Three Angels Messages Part 60

Thanks for joining us in our study of the Three Angel’s Messages today! We are examining the message of the third angel, which begins by stating, “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.’”

In searching for clues to identify the “beast” that has the “mark,” we have seen that besides what we read in Revelation 13, there are three depictions of this entity in the book Daniel, others in the New Testament. We studied the “man of sin” described by Paul in II Thessalonians 2, and the “Antichrist” of I John. We saw that the term refers, not to one openly opposed to Christianity, but to one which seeks to be “in the place of God,” a concept which, sadly, depicts the papal power all too accurately.

The last of the seven pictures of the papacy given in Scripture is found in Revelation 17’s portrayal of the impure woman. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’ So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth. And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.” Revelation 17:1-6.

What is this “Babylon” that is pictured? It is a most interesting picture, in that it combines in a three-fold way a woman, a beast and a city. In Scripture, as we have seen, often a “woman” stands for a church. A pure woman, pictured in Revelation 12, represents the true church; an impure woman, a false church. This woman rides on a beast, which in prophetic sign language represents a kingdom. And, she bears the name of a city, “Babylon,” an ancient capitol that defiantly oppressed God’s people.

The Babylon that is portrayed represents a three-fold union of last day conspirators against God’s throne, who along with the “kings of the earth” attempt to establish a one-world religion in opposition to God’s law. “Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” Revelation 16:17.

What is the time context in which this picture emerges? The time frame of Revelation 17’s picture of Babylon is intriguing. She is being indicted for her crimes. She has fallen under divine judgment. Said the angel to John, “I will show you the judgment of the great harlot.” We’ll take a brief look at four aspects of the “judgment” which Babylon experiences, all of which are reflections of divine justice administered against the enemies of God in the past. The four aspects of judgment have to do with desolation, with self-destruction, with the “feast of the birds,” and with a “song of lamentation.” To students of Old Testament eschatological literature, these four themes are very familiar. Divine justice in the past included all of these elements.

In this segment, we will explore the first of those aspects as we discover the meaning of the word “desolation” as it depicts the condition and location of those in apostasy receiving heaven’s justice. We are told that John was taken in Spirit into the “wilderness,” a most interesting and instructive term. The word “wilderness” is the Greek word eremos, which means a “solitary, lonely, desolate place, uninhabited.” Blue Letter Bible Lexicon.

Babylon is pictured, significantly in the “wilderness.” Darby’s translation has “desert.” The Bible in Basic English says “waste land.” The geographical location in which the harlot is pictured is full of meaning. Later in this chapter, we see that she is made “desolate” (Greek: eremoo, the verb form). Revelation 17:16. From a theological point of view, it represents the lack of fruitful productivity, the utter failure that results when one rejects the Giver of life. Their life becomes a “waste land,” a “spiritual wilderness” or “desolate place.” When we explore other passages containing the word eremos, we’ll see that another way to translate the word is “desolation,” or “desolate place.”
For a student of the Scriptures, the word “desolate” is a word that raises a red flag immediately. It sends our minds back to the prophecies of the Old Testament, in which many of the nations, including Judah, when falling under the divine judgment gavel were told they would be made “desolate.”

What God is saying, by picturing Babylon in the “wilderness” or “desolate place,” is that apocalyptic Babylon, though she has “prospered” for a very long time, lived sumptuously and has seemed to be invincible (remember the question posed in Revelation 13:4, “Who is able to make war with him?”), has now reaped the same judgment as was pronounced on all the ancient kingdoms that rebelled against God’s throne. She is made desolate and empty. Her support has collapsed. All of this occurs in the time frame of the 6th and 7th plagues, just before Christ returns.

Notice these usages of the same word eremos as it appears in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, as well as Christ’s pronouncement against the Jerusalem of His day. There are many examples of this word used; we’ll look at just a few. When we review these passages, keep in mind that in all cases the italicized word is the word eremos in the original. We will plainly see that the word “desolate” is a term integrally associated with divine judgment administered against those who rebelled against God. It’s a word bursting with meaning. It’s one of the key words of the Old Testament, and in Revelation it’s applied to the grand climax of all things and the downfall of apocalyptic Babylon, the last-day conglomeration of apostate powers. The fact that John is being shown the judgment of the great whore in a desolate place is huge! She has been used to riding high on the platform of power and prestige; now she is in the wilderness.  

