Three Angels Messages Part 40

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.”
We discovered 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.
We then looked at 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.” What is meant by her “fall”? And why is it mentioned twice? We saw that the term “fall” relates to a change from a glorious beginning to a state of ruin. Thus Lucifer “fell” from his lofty position as covering cherub. Adam and Eve “fell” through transgression. The Church of the Old Testament “fell” through disobedience. And the Church begun by Jesus Christ “fell” by straying from the truths of Scripture and incorporating teachings and practices of paganism.
Thus nearly every teaching of the Bible was lost, corrupted or changed by the system of the papacy during the Middle Ages. Instead of seeking mediation through Jesus, our High Priest, a human priesthood and confessional was established. Instead of God’s holy Commandments being taught intact, there was an attempt to change His law and His Sabbath. Instead of praying to God through Jesus, people were taught to pray to those who had no capability of helping them, in that, according to the clear teaching of Scripture, they are asleep and unconscious in the grave. Instead of accepting His gift of salvation by faith, people were taught to pay money for forgiveness, or do penance for absolution.
Though there were and are sincere God-fearing believers in every community of faith, including the Roman Catholic Church, the devil inspired the system of the papacy to depart from biblical truth and teach heresy. As a matter of fact, owning the Bible was prohibited, and attempting to share its contents brought punishment. Those who dared to challenge her authority and teach Scripture were harassed, imprisoned, tortured and killed. The blood of the saints stained the garments of the Church of the Middle Ages, and her practices discouraged and disgusted those who wanted to follow Jesus.
            At last, godly men led by His Spirit and through great travail brought forth a Reformation in an attempt to change the Church and correct her errors. For their efforts they were repaid by every imaginable persecution; mockery, intimidation, the scaffold, the stocks and the stake. They jeopardized life and limb in their endeavors to cleanse the Church they loved and see a return to the truths and teachings of Scripture. Eventually, though not their original design, they broke from the Church of Rome and those who saw light in their teachings formed other groups, other denominations.
            These men were founded on the sure Word of Scripture. They became convinced that the Bible taught salvation by grace, not by works. The believed that the Scripture is above the Church; not the other way around. Among their convictions was that the Church of Rome fulfilled all the prophetic specifications of Revelation’s “Babylon,” Paul’s “man of sin,” John’s “Antichrist” and Daniel’s “horn power.” Of these things, we will speak later.
            Keeping ones eyes focused on the earthly director, instead of Christ, can lead to trouble. In the Old Testament we read about Israel’s departure from faithfulness after the demise of its leaders. “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel. When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals.” Judges 2:7, 10, 11.
            So it was also in the days of the Protestant Reformation. Those spiritual “Joshua’s” who pioneered reform at last were also “gathered to their fathers” and rested in the grave. Sadly, those who followed them refused to progress any further in the quest for truth than had their founders. Because the ship of truth had strayed so far from the Scriptures, Martin Luther was not capable, in his limited lifetime, to turn the vessel completely around, to accomplish all the reforms necessary. Nor was he called to do so. How long does it take to turn an aircraft carrier all the way around?
            God knows that total reformation requires time, and He is not impatient. But does that give license to remaining stagnant in faith and refusing to advance? When Israel left Egypt, there were some things that were “tolerated,” but which God hoped they would grow away from. The New Testament takes a tolerant stance on the issue of slavery (see the counsel in Philemon), yet today we recognize that slavery certainly has no place in God’s ideal of society. God expected that the principle of agape love, finding root in converted hearts would in time eliminate slavery, polygamy and other things that were at one time tolerated.
            Making spiritual progress is the goal of life. A 2-year-old is not expected to use the language of a university professor. A parent is thrilled when the child’s first words are spoken, though they be stumbling and imperfect. They are cherished and treasured and no doubt in many cases recorded! But if no development occurs beyond those first stammering attempts at speech, and throughout life and into adulthood he or she continues to speak as a 2-year-old, that would be most unfortunate. What Paul said about himself applies equally to the body of the church, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” I Corinthians 13:11.
