18. The Doom of Modern Babylon

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Verse 1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2 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. 3 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.

Some movement of mighty power is symbolized in these verse. (See comments on verse 4 of this chapter.) The consideration of a few facts will guide us unmistakably to the application. In Revelation 14 we had a message announcing the fall of Babylon. "Babylon" is a term which embraces not only paganism and the Roman Catholic Church, but religious bodies which have withdrawn from that church, but bringing many of her errors and traditions with them.

A Spiritual Fall. The fall of Babylon here spoken of cannot be literal destruction, for there are events to take place in Babylon after her fall which utterly forbid this idea. For instance, the people of God are there after her fall, and are called out in order that they may not receive of her plagues, which include her literal destruction. The fall is therefore a spiritual one, for the result of it is that Babylon becomes the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. These are terrible description of apostasy, showing that, as a consequence of her fall, she piles up an accumulation of sins even to the heavens, and becomes the subject to the judgments of God, which can no longer be delayed.

Since the fall here introduced is a spiritual one, it must apply to some branch of Babylon outside of the pagan or papal divisions; for from the beginning of their history paganism has been a false religion, and the papacy an apostate one. Further as this fall is said to occur but a short period before Babylon's final destruction, certainly this side of the rise and predicted triumph of the papal church, this testimony cannot apply to any religious organizations but such as have sprung from that church. These stared out on reform. They ran well for a season, and had the approbation of God; but bringing some of her erroneous doctrines with them, and fencing themselves about with creeds of their own, they have failed to keep pace with the advancing light of prophetic truth. This has left them where they will finally develop a character as odious in the sight of God as that of the church from which they withdrew.

Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of Christ Church, says: "A reformation of popery was attempted in Europe full three centuries ago. It ended in a Protestant hierarchy, and swarms of dissenters. Protestantism has been reformed into Presbyterianism, that into Congregationalism, and that into Baptistism, etc., etc. Methodism has attempted to reform all, but has reformed itself into many forms of Wesleyism. . . . All of them retain in their bosom in their ecclesiastical organizations, worship, doctrines, and observances various relics of popery. They are at best a reformation of popery, and only reformations in part. The doctrines and traditions of men yet impair the power and progress of the gospel in their hands." [1]

Abundant testimony might be produced from persons in high standing in these various denominations, written, not for the purpose of being captious and finding fault, but from a vivid sense of the fearful condition to which these churches have fallen. The term Babylon, as applied to them, is not a term of reproach, but is simply expressive of the confusion and diversity of sentiment that exists among them. Babylon need not have fallen. She might have been healed (Jeremiah 51: 9) by receiving the truth, but she rejected it.

In not accepting the truth of the Second Coming of Christ and in reject the first angel's message, the churches failed to walk in the advanced light shining on their pathway from the throne of God. As a result, confusion and dissension reign within their borders. Worldliness and pride are fast choking every plant of heavenly growth.

But in this chapter we have the fall of Babylon mentioned again. In the previous reference it followed the sounding of the first angel's message, and the divine declaration then was, "There followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen." Now the latter pronouncement from heaven heaven is, "He cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils." Here is a further step in the development of apostasy, and the next few pages will reveal the extent of this final phase of the fall of Babylon.

Time of This Fall. At what time do these verses have their application? When may this movement be looked for? If the position taken here is correct, that these churches, this branch of Babylon, experienced a spiritual fall by the rejection of the first angel's message of Revelation 14, the announcement in the chapter now under consideration could not have gone forth previous to that time. It is, then, either simultaneous with the message of the fall of Babylon in Revelation 14, or it is given at a later period than than. It cannot be at the same time with that, for that merely announces the fall of Babylon, while this adds several particulars which at that time were neither fulfilled nor in the process of fulfillment. We are therefore to look this side of 1844, when the previous message went forth, for the announcement brought to view in this chapter. We therefore inquire, Has any such message been given from that time to present? The answer is, Yes. We are now hearing the third angel's message, which is the last to be given before the coming of the Son of man. As declension has increased in the religious world, that message has been augmented by the warning of Revelation 18: 1-4, which thus constitutes a feature of the third angel's message which is now being proclaimed with power and lighting the world with its glory.

