Book of Revelation – a series presented by pastor Michael Walker
Lesson #17 – Revelation, chapter 14
Following on from the previous study of the First Angel’s Message in Revelation 14 that calls our attention to the “Everlasting Gospel”, our attention is now directed to the Second and Third Angels’ Messages. The “Everlasting Gospel” undergirds all three messages: whereas the first calls everyone into a close relationship with our Maker, the second and third messages bring a stark warning to all the world. God’s last warning message to the world comes to us from His heart of love and concern for our eternal salvation, so that we may escape the ultimate consequences of evil.
The First Angel’s Message
In the previous lesson we studied the first of the Three Angel’s Messages that proclaim God’s last warning message to this world. It is a message of love, calling us into a right relationship with our Maker. It is couched in “the everlasting gospel” that also undergirds the purpose of God’s warnings given in the second and third messages.
The second and third angels’ messages progressively follow the first until it reaches the crescendo of a three-fold message. While God highlights what has gone wrong, the “everlasting gospel” provides an alternative that is for our eternal good. He then warns about what is to come, so that we may escape the consequences by heeding His Word.
The Second Angel’s Message
This warning draws our attention to 3 particulars for consideration: –
2. Babylon is fallen.
3. She has made all nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
This is the first mention of Babylon by name in the Book of Revelation. Since the book speaks about its current activity, it obviously does not refer to the fall of ancient Babylon as that city passed from the scene of the world’s stage centuries ago when it became ruins and dust heaps.
Babylon’s name in Hebrew is ‘Babel’ meaning “confusion”. The Babylonians referred to their city as ‘Babilu’, meaning “gate of the gods”. Babylon was founded by Nimrod who revolted against the Lord: Genesis 10:8-10. NB. The Septuagint (LXX) renders the phrase “against the Lord” indicating defiance – hence, the building of the Tower of Babel. The implication being that “Babylon” refers to defiance and confusion. The apostle Peter gives greetings from “Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13), no doubt referring to the City of Rome.
“It is known that early Christians often used the cryptic title ‘Babylon’ when speaking of the Roman capital, to avoid political reprisals … There is general agreement among commentators that Peter here uses the term Babylon for a veiled reference to Rome”– Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vo.7, p.589.
Babylon is fallen
This solemn announcement is emphasized by repeating the words “is fallen”. The emphasis being on her fall. The text refers to Babylon as “she”. The question then arises as from what or where has she fallen?
We receive further insight into what kind of woman Babylon actually is when we read Revelation 17:1-6. Since the prophetic symbol of a pure woman refers to the true Church (c.f. Revelation 19:7,8), then surely an impure woman symbolizes a fallen church. She is an immoral woman – a prostitute. She also has harlot daughters. The name on her forehead is: “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth”.
We note that in contrast to “the mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16), which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this fallen woman associates herself with the “mystery of the abominations” – otherwise spoken in the Bible as “the mystery of iniquity” or “lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Also, compared to the pure, chaste woman who belongs to Christ, the attire of Mystery Babylon is exceedingly worldly.
Immorality, fornication and adulteries of an unfaithful wife are the terminologies used by God when referring to the waywardness and unfaithfulness of Israel and Judah in the Old Testament because they went a whoring after the pagan gods and practices of the heathen. Therefore: Babylon represents apostate Christendom (i.e. The Church of Rome with her apostate Protestant daughters). Babylon has fallen from the true teachings of Holy Scripture. Babylon has been unfaithful to Christ by treating His Word and Commandments with contempt by adulterating the pure teachings with paganism. [There is more to explore on this matter when we turn to Revelation 17]
She has made all nations drunk with the wine of her abominations
Persons who are intoxicated with wine lose all sense of reason and judgment. This has led many in Christendom to unwittingly enter into an illicit relationship with paganism through a conglomeration of false beliefs and practices. Apostate Christendom has become a Christo-pagan form of religion. The prophecy clearly identifies the issue: – Babylon is seated on the beast with blasphemous names (Revelation 17:3). This beast with 7 heads and 10 horns is identical with the same beast portrayed in Revelation1 3:1 (Papal Rome) and the dragon (Satan) in Revelation 12:3. [c.f. Lesson 14, Forming the Image to the Beast]. According to Revelation 13:2, Satan gives the Papacy its power, throne and great authority.
