A Message Worth Sharing
Christ’s atoning death was universal; that is, it was meant for all people who have ever lived, regardless of when or where. Thus, the gospel speaks to people of every language group, culture, and background. It bridges ethnic divides. It is the incredibly good news that Jesus, in His life, death, and resurrection, has triumphed over the principalities and powers of hell. The gospel is all about Jesus. He died for us and now lives for us. He came once to deliver us from the penalty and power of sin and is coming again to deliver us from the presence of sin. He died the death we deserve so that we can live the life He deserves. In Christ we are justified, sanctified, and one day glorified.
The Bible focuses on the two comings of Jesus. He came once to redeem us and will return to take home what He has purchased at such an infinite cost. The Bible’s last book, Revelation, was written especially to prepare the world for Jesus’ return. It is an urgent message for this generation. In this week’s lesson, we will study Revelation’s relevance for a twenty-first-century contemporary society. Together we will discover anew Jesus’ appeal to His last-day church to share this end-time message.
* Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, September 19.
Throughout salvation history, God has regularly sent a special message through the prophetic Word to prepare people for what was coming. God is never caught off guard (Isa. 46:9, 10). He prepares His people for the future by sending prophets to reveal His message before the judgment falls (Amos 3:7). In the days before the Flood, God sent a message to the world through Noah that the Flood was coming. In Egypt, God raised up Joseph to prepare for the famine during the seven years of plenty. The Jewish prophets warned the Israelite leaders of the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian armies. John the Baptist’s message of repentance prepared a nation for the first coming of Jesus.
The message of eternal significance for the first century was that Christ had come. The Father’s love was revealed through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Although the “wages of sin is death,” through Christ eternal life has been secured for all. It is our choice whether by faith we will receive it (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:8). This message of salvation in Jesus will never be out of date. It is present truth for every generation.
The Bible’s last book, Revelation, presents Jesus and His eternal salvation in an end-time context to prepare a people for His soon return. It exposes the falsehood of human tradition and self-centered religiosity. From the beginning to the end, Revelation reveals Jesus and His work in behalf of humanity. Jesus is the true witness of His Father’s character. He is the “ruler over the kings of the earth.” He is the One “who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (see Rev. 1:1–6, NKJV). Revelation is all about Jesus and His end-time message to get His people ready for His soon return.
The gospels primarily center on Christ’s first coming. They tell the story of His birth, His life and ministry, and His death and resurrection. Although they speak of His second coming, that is not their main emphasis. The book of Revelation’s primary focus, however, is the climax of the centuries-long conflict of the ages. Each of its major prophecies ends in the glorious return of our Lord.
From the first to the last chapter of the book of Revelation, the climax of each prophecy is the coming of Jesus. The “Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:12, NKJV) is coming again as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). He will defeat all of the foes that oppress and persecute His people (Rev. 17:14). He will deliver them from this nightmare of sin and bring them home to glory. The great controversy between good and evil will be ended. The earth will be made new, and the redeemed will live with their Lord forever (Rev. 21:1–4).
In Revelation 22:7 (see also Rev. 22:12, 17, 20), Jesus says: “ ‘Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book’ ” (NKJV). Thus, Jesus’ final appeal to all humanity is to respond to His love, accept His grace, and follow His truth to be ready for His soon return. Revelation concludes with Jesus’ invitation, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ ” (Rev. 22:17, NKJV).
Our Lord invites all of those who seek for eternal life to come to Him. He then invites those of us who have accepted the message of salvation and are eagerly anticipating His return to join Him in inviting others to accept the message of His love. He sends us out on His mission to share His message to prepare a world for His soon return. There is nothing more rewarding than participating with Jesus in His mission to the world. There is nothing more fulfilling than cooperating with Christ in His last-day plan of salvation.
The epicenter of Revelation is chapter 14. This chapter is of paramount importance to God’s people living in the last days of human history. It unfolds God’s last-day message to humankind. This end-time message is crucial to the people of God and to all humanity.