The Work of Spiritism. The latter phase of the work brought to view in verse 2 is in process of accomplishment, and will soon be completed, by the work of spiritism. What are called in Revelation 16: 14, "spirits of devils, working miracles," are secretly but rapidly working their way into the religious denominations above referred to. Their creeds have been formulated under the influence of the wine (errors) of Babylon, one of which is that the spirits of our dead friends, conscious, intelligent, and active, are all about us.

A significant feature in the work of spiritism just now, is the religious garb is is assuming. Keeping in the background its grosser principles, which it has heretofore carried so largely in the front, it now assumes to appear as respectably religious as any other denomination in the land. It talks of sin, repentance, the atonement, salvation through Christ, in almost as orthodox language as do genuine Christians. Under the guise of this profession, what is to hinder it from entrenching itself in almost every denomination Christendom? We have shown that the basis of spiritism, the immortality of the soul, is a fundamental dogma of the creeds of almost all the churches. What, then, can save Christendom from its seductive influence?

Herein is seen another sad result of rejecting the truths offered to the world by the messages of Revelation 14. Had the churches received these messages, they would have been shielded against this delusion; for among the great truths developed by the religious movement in the time of the great advent awakening, is the important doctrine that the soul of man is not naturally immortal; that eternal life is the gift of Jesus Christ, and can be obtained only through Him; that the dead are unconscious; and that the rewards and punishments of the future world lie beyond the resurrection and the day ofjudgment.

These truths strike a deathblow to the first and vital claim of spiritism. What foot hold can that doctrine secure in any mind fortified by such truth? The spirit comes, and claims to be the disembodied soul, or spirit, of a dead man. It is met with the fact that that is not the kind of soul, or spirit, which man possesses; that the "dead know not anything;" that this, its first pretension, is a lie, and that the credentials it offers, show it to belong to the synagogue of Satan. Thus it is at once rejected, and the evil it would do is effectually prevented. But the great mass of religionists stand opposed to the truth which would thus shield them, and they thereby expose themselves to this last manifestation of satanic cunning.

Modern Liberalism. While spiritism is thus working, startling changes are manifesting themselves in high places in some of the denominations. The fidelity of the present age, under the seductive names of "science," "higher criticism," evolution," and "modern liberalism," has permeated most of the theological colleges of the land, and to a large extent has made serious incursions into the Protestant churches.

Public attention was forcibly called to this situation by a writer, Mr. Harold Bolce, in the Cosmopolitan Magazine for May, 1909. After making an investigation into the character of the teaching that was being imparted in some of the leading universities of this country, he reported the results in

Cosmopolitan, which drew forth this comment from the editor:

"What Mr. Bolce sets down here is of the most astounding character. Out of the curricula of American colleges, a dynamic movement is upheaving ancient foundations, and promising a way for revolutionary thought and life. Those who are not in close touch with the great colleges of the country will be astonished to learn the creeds being fostered by the faculties of our great universities. In hundreds of classrooms it is being taught daily that the decalogue is no more sacred than a syllabus; that the home as an institution is doomed; that there are no absolute evils; that immorality is simply an act in contravention of society's accepted standards. . . . These are some of the revolutionary and sensational teachings submitted with academic warrant to the minds of hundreds of thousands of students in the United States."


The results of modern liberalism have been all too apparent in the work of the Protestant churches. Writers in the various communions have freely pointed out the lack of interest in the preaching of the gospel and the decline of missions in particular. One writer states the situation in this way:

"Too largely I suspect our churches have become weak, uncertain as to their purpose, lifeless, characterized by a deadly respectability and lacking a sense of mission. The average congregation is primarily concerned with raising enough money to pay the pastor and to keep the property in good repair. There is little deep-seated conviction any longer that 'we have a story to tell to the nations.' The gospel of salvation and evangelism as respects the whole world has been diluted into a satisfactory and responsible ethic and the church is a society of good people who want the blessing of religion to attend them during their moments of exaltation or grief, but are quite content to absent themselves from the church and its divine mission so long as they can clothe themselves in the aura of respectability which attaches to church membership. Is this too caustic an indictment of the church?" [3]

