The Three Angels’ Message|
by E.H. Jack Sequeira
Our last study is dealing with verses 14 to 20 of Revelation 14, the two harvests of the three-fold message. You see, when the Three Angels’ Message has been proclaimed to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, when the Three Angels’ Message has fulfilled its mission to the world, it will do something. It will polarize the world into two camps. You cannot listen and receive this message and simply sit down. Every human being will have to make a choice, either for Christ or against Christ. And these two camps will be polarized into believers and unbelievers. These two camps will have reached maturity — one camp in faith and the other camp in unbelief. That’s why the people in both these camps will be sealed. Those who have reached maturity in the camp of faith will be sealed with the seal of God. Those who have reached maturity in the camp of unbelief will be sealed with the mark of the beast. Just two camps. And, of course, when you reach maturity, the end result is the harvest.
I want first of all to read the whole passage. You will notice that there are two harvests mentioned in this section — the harvest of the believers and the harvest of the unbelievers. The passage itself does not separate the two harvests, but when you read the other passages you will discover that there is a separation of time. The harvest of the believers will take place at the second coming of Christ, and the harvest of the unbelievers will take place at the end of the millennium. But since God lives in eternity, time is sometimes insignificant. To Him a thousand years is like a day. In one place it says, “like the twinkle of an eye.” When you blink, that’s how it is to God in terms of eternity. Okay, let’s read verses 14-20:
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man having on His head a golden crown and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe [that’s maturity]. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth: and the earth was reaped.
That’s the first harvest. Verse 17 goes on to the second harvest:
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
Now please notice the difference. In the first harvest it is the Son of Man that has the sickle; in the second harvest, it is the angel.
And another angel came out from the altar which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the cluster of the vine of the earth; for the grapes are fully ripe [both camps have reached maturity].
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. [You remember, Revelation 14:10 states that it will be poured without mixture.]
And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, [Can you imagine? That’s pretty high.] by the space of 1,600 furlongs. [Now that’s a pretty gruesome picture.]
Let’s look at what we have just read. The purpose of the Three Angels’ Message is to expose the world to the final, full complete message of the gospel. And this gospel will not return unto God void, folks; it will produce a harvest.
I want you to look at two passages. One of them you don’t have to look at because you are familiar with it. You will notice that in Matthew 24:14 where Jesus is prophesying about His second coming, verse 14 says:
And this gospel shall be preached into all the world and [what will happen then?] the end will come.
So that’s the same as saying that this gospel which shall be preached to all the world is the everlasting gospel, the Three Angels’ Message.
But now I want to turn to Matthew 13, because here we find a parable which is very much in harmony with the idea of the Three Angels’ Message’s harvest. I would like to look at two sections. First of all we’ll look at the parable itself. And you know, whenever a parable is important, Christ would interpret it. And so we will look at the interpretation, too. The parable is found in Matthew 13:24-30. You are familiar with this parable, but let’s read it:
Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of God is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy has done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while you gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together all the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
That’s the parable. After he had given several other parables and when the multitudes had left him, look at what happened in verses 36-40:
Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. [That’s the one parable that they were interested in.] He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man [which is Christ, the gospel]; The field is the world: the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth: Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
So here you get the same idea of two harvests. The harvest represents the end of the world. I want you to notice certain things as we go back to Revelation 14. When the gospel is preached, the Three Angels’ Message makes it clear that it will divide the human race into two camps. That is why we must not treat the message lightly. It’s a serious thing, because there is an enemy who wants to sow tares and I want you to see how he does it, in the context of the Three Angels’ Message. Turn to 2 Corinthians. I want you to notice what he does. In the light of the gospel, how does he sow tares? Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 4:3,4:
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world [which is Satan; please notice it’s “god” with a small “g.” It’s referring to Satan as Christ called him, “the Prince of this world.”] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
The devil is trying to blind the eyes of those who hear the gospel. Now the gospel will go to all the world. Every human being will hear it. But every human being will not believe it. That is why it is important that we are on guard, because he will come to you with all kinds of philosophical arguments, with humanistic ideas, and he will say, “Don’t be a fool.” But please remember, we are approaching the harvest of the world.
Let’s go back now and see something else. Please notice here that when Christ comes in Revelation 14:14, He will not come to deal with the sin problem. He will come to take His own to heaven. Now what do I mean by, “He will not come to deal with the sin problem?” Let me read you a statement; it’s found in Hebrews 9:28:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many [the Greek is “the many,” which means the human race]; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
He has already solved the sin problem in His earthly ministry, in His life and death. He solved it. In other words, He has obtained salvation full and complete in His earthly ministry. There is no excuse for anyone to be lost. All that man needs to do is to know the gospel and to accept it. So when He comes the second time He will not come as a Saviour (He will come as a Saviour to the believers), but he will not come to save the human race — He’s already done that — but He will come to bring His reward to those who believe.
