Three Angels Messages Part 38

Welcome once more, as we continue to study the Three Angels’ Messages, found in Revelation 14:6-12. At this juncture of our research, we’re looking at the message of the second angel, recorded in Revelation 14:8, which 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.” We’ve been asking the question, what does the term “Babylon” mean?
We’ve seen so far 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. On other hand, the last four editions are not literal, but spiritual, which corresponds to the pattern of divine revelation, in which “the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” I Corinthians 15:46. In His parables and teachings, Jesus often used literal, physical things to convey spiritual truths.
We saw that pagan Rome was identified as “Babylon” by the Apostle Peter, no doubt because she followed the pattern of apostasy, blasphemy and persecuting God’s people. Likewise, the Church of the Middle Ages, the system of the historical papacy, also raised her hand against God’s saints, causing the martyrdom of untold millions, employed blasphemous language in attempting to equate herself with God, and attempting to alter His sacred law, the Ten Commandments. She reigned in an uninterrupted way for 1260 years, as predicted no fewer than 7 times in Scripture. These things are all a matter not only of prophecy, but historical record, being verified with minimal research.
While the historical papacy is certainly part of the picture in Revelation 17’s depiction of “Babylon,” it is also true that this chapter’s representation reveals “Babylon” to be the last-day conglomerate of all forces in opposition to God and His kingdom. The fact that it is a coalition of separate segments is shown by the reference in Revelation 16 that the “city” (referring to Babylon) is “divided into three parts.” Revelation 16:19. Apocalyptic Babylon represents the cooperative efforts of the counterfeit trinity, composed of the “beast” (the historical papacy), the “false prophet” (fallen Protestantism) and the “dragon” (spiritualism, paganism and all false religions) which work in confederacy with the “kings of the earth.” Like Revelation 13’s beast from the sea, which shares similarities with many former enemies of God, in that it was like a leopard, bear and lion (code terms for the kingdoms of Greece, Medo-Persia and Babylon in the past), the woman/beast symbol of Revelation 17 is the final day combination of those entities which work against God.
            The first part of Revelation 17’s description (verses 1-6) emphasizes the “woman” of Babylon, while the latter part (verses 7-18) emphasizes the “beast” on which she rides, thus portraying both the spiritual and political aspects of the last day apostasy. The “woman,” a term being used often in Scripture to represent a religious body, a church, focuses on those entities which promote themselves as being spiritual. In Scripture, the church is wedded to her Lord. “I was an Husband to them.” Jeremiah 31:32. “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” II Corinthians 11:2.
            When the church strayed from her allegiance to her “Husband,” the Lord, she was described in Scripture as being a harlot. The heart-wrenching story of Hosea breathes this imagery. God indicted Judah of old “because you have gone as a harlot after the Gentiles, because you have become defiled by their idols.” Ezekiel 23:30. The Lord told Jerusalem that they had become guilty because “you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it.” Ezekiel 16:15.
            Spiritual fornication or adultery is defined clearly by James. “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4. When those who have pledged their love to God abandon that covenant relationship and seek alliances with the world, they commit spiritual harlotry.
            When the Bible uses the term “harlot,” expect that it will refer to an entity which at one time vowed to follow God, and no doubt did for some period of time, but later slipped from the relationship with their Husband and conducted an illicit affair with others. Old Testament Israel at one time was described as “the people of God,” but later fell from that position and became a “harlot.” The New Testament church began with lofty principles, but capitulated by compromise into apostasy. The term “harlot,” as used in Scripture, indicates that at one time there was “marriage.” In the Bible, this is not a term that, strictly speaking, is applied to “the world;” that is, those who have never professed allegiance to God. It is applied to those who have professed that relationship, but have left their Master. Expect that the “harlot” of Revelation will be an entity professing to follow God, but not living up to the truths of Scripture. In other words, this power is not “anti-religious,” but rather is claiming to be Christian, but not following the principles of God’s kingdom as revealed in Scripture. It is a “wolf” in “sheep’s” clothing (remembering that Christ is often identified as the “Lamb of God”).
