Three Angels Messages Part 37

Thanks for joining us again, as we continue to study the critically important messages of the three angels, found in Revelation 14. At this point, we’re looking at the message of the second angel, recorded in Revelation 14:8. “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” We’re asking the question, what does the term “Babylon” mean?
We’ve seen that there are three “editions” of a physical Babylon, those being the original Tower of Babel, the Babylonia of Hammurabi, and the colossal Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar. By way of contrast, the last four editions are not literal, but spiritual. This follows the pattern of divine revelation, in which “the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” I Corinthians 15:46.
It is true that we are advised to take the Bible just as it reads, and interpret it in a direct and literal way. But when we are compelled by context, then we look to find another way of understanding what the Word of God is telling us. In this case, we have strong evidence to look at the term “Babylon,” as used in Revelation, in a spiritual way, since by the time New Testament authors like Peter wrote, there was no longer a physical, literal Babylon.
Likewise, as we shall see, the term “Babylon” is used in the writings of John to refer, not to the physical Babylon, but the organization or combination of organizations which would employ the same tactics and embrace the same concepts as did the Babylon of old. There really is no other way to understand the term “Babylon” in the book of Revelation other than by this spiritual application.
With this in mind, we will look at the fourth “Babylon” as being the city to which Peter referred when he closed his first epistle with the words, “She who is in Babylon, elect together with, greets you.” I Peter 5:13. It is obvious that the apostle could not have been speaking of a literal Babylon, since that no longer existed. We know that Peter was taken to Rome, and so it makes sense that he is alluding to that city in a figurative way. Why would he do so? Bible authors often use this technique, when a person or a place mimics another so closely, it becomes a metaphor for the other.
No doubt he was thinking of the persecutions and oppressions brought about by ancient Babylon and drawing a similarity between Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom and the world empire of Peter's day, Rome. Peter used this figurative language because ancient Rome followed many of the same practices and embraced many of the same philosophies as did the Babylon of antiquity. She was blasphemous, arrogant, persecuting and proud, even calling herself the “eternal city.” Even today, if you put in the words “eternal city” into your computer’s search engine, the first entry will likely refer to Rome.
Rome exercised an iron rule, both in terms of her severity and her longevity. Among the components of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue dream, the legs of iron, representing Rome, outlived the span of the three other kingdoms before her combined. Iron, as employed by the symbol of the statue dream, was an appropriate designation for the empire of Rome. “And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters all things; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.” Daniel 2:40. That’s exactly what pagan Rome did.
            God’s people, both as the God-fearing Jews and the soon to be born Christian Church, felt the tread of the iron boot of Rome. It was under Roman rule that the Bethlehem babies were slaughtered in an attempt to rid a supposed rival to Herod’s throne. It was a Roman governor who gave the nod to crucify Jesus. It was Roman soldiers that nailed Roman spikes that held the Savior to a Roman cross.
            It was Roman authority that brought about the persecution of early Christians, who refused to bow the knee to Nero. Though it is revolting to even think about it, it is nevertheless true that believers became the food of lions in the Coliseum and the fuel for Roman candles to light their parties. It was a Roman sword which brought an end to the lives of many of Christ’s followers, including the Apostles James and Paul. It was in Rome that Peter met a martyr’s end. Through the first centuries, the wrath of Rome made it dangerous to be a believer in Christ. The persecutions of Diocletian, the last convulsion of civil Rome’s attempt to eradicate the new faith, were furious in their intensity. Well might the apostle Peter have used the term “Babylon” as a code term for the capitol of Rome.
The fifth expression of “Babylon” is the Church of the Middle Ages, the system of the papacy. When the Apostle John was invited to see the “judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,” on which the title “mystery, Babylon the great” was inscribed, the clues leave little doubt that this picture includes the church that ruled with an iron fist for centuries. Often in the Bible a “woman” is used symbolically to represent a church. Jeremiah 6:2, KJV, II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:31, 32, etc. This picture of the impure woman of Revelation 17 is one of the 7 representations in Scripture which depict the Church of Rome. The historical papacy is responsible for the martyrdom of countless millions; some estimate the number being somewhere between 50 and 100 million.
