Babylon's Fall Announced

Angels announce the judicial sentence on Babylon and the inhabitants of the earth, but "rest" awaits the followers of the Lamb

Next, “another angel” announces the “fall of Babylon,” and he is followed by “a third angel” who pronounces the judicial sentence on the men who gave their allegiance to the “Beast,” namely, torment by “fire and brimstone.” God is about to vindicate His “martyrs.”

The passage uses Old Testament language from Yahweh’s earlier judgments on Sodom and “Gog and Magog.” In contrast, the priestly company seen standing with the “Lamb” on “Zion” may now look forward to “rest.”

Castle Ruins - Photo by Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash
[By Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash]

The language is figurative. By the late first century, Babylon was no longer a center of regional commerce or political power, and she was no threat to the fledgling churches in the province of Asia.

PRONOUNCEMENT


  • (Revelation 14:8-11) – “And a second angel followed, saying: Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great, who of the wine of the wrath of her fornication has caused all the nations to drink. And another, a third angel, followed them, saying with a loud voice: If anyone renders homage to the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone before holy angels and before the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment is ascending unto ages of ages. And they have no rest day or night, who render homage to the beast and his image, or if anyone receives the mark of his name.”

This is the first explicit mention of “Babylon” in Revelation, but it is not her first appearance.  In the letter to Thyatira, Jesus chastised the congregation for tolerating “That woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and teaches my servants to eat things offered to idols” - (Revelation 2:20-23).

The description of “Jezebel” echoes the portrait of “Mystery Babylon” that John sees later in the wilderness. In her activities, already, “Babylon” is seducing unwary believers in the Asian congregations - (Revelation 17:1-4).

And here, she is called, “Babylon the Great,” a designation found elsewhere in the book.  But she is also called “the great city.” For example, the corpses of the “Two Witnesses” were left lying “in the streets of the GREAT CITY, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt.” And this earlier scene set the stage for applying language from the destruction of Sodom to the destruction of “Babylon the Great” - (Revelation 11:8, 16:19).

And she “caused all the nations to drink the wine of the FURY of her fornication.” The Greek term rendered “fury” is thumos, meaning “passion, fury, anger, fervor” (Strong’s - #G2372). It is a different word than the term commonly rendered “wrath” in Revelation as in the “WRATH of God” or orgé (Strong’s - #G3709 – Revelation 6:16-17).

In the book, thumos or “fury” is applied to “Babylon” and the “Dragon.” For example, the “seven bowls of FURY (thumos)” are poured out on the “inhabitants of the earth” because they are drinking the “wine of her FURY.”

The pronouncement “fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great” alludes to two judicial sentences announced against Ancient Babylon for her idolatry and seduction of the “nations”:

  • (Isaiah 21:8-10)- “When behold, here was a train of men coming. With horsemen in double rank. And one began and said, FALLEN! FALLEN! IS BABYLON, and all the images of her gods are smashed to the ground! O you, My threshing, and the grain of my corn-floor!
  • (Jeremiah 51:6-8) – “Flee out of the midst of Babylon and deliver every man his own life. Be not cut off in her punishment, for it is Yahweh’s time of avenging, a recompense is He repaying to her. A cup of gold was Babylon in the hand of Yahweh, making drunk all the earth, OF HER WINE HAVE THE NATIONS DRUNK. For this cause have the nations been acting as men who are mad. Suddenly, has Babylon fallen and been broken.”

JUDICIAL PUNISHMENT


And the “Beast from the sea” is included in this judicial ruling. “If anyone renders homage to the BEAST… He also will drink of the wine of the fury of God.”

The “Beast” is dependent on “Babylon” for its prosperity and economic control, and for the seduction of the nations. The two entities are inextricably linked. Therefore, men who swear allegiance to the “Beast” will suffer in the punishment of “Babylon.”

The term “mixed unmixed” provides an image of wine that is NOT mixed with water. Normally, in this culture, wine is diluted with water, and undiluted wine has the highest alcohol content.

