In Revelation 13 the people “who dwell on the earth” at the end of time are deceived and bullied by “the beast coming out of the earth” who has “two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon” (Revelation 13:11). This beast looks like Christ the Lamb, but he acts like Satan the dragon. He “performs signs” that make people think he is acting in the power of God, and uses the Mark of the Beast to impose economic sanctions and the death penalty in order to force people to “worship the image of the beast” that he has set up.
This symbolic language shows that the end-time antichristian powers will force the people of the world to submit to their political and religious authority. The full meaning of this symbolism is explained in Chapter 13 of The Book.
God’s response to this fierce attack on His Children is found in Revelation chapter 14. First He presents the Lamb (Jesus), who has already defeated the dragon by dying on the cross for the sins of the world. Then he presents the 144,000, who are the special group that He has prepared to deliver His last message to the world.
The message itself is presented as being given by three angels. Angels are sometimes used in Revelation as symbols of human messengers, and that is apparently the case here.
The first angel has “the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue and people” (Revelation 14:6). This verse represents the worldwide proclamation of the gospel that Jesus predicted—“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
The everlasting gospel is the good news that Jesus has paid the price for our sins on the Cross, has defeated death by rising from the dead, is ministering continually for us in heaven, and will come again to put an end to sin and to welcome those who believe into His eternal kingdom.
The first message continues, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come”. Bible prophecy teaches that before Jesus comes there will be an “investigative judgment”, in which the angels review the “records” that are found in “the books” to determine who should be granted eternal life (Daniel 7). In the First Angel’s Message God informs the world that the hour for that judgment has come.
He also commands the world to “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Revelation 14:7). Today most schools and scientists teach that the world spontaneously came into existence and life evolved into the forms that now exist. The first message reminds the world that God has sovereignty over us and the right to our obedience, first because He created us, second because, according to the everlasting gospel, He redeemed us from sin, and finally because He is the judge of our eternal fate.
“And another (the second) angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:10). Babylon has a long history of oppressing God’s people. Chapter 17 reveals that in her final form she is the successor to the beast from the sea, which was the papacy of the Middle Ages. Babylon is the world-wide end-time confederacy of powers who unite under the leadership of the anti-christ to oppress and to try to destroy God’s children, all in the name of Christ (Jesus said, “the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” John 16:2).
Her fallen condition does not refer to her defeat, but rather to her false teaching and satanic influence. In a parallel passage the angel declares, “Babylon is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons” (Revelation 18:2).
After further describing her fallen condition, the angel commands, “Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues“ (Revelation 18:4). Thus the message, “Babylon is fallen” is designed to alert God’s people who have unwittingly ended up in one of the churches that are characterized as Babylon, that they need to separate from their Church and join “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
“Then a Third Angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. 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 ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11).
This message is a direct response by God to the efforts of the Beast to impose his mark, name and number on the people of the earth. The dilemma of being between the Mark of the Beast and the Wrath of God will force everyone on earth to make a decision.
Those who accept the messages of the Three Angels (the Gospel of Salvation, the sovereignty of God and the command to refuse the Mark of the Beast and to come out of Babylon) will be “sealed on their forehead” and will take their place with the 144,000 as a “Great Multitude” secure in their salvation. Those who accept the Mark of the Beast will cast their lot with Babylon and will be destroyed at the Second Coming of Christ.
There is a lot more information about the Three Angels’ Messages in chapter 14 of The Book.