Bible Study Guides – God’s People Delivered, Part 111 – The Fall of Babylon (The Sixth Plague)

August 21, 2005 – August 27, 2005

Memory Verse

“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” Revelation 16:12.

Suggested Reading: Revelation 18:5–24; Daniel 5:1–31; The Great Controversy, 654–656.


In the last lesson, we learned that the sixth plague begins on the date that has been set to slay the saints, the same day that the fifth and seventh plagues begin. Some may ask, “Just what is the sixth plague?” In this lesson, we will study the symbolism and meaning of Revelation 16:12, the sixth plague.

1 What happened when the angel poured out his bowl on the Euphrates River? Revelation 16:12. For Old Testament type, see Jeremiah 51:28–39; Isaiah 11:15.

2 What event in history is used to symbolize this plague? Daniel 5:25–31; Isaiah 13:17–19; Jeremiah 51:1–14, 24–26.

note: “The guardsmen were indulging in merriment and revelry, and the city [Babylon] was left without defense. Before the officers were aware, the enemy had entered the city, and escape was impossible. Those in one part of the city were slain or captured before those in another part knew that the city was invaded. No alarm was sounded, no cry could be raised to warn the people that the forces of Cyrus were upon them.

“The monarch, his princes, and guardsmen, were given up to feasting, and, intoxicated with strong drink, they knew nothing of the peril of the kingdom. There was a noise at the palace gates, the doors were forced open, the troops of Cyrus rushed in, and in a short time the king and his guests were lying mangled in the heaps of the slain, and the drunken slept a perpetual sleep. Thus was the prophecy of Isaiah and Jeremiah fulfilled to the letter.” The Signs of the Times, December 29, 1890.

3 What ingenious thing did Cyrus do to effect the fall of Babylon in one night? Jeremiah 50:38; Isaiah 44:28–45:1.

note: “The destruction of Babylon pictures to some degree the final destruction of the world, of which the prophet writes, ‘Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.’ Destruction came upon Babylon while the king and his lords were engaged in feasting and revelry. Cyrus and his army marched up the bed of the river Euphrates; for trenches had been dug, and the river turned from its course, so that there was no obstruction to their entering the city, provided the gates were opened.” The Signs of the Times, December 29, 1890.

comment: Cyrus lowered the water level of the Euphrates River by digging a channel to divert the flow of the river. This procedure lowered the river level sufficiently to allow his army to reach the city gates by the bridge that crossed the river, which he thought would be open on this night of revelry. The gates were open, and in a few hours Belshazzar, the king, and his army were slain, and the city fell into the hands of the Medes and the Persians. The Median and Persian nations were located toward the east from Babylon; thus when the river was “dried up,” “the way of the kings of the east” was prepared. Revelation 16:12.

4 What does water represent in Bible prophecy? Revelation 17:15.

note: “The great kingdoms that have ruled the world were presented to the prophet Daniel as beasts of prey, rising when ‘the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.’ Daniel 7:2. In Revelation 17 an angel explained that waters represent ‘peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.’ Revelation 17:15. Winds are a symbol of strife. The four winds of heaven striving upon the great sea represent the terrible scenes of conquest and revolution by which kingdoms have attained to power.” The Great Controversy, 439, 440.

5 Who is represented by spiritual Babylon in the end times? Revelation 17:1–5.

note: “The woman (Babylon) of Revelation 17 is described as ‘arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness: . . . and upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots.’ Says the prophet: ‘I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.’ Babylon is further declared to be ‘that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.’ Revelation 17:4–6, 18. The power that for so many centuries maintained despotic sway over the monarchs of Christendom is Rome. [Emphasis supplied.] The purple and scarlet color, the gold and precious stones and pearls, vividly picture the magnificence and more than kingly pomp affected by the haughty see of Rome.” The Great Controversy, 382.

“Babylon is a symbol of the world at large. When its doom was made certain, its kings and officers seemed to be as men insane, and their own course hastened its destiny. When the doom of a nation is fixed, it seems that all the energy, wisdom, and discretion of its former time of prosperity, deserts its men of position, and they hasten the evil they would avert.” The Signs of the Times, December 29, 1890. [Emphasis supplied.]

6 Who else is represented as part of Babylon in the last days? Revelation 17:5; 14:8. See reference below for an explanation of these verses.

note: “Babylon is said to be ‘the mother of harlots.’ By her daughters must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world. The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of Babylon must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and have become corrupt. Since this message follows the warning of the judgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it cannot refer to the Roman Church alone, for that church has been in a fallen condition for many centuries.” The Great Controversy, 382, 383.

“Not yet, however, can it be said that ‘Babylon is fallen, . . . because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ She has not yet made all nations do this. The spirit of world conforming and indifference to the testing truths for our time exists and has been gaining ground in churches of the Protestant faith in all the countries of Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn and terrible denunciation of the second angel.” Ibid., 389.

