The Second Angel's Message
"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Revelation 14:8.
THE FALL OF ANCIENT BABYLON
In the old testament we are given a prophetic warning regarding the fall of ancient Babylon, "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul; be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance; He will render unto her recompence." Jeremiah 51:6.
At the time of the fall of the Babylonian Empire to the Medes and Persians, we are told how Belshazzar and his court defied the true God, "They brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of god which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone." Daniel 5:3,4.
The gospel of the kingdom was preached in Babylon through Daniel, and Nebuchadnezzar was brought to acknowledge and to worship by his experience. But after Nebuchadnezzar's death his successors failed to profit by his experience. The climax was reached when Belshazzar used the sacred vessels from the house of God, dedicated to His worship, in which to drink the Babylonian wine of idolatrous worship. Then came the handwriting on the wall, the fall of ancient Babylon, and the death of Belshazzar. See the Steps to Life Bible studies.
Notice how Babylon had caused the whole earth to become, "Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunken; the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad." Jeremiah 51:7. Through the centuries the astrological beliefs of the Chaldeans of Babylon eventually "penetrated as far as India, China, and Indo-China, where divination by means of the stars is still practised. . . In the opposite direction they spread to Syria, to Egypt, and over the whole Roman world." Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans.
MODERN (SPIRITUAL) BABYLON
In the visions of John there were interpretations given of the impure woman with a golden cup in her hand, seated on a seven-headed beast, "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." Revelation 17:18 (See verses 3, 4, 9.) The great city which reigned over the kings of the earth in John's time was Rome; and that seven-hilled city has given its name to the power which succeeded to its dominion--the organization which is represented by the woman, the Church of Rome, ruled by the Papacy.
In this same prophecy, this religio-political power, the Roman Church, or the Papacy, is designated as the counterpart of ancient Babylon. "And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT." Verse 5. The parallels between the Roman Church and ancient Babylon are striking, as we view the pagan Babylonian state religion with its wealthy and politically powerful hierarchy, its elaborate temple ritual, its priestly monopoly of learning, its liturgy performed in an ancient language unknown to the common people, its processions of divine images, its great spring festival in which mourning is followed by rejoicing, its ubiquitous virgin mother goddess who intercedes for her worshipers. But there is even more than a parallel; there is a genuine line of inheritance, from Babylon through the Roman Empire to the Roman Church, of many religious elements.
"The mighty Catholic Church was little more than the Roman Empire baptised."--A. C. Flick, The Rise of the Mediaeval Church (Putman's, 1909 ed.), p. 148. Cardinal Newman lists many examples of things admittedly "of pagan origin" which that church introduced "in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen"; "the use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison." J. H. Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 373
The Roman Empire was heir not only to the territories but also to the religions of Greece and the East. Later Roman paganism was orientalized through the adoption of eastern deities, all influenced by astrology and many of them transformed into sun gods, such as, for example, Mithra, who combined Persian and Chaldean elements. (See Franz Dumont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans [1912 ed.], pp. 89-91.)
"With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Rev. 17:2. (See verse 4.)
Ancient Babylonian religion had immoral features, but modern Babylon commits spiritual fornication, polluting the church with false doctrines and pagan practices, and having illicit connection with the secular powers to enforce her teachings; and like her ancient namesake, Roman Babylon has made many nations drink impure wine from her cup.
THE CUP OF CHRIST AND THE CUP OF BABYLON
Notice the cup Jesus offers in the Lord's supper. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood." Luke 22:20, R.V. The new covenant is described with an essential teaching, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people." Hebrews 8:10. The heart makes a true transformation when Christ ministers the law within, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:2-4.
Mankind has substituted a different teaching in an attempt to made void the law of God. "Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. . . . And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." Mark 7:7-9.
There are two cups, the cup of the Lord and the cup of Babylon. The Lord's cup contains the living truth "as the truth is in Jesus"; the cup of Babylon, her false doctrines--her human tradition substituted for the living word and law of God, and her unlawful union with the secular power, upon which she depends to enforce her teachings rather than upon the power of God. Thus, while maintaining a form of godliness, she denies the power thereof. (2 Timothy 3:1-5.)
The Roman Church says of the Bible and tradition, "Though these two divine streams are in themselves, on account of their divine origin, of equal sacredness, and are both full of revealed truths, still, of the two, TRADITION is to us more clear and safe." (emphasis supplied) Catholic Belief, p. 45, 1884.
This part of the Fall of Babylon refers to those churches who after given the 1st Angel's message in the early 1840's rejected it - namely the protestant churches of the day. We now refer to them as "evangelicals", not Protestants - because they are not protesting any longer - they have fallen. These are the "Daughter harlots." Notice how Babylon's daughters reveal their mother's characteristics, "And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." Revelation 17:5. The authoritative Creed of Pope Pius IV says in Article 10: "I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church for the mother and mistress of all churches." When professed Protestant churches repudiate the fundamental principle of Protestantism by accepting human speculation, tradition, or political power, in place of the authority and power of God's word, they may be regarded as daughters of Babylon. Their fall is then included in hers, and calls for a proclamation of the fall of modern Babylon. The Mother Harlot, was fallen all through the Dark Ages.
The extent of the apostasy, or fall, of modern Babylon, the mother, and of her daughters, will reach a certain low point. "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies." Revelation 18:1-3.
GOD'S CALL TO COME OUT
Modern Babylon will meet its end through vengeance from a Holy God. "And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. . . . And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of al that were slain upon the earth." verses 21-24
There will be a certain final call to God's people to come out of Babylon that will sound forth. "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." verses 4,5.
Those who come out of Babylon are those who hear the voice of God and obey - they will sing a certain song of triumph, "Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him." Revelation 19:6,7.