And the third angel followed - Bishop Bale considers these three angels as three descriptions of preachers, who should bear their testimony against the corruptions of the papal Church.
The beast and his image - See the notes on Revelation 13:1-18 (note).
Mark in his forehead - Such as the sectarial marks of the idolatrous Hindoos, as has been observed before.
And the third angel followed them - This was a new vision designed to represent the removal of all the obstructions to the final prevalence of the gospel. We are not necessarily to suppose that this event would succeed those mentioned before in the order of time, though this would be the natural construction. The design of this is to show that the worshippers of the beast and his image would be certainly and finally destroyed.
Saying with a loud voice - Making a loud proclamation. Revelation 14:7.
If any man worship the beast and his image - See the notes on Revelation 13:4, Revelation 13:8, Revelation 13:12, Revelation 13:15. This declaration is universal, affirming of all who thus render idolatrous reverence to the power represented by the beast and his image that they should drink of the wine of the wrath of God. The general meaning is, that they were guilty of idolatry of a gross form; and wherever this existed they who were guilty of it would come under the denunciations in the Scriptures against idolaters. And why should not such denunciations fall on idolaters under the papacy as well as on others? Is it not true that there is as real idolatry there as in the pagan world? Is not the idolatry as gross and debasing? Is it not attended with as real corruption in the heart and the life? Is it not encompassed with as many things to inflame the passions, corrupt the morals, and alienate the soul from God? And is it not all the worse for being a perversion of Christianity, and practiced under the forms of the religion of the Saviour? On what principle should idolatry be denounced and condemned anywhere if it is not in papal Rome? Compare the notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
And receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand - See the notes on Revelation 13:16. The word “receive” here implies that there was, on their part, some degree of voluntariness: it was not a mark impressed by force, but a mark received. This is true in respect to all idolatry; and this lays the ground for condemnation. Whatever art is used to induce people to worship the beast and his image, it is still true that the worshippers are voluntary, and that, being voluntary, it is right that they should be treated as such. It is on this ground only that any idolaters, or any sinners of any kind, can be, in the proper sense of that term, published.
That institution which points to God as the Creator is a sign of His rightful authority over the beings He has made. The change of the Sabbath is the sign, or mark, of the authority of the Romish Church. Those who, understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false in place of the true Sabbath, are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded. SR 383.1
The most fearful threatening ever addressed to mortals is contained in the third angel's message. That must be a terrible sin which calls down the wrath of God unmingled with mercy. Men are not to be left in darkness concerning this important matter; the warning against this sin is to be given to the world before the visitation of God's judgments, that all may know why they are to be inflicted, and have opportunity to escape them. SR 383.2Read in context »
God is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals here and there, one believing this thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angel is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. Some run ahead of the angels that are leading this people; but they have to retrace every step, and meekly follow no faster than the angels lead. I saw that the angels of God would lead His people no faster than they could receive and act upon the important truths that are communicated to them. But some restless spirits do not more than half do up their work. As the angel leads them, they get in haste for something new, and rush on without divine guidance, and thus bring confusion and discord into the ranks. They do not speak or act in harmony with the body. I saw that you both must speedily be brought where you are willing to be led, instead of desiring to lead, or Satan will step in and lead you in his way, to follow his counsel. Some look at your set notions, and consider them an evidence of humility. They are deceived. You both are making work for repentance. 1T 207.1
Brother A, you are naturally close and covetous. You tithe mint and rue, but neglect the weightier matters. When the young man came to Jesus, and asked what he should do to have eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the commandments. He declared that he had done so. Said Jesus: Yet lackest thou one thing. Go sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. The result was the young man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. I saw that you had wrong ideas. God requires economy of His people; but some have stretched their economy into meanness. I wish that you could see your case as it is. The true spirit of sacrifice, which is acceptable to God, you do not possess. You look at others, and watch them, and if they do not bring themselves to the same rigid course that you follow, you can do nothing for them. Your souls are withering beneath the blighting influence of your own errors. A fanatical spirit is with you, that you take to be God's Spirit. You are deceived. You cannot bear the plain, cutting testimony. You would have a smooth testimony borne to you; but when anyone reproves your wrongs, how quick self rises. Your spirits are not humbled. You have a work to do.... Such acts, such a spirit, I saw, was the fruit of your errors, and the fruit of setting up your judgment and notions as a rule for others, and against those whom God has called into the field. You have both overreached the mark. 1T 207.2
I saw that you had thought this one and that one were called to labor in the field, when you know nothing of the matter. You cannot read the heart. If you had drunk deep of the truth of the third angel's message, you would not be so free to tell who were called of God, and who were not. The fact that one can pray and talk well is no evidence that God has called him. Everyone has an influence, and that influence should tell for God; but the question whether this one or that one should devote his time to labor for souls, is of the deepest importance, and none but God can decide who shall engage in the solemn work. There were good men in the apostles’ days, men who could pray with power and talk to the point; yet the apostles, who had power over unclean spirits and could heal the sick, dared not with merely their wisdom set one apart for the holy work of being mouthpiece for God. They waited unmistakable evidence of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I saw that God had laid upon His chosen ministers the duty of deciding who was fit for the holy work; and in union with the church and the manifest tokens of the Holy Spirit, they were to decide who should go and who were unfit to go. I saw that if it should be left to a few individuals here and there to decide who was sufficient for this great work, confusion and distraction everywhere would be the fruit. 1T 208.1Read in context »
The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness. 5T 81.1
When trees without fruit are cut down as cumberers of the ground, when multitudes of false brethren are distinguished from the true, then the hidden ones will be revealed to view, and with hosannas range under the banner of Christ. Those who have been timid and self-distrustful will declare themselves openly for Christ and His truth. The most weak and hesitating in the church will be as David—willing to do and dare. The deeper the night for God's people, the more brilliant the stars. Satan will sorely harass the faithful; but, in the name of Jesus, they will come off more than conquerors. Then will the church of Christ appear “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” 5T 81.2
The seeds of truth that are being sown by missionary efforts will then spring up and blossom and bear fruit. Souls will receive the truth who will endure tribulation and praise God that they may suffer for Jesus. “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” When the overflowing scourge shall pass through the earth, when the fan is purging Jehovah's floor, God will be the help of His people. The trophies of Satan may be exalted on high, but the faith of the pure and holy will not be daunted. 5T 82.1Read in context »
God has a people who will not receive the mark of the beast in their right hand or in their forehead. God has a place for His people to fill in this world, to reflect light. You are God's sentinels. Christ says of His people, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14).... God made His law for all the universe. He created man, He gives the bounteous provisions of nature, holds our breath and life in His hand. He is to be recognized, His law honored, before all the great men and the highest earthly powers.—The Review and Herald, April 15, 1890. TDG 114.5Read in context »