Thus, the stress on its intoxicating effect. The “wrath of God” is undiluted. His full fury is about to be unleashed against “Babylon.”

He will be tormented with fire and brimstone… And the smoke of their torment ascends unto ages of ages.” The sentence contains allusions to two Old Testament passages announcing judgment on Sodom and “Gog and Magog”:

  • (Genesis 19:24-28) – “And Yahweh rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah BRIMSTONE AND FIRE, from Yahweh out of the heavens: so he overthrew these cities and all the circuit, and all the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the earth… And Abraham got up early to the place where he had stood before Yahweh; and he looked out over the face of Sodom and Gomorrah, and over all the face of the land of the circuit; and beheld, and lo, THE SMOKE OF THE LAND WENT UP LIKE THE SMOKE OF A FURNACE.”
  • (Ezekiel 38:18-23)  “So then shall it come to pass in that day, when Gog enters upon the soil of Israel, Declares My Lord Yahweh, That my fury (THUMOS) shall come up into my nostrils; Yea, in my jealousy, in the fire of mine wrath (ORGÉ), have I spoken… FIRE AND BRIMSTONE will I rain upon him, and upon his hordes, and upon the many peoples who are with him.”

After the “Beast” killed the “Two Witnesses,” their corpses were left unburied on the streets of the “great city, which is called spiritually, Sodom.”

Now, in His righteous indignation, God inflicts the punishment meted out to Ancient Sodom on “Babylon” and the inhabitants of the great city.


Volcano - Photo by Marc Szeglat on Unsplash
[By Marc Szeglat on Unsplash]


The point is not the everlasting “torment” of the wicked, but the contrast between the fates of the wicked and the righteous. The saints who keep the “faith of Jesus” will “rest” from their labors, but the “inhabitants of the earth” will undergo “torment.”

The imagery is drawn from the preceding passages from the Hebrew Bible, now applied to the destruction of end-time “Babylon.” Whether the “inhabitants of the earth” suffer eternal torment in this picture, it is the “smoke of their torment” that ascends forever.

And the image echoes the passage from the concluding section in Isaiah. However, the original verse describes how the surviving remnant of Israel will observe the carcasses of their enemies. In Revelation, this takes place before the “angels and the Lamb” - (Isaiah 66:22-24).

The condemned “have no rest day or night.” They do not experience “rest” due to their “torment.” The narrative continues its comparison between the “inhabitants of the earth” and the men redeemed from the earth by the “Lamb.”

THE SAINTS


  • (Revelation 14:12-13) – “Here is the patience of THE SAINTS, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them.

This verse parallels the earlier descriptions of the “war” against the saints by the “Dragon” and the “Beast from the sea” - (Revelation 12:17, 13:10).

There is no doubt about the identity of the group labeled the “saints.” It is comprised of the faithful followers of Jesus. They are characterized by “perseverance,” a term elsewhere associated with faithful endurance in tribulation.

And perseverance” is a defining characteristic of the “overcoming” saint and the kingdom of God:

  • (Revelation 1:9) – “I John, your brother and partaker with you IN THE TRIBULATION AND KINGDOM AND PERSEVERANCE WHICH ARE IN JESUS, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 2:2-3, 2:19, 3:10).

The term “rest” is most appropriate for the reward of the faithful who have endured the onslaught of the “Dragon,” the “Beast from the sea,” the “False Prophet,” and “Babylon.” This “rest” was introduced earlier in the opening of the “fifth seal” when the martyrs pleaded for vindication “against the inhabitants of the earth” - (Revelation 6:11).

The martyrs were told to wait until the number of “witnesses” of Jesus was full, then all would be vindicated together. The present passage in chapter 14 anticipates that collective reward for all those who have the “testimony of Jesus.”

The final fate of both groups, the followers of the “Lamb” and the “inhabitants of the earth” is about to be unveiled in the visions of the wheat and the grape harvests.



Comments

POPULAR POSTS

Absent Church?

Exaltation of the Lamb