            By the flame, by the rack, by the sword and by countless other instruments of torture invented by satanic minds, the saints of God endured the intolerance of the Church through the Middle Ages. Indeed, as prophesied through Daniel, the “power of the holy people” was “completely shattered” during this time period, a time period which is the most frequently mentioned time prophecy in Scripture, being identified 7 times. Note that the picture of apostasy is presented in 7 “pictures” in Scripture, and the time span of her uninterrupted reign is presented 7 times in the Bible.
            The persecutions of the dark ages raged during the reign of this apostate power during her uninterrupted rule of 1260 years. This time span is couched in three different symbolic ways. Fitting for the format of symbolic prophecy, with beasts representing kingdoms and waters representing peoples, time is also expressed in a symbolic way. The time during which the papacy ruled is accounted as 1260 “days” (a day standing for a year in symbolic prophecy; Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6), 42 “months,” or 3 ½ “times” (By comparing Revelation 12:6, 14, we find that a “time” is best understood as a “year.”) These phrases are found in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7, and Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5. A comparison of these passages makes it clear that they all refer to the same time period of 1260 literal years.
            When did this time period begin? The transition from civil to papal Rome was not accomplished overnight, but over the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries there was a general ascendancy of the papacy and a general decline of pagan Rome. When the empire moved its seat of operation from Rome to Constantinople, the bishop of Rome filled the vacuum with his leadership.
            In the year 533 A.D., the Emperor Justinian issued his famous code, the law of the empire, in which he specified the bishop of Rome as being the head of the Christian Church and the “corrector of heretics.” By this language, the emperor elevated the bishop Rome, the pope, to a status of unequaled authority and put the tool of persecution into his hand. However, because of the threat of some of the tribes which posed opposition to the papacy, particularly the Ostrogoths, the papacy could not completely fulfill her legally given position of supremacy. The battles between the forces of the papacy and Ostrogoths went back and forth for a time. When the papacy regained the control of Rome, the Ostrogoths mounted an attack against her, but the Church was aided by the forces of Emperor Justinian’s General Belisarius and the Ostrogoths abandoned their siege in 538 A.D, leaving the Church free to pursue her agenda. This date marks the beginning of the papacy’s reign.
            The following centuries would witness increasing power and position, peaking in the 11th-13th centuries. The impact of the Protestant Reformation would etch into papal authority, and finally in 1798 under the generalship of Berthier, as commanded by Napoleon, Pope Pius VI was taken captive. Many thought the papacy was dead and would never revive. The time between these two dates, the 1260 years between 538 A.D. and 1798 A.D. comprises the prophetic time span of 1260 “days” mentioned 7 times in Scripture.
            We emphasize that God loves everyone, and we recognize that there are sincere, God-fearing believers in every community of faith. But there is only one “truth,” and that is to be found in the Holy Bible. Therefore God has every right to identify and indict that system which has been used by the devil to restrict, contort, and attempt to destroy the Scriptures, and to persecute those who treasure its teachings. God has an issue with that system which has changed virtually every teaching revealed in the Bible, and even attempted to alter God’s sacred law, the Ten Commandments, inscribed by His own finger in stone.
            It is in love that God calls those who sincerely want to follow Him, to leave the churches which are not following His teachings, not adhering to His Commandments, not proclaiming the Three Angels’ Messages. He is appealing to those that He Himself calls “My people,” to come out of “Babylon,” those systems that have abandoned the truths of Scripture, and return to the pure and unadulterated teachings of His Word. That’s where you want to be, isn’t it? Don’t you want to be part of the group to which the Lord points and says, “Here is the patience of the saints. Here are they that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus”? Revelation 14:12.

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