Another writer states the attitude of the churches toward missions:

"Coupled with the fact that only a minority of church members give conscientiously is the change in belief about missions. Missionary boards may persuade themselves that the falling off in their receipts is due to high taxes and lowered incomes, but pastors who are in touch with donors recognize a definite increase of resistance to making donations designed for extension of the gospel beyond our borders. The number of otherwise loyal parishioners who doggedly announce that they 'don't believe in missions' is mounting. The caliber of these opponents gives pause. . . .

"The average annual per capita giving in twenty-two non-Roman communions now shows $11.28 for congregational expenses, against $2.19 for all non-local work. . . .

"The average of gifts beyond self-support coasts from 29.69 per cent of the total income with the United Presbyterian Church to 11.14, 12.30, and 10.02 per cent with the last-named trio. Small wonder we are being urged to 're- think missions.' " [4]

Such results as these are declared to follow:

"While missionary zeal was waning, the situation was further complicated by the revelation that other than evangelical missionaries were being commissioned and sent to the foreign fields. These were the 'adventurers' of a 'new civilization,' the 'creators of a new world,' and were mainly filled with a social passion. . . .

"World evangelization was again given a cruel blow in the critical findings of the Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry Report. Although the object of this enterprise, which began in 1930 and continued to 1933, was 'to aid laymen to determine their attitude toward foreign missions by reconsidering the functions of such missions in the world of today,' with undoubtedly the aim not only to remodel missions but to increase financial receipts, the results was only more controversy and decreased giving."


Results of Apostasy. From the standpoint of such a lamentable outlook, and under the leadership of such men, how long before Babylon will become full of spirits that are foul, and birds that are hateful and unclean? What progress has already been made in this direction! How would the godly fathers and mothers of the generation that lived just before the first angel's message was given, could they hear the teaching and behold the practices of the religious world, stand aghast at the fearful contrast between their time and ours, and deplore the sad degeneracy! But Heaven is not to let all this pass in silence. A mighty proclamation is being made, calling the attention of all the world to the fearful counts in the indictment against unfaithful religious bodies, that the justice of the judgments that follow may plainly appear.

Verse 3 shows the wide extent of the influence of Babylon, and the evil that has resulted and will result from her course, and hence the justness of her punishment. The merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. Who take the lead in all the extravagances of the age? Who load their tables with the richest and choicest viands? Who are foremost in extravagance in dress and all costly attire? Who are the personification of pride and arrogance? Are not church members in the very forefront of those who seek after the material and prideful things of life?

But there is a redeeming feature in this picture. Degenerate as Babylon has become as a body, there are exceptions to the general rule; for God has still a people there, and she must be entitled to some regard on their account until all who will answer are called from her communion. Nor will it be necessary to wait long for this consummation. Soon Babylon will become so thoroughly leavened with the influence of these evil agents that her condition will be fully manifest to all the honest in heart, and the way will be prepared for the work which the apostle now introduces.

Verse 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. 7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she said in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

The voice coming from heaven denotes that it is a message of power attended with heavenly glory. How marked becomes the interposition of Heaven, and how the agents for the accomplishment of God's work multiply, as the great crisis approaches! This voice from heaven is called "another" voice, showing that a new agency is here introduced. We now have five celestial messengers expressly mentioned as engaged in this last religious reformation. These are the first, second, and third angels of Revelation 14; fourth, the angel of verse 1 of this chapter; and fifth, the agency indicated by the "voice" of verse 4, now before us. Three of these are already in operation. The second angel has joined the first, and the third has joined them. The first and second have not ceased. All three are now united in proclaiming a threefold message. The angel of verse 1 here enters upon his mission, as conditions call for his work. The divine call from heaven to come out of Babylon takes place in connection with his work.