I’m saying this because there is a problem that you may face when you witness about the gospel. We have come under fire as a church on the terms of the investigative judgement. We are about the only church that teaches that the investigative judgment of the believers is pre-advent.
When Christ comes, he will not come as a mediator. He will come as King. He will come with a crown on His head. He will come as the King of glory. So if you say that the believers’ judgment will take place after the second coming of Christ (which is the position that the other churches take), then the question is, “Who will be their mediator in their judgment?” Christ has dealt with the sin problem. When He comes the second time the verdict is finished. And He makes the verdict in heaven before He comes. What is the verdict? “He that is righteous let him [what?] ...remain righteous and he that is unjust let him be unjust.”
In other words, the two camps have been sealed, one with the seal of God and one with the seal of the beast. Therefore, when He comes, He will not come to give man a second chance, which is what some people teach, or to judge the believers. The believers’ case is settled, it is decided, and, therefore, now is the time that we must accept the gospel. God will not give Jews or Gentiles a second chance. The last chance is the preaching of the Three Angels’ Message. It is God’s final call.
The next thing I want you to notice is when we go down to verse 20:
And the winepress was trodden without the city...
What city? The New Jerusalem, which comes down from where? From heaven. Here you have the New Jerusalem. Now keep your finger here, turn to Revelation 21 and we’ll begin with verse 2 and we’ll read up to verse 8:
And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. [This is the fulfilment of the new covenant.] And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. [Please notice that the wiping away of tears will be at the end of the millennium.] And he that sat upon the throne said [this is Christ sitting on His throne], Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things [overcometh what?...unbelief] and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
But now look at verse 8:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Here you have the two camps, the believers on one side who are sealed with the righteousness of Christ, and the unbelievers in the other camp who have the mark of the beast. Now what are the outward symbols of the seals? The Sabbath and Sunday. Now I want to say something here. You know, I think we have been fighting the wrong enemy for a long time. The enemy is not the Sunday-keeping Christians. Yes, they have a problem, they need help. The enemy is the world. In other words, they are Christians and we are Christians. When this message has done its job, it will remove the differences. There will be one faith, one baptism, one Sabbath. Right now there is confusion. But please remember, those people are Christians and, if we are to help them, we first need to understand the relationship of the Sabbath with the gospel. The Sabbath is the outward sign that we are resting in the Lord of the Sabbath. He is our righteousness; He is our everything.
In other words, the Sabbath becomes the seal of “Not I, but Christ.” Sunday will be the seal of man, and both are rest days. The difference is that Sabbath is God’s rest day. Who does the labor for the Sabbath? It is God who does the work. He did the work for six days and He rested. He labored for 33 years and He rested on the Sabbath after He said “It is finished” on the cross.
But now we are entering into His rest. Sunday was introduced by man as whose day of rest? His. Now please notice that when man keeps Sunday it not because his work is finished, it is not because his work is perfect, it is because he wants a break. He wants to sit back and see what he has done, even though it is incomplete.
Please remember that the Sabbath will symbolize justification by faith and Sunday will symbolize salvation by works. These are the two controversies that have been going on all through the New Testament. We need to be clear as to which camp we belong to because the devil is very subtle.
I want to give you an example of a group of people who were trapped in Satan’s camp and yet they thought they were in God’s camp. I’ll give you two passages. They are both in Romans chapters 9 and 10. Let’s look at chapter 10 first. Paul knows what he’s talking about here, because he was in that camp once upon a time. Romans 10:2:
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God [please notice, they are on fire for who?...for God] but not according to knowledge. [Where did they go wrong in terms of knowledge? Look at verse 3.] For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness....
What did Paul mean here by “God’s righteousness”? Turn to Romans 1:16,17 where he introduces the theme of his epistle:
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation....
But now look at verse 17:
For therein [i.e., in that gospel] is the righteousness of God...
Look at verse 21 of chapter 3:
But now, [Paul says “but now” after he has dealt with the sin problem in Rom.1:18-3:20. What has been manifested?] the righteousness of God....
