THE vileness of a union of the Christian church with the state, is depicted in chapter seventeen. When the church that was once pure, united with the government of Rome, and was known as the papacy, God called her Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, He showed by the angels who hold the vials of His wrath, that, as loathsome disease is the physical penalty paid for the life of a harlot, so the seven last plagues are the natural results of the spiritual fornication of which the church is guilty when the name Babylon is applicable to her.
This name carries the mind back to the origin of the expression, in the first century this side of the flood. the earth had been depopulated because of the vileness of its inhabitants, and Noah and his sons alone remained alive. Noah was still living when his descendants gathered in the valley of the Euphrates and founded a city. God told them to scatter over the face of the earth, but they congregated in one place.
They began building the tower with the idea of defeating the God of heaven, should He again attempt to destroy man by a flood. The spirit of self-exaltation, born of Lucifer himself, took possession of the men of the valley of the Euphrates, and they openly defied their Maker.
Their iniquity reached unto heaven, and God came down to visit them. His coming brought confusion and consternation; and the languages of men were confounded so that they could not understand one another. Then the name Babel was applied, which means confusion.
But the devil determined not to be defeated in his purpose of exaltation; and surrounding the site of this ancient monument, which never reached completion, he built, sixteen hundred years later, the city of Babylon, which became the capital of the world. This kingdom is used to illustrate the evil of the state church in the end of time. The sins of the ancient city are repeated by the last church, and its overthrow is the object lesson, to the world, of the final destruction of the whole world when Christ comes down, because her iniquity has reached heaven. The figure is followed throughout the eighteenth chapter of Revelation; and by comparing scripture with scripture, the grievous sins of modern Babylon stand out in such awful distinctness that they justify the judgments of God as meted out in the plagues. Such a study opens the mind to the meaning of the cry of the mighty angel, referred to in verses one and two.
The sins of Babylon are almost beyond number; but some are pointed out with distinctness by the spirit of inspiration. God's dwelling place is in the humble, contrite heart; "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit."
Babylon made the boast, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow." God claimed the church as His wife, but she forsook her lawful husband, and played the harlot with the kings of the earth. Then she said boastingly, "I sit a queen." This was literally true of the city of Babylon, which was known as the queen of the earth. But in the same proportion that she had highly exalted herself, so was her fall, when the Lord withdrew His supporting hand. God never intended that the church should have anything to do with governments. His life on earth is a living example of what His followers should do and be. He reigned over a spiritual kingdom, when physically He had not a place to lay His head; He was clothed with the garments of righteousness, spotless and pure, although physically, He had but a travel stained robe; or was clothed by the mocking priests in a cast-off purple garment, and crowned with a crown of thorns. Union with the kings of earth, made it necessary to put on the apparel of the world; for an earthly queen is supposed to dress as royalty dress; and when supported by all the kings of the earth, the wealth at her command was unbounded. What need had she for the spiritual wealth which comes through Christ?
The city of Babylon was called the golden city, "The beauty of the Chaldees' excellency," "the exactress of gold."
She ruled over all the nations. "Wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowl of the heavens hath He given into thine hands." The commerce of the world was controlled by this one power; and the wealth of the East and the West was laid at her feet. She sent ships to the islands for their spices and to the land of Ophir for its gold. The elephants of India and Ceylon yielded their ivory for her palaces and the ships of Tyre brought metals from the mines of Spain and the shores of the Mediterranean. Her lofty structures were built by slaves from captive nations. Her kings, like all Oriental monarchs, were absolute in their authority, and the bodies and souls of men were in bondage to great Babylon.
Her treatment of the Jewish race, who for seventy years were held slaves, was rewarded by the complete downfall of the kingdom. First, it fell into the hands of a stronger power; but the prophecies concerning her downfall depicted complete ruin, and travellers to-day corroborate the words of Isaiah, "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie here; and their houses shall be full of, dolefull creatures; and owls shall dwell there and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged."
This was literally fulfilled in the earthly kingdom, Babylon; and it is placed on record in the inspired Word, that men may there read the result of such principles as were brought into practice in Babylon the Great.
Moreover, to Jeremiah was given a message from God for Babylon, which he wrote out, and sent by the hand of the chief chamberlain of the captive king of Jerusalem as he went into Babylon. This, the chamberlain was bidden to read in a public place; and having read it, he was to tie a stone about the book, and cast it into the river Euphrates, saying, "Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her." Since these things are repeated in the divine description of the woman on the scarlet colored beast, it is evident that every detail preserved in the record of ancient Babylon and its destruction, is to be fulfilled a second time in, and for, modern Babylon, the church that became a whore. So much for the city whose history is so vividly portrayed in the Word.