Isaiah asked the penetrating question, “‘Lord, how long?’ And He answered, ‘Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate.’” Isaiah 6:11. Later the prophet said, in words that definitely have last-day significance, “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.” Isaiah 13:9.

In Jeremiah’s day Babylon was used as a tool of the Lord to discipline Judah. “The lion has come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate.” Jeremiah 4:7. Divine judgment was coming to Judah. “‘Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness,’ says the LORD.” Ezekiel 15:8. “I will make the land most desolate, her arrogant strength shall cease, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will pass through. Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.” Ezekiel 33:28, 29. See Micah 6:13, 16.

This prophesied desolation of Judah became reality. “So the LORD could no longer bear it, because of the evil of your doings and because of the abominations which you committed. Therefore your land is a desolation, an astonishment, a curse, and without an inhabitant, as it is this day.” Jeremiah 44:22. “So My fury and My anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as it is this day.” Jeremiah 44:6. However, though Babylon assaulted Jerusalem no less than three times and indeed left her desolate, there was hope for later restoration. “The whole land shall be desolate; yet I will not make a full end.” Jeremiah 4:27.
A similar proclamation was issued against other nations, including Edom. “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman.’” Ezekiel 25:13. “Behold, O Mount Seir, I am against you; I will stretch out My hand against you, and make you most desolate. I shall lay your cities waste, and you shall be desolate. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. The whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate.” Ezekiel 35:3, 14.

Because of their sins, Egypt was slated to receive the same punishment. “And the land of Egypt shall become desolate and waste.” Ezekiel 29:9. “They shall be desolate in the midst of the desolate countries, and her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are laid waste.” Ezekiel 30:7. One day ancient Babylon would itself be judged. “Because of the wrath of the LORD she (Babylon) shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate.” Jeremiah 50:13.

Jesus used the very same word when indicting the Jerusalem of His day. Leaving the temple precincts for the last time that Tuesday before Calvary, with sadness in His voice He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate.” Matthew 23:37, 38. In this He quoted from Jeremiah 22, spoken against the Jerusalem of 6 centuries previous, “‘If you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself,’ says the LORD, ‘that this house shall become a desolation.’” Jeremiah 22:5.

What a significant word desolate or desolation (eremos) is! What meaning there is to see the woman riding the beast in the wilderness, the desolate place! To anyone acquainted with the prophecies of the past, this word would flash the message that divine judgment has at last been invoked. Isaiah’s question, “How long?” has finally been answered! The divine gavel has fallen. All of the incidences of “desolate” in the past were but a foretaste, a foreshadowing of the desolation to be experienced by apocalyptic Babylon. Though she mount up to the sky, yet God will bring her down.

The Babylon of Revelation, being the summation and epitome of all the rebellions of the past, partakes of all the classic components of God’s divine retribution as illustrated in the stories of the past. We have seen that she is made desolate, as were the ancient kingdoms that raised their arm against the Almighty. In our next study, we will see that she also suffers the other aspects of God’s justice as seen in those stories that given as types of last-day developments. “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.” I Corinthians 10:11. Remember that the book of Revelation is a “collage,” stitching together the salvation/destruction stories of the past and applying them to the final scenes of the drama.

In this seventh portrayal of the system of apostasy that receives Heaven’s indictment, we again see that all aspects are accurate descriptions of the papal power. This indictment, according to the Word of God, falls on the system of the papacy, not the members, among whom are many who fear God, but have been taught errors contrary to Scriptural truth. God’s call is for the truth seeker to “come out of Babylon” so that they do not receive of her plagues. If you have been taught things opposed to the truths of the Bible, including the concept that the word of man supercedes the Word of God, that His commandments have been changed, that Sunday is the day of worship, that the dead do not really die, that man’s works contribute to salvation, now is the time to separate from apostasy and stand true to God and His Word!