December 15–21, 2002
MEMORY VERSE: “And there followed another 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.
SUGGESTED READING: The Great Controversy, 381–390; The Story of Redemption, 364–368.
INTRODUCTION: “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.” The Great Controversy, 383.
1 What is the second angel’s message and what does it mean? Revelation 14:8.
NOTE: “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.” The Great Controversy, 381.
“As the churches refused to receive the first angel’s message, they rejected the light from heaven and fell from the favor of God.” Early Writings, 237.
“Since the second angel proclaimed the fall of the churches, they have been growing more and more corrupt. They bear the name of being Christ’s followers; yet it is impossible to distinguish them from the world. Ministers take their texts from the Word of God, but preach smooth things. To this the natural heart feels no objection. It is only the spirit and power of the truth and the salvation of Christ that are hateful to the carnal heart. 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. Wicked men are generally pleased with a form of piety without true godliness, and they will aid and support such a religion.” Ibid., 273.
2 What symbol is used to represent the fallen denominations in these last days? Revelation 17:3–5.
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 Great Controversy, 382, 383.
“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.” Ibid., 383.
3 In her sinful connection with the world, what is the “wine” that Babylon has used? Revelation 17:2, last part; 19:2.
NOTE: “We are not to think that the chosen ones of God who are trying to walk in the light compose Babylon. The fallen denominational churches are Babylon. Babylon has been fostering poisonous doctrines, the wine of error. This wine of error is made up of false doctrines, such as the natural immortality of the soul, the eternal torment of the wicked, the denial of the pre-existence of Christ prior to His birth in Bethlehem, and advocating and exalting the first day of the week above God’s holy and sanctified day.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 61.
4 What does the Bible call the sin of seeking the support of the world? Revelation 18:3; James 4:4.
NOTE: “The unfaithfulness of the church to Christ in permitting her confidence and affection to be turned from Him, and allowing the love of worldly things to occupy the soul, is likened to the violation of the marriage vow. The sin of Israel in departing from the Lord is presented under this figure . . . .” The Great Controversy, 381.
“In what religious bodies are the greater part of the followers of Christ now to be found? Without doubt, in the various churches professing the Protestant faith. At the time of their rise these churches took a noble stand for God and the truth, and His blessing was with them. Even the unbelieving world was constrained to acknowledge the beneficent results that followed an acceptance of the principles of the gospel. . . . But they fell by the same desire which was the curse and ruin of Israel—the desire of imitating the practices and courting the friendship of the ungodly.” Ibid., 383.
5 Of what sins is Babylon especially guilty? Daniel 7:25; Revelation 17:6.
NOTE: “Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law as thus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.
“The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. The second commandment, forbidding image worship, has been dropped from the law, and the fourth commandment has been so changed as to authorize the observance of the first instead of the seventh day as the Sabbath.” The Great Controversy, 446.
“In the thirteenth century was established that most terrible of all the engines of the papacy—the Inquisition. The prince of darkness wrought with the leaders of the papal hierarchy. In their secret councils Satan and his angels controlled the minds of evil men, while unseen in the midst stood an angel of God, taking the fearful record of their iniquitous decrees and writing the history of deeds too horrible to appear to human eyes. ‘Babylon the great’ was ‘drunken with the blood of the saints.’ The mangled forms of millions of martyrs cried to God for vengeance upon that apostate power.” Ibid., 59, 60.
6 How long was the specific period of religious persecution under the supremacy of Rome? Revelation 12:6, 13, 14; 13:7, 5. See also Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6.
NOTE: “[Revelation 11:2-11quoted.] The periods here mentioned—‘forty and two months,’ and ‘a thousand two hundred and threescore days’—are the same, alike representing the time in which the church of Christ was to suffer oppression from Rome. The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in a.d. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798. . . . At that time a French army entered Rome and made the pope a prisoner, and he died in exile. Though a new pope was soon afterward elected, the papal hierarchy has never since been able to wield the power which it before possessed.
“The persecution of the church did not continue throughout the entire period of the 1260 years. God in mercy to His people cut short the time of their fiery trial. In foretelling the ‘great tribulation’ to befall the church, the Saviour said: ‘Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.’ Matthew 24:22. Through the influence of the Reformation the persecution was brought to an end prior to 1798.” The Great Controversy, 266, 267.
