, have been blessed of God, and many souls have been brought from error and darkness to rejoice in the truth.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 186.
The Loud Cry
The Loud Cry of the third angel had its beginning with the coming of the angel of Revelation 18 in 1888. Its culmination will not be seen until the fullness of the Holy Spirit is poured out in the Latter Rain. Revelation 18:1-4.
“While Satan is working with his lying wonders, the time has come [that was] foretold in the Revelation, when the mighty angel that shall lighten the earth with his glory will proclaim the fall of Babylon and call upon God’s people to forsake her.”—Selected Messages, bk 3, pp. 406-407.
“The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth.”—Selected Messages, bk 1, p. 363.
“All who are laborers together with God will contend most earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. They will not be turned from the present message, which is already lightening the earth with its gloryò. We are to sound the messages of the [three] angels, which are represented as flying in the midst of heaven, with the last warning to a fallen worldò. [Revelation 18:1-5 quoted]. Thus the substance of the second angel’s message is again given to the world by that other angel who lightens the earth with its glory.”—Selected Messages, bk 2, pp. 114-116.
“The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are ‘the times of refreshing’ to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: ‘Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out [in the investigative Judgment], when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus.’ Acts 3:19, 20.
“Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works, with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.”—The Great Controversy (1888 edition), pp. 611-612.
The Voice From Heaven
In connection with the proclamation of the threefold angels’ message, another voice from heaven (under the power of the Holy Spirit) is heard through that movement represented by that mighty angel. Before probation closes, he makes the final call to God’s faithful people still in Babylon to come out of her before the plagues of God are poured out upon her. Revelation 18:4, 5.
“As foretold in the eighteenth of Revelation, the third angel’s message is to be proclaimed with great power by those who give the final warning against the beast and his image: [Revelation 18:1-6 quoted].
“This is the message given by God to be sounded forth in the loud cry of the third angel.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 118.
“Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting the threefold warning of Revelation 14:6‑12, the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that ‘believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (2 Thessalonians 2:12), shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon will heed the call: ‘Come out of her, My people’ (Revelation 18:4).”—The Great Controversy, p. 390.
“God still has a people in Babylonò [and] these faithful ones must be called outò Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from Heaven, lightening the ea33rth with his glory, and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon. In connection with his message the call is heard, ‘Come out of her, my people.’ As these warnings join the third angel’s message, it swells to a loud cry.”—Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 422.
“God has honest children among the nominal Adventists and the fallen churches, and before the plagues shall be poured out, ministers and people will be called out from these churches and will gladly receive the truth. Satan knows this; and before the loud cry of the third angel is given, he raises an excitement in these religious bodies, that those who have rejected the truth may think that God is with them. He hopes to deceive the honest and lead them to think that God is still working for the churches. But the light will shine, and all who are honest will leave the fallen churches, and take their stand with the remnant.” —Early Writings, p. 261.
“The third angel’s message must go over the land, and awaken the people, and call their attention to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Another angel unites his voice with the third angel, and the earth is lighted with its glory. The light increases, and it shines out to all the nations of the earth. It is to go forth as a light that burneth. It will be attended with great power, until its golden beams have fallen upon every tongue, every people, and every nation upon the face of the whole earth. Let me ask you, What you are doing to prepare for this work? Are you building for eternity? You must remember that this angel represents the people that have this message to give to the world. Are you among that people? “—Review and Herald, August 18, 1885.
“The question of most vital importance for this time is, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will unite with the angel in giving the message of truth to the world? Who will receive the light that is to fill the whole earth with its glory?'” —Review and Herald, November 5, 1889.
Preparation for Jacob’s Trouble
“As the members of the body of Christ approach the period of their last conflict, ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble,’ they will grow up into Christ, and will partake largely of His Spirit. As the third message swells to a loud cry, and as great power and glory attend the closing work, the faithful people of God will partake of that glory. It is the latter rain which revives and strengthens them to pass through the time of trouble. Their faces will shine with the glory of that light which attends the third angel.” Review and Herald, May 27, 1862.—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 984.
“‘The commencement of that time of trouble,’ here mentioned does not refer to the time when the plagues shall begin to be poured out, but to a short period just before they are poured out, while Christ is in the sanctuary. At that time, while the work of salvation is closing, trouble will be coming on the earth, and the nations will be angry, yet held in check so as not to prevent the work of the third angel. At that time the ‘latter rain,’ or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when the seven last plagues shall be poured out.”—Early Writings, pp. 85-86. The Sealing
During the time of the end, a special sealing work began with the proclamation of the everlasting gospel as revealed in the three angels’ messages. Revelation 14:6-12. One hundred and forty-four thousand servants of God are sealed with the seal of the living God in their foreheads. Revelation 7:1-4; 14:1 (cf Exodus 34:5-7). Those who allow the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth receive the seal of God (John 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22; Ephesians 1:13), which is a sign of recognition (Ezekiel 20:20; 2 Timothy 2:19).
