Sabbath, September 15, 2012
“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.” Revelation 14:6.
1. How significant are the three angels’ messages? What protection do they offer to God’s people at the end of time?
Revelation 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.
“I was shown three steps–the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.’ I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience….
“Many saw the perfect chain of truth in the angels’ messages, and gladly received them in their order, and followed Jesus by faith into the heavenly sanctuary. These messages were represented to me as an anchor to the people of God. Those who understand and receive them will be kept from being swept away by the many delusions of Satan.” –Early Writings, pp. 258, 259, 256.
2. Why did Sister Ellen G. White say that we have to experience the three angels’ messages?
Matthew 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.
“Many who embraced the third message had not had an experience in the two former messages. Satan understood this, and his evil eye was upon them to overthrow them; but the third angel was pointing them to the most holy place, and those who had had an experience in the past messages were pointing them the way to the heavenly sanctuary….
“In like manner those who have had no experience in the first and second angels’ messages must receive them from others who had an experience and followed down through the messages.” –Early Writings, pp. 256, 188.
3. What does the first angel proclaim? Explain the first angel’s message in relation to the advent movement under which William Miller preached that Jesus would return to earth in the spring of 1844.
Revelation 10:8, 9 And the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard it again speaking with me, and saying, Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel that standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, saying unto him that he should give me the little book. And he saith unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey.
“To William Miller and his co-laborers it was given to preach the warning in America. This country became the center of the great advent movement. It was here that the prophecy of the first angel’s message had its most direct fulfillment…. Far and wide spread the message of the everlasting gospel: ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.’
“The testimony of the prophecies which seemed to point to the coming of Christ in the spring of 1844 took deep hold of the minds of the people. As the message went from state to state, there was everywhere awakened widespread interest.” –The Great Controversy, p. 368.
A wonderful experience
4. As in Jonah’s experience, what was the response to the message of Jesus’ soon coming, as preached by Miller and his associates?
Revelation 10:8, 9 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
Jonah 3:3-5 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
“The simple, direct testimony of the Scriptures, set home by the power of the Holy Spirit, brought a weight of conviction which few were able wholly to resist.” –The Great Controversy, p. 369.
“Wherever the message was given, it moved the people. Sinners repented, wept, and prayed for forgiveness, and those whose lives had been marked with dishonesty were anxious to make restitution. Parents felt the deepest solicitude for their children.” –Early Writings, pp. 232, 233.
“Sinners inquired with weeping: ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Those whose lives had been marked with dishonesty were anxious to make restitution. All who found peace in Christ longed to see others share the blessing. The hearts of parents were turned to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. The barriers of pride and reserve were swept away. Heartfelt confessions were made, and the members of the household labored for the salvation of those who were nearest and dearest. Often was heard the sound of earnest intercession. Everywhere were souls in deep anguish pleading with God. Many wrestled all night in prayer for the assurance that their own sins were pardoned, or for the conversion of their relatives or neighbors.” –The Great Controversy, p. 369.
5. How deep and earnest was the repentance of the people who accepted the truth as they approached March 22, 1844?
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
“With unspeakable desire those who had received the message watched for the coming of their Saviour. The time when they expected to meet Him was at hand. They approached this hour with a calm solemnity. They rested in sweet communion with God, and earnest of the peace that was to be theirs in the bright hereafter. None who experienced this hope and trust can forget those precious hours of waiting. For some weeks preceding the time, worldly business was for the most part laid aside. The sincere believers carefully examined every thought and emotion of their hearts as if upon their deathbeds and in a few hours to close their eyes upon earthly scenes.” –The Great Controversy, p. 373.
Repentance and confession
6. How can we who live one and a half centuries later make a similar, deep experience?
Ezekiel 18:30, last part Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
“Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come to Him in faith. He will cleanse them from all defilement if they will let Him. But if they cling to their sins, they cannot possibly be saved; for Christ’s righteousness covers no sin unrepented of.” –(MS 142, 1899) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 931.
“No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 555, 556.
7. If we continue to cherish unrepented sins, can we claim that we accept the first angel’s message? What will be the consequence of this?
Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.
James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
“Jesus died, not to save man in his sins, but from his sins. Man is to leave the error of his ways, to follow the example of Christ, to take up his cross and follow Him, denying self, and obeying God at any cost.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 251.
“If one sin is cherished in the soul, or one wrong practice retained in the life, the whole being is contaminated.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 313.
8. The third angel pointed upward, showing the saints the way to the heavenly sanctuary; and they found Jesus in the most holy place. Today, can we enter into the most holy place carrying unrepented sins in our hearts?
Leviticus 21:23 Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the Lord do sanctify them.
“I saw the third angel pointing upward, showing the disappointed ones the way to the holiest of the heavenly sanctuary. As they by faith enter the most holy, they find Jesus, and hope and joy spring up anew. I saw them looking back, reviewing the past, from the proclamation of the second advent of Jesus, down through their experience to the passing of the time in 1844. They see their disappointment explained, and joy and certainty again animate them. The third angel has lighted up the past, the present, and the future, and they know that God has indeed led them by His mysterious providence.
“It was represented to me that the remnant followed Jesus into the most holy place and beheld the ark and the mercy seat, and were captivated with their glory.” –Early Writings, pp. 254, 255.
For review and meditation
• In what sense are the three angels’ messages not a theory but an experience?
• What experience followed the proclamation of the first angel’s message in the 19th century?
• Personal question: Have I accepted the first angel’s message?