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. In a loud voice, he said, '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. Burning sulfur will torment them 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)✞

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 water springs, and all is 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."

Language People

BabylonBabylon, a great city in Mesopotamia, was founded in BC 2300 and finally abandoned in c1000 AD. Babylon is renowned 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 several times, making slaves of its people and forcibly resettling them elsewhere. A caution appears in Revelation 13 of the beast's power and the mark that it would seek to set upon everyone. Now there is a deterrent from the angel to those who fail in their time of trial. The prophet Isaiah 21.9b issues a similar caution, "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. One of the signs that are to precede the end, according to 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 "eternal gospel message" 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 that 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 destruction. But the gospel has of necessity a double-edged quality. It is good news for those who receive it, but it is judgment and bad news to those who reject it. The condemnation of those who reject it is more significant because they can 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!

Give the 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 destruction of the apostate is worse. The reason is that the Church is battling for its very existence. If it continues, the individual Christian must 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. Still, 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 FireAll Christians persecuted by the Roman Empire give God glory 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 Isaiah 34.8-10, which describes 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 die 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 eternal torture of her persecutors in the same way 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 suffering as early Revelation Christians. The heathen looked down from the crowded seats of the arena on Christians killed, persecuted, savaged by wild animals, and tortured most terribly. The thought sustains the early Christians that someday the divine justice of heaven will rectify the balance of earth's injustices. Then the persecutors will become the persecuted!

Eventual Ruin

The fall of Babylon the Great is a cloaked way that the early Jewish Christians refer to the Roman Empire's fall. The Roman Empire, with a population of between 50 and 90 million people, stretched from Spain to Hadrian's Wall in Northern Britain in the West to Egypt in the South, Albania, and Babylonia in the East. Revelation 14 prophesies the Roman empire's eventual ruin as the fall of Babylon the Great. Throughout the book of Revelation, Babylon consistently describes Rome, a universal 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. Babylon seems to be reborn in the passion, luxury, immorality, and sheer indulgence of Rome in the Roman Empire to the early Jewish Christians. The 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. Jeremiah 51.8 prophecies, "Suddenly Babylon has fallen, and been broken."

Revelation Babylon Adulteries

Golden CupThe 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 the wine of her cup. Babylon means fornication, extramarital sex and relations, adultery, infidelity, homosexuality, bestiality, and unfaithfulness. In this Revelation phrase, Old Testament conceptions include 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 prostitute's background is persuading a man into sin by filling him full of wine so that he can no longer resist her. Ancient Rome is a glittering prostitute seducing the world. "Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth" makes the nations drink the wine, which attracts people to fornication and brings God's wrath. Behind this remains the eternal truth that the governments 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 © 2020

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