FOLLOWING the judgment-hour message of Revelation 14:6, 7, what reason is given for Babylon's fall?
"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.
THE FALL OF ANCIENT BABYLON
What prophetic warning was given of the fall of ancient Babylon?
"Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance; He will render unto her a recompence." Jeremiah 51:6.
At the time of the fall of the Babylonian Empire to the Medes and Persians, how did Belshazzar and his court defy the true God?
"They brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of -the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone." Daniel 5:3, 4.
NOTE.—The gospel of the kingdom was preached in Babylon through Daniel, and Nebuchadnezzar was brought to acknowledge and to worship the true God. But after Nebuchadnezzar's death his successors failed to profit by his experience. The climax was reached when Belshazzar used the sacred vessels from the house of God, dedicated to His worship, in which to drink the Babylonian wine of idolatrous worship. Then came the handwriting on the wall, the fall of ancient Babylon, and the death of Belshazzar. Read the story in Daniel 5.
Aside from rejecting God's message, what did ancient Babylon do to the nations?
"Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; there- fore the nations are mad." Jeremiah 51:7.
NoTE.—Through the centuries the astrological beliefs of the Chaldeans of Babylon eventually "penetrated as far as India, China, and Indo-China, where divination by means of the stars is still practised.. . . In the opposite direction they spread to Syria, to Egypt, and over the.. whole Roman world."—FRANz CUMONT, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans (Putnam's, 1912 ed.), p. 74.
In the visions of John what interpretation is given of the im- pure woman with a golden cup in her hand, seated on a seven- headed beast?
"And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." Revelation 17:18. (See verses 3, 4, 9.)
NOTE.—The great city which reigned over the kings of the earth in John's time was Rome; and that seven-hilled city has given its name to the power which succeeded to its dominion—the organization which is represented by the woman, the Church of Rome, ruled by the Papacy. (See page 213.)
In this same prophecy how is this religio-political power, the Roman Church, or the Papacy, designated as the counterpart of ancient Babylon?
"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT." Verse 5.
NOTE.—The parallels between the Roman Church and ancient Babylon are striking, as we view the pagan Babylonian state religion with its wealthy and politically powerful hierarchy, its elaborate temple ritual, its priestly monopoly of learning, its liturgy performed in an ancient language unknown to the common people, its processions of divine images, its great spring festival in which mourning is followed by rejoicing, its ubiquitous virgin mother goddess who intercedes for her worshipers. But there is even more than a parallel; there is a genuine line of inheritance, from Babylon through the Roman Empire to the Roman Church, of many religious elements.
"The mighty Catholic Church was little more than the Roman Empire baptised."—A. C. FLICK, The Rise of the Mediaeval Church (Putnam's, 1909 ed.), p. 148. Cardinal Newman lists many examples of things admittedly "of pagan origin" which that church introduced "in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen"; "the use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison." —J. H. NEWMAN, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1920 ed.), p. 373. (See pages 225, 226.)
The Roman Empire was heir not only to the territories but also to the religions of Greece and the East. Later Roman paganism was orientalized through the adoption of eastern deities, all influenced by astrology and many of them transformed into sun gods, such as, for example, Mithra, who com- bined Persian and Chaldean elements. (See Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans [1912 ed.], pp. 89-91.) "The solar theology of the `Chaldaeans; [that is, of "the Babylonian priests of the Hellenistic age.' and after] had a decisive effect" upon the "final form reached by the religion of the pagan Semites, and, following them, by that of the Romans when Aurelian, the conqueror of Palmyra, had raised Sol invictus [the invincible Sun] to the rank of supreme divinity in the Empire." -The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 11, pp. 643, 646, 647. Used by permis- sion of Cambridge University Press. From Palmyra he transferred to the new sanctuary the images of Helios (the sun) and Bel, the ancient patron god of Babylon. (See Cumont, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism , pp. 114, 115, 124.)
Babylon also contributed "the great and ubiquitous cult" of the virgin mother-goddess (actually more important than the highest gods); Babylonian Ishtar is identified with Astarte, Ashtoreth, Persephone, Artemis (Diana) of Ephesus, Venus, perhaps Isis, and others. (See S. H. Langdon, Semitic Myth- ology [1931 ed.], pp. 12, 13, 19, 20, 24, 32, 34, 108, 344, 368, 369.) This multi- form goddess was called virgin mother (Ibid., pp. 16, 18, 19), merciful mother (p. 111), queen of heaven (p. 25), my lady-compare "Madonna"-or our lady (p. 341), and was often depicted by mother-and-infant images (pp. 34, 111), or as a mater dolorosa interceding with a wrathful god in behalf of her worshiper (pp. 151, 188; see also Encyclopaedia Britannica [1945 ed.], vol. 2, p. 858, art. "Babylonian and Assyrian Religion"). Today many local virgin cults are evidently continuations of those of ancient goddesses. (See Gordon J. Laing, Survivals of Roman Religion [1931 ed.], pp. 92-95, 123, 124, 129-131, 238-241.)
