"Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. Jeremiah 51:8.
"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.
"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." Revelation 18:2, 3.
Light is progressive (Proverbs 4:18), and just as we see some diversity in literal Babylon in the Old Testament and symbolic Babylon in the New Testament, it can be shown that the conditions of "being in Babylon" and being "Babylon" which "is fallen" are different. Recovery is possible when in captivity to Babylon, but once the "fallen" condition is reached, judgment is pronounced: "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting." Dan. 5:27. We begin our development with background laid by the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, under the heading "BABYLON, SYMBOLIC."
"...Adultery is a common OT metaphor for apostate religion.... The revelator declares that Babylon has "fallen" (Rev 14:8; 18:2), has seduced "the kings of the earth" to commit fornication with her (ch 17:2), has enticed 'the inhabitants of the earth' to become 'drunk with the wine of her fornication' (chs 17:2; 19:2), and has deceived the nations with her 'sorceries' (ch 18:23). He represents her as 'drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus' (chs 17:5, 6; 18:24; 19:2). He sees her 'sins' as consisting of pride and arrogance (chs 17:4; 18:7, 16), defiance of God, and the persecution of His people on earth (cf. chs 16:19; 17:6; 18:24), and an illicit alliance with the political powers of earth (chs 17:2,3; 18:9). He notes that 'her sins' eventually reach 'unto heaven,' and the time comes for God to judge her (chs 16:19; 18:5,6; 19:2). God therefore summons His people to leave Babylon, in order to avoid complicity in her 'sins,' and the 'plagues' He is about to visit upon her (ch 18:4)....
"Babylon is 'a name of mystery' (ch 17:5, RSV), that is, a figurative or cryptic title; hence the often-used designation, 'mystical Babylon.' This symbolic name connotes the historical fact that in OT times literal Babylon was the archfoe of God's covenant people. Mystical Babylon is to be understood in terms of the role played by its historical counterpart in OT times.... The Babylonian name Bab-ilu (Babel or Babylon) meant 'gate of god.' In ancient times the city gate was the place where official visitors conducted public business. The name Bab-ilu reflected the belief that Babylon was the place selected by the gods to meet with men, and the claim of Babylonian kings that the gods had commissioned them to rule the world. In Hebrew, Bab-ilu was disparagingly associated with the word balal, 'to confuse' --a reminder that God had confused the speech of the Babel builders (Gen 11:9).
"From the time of its founding by Nimrod (Gen 10:9, 10; 11:1-9), Babylon was characterized by disbelief in the true God and defiance of His will. Its tower was a monument to apostasy, and a citadel of rebellion against Him. Isaiah identifies Lucifer as king of Babylon (Is 14:4, 12-14), and implies that Satan made Babylon the center and agent of his master plan to secure control of the human race, even as God purposed to work through Jerusalem to accomplish His plan for this world....
"As early as the first century A.D., Christians were referring to Rome by the cryptic title Babylon (see 1 Pe 5:13)....
"...Joachim of Floris (d. 1202), was among the first to include the Roman Church under the term 'Babylon'.... This identification came to be widespread among Protestants.
"William Miller identified mystical Babylon with 'Rome under papal rule'.... When the Protestant churches rejected the message of Christ's soon coming, Adventists began to include them under the term 'Babylon,' along with papal Rome, and interpreted the fall of Babylon to be these churches' rejection of that message....
"In 1851, James White wrote: 'The woman, which is the great city, called Babylon, symbolizes the fallen apostate churches'.... J. N. Andrews similarly defined Babylon as being 'all the corrupt religious bodies which ever have existed, or which exist at the present time, united to the world, and sustained by the civil power,' including 'the corrupt Jewish Church,' 'the corrupt Papal and Greek churches,' that 'imitate the Romish church'....
"SDA interpretation today .... The fall is understood to be progressive; it is not yet complete, but it will be so when the major Protestant churches collaborate with the Church of Rome in an attempt to coerce the conscience (Rev 13)...."
Another important characteristic of Babylon is described in Our Firm Foundation, April 1987; "BABYLON IS FALLEN", p. 20.
"The doctrinal premise of the Babylonian faith was that salvation could be assured to men and women who were uncleansed from sin. From this promise made by Satan stemmed the idolatry so characteristic of the heathen nations."
And on the same page, the authors note:
"We can never fulfill God's will in proclaiming the fall of Babylon while we fraternize with church organizations which are part of Babylon."
On page 21 the following paragraph is worth quoting:
"Just as the fall of literal Babylon led to its eventual overthrow and obliteration as a nation, so the fall of its spiritual successor will lead to its destruction. The tragic end of false Christianity along with all other false religions, testifies to God's requirement of purity of faith...."
From Satan's Babylonish rebellion in Heaven to modern Babylon's attempt to bolster its self-image, the pride and self-exaltation of the usurper has been at the root of each successive attempt to make oneself "like the Most High." For example, the sons of Ham and Nimrod decided to undertake a work that would insure their own salvation. They sought to build a mighty tower that would save them from the destructive power of any flood that Jehovah might bring upon them.
"And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." Gen. 11:4.
