Angel Midair Flight
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55. Angel Midair Flight
Revelation 14.6-11

"Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, 'Fear God and give Him glory because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.' A second angel followed and said, 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,' which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries. A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: 'If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or their hand, they too will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name." (Revelation 14.6-11)

Every Nation Tribe

Fling AngelThe "angel flying in midair" is necessary so that everyone everywhere can hear the gospel. The angel calls out to those of every nation, tribe, language and people to repentance. He asserts that God made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water and all was in his control. The angel brings the eternal gospel to people all around the world. They are called upon to "Fear and to have respect for God and give him glory."

Every Language People

BabylonBabylon was a great city in Mesopotamia being founded in BC 2300 and finally abandoned in c1000 AD. Babylon is also known in the ancient world for its corruption and excessive luxury. It is the greatest enemy of Israel and its armies swept through the nation of Israel on several occasions making slaves of its people and forcibly resettling them elsewhere. A warning has already been given in Revelation 13 of the power of the beast and of the mark that the beast would seek to set upon all people. Now there is a warning from the angel to those who fail in their time of trial. The prophet Isaiah 21.9b issued a similar warning, "Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!"

Gospel Preached Everywhere

People Holding HandsThe gospel is to be preached everywhere and announced to every race, tribe, tongue, and people on the face of the earth. One of the signs that are to precede the end according to the Apostle Matthew in Matthew 24.14 is "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." This gospel would be announced, "to every nation." Here is the fulfillment of that prophecy. The angel comes with the message of the "eternal gospel" to all races, tribes, tongues, and peoples. The angel calls on all peoples to "Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." Describing it as "eternal" means that the gospel is valid forever, that even in a world which is crashing to its doom the Gospel truth still stands. It may seem strange that the angel with "the eternal gospel" is followed immediately by another angel of doom. But the gospel has of necessity a double-edged quality. The Gospel is good news for those who receive it but it is judgment and bad news to those who reject it. And the condemnation of those who reject it is all the greater because they are given the chance to accept it. The words of the angel are interesting. "Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." These words are a summons to worship the Creator of all things. The Word of the Lord lasts forever, and forever, and forever!

Give Lord Glory

Saint John ChrysostomThe first angel proclaims that individual Christians are to fear God and give the Lord glory. Significantly, this is the fiercest warning of all the dooms in Revelation. As John of Patmos saw it, the doom of the apostate is worst. The reason is that the Church is battling for its very existence. If it is to continue, the individual Christian has to be prepared to face suffering and trial, imprisonment and death. Every Christian has to "give the Lord glory." The implication is that if the individual Christian yields, the Church would die. In our day, the individual Christian is still of paramount importance, but his or her function now is not usually to protect the faith by being ready to die for it but to commend it by diligently living for it.

Christians Persecuted

Lake of FireChristians persecuted by the Roman Empire give glory to God as they see the holy angels and the lamb vindicate their suffering for the Faith. The names of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah remind us of the most terrible judgment that ever fell on sin and particularly on homosexuality on this earth. Genesis 19.28 explains "Abraham looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace." John of Patmos echoes the words of Isaiah 34.8-10 which describe the day of the Lord's vengeance, "For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause. Edom's streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again." The wicked will be destroyed in the presence of "the holy angels and of the Lamb." Part of the blessedness of heaven is to see the suffering of sinners in hell. When Chrysostom, (349-407 AD), is encouraging Olympias in Constantinople to steadfastness, he tells her that in due time she would see the divine torture of her persecutors, just as Lazarus saw Dives tormented in flames. This line of thought teaches us that we have no real right to speak until we have gone through the same sufferings as the early Revelation Christians. The heathen looked down from the crowded seats of the arena on Christians being killed, persecuted, savaged by wild animals and tortured most terribly but the early Christians are sustained by the thought that someday the divine justice of heaven will rectify the balance of earth's injustices. Then the persecutors will become the persecuted! The fall of Babylon the Great is a cloaked way that the early Jewish Christians refer to the fall of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire with a population of between 50 and 90 million people stretches from Spain to Hadrian's Wall in Northern Britain in the West to Egypt in the South and Albania and Babylonia in the East. The Roman empire's eventual ruin is prophesied in this Revelation 14 passage as the fall of Babylon the Great. Throughout the book of Revelation, Rome is consistently described by the name Babylon, which is a common illusion used in both the Old and the New Testaments to the Roman Empire and Rome itself. In ancient days, Babylon was the very incarnation of power, lust, luxury and sin to the prophets. To the early Jewish Christians, Babylon seems to be reborn in the lust, luxury, immorality and sheer indulgence of Rome in the Roman Empire.

Babylon's Fall

Cyrus the GreatThe fall of Babylon to Cyrus the Persian king is one of the most unexpected and shattering events in ancient history. The very words which Revelation uses are echoes of the ancient prophets. "Fallen, fallen is Babylon," says Isaiah 21.9, "and all the images of her gods he has shattered to the ground." Again Jeremiah 51.8, adds, "Suddenly Babylon has fallen, and been broken."

Revelation Babylon Adulteries

Golden CupThe Revelation Babylon adulteries are being punished and tormented with burning sulfur. The "Babylon adulteries" is an oblique reference to immorality in Rome."Babylon" is said to make all the nations drink of the wine of her cup. This means fornication, extramarital sex and relations, adultery, infidelity, homosexuality, bestiality (or sexual intercourse between humans and animals) and unfaithfulness. In this Revelation phrase, Old Testament conceptions are being used including one from Jeremiah 51.7, which says, "Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord's hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad." Babylon is a corrupting influence that lures the nations into a kind of insane immorality. The background is of a prostitute persuading a man into immorality by filling him full of wine so that he can no longer resist her. Ancient Rome is likened to a glittering prostitute seducing the world. "Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth" makes the nations drink of the wine which seduces people to fornication and which brings as its consequence the wrath of God. Behind all this remains the eternal truth that the nations or the people whose influence is to encourage evil in others will not escape the avenging wrath of God.

"Angel Midair Flight"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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