Reading 3 – “Babylon Is Fallen, Is Fallen”

///Reading 3 – “Babylon Is Fallen, Is Fallen”
Reading 3 – “Babylon Is Fallen, Is Fallen”2016-11-27T17:36:49+00:00

Reading 3 – Sunday, December 9, 2007

By Alfonso Reto, Peru

The term ‘Babylon’ is derived from ‘Babel,’ and signifies confusion. It is employed in Scripture to designate the various forms of false or apostate religion. In Revelation 17 Babylon is represented as a woman—a figure which is used in the Bible as the symbol of a church, a virtuous woman representing a pure church, a vile woman an apostate church.” —The Great Controversy, p. 381.

The great Babylon has been identified through the ages as the greatest enemy of the gospel, the worship of God, and the remnant. How did this Babylon emerge? What is her dominion? What message from heaven is addressed to this earthly power? The prophecy about the fall of Babylon is found in Revelation 14:8, as part of the three angels’ messages, and in the message of Revelation 18:2, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.” When does her fall take place? Let us study, both in history and prophecy, this enemy of God’s people in ancient and modern times.

The emerging of Babylon
Babylon was gradually formed by unfaithful children who ceased to glorify God.
In the Epistle to the Romans 1:21–23, the apostle Paul emphatically describes the people who form part of Babylon: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

The people here described do not glorify God as He deserves, but serve Him according to their own confused ways of reasoning. They are ungrateful for blessings, vainly self sufficient, living in darkness, and bound to err easily. While believing themselves perfect, they actually commit spiritual idolatry.

God cannot be glorified in such a way. Let us wake up! Let us allow the light of the truth to illuminate our lives! “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2.

“Babylon as a religious community has fallen because of its doctrines and traditions.” —Ibid., p. 383.
We must be able to identify churches that mix the doctrine of salvation with specious deceptions of human invention, presenting the Creator, the Saviour, the Mediator, the Priest as a created being, who saves people in their sins and grants forgiveness through men. In addition, these churches have changed God’s law.

Because of their differences, faithful believers have been tortured and persecuted like wild beasts—their blood, by God’s grace, giving birth to more Christians.

What else did Babylon do?
Rejection of the gospel and the investigative judgment of 1844.
“All heaven watched with the deepest interest the reception of the first angel’s message. But many who professed to love Jesus, and who shed tears as they read the story of the cross, derided the good news of His coming. Instead of receiving the message with gladness, they declared it to be a delusion. They hated those who loved His appearing and shut them out of the churches. Those who rejected the first message could not be benefited by the second; neither were they benefited by the midnight cry, which was to prepare them to enter with Jesus by faith into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. And by rejecting the two former messages, they have so darkened their understanding that they can see no light in the third angel’s message, which shows the way into the most holy place.” —Early Writings, pp. 260, 261.

The first angel’s message warns about the investigative judgment in the heavenly sanctuary, implying acknowledgment of the true Advocate as well as “the claims of God’s law, and the obligation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Here was the secret of the bitter and determined opposition to the harmonious exposition of the Scriptures that revealed the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary.” —The Great Controversy, p. 435.

The daughters of Babylon make “illegal alliances with the world.” —Ibid., p. 383. How do the people and churches that fall from the platform of the gospel ally with the world? What does God have to say about worldly alliances?

Christ’s church is in great danger when it uses worldly guidelines in God’s work. “Those employed in any department of the work whereby the world may be transformed, must not enter into alliance with those who know not the truth. The world knows not the Father or the Son, and they have no spiritual discernment as to the character of our work, as to what we shall do or shall not do. We must obey the orders that come from above. We are not to hear the counsel or follow the plans suggested by unbelievers. Suggestions made by those who know not the work that God is doing for this time will be such as to weaken the power of the instrumentalities of God. By accepting such suggestions, the counsel of Christ is set at nought.” —Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 463.

The true church would become Babylon if it took part in politics to fulfil some of its projects. “Do not take part in political strife. Separate from the world, and refrain from bringing into the church or school ideas that will lead to contention and disorder. Dissension is the moral poison taken into the system by human beings who are selfish. God wants His servants to have clear perceptions, true and noble dignity, that their influence may demonstrate the power of truth.” —Gospel Workers, p. 395.

