The Wine of Babylonís Fornication
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).
This is to many, one of the most puzzling
texts of Scripture. It is remarkable that a message concerning Babylon
should be proclaimed in Godís last and greatest message of love to the
world. After all Babylon was utterly destroyed, never to rise again,
2,500 years ago. The fall of Babylon is hardly the latest news. And then
we are confounded by the wine of the wrath of Babylonís fornication.
What could that possibly be?
Many earnest Bible students give up in despair and
move to other areas of Scripture. But we need not react in such a
fashion. The Bible is its own interpreter and thus divine understanding
may be sought.
The serious searcher for truth is provided with two
substantial clues to the unraveling of this apparently incomprehensible
verse of Scripture. It is these clues which lead us to a clear and
positive understanding of this verse. We discover a number of prophecies
which foretold the fall of the literal Babylonian Empire 2,500 years
ago. Two of these attract our attention. The first, "Babylon is
fallen, is fallen" (Isaiah 20:9), contains precisely the same words
as found in the second angelís message which prophecies the
destruction of spiritual Babylon.
Further, the wine of Babylonís fornication was also
found in literal Babylon.
Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lordís
hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her
wine; therefore the nations are mad (Jeremiah 51:7).
Also notice the following verse,
Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed (Jeremiah
Since the cardinal elements of the second angelís
message are found in prophecies relating to the fall of literal Babylon,
wisdom dictates that we direct our attention to that fall in order to
unravel the apparent mystery of the second angelís message. In this
search we are fortunate to discover that God has provided an entire
chapter of the Bible in which the last few hours of the kingdom of
Babylon are described.
Let us examine the train of events in place just a
few hours before Darius, leading the Medo-Persian armies, destroyed
Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a
thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand (Daniel
The king and his lords were attending a great feast.
Indeed it was a drunken orgy. It will be observed that the focus of that
feast was wine ó the wine of the wrath of Babylonís
Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to
bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar
had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and
his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then
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 5:2 Ė 4).
Here is carefully described the wine of the wrath of
Babylonís fornication. This blasphemous King Belshazzar, not content
to besottle his mind with wine alone, deigned to bring the sacred
vessels plundered from the temple of God and use them as receptacles for
the wine. These vessels had been solemnly dedicated to a high and holy
function. Some were receptacles for the blood of the sacrifice which
represented the pure and sinless life of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus
Christ. Other vessels held the drink offerings of unfermented wine ó
the pure juice of the grape which also represented Christís pure spilt
blood offered for our sins on Calvary. No alcohol was permitted in these
offerings, for fermentation was a symbol of sin. Such an offering would
have defiled the sacred services of the temple.
But this profligate king had placed the symbol of
sin, alcoholic wine, within the sacred vessels, in which such wine had
no place whatsoever. Those today who utilize alcoholic wine in the
communion service should reflect that they are following the example of
that Babylonian potentate. God could not longer permit such open
defiance and the purposeful desecration of the sacred symbolism of
Christís redeeming sacrifice.
In placing in the sacred vessels the symbol of sin
(alcoholic wine ó the wine of the wrath of Babylonís fornication),
King Belshazzar had united truth with error, the religion of God with
the paganism of Satan, the sacred with the profane. Belshazzar had
doomed his kingdom. Furthermore, in offering this unholy admixture of
truth and error as worship to the Babylonian idols, the king defined the
religion of Babylon ó the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
While the empire and city of Babylon were destroyed
in 539 B.C., its religious principles have pervaded the world ever
since, first in Euro-Asian paganism and later, by infiltration, into
Christianity. Even many Protestants, today, follow many of the
non-Scriptural pagan practices such as Sunday worship, infant baptism, a
belief in the immortality of the soul and that at death one either is
awarded everlasting life or everlasting torment, as well as the concept
of original sin together with other pagan beliefs which now pervade the
Christian faith. What a warning Godís announcement that Babylon is
fallen is to each of us! In these last days of earthís history our God
is calling us to forsake any religion which unites Godís faith with
paganism, truth with error, and the sacred with the profane. His call is
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such
things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without
spot, and blameless (2 Peter 3:14).
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also
loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and
cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might
present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle,
or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Today men may rationalize their effort to worship God
in a religion which couples Christís truth with Satanic paganism; they
may even rejoice in it. But the second angelís message is the
handwriting on the wall for those who initiate the religion of Babylon.
When that handwriting is seen and clearly understood there will be no
rejoicing nor charismatic revelry. As Belshazzar was aroused from his
drunkenness, so too will we be aroused from our spiritual blindness.
