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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE DOOM OF BABYLON IS REPEATED

Rev 18:1-3 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 after these things, that is, after the symbolic judgment pronounced against the great whore, or harlot, which was described in the previous chapter, another angel ...from heaven appeared to the apostle John. In the previous chapter, she was also symbolically compared to, and described as, the ancient city of Babylon. So described, she was indeed papal Rome having political and religious control of the greater portion the European populations for over one thousand years. There, we were told, in symbolic form, that those allied with her would ultimately rebel against her authority, and ultimately become the enemies that would result in her overthrow and destruction.

This same analogy, as described by this angelic messenger of God, is carried over into this chapter. Here the imagery of the destruction of Babylon is used to symbolically describe the demise of Rome, the spiritual counterpart of ancient Babylon. The angel delivering this message to the apostle John was sent, having great power, meaning with the authority, and the omnipotent power of God, which was demonstrated by the earth being illuminated with the heavenly magnificence of his glory.

The message from God, delivered by this angel, came forth with a strong and mighty voice. The symbolic message was, Babylon the great is fallen. Having been originally described, established, and foretold in Revelation 16:19 and 17:16, the fall of Rome is further assuredly predicted in chapter 18 with this angelic statement. Although prophetically stated previously, the state of degradation that would exist at the time of its downfall is indicated in the lesson text - it is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. The apostate nature of Rome's corrupted, man-made religion was an abode of Satan and his emissaries. It was also the hold of every foul spirit, that is, a prison guarded by those having their character determined by the lowest possible ethical and spiritual standards. The hold, or prison, is also symbolically a (bird) cage,filled with physical hate and spiritual uncleanness. In order to gain the full meaning of this analogy, we must not consider the physical city of Rome as the focus of this degradation and destruction, but that which it symbolized - the Roman Catholic religion and its ruling papacy, which was established, and headquartered in that city. And like ancient Babylon, this erring, apostate religious order, having abandoned the New Testament gospel of Christ, was destined to be exposed, and destroyed, by the mighty hand of God.

And why was the destruction of this religious order so assured by God? It was because of the sinful manner it had beguiled, and misled, people of the world, who were earnestly seeking the bliss of eternal life, which had been promised by God from the beginning of time. Instead of leading men and women of the world down the strait and narrow pathway to heaven, the apostate religious order of Rome led them down the wide highway of sin to eternal destruction. Indeed, they had drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and were seduced by her beguiling ways into a polluted sea of worldliness and sin. Not only were the common, ordinary men and women of the world seduced by the self-righteous wiles of the Satan-inspired apostate Roman church leaders, but also the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her. Certainly spiritual, rather than physical fornication is meant in this phrase.

Continuing this verse, John writes that even the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. Historians confirm the great wealth of the Roman Catholic papacy was accumulated through political bribery, indulgences, and many other sources of exacting monies from their followers. And where there is abundant wealth, such as this, tradesmen thrive on merchandising all manner of wares that supported the opulently rich Roman society, similar to the tradesmen that thrive in pagan, idolatrous societies.