7 What does the term “Babylon” mean in the spiritual realm? For literal type, see Genesis 11:7–9.

note: “Many of the Protestant churches are following Rome’s example of iniquitous connection with ‘the kings of the earth’—the state churches, by their relation to secular governments; and other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world. And the term ‘Babylon’—confusion—may be appropriately applied to these bodies, all professing to derive their doctrines from the Bible, yet divided into almost innumerable sects, with widely conflicting creeds and theories.” The Great Controversy, 383.

8 What happens to Babylon when God turns the captivity of His people on the day that has been set to slay the saints? Revelation 18:6–24. (See The Great Controversy, 653–656.)

note: “The enemies of God’s law, from the ministers down to the least among them, have a new conception of truth and duty. Too late they see that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the seal of the living God. Too late they see the true nature of their spurious sabbath and the sandy foundation upon which they have been building. They find that they have been fighting against God.” The Great Controversy, 640.

“Now they are stripped of all that made them great and are left destitute and defenseless. They look with terror upon the destruction of the idols which they preferred before their Maker. They have sold their souls for earthly riches and enjoyments, and have not sought to become rich toward God. The result is, their lives are a failure; their pleasures are now turned to gall, their treasures to corruption. The gain of a lifetime is swept away in a moment. The rich bemoan the destruction of their grand houses, the scattering of their gold and silver. But their lamentations are silenced by the fear that they themselves are to perish with their idols.” Ibid., 654.

9 What is the Lord’s assessment of the ministers at this time who have sacrificed truth for the favor of men? For Old Testament parallels, see Jeremiah 8:11; 23:1, 2; 25:34, 35; Ezekiel 13:22.

note: “The minister who has sacrificed truth to gain the favor of men now discerns the character and influence of his teachings. . . . Every emotion of the soul, every line written, every word uttered, every act that led men to rest in a refuge of falsehood, has been scattering seed; and now, in the wretched, lost souls around him, he beholds the harvest.

“Saith the Lord: ‘They have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.’ ‘With lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.’ Jeremiah 8:11; Ezekiel 13:22.

“ ‘Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! . . . Behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings.’ ‘Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for your days for slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; . . . and the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape.’ Jeremiah 23:1, 2; 25:34, 35, margin.” The Great Controversy, 654, 655.

10 When Babylon falls, what do the ministers and people understand about their attitude toward God and His law? For Old Testament examples, see Lamentations 1:18; 3:42. See also Ezekiel 34; Isaiah 56:8–12.

note: “Ministers and people see that they have not sustained the right relation to God. They see that they have rebelled against the Author of all just and righteous law. . . . This is the view that now appears to those who rejected truth and chose to cherish error. No language can express the longing which the disobedient and disloyal feel for that which they have lost forever—eternal life. Men whom the world has worshiped for their talents and eloquence now see these things in their true light. They realize what they have forfeited by transgression, and they fall at the feet of those whose fidelity they have despised and derided, and confess that God has loved them.” The Great Controversy, 655.

11 What attitude and action do the people take toward the ministers and pastors that result in the collapse of all church organization? Revelation 18:9, 10, 14–20.

note: “The people see that they have been deluded. They accuse one another of having led them to destruction; but all unite in heaping their bitterest condemnation upon the ministers. Unfaithful pastors have prophesied smooth things; they have led their hearers to make void the law of God and to persecute those who would keep it holy. Now, in their despair, these teachers confess before the world their work of deception. The multitudes are filled with fury. ‘We are lost!’ they cry, ‘and you are the cause of our ruin;’ and they turn upon the false shepherds. The very ones that once admired them most will pronounce the most dreadful curses upon them. The very hands that once crowned them with laurels will be raised for their destruction.” The Great Controversy, 655, 656.

12 How are the swords now used that were once employed for the destruction of God’s people? Jeremiah 25:31; Isaiah 13:13–15; Haggai 2:22.

note: “The swords which were to slay God’s people are now employed to destroy their enemies. Everywhere there is strife and bloodshed.” The Great Controversy, 656.

13 Where does the work of destruction begin? Ezekiel 9:1–6.

note: “The mark of deliverance has been set upon those ‘that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done.’ Now the angel of death goes forth, represented in Ezekiel’s vision by the men with the slaughtering weapons, to whom the command is given: ‘Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.’ Says the prophet: ‘They began at the ancient men which were before the house.’ Ezekiel 9:1–6. The work of destruction begins among those who have professed to be the spiritual guardians of the people. The false watchmen are the first to fall. There are none to pity or to spare. Men, women, maidens, and little children perish together.” The Great Controversy, 656.