The Fall of 'Babylon'
This scene is the third in Revelation chapter 14, encouraging the church when it seems most despised. After the angel announced that the gospel is still the good news of salvation for all (Revelation 14:6-7), another angel announced the total downfall of Babylon. This verse anticipates the detailed vision of Babylon's character and fate in Revelation 18:1-24. Babylon the Great is symbolic of worldly power systems. The physical city first appears in the Bible after the flood, in Genesis 10:10. Later, the Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar threatened Israel and eventually God's people were deported there (2 Kings 24:15-16) for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11).
Babylon became synonymous with human pride and arrogant militarism with no fear of God. Peter uses 'Babylon' when writing about Rome (1 Peter 5:13) because the Roman Empire also exhibited those characteristics. But in Revelation it is a supra-national system of power, established by the beast (the Antichrist of Revelation 13:1-8) and second beast (the false prophet of Revelation 13:11-15), as inspired by Satan (the dragon of Revelation 12:3-4). Its ambition, to be a global power greater than God, is like those who wanted to build the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:3-4); but God put a stop to that (Genesis 11:5-9) and will devastate the apocalyptic 'Babylon' too.
The reason for Babylon's defeat is not that this super-power has humiliated nations; they have actively collaborated with the Antichrist and false prophet. Babylon's notable sin is to establish a new morality which contradicts God's creation order and His commandments which regulate relationships. Although that will initially bring heady delights for many, its end will deconstruct normal society - bringing chaos and personal confusion as experienced by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:29-33). Such a culture can only be controlled by oppressive totalitarian rule. But God will bring it to nothing in the end, and place everything under Jesus Christ's control (1 Corinthians 15:25-27).
Today's verse echoes Jeremiah 25:15-16. God's wrath is revealed when He removes moral restraint, allowing the consequences of ungodly value-systems to impact society (Romans 1:18-20; 28-32). The church should not be surprised when the world moves the moral goalposts, loving what God hates and hating what He loves. It is all part of Satan's strategy to destabilise the world and undermine the church. Our task is to remain faithful to God's Word, refusing to tolerate what God hates (Revelation 2:14-16), and trusting the Lord to bring all things under His control. For that Day we wait patiently (Romans 8:22-25) and continue to announce that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:12-16).
© Dr Paul Adams