"Come Out of Her, My People." Proof has already been offered to show that the message of verses 1 and 2 of this chapter is given in connection with the now current threefold message. An idea of its extent and power may be gathered from the description of the angel there given. The first angel's message is said to go with a "loud voice." The same is also said of the third message, but this angel, instead of simply flying "in the midst of heaven" like the others, is said to "come down" from heaven." He comes with a message more pointed and direct. He has "great power," and the earth is "lightened with his glory." No such description of a message from heaven to man is elsewhere to be found in all the Bible. This is the last, and as is meet, it comes with surpassing glory and unwonted power. It is an awful hour when a world's destiny is to be decided a most solemn crisis when an entire contemporaneous generation of the human family is to pass the bounds of probation, as the last note of mercy is sounded.

In such a time, the world must not be left without warning. So amply must the great facts be heralded that none can plead a reasonable ignorance of the impending doom. Every excuse must be taken away. The justice and long-suffering and forbearance of God in delaying threatened vengeance until all have had an opportunity to receive a knowledge of His will, and time to repent, must be vindicated. An angel is sent forth panoplied with heavenly power. The light that encircles the throne enshrouds him. He comes to the earth. None but the spiritually dead yea, "twice dead, and plucked up by the roots" would fail to realize his presence. Light flashes everywhere. The dark places are lighted up. While his presence dispels the shadows, his voice in thunderous tones utters a warning. He cries "mightily." It is no parlor announcement, but a cry, a might cry with a strong voice.

The fatal defects in the profession of a worldly church are again pointed out. Their errors are once more, and for the last time, exposed. The inadequacy of the present standard of godliness to meet the final crisis is emphasized beyond all mistaking. The inevitable connection between their cherished errors and everlasting and irretrievable destruction is heralded until the earth resounds with the cry. Meanwhile, great Babylon's sins mount up to the heavens, and the remembrance of her iniquities comes up before God. The storm of vengeance gathers. Soon it will burst upon the great city of confusion, and proud Babylon will go down as a millstone sinks into the depths of the sea.

Suddenly another voice rings out from heaven, "Come out of her, My people!" The humble, sincere, devoted children of God, of whom there are some still left, and who sigh and cry over the abominations done in the land, heed the voice, wash their hands of her sins, separate from her communion, escape, and are saved, while Babylon becomes the victim of the just judgments of God. These are stirring times for the church. Let us be ready for the crisis.

The fact that God's people are called out so as not to be partakers of her sins, shows that it is not until a certain time that people become guilty by being connected with Babylon.

Verses 6 and 7 are a prophetic declaration that she will be rewarded or punished according to her works. Bear in mind that this testimony applies to that part of Babylon which is subject to a spiritual fall. As already pointed out, it must apply especially to the "daughters," the denominations who persist in clinging to the personal traits of the "mother," and keeping up the family resemblance. These, as pointed out previously, are to attempt a sweeping persecution against the truth and the people of God. By these the "image to the beast" is to be formed. These are to have what will be to them a new experience the use of the civil arm to enforce their dogmas.

It is doubtless this first intoxication of power that leads this branch of Babylon to cherish in her heart the boast, "I sit a queen, and am no widow;" that is, I am no longer {GREEK CHARACTERS IN PRINTED TEXT}, chera, "one bereaved," or destitute of power, as I have been. She declares, Now I rule like a queen, and I shall see no sorrow. With blasphemy she boasts God is in the Constitution, the church is enthroned, and will henceforth bear sway. The expression, "Reward her even as she rewarded you," seems to show that the time for this message to reach its climax, and for the saints to be finally called out, will be when she begins to raise against them the arm of oppression. As she fills up the cup of persecution to the saints, so the angel of the Lord will persecute her. (Psalm 35: 6.) Judgments from on high will bring upon her a twofold degree ("double unto her double"), the evil which she thought to bring upon the humble servants of the Lord.

The day in which her plagues come, mentioned in verse 8, must be a prophetic day, or at least cannot be a literal day, for it would be impossible for famine to come in that length of time. The plagues of Babylon are without doubt the seven last plagues, which have already been examined. The plain inference from the languages of this verse in connection with Isaiah 34: 8, is that a year will be occupied in that terrible visitation.

Verse 9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing afar offfor the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. 11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.

