Revelation 14:6–12 and the Case for Preterism

Sabbath school commentary for discussion with the Adult Bible Study Guide on May 6, 2023.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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This is a new low for this magazine. The messages these Ángels Proclaim to every person because God’s judgment has begun and to avoid the mark of the beast are “insignificant”? They meant something to 1st century Christian’s but mean nothing for us? I think the author needed to take more than a “cursory” look at the text. I realize there’s more than one interpretation but this one seems very lazy and sloppy.

If you knew anything about Warren Trenchard, you would know that he is neither lazy nor sloppy. Attacking his thoughts and Spectrum seems judgmental. Are you willing to share your thoughts rather than just condemning someone else’s? Sharing opinions is the goal of this forum, not attacking the opinions of others.


Thank you Dr. Trenchard for this thoughtful analysis of this passage from Revelation that has been appropriated by the SDA Church as having special application to them. I agree that rather than looking at this text from the vantage of our 21st Century perspective, we ought to be trying to determine how the early Christians around 100 AD would have understood this, in particular giving them hope of deliverance from their present evil. Interesting that the book of Revelation was the last or one of the last books to be accepted into the cannon of the New Testament suggesting that even the early Christians had difficulty in understanding its import.


God in His Love and wisdom has given hearing only to those who have ears to hear. Those who remain deaf and who refuse to receive sight and hearing will continue without understanding. They will wonder into oncoming traffic and be carried away with the speed and tumult. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. We could fill a new library with new books and articles on the just topic of the three angels message. But God can give the full revelation to those who can not even read. Thank you Jesus!

I like Revelation 14; it’s action packed with six angels flying around, after an opening segment (v. 1-6) of the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, at Jerusalem? surrounded by 144k guys who haven’t been “defiled” with women and are therefore faultless. Well. Not sure this is the moment to start taking the book of Revelation literally, yet we do, and start picking and choosing certain angels and appropriating their meaning to Just Us! I know people who study this every day, trying to work out the date of the 2nd coming and their place in the festivities. I’m not going to use Revelation for this. Not.


Hello Alice,I don’t know the Dr. Personally but he starts the article with the following quote…

“Cursory” or superficially/hastily…That doesn’t sound like the basis for a well researched and thoughtful article. I meant no disrespect to him personally but this quote is basically admiring I didn’t put much effort into my research.

He then concludes the following:


I take exception with his ideas because he in essence says, this is insignificant, I have no idea what it means but it doesn’t matter anyway.

So I’m happy to share my thoughts but the Dr. Himself Has provided no clarity as to the meaning of the passage.

  1. How can a message that is depicted as going to every nation and containing the gospel, declaring the fall of Babylon and urgently warning all inhabitants not to receive the mark of the beast be “insignificant”? that sounds sloppy to me.

  2. The passage further gives the characteristics of those who are God’s true followers: they keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus. This seems pretty important to know.

  3. The angel pronounces the start of the judgment, this cannot he insignificant and only apply to or have meaning for 1st century Christian’s. It involves all of us.

I believe that the gospel message is given through us and I believe God has already begun His work of judgment. I also believe the churches who have mixed their doctrines with the Catholic Church (immortality of the soul, Sunday worship) constitute Babylon. This is not to be taken that I feel superior in any way but as a motivation to share Bible truths as many saved and honest Christian’s need to “come out” of Babylon as stated in revelation. I further believe the beast will be an end time union if church and state where Protestants, Catholics, and politicians will enforce worship as led by the United States and the Babylon churches. I believe sda’s are not better than anyone but I do believe this passage gives us a special and significant mission to share the gospel AND the commandments as they are specified as being specifically meaningful in this passage.

The dr. May be way more versed than me in the Bible as a whole but I felt the “this passage means nothing to us today, I’m not sure what it means, but it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t apply to us” is a very dangerous and sloppy interpretation

Thank-you for sharing your ideas.

The overwhelming problem with “interpreting” apocalyptic “prophecy” is just that - interpreting, trying to understand (and gain an advantage) of what is supposedly coming. Once we think we understand what is happening, we get locked in (fixated) on a particular flow of events. This happened in the lead up to and post 1844. The mindset is still evident in the majority of the SDA church, along with other apocalyptic sects/cults.

When the event flow doesn’t go as “planned” these groups tend to double down with more predictions, or untestable, and hence unprovable explanations of what “actually” happened.

Trying to understand apocalyptic literature - so I can be ready at the right time - is the equivalent of a JIT conversion. The only valid approach (IMHO) is to be ready all the time. That way you have no need to “understand” what is coming so you can be ready, you have no fear of what is coming, you don’t care what is coming because you already have the assurance of salvation, come what may.


This is spot on. The writer of Revelation was addressing crises current at his own time. This section of ch 14 as well as the entire book was dealing with those issues in symbolic format using a familiar genre.

Exactly what those crises were may be impossible to recover due to the lack of historical data in that time period. My personal opinion is that it is dealing with the repetitive Judean rebellions between 64 CE and 135 CE, paralleled with the Roman oppression of the Jews, including the diaspora Jews, and the heavy taxes levied upon them, culminating in the Bar Kochba revolt after which the Jews were exiled from Judea and Jewish practices were prohibited. But whatever the exact issues, the book must be interpreted against the contemporary background and not as a magic book foretelling European/Western history for the next 2000 years.


