There are actually two parts to the third angel’s message, but it is usually the first part that is talked about.
Revelation 14:9–11 KJV states: “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.”
Many are familiar with this part of the third angel’s message which includes the mark of the beast and his image. These verses give the warning but give no instruction on how to escape the image to the beast. However, verse 12 gives us the answer. It says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Even though all have sinned, this special group of people will keep the commandments of God. These people have gone to Jesus in the Most Holy Place and confessed their sins. Jesus is now giving them strength to obey the commandments. This verse is the hope and solution of the third angel’s message given in verses 9 to 11 and the “faith of Jesus.”
The whole plan of salvation is to take the fallen race and remove the sin so that we can return to the kingdom of glory. We see that process taking place in verse 12. The third angel’s message is the last call to the world to come out of sin through the blood of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary by confessing sin. The following statement gives us an understanding of this.
“As the ministration of Jesus closed in the holy place, and He passed into the holiest, and stood before the ark containing the law of God, He sent another mighty angel with a third message to the world. A parchment was placed in the angel’s hand, and as he descended to the earth in power and majesty, he proclaimed a fearful warning, with the most terrible threatening ever borne to man. This message was designed to put the children of God upon their guard, by showing them the hour of temptation and anguish that was before them. Said the angel, ‘They will be brought into close combat with the beast and his image. Their only hope of eternal life is to remain steadfast. Although their lives are at stake, they must hold fast the truth.’ The third angel closes his message thus: ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ (Revelation 14:12). As he repeated these words, he pointed to the heavenly sanctuary. The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God. This atonement is made for the righteous dead as well as for the righteous living. It includes all who died trusting in Christ, but who, not having received the light upon God’s commandments, had sinned ignorantly in transgressing its precepts.” Early Writings, 254.
The origin or setting of the third angel’s message is directly tied to October 22, 1844. As Jesus entered the Most Holy Place He sent another mighty angel to all the world with a message on a parchment which was placed in his hands. At that time, God’s people could not teach the message because they did not yet know who the beast was, who the false prophet was, or where the sanctuary was. Ellen White covers all of these things in the book, The Great Controversy, in the chapter called “God’s Law Immutable” beginning on page 433.
“The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God.” Early Writings, 254. This also indicates that this is the last message to the world, His final intercession. The third angel’s message is a very important message and it has been going to the world since 1844 and is soon to close.
Another statement we read: “This message was designed to put the children of God upon their guard, by showing them the hour of temptation and anguish that was before them. Said the angel, ‘They will be brought into close combat with the beast and his image.’ ” Ibid.
The beast is the papacy which came into power in A.D. 538 when the pope was set up as head of the church. The church then proceeded to say that it would intercede with God in heaven for you and to confess your sins to them. The papacy still does that. It also changed the law of God by introducing Sunday as the day of worship, obedience to the enforcement of which will result in receiving the mark of the beast. This mark will be inflicted on all who accept the spurious Sabbath. But we read in the third angel’s message that there will be a group of people who will resist that demand of an enforced Sunday law and keep the seventh day holy as God commanded. The combat will get very close. Some will be put into prison; some will be fined; some will be bribed. This will be a time when the faith of God’s people will be tested to the limit. Unless they maintain “the faith of Jesus,” they will undoubtedly fail the test.
We read that “Their only hope of eternal life is to remain steadfast. Although their lives are at stake, they must hold fast the truth.” Ibid. Then it says, “The third angel closes his message thus: ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ (Revelation 14:12). As he repeated these words, he pointed to the heavenly sanctuary.” Ibid. That tells us that the heavenly sanctuary and Christ’s ministry there has to be a very prominent part of our message in the last days because people are directed there to get rid of their sins so that they can keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus.