There is another source of information which shows the repetition of the sins of the city Babylon, as the church entered the Middle Ages.
The Roman See gained power gradually. It was at first a simple church the same as all others, which arose as the result of the preaching of the early apostles. Constantinople was for some time a rival of the rising queen; she, too, was seated upon seven hills; but finally, the rise of Mohammedanism in the East so occupied the eastern division of the empire that Rome was quite unmolested in her ambitious designs. The invasion of the West by the barbarians of the North, extended the power, and increased the wealth and influence of Rome.
There, barbarians, "after being satiated with blood and plunder, lowered their reeking swords before the intellectual power that met them face to face; recently converted to Christianity, ignorant of the spiritual character of the church, and feeling the want of a certain external pomp in religion, they prostrated themselves, half savage and half heathen as they were, at the feet of the high priest of Rome." One by one, the barbarians, ancestors of all the nations of modern Europe, bowed the knee to Rome, and crowned her queen of the earth. From each nation, throughout the period of her supreme rule, she gathered her stores of wealth.
For years England, as a government, paid to Rome a tribute of a thousand marks. Likewise from each country, Rome drew the money which was needed for national defense. The poor were robbed by the payment of penance and the buying of indulgences. During the time of the Crusades, nations arose as a whole people, at the bidding of Rome.
Relics, the bones of saints and martyrs, bits of the cross, the nails, - all such things were exchanged for gold.
The treatment of Columbus by the Spanish government, one of the daughters of Rome, is an illustration of the tyranny exercised over body and mind. Gallileo, who introduced the truth of astronomical discoveries into Italy, incurred the displeasure of Rome, and was pursued by the Inquisition. Later, after the supremacy of Rome was broken, and the queen sat a widow, her children carried out the same principles. England had not lost the spirit when she taxed her colonies, and impressed their seamen. France has never fully recovered; for she still bears arbitrary rule over her possessions. Italy, once a wealthy kingdom, was drained of its wealth by the papacy. Examples might be multiplied without number. It is enough to say that nations have been oppressed. The pagan Roman Empire was lordly and dictatorial; but oppression before the days of the papacy, sank into insignificance, when compared with the tyranny of the woman clad in purple and scarlet, seated upon the scarlet colored beast. Claiming to be the vicegerent of God on earth, Rome held souls in her grasp, and assigned them at will, to heaven or hell, or demanded the payment of any price for their release from purgatory.
The messages sent to Babylon, the city, concerning its overthrow, were repeated to Rome in the person of the martyrs. Wycliffe, Huss, Jerome, Luther, Melanchthon, -- these and hundreds of others, God used as a mouthpiece to proclaim the impending fall of Rome. But so self-confident was the queen that she said, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
"Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground. ... Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance. ... Thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms."
The wounding of the head of the beast in 1798, the beginning of the time of the end, dethroned the woman for a time, but she was the mother of harlots, and the education, as well as the hereditary tendencies of her children, has enabled them although in many ways restricted, to continue the practices of the mother. To each of the kingdoms of Europe, the Reformation came as a light and deliverance; but to-day, without exception, those nations are returning their allegiance to the dethroned queen, who only waits the opportune moment to resume her seat and her crown.
The hatred which Europe once manifested toward the central ecclesiastical power is fast disappearing; and before the outpouring of the plagues, there will be general agreement to exalt Rome. Rome to-day stands as the arbiter of nations. She is regaining her crown by the same method by which she at first received it.
One nation after another bows before her throne, and recognizes the woman's right to ride the beast. The wealth of all nations is about to be given into her hands.
In the United States, the formation of the image to the beast, will place the unbounded resources of this country in the hands of the same power. Protestantism repudiates its fundamental principles, the complete separation of church and state, and performs the works of the beast. Society, once democratic throughout, is gradually revolutionized in the formation of the image; as it was done in the growth of the beast. The distinction between the rich and the poor, becomes more marked; the corporations and trusts control the money, the produce, and the laboring classes. Democracy gives way to a king, -- the coal king, the oil king, or the money king. A few men dictate to the masses. The independence once gained by war, is lost in America, as in Europe, through false methods of education.