7 Why must the second angel’s message be repeated? Revelation 18:2; 2 Timothy 3:13.
NOTE: “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 Great Controversy, 389, 390.
“We see that seducers are waxing worse and worse. We see the world working to the point of establishing by law a false sabbath, and making it a test for all. This question will soon be before us. God’s Sabbath will be trampled under foot, and a false sabbath will be exalted. In a Sunday law there is possibility for great suffering to those who observe the seventh day. The working out of Satan’s plans will bring persecution to the people of God. But the faithful servants of God need not fear the outcome of the conflict. If they will follow the pattern set for them in the life of Christ, if they will be true to the requirements of God, their reward will be eternal life, a life that measures with the life of God.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 375.
“Thus the substance of the second angel’s message is again given to the world by that other angel who lightens the earth with his glory. These messages all blend in one, to come before the people in the closing days of this earth’s history. All the world will be tested, and all that have been in the darkness of error in regard to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment will understand the last message of mercy that is to be given to men.” Ibid., 116.
8 What invitation does God extend to honest believers who are still found in the Babylon denominations? Revelation 18:4.
NOTE: “Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting the threefold warning of Revelation 14:6–12, the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that ‘believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (11 Thessalonians 2:12), shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon will heed the call: ‘Come out of her, My people’ (Revelation 18:4).” The Great Controversy, 390.
9 In the last days, what phenomenon will increasingly be observed? Matthew 24:24–26; Revelation 13:13, 14.
NOTE: “We shall encounter false claims; false prophets will arise; there will be false dreams and false visions; but preach the Word, be not drawn away from the voice of God in His Word. Let nothing divert the mind. The wonderful, the marvelous, will be represented and presented. Through satanic delusions, wonderful miracles, the claims of human agents will be urged. Beware of all this.
“Christ has given warning, so that none need accept falsehood for truth.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 49.
“The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.” The Great Controversy, 593.
10 How should we respond when we hear “Lo, here is Christ,” or “There is Christ”? Matthew 24:23.
NOTE: “We need to be anchored in Christ, rooted and grounded in the faith. Satan works through agents. He selects those who have not been drinking of the living waters, whose souls are athirst for something new and strange, and who are ever ready to drink at any fountain that may present itself. Voices will be heard, saying, ‘Lo, here is Christ,’ or ‘Lo there;’ but we must believe them not.” Review and Herald, November 17, 1885.
“He [Satan] will come personating Jesus Christ, working mighty miracles; and men will fall down and worship him as Jesus Christ. We shall be commanded to worship this being, whom the world will glorify as Christ. What shall we do?—Tell them that Christ has warned us against just such a foe, who is man’s worst enemy, yet who claims to be God; and that when Christ shall make his appearance, it will be with power and great glory, accompanied by ten thousand times ten thousand angels and thousands of thousands; and that when he shall come, we shall know his voice.” Review and Herald, December 18, 1888.
11 What punishment will God finally permit to fall upon Babylon, and why? Revelation 18:8.
NOTE: “Those who love God need not be surprised if those who claim to be Christians are filled with hatred because they cannot force the consciences of God’s people. Not long hence they will stand before the Judge of all the earth, to render an account for the pain they have caused to the bodies and souls of God’s heritage. They may indulge in false accusations now, they may deride those whom God has appointed to do his work, they may consign his believing ones to prison, to the chain-gang, to banishment, to death; but for every pang of anguish, every tear shed, they must answer. For every drop of blood drawn forth by torture, for all they have burned with fire, they will receive punishment. God will reward them double for their sins.” Review and Herald, December 28, 1897.
“When the voice of God turns the captivity of his people, there is a terrible awakening of those who have lost all in the great game of life. While probation continued, they were blinded by Satan’s deceptions, and they justified their course of sin. The rich prided themselves upon their superiority to those who were less favored; but they had obtained their riches by violation of the law of God. They had neglected to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to deal justly, and to love mercy. They had sought to exalt themselves, and to obtain the homage of their fellow-creatures. Now they are stripped of all that made them great, and are left destitute and defenseless. They look upon the destruction of the idols which they preferred before their Maker. They sold their souls for earthly riches and enjoyments, and did not seek 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.
“The wicked are filled with regret, not because of their sinful neglect of God and their fellow-men, but because God has conquered. They lament that the result is what it is; but they do not repent of their wickedness. They would leave no means untried to conquer if they could.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 470, 471.