The Work of the Third Angel
(Article)

Introduction

In this article we will take a closer look at the very important work of the third angel.

“I then saw the third angel [Rev. 14:9-11]. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Fearful is his work. Awful is his mission. He is the angel that is to select the wheat from the tares and seal, or bind, the wheat for the heavenly garner. These things should engross the whole mind, the whole attention.’” – Ellen G. White, Early Writings, page 118.

1. The Third Angel’s Message

Let us read what the third angel’s message says in the Bible:

“And 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 wine 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 ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-11.

“The beast with two horns ‘causeth [commands] all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.’ Revelation 13:16, 17. The third angel’s warning is: ‘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 wine of the wrath of God.’ ‘The beast’ mentioned in this message, whose worship is enforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopardlike beast of Revelation 13—the papacy. The ‘image to the beast’ represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas. The ‘mark of the beast’ still remains to be defined.

“After the warning against the worship of the beast and his image the prophecy declares: ‘Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ Since those who keep God’s commandments are thus placed in contrast with those that worship the beast and his image and receive his mark, it follows that the keeping of God’s law, on the one hand, and its violation, on the other, will make the distinction between the worshipers of God and the worshipers of the beast.

“The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments. Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: ‘He shall think to change times and the law.’ Daniel 7:25, R.V. And Paul styled the same power the ‘man of sin,’ who was to exalt himself above God. One prophecy is a complement of the other. Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law as thus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.

“The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. The second commandment, forbidding image worship, has been dropped from the law, and the fourth commandment has been so changed as to authorize the observance of the first instead of the seventh day as the Sabbath. But papists urge, as a reason for omitting the second commandment, that it is unnecessary, being included in the first, and that they are giving the law exactly as God designed it to be understood. This cannot be the change foretold by the prophet. An intentional, deliberate change is presented: ‘He shall think to change the times and the law.’ The change in the fourth commandment exactly fulfills the prophecy. For this the only authority claimed is that of the church. Here the papal power openly sets itself above God.

“While the worshipers of God will be especially distinguished by their regard for the fourth commandment,—since this is the sign of His creative power and the witness to His claim upon man’s reverance and homage—the worshipers of the beast will be distinguished by their efforts to tear down the Creator’s memorial, to exalt the institution of Rome. It was in behalf of Sunday that popery first asserted its arrogant claims; and its first resort to the power of the state was to compel the observance of Sunday as ‘the Lord’s day.’ But the Bible points to the seventh-day, and not to the first, as the Lord’s day. Said Christ: ‘The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.’ The fourth commandment declares: ‘The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.’ And by the prophet Isaiah the Lord designates it: ‘My holy day.’ Mark 2:28; Isaiah 58:13.” – Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, pages 445-447.

So, what is the mark of the beast? Sister White goes on to explain in a later paragraph:

“But Christians of past generations observed the Sunday, supposing that in so doing they were keeping the Bible Sabbath; and there are now true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion, who honestly believe that Sunday is the Sabbath of divine appointment. God accepts their sincerity of purpose and their integrity before Him. But when Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress the command of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authority than that of Rome, will thereby honor popery above God. He is paying homage to Rome, and to the power which enforces the institution ordained by Rome. He is worshiping the beast and his image. As men then reject the institution which God has declared that to be the sign of His authority, and honor in its stead that which Rome has chosen as a token of her supremacy, they will thereby accept the sign of allegiance to Rome—‘the mark of the beast.’ And it is not until the issue is thus plainly set before the people, and they are brought to choose between the commandments of God and the commandments of men, that those who continue in transgression will receive ‘the mark of the beast.’” – Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, page 449.

2. A Pointed Message to be Fearlessly Preached

The third angel’s message, as can be seen from the preceding section, is clearly a very pointed message. Will God’s people preach it? Will they fearlessly preach it?

“Those who engage in the solemn work of bearing the third angel’s message, must move out decidedly, and in the Spirit and power of God fearlessly preach the truth, and let it cut. They should elevate the standard of truth, and urge the people to come up to it. It has too frequently been lowered to meet the people in their condition of darkness and sin. It is the pointed testimony that will bring them up to decide. A peaceful testimony will not do this. The people have the privilege of listening to this kind of teaching from popular pulpits; but those servants to whom God has intrusted the solemn, fearful message which is to bring out and fit up a people for the coming of Christ, should bear a plain, pointed testimony. Our truth is as much more solemn than that of nominal professors, as the heavens are higher than the earth.” – Ellen G. White, Early Writings, page 118.

