Expository Sermon on Revelation 14
by Maylan Schurch
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church 4/15/2023
©2023 by Maylan Schurch
To watch the entire worship service, click the link just below:
Please open your Bibles to Revelation chapter 14.
Before I go any further, I wanted to say thank you to all those who have helped us during our two special programs these past two Sabbaths.
Shelley, thank you for planning and narrating the program two weeks ago, as we were speaking and singing about the death of Christ. Rich and Deanna Wong, thank you for leading out in last Sabbath’s service, celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
And thanks to everybody who took part, using their talents in the Savior’s service. One thing that especially touched me was when I heard that each of the young people who took part last week chose their own songs, communicating what was really meaningful to them into our ears and our hearts.
And thanks to everyone who supervised and brought food for last Sabbath’s triumphant fellowship hall potluck! If you were there, you know how delightful it was to be back in that room, gathered around tables, sampling some delicious dishes.
And of course our thanks could go on and on. One of these Sabbaths we’re going to have an official “welcome back” potluck, where we do some specific thinking to everyone who had a part in finally making our new restaurant-quality kitchen a reality. So stay tuned.
Today’s sermon is the final one in a series I’ve been preaching since the start of the year. I called that series “The Gospel According To.” What I’ve been doing is going through the New Testament and finding places where the word “gospel” is used, and using those places to learn more about what those who use them thought the gospel was.
In this series we’ve looked at the gospel according to Jesus, and the Book of Acts, and Peter, and Paul, and today we’ll look at the gospel according to Revelation.
And sure enough, the gospel shows up in this book as well. In fact, it shows up in a chapter Adventists know very well – Revelation 14. And if you’re tied in with a Sabbath School class, or are studying the quarterly on your own, you know that this is the topic of this quarter’s lessons.
I don’t know about you, but I have been to a lot of Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic series, and in each of those series there was a sermon about the Three Angels’ Messages. And you can probably tell me what each of those messages is, and maybe you can quote the verses by heart.
And these verses can be somewhat alarming. But they also contain the word “gospel.” Actually “gospel” shows up twice, once as a noun and once as a verb. So whatever these angels are saying, it must definitely be good news.
And if you have listened to Three Angels Messages sermons, maybe you did what I would do – brace yourself for these messages, especially the last two, the ones about Babylon having fallen, and what happens to those who have the mark of the beast.
But as I studied these messages again this week, I discovered something that hadn’t struck me before, and which makes these messages – to me, anyway – a lot more encouraging. In fact, incredibly encouraging. Let me show you what I mean.
Revelation 14:6 [NKJV]: Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—
Familiar words, right? For most of us, anyway? Did you notice the two times that the word “gospel” showed up? It’s easy to spot one of them – it’s the word after “everlasting.” But what English word do you think is the verb form of the word “gospel”?
It’s the word “preach.” The Greek word for “gospel” is euangelion (which is where we get the word “evangelism”). And the Greek word used here for “preach” is euangelisai. Euangelion, euangelisai. Again, they are the same word, except one is a noun and one is a verb. Literally, it says that this first angel has the everlasting “good news,” and he is “good-news-ing” it to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
Have you ever noticed how, in radio commercials, the advertiser will make sure to repeat the name of the business as often as possible? Well, it seems like something like this is happening here in verse six. After all, the official title of this book is “the Revelation of Jesus Christ,” and it’s as though Jesus wants to make sure that we know that the first angel’s message – and the second and the third – are good news.
Okay, but how is this going to work out? Those second and third Angels messages are pretty gloomy and doomy. Babylon has fallen, and in Revelation 18:4, a voice from heaven warns everybody to “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins . . . .” And the third Angel gives us some dreadful facts about the mark of the beast.
Still, we’re talking about good news. And I’m going to show you how this news can be so incredibly good. Let’s start at verse six again.
Verse 6: Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, “Fear God . . . .
Somebody says, “So that’s supposed to be good news? Fearing God is supposed to be good news?”
Somebody else says, “Wait a minute. That’s not really fright-fear. That’s ‘respect’ fear. We’re supposed to respect God.”
But this is the real Greek word for fear –phobos. It’s where we get the word “phobia.” And I believe that when this first angel says to fear God, he really means to fright-fear God.
This isn’t the end of the story, of course, as we’ll see in a minute. Because, after all, Revelation 5, verses 5 and 6 talk about how Jesus loves us. It says, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father . . .”
So fearing God isn’t the end of the story. But I believe it has to be the beginning of the story for quite a lot of people.