“The principles set forth in Deuteronomy for the instruction of Israel are to be followed by God’s people to the end of time. True prosperity is dependent on the continuance of our covenant relationship with God. Never can we afford to compromise principle by entering into alliance with those who do not fear Him.” —Prophets and Kings, p. 570.

The complete fall of Babylon
A step-by-step study of Babylon’s fall reveals injustice and error carried to where there is no more love for God’s truths. On the contrary, Babylon openly supports unity with the state as well as participation in politics under the cover of religion. It argues that, once in power, it will work to benefit the church.

But “the Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan will work ‘with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;’ and they that ‘received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,’ will be left to receive ‘strong delusion, that they should believe a lie’

[2 Thessalonians 2:9–11]. Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished, throughout Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfilment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future.” — The Great Controversy, pp. 389, 390.

Characteristics of the union of the church with the world
Worldliness: “Church members are under a solemn pledge to form characters different in every way from the characters of worldlings. If a change does not take place in them prior to their union with the church, there is danger that, though they have joined the church, they will assimilate with worldlings. Satan triumphs when he sees the leaven of the world working in the church, to the destruction of its purity and holiness.” —The Upward Look, p.123.

Apostasy: “The results of this union were no less pernicious now than in former ages; pride and extravagance were fostered under the guise of religion…. The church was upholding and defending these traditions.” —The Great Controversy, p. 298.

Attraction to spiritualism: “Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world, and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium.” —Ibid., pp. 588, 589.

Lack of unity among the brethren: “The world is filled with storm and war and variance.” —Maranatha, p. 187. This is Satan’s plan to separate the children of God.

Emphasis by the angel of Revelation 18
The other angel of Revelation 18: 2, 3, repeats what the second angel said in Revelation 14:8, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen,” with the following addition: “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.”

In 1888, the saving message of liberation, “Christ our Righteousness,” was proclaimed so that people could escape condemnation. That message is repeated in our days. It urges people to abandon churches that cover transgression by rejecting God’s law, the measure of righteousness.

Who are the “devils,” “foul spirits,” and “unclean birds” of Revelation 18? Undoubtedly, they are angry demons that come to people not under God’s protection. “An innumerable host of evil angels are spreading over the whole land and crowding the churches. These agents of Satan look upon the religious bodies with exultation, for the cloak of religion covers the greatest crime and iniquity.” —Early Writings, pp. 274, 275.

The mission of these “unclean and hateful birds” is to remove peace from people’s hearts, make those people a burden to others, lead them to corrupt the truth, and fill their hearts with prejudice, hate, anger, and revengeful thoughts. The ultimate purpose of these demons is to prevent people from keeping the true day of rest, the seventh-day Sabbath. They try to blind people to the light coming from the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ is our Mediator and Saviour, and to silence the preaching of Christ’s glorious second coming.

The Holy Scriptures cite many examples of spirit possession: “The daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman was grievously vexed with a devil, whom Jesus cast out by His word [Mark 7:26–30]. One ‘possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb’ [Matthew 12:22]; a youth who had a dumb spirit, that ofttimes ‘cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him’ [Mark 9:17–27]; the maniac, who, tormented by ‘a spirit of an unclean devil’ [Luke 4:33–36], disturbed the Sabbath quiet of the synagogue at Capernaum—were all healed by the compassionate Saviour. In nearly every instance, Christ addressed the demon as an intelligent entity, commanding him to come out of his victim and to torment him no more.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 515, 516.

Appeal
The people of God must come out of Babylon and prepare themselves to announce the complete message that calls people to acknowledge the Saviour and invites them to keep the Sabbath day. They should enter the heavenly sanctuary, where the investigative judgment is taking place, to receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be ready for the last conflict against the beast and its image. “There is nothing in the popular ministry that stirs the wrath of Satan, makes the sinner tremble, or applies to the heart and conscience the fearful realities of a judgment soon to come.” —Early Writings, p. 273.

Do not say, I am not capable: “The Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to his service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of his Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open.” —The Great Controversy, p. 606.

