Three Angels Messages Part 35

            In this presentation, we move from the first angel’s message to the second angel’s message, recorded in Revelation 14:8. The message of the second angel reads, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” The first question that comes to mind is, What is “Babylon”? A recognized rule of Bible study is to take the Scripture as it reads, understanding its words and terms literally, unless compelled by context or reason to do otherwise.
We find that the book of Revelation uses symbols and signs generously to convey its information. We were informed in its very first verse that the message would be imbedded in “signs.” Thus, we may expect that the term “Babylon” might be used in a figurative sense. Secondly, since it was destroyed and lay in ruins for more than a century before Christ, a literal or physical Babylon has not existed. We are therefore prepared to understand it in a symbolic sense. But what does “Babylon” mean? Are there clues to understand what this symbol signifies? And what does its “fall” signify? Why does it mention its fall twice?
            There is merit in studying the Babylon of the past in order to gain insights as to how it should be understood in its symbolic sense. In fact, there are a number of “Babylons” to which we should give our attention, seven of them altogether. There was the “Babylon” of the tower of Babel, shortly after the Flood. There was a Babylon during Abraham’s lifetime, ruled by the great Hammurabi. There was the “neo-Babylon” made famous by Nebuchadnezzar 25 centuries ago. There was the “Babylon” of Rome to which Peter alluded. There was the Babylon of the Middle Ages, of which Paul spoke. Then there is the “Babylon” to which Revelation refers, which may be seen in two separate manifestations. We need to study the “Babylons” of history in order to digest and distill the components that identify her and establish her character.
Remember that of the 404 verses of Revelation, at least 250 of them contain quotations, references or allusions to the terms and stories of the Old Testament. The roots of many of the symbols of Revelation can be traced back to the first book of Bible, Genesis, and Babylon is certainly one of them.
The tower of Babel story, the first “Babylon,” is recorded in the first verses of Genesis 11. “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’”
Being that this story takes place after the Flood, there was naturally occurring bitumen, asphalt, or petroleum which they used to make their mortar for the bricks. In the center of the metropolis of Los Angeles there is a phenomenon called the La Brea Tar pits, which ooze petroleum and has served as an inviting trap for animals through the centuries. Naturally occurring petroleum near the Dead Sea was what caused the ancients to call it “Lake Asphaltitus.”
            The word “Shinar” is an interesting one, in that it means literally, “The country of two rivers,” referring of course to the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. In this way, the word “Shinar” answers to our word “Mesopotamia,” which means “between the rivers (“meso” meaning “between,” as in “mezzo-soprano,” a female voice range between soprano and contalso, “mezzanine,” a landing between floors, and other words, and “potamos” meaning “river,” as in “hippopotamus,” literally, a “river horse”).
These tower builders acted in defiance of the will of Jehovah. It had been His purpose to have people spread out across the land and repopulate it through rural living, not to congregate in great cities. Cities were the product of the descendants of Cain (Genesis 4:17), the dream children of Nimrod, the great hunter who arose in insubordination to the Lord. “And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel.” Genesis 10:10. From there he went and built many of the great cities of antiquity, including Nineveh, the future capital of Assyria.
            The tower builders of Babel disbelieved the promise of God whispered in the rainbow, that He would never again flood the entire world with water. Their tower was placed on the foundation of unbelief and constructed with the bricks of self attainment. It was based on a system of “salvation by works,” not faith. In stark colors we may paint these ideas on the canvas of what constitutes apocalyptic “Babylon”; unbelief, defiance and salvation by works.
            The name “Babel” meant literally, “gate of the gods.” It was designed to be the connection between the “here” and the “hereafter.” It was their attempt to side-step the revealed will of God and come to knowledge by another way, a way of their own making. A well-known music group of the ‘60’s styled themselves in a similar role, thinking themselves as being the nexus between the “now” and the “future.” With that in mind, they called themselves the Doors.
            The great deceiver, Satan, has always put forth other avenues and ways to penetrate the curtain of tomorrow. Through astrology and false science, through witchcraft and necromancy, Lucifer has peddled his version of the story. The Bible makes it clear that all these attempts to learn the secrets of the future are futile and dangerous, and therefore off-limits to the child of God. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29.
            There is only one Way, only one Ladder, only one Mediator and only one Door, and His name is Jesus. He was the Ladder of Jacob’s dream. John 1:51. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:16. He is the one Mediator between God and man. I Timothy 2:5. The tower builders missed, ignored or outrightly rejected this truth in their construction of the “gate of the gods.” Their project met with disaster, as have more recent attempts, such as the ill-fated “Heaven’s Gate” movement. These attempts to become the link between heaven and earth; this blasphemous and boastful claim to take the position occupied only by our Savior Jesus is a brick in the foundation of biblical Babylon.
            In God’s kingdom, the city above, each gate is made of one pearl. Revelation 21:21. Anyone who is privileged to gain entrance therein will walk through a gate of pearl. There is no other way. Who in the Bible is the Pearl? It is Jesus! “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45, 46. The beautiful pearl, whose luster many times is the outgrowth of contact with dirt or impurity, tells the story of the One Whose love shines even brighter through the conflict with and victory over sin. Everyone who enters heaven will know that story, both as revealed impeccably in the life and character of the dear Savior and as reflected in their own experience, as the grace of God has given them the victory. Jesus is the Gate!
            The ancient priests of Babylon promoted themselves as being the connecting link between earth and heaven. They were the “bridge” across the chasm separating the visible from the invisible. They chose the title “bridge-maker” in view of their supposed role. Later this concept migrated from Babylon to the emperors of ancient Rome and then filtered into the Church of Rome. Today the head of the Catholic Church is called the “Pontiff,” which is an abbreviation of the title “Pontifex (from pont, “bridge” and fex, “to build”) Maximus (“the greatest”),” meaning “the greatest bridge builder.” How absurd! Jesus is the Bridge! He is the Ladder! He is the Gate to heaven.
            A secondary, but legitimate meaning of Babel is “confusion.” “Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth.” Genesis 11:9. The concept of “confusion” as a component in the fabric of Babylon we will encounter later in our study. Defiant obstinacy, unbelief, salvation by works, blasphemous claims to divine wisdom and confusion: these are the components of the “Babylon” of Genesis 11, and provide insights into the apocalyptic Babylon of Revelation.
            Please join us next time as we continue to explore the message of the second angel, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen. God has vital information He wants us to know and share with the world, to prepare for the times ahead. Always remember, God is love, and He wants you to be a part of His eternal kingdom!

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