Notice what their fear was: "...lest we be scattered abroad..." What ultimately happened? Let us read verse 8: "So [YAH] scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth...." Could they save themselves? Of course not, and the very thing they feared came upon them (see Job 3:25). They thought to build a tower that would reach to heaven, and then they would become the gatekeepers of heaven for all the rest of the world. That is what the name they gave their tower signified. What they named the gate to heaven God rightly named Babel, or "confusion." Hence, what they called the gate to heaven, God shows to be the entrance to perdition. Babylon's dogma of self-salvation was in itself confusion. It was opposed to God and His truth; it was another system designed to supplant the true worship of YAH.
Literal Babylon of old was overthrown under the direct judgment of God; but before this, the call went forth to God's people: "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and save every man his life; be not cut off in her iniquity: for it is the time of Jehovah's vengeance; He will render unto her a recompense." Jer. 51:6. Babylon went down but the principles of Babylon's religion persisted in the nations she had taught, even in the nations that overthrew her. Every false religion of earth has been founded upon that Babel principle of self-righteousness and self-salvation.
The end of Babylon's long history begins with the call of the mighty angel of Revelation 18, and the judgment of the living as announced by the first angel of Revelation 14. Her moral fall is progressive and there must be an "abomination of desolation" seen to warn the inhabitants to flee the impending destruction. Adventists have long understood that the "loud cry" of the Revelation 18 angel is in response to the activity of the "lamb-like beast" in setting up the "image of the [papal] beast" in Revelation 13. Once apostate Protestantism joins with the U. S. Federal government in an attempt to limit religious liberty, the "abomination of desolation" or "image to the beast" is in place. This fulfillment of prophecy, in turn, calls for the "loud cry of the third angel" of Revelation 14, which warns the people against the worship of the beast and his image-- calling all faithful worshipers out of the fallen churches (Babylon fallen). This call is especially directed to the constituency of those bodies responsible for the union of church and state and persecution of God's people. Modern Babylon is made up of bodies which were "once pure and have become corrupt." GC, 383. Ellen White says, "The eighteenth chapter of Revelation speaks of mystic Babylon, fallen from her high estate to become a persecuting power. Those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus are the object of the wrath of this power [Rev. 18:1-8 quoted]...." 7BC, 980.
What do other "church fathers" write regarding the characteristic which easily discriminates "Babylonian captivity" or "being in Babylon" from being in the "Babylon fallen" condition.?
"When a church in alliance with the state employs the secular power to enforce its doctrines by punishing heretics, it repudiates the essential idea of Christianity."
W. W. Prescott, 1915.
"...whenever the church forms any connection with any State or kingdom on the earth, in the very doing of it she rejects God." A. T. Jones.
"It has ever been true that a backslidden body-- one that has turned from God's word to men, from God's power to the state-- was never reformed in itself. Invariably God's message has called out those from the fallen church who would do His will and preach His gospel." International Sabbath School Quarterly, 1896.
"None but a fallen church will call for the civil power to enforce a tradition upon observers of God's word." G. I. Butler, 1891.
"The utter corruption of Babylon is accomplished by her alliance with the State-- her descent into the arena of politics." L. A. Smith, 1901.
As a cap-stone source from "historical Adventism" we choose to cite the International Sabbath School Quarterly, Feb. 29, 1896:
"When the early church departed from God and imbibed pagan errors, she became Babylon. When she united with the state, she fell, and, as an organization, was the body of Christ no longer."
Taking our development a step further, we may use the Jewish Church as a pattern, tracing the progression of her fall.
"It was by departure from the LORD, and alliance with the heathen that the Jewish church became a harlot." The Great Controversy, page 382.
"We found there that [the Jewish Church] turned its back upon God, and joined itself to Caesar, in order to put Christ out of the way, and to execute their mind concerning Him. Then the LORD called out of that church and nation all who would obey Him, and who would serve Him, before the nation was destroyed, and He did that work by those few disciples that believed in Jesus when He ascended to heaven." A. T. Jones, 1893 General Conference Bulletin, page 51.
"When they said ['We have no king but Caesar.'], they unchurched themselves." MR 999-4 (EGW).
History records that the Jewish Church apostatized from their rightful Husband. In this state they were captivated by Babylon, and in a condition called Babylon or "confusion." Once they chose Caesar as their "unlawful husband" instead of Christ, they were "Babylon fallen," and following a short period of extended mercy, they were "found wanting" and "without remedy." Thus it will be for any professed church. The progressive steps may be listed as 1) apostasy, 2) unholy union with civil power , 3) the exercise of civil power to persecute , and 4) probation closes and judgment is pronounced.
The end of Babylon's history is the end of the history of all sin and all confusion in the universe of God. It is no wonder that the heavens and the earth are called upon to celebrate that grand consummation. "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets; for God hath judged your judgment on her." Rev. 18:20. The close of that history is near at hand; the call to come out of her is now ringing through the earth. The tragedy of sin closes when the result of Babylon's operations are wiped out in the triumph of the work of Christ. "Come out of her My people," is the message to you, Dear Reader.
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