Only the truth will set us free: Let us plead today for the refreshing from the heavenly kingdom, for power to overcome in difficult times. So that we are not deceived, we should know the truth about grace, the judgment, God’s law, and Christ’s coming. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Reading 3 – Sunday, December 9, 2007

“Babylon Is Fallen, Is Fallen”

By Alfonso Reto, Peru

The term ‘Babylon’ is derived from ‘Babel,’ and signifies confusion. It is employed in Scripture to designate the various forms of false or apostate religion. In Revelation 17 Babylon is represented as a woman—a figure which is used in the Bible as the symbol of a church, a virtuous woman representing a pure church, a vile woman an apostate church.” —The Great Controversy, p. 381.

The great Babylon has been identified through the ages as the greatest enemy of the gospel, the worship of God, and the remnant. How did this Babylon emerge? What is her dominion? What message from heaven is addressed to this earthly power? The prophecy about the fall of Babylon is found in Revelation 14:8, as part of the three angels’ messages, and in the message of Revelation 18:2, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.” When does her fall take place? Let us study, both in history and prophecy, this enemy of God’s people in ancient and modern times.

The emerging of Babylon
Babylon was gradually formed by unfaithful children who ceased to glorify God.
In the Epistle to the Romans 1:21–23, the apostle Paul emphatically describes the people who form part of Babylon: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

The people here described do not glorify God as He deserves, but serve Him according to their own confused ways of reasoning. They are ungrateful for blessings, vainly self sufficient, living in darkness, and bound to err easily. While believing themselves perfect, they actually commit spiritual idolatry.

God cannot be glorified in such a way. Let us wake up! Let us allow the light of the truth to illuminate our lives! “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2.

“Babylon as a religious community has fallen because of its doctrines and traditions.” —Ibid., p. 383.
We must be able to identify churches that mix the doctrine of salvation with specious deceptions of human invention, presenting the Creator, the Saviour, the Mediator, the Priest as a created being, who saves people in their sins and grants forgiveness through men. In addition, these churches have changed God’s law.

Because of their differences, faithful believers have been tortured and persecuted like wild beasts—their blood, by God’s grace, giving birth to more Christians.

What else did Babylon do?
Rejection of the gospel and the investigative judgment of 1844.
“All heaven watched with the deepest interest the reception of the first angel’s message. But many who professed to love Jesus, and who shed tears as they read the story of the cross, derided the good news of His coming. Instead of receiving the message with gladness, they declared it to be a delusion. They hated those who loved His appearing and shut them out of the churches. Those who rejected the first message could not be benefited by the second; neither were they benefited by the midnight cry, which was to prepare them to enter with Jesus by faith into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. And by rejecting the two former messages, they have so darkened their understanding that they can see no light in the third angel’s message, which shows the way into the most holy place.” —Early Writings, pp. 260, 261.

The first angel’s message warns about the investigative judgment in the heavenly sanctuary, implying acknowledgment of the true Advocate as well as “the claims of God’s law, and the obligation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Here was the secret of the bitter and determined opposition to the harmonious exposition of the Scriptures that revealed the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary.” —The Great Controversy, p. 435.

The daughters of Babylon make “illegal alliances with the world.” —Ibid., p. 383. How do the people and churches that fall from the platform of the gospel ally with the world? What does God have to say about worldly alliances?

Christ’s church is in great danger when it uses worldly guidelines in God’s work. “Those employed in any department of the work whereby the world may be transformed, must not enter into alliance with those who know not the truth. The world knows not the Father or the Son, and they have no spiritual discernment as to the character of our work, as to what we shall do or shall not do. We must obey the orders that come from above. We are not to hear the counsel or follow the plans suggested by unbelievers. Suggestions made by those who know not the work that God is doing for this time will be such as to weaken the power of the instrumentalities of God. By accepting such suggestions, the counsel of Christ is set at nought.” —Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 463.

The true church would become Babylon if it took part in politics to fulfil some of its projects. “Do not take part in political strife. Separate from the world, and refrain from bringing into the church or school ideas that will lead to contention and disorder. Dissension is the moral poison taken into the system by human beings who are selfish. God wants His servants to have clear perceptions, true and noble dignity, that their influence may demonstrate the power of truth.” —Gospel Workers, p. 395.

