REVELATION 14Revelation of Jesus | Revelation of John
14:8 THE SECOND ANGEL’S MESSAGE
“And there followed 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). This is the first verse in Revelation that mentions Babylon by name. She is called “that great city” both here and in Revelation 16:19 as well as in Revelation 18:10, 21. In Revelation 17:18 adds that she is “that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth,” showing the international political power that she wields. Revelation 17 portrays her as a harlot riding on a scarlet beast that is nearly identical to the beast from the sea, which in chapter 13 was identified as the papacy of the Middle Ages. The great harlot sits on seven mountains (Revelation 17:9) and this in itself confirms the identity: Rome is the city which from ancient times was known to sit on seven hills or mountains, and as the capital of first the Roman Empire and then of Roman Catholic Europe she has indeed reigned over the kings of the earth. The fact that she is called a harlot shows that it is the Roman Church rather than the pagan Roman Empire that is the model for last-day Babylon.
The context of chapter 14 is “the hour of His judgment” so Babylon refers to the end-time manifestation of the Roman Catholic Church together with her “daughter” churches, after the “deadly wound [has been] healed” (Revelation 13:3,12,14). She is allied with the “beast coming out of the earth,” the United States of America, which creates an Image to her and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship her under threat of death (Revelation 13:12,15). This is, in fact, a “one world government,” symbolized by “ten kings who…receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast” (Revelation 17:12). This will be explained in more detail in chapters 17 and 18.
The second angel's message, "Babylon is fallen,” does not mean that she has been defeated or destroyed. We will see in the third angel’s message that she is still very active, imposing the mark of the beast. This message exposes the fallen, corrupting religious system of Babylon. The long story of her fall has already been told in the messages to the Seven Churches and will be summarized here.
The first stage of her fall was during the “Ephesus” period of the second century—“I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4). Persecution by the Jews made it easy for Christians to lose their love for the Jewish people, and this hatred had a corrupting influence on the church. The theology of hatred for the “Jesus-killing Jews” led to the first major doctrinal compromise: rejection of the “Jewish” seventh-day Sabbath (see 2:1-5 First Love).
During the “Smyrna” period (the second and third centuries) the Church battled against the Gnostic heresy, and although gnosticism was rejected, its influence led to the development of the “synagogue of Satan” (see 2:8,9 Synagogue of Satan). The apostolic church, which had focused on knowing Jesus through the Holy Spirit, evolved into a “secret society” possessing “life-giving” mysteries, liturgies and relics of the martyrs, all administered by a rigid hierarchy of priests.
During the “Pergamos” period of the fourth and fifth centuries, the “throne of Satan” was set up (see 2:12,13 Throne of Satan). This was the union of church and state as manifested in the era of the great church councils. Despite the protest of the faithful “Antipas” Christians, idolatry came into the church with the worship of the saints and the “mother of God” (See 2: Antipas). The “doctrine of Balaam” (See 2:14 Doctrine of Balaam) saw corrupt priests and monks exploiting the superstitions of the masses, amassing wealth by “selling” access to relics, rituals, holy days and places “hallowed” by the saints. The Nicolaitan heresy (See 2:15 Nicolaitans) split the Church into the spiritually elite (the "celibate" priests and monks in remote monasteries), and the immoral masses. This system in turn led to the development of the system of penance, indulgences and purgatory to “propitiate” for a continuing life of sin.
During the “Thyatira” era of the Middle Ages Babylon was full blown as the persecuting “Jezebel” (See 2:18-20 You Tolerate Jezebel). The Crusades, the Inquisition, millions of martyrs and bloody religious wars were the result. The Protestant reformation brought life back into the church, but even this was spoiled during the “Sardis” post-reformation period with dead formalism, intolerance, false doctrine and state religion (see 3:1,2 The Dead Church). Finally the modern “Laodicean” period left all these errors doctrinally intact, while glossing over differences through the numbing influence of spiritual apathy and materialism (See 3: 15-17 Lukewarm).
The message “Babylon is fallen” was first proclaimed by the Protestant reformers, and intensified during the great reforms of the “Philadelphia” period. It will reach a mighty climax when the mark of the beast is formed, as portrayed in the loud cry of Revelation 18: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hated bird!…‘Come out of her my people, that you do not partake of her sins, and that you do not receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:2-4).
Continue to next section: 14:9-1 THE THIRD ANGEL’S MESSAGE