|HILE TOURING ONE OF OUR CONFERENCE OFFICES YEARS AGO, A VISITOR remarked that he was impressed with Ellen White’s gift of prophecy, our adherence to the principles of tithing, and our commitment to Bible study. “There’s just one thing I don’t understand,” he said. Pointing to the sign on the lawn outside the building, he asked, “What is the meaning of those three bugs with trumpets?”
To outsiders, our denomination’s historic logo may look like three bugs with trumpets, but to us it’s a graphic reminder of the three angels’ messages from Revelation 14. These messages symbolize the basis of our existence and our divine commission to proclaim the message of Christ’s second coming.
While John’s visions all alternate between the dark deeds of the devil and the marvelous light leading God’s church through tribulation to glorification, the first and second angels’ messages (Rev. 14:6-8) focus on God the Father. The first asserts that preaching the everlasting gospel is a work fit for an angel—a celestial, supernatural being.
However, before we sigh with relief and absolve ourselves of responsibility, these angels also represent saints engaged in a universal mission to every nation, tongue, and tribe. The everlasting gospel is eternal in its unalterable nature according to Paul, who said anyone preaching a contrary gospel is accursed (Gal. 1:9). It’s everlasting in contrast to the short-lived power of Satan, who deceives the whole world, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time. Above all, it summons nonbelievers to salvation by faith through grace in Jesus Christ with the good news that was first revealed in embryo (Gen. 3:15; 12:3), prophetically disclosed (Isa. 53:1-12), and fulfilled and witnessed by many (cf. Luke 24).
Every good message must have an appeal. The first angel summons us to acknowledge the majesty of God, confess our sins, and receive His pardon. It is given in a loud voice in order that it might be heard above the din of everyday existence where nations, tribes, tongues, and people cry out against soaring energy prices, weather-related catastrophes, economic instability, and military conflicts that cost thousands of innocent lives. It’s a great voice that will be heard above the broadcasts of crimes of passion and random acts of evil, not to mention suicides and mass murders that mar the promise and potential of God’s creatures.
The first angel also calls us to worship God. There was a time when sacraments such as Communion, baptism, and marriage were the primary foci of the Christian church. Today they are trumped by the ritual of worship. Some churches have created vibrant worship services that enliven the faith and fellowship of believers. Others have successfully cultivated somber moods in sanctuaries that resemble funeral chapels, where worship feels like a memorial service and music sounds like a funeral dirge; where people either don’t attend or come with the reluctance of one going to the dentist. But when and where the everlasting gospel is preached with great joy, worshippers expect and experience His presence and give glory to God in total praise.
The second angel follows and accompanies the first, who is still speaking. Where the first spoke with a loud voice, this one does not, because the message is directed to a specific, spiritually discerning group of listeners, i.e., Christians. It announces that Babylon the Great will fall to rise no more and the captive people of God will be triumphant in the end, a future event so certain and significant it’s the only message repeated later in Revelation 18:1-8.
Conventional thought is that the Babylonian spirit was most evident in pagan and, later, papal Rome. This prophetic Word also refers to apostate Christianity, a system of belief that was once the golden cup in the hand of God, but has gradually fallen away from the original teachings of Jesus Christ. Secularism and its offspring, postmodernism, will also fall for closing hearts and blinding eyes to the commands of God in our emerging culture of uncertainty.
Praise God all false systems will one day be obliterated by the power of the everlasting gospel!