I have observed that God’s church has become rather lukewarm and as a result, the message and work of the third angel is not going forward as it should be. Church leaders and people have become rather cowardly in proclaiming the third angel’s message to the world which actually involves explaining who the beast is and what its mark is.

“Satan has devised a state of things whereby the proclamation of the third angel’s message shall be bound about. We must beware of his plans and methods. There must be no toning down of the truth, no muffling of the message for this time. The third angel’s message must be strengthened and confirmed. The eighteenth chapter of Revelation reveals the importance of presenting the truth in no measured terms but with boldness and power. ... There has been too much beating about the bush in the proclamation of the third angel’s message. The message has not been given as clearly and distinctly as it should have been.” – Ellen G. White, Evangelism, page 230.

Many church members give the impression that they feel that it is not yet the time for God’s people to be ready spiritually and to present the three angels’ messages. They do not seem to realise that we have been wandering in the “wilderness” for over 150 years since 1844. Are we to wait for another 150 years before we get serious about proclaiming the three angels’ messages to the world? Let us wake up out of our spiritual sleepiness and get on with the things that are needful for the events of the last days.

3. Preparing to Do the Work of the Third Angel

God has given us helps and instruction on how to prepare for doing the work of the third angel. What are these helps and instruction?

Regarding the importance of the nine volumes of the Testimonies for the Church, please read what the messenger of the Lord has to say. God has linked these volumes to the work of the third angel. The importance of these volumes is explained in the article entitled “God’s Last Day Messenger”.

“As the end draws near and the work of giving the last warning extends, it becomes more important for those who accept present truth to have a clear understanding of the nature and influence of the Testimonies, which God in His providence has linked with the work of the third angel’s message from its very rise. In the following pages are given extracts from what I have written during the last forty years, relating to my own early experience in this special work, and also presenting what God has shown me concerning the nature and importance of the Testimonies, the manner in which they are given, and how they should be regarded.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, page 654.

Thus God’s people who are living at the time of the end will be able to participate in the work of the third angel only if they have been studying and practising the instructions and counsels which the Lord has given in the nine volumes of the “Testimonies for the Church”. This matter is very important.

In this same section of volume 5 of the Testimonies for the Church, Sister White has this to say:

“I took the precious Bible and surrounded it with the several Testimonies for the Church, given for the people of God. Here, said I, the cases of nearly all are met. The sins they are to shun are pointed out. The counsel that they desire can be found here, given for other cases situated similarly to themselves. God has been pleased to give you line upon line and precept upon precept. But there are not many of you that really know what is contained in the Testimonies. You are not familiar with the Scriptures. If you had made God’s word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration which you had neglected to obey, and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, pages 664, 665.

A faithful and regular study and practice of the counsels in the nine volumes of the Testimonies for the Church will result in spiritual preparedness for the proclamation and work of the third angel.

May God’s people study and follow faithfully the counsels of God contained in these volumes.

4. Who Will Do the Work of the Third Angel?

The condition of church leadership today is such that God is unable to use those in appointed positions of the church to finish His last day work for one reason or another. The extent of the apostasy that is in the church today is of such greatness that the appointed leaders of the structured church will not be able to lead the church in giving the message of God for this time to the world.

Since God is unable to use the appointed leaders of the church, God will use others to lead out in giving the messages for these last days to the world.

“Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to his service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of his Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of Spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power,—all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from Heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears, and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men, and demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord,” the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan, and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it.” – Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, 1888 edition, pages 606-607.

Conclusion

The work of the third angel is especially important and is the highest work for God’s people to do in these last days.

“The Lord designs that the proclamation of the third angel’s message shall be the highest, greatest work carried on in our world at this time” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 8, page 180.

May we each be spiritually prepared and be zealously and courageously involved in the work of proclaiming the third angel’s message to the world. When the message of the everlasting gospel will have been preached to the entire world, then our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will come.

Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, thank You so much for entrusting the work of the third angel to your last day church. Please help us to be courageous and zealous in doing the work of proclaiming the third angel’s message to the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.”


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Questions for Thought:

1. What is the third angel’s message?
2. Who will do the work of the third angel?
3. How do we prepare for the work of the third angel?
4. Why are the nine volumes of the Testimonies for the Church important?
5. Do we understand properly the meaning of who the beast is, the image of the beast, and also the mark of the beast?