The Protestant churches, once simple in habits and customs, now bid for the most popular minister, pay high prices for pews, listen to paid singers, who know nothing of the power of soul music; and the sermons to which the wealthy listen, are such as will please the ear, but do not convert the heart.
God has sent message after message to save the world. Such are the messages of the three angels of Rev. 14:6-12. The first one was rejected; and the second angel proclaimed the fall of Babylon. The spirit of discernment is lost, and that which came from God, is passed by unheeded.
Babylon, devoid of the Spirit which controlled and kept vice in check, becomes as the house which was empty, swept, and garnished. It becomes "the habitation of devils, the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird," and the condition of Babylon in the last days is worse than in former times.
Saul, when he could receive no word from the Lord, because he had hitherto rejected divine counsel, sought out a witch, and consulted the spirit of devils. The end of Saul was death by suicide. The churches that reject the message of the judgment and the Saviour's second coming, reject the Spirit of God, and are given over to the control of evil spirits, a miracle working power, which binds men by supernatural manifestations until they are prepared to receive Satan himself, who comes in the name of the Lord.
As Babylon the city, became the home of the Bittern and the owl, birds of prey, so Babylon the church, takes the spirit of the carrion birds, and watches to destroy souls. What Rome of the Middle Ages accomplished under the cover of darkness, modern Babylon will repeat in the full blaze of intellectual life. The third angel's message offers life to those who are bound by the fetters of false doctrines, and warns them against the beast and his image.
God's judgment waits until the last end of time, -- until there is no longer any who will repent. Before the close of probation, an angel is seen to come down from heaven, and join the third angel. Together, their glory enlightens the world. This is the loud cry. Men acknowledge the sins of Babylon, and some even of the kings of the earth repent.
The loud cry will reach the corners of the earth; thousands will be converted in a day, as they were in the days of Pentecost. As the oppressions of Babylon become more galling, most fervent prayers will be offered for release. The Jews in ancient Babylon near the close of the seventy years' captivity, symbolized the people of God in modern Babylon as the time of the plagues draws near. As Daniel prayed with fasting and heart searching, that he might know the time of deliverance, and that no sins might be left on the books against Israel, so the people of God will plead in these last days. The prayers that Daniel offered, will be answered more fully in the end of time than it was possible for them to be answered in the days of his natural life. The prayer which Moses offered when Israel sinned, and he, their leader, pleaded for their forgiveness, was partially answered then. The Lord said, "I have pardoned according to thy word: but as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." Moses waits over three thousand years for the answer to that prayer. From his dwelling place in heaven, he will see the answer in the loud cry of the third angel's message. Other prayers long delayed will then be answered. These requests have been bottled in heaven and when Satan manifests his greatest power, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached with a spirit which enlightens the world. Time is about to close, and the vials of sweet odors held by the four living creatures about the throne, will be emptied before the sanctuary work closes.
There will be a voice heard 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." As the angels took Lot by the hands, and hurried him out of Sodom, bidding him not to look back, so angels will hurry the sincere and true-hearted out of Babylon, for her destruction cometh like the burning of Sodom.
This message from God, the Great Shepherd, comes from heaven, and souls respond. To the Jews in Babylon, the same call was given and those who were true to Jehovah, fled to the mountains, that they might not be partakers of her impending destruction. Some had lived so long in the city, that they hesitated about leaving. Lot had sons and daughters who would not leave Sodom; and the family ties were so strong that Lot's wife, the mother, turned to look back, and destruction overtook her. The loud cry will cause many a heartache; will lead to the severance of many a fond tie. Husbands will have to decide whether they will cling to their families, and remain in spiritual Sodom, or whether they will heed the voice from heaven. Mothers will have the same decision to make. This is the time when Christ says, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
While the work of separation is going on, the power of the beast and his image, grows more intolerable. The believers are obliged to seek shelter in rocks and caves of the mountains.
Some will be thrown into prison. Then the plagues begin to fall. "How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her. ... Therefore shall her plagues come in one day (or one year), death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire."
During this time of trouble, many who rejected the messages when they were given remember the call of God, and when it is too late, seek to recall His messengers. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it."