Yes. Human nature today is the same as it was then As a result the issues of conflict are the same as well - each placed within various historical settings. There are common threads that run through history because the are just a handful of issues that always result in conflict.


Why have these two understandings dominated?

  1. A belief that the author was “inspired” and could not be mistaken.
  2. The fact that the predictions made regarding the immediate future (from the perspective of the writer’s time) failed.

The failed predictions are untenable to a believer in Biblical authority; therefore, the focus must always be projected into the future, whether throughout the course of history, or all at once in the indeterminate future.


Look at the SDA church world-wide as well as other worldwide protestant churches and you may well find that the United States will “enforce” little worship of any kind.

Every one of the “prophecies” of Daniel and Revelation have already been fulfilled. I say this from the assumption that we actually do not understand what they are saying. We presume to know therefore we ascribe meaning. From that meaning we derive future (or past) fulfilment. What if our presumption is wrong?

What occurs to me while reading this article at the same time that I’m reading Rabbi Samuel Sandmel’s brilliant analysis of the NT in his book, “A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament,” is that most of Christianity has explicitly stated that God’s law has been abolished by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This, as could be expected, is a significant factor that makes it so difficult for Jews to give credence to Christianity and to believe that Christianity holds within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

Adventism does not agree with most of Christianity today that God’s law has been abolished. Adventism still, through all of its ups and downs, proclaims that God’s law is (at least partially) a revelation of himself and, as such, could never be abolished. Clarified by Jesus, yes, certainly–but not abolished.

However, Adventism is not unique in taking this position. Messianic Judaism in its various sects also declares God’s law is still a valid representation of God’s character, as further clarified through the life of the Messiah Yeshua. Interestingly, Messianic Judaism, so long rejected by both Judaism and Christianity, started receiving more significant recognition in the twentieth century and is now providing a critical “bridge” between Christianity and Judaism through its evangelism to Jews.

Under the current circumstances I agree 100%. However, if you look carefully at the evangelical movement in the US, currently it is pushing for much more religious involvement in government. There are several proposed pieces of legislation imposing the 10 commandments in schools or school prayer . Many evangelicals are seeing the condition of society and see a turning to God in government as the only solution.

Couple that with how easily were willing to give up our freedoms in an emergency. So, right now forced worship has no chance, but if an economic crisis or some other major crisis hits our country people would be more willing to turn to God.

Lastly, revelation says that what really convinces people to accept the forced worship is false miracles. I know this is foreign to us in 2023, but if we see true miracles Being performed by evangelical churches and mixed with some major emergency, it’s definitely posible.

Dr Trenchard rightly centers his analysis in the first century and questions whether the early Adventists were justified in seeing the three angels as representing their 19th-century message, that is: the investigative judgment of 1844, the call to separate from the other churches, and to recover the 7th day as the biblical day of worship. I think a very good case can be made for the 7th-day Sabbath, but not from Rev 14:9-12.
What did surprise me is Dr Trenchard’s conviction that the passage is “not a particularly significant paragraph” having “few, if any ties to what precedes or follows it.” Well chapt. 18 follows it and it bristles with “ties.” “Another angel flying … from heaven” (Rev 18:1); “fallen, fallen is Babylon the great” (v. 2); “all the nations have drunk of the wine of her fornication” (v. 3); “Lord God who judges her” (v. 8); “And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication … with her” (V. 9); “Babylon, the mighty city! for in one hour your judgment has come” (v. 10, 17; 19, 20).
An excellent paper, but it strangely missed these parallels. Babylon in chapter 18 clearly represents Imperial Rome that was contemporary with the apostles (vv. 20, 24). God bless you all, Norm.


In the final analysis, none of this matters. What it does do is direct our focus on issues, while maybe interesting, are irrelevant to our every-day lives and the problems the world faces. It’s a lot like trying to solve our physical ailments one at a time, while all the while, the answer is to focus on just a few items like - good food and water, clean air, and proper rest. Our focus, as Christians, can easily be on the life of Christ as it’s summarized in the Beatitudes. We don’t need detailed prophesies to tell us how to deal with our lives.


Agreed. The entirety of Revelation is tied to the author’s time and place (Imperial Rome, Jerusalem, and the diaspora), although I would personally date it a bit later, in the 130’s CE. The expected divine rescue didn’t occur as envisioned by the author, which gave license to subsequent readers to use their imagination to project the message and symbolism to the future; an entertaining but futile game of connect the dots.

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I think the problem is that while we have the beatitudes, admonitions to love our selves and each other and not to worry about tomorrow, Jesus reportedly goes off on other, much more ominous rants, saying how everyone has to hate their parents, his good news is that he wants to bring war into the world, and at one point goes all “doomsday prepper” talking about how calamitous things must get before he returns.

I like to cherry pick both the OT and NT and give Jesus and his dad the benefit of doubt, thinking that they have been the victims of some shoddy, even corrupt reportage.

But I have no answer for those who do the opposite nor do I blame anyone who comes away from trying to understand the Bible and opts to disbelieve the god, or gods described therein. And I certainly understand those who still believe that the decision to include Revelations in the biblical canon was a joke.