March 18, 2007 – March 24, 2007
“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.
Study Help: The Great Controversy, 381–390; The Story of Redemption, 364–368.
“The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of Babylon must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and have become corrupt.” The Great Controversy, 383. [Author’s emphasis.]
1 What is the second angel’s message? Revelation 14:8. What does this message mean?
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.
2 What symbol represents the fallen denominations in these last days? Revelation 17:3–5.
note: “Babylon is said to be ‘the mother of harlots.’ [Revelation 17:5.] 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. [Author’s emphasis.]
“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.” Ibid., 383.
3 What is the “wine” that Babylon has used in her sinful connection with the world? Revelation 17:2, last part; 19:2.
note: “The great sin charged against Babylon is that she ‘made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ [Revelation 14:8.] This cup of intoxication which she presents to the world represents the false doctrines that she has accepted as the result of her unlawful connection with the great ones of the earth. Friendship with the world corrupts her faith, and in her turn she exerts a corrupting influence upon the world by teaching doctrines which are opposed to the plainest statements of Holy Writ.” The Great Controversy, 388.
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.
“It was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen, that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers, receives a like condemnation.” Ibid., 382.
“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. . . . 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 particularly guilty? Daniel 7:25; Revelation 17:6.
note: “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.’ [Revelation 17:5, 6.] 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: “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. [Revelation 13:5; 12:6.] The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in a.d. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798.” The Great Controversy, 266.
7 Why must the second angel’s message be repeated? Revelation 18:2; 11 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.’ 11 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. [Author’s emphasis.]
“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.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 116.
8 What plan does God have for the honest believers who are still found in the fallen 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 What phenomenon will be observed increasingly in these last days? Matthew 24:24–26; Revelation 13:13, 14.
note: “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 When we hear, “Lo, here is Christ, or there is Christ,” how should we respond? Matthew 24:23. What punishment will God finally permit to fall upon Babylon, and why? Revelation 18:8.
note: “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?” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1105, 1106.
“Men will be deceived and will exalt him to the place of God, and deify him. But Omnipotence will interpose, and to the apostate churches that unite in the exaltation of Satan, the sentence will go forth, ‘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.’ [Revelation 18:8.]” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 62.
The Second Angel
“The churches that refused to receive the first angel’s message rejected light from heaven. That message was sent in mercy to arouse them to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding, and to seek a preparation to meet their Lord.
“It was to separate the church of Christ from the corrupting influence of the world that the first angel’s message was given. But with the multitude, even of professed Christians, the ties which bound them to earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward. They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdom, and turned away from the heart-searching message of truth.
“God gives light to be cherished and obeyed, not to be despised and rejected. The light which He sends becomes darkness to those who disregard it. When the Spirit of God ceases to impress the truth upon the hearts of men, all hearing is vain, and all preaching also is vain.
“When the churches spurned the counsel of God by rejecting the advent message, the Lord rejected them. The first angel was followed by a second, proclaiming, [Revelation 14:8 quoted]. This message was understood by Adventists to be an announcement of the moral fall of the churches in consequence of their rejection of the first message. . . .
“Those who preached the first message had no purpose or expectation of causing divisions in the churches, or of forming separate organizations. . . .
“Adventists, seeing that the churches rejected the testimony of God’s Word, could no longer regard them as constituting the church of Christ, ‘the pillar and ground of the truth;’ and as the message, ‘Babylon is fallen,’ began to be proclaimed, they felt themselves justified in separating from their former connection.
“Since the rejection of the first message, a sad change has taken place in the churches. As truth is spurned, error is received and cherished. Love for God and faith in His Word have grown cold. The churches have grieved the Spirit of the Lord, and it has been in a great measure withdrawn.
The Tarrying Time
“When the year 1843 entirely passed away unmarked by the advent of Jesus, those who had looked in faith for His appearing were for a time left in doubt and perplexity. But notwithstanding their disappointment, many continued to search the Scriptures, examining anew the evidences of their faith, and carefully studying the prophecies to obtain further light. The Bible testimony in support of their position seemed clear and conclusive. Signs which could not be mistaken pointed to the coming of Christ as near. The believers could not explain their disappointment; yet they felt assured that God had led them in their past experience.
“Their faith was greatly strengthened by the direct and forcible application of those scriptures which set forth a tarrying time. . . . After the disappointment the full meaning of this scripture [prophecy of Habakkuk] became apparent. Thus speaks the prophet: [Habakkuk 2:2, 3 quoted].
“The waiting ones rejoiced that He who knows the end from the beginning had looked down through the ages, and, foreseeing their disappointment, had given them words of courage and hope. Had it not been for such portions of Scripture, showing that they were in the right path, their faith would have failed in that trying hour.
“In the parable of the ten virgins, Matthew 25, the experience of Adventists is illustrated by the incidents of an Eastern marriage. ‘Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.’ ‘While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.’ [Matthew 25:1, 5.]
“The widespread movement under the proclamation of the first message, answered to the going forth of the virgins, while the passing of the time of expectation, the disappointment, and the delay, were represented by the tarrying of the bridegroom. After the definite time had passed, the true believers were still united in the belief that the end of all things was at hand; but it soon became evident that they were losing, to some extent, their zeal and devotion, and were falling into the state denoted in the parable by the slumbering of the virgins during the tarrying time.
“About this time fanaticism began to appear. Some who professed to be zealous believers in the message rejected the Word of God as the one infallible guide, and, claiming to be led by the Spirit, gave themselves up to the control of their own feelings, impressions, and imaginations. There were some who manifested a blind and bigoted zeal, denouncing all who would not sanction their course. Their fanatical ideas and exercises met with no sympathy from the great body of Adventists; yet they served to bring reproach upon the cause of truth.
“The preaching of the first message in 1843, and of the midnight cry in 1844, tended directly to repress fanaticism and dissension. Those who participated in these solemn movements were in harmony; their hearts were filled with love for one another, and for Jesus, whom they expected soon to see. The one faith, the one blessed hope, lifted them above the control of any human influence and proved a shield against the assaults of Satan.” The Story of Redemption, 364–368.
Reprinted with permission, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke Virginia, 2003.