A Fitting Retribution. The infliction of the first plague must result in a complete suspension of traffic in those articles of luxury for which Babylon is noted. When the merchants of these things, who are to a great extent citizens of this symbolic city, and who have been made rich by their traffic in these things, suddenly find themselves and their neighbors smitten with putrefying sores, their traffic suspended, and vast stores of merchandise on hand, but none to buy them, they lift up their voices in lamentation for the fate of this great city. If there is anything which will draw from the men of this generation a sincere cry of distress, it is that which touches their treasures. There is a fitness in this retribution. They who but a short time before had issued a decree that the saints of God should neither buy nor sell, now find themselves put under the same restriction in a far more effectual way.

The question may arise how persons involved in the same calamity can stand afar off and lament. It must be remembered that this desolation is brought to view under a figure, and the figure is that of a city visited with destruction. Should calamity come upon a literal city, it would be natural for its inhabitants to flee from that city if they had opportunity, and standing afar off, lament its fall. Just in proportion to their terror and amazement at the evil impending, would be the distance at which they would stand from their devoted city. The figure the apostle uses would not be complete without a feature of this kind, and he uses it, not to imply that people would literally flee from the symbolic city, which would be impossible, but to denote their terror and amazement at the descending judgments.

Verse 12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, 13 And cinnamon, and odors, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

Babylon's Merchandise. In these verses we have an enumeration of great Babylon's merchandise, which includes everything pertaining to luxurious living, pomp, and worldly display. All kinds of mercantile traffic are brought to view. The declaration concerning "slaves and souls of men" may pertain more particularly to the spiritual domain, and have reference to slavery of conscience by the creeds of these bodies, which in some cases is more oppressive than physical bondage.

Verse 14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departedfrom thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departedfrom thee, and thou shall find them no more at all.

Gluttony Rebuked. The fruits here mentioned are, according to the original, "autumnal fruits." In this we find a prophecy that the "delicacies of the season," upon which the gourmand so sets his pampered appetite, will be suddenly cut off. This, of course, is the work of the famine, which is the result of the fourth vial. Revelation 16: 8.

Verse 15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar offfor the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 16 and saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! 17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, 18 and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! 19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! For in one hour is she made desolate.

Emotions of the Wicked. The reader can readily imagine the cause of this universal voice of mourning, lamentation, an woe. Imagine the plague of sores preying upon men, the rivers turned to blood, the sea like the blood of a dead man, the sun scorching men with fire, the traders' traffic gone, and their silver and gold unable to deliver them, and we need not wonder at their exclamations of distress, nor that shipmasters and sailors join in the general wail. Very different is the emotion of the saints, as the following testimony shows:

Verse 20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 21 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. 22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; 23 and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Emotions of the Righteous. The apostles and prophets are here called upon to rejoice over great Babylon in her destruction, as it is in close connection with this destruction that they will be delivered from the power of death and the grave by the first resurrection.

Like a great millstone dropped into the sea, Babylon sinks to rise no more. The various arts and crafts that have been employed in her midst, and have ministered to her desires, shall be practiced no more. The pompous music that has been heard in her imposing but formal and lifeless service, dies away forever. The scenes of festivity and gladness, when the bridegroom and the bride have been led before her altars, shall be witnessed no more.

Her sorceries constitute her leading crime, and sorcery is a practice which is involved in the spiritism of today. "In her was found the blood" of "all that were slain upon the earth." From this it is evident that ever since the introduction of a false religion into the world, Babylon has existed. In her has been found, all along, opposition to the work of God, and persecution of His people. In reference to the guilt of the last generation, see comments on Revelation 16: 6.


[1]    Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptism, p. 15.

[2]    Cosmopolitan Magazine, May, 1909, p. 665.

[3]    Dale D. Welch, "Real Issues and Great Choices," The Presbyterian, January 9, 1941, p. 3.

[4]    Phillips Endecott Osgood, "How Much Do You Help the Church?" The Atlantic Monthly, January, 1940, p. 56, footnote.

[5]    "Is It a Lost Cause?" editorial in The Watchman-Examiner, February 1, 1940, p. 105.




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