“Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.””
Revelation 14:9-11 NLT
It’s time for the third flying angel to make his appearance in John’s vision. And his message is grim. It will obviously be delivered at a time when people are newly acquainted with the beast’s demands, and still have a choice about whether or not to wholeheartedly embrace the statue worship and accept the beast’s mark, the 666 reference, on their hands or foreheads. So just in case there were any who were having doubts about this, an angel appears. He gives them a stark warning – if they choose the way of the beast they will spend eternity in his company. He used words designed to instil terror into his hearers. Words such as fire, sulphur, continual torment.
From the messages delivered by the three angels it is easy to question why the peoples in the global nations still rejected God and His grace. Everyone by now has heard the Gospel, the Good News about Jesus, the Son of God, and what He did for mankind through the cross at Calvary. They now know that the party is over. Their sinful and wicked ways, the immorality of their life styles, has come to an end. And here we have the last warning. Worship the beast, receive his mark, and there’s no way back. In spite of all this, most of the people still alive at this time rejected the angels’ messages. Why? What were they thinking?
In my meanderings around the community where I live, I occasionally have the opportunity to share about Jesus and what He did for mankind, and in particularly for what He has done for me. I find that most people I meet are aware of a spiritual life after death. Not something they want to talk about, but the awareness is there. But I have been taken aback by the anger in some that is directed against anything to do with God. They blame Him for so much. For the death of a loved one. For the state of the economy. For their ill-health. For a natural catastrophe (even insurance companies refer sometimes to an “Act of God”). And I have heard rants against churchgoers, and all that is wrong about them. Are these the sort of people who will hold out to the end, preferring eternal torment to repentance and a life with God? Do we find that inexplicable?
Jesus experienced unbelief and resistance even in the face of His miracles. We read in John 12:37, “But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him.” Why would that still be the case even in His day, when the people were in the presence of the Son of God? The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:4 wrote, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” Scripture is even more revealing in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, where we read with a reference to the beast, “This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.”
It is so sad when we read these verses. To think that eternal life with God is so close. So accessible. And what makes the situation even more distressing is that there are those in our families, and groups of friends, who will be counted amongst those deceived by satan. What can we do? Thankfully, we are not in a hopeless place, because our loving Heavenly Father is a gracious and loving God. He wants no one to end up in that place we call hell. So we pray. We passionately pray. We call out to Him for our loved ones, that His mercy and grace will somehow penetrate hardened hearts and draw them into that place of grace where they embrace God’s son with love and acceptance.
Dear Father. We pray for our loved ones today. And we’ll keep on praying until they too find Your grace and mercy. Thank You for Your love and acceptance of every sinner who repents.