Are you familiar with North Carolina’s vehicle license plates? There’s a sketch of an antique airplane in the background and this slogan on top: "First in Flight." That’s a pretty bold claim, isn’t it? Sure, I’m familiar with the Wright brothers and Kitty Hawk and Dec. 17, 1903, but that wasn’t the first thing ever to fly.
You might think of an archer’s arrow or kites or those hot-air balloons, but the verse we’re considering today, Revelation 14:6, describes an even more important flight that’s been going on for much longer. In that verse, God tells us that the Gospel is flying. Ever since God first spoke it in Eden and then wrote it down through his prophets and evangelists — the good news of a Savior from sin has been flying into the hearts and minds of every nation, tribe, language, and people.
You don’t have to look up in the sky around here long before you can tell that Delta, AirTran and all the rest are flying, but is the Gospel? Think about it: I was asked to speak at a ceremony commemorating 9/11 last week, but since it was at a public school, I had to be careful of not saying much about God, so as not to "offend." Or think of how many Bibles sit and collect more dust than finger grease. Think of how many of the people reading this paper regularly decide they have something better to do on Sunday morning than going and catching a glimpse of this Gospel. Is the gospel really still flying today?
If it were not for God’s promise, we might not be able to answer that question very well. It’s not always so easy to see, but God’s Word says it, so it is true. The gospel is flying. It is flying through God’s people and to all people.
This is the verse I’m talking about. After God describes Satan and the way he can sometimes make evil use of secular government and even of organized religion through those false teachers, he says this: "Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people" (Revelation 14:6).
What is the good news for those under attack? We’re talking about our Savior — this is the same good news he proclaims throughout this book, like when he says this to that Savior: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). So God says about us in the gospel, "I have written your name in the book of life. I wrote your name in the book with the ink of my Son’s blood. Believe it. You’re mine." This is the gospel, the good news, that the angel had.
The angel still has this good news, but who is the angel flying in midair? It is the one who has that eternal gospel. Think about how many angels (messengers) have come into your life to share with you the good news of Jesus. Your parents, your Sunday school teacher, your Christian friends, your pastor, even your children can be those angels God sends to you to remind you that he loves you. When that happens, the gospel is flying.
You now have that gospel. That makes you the angel. So fly with it. Our verse says that the angel is "flying in midair." Why? To proclaim that gospel "to every nation, tribe, language, and people."
That’s a pretty overwhelming job. No way can you reach everyone, right? Well, on your own, you couldn’t. That’s why you join your voice and your efforts with others. That is where your church comes in (and if you don’t have one, find one — there’s a website below that might be able to help). Church is where you join your efforts with the rest of these angels to work together to get this message proclaimed where we wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. So join your time an.
The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.