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Chapter 5
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 51:8).

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 Babylon.

Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand (Daniel 5:1).

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 fornication!

Notice,

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 clearly stated.

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. (Ephesians 5:25-27).

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 Him.

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 heavily.

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 (Revelation 18:1-5).

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 14:12).

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 enforcement.

 


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