We receive further disclosure of Satan’s influence and control: Revelation 18:1-4. This loud cry of the angel from heaven who illuminates the earth with his glory, joins in the proclamation of the Second Angel’s Message of Revelation 14:8. By endorsing the message of the second angel, he also confirms what we have recognized that we are facing a satanically-controlled power. Babylon has become the habitation of demons! The teachings of demons are false doctrines: 1 Timothy 4:1,2. False doctrines are lies. Jesus warned us that Satan is the one who instigated lies: John 8:44. Since Babylon is influenced, controlled and empowered by Satan, it is little wonder that those who have imbibed her wine of false doctrine associate with her in spiritual fornications: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
Satan uses powerful delusions by miracles, signs and wonders in order to deceive many people. The Bible reveals to us that this is the method by which the devil will bring about the three-fold union in that confederacy of evil that will form an image to the beast: Revelation1 6:13,14. Through Babylon, Satan has introduced lies – i.e. false teachings – into Christendom; and there are 2 particular false doctrines that will form the platform upon which that three-fold confederacy of evil will unite: –
1. Sunday observance: the day pagans venerated the Sun: Ezekiel 8:15,16 – by accepting this false teaching, which Rome claims is the mark of her authority, apostate Protestantism will unite with Roman Catholicism.
2. The immortality of the soul: the doctrine of Spiritism: Genesis 3:4; c.f. 1 Timothy 6:15,16 – by accepting this false teaching, apostate Christendom as a whole, will unite with Spiritism (i.e. Spiritualism).
The Third Angel’s Message
Here is a stark warning from God, given in love, of the coming judgment about to fall upon all who align themselves with Satan’s dominion. It contains very strong words of warning! This is why the angel of Revelation 18:1 unites his voice with that of the second and third angels; followed by another Voice from heaven calling His people to come out of Babylon and partake no longer of her sins and to escape the plagues that will soon fall – it is in fact, God’s last call of mercy: Revelation 18:4.
Satan’s deceptions will become so powerful that, as Jesus warned, even the elect could be deceived: Matthew 24:24,25. The Bible will be our only means of discerning the true from the false.
“None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible, will stand through the last great conflict” – E.G. White, The Great Controversy, p.593.
Let us ensure we are protected by a sound knowledge of God’s Word. In the first angel’s message, is the call to worship God as the Creator – for those who choose to respond to God’s call, they will be placing themselves on God’s side of the divide. But those who choose to worship the creation, they will be surrendering themselves to Satan’s dominion and ultimate downfall!
We are given the following insight through the Lord’s servant:
“Fearful sights of a supernatural character will soon be revealed in the heavens, in token of the power of miracle-working demons. The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven. By these agencies, rulers and subjects will be alike deceived . . . . As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13-15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion . . . . But the people of God will not be misled. The teachings of this false Christ are not in accordance with the Scriptures. His blessing is pronounced upon the worshipers of the beast and his image, the very class upon whom the Bible declares that God’s unmingled wrath shall be poured out.” – E.G. White, The Great Controversy, pp.624,625.
The fearful description of what will happen to those who worship the beast and its image, and receive its Mark, will be studied in the next lesson.
We recognize at this juncture the identification of those who patiently endure the end-time battle of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. The Greek upomonh (hupomoné) meaning “patience”, “steadfast endurance”. They are loyal to God, keeping His Commandments, and holding fast to the faith of Jesus. Further assurance is given, that Satan’s deceptions will be limited:
“Satan is not permitted to counterfeit the manner of Christ’s advent. The Saviour has warned His people against deception upon this point, and has clearly foretold the manner of His second coming.” – E.G. White, The Great Controversy, p.625.
The full video presentation is available below: