ecently, I asked a new Christian in the Middle East how God brought about his conversion.
“I obtained a Bible and started searching for ways to prove Christianity wrong,” he replied. “But as I studied it, God changed me.” This man, who baptized 17 people in his country last year, became the first Seventh-day Adventist pastor in his country. A great reversal, indeed!
I believe that the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 are and will continue to be God’s means for bringing about a great reversal in the lives of millions. The message of the first angel is especially interesting. Verses 6 and 7 read, “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’” (NKJV). I’d like to draw your attention to the words “to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” because it’s a theme found throughout Scripture that helps us unlock not only the meaning of Revelation but also the entire Bible.
We get our first glimpse of the all-nations theme at the Tower of Babel, where God separates and disperses earth’s inhabitants because they worship false gods (Genesis 10). Here, we’re given a genealogy of Noah’s sons and their dispersion after the Flood, focusing on the major known nations.
The word nation is usually understood as geographical or political in nature. But what separated nations in Scripture was the deity the people worshipped. Worship was a central part of their identity. So, when we read “nation” in the Bible, we need to think in terms of a religious group of people.
Fortunately, God didn’t give up on humanity after dispersing them. From the time Adam and Eve abdicated the dominion God gave them, He desired to reestablish His reign in this world through His people. We see God’s missionary heart in Genesis 12 when He tells Abraham, “I will make you a great nation . . . ; And you shall be a blessing. . . . And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (verses 2, 3, NKJV). Here we learn that every blessing we receive from God is intended to benefit the world.
Sadly, we know that Israel rarely lived up to the light God gave them. Yet He continued to give them opportunities to reach the nations that He loved. “The very existence of the Bible is incontrovertible evidence of the God who refused to forsake his rebellious creation. [. . .] [It] testifies to a God who breaks through to human beings, who disclosed himself to them, who will not leave them unilluminated in their darkness, . . . who takes the initiative in re-establishing broken relationships with us.”1
The phrase “all people, nations, and languages” appears seven times in the book of Daniel. One occurrence of this phrase refers to Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion, one of the great reversals in Scripture. In Daniel 4:34, Nebuchadnezzar says, “I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation” (NKJV). Here a man who was determined to burn people who wouldn’t worship him calls for people to honor the God of creation. Isn’t that interesting: a pagan king telling the world what God’s people were supposed to share?
Jesus brought about the greatest reversal of all time, fulfilling God’s mission to the nations that Israel rejected. In Matthew 24, He incorporates the all-nations theme into His prophetic discourse: “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” (verse 14, NKJV).
How are we doing with reaching all nations? Where are we with the 10/40 Window—home to two-thirds of the world’s population, comprising 69 nations, 5.3 billion individuals, 8,868 people groups, and 3,343 languages? Ninety-five percent of this region, where most people are Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims, has not been evangelized by any Christian denomination.
God promised in Revelation 14 that another great reversal is coming. The three angels’ messages give every nation and every person an understanding of who He is, a warning of the false systems of worship in the world, and an invitation to respond to His great love.
If most of the world still has no witness, what are we doing? We need to talk less about who the remnant is and start doing what the Bible says the remnant does. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to be blessing people with the love of God. God is waiting for us, but there are some significant steps we must take.
All our dreams and ambitions must be reassimilated to the mission of Jesus. We need to re-create and reorganize a system to enter every nation, every large city, and every ethnolinguistic people group in the world. And, to do that, we must, through God’s power, live sacrificially, boldly proclaiming the truth of Jesus in preparation for His return.