THE ETERNAL GOSPEL
This judgment of the nations by the Lord will not be without a warning. Revelation 14:6-7 says, "And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel to announce to those settled on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him Who has made the heaven and the earth and the sea and springs of waters." The gospel preached in these verses is not the gospel of grace, but the eternal gospel. Nor is it preached by a man, but by an angel. The gospel of grace on the other hand is not preached by the angels, but by man. An angel did come to Cornelius in Acts 10, but he did not preach the gospel to Cornelius. Rather, the angel told him to call Peter. As a man, Peter was privileged and authorized to preach the gospel of grace. In Revelation 14 an angel, not a man, is preaching the eternal gospel. Furthermore, this gospel is not preached on the earth, but from the air.
What is the content of the eternal gospel? We know that the content of the gospel of grace is to repent and to believe. These are the two main items of the content of the gospel of grace. But in Revelation 14 the content of the eternal gospel is different. It simply says to fear God and worship Him. The nations need to fear God because the time of judgment is coming. The nations will not be told to worship God as their Redeemer, but as their Creator, the One who created them. They will be told to fear God because the time of judgment is coming and to worship God because He is their Creator. In order to understand these verses we must consider their context. In this same chapter it says, "And another, a third angel, followed them, saying with a loud voice, If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the fury of God which is mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath; and he will be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (vv. 9-12). This means that the eternal gospel will be preached by the angel at the very time when the Antichrist is forcing people to worship him. While Antichrist is forcing people to worship him, an angel from the air will warn people not to worship him, but to worship God. It is as if the angel will testify to all the nations that the beast, Antichrist, is not their creator. They should not worship him, but should worship God, their Creator. If they worship the beast, the Antichrist, God will judge them. Verse 12 shows who the people of God will be when the Antichrist rises up. Here is the patience of the saints. The saints here will include two peoples: the Jews who keep the commandments of God and the Christians who have the faith of Jesus. The Antichrist will set up an image in the temple and force people to worship him. But the Jews and the Christians will refuse to worship his image. Even at that time there will be some Christians left who were not matured and able to be raptured. They will refuse to worship the image of the beast, so the Antichrist will persecute them. Because he will kill them, they will have the need of much patience. Verse 13 goes on to say, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from this time forth." Surely these are the ones who will die through the persecution of the Antichrist.
In other words, during the time of the tribulation the Antichrist will set up his image, forcing people to worship it as an idol. However, the Jewish people and the remaining Christians who were not raptured as the firstfruit will not worship his image, so they will be persecuted even to death. Under these circumstances, God will send the angel to preach the eternal gospel to the nations of the earth. He will warn them to fear God and worship God. This means don’t persecute the ones who are keeping the commandments of God and the ones who are having faith in Christ. Don’t persecute those people who will not worship the image of the Antichrist. Rather, fear God.
All the people on the earth will hear this gospel from the air. It will cover the whole earth. Of all the people who hear this word, a few will receive it and not persecute the Jews and Christians. The Jews and Christians at that time will be under much persecution and suffering. They will be short of food, short of drink, and short of clothing. They will be chased from place to place making them the strangers. And they will be put into prison. All of these points are mentioned by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 25. Those peoples of the nations who care for the little brothers of Christ during that time will be considered as the sheep. Those who persecute the Jews and Christians at that time will be considered as the goats.
The good ones, who treated the little brothers of the Lord well during the tribulation, will be transferred into the millennial kingdom to be the nations. The overcoming Christians will be the kings, and the converted Jews will be the priests, but the people will be the good ones from among the nations whom the Lord considers as sheep. Through these dealings the Lord Jesus will produce three kinds of people: the overcoming Christians as the kings, the converted Jews as the priests, and the preserved, but not regenerated, Gentiles as the people. All the bad ones, the goats, will be cast into the fire.
This parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 corresponds to the parable of the net in Matthew 13:47-50. The first six parables in Matthew 13 are related mostly to the Christians, with a small part related to the Jews. The treasure hid in the field mainly refers to the kingdom with Israel. The pearl that comes out of the water signifies the church. Both are eventually for the kingdom. Thus, in Matthew 13 there are also the three kinds of people: the Jews with the kingdom as the treasure hidden in the field, the Gentiles regenerated and transformed into a pearl, the church, and finally, there are the ones left in the sea, the Gentiles. The Lord sent the angel to collect those who were left in the sea. The net cast into the sea brings in every kind of creature without regeneration or transformation. This refers to the Gentiles, the natural people from the corrupted world. The Lord will gather all these before Him and judge them. The good will be gathered into vessels, that is, into the millennial kingdom to be the nations, but the evil shall be cast into the furnace of fire.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 42, by Witness Lee)