            Likewise, the Protestant Reformation in its infancy made great gains toward the ideals of Scriptural truth, as God patiently sought to bring advancement to His people. Truths such as the primacy of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith, baptism by immersion, and other teachings were rediscovered by these miners of truth. But when the leaders of the various movements passed to their rest, the movements themselves refused to go any further to search out and apply more of God’s truths. They stagnated in the footsteps of their spiritual forefathers.
In many cases not only was no forward progress achieved in the understanding of truth, but the vital spirituality which sparked the movement in the first place was lost. In many cases truths which the forefathers held, particularly in the area of prophetic interpretation, were later abandoned. Thus the Protestant Reformation “fell” from the high and holy ideal to which God had called her.
            John Robinson was the pastor of America’s Pilgrims. Being hindered from making the voyage himself because of illness, he penned this remarkable counsel, to which all should take heed, recognizing the principle of the progressive revelation of truth. “Brethren, we are now erelong to part asunder, and the Lord knoweth whether I shall live ever to see your faces more. But whether the Lord hath appointed it or not, I charge you before God and His blessed angels to follow me no farther than I have followed Christ. If God should reveal anything to you by any other instrument of His, be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive any truth of my ministry; for I am very confident that the Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth out of His holy word.” Martyn, vol. 5, p. 70. Insightful wisdom!
            Had that godly counsel been cherished by the children of the Reformation, how different the story might have been! The Protestant Reformation might have led directly to the final disposition of the Gospel herald and the end of all things. But consistently the adherents allowed their feet to become glued to the tracks of their forefathers, refusing to take any additional steps beyond what the pioneers had taken. Thus today we have a multiplicity of Protestant churches, each claiming to follow the same Book as their guide.
            Sad to say, many of the convictions of their founders are no longer held by her current disciples. The understanding of prophecy, so crystal clear in the minds of the reformers, has dimmed into mist and fog in the minds of Protestants today. If you were to ask Martin Luther who the Antichrist of Scripture is, there would be neither hesitancy nor stammering. He would boldly affirm that the seat of Rome constituted the prophetic symbol. Today however, for the most part, those who identify themselves as being Lutherans are not being taught what Martin Luther believed on the subject of prophecy.  
            Through the process of change brought about by the passing of time, a name given originally might later lose its significance. Not too far from where we now live in California is a place called Orange County. Some time ago it was a haven for citrus growing. Now it is planted with skyscrapers and freeways, which long ago crowded out almost all of the groves. We often wonder if new-comers might ask the question, Why is this metropolis called Orange County? Centuries ago there was a reason why the followers of the reformers were called Protestants. Does anyone today wonder about the derivation of the term? In the current ecumenical climate, what exactly are current Protestants “protesting”?
            The first “fall of Babylon” refers to the falling away of the church founded by Christ and the apostles, representing the system of the papacy of the Middle Ages. The second “fall of Babylon” refers to the decline of the Protestant Reformation, which began in such glory but eroded into traditionalism and formalism. Still, we recognize that God has many of His children today within the walls of Babylon. Many there are who have not yet heard the truths of the Scripture proclaimed and lived with certainty and conviction. The Lord is calling “His people” out of Babylon.
            And there is something else that we must keep in mind. Though what we have seen in history is shown to be true regarding these two phenomena, that “Babylon has fallen, has fallen,” it doesn’t completely fulfill the language of the second angel. There is a still greater fall of Babylon yet to come. “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
            Not yet can it be said that Babylon has made all nations drink of her wine. This word “made” refers to the usage of duress and compulsion. This speaks to the as yet future circumstance when, by the uniting of church and state, religious liberty will be restricted by the passing of legislation. The use of force and coercion, so long an implement of the past, will be brought from hidden and dusty tool chests and laid in the hands of the state in order to bring about the desires of the Church.
            In our next session we’ll continue in our examination of the message of the second angel. Please join us then! Remember that God is love, and that He has a plan for this planet. Satan is a relentless foe, who seeks our destruction. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, gives to us all we need to learn about Him and His kingdom. Make it a practice to read from it each day, storing up its precious truths, and becoming better acquainted with its Author. Jesus is coming soon, and being ready for that Day is the great objective of life.
 
 

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