This past weekend I started watching a little YouTube clip where a comedy sketch team had dressed up as though they were at the Last Supper. When I say I started watching it, I meant that I watched it for about five seconds, and my stomach suddenly tightened. Just a couple of words out of one of the actor’s mouths, and I discovered that this was going to be very blasphemous. So I clicked it off. I couldn’t take it.
I’m not going to make spiritual judgments about this comedy sketch team, but it doesn’t seem as though there was any fear at all about what they were doing. And all around this planet this morning there are a whole lot of people who need to get very serious about God, and sometimes this takes fear. It’s like you’re just learning to drive a car, and one day you have this horribly close call, and you pull over to the side of the road, trembling. Fear has jolted you into a deeper respect for that ton and a half of motorized metal you are supposed to be in charge of.
The title of this sermon – in addition to “The Gospel According to Revelation,” is “The Turning.” Because I believe that that is what the first angel’s message is mainly about – turning. After all, Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way.” And what first needs to happen is that we need to re-turn, to turn around, and face the God who gives us life, and take Him seriously.
And when you think about it, this “fearing God” is not so much standing with trembling limbs and chattering teeth in His presence. Instead, it’s more like bringing all your fears to Him.
In fact, if you’re taking sermon points, let’s have that be Sermon Point One.
What’s the first step in returning?
Bring your fear to God.
As I say – according to Angel Number One – this is step one. There are other steps, and they will lead us well beyond fear. But fear is step one. And what I mean by this is that once you and I have understood who God is, and how large He looms in your life, we need not direct our fear in any other direction.
Can you imagine how this news must have seemed incredibly good to the Gentiles who heard it? Both Greeks and Romans, and probably lots of other people from other religious systems, had many gods they had to keep track of. You had to keep Apollo on your side, and the goddess Diana, and Zeus, and who knows who else. Because in both the Greek and the Roman mythologies, the gods were pretty much like humans with superpowers. But they weren’t always good. The gods fought amongst themselves, and the average pagan needed to carefully make sure he or she sacrificed to the gods they thought could give them good luck or keep them safe.
But the Christians believed in one God, and His Son. And They were more powerful than all the heathen gods put together. And God and His Son were not only in total unity, but They were sensible gods – not capricious or petty or narcissistic.
Why is fear of God so important, at least at first? Because God needs to get our attention. Surprisingly, Jesus Himself was on board with this idea. He said in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Did Jesus really need to say that? Evidently so, because He also felt He needed to tell the first angel that the first message was to “fear God.”
But He also insists that we bring our fear – of anything, and even of God – to God Himself. And why do we need to do this? Because God is so very easy to ignore. He has chosen not to proclaim a daily devotional thought in a loud voice all over the planet. He has chosen not to let us see what He looks like.
As I say, fearing God is the angel’s Step One. We can get beyond this, to the place where perfect love casts out all fear. But we need to remember that it’s still here, and we need to remember it when we get careless.
And by the way, the more thoroughly you and I can accept the first angel’s message, the less we will have to worry about Angels Two and Three. That’s what makes these messages so encouraging.
But let’s go on to Step Two.
Verse 6: Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him . . . .”
Can you guess what Sermon Point Two is? Sure you can.
If the first step in returning to your Creator is to bring your fear to God, the second step is to give your glory to God.
You see, Satan would like you to stop at Step One. He would like you to believe that there is only one step – to be afraid of God. But that’s not true. Once you and I have stepped through the fear of God – and maybe pretty much everybody in this room probably has – the next step is to give God glory.
I know I’ve told how while student teaching eighth grade English at the Redfield, South Dakota junior high, I had to establish a “fear of Mr. Schurch” attitude for a while. And that’s because the classroom had four or five rambunctious boys in the back row, boys who had never bought into the concept of being respectful to the teacher. So I grimly laid down the law, established inflexible classroom rules, and finally the boys decided I meant business.
But all this time, the tenderhearted, meek eighth grade girls, who sat toward the front of the class, looked at me in terror. Long ago they had gotten beyond the fear of their teachers, but now here was a teacher they were worried they might have to be afraid of.
“Give your glory to God.” That’s what the angel says. What does it mean to give someone glory? It means attending Seahawks games, or Kracken games, or Sounders games, or PSAA volleyball games, and screaming your throat out when your team does something you approve of. Giving glory is buying and wearing the jerseys.
Giving glory was what my brother and I did every time we got out our baseball gloves and played catch. We were giving glory to the Minnesota Twins team. Every time one of our farm cats had a kitten, we named it after a Twins player. That was giving glory.
