“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, and he had an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He declared in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!’” (Revelation 14:6-7 NET).
John’s Revelation is not the most straightforward scripture. There are many explanations and interpretations, some of which have merit and some are more in the realms of fantasy. But whatever interpretation we want to place on it, there are some eternal truths that we can see in the word-pictures that John used to paint a picture for us.
In this picture, John saw three angels with three messages. The first one has a message that we can easily apply today. The message is simple: we need to “fear God and give him glory.” And he gives a reason: “because the hour of his judgment has arrived.”
But why judgment? Throughout this revelation, we have the forces of evil battling against Jesus and his people. Finally, a time of judgment has arrived. And for God’s people, this is good news!
The angel “had an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth.” This message was for everyone: all nations, languages, and people. No one is exempt from this message. This is “good news.”
The word for “gospel” if literally translated would be “good news.” And this good news that the angel is proclaiming is “eternal.” It does not have an end. How can a message of judgment be good news?
It is good news for those who are God’s people. The picture immediately preceding this one is of the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with 144,000 of his followers (Revelation 14:1-5). The Lamb is consistently identified in the Revelation as being Jesus. The simplest explanation for the 144,000 is that this is all of God’s people – not a literal total number but that this number represents all of God’s followers.
God’s people have been persecuted throughout their history. We can read about those who opposed Christians throughout the book of Acts and into the letters of the apostles. History tells us that this continued, not only under the Roman emperors but in all ages. And we know that there are many who oppose God’s people today.
Judgment is good news because God’s people are victorious! They have remained faithful and are ready for eternity with the Lamb. The persecution and suffering are now over.
God is to be feared – he has the power of judgment. And God is to be given glory for taking care of his people. We are to worship him. He is the Creator of everything: “heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” The one who has the power to create has the power to judge his creation.
What is the lesson for us? We need to be God’s people. We need to hang on even when the going gets tough. We need to live with the realization that judgment is coming. If we are faithful, that is eternal good news!
Readings for next week:
11 June – Revelation 7-8
12 June – Revelation 9-10
13 June – Revelation 11-12
14 June – Revelation 13
15 June – Revelation 14-15