The influence of astrological sun worship can be seen in the idea-if not the mode-of purgatory (Cumont, Astrology and Religion, pp. 190, 191), the adoption of December 25, the birthday of the Invincible Sun, and the Mithraic Sunday, also orientation of church buildings and praying toward the east (Ibid., pp. 161-163; Laing, op. cit., pp. 148-153, 190-193), and even the nimbus which crowns pictured saints (Laing, op. cit., p. 246). (Laing offers other interesting examples of pagan survivals in Catholicism, especially from Isis worship-holy water, votive offerings, elevation of sacred objects, the priest's bell, the decking of images, and possibly tonsure-also processions, festivals, prayers for the dead, saint cults, relics, and so forth.) What actions point to this identification? "With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Verse 2. (See verse 4.)
NOTE.-Ancient Babylonian religion had immoral features, but modern Babylon commits spiritual fornication, polluting the church with false doctrines and pagan practices, and having illicit connection with the secular powers to enforce her teachings; and like her ancient namesake, Roman Babylon has made many nations drink impure wine from her cup.
THE CUP OF CHRIST AND THE CUP OF BABYLON
What cup does Jesus offer in the Lord's supper?
"This cup is the new covenant in My blood." Luke 22:20, R.V.
What is the essential teaching of the new covenant?
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people." Hebrews 8:10.
When Christ thus ministers the law in the heart, what does it become?
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus bath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:2-4.
In what other statement is this same truth expressed?
"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." John 6:63.
What kind of teaching have men substituted for the words which are spirit and life?
"Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. . . . And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." Mark 7:7-9.
NOTE.—There are two cups, the cup of the Lord and the cup of Babylon. The Lord's cup contains the living truth "as the truth is in Jesus"; the cup of Babylon, her false doctrines—her human tradition substituted for the living word and law of God, and her unlawful union with the secular power, upon which she depends to enforce her teachings rather than upon the power of God. Thus, while maintaining a form of godliness, she denies the power thereof. (2 Timothy 3:1-5.)
The Roman Church says of the Bible and tradition, "Though these two divine streams are in themselves, on account of their divine origin, of equal sacredness, and are both full of revealed truths, still, of the two, TRADITION is to us more clear and safe."—JOSEPH FAA DI BRUNO, Catholic Belief (1884 ed.), p. 45.
"2. Scripture and Tradition of Equal Value.—Since the truths contained in Scripture and those handed down by Tradition both come from God, Scripture and Tradition are of equal value as sources of faith. Both deserve the same reverence and respect. Each alone is sufficient to establish a truth of our holy faith."—JOHN LAUX, A Course in Religion for Catholic High Schools and Academies (1936 ed.), vol. 1, p. 50. Imprimatur, Bishop Francis W. Howard, March 25, 1932. Quoted with permission of Benziger Brothers, Inc., proprietors of the copyright.
"4. The Catholic Rule of Faith.—Scripture and Tradition are called the remote rule of faith, because the Catholic does not base his faith directly on these sources. The proximate rule of faith is for him the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which alone has received from God the authority to interpret infallibly the doctrines He has revealed, whether these be contained in Scripture or in Tradition."—Ibid., p. 51.
The substitution of the law of the church for the law of God, thus ful- filling Daniel 7:25, testifies to the complete subordination of the word of God to the authority of the church. The world-wide teaching of these doctrines in place of the pure gospel has led the world astray, and has made all nations drink of the impure wine from her cup. The Reformation of the sixteenth century, denying the supremacy of the church's authority and tradition over the Bible, was an effort to return to the pure truth of God's word.
How do Babylon's daughters show their mother's characteristics?
"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." Revelation 17:5.
NOTE.—The authoritative Creed of Pope Pius IV says in Article 10: "I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church for the mother and mistress of all churches." When professed Protestant churches repudiate the funda- mental principle of Protestantism by accepting human speculation, tradition, or political power, in place of the authority and power of God's word, they may be regarded as daughters of Babylon. Their fall is then included in hers, and calls for a proclamation of the fall of modern Babylon.
Many representatives of modernist Protestantism have, in one way or another, rejected fundamental Bible doctrines such as the fall of man, the Bible doctrine of sin, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the sufficiency of Scripture as a rule of faith and practice; the deity of Christ, His virgin birth, His resurrection, His vicarious expiatory and propitiatory atonement, His second coming to establish the kingdom of God, salvation by grace through faith in Christ, regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit, the efficacy of prayer in the name of Jesus, the ministration of angels, miracles as the direct interposition of God's power. There are many leaders of modern Protestantism who have not adopted the creed of the Roman Church, and have not joined that body, yet who belong to the same class in rejecting God's word for Human authority. There is apostasy in both cases, and both classes must be included in Babylon and be involved, in the final analysis, in her fall— for in the largest sense Babylon embraces all false religion, all apostasy.
To what extent is the apostasy, or fall, of modern Babylon, the mother, and of her daughters, to be carried?
"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 is 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 forni- cation with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies." Revelation 18:1-3.
GOD'S CALL TO COME OUT
What is to be the final fate of modern Babylon?
"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. . . . And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth." Verses 21-24.
What final call to come out of Babylon is to go forth?
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." Verses 4, 5.
What is the song of those who come out of Babylon?
"Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him." Revelation 19:6, 7.