IT DOESN'T matter whether you are spraying roses, taking medicine, or exterminating termites, if the instruction on the label advises, REPEAT TREATMENT, you cannot blame anyone but yourself for the mediocre results you will get if you neglect to follow this direction.
Likewise, there are some who have questioned the effectiveness of the three angels' messages, not realizing that these messages must—according to the divine prescription —be repeated before the coming of the Lord.
The fourteenth chapter of Revelation is a chapter of the deepest interest. This scripture will soon be understood in all its bearings, and the messages given to John the revelator will be repeated with distinct utterance.—The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 14:6-12, p. 978.
The above statement was written by Mrs. E. G. White in October, 1904. Although the three angels' messages had then been proclaimed for almost sixty years, she directly implies that a more intelligent proclamation of these messages was yet to take place.
The first angel's message had been given by the Millerites, who prepared a people for the Second Advent, and when the churches opposed them and shut their doors to this message they then proclaimed the second angel's message, calling the people out of Babylon. The Seventh-day Adventist pioneers preached the third angel's message when they introduced the seventh-day Sabbath and showed that the saints of the last days would "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." This original application, which was both limited and local in scope, would appear on a time line as below:
But a study of Revelation 14:6-12 and the Spirit of Prophecy's comments on these verses reveals that the three angels' messages are yet to have their ultimate, universal application, which would be graphically set out like this:
The First Angel
(A) The first angel's message is essentially a proclamation of the everlasting gospel of salvation in Christ during the investigative judgment. "The hour of his judgment," although a specific reference to the antitypical Day of Atonement, has also a broader application to God's impending judgments upon the great whore, Babylon. Hence the urgency in the message, "Fear God, and give glory to him."
The Second Angel
(B) The second angel's message has not yet reached its perfect fulfillment, and can not until all nations have been made drunk with Babylon's false doctrines.
Not yet, however, can it be said that "Babylon is fallen, . . . because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." She has not yet made all nations do this.—The Great Controversy, p. 389.
Therefore, "the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future" (ibid., p. 390). But when the nations of earth, intoxicated by the doctrines of a spirit-possessed Babylon, submit their power to her control, then the second angel will sound the warning to all the world. The church will go forth in the latter-rain power of Revelation 18:1-4 to call the true-in-heart out of the fallen system.
The Third Angel
(C) When Sunday observance is enforced by civil law the third angel will appear to warn men of the fatal consequences of honoring this papal institution in defiance of God's law. The issue will be clearly set before the people and men will be offered the seal of God as the alternative to the mark of the beast. Thus the whole world will be divided into two camps, and when the last responsible person has made his decision, probation will close.
Like many Bible prophecies Revelation 14:6-13 has a dual application. The first was both limited and local in scope, but the final fulfillment will be complete in every aspect.
This, then, raises the question, Does this mean that the second and third angels' messages have no significance at the present time? By no means! The Sabbath-Sunday question may not now be a national issue, but wherever the three angels' messages are preached, it is very definitely a personal issue.
The Second Angel
Had the second angel's message not been proclaimed in my hometown I would not now be a Seventh-day Adventist. And many readers of this article have also responded to the call to come out of Babylon and join the remnant church that keeps the commandments of God.
Each year the second angel's message be comes more significant, for the further Babylon slips into the abyss the stronger it becomes. When Babylon's fall becomes national, then the message will also become national.
The Third Angel
Every time we preach on the unpardonable sin we are preaching the third angel's message on a personal scale. When the whole nation stands in danger of committing the unpardonable sin by rejecting the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, then the third angel's message will be preached on a national scale. "Today is the day of salvation," is the message of the third angel. The only escape from "the wrath to come" is obedience to the truth as it is in Jesus (1 Thess. 1:10).
Neither the Scriptures nor the Spirit of Prophecy gives the slightest indication that the messages of the three angels will burst upon the world like a clap of thunder. Rather, they spread their rays like the rising sun until the world is flooded with their light. But this will never happen if we slacken their proclamation now.