There is no word of God in Babylon; for she is the one who exalted self above Jehovah, who caused the two witnesses to prophesy in sackcloth for forty and two months, and who thought to change the eternal times and laws of the universe. "And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth." Those who love the Word of God have withdrawn from her midst, and during the time of trouble, are hidden from the wrath of man and the fury of the plagues. As probation has closed, "the light of a candle shall shine no more at all" in Babylon. The voice of joy is turned to mourning; the social gatherings and the marriage feasts no longer offer any attraction; merchants and the great men of earth fail because of the destruction of great Babylon. The earth is literally turned upside down, and it reels to and fro like a drunken man; for great Babylon has come in remembrance before God.
Her iniquities have reached unto heaven, and God comes down to reward her double according to her works.
As the ancient city of Babylon was overthrown because she forsook the way of life, so modern Babylon dies. None need partake of her plagues; for all had an opportunity to separate from her midst. God is to-day making up His spiritual kingdom. His subjects are on the earth, and by the strong magnet of His love He is drawing to Himself all who prefer a spiritual life to one of earth.
The story of Babylon the city, and again of Babylon the church, is the picture divinely given of a worldly life under the dominion of the power of the prince of this world. The little church, hidden from trouble during these last days, may seem to have lost much by following the Man of Nazareth; but their love of truth links their hearts with God, and they taste the joys of an endless life. The great controversy still continues; it ends in the overthrow of Babylon, the mother of harlots, and the confusion of Babel is replaced by the divine harmony, which, for six thousand years, has been marred by sin.
Page 300; Isa. 1:21; Isa. 1:6; 2Pet. 3:5, 6; Gen. 7:1 Gen. 9:28.
Page 301; Gen. 11:4; Gen. 9:1; ORIGIN OF THE NATIONS; Gen. 10:5; Gen. 10:20; Gen. 10:31, 32; Rev. 14:8; Isa. 21:9, 10;Rev. 18:1-3.
Page 302; Isa. 47:7-9; Zeph. 2:15; Hos. 2:19, 20; Rev. 18:4-10.
Page 303; Luke 4:6; Isa. 14:4; Rev. 18:11-18.
Page 304; Jer. 51:43, 44; Jer. 50:39; Jer. 51:49, 58; Jer. 51:59-64; Jer. 50:40.
Page 305; Rom. 1:7, 8; Amos 2:4; Isa. 59:6, 7; Isa. 65:6, 7; Isa. 59:15; Rev. 17:18; Hos. 6:9.
Page 306; Hab. 2:19; Lam. 4:1-6; 1Kings 12:14; PROPHECY OF HUSS; John Huss did more: prophetic words resounded from the depths of his dungeon. He foresaw that a real reformation of the Church was at hand. When driven from Prague, and compelled to wander in the fields of Bohemia, where he was followed by an immense crowd eager to catch his words, he exclaimed: "The wicked have begun by laying treacherous snares for the goose. (The word Huss in Bohemian signifying goose.) But if even the goose, which is only a domestic fowl, a tame creature, and unable to rise high in the air, has yet broken their snares, other birds, whose flight carries them boldly toward heaven, will break them with much more power. Instead of a feeble goose, the truth will send forth eagles and keen-eyed falcons." The reformers fulfilled this prediction. -- Daubigne's History.
Page 307; Rev. 13:10; Jer. 51:9; Jer. 50:11-13.
Page 308; Matt. 22:21; Isa. 5:8; Micah 2:2; Isa. 5:20; 2Tim. 4:3, 4; Isa. 30:10, 11; Jer. 7:25.
Page 309; Matt. 12:43-45; Jer. 51:37; 1Chron. 10:13; 1Tim. 4:1; Jer. 50:39; Eccl. 1:9; Jer. 51:6; Jer. 16:16.
Page 310; Acts 2:17; Isa. 24:14-16; Dan. 9:2, 3; Rev. 8:3, 4; Num. 14:20, 21; 2Chron. 30:27; Jude 9; Rev. 14:9; Psa. 56:8; Rev. 5:8; Phil. 4:17, 18; Rev. 18:4.
Page 311; Isa. 52:11; Jer. 51:6; Gen. 19:16, 17; Luke 17:29, 30; Gen. 18:1214; Matt. 24:40, 41; Luke 17:34-36; Matt. 10:37; Isa. 33:16; Eze. 7:15.
Page 312; Eze. 7:16; Luke 21:12, 16-18; Rev. 18:7, 8; Rev. 18:19-24; Rev. 18:24; Matt. 23:34, 35; Psa. 83:2-5.
Page 313; Isa. 24:1; Isa. 24:17-21; 2Cor. 6:17, 18; Phil.3:8.