“The principles set forth in Deuteronomy for the instruction of Israel are to be followed by God’s people to the end of time. True prosperity is dependent on the continuance of our covenant relationship with God. Never can we afford to compromise principle by entering into alliance with those who do not fear Him.” —Prophets and Kings, p. 570.

The complete fall of Babylon
A step-by-step study of Babylon’s fall reveals injustice and error carried to where there is no more love for God’s truths. On the contrary, Babylon openly supports unity with the state as well as participation in politics under the cover of religion. It argues that, once in power, it will work to benefit the church.

But “the Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan will work ‘with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;’ and they that ‘received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,’ will be left to receive ‘strong delusion, that they should believe a lie’ [2 Thessalonians 2:9–11]. Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished, throughout Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfilment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future.” — The Great Controversy, pp. 389, 390.

Characteristics of the union of the church with the world
Worldliness: “Church members are under a solemn pledge to form characters different in every way from the characters of worldlings. If a change does not take place in them prior to their union with the church, there is danger that, though they have joined the church, they will assimilate with worldlings. Satan triumphs when he sees the leaven of the world working in the church, to the destruction of its purity and holiness.” —The Upward Look, p.123.

Apostasy: “The results of this union were no less pernicious now than in former ages; pride and extravagance were fostered under the guise of religion…. The church was upholding and defending these traditions.” —The Great Controversy, p. 298.

Attraction to spiritualism: “Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world, and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium.” —Ibid., pp. 588, 589.

Lack of unity among the brethren: “The world is filled with storm and war and variance.” —Maranatha, p. 187. This is Satan’s plan to separate the children of God.

Emphasis by the angel of Revelation 18
The other angel of Revelation 18: 2, 3, repeats what the second angel said in Revelation 14:8, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen,” with the following addition: “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.”

In 1888, the saving message of liberation, “Christ our Righteousness,” was proclaimed so that people could escape condemnation. That message is repeated in our days. It urges people to abandon churches that cover transgression by rejecting God’s law, the measure of righteousness.

Who are the “devils,” “foul spirits,” and “unclean birds” of Revelation 18? Undoubtedly, they are angry demons that come to people not under God’s protection. “An innumerable host of evil angels are spreading over the whole land and crowding the churches. These agents of Satan look upon the religious bodies with exultation, for the cloak of religion covers the greatest crime and iniquity.” —Early Writings, pp. 274, 275.

The mission of these “unclean and hateful birds” is to remove peace from people’s hearts, make those people a burden to others, lead them to corrupt the truth, and fill their hearts with prejudice, hate, anger, and revengeful thoughts. The ultimate purpose of these demons is to prevent people from keeping the true day of rest, the seventh-day Sabbath. They try to blind people to the light coming from the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ is our Mediator and Saviour, and to silence the preaching of Christ’s glorious second coming.

The Holy Scriptures cite many examples of spirit possession: “The daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman was grievously vexed with a devil, whom Jesus cast out by His word [Mark 7:26–30]. One ‘possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb’ [Matthew 12:22]; a youth who had a dumb spirit, that ofttimes ‘cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him’ [Mark 9:17–27]; the maniac, who, tormented by ‘a spirit of an unclean devil’ [Luke 4:33–36], disturbed the Sabbath quiet of the synagogue at Capernaum—were all healed by the compassionate Saviour. In nearly every instance, Christ addressed the demon as an intelligent entity, commanding him to come out of his victim and to torment him no more.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 515, 516.

Appeal
The people of God must come out of Babylon and prepare themselves to announce the complete message that calls people to acknowledge the Saviour and invites them to keep the Sabbath day. They should enter the heavenly sanctuary, where the investigative judgment is taking place, to receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be ready for the last conflict against the beast and its image. “There is nothing in the popular ministry that stirs the wrath of Satan, makes the sinner tremble, or applies to the heart and conscience the fearful realities of a judgment soon to come.” —Early Writings, p. 273.

Do not say, I am not capable: “The Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to his service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of his Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open.” —The Great Controversy, p. 606.

Only the truth will set us free: Let us plead today for the refreshing from the heavenly kingdom, for power to overcome in difficult times. So that we are not deceived, we should know the truth about grace, the judgment, God’s law, and Christ’s coming. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

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