In the same hour came forth fingers of a manís
hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the
wall of the kingís palace: and the king saw the part of the hand
that wrote. Then the kingís countenance was changed, and his
thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed,
and his knees smote one against another (Daniel 5: 5,6).
The prophet Daniel plainly declared the meaning of
the handwriting which was upon the wall.
And this is the writing that was written, MENE,
MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE;
God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art
weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is
divided, and given to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:25-28).
Weighed in the balances and found wanting? Why did
God use such terminology? God has called for a pure people, men and
women who will serve Him with the whole heart. For the unconverted mind
such a standard was unpalatable. These individuals still desired heaven.
They wished the assurance of salvation without the need to prepare to
live with the high and holy beings of heaven. They found men who
examined the desires of their own unconverted hearts rather than God,
who set themselves up as possessors of spiritual knowledge, who provided
men and women with the assurance they desired.
The people had descended from Noah. The events of the
worldwide Flood were a testimony to the fact that God would not forever
tolerate sin in the lives of infidels and professing followers of God.
Yet, once more, they followed the perilous course of uniting sin with
righteousness, salving their consciences with the belief that a loving
God would accept them in their sin so long as they professed to follow
In Babylon the concept was accepted that one did not
need to live a pure and holy life in the power of God. The priests of
Babylon asserted that men and women could achieve salvation so long as
there was more good in their lives than evil. This calmed the
consciences of some, but not all. As men reached old age or felt they
were suffering a terminal illness, the touted assurance of the
Babylonian theory of salvation often dissipated, for these individuals
possessed no way of measuring their good deeds or their evil deeds.
In despair, they sought the judgment of the
Babylonian priests. Naturally, the priests requested them to relate
their major good deeds and their salient evil deeds, and then made a
human judgment of whether these poor individuals had performed more good
or bad deeds in their lives. This process became known as weighing in
the balances. If the priest evaluated that the individual was weighing
heavily on the side of good, then salvation was assured. If it was
judged that he was weighing heavily on the side of evil, then he was
doomed to eternal damnation.
Not surprisingly, the latter individuals beseeched
the priests in order to learn how they could redress the balance.
Logically the priest stated that a "heavy" good deed or deeds
were required before the hypothetical balance would weigh heavily on the
side of good and salvation be assured. The priests were not lost for
suggestions. If a temple was under construction, a sizeable donation to
assist in this project was suggested as possessing the required weight
to redress the balance. Soon the wily Babylonian priests recognized the
economic value in weighing all the good deeds lightly and the evil deeds
Thus paganism commenced the practice of the
confession of oneís sin to a priest and the so called sacrament of
penance, two further pagan concepts which have entered the Christian
church from paganism. God, recognizing the nature of King Belshazzarís
religion, used terminology which he would pointedly understand ó
"Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting." For him
there remained no great good deed by which he could reverse the balance.
He was lost and lost eternally. Scripture records no last-minute
confession and no return to the religion of Jehovah which his
grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar, had accepted at the end of his life
and which Belshazzar well knew. After relating Godís grace extended to
Nebuchnezzar, Daniel sternly told his grandson (spoken of here in the
ancestral sense as his son, just as Christ was called the son of David),
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled
thine heart, though thou knewest all this (Daniel 5:22).
Thus the second angelís message calls men and women
who love the Lord to depart from a faith which unites Christianity with
paganism. Indeed He is now pleading for all to come out of such faiths.
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
fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich
through the abundance of her delicacies. 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
These are impelling words.
Earlier we demonstrated that the first angelís
message was a call to accept the seal of the living God, for it contains
His name ("God"), His authority ("made" ó the
Creator), and His dominion ("heaven, and earth, and the sea, and
the fountains of waters"). The third angelís message is a plea to
reject Satanís seal ó the mark of the beast. The centrality of the
second angelís message is, indeed, properly placed. Our eternal
destinies will rest upon the issue of our relationship to the religion
of Babylon. If we accept that religion we will receive Satanís seal,
the mark of the beast, his character in our lives externally evidenced
by breaking the seventh-day Sabbath commandment and accepting the
counterfeit Sabbath of Sunday.
Those who reject the religion of Babylon will permit
the Holy Spirit to mold their characters so that they possess the
character of Jesus. They will thus receive the seal of the living God
which is evidenced externally by holy Sabbath observance. It is little
wonder that the three angelsí messages, Godís last call to mankind,
are concluded by the words,
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they
that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Revelation
Today Godís call is for us to seek His seal, to yield to Him so
that by His grace, salvation may be ours. His plea is for us to desist
from all improper practices and eschew pagan doctrinal concepts and to
worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Such will not yield to
the Popeís call for Sunday observance and will resist Sunday