The key point of the third angel’s message is the sanctuary in heaven where you can get forgiveness, freedom from sin, and gain salvation. The rest of the message is just a warning. We must understand the atonement process through the sanctuary in heaven in order to give the third angel’s message. Today, a false gospel is being preached that there is no need of concern about the sin problem for Jesus took care of it all at the cross. The true gospel walks the sinner through the heavenly sanctuary where the sinner repents of his sin and his heart is cleansed by the blood of Christ. One gospel leads to eternal salvation and the other to destruction.
Hebrews 8:1, 2 states, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.”
Jesus went to the Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary at His ascension. Paul tells us that the throne of God was there. He then moved from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place in 1844 and that is where the third angel’s message is directing our attention to where Jesus is finishing His final ministry for us.
In The Great Controversy, 413, we are told: “Turning again to the book of Hebrews, the seekers for truth found that the existence of a second, or new-covenant sanctuary, was implied in the words of Paul already quoted: ‘Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary’ (Hebrews 9:1). And the use of the word “also” intimates that Paul has before made mention of this sanctuary. Turning back to the beginning of the previous chapter, they read: ‘Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man’ (Hebrews 8:1, 2).
“Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant.” [Emphasis author’s.]
The new covenant was made by the Father and the Son, which was the plan whereby sin could be removed from the person and he could return to the kingdom of glory. That covenant is carried out in the sanctuary in heaven. If we deny the sanctuary in heaven, then we take away our hope for salvation. When Jesus ascended to the Holy Place in heaven, the Jews refused to go there. They opened the temple on earth and started sacrificing again. That was a clear indication of their rejection of the new covenant.
Today, in the Second Advent, we are facing a similar situation. Those who reject the third angel’s message that points directly to the Most Holy Place are doing the same thing the Jews did in cutting off their salvation. We want to be part of the saints mentioned in Revelation 14:12 who accept the heavenly sanctuary and Christ’s ministry there and teach others about it. There is a dividing line, the sanctuary message, between those saved and those not saved.
Remember, “The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God. This atonement is made for the righteous dead as well as for the righteous living.” Early Writings, 254.
So, it is the third angel’s message that provides salvation and righteousness for the saints. If you know about Revelation 14:12, you can go to the sanctuary and be saved even if you do not understand the warning. But if you just understand the warning and fail to deal with the sin problem you could lose your eternal salvation.
“After Jesus opened the door of the most holy, the light of the Sabbath was seen, and the people of God were tested, as the children of Israel were tested anciently, to see if they would keep God’s law. I saw the third angel pointing upward, showing the disappointed ones the way to the holiest of the heavenly sanctuary.” Early Writings, 254, 255.
This is the second time that the third angel is directing them to the heavenly sanctuary, emphasizing the importance of it. What did they find?
“As they by faith enter the most holy, they find Jesus, and hope and joy spring up anew. I saw them looking back, reviewing the past, from the proclamation of the second advent of Jesus, down through their experience to the passing of the time in 1844. They see their disappointment explained, and joy and certainty again animate them. The third angel has lighted up the past, the present, and the future, and they know that God has indeed led them by His mysterious providence.” Ibid., 255.
Looking into the sanctuary they found Jesus ministering in the Most Holy Place and then understood their disappointment. During the Dark Ages, the pope had instructed the people to confess their sins to the priests. The message the disciples had that we are to confess our sins to Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary was lost.
We are told: “Now in the holy of holies they again beheld Him, their compassionate High Priest, soon to appear as their king and deliverer. Light from the sanctuary illumined the past, the present, and the future. They knew that God had led them by His unerring providence.” The Great Controversy, 423.
If the third angel’s message does not include the heavenly sanctuary and Christ’s ministry there, it is a false message because that is the foundation of the third angel’s message. Without that in the message, there is no hope. The third angel’s message is sending us “light from the sanctuary.”
“The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844.” Ibid.
“The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. …
“He who grasps this thought has before him an infinite field for study. He has the key that will unlock to him the whole treasure house of God’s word.” Education, 125, 126.
Maurice Hoppe is a member of Steps to Life board.