And we both knew how to sing all of the words of the team song, because that was giving glory too. And when we actually got a chance to attend a Twins game at Bloomington Stadium, we along with everybody else stood to our feet, put our hands on our hearts, and gave glory to the United States of America by singing the national anthem.
Giving glory to the United States of America was what a certain 21-year-old air national guardsman should have been doing rather than sharing classified military documents with his friends. But the latest news on his motive was that he was doing it for his ego. He wanted to gather glory to himself.
Sure, it’s okay to have enthusiasms like football teams and golf championships. It’s okay to applaud music concerts. But we should never forget who really deserves the glory.
How do we give God glory? We applaud performances, so why don’t we applaud God? Who knows, maybe He would appreciate a round of applause now and then?
Certainly we give glory to Him by thanking Him. I’ve gotten into the habit of saying thank-you to Him when my car runs well. I make sure I get it serviced at the right times, but so many things could go wrong with the machinery, that I give God the glory for keeping it running.
We give glory to God by singing to Him. That’s what happened in the Old Testament and the New Testament. People sang God’s praises.
And we give glory to God by dressing up in nicer-than-usual clothes (like we’re visiting royalty) on Sabbath morning, and walking out to our car, and going to church, driving by neighbors who may not even be out of bed yet.
So first we need to fear God – pay Him attention, seriously factor Him into our lives.
Then we need to give God glory – remind ourselves that He is our life support, and our Redeemer.
What’s the third step the Angel tells us about?
Verses 6 -7: Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
Here’s Sermon Point Three:
Step One in returning to your Creator is to bring your fear to God, Step Two is to give your glory to God. And Step Three is to offer your worship to God.
When I fear God, I pay Him serious, respectful attention, reminding myself that He is the one who really matters.
But when I move beyond that step and give God glory, I remind myself that He has done so much for me, and has sustained me to this point. He has blessed me so abundantly. So God-fear is behind me, but it’s there if I need to remind myself of it.
But the third step is to offer Him my worship. How do I show that I worship someone or something? There’s a chance I’m worshiping something if I spend a lot of time on that object or that person. I may be worshiping something if I am using my talents in service to that object or person. Do I spend a lot of money on that object or person? Am I obsessed?
Another way I can tell I might be worshiping something or someone is if I am allowing my mind to be turned to that person’s, or that philosophy’s, way of thinking.
Just a few weeks ago was the 30th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. Nearly 80 people lost their lives, including their leader David Koresh.
From all anybody can tell, the people in that compound had come to pretty much worship David Koresh, devoting their lives and time and money to him and his ideas.
Here in Revelation 14, the First Angel gives us an important reason to worship God alone. This reason was often repeated in the Old Testament as well.
Verse 7: “. . . Worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
Do you notice how this First Angel cleverly eliminates any other object of worship besides the Creator God? The fourth commandment, in Exodus 20:8-11, does the same thing God set aside the seventh day Sabbath in the first couple of verses of Genesis chapter 2, and the fourth commandment reminds everybody to “Remember the Sabbath.”
And that is one reason it’s so important to turn back to God. In a sense, it’s impossible to turn our back on God, because everywhere we look we see materials God has made. Years ago, our church’s architect made sure that everywhere we look in this room, we can see growing things out through the windows. The pews were sitting on, the pulpit I’m standing behind, the electrons that are transmitting the service over YouTube, they were all created by God.
I could go on and on. These hands are God’s creation. My feet, and my sense of balance, and my eyes, and my mind, were all given to me by God. How then would I even care, or dare, to try to ignore Him, or eliminate Him from my life?
Back when I was in seminary, one of my professors was Dr. C. Mervyn Maxwell. Mervyn Maxwell was the son of Arthur Maxwell, who had written the beloved “Bible Story” series.
Mervyn Maxwell was a very interesting teacher, and a great teller of stories. This was about the time that the Seventh-day Adventist hymnal in your pews was being compiled, and Maxwell had been given the chance to write a hymn. He told us how difficult it was, how you had to keep strictly to the rhythm, and make the rhyme scheme just perfect. He actually sang for us the hymn he had written. It’s to a familiar tune.
And that’s the hymn you and I are going to sing right now. We’ll sing all the verses, and you can see that they tell a carefully written story about our Savior, the Son of God, and why He is worthy of our worship and our turning back to Him. Let’s stand and sing number 415, “Christ the Lord, All Power Possessing,” written by Mervyn Maxwell.
Closing Song – “Christ the Lord, All Power Possessing” – #415