            Notice in Revelation 17, this woman is not only called a “harlot,” but she is also called the “mother of harlots.” Being a mother, she must have daughters. Long has the Church of Rome styled herself as the “mother church.” Her daughters are those churches which refuse to relinquish the errors and deceptions which Satan introduced into the church during the Middle Ages, and therefore are worthy of the same indictment.
            Yes, there was a Reformation, and many strides were made to regain the truths that had been lost, obscured or corrupted by the Roman Church. Martin Luther, John Calvin and many more were God’s mariners attempting to steer the ship of faith back on course, to plow the waters of Bible truth. The Protestant Reformation began in glory, yet in the succeeding centuries, those churches which began with such brilliance have seen their light dimmed by worldliness and a failure to separate completely from the sins of Rome, chief of which are the honoring of the first day of the week as the Sabbath and the belief in the immortality of the soul. Thus apostate Protestantism must also be included in the mural of Babylon as portrayed in Revelation 17.
            As mentioned, the first part of the chapter highlights the “woman” (ecclesiastical aspect) of Babylon, while the latter part emphasizes the “beast” (political power) which carries, or supports her. This sequence is appropriate, because it will be the religious forces that take the lead and instigate the last day trial for God’s people, but they will necessarily engage political forces in order to accomplish their goal of exterminating God’s faithful.
            Isn’t this exactly what happened 2,000 years ago? It was the church; indeed, a fallen and apostate church, which led in the trial and execution of our dear Savior, Jesus Christ. It was priests, scribes and elders, religious leaders, who fomented and agitated for Christ’s death. Matthew 26:57. And yet the church had to solicit the assistance of the state, represented by Rome’s governor Pontius Pilate, in order to bring about her desires. Under the rules of occupation, the Jews did not have the ability to carry out the death penalty; it could only be done with the complicity of Rome.
            Listen to the voice of the mob, composed of churchmen, crying for the crucifixion of the Messiah before the judgment seat of Pilate. Here’s why that’s so relevant to the message of Revelation: it was a union of church (by vote of the Sanhedrin) and state (the permission given by Pilate) that put Jesus on the cross. In a similar way, it will be a union of church (the “woman”) and state (the political powers represented by the “beast,” its “horns” and “kings”) which will bring about Satan’s last day agenda of destroying Christ’s followers.
            In summary, the term “Babylon” has many facets, some rooted in history, some in symbol. There was a literal tower of Babel which was a “Babylon,” constructed on the foundation of unbelief, defiance and later confusion. There was a Babylon in Abraham’s day, which had a law written stone, which was similar to, but not exactly the same as God’s law, and a king with the name “Kinsman Healer.” There was a Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar’s day which began as the tool of God, but which ended up as a persecuting and apostate power, judged to be blasphemous and reprobate. There was the “Babylon” of pagan Rome, which spilled the blood of Christ and His followers. There was the “Babylon” of the church of the Middle Ages, which began in purity but declined to moral poverty and practiced intolerance to an unspeakable degree. There is the “Babylon” that exists today represented by the resurgent system of the papacy.
            But there remains yet one more manifestation, one more epiphany of Babylon to come, which will bring together all aspects into one last day union of apostasy and blasphemy. It will be led by spiritual forces (the “woman”) which will feature the papacy and fallen Protestantism. These will shake hands with cooperative political forces, and thus Satan will seek to accomplish his design of ridding the earth of those who are faithful to God and His commandments. You want to be part of God’s kingdom, a citizen of the New Jerusalem, don’t you? You want to be among the faithful who follow the teachings of Scripture and not human tradition, don’t you? It may require faith and courage to take the step of severing from religious organizations which are not teaching God’s truth for these days, but He is able to give you the strength to do just that!
 
 

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