The symbolism of the harvest is used throughout the Bible to describe Christ’s return (Matt. 13:37–43, Mark 4:29). In Revelation 14, the harvest of ripe grain represents the redemption of the righteous, and the harvest of overripe grapes depicts the destruction of the wicked. Revelation 14:6–12 contains an urgent last-day message to prepare men and women for earth’s final harvest.
The message of the first angel in Revelation 14 appeals to a twentyfirst- century generation longing for purpose in their lives. It presents the gospel of God’s grace that provides forgiveness for all. It cleanses us from the guilt of sin and gives us power to be overcomers. This message provides the basis for all self-worth in the fact that Christ created us and redeemed us. It points out that one day all injustice will come to an end in God’s final judgment. It is incredibly good news because it reveals that unrighteousness will not last forever.
Revelation’s last-day message presents Jesus in the fullness of His saving grace for all humanity (Rev. 14:6). It is an earnest appeal to “fear,” or give reverence, to God in all we do—to respect His commands and obey His law in the light of God’s judgment (Rev. 14:7). To “fear God” has to do with how we think. It is an appeal to live to please God and to place Him first in all of our thoughts. It is an attitude of obedience that leads us to live godly lives (Prov. 3:7, Acts 9:31, 1 Pet. 2:17). This message also invites us to “give glory” to God. Giving glory to God relates to what we do in every aspect of our lives.
In an age of moral irresponsibility, when millions of people feel that they are accountable to no one but themselves, this judgment-hour message reminds us that we are responsible for our actions. There is a relationship between an attitude of reverence for God, obedience to God, and the judgment. Obedience is the fruit of a saving relationship with Jesus. Only His righteousness is good enough to pass the judgment, and, in His righteousness, we are secure. Through His righteousness we live to glorify His name in all that we do.
Satan has attacked the Sabbath because he knows that it is the very heart of worship. It exalts Christ as the Creator and appeals to all men and women everywhere to “worship Him who made heaven and earth” (Rev. 14:7, NKJV). It speaks with relevance in an age of evolution. It calls us back to worshiping the Jesus who created us and who gives us a sense of our true worth in Him.
In the book of Revelation, the term “Babylon” represents a false system of religion based on human works, man-made traditions, and false doctrines. It exalts human beings and their self-righteousness above Jesus and His sinless life. It places the commands of human religious teachers above the commands of God. Babylon was the center of idolatry, sun worship, and the false teaching of the immortality of the soul. This false religious system has subtly integrated many of ancient Babylon’s religious practices into its worship. God’s last-day message to our dying planet is the message of Jesus and His righteousness. It echoes heaven’s appeal: “ ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. . . . Come out of her, my people’ ” (Rev. 18:2, 4). God has divinely raised up the Seventh-day Adventist Church to exalt the message of Christ in all of its fullness. To exalt Jesus is to lift up everything He taught. It is to proclaim the One who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). It is to expose the errors of Babylon in contrast to the truths of Jesus.
Revelation 14 describes two different acts of worship—the worship of the Creator and the worship of the beast. These two acts of worship center around God’s day of worship, the true Sabbath, and a substitute, or counterfeit, Sabbath. The Sabbath represents the rest, assurance, and security that we have in Christ our Creator, Redeemer, and coming King. The counterfeit day represents a human and false substitute based on human reasoning and man-made decrees.
Further Thought: “God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth—the messages of the first, second, and third angels—He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world.
“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. Christ declares to His followers: ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ Matthew 5:14. To every soul that accepts Jesus the cross of Calvary speaks: ‘Behold the worth of the soul. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” ’ Mark 16:15. Nothing is to be permitted to hinder this work. It is the all-important work for our time; it is to be far-reaching as eternity. The love that Jesus manifested for the souls of men in the sacrifice which He made for their redemption, will actuate all His followers. “Christ accepts, oh, so gladly! every human agency that is surrendered to Him. He brings the human into union with the divine, that He may communicate to the world the mysteries of incarnate love. Talk it, pray it, sing it, fill the world with the message of His truth, and keep pressing on into the regions beyond.”—Ellen G. White, Counsels for the Church, pp. 58, 59.