Three Angels Messages Part 39

Thanks again for joining us as we continue to study the Three Angels’ Messages. Right now, we’re looking at the message of the second angel, recorded in Revelation 14:8. It says, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
Firstly, we’ve been asking the question, what does the term “Babylon” mean, and we 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, and four that are spiritual, those being the Babylon of pagan Rome, the Babylon of the papacy reigning during the Middle Ages, the Babylon of the resurgent papacy, which now exists, and the Babylon that will represent the yet future conglomeration of the “dragon” (in this case referring to spiritualism, but including all pagan religions and atheism), the “beast” (the system of the papacy), and the “false prophet,” representing fallen Protestantism.
It’s now time to turn our attention to the next part of the message of the second angel. “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 discussed the varying manifestations of “Babylon.” What is meant by her “fall”? And why is it mentioned twice?
            The concept of “fall” in Scripture is both sobering and mystifying. To understand the term “fall of Babylon,” we are reminded of the one who in Scripture is identified as Babylon’s king, none other than Lucifer himself. A very interesting chapter in the book of Isaiah begins as an address to the literal king of Babylon. The prophet is told, “Take up this proverb against the king of Babylon,” but then the message slips into information pertaining to Satan, for we read, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” Isaiah 14:4, 12. The form of the sentence in the NKJV expresses the thought of astonishment and incredulity, but it could also be understood as a question, “How could you have fallen?”
            There is a mystery to the inception of sin that exceeds explanation. It cannot be justified. It is called the “mystery of iniquity” in the Bible. II Thessalonians 2:7, KJV. It includes the phenomenon of a wonderful beginning and unlimited potential, but also a tragic and lamentable conclusion. It includes the concept that a creature could think it possible to achieve the stature of the infinite Creator.
            In analyzing Satan’s fall the Bible says, “For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven….I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:13, 14. While His creatures were “made in His image” in character and feature, it is a gross mistake to think that the creature would ever attain to the level of Deity in all of its omnipotence. “Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.” Isaiah 43:10. But that’s what Lucifer wanted! It’s what he thought he could become! He coveted the position and worship that belonged to the great Creator God alone!
            How one so beautiful, talented and wise; so perfect in his ways could become the devil and Satan is a mystery that defies reason. And yet it happened. Because the only allegiance acceptable to God is that given without coercion, free will was an integral component built into the character of all of His creatures. God made His creatures with the freedom of choice, knowing that it might happen that someday, someone might make the wrong choice. That being was Lucifer. Solomon put his finger on Lucifer’s problem when he penned, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18.
            He began as the “covering cherub” but made himself into God’s arch-enemy. He started as the “bearer of light” (the meaning of the name “Lucifer”), but made himself into the prince of darkness. Of him the Bible says, “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you.” Ezekiel 28:14. Reflecting on the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, with its cherubim above the mercy seat, it’s not difficult to conclude that the term “covering cherub” describes one whose position was next to God’s throne. That’s a very honored and elevated position, one that should have evoked gratitude and humility!
            Not only that, but the Scripture describes him as the “anointed cherub who covers.” We walk with careful and reverent steps on this pathway. The Hebrew word translated “anointed” is the root of the term “messiah.” As they began their work, prophets, priests and kings were anointed to inaugurate them into service. Each of them became a “messiah” in a very limited sense, a dim reflection of the true Messiah, Jesus the Christ (“Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah,” meaning “anointed one.”). Cyrus, who liberated God’s people from Babylon, was “anointed.” Isaiah 45:1. He was in a limited scope a “messiah.” In the fullest sense, Jesus is God’s Anointed One. In a lesser degree, Lucifer was also an “anointed one,” a “messiah.”
            The Bible describes his beauty with these words. “Every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.” Ezekiel 28:13. Could it be that these stones are mentioned for the sake of their flashing and colorful brilliance? Sometimes prophets struggled to find words to convey the incomparable scenes which they saw. Human language can’t adequately portray the glories of heaven. We know that God covers “Himself with light as with a garment.” Psalm 104:2. It’s not too far a stretch to think that Lucifer, his “anointed” would also have a “garment of light.” Could it be that what the prophet was trying to describe was Lucifer’s garment of light whose flashing beauty and iridescence would make the throat of a hummingbird seem dull? Was this a “coat of many colors” given to the angel that stood closest to His throne?
            His mysterious fall from glory became the template for later similar falls. The Scriptures speak of the failure of Adam and Eve in the Garden as the “Fall.” I Timothy 2:14. It began in perfection but ended in ruin. We see the tragedy of “fall” in the life experience of Israel’s first king. Saul enjoyed an outstanding beginning. He was literally head and shoulders above his countrymen. The Bible says that “God gave him another heart.” I Samuel 10:9. He was “turned into another man.” I Samuel 10:6. He was anointed by the prophet Samuel for service. Yet he became a despotic, paranoid tyrant who sought to spear his son Jonathan and his successor David. Eventually, in a manner that typified his decline, he took his own life by falling on his sword. David lamented this tragic ending with poignant words, “The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!” II Samuel 1:19.
            That last phrase also tells the story of Lucifer’s fall. He was a “mighty one,” an “anointed one,” who fell, and one day this same chorus will be sung of him. “How the mighty have fallen!” Adam was a “mighty one” who fell. The mighty nation of Israel “fell” from being the “people of God,” His “chosen ones,” to becoming the group that put God on a cross. A glorious beginning followed by a shameful decline is a story that has been told all too often in Scripture and history. Lest we become haughty and high-minded, let us recognize that it is only through the grace and mercy of Christ that this doesn’t become our story. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” I Corinthians 10:12.
            The “fall of Babylon” can be seen in the story of the tower of Babel. Babel experienced its fall, in a very literal sense. Because they denied the authority and promises of God, their building project came to a very sudden end. When Israel entered Canaan, the walls of Jericho fell. The mighty Babylon of Belshazzar experienced a fall. Prophesied Isaiah, with words that obviously formed the backdrop for Revelation’s warning, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.” Isaiah 21:9. Said Jeremiah, “Shout against her all around;…her foundations have fallen, her walls are thrown down.” Jeremiah 50:15. “Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her!” Jeremiah 51:8. “I will punish Bel (an alternate spelling of “Baal”) in Babylon, and I will bring out of his mouth what he has swallowed; yes, the walls of Babylon shall fall.” Jeremiah 51:44.
            Through gluttony, debauchery and idleness, the glory of Rome likewise departed, and became the subject of books, as reflected in Gibbon’s famous The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.
            Paul predicted that the Christian church, toward the establishment of which he gave his life, would experience a fall. “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away (Greek: apostasia) comes first.” II Thessalonians 2:3. The church that began as the cradle of Christ’s truth ended up banning the Bible and punishing those who would own, read, follow or share its precepts. How could this happen? “How the mighty are fallen!” What a tragic and precipitous fall from the heights upon which God had placed her! It cannot be explained or rationalized. Yet history records that it indeed did happen.
            The Church became “Babylon,” replicating all the unfavorable character traits of those entities which had opposed God in the past. Her fall from grace is both remarkable and mysterious. Well might the prophet have said regarding the Church of the Middle Ages, “How you have fallen from heaven, you who were the bearer of light!” The first “fall” of the second angel refers to the incredible fall of the Church that began in the first century, a church clothed in purity and holiness, to the depths into which she descended centuries later, with her garments stained with the blood of martyrs, “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9. Next time we’ll discuss the second “fall” of which the angel speaks. Let each of us make certain that we are standing on the solid Rock of Jesus Christ and His teachings. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” II Peter 1:10.

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