Three Angels' Messages
"I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.'" (Revelation 14:6,7 KJV)
The first angel's message is a prophecy that states that the gospel will be preached to every nation on earth.
"There followed another angel, saying, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.'" (Revelation 14:8 KJV)
The second angel's message is a call to repentance. Broadly taken, it is a call to everyone everywhere to leave their sins ("Babylon") behind them and give them up.
"The third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.'" (Revelation 14:9-12 KJV)
The third angel's message is a warning to the people of the earth, not to worship the beast or his image. (The "beast" and his "image" were introduced in chapter 13 of Revelation.) Those previous verses are the source of the famous mark of the beast .
The first angel's message is the “everlasting gospel”, namely the “good news of God’s infinite love”. It is also a warning that the investigative judgment has begun and a call to worship the Creator of the world, specifically in the keeping of the Sabbath commandment. “The first angel’s message … calls for the restoration of true worship by presenting before the world Christ the Creator and Lord of the Bible Sabbath [which is] the sign of God’s Creation.”
The second angel's message is a call to those in Babylon to “depart from her” (Revelation 18:4). Adventists traditionally believe that Babylon represents the apostate church, which they identify as Roman Catholicism as well as Protestants who have rejected the truth. “This prophecy of Babylon’s fall especially finds its fulfillment in the departure of Protestantism at large from the purity and simplicity of the everlasting gospel of righteousness by faith that once so powerfully impelled the Reformation.” This explains why Adventists often aim their evangelism at Christians in other churches as well as non-Christians. “The message of the fall of Babylon … calls on those of God’s people who are still in the various religious bodies comprising Babylon to separate from them.” However, Adventists have also made it clear that there are currently many true believers in “Babylon” who worship God sincerely, including Roman Catholics.
Theologian Ángel Manuel Rodríguez explains the mission of the remnant in terms of the second angel’s message: “The end-time remnant is described in Revelation as having a God-given mission and a particular message to the whole world. They are to call the people of God to come out of Babylon, that is to say, to join the historical, faithful and visible end-time remnant of God.”
The third angel’s message is a solemn warning against observance of Sunday as a sacred day, which Adventists have historically interpreted as the mark of the beast . “Those who reject God’s memorial of creatorship—the Bible Sabbath—choosing to worship and honor Sunday in the full knowledge that it is not God’s appointed day of worship, will receive the ‘mark of the beast.’ ” It should be emphasized that Adventists believe that the mark of the beast will only be received at a future date, when every person on earth is made aware of their obligation to keep the Sabbath; in other words, Christians who currently worship on Sunday do not have the mark.
Timeline of Eschatological Events
The background to Adventist eschatology is found in the Book of Daniel , which has strong thematic and literary links to's vision of a statue in Daniel 2 . The sequence of world kingdoms is interpreted by Adventists as representing in turn Babylonia , Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, pagan and then papal. The feet of iron and clay in the vision are understood to represent the nations of Europe subsequent to the breakup of the Roman empire.
The Roman empire was a "world" power active during the ministry of Jesus, and continued several centuries into the Christian era, when it was ultimately replaced by the Papacy. The papacy is identified with the “man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians, the “Antichrist” of 1 John and the "little horn" of Daniel chapters 7 and 8. It is believed that the Roman Catholic religion grew into a corruption of original, authentic Christianity. Among other things, it is considered to have changed the church’s day of worship from Saturday to Sunday.
The period AD 538 to 1798 is believed to be the “1260 days”, “42 months” or “time, times and dividing of time” of apocalyptic prophecy . The 1260 days were a time of papal supremacy and oppression as prophesied in Revelation 12:6, 14-16. This period began with the defeat of the Ostrogoths by the general Belasarius In Adventist thought, this was the last of three Germanic tribes (also the Herilu and the Vandals) to be defeated by Rome (see Daniel 7:20, Daniel 7:24and other passages). The period ended with the successes of Napoleon of France specifically, the capture of by Pope Pius VI by general Louis-Alexandre Berthier. This capture of the pope by the French army was understood as the "deadly wound" of Revelation 13:3.
After the end of the 1260 days, and prior to 1844, several significant events took place. In 1755 a Massive earthquake hit Lisbon. On May 19, 1780, northeastern America experienced a day of extraordinary darkness followed by a blood-red moon that night. On November 13, 1833, a spectacular Leonidis meteor shower occurred. These three events were thought to be a fulfillment of Revelation 6:12, paving the way for the final events of history.
The investigative judgement commenced in 1844 "at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days". During this time, Jesus Christ is believed to be ministering in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary"blotting out" the sins of all
who are found to truly believe in him. Meanwhile on earth, the remnant church proclaims the "three angels' messages" of Revelation 14; it "announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent." As a result, there is "a work of repentance and reform on earth."
The completion of the investigative judgement marks the "close of probation". In Adventist teaching, this is a crucial moment when sinners will no longer be able to repent and be forgiven, because Christ will have ceased his intercessory ministry.
Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. He lifts His hands and with a loud voice says, "It is done;" and all the angelic host lay off their crowns as He makes the solemn announcement: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Revelation 22:11. Every case has been decided for life or death."
– Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy
The Time of Trouble
Following the close of probation will be a "time of trouble," a brief but intense period of time immediately preceding the will return to prominence during the end times, fulfilling the prophecy of the first beast of Revelation 13 (the leopard-like beast from the sea) whose "deadly wound" (i.e. the deposal of the Pope in 1798) will be healed. The United States of America, meanwhile, will establish ties with the Papacy, in fulfillment of the second beast of Revelation 13 (the lamb-like beast from the earth). (J. N. Andrews was the first Adventist to identify America in prophecy, in 1851).
Ultimately, the Protestant churches of America will join the confederation between the beasts, forming the “image to the beast” (Revelation 13:14-15). At this time, a conflict will ensue that will "involve the whole world," and in which "the central issue will be obedience to God's law and the observance of the Sabbath." Religious and civil authorities will combine to enact a "Sunday law" which requires all people to observe Sunday as a sacred day. The "Sunday law" is interpreted as the meaning of the "mark of the beast," described in Revelation 13:16-17.
In contrast to those who choose to obey the "Sunday law," and therefore receive the "mark of the beast," people who observe the seventh-day sabbath will receive the "Seal of God" (mentioned in Revelation 7:2). Sabbath keepers will experience fierce persecution from world governments, which will include economic coercion and ultimately the death penalty.
As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. ... This argument will appear conclusive; and a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts.
– Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy
Despite being almost overwhelmed by persecution, the people of God will be delivered by the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when he returns to earth in glory.
The "time of trouble" has also been known as the "Time of Jacob's Trouble," described as "a brief period of extreme tribulation" just before the Second Coming, and after the close of probation. It is contemporaneous with the seven last plagues. The term comes from Jeremiah 30:7, and is based on the narrative of Jacob's wrestling with God in Genesis 32:22-30, and Jeremiah's description of Israel's captivity in Babylonia prior to the predicted liberation in Jeremiah 30 verses 3, 7–9, 11.