All the faithful believers who died in the faith of the third angel’s message, keeping the Sabbath, are a part of the 144,000 and will come up in a special resurrection before the coming of Christ. Revelation 14:13; Daniel 12:2. These will be among the living saints at His coming.
As the character of God, revealed in His law, is imprinted upon their hearts by the Holy Spirit, they are sanctified in the truth. Isaiah 8:16; Jeremiah 31:33; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; John 17:17 (cf Psalm 119:142). When these conditions are fully met, then Sabbathkeeping is a sign of sanctification, as well as a sign of distinction. It identifies us as worshipers of the true God and distinguishes us from the children of disobedience. Ezekiel 20:12, 20; Exodus 31:16-18; Ezekiel 9:4-6.
The mark of the beast is a counterfeit of the seal of God. Two main apostate religio-political powers (Revelation 13:3, 4, 8, 11-17) are about to control the so-called Christian world with man-made laws in conflict with the law of God. Then those who obey God will suffer fierce persecution (the wrath of the dragon). On the other hand, those who disobey God will receive the mark of the beast (counterfeit sabbath-Sunday), and they, together with the beast, will suffer the consequences of their choice in the seven last plagues (the wrath of God). Revelation 14:9-11; 15:1; 16:1, 2, 10, 11.
A comparison between Revelation 6:12-17 and Revelation 14:14-16 (cf Matthew 13:39) reveals that the sealing message, which includes a warning against the mark of the beast, belongs to the time of the end. It began in 1844.
The Seal of the Living God
“What is the seal of the living God, which is placed in the foreheads of His people? It is a mark which angels, but not human eyes, can read; for the destroying angel must see this mark of redemption.”—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 968
“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.”—The Great Controversy, p. 605.
“Only those who receive the seal of the living God will have the passport through the gates of the Holy City.”—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 970.
“Christ, only Christ and His righteousness, will obtain for us a passport into heaven.”—Last Day Events, p. 283
“An angel with a writer’s inkhorn by his side returned from the earth and reported to Jesus that his work was done, and the saints were numbered and sealed.”—Early Writings, p. 279.
“Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand (RH March 9, 1905).”—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p.970.
The Mark of the Beast
“If the light of truth has been presented to you, revealing the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and showing that there is no foundation in the Word of God for Sunday observance, and yet you still cling to the false sabbath, refusing to keep holy the Sabbath which God calls my ‘holy day,’ you receive the mark of the beast. When does this take place? When you obey the decree that commands you to cease from labor on Sunday and worship God, while you know that there is not a word in the Bible showing Sunday to be other than a common working day, you consent to receive the mark of the beast, and refuse the seal of God.”—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 980.
“There are true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion. None are condemned until they have had the light and have seen the obligation of the fourth commandment. But when the decree shall go forth enforcing the counterfeit sabbath, and the loud cry of ‘the third angel’ shall warn men against the worship of the beast and his image, the line will be clearly drawn between the false and the true. Then those who still continue in transgression will receive the mark of the beast.”—The Signs of the Times, November 8, 1899.
“But Christians of past generations observed the Sunday, supposing that in so doing they were keeping the Bible Sabbath; and there are now true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion, who honestly believe that Sunday is the Sabbath of divine appointment. God accepts their sincerity of purpose and their integrity before Him. But when Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress the command of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authority than that of Rome, will thereby honor popery above God. He is paying homage to Rome and to the power which enforces the institution ordained by Rome. He is worshipping the beast and his image. As men then reject the institution which God has declared to be the sign of His authority, and honor in its stead that which Rome has chosen as the token of her supremacy, they will thereby accept the sign of allegiance to Rome—’the mark of the beast.’ And it is not until the issue is thus plainly set before the people, and they are brought to choose between the commandments of God and the commandments of men, that those who continue in transgression will receive ‘the mark of the beast.'”—Great Controversy, p. 449.
‘Graves are opened, and ‘many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth. . . awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.’ Daniel 12:2. All who have died in the faith of the third angel’s message come forth from the tomb glorified, to hear God’s covenant of peace with those who have kept His law. ‘They also which pierced Him’ (Revelation 1:7), those that mocked and derided Christ’s dying agonies, and the most violent opposers of His truth and His people, are raised to behold Him in His glory and to see the honor placed upon the loyal and obedient.”—The Great Controversy, p. 637.
“The voice of God is heard from heaven, declaring the day and hour of Jesus’ coming, and delivering the everlasting covenant to His people.”—The Great Controversy, p.640.
“Soon we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake.”—Early Writings, p. 15.