18:1-3 BABYLON IS FALLEN
“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 has 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 became rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Revelation 18:1-3).
Chapter 18 is a continuation of the elaboration on the fall of the harlot, Babylon the Great. In chapter 14 powerful messages of warning were given to the world by three angels. Now the message of the second angel, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” (Revelation 14:8) is repeated much more forcefully by an angel “having great power.” Although it may have been possible to ignore the message of the second angel of Revelation 14, it will not be possible to ignore this one—“the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice.”
The second angel’s message “Babylon is fallen” in chapter 14 followed the first angel’s message, which began, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come” (Revelation 14:7). As we saw in 14: When in History?, the judgment referred to is primarily the investigative judgment (Day of Atonement) which began in 1844. All of the three angels’ messages were given at that time and brought about a great awakening of interest in the Second Coming of Christ (See 3: Missionary and Advent Movements), but with the passage of time the impact of the messages largely faded away (See 3:15-17 Lukewarm).
However, when the trumpet plagues begin, the whole world will start to desperately seek help from “God.” By that time the major players of Babylon the Great will already be in place, waiting only for the appearance of the beast from the bottomless pit (the antichrist) to spring into action against the saints (See 17:6-8). According to Jesus, Paul and John, the delusions of that time will be overwhelming and the pressure to yield allegiance to Babylon will be almost irresistible. But God will not leave the world in darkness. He will send a mighty angel (which, like the three angels of Revelation 14, represents His Spirit-filled witnesses) and the earth will be illuminated with the mighty reiteration of the message, “Babylon is fallen.”
In chapter 17 the harlot, Babylon the Great, sitting on a seven-headed scarlet beast, was shown to be an updated, multifaceted and universal version of the seven-headed beast from the sea of chapter 13 which symbolized the Roman Catholic Church of the Dark Ages. It was during the Middle Ages that the Catholic Church perfected the doctrines that have led to her fallen state; these doctrines will form the religious foundation of end-time Babylon. In our day and age doctrine is suspect, and it is considered judgmental to criticize the beliefs of another religion. However, because of the strong emphasis both here and in chapter 14 on the “fallen” nature of Babylon, it is important to look carefully at the Catholic doctrines that have departed from the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.
The messages concerning Babylon’s fallen condition are strong and detailed—“Babylon… has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hatful 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 got rich through the abundance of her delicacies…Her sins have reached to heaven” (Revelation 18:2,3,5). There is nothing polite, diplomatic or politically correct about these messages.
Since the identity and description of Babylon are among the most prominent themes of the book of Revelation, a somewhat lengthy and detailed exposition of Roman Catholic tradition and doctrine will now be presented. This is not intended to be self-righteous “Catholic bashing,” and indeed the title “MOTHER OF HARLOTS” shows that the great harlot has daughters which are also harlots. This calls for careful self-examination on the part of the Protestant churches that have derived much of their doctrine and traditions from the “mother church.” Even those who smugly consider themselves to be part of the “remnant church” should bear in mind that they are presented in chapter 3 as Laodicea, who is so disgustingly lukewarm that God is about to spew her out of His mouth! Thus the following is presented in humility, in order to help God’s people who are in Babylon to recognize her fallen condition and heed the entreaty to “come out of her.”