By Enslin Baxen
In our contemporary world, we observe rampant materialism, increasing corruption, and blatant exploitation of the poor by the powerful. A constant avalanche of advertisements on social media, television, radio, billboards, and magazines promotes self-gratification at the expense of all else. This worldly attitude toward life seems to be gaining ground on the Christian principle of generosity and unselfishness. The Bible says that in the last days, people, while claiming to be godly, will love themselves, money, and pleasure more than they love God (2 Tim. 3:1-5). This strikes against the very essence of stewardship. Biblical stewardship recognizes our relationship to God as Owner of all resources, whether material or spiritual, and views human persons as managers of His resources. How does God’s message in these last days serve as an antidote to self-centeredness?
The Three Angels’ Messages Are God’s Last Call to the World
Immediately following these messages (see Rev. 14:6-13), we find the harvest of the earth, which is Jesus’ second coming, described in Revelation 14:14-20. God is shown as doing all that He can to save the lost before the close of probation. Interestingly, these messages emphasize vital aspects of stewardship, tailor-made to make us faithful stewards in this generation.
During the First and Second World Wars, pigeons were used to carry messages from the battlefront to the headquarters. In many instances, soldiers’ lives were saved by these messenger pigeons, some of whom were awarded medals for their faithful service. “Cher Ami” was one such pigeon, who successfully completed 12 missions. On her last mission she lost her foot and eye but still delivered her message.1
The first angel is seen “flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel” (Rev. 14:6). This depicts God’s children as stewards delivering airmail from heaven. The message is the everlasting gospel. This everlasting gospel points to Jesus, who humbled Himself from Owner to steward and was faithful to the death on the cross (Phil. 2:5). Ellen White makes the sublime statement: “Hanging upon the cross Christ was the gospel.”2 The “hour of God’s judgment” (Rev. 14:7) reminds us that we all must give an account to God of our stewardship, including our faithfulness in lifting up the everlasting gospel.
First Angel’s Message and the Five Ts of Stewardship
The first angel’s message focuses on worship. The type of worship recommended is one that resonates with the five Ts of stewardship education:
1. Truth—God’s remnant church has been entrusted to be stewards of the truth, not to own the truth but to proclaim it. Ellen White urges our fidelity to duty when she admonishes:
To us has been entrusted the work of proclaiming the last message of mercy to be given to our world,—the message that is to prepare a people to stand in the day of God. Do we realize our accountability? Are we acting our part in the proclamation of the message? The present time is burdened with eternal interests. We are to unfurl the standard of truth before a world perishing in error. God calls for men to rally under Christ’s blood-stained banner, give the Bible to the people, multiply camp-meetings in different localities, warn the cities, and send the warning far and near in highways and byways of the world.3
2. Time—The call to worship the Creator (Rev. 14:7) is an echo of the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8-11), commanding us to remember the Sabbath; to remember the Creator of both time and space. “Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time. . . . We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. It is now that we are to form characters for the future, immortal life. It is now that we are to prepare for the searching judgment.”4
3. Temple—There is an invitation to glorify God. The apostle Paul defines our bodies as the place to glorify God, as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). In this regard, according to 1 Corinthians 10:31, our intake—what we eat or drink—should glorify God. An unhealthy lifestyle not only impacts our quality and length of life but is detrimental to our life as a worshiper of God.
4. Treasures—The call to “worship Him” (Rev. 14:7) includes worshiping Him with our tithes and offerings. The association is made clear in the Bible when it says, “Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” (1 Chron. 16:29, NKJV). Our worship of God cannot make up for robbing Him of tithes and offerings, because both belong to the same package.
5. Talents—The ability to preach the everlasting gospel is a God-given talent. There are different ways to preach the gospel for which the Holy Spirit gives diverse spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:28-30; Eph. 4:11). The varied gifts that the Holy Spirit gives are “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12, KJV).
The second angel announces that Babylon is fallen. The reason given is “because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev. 14:8, NKJV). The wine contributes to the fall of Babylon. Wine represents falsehood and deception (Micah 2:11; Isa. 28:7). Those stewards who refuse to fly with and for the truth will fall through deception. Ellen White confirms this viewpoint: “Satan, in cooperation with his angels and with evil men, will put forth every effort to gain the victory, and will appear to succeed. But from this conflict, truth and righteousness will come forth triumphant in victory. Those who have believed a lie will be defeated, for the days of apostasy will be ended.”5
The enemy knew that the allies were using carrier pigeons to communicate the truth of the situation on the battlefield. The enemy shot at the pigeons as they flew so that they fell, thus preventing the message from being delivered. They captured other pigeons and substituted false messages for the true message. These pigeons were released to mislead and distract headquarters.
The Word of God is the standard for truth (Isa. 8:20). Our duty as stewards is to have faith in and obey God’s Word. Do not be enticed by the enemy to apostatize from God’s remnant movement. The Spirit of Prophecy reassures us that “it is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth.”6
The third angel’s message pronounces the dire consequences for those who refuse to be God’s stewards as outlined in the first angel’s message. The central issue will be the worship of the beast and receiving the mark of the beast. Revelation 13 gives us more insight into what will coerce many believers to abandon truth for a lie. John, with inspired prophetic vision, reveals: “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:16, 17, NKJV). It will be the love of money, coveting of material possessions, and a reliance on things of this world that will force many to apostatize. Satan even presented Jesus with the same temptation in the wilderness. He promised to give Jesus the world if He would worship him (Matt. 4:8, 9). Jesus knew that the world was not Satan’s property. He did not take the easy way out but stayed true to God.
Therefore, it is vital for us to trust God as the Owner of everything. This will lead us to faithfulness in tithes and offerings under all circumstances. Resist the temptation to use God’s tithes and offerings to pay your debts. Do not incur any debt with God.
The three angels’ messages conclude on a triumphant note, describing stewards who have endured. It describes these faithful ones as those who keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:1,2 confirms what God wants from His stewards by saying, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (NKJV).
Faithful stewards who know, preach, and support the everlasting gospel will participate in the reward of everlasting life. Choose to be a more faithful steward than homing pigeons who flew through conflict zones to deliver the truth. Persevere through the opposition of the enemy, recognizing the battle is not yours but the Lord’s. Do not accept a counterfeit message that can lead you and others, through your influence, to lose the battle. Do not let the enemy’s bullets of deception cause you to fall. One day soon Jesus will come, and all God’s faithful stewards will fly home to hear the commendation: “Well done, good and faithful steward.”
1 “War Pigeon," Wikipedia, accessed November 7, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_pigeon.
2 Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, n.d., p. 37.
3 White, Review and Herald, Apr. 18, 1912, par. 3.
4 White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 342.
5 White, Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 393.
6 White, Maranatha, p. 127.