Remember, going back to chapter 10, the Jews were ignorant of whose righteousness? God’s righteousness. That word “ignorant” can confuse you. Were they ignorant because they did not know the truth or were they ignorant because they refused to accept it? Look at verse 19 of chapter 10:
But I say, Did not Israel know? [Did they know the gospel? Yes.] First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not: I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. [This is referring to the Gentiles. I did not come to them in the first place but they accepted me.] But to Israel he said, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
So their ignorance in verse 3 is not lack of knowledge. It is a deliberate, “We don’t want to know.” That’s what Paul is saying here. So going back to verse 3 of chapter 10:
For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, “I plus Christ.” It is: “Not I, but Christ.” Whether you are talking in terms of justification or in terms of sanctification, it’s always Christ’s righteousness that must be seen. What I just read in chapter 10 is an explanation of the statement found in Rom.9:30-33:
What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
Could we apply this today? Could it be possible that when the Three Angels’ Message has done its job, there will be more people from the world who will enter the church than the people who are already in the Christian church? It’s possible, folks. By the way, today 80% of the world’s population is non-Christian. And about 95% of the people that we are baptizing in our church around the world field are already Christians. I don’t think that the New Testament will identify this as evangelizing.
We still have 80% of the world to touch. And you and I cannot touch it by budgets, or gimmicks, or promotional programs. It is the glory of Christ, the power of the gospel that will touch them. So that’s why I said the work of the Three Angels’ Message has not even scratched the earth as yet. I think the reason for that is because we have failed, the people to whom God has given the commission. But please remember that what happened to Israel can happen to the Christian church, that the majority of those who will be sealed may come from the world and not from the Christian church. Because, you see, the Jews had become so set in their ways of thinking that when Christ came and he was so radical to their teaching, they rejected Him.
And you know, one of the hardest people to give the gospel of righteousness by faith is to people who are already Christians. Especially if they are steeped in some form of legalism. So please remember what Paul is saying here could apply to us. We are not exempt from it. Rom.9:31:
But Israel [i.e., God’s people], which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
They thought they were serving God, that they were following him. Why did they fail? That’s in verse 32:
Wherefore? [In other words, why did they fail?] Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone.
But you say, “Well, Paul is being hard.” I’ll show you somebody who is harder than Paul with the Jews. Turn to John chapter 8 and listen to Christ himself. Look at the last part, the second half of verse 41. Now this is the Jews, the Jewish leaders, talking to Christ:
Then said they to him [the him refers to Christ], We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
That’s what they claimed. “We have one Father: God.” Now look at verse 44. See what Jesus says.
You are of your father, the devil.
In fact, let’s read the entire response of Christ from verse 42 onwards:
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.... He is a liar....
So please remember that we are living in a very crucial time of the world’s history. This message is going to polarize the world into two camps and no more. My big question is: which camp will you belong to? That’s why I want to spend some time in Ephesians because Ephesians is very rich with the “in Christ” motif. That’s where you and I must stand if we are to be redeemed, are to be sealed with the seal of God.
We are living in very solemn times. There’s going to be two harvests. We are approaching those harvests. The world is already polarizing. But it’s not just the world that is polarizing. Even in the church there is a polarization. A lot of sincere people are being swept away, but please remember it is not sincerity that will lead you to the truth. Because when Paul said of the Jews, “They have a zeal of God,” he meant they were very sincere. Sincerity is not enough. The question is, you must know the truth and the truth will set you free.
In closing, I would like to give you the confession of a man who was in the wrong camp, who was in the camp of Romans 10:2,3, who had a zeal of God; in fact, he says so. But he discovered his error and was brave enough to say “I am wrong and I will change.” And that is Paul in Philippians chapter 3. Talking of his pre-converted state in verse 6, he says two things:
Concerning zeal [the same word he uses in Romans 10 for his own fellow Jews] for God, I persecuted the Christian church.
When Paul persecuted the church, did he believe he was serving God? Yes. That’s why in another place he said, “I did it out of ignorance. I did not realize.”
Touching the righteousness which is in the law, I was blameless.
Here’s a man who had a zeal of God and who thought that he deserved heaven because he was righteous by his own performance.
But [there is a “but” in verse 7] what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Because one day folks, Christ confronted Paul on the road to Damascus. And he said, “You are not serving God, you are persecuting me.” And you know, it came as a shock to dear Paul. What did he do when the truth came to him? He said, “I am willing to put aside everything that I thought was gain that I may win Christ.” There you have “Not I, but Christ.” Verse 8:
Yea doubtless I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, for whom I have suffered [please notice, it is a suffering] the loss of all things [not some, all] and do count them but dung [refuse], that I may win Christ, And be found in him [here’s the “in Christ motif”] not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ [which is the Three Angels' Message: here are they that have the faith of Jesus], the righteousness which is of God [made effective by what?] by faith.
And it is my prayer that this is the direction we will all go, to be found in Christ. And it may mean suffering for a season; in fact, it will mean suffering. There will be persecution. But I’ll tell you, in the long run, when Christ comes (the harvest), we are the ones who will say, “Thank you God, we have waited for this moment.” And it is my prayer that all of us will be in that camp.