The vision of John in Revelation 14 is essentially about the introduction of the 144000, the preaching of the three angels' message, and the consequent reaping of a harvest. It is quite interesting that the Bible categorize the first of the three messages as the everlasting gospel. It is said to be the gospel that will be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. The designation of the first message as the everlasting gospel seems to distinguish it from the other two in terms of its eternal importance.
In the scheme of the prophecy of Revelation 14, it appears that this message will have a greater relevance to the last days than it has to any previous dispensation. You will recall Jesus' series of predictions in Matthew 24 where he stated that the final preaching of the gospel on a global scale is one of the major signs of the Second Coming. I want you to notice the language he uses to describe the kind of message that is to be preached to the world in the time of the end:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come" Matt. 24:14
The message to be proclaimed in the last days is designated the "gospel of the kingdom". When I think about the expression, 'the gospel of the kingdom', I can only recall the fact that this is what Christ and His disciples have been preaching all along in their time. During their era the emphasis has always been on the need to prepare for a kingdom to come. According to the scriptures, when the ministry of Christ had officially began, this was the very message that He preached. Here is what is said in the book of Mark:
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." Mk 1:14, 15
This was the same message that John the Baptist was preaching when he says, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" Matt. 3:2. It was the identical gospel that Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach when He sent them out to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In His command He exhorted the twelve saying, "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand" Matt. 10:7
The kingdom of God is spoken of in two ways: first, you have the kingdom of grace, and then you have the kingdom of glory. It is quite necessary for the former to precede the latter. Every Christian today is considered to be a part of that kingdom of grace on account of their benefit from the extended mercies of our God in sending His Son to die for our sins. The manner in which we conduct of ourselves as subjects of the kingdom of grace will determine whether we will inherit the kingdom of glory.
As the eternal destiny of the apostolic generation depends upon the manner in which the gospel is treated, even more so will it be in the last days. However, when you examine what the first angel's message is about you will see that the word 'kingdom' is not even mentioned. Here is how the prophet John describes the message:
"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 the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" Revelation 14:6
Since the phrase 'the kingdom of God is at hand' does not appear in this message, does it mean that it is any different from what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24? Far from it; since both the everlasting gospel and the gospel of the kingdom are to be preached to every nation, and will be preached in the last days just prior to the second coming, it is difficult to see a contrast between the two.
When we consider the gospel about the kingdom it is quite obvious that the centre of this message is about a particular dominion to come, and this dominion is all about the reign of Christ. According to the scriptures, the kingdom of God is about "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" Rom. 14:17. Therefore, this kingdom in question is not just about a structure that is built for us in the heavens, but also about holy living resulting from a quality relationship with God. The preaching of the kingdom is designed bring men and women to true repentance and the realization that they can live a righteous life in Christ.
When you examine the everlasting gospel of Revelation 14, it is actually teaching the same principle using different words. Here is what it teaches. First, it calls upon us to fear God; this is obviously a call to repentance designed to accomplish the same purpose as the proclamation that says, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". It is essentially a message calling the world back to God at a time when the world is engaged in false worship.
What interest me most about this message is the call to acknowledge God as the Creator of heaven and earth. The divinely appointed means of celebrating the creatorship of God is through Sabbath keeping (See Exod. 20:8-11). But what does Sabbath keeping has to do with a call to repentance and having a relationship with God? Here is what the prophet Isaiah says about what it means to truly observe this special day of worship:
"If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, or finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Isa. 58:13, 14
The message of Revelation 14 is indeed a call to "delight thyself in the Lord" through Sabbath observance. The apparent contrast between the message of the pre-apostolic dispensation and that of the last days is such because there is a difference in the contexts in which they are preached. The present truth in the time of Christ was about the kingdom because Christ was about to set up His kingdom of grace, the church. But in the last days, the message will be about calling people to fear God and celebrate His creative work because at that time the world will be giving homage to the beast.
Steve Sterling is a prophecy researcher for over 25 years. Download his advanced prophecy course at www.prophecyecourse.com. Further resource: http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/end-time-prophecy-course-10-bible-principles-to-consider-before-you-choose-a-prophecy-course-5097598.html
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