Fall of Babylon Announced

Angels announce the judicial sentence of God on “Babylon” and the “inhabitants of the earth,” but “rest” awaits the faithful followers of Jesus Revelation 14:8-12

Castle Ruins - Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash
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another angel” announced the “fall of Babylon.” He was followed by “a third angel” who then pronounced the judicial sentence on the men who gave their allegiance to the “beast from the sea,” torment by “fire and brimstone.” The passage uses Old Testament language from judicial pronouncements on Sodom and “Gog and Magog.” In contrast, the “saints” look forward to “rest.” - [Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash].

The language is figurative. By the first century, Babylon was no longer a center of regional commerce or political power, and she was no threat to the fledgling churches of Asia.
  • (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. I gave her time to repent, but she would not repent of her fornication” - (Revelation 2:20-23).
The language echoes the later description of “Mystery Babylon” that John saw in the wilderness. In the activities of “Jezebel,” already “Babylon” is seducing unwary believers within the church - (Revelation 17:1-4).

Here, she is called, “Babylon the Great,” a designation found elsewhere in the book.  But she is also called “the great city.” Thus, the corpses of the “two witnesses” were lying “in the streets of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt.” That earlier scene set the stage for applying language from the destruction of Sodom to the destruction of “Babylon” - (Revelation 11:8, 16:19).

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

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

Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great.” The clause alludes to two judicial pronouncements 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.”
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 rendered homage to the “beast” now suffer in the punishment of “Babylon.”

Mixed unmixed.” The image is of wine not mixed with water. Normally in that culture, wine was diluted with water, and undiluted wine would have the highest alcohol content, thus the stress on intoxication. The “wrath of God” is “unmixed”; 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.” This 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 from the Abyss” 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.

Smoke Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone.” 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” experience “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.

The image of the wicked being tormented echoes the passage from the concluding section of Isaiah. However, the original verse described how the surviving remnant of Israel would observe the carcasses of their enemies. In Revelation, this takes place before the “angels and the Lamb”:
  • (Isaiah 66:22-24) – “Then shall they go forth and look upon the dead bodies of the men who had been trespassing against me, for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; So shall they become an abhorrence to all flesh.”
And they have no rest day or night.” The condemned do not experience “rest” due to their “torment.” Their lack of “rest” is contrasted with the “rest” the followers of Jesus receive. The book is continuing its comparison between the “inhabitants of the earth” and the men and women redeemed from the earth by the “Lamb.”
  • (Revelation 14:12) – “Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
This verse parallels the descriptions of the “war” against the saints by the “Dragon” and the “beast from the sea”:
  • (Revelation 12:17) – “And the dragon was enraged with the woman and departed to make war with the rest of her seed, those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.
  • (Revelation 13:10) – “If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goes. If any man must with the sword be killed, with the sword he is killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
There is no doubt whatsoever as to the identity of this group.  It is composed of the faithful followers of Jesus. They are characterized by “perseverance” or “endurance,” a term elsewhere associated with faithful endurance through tribulations. It 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).
Rest” is a most appropriate term for the reward of saints who have endured the onslaught of the “Dragon” inflicted by his earthly vassals, the “beast from the sea,” the “False Prophet,” and “Babylon.” The idea was introduced earlier by the opening of the “fifth seal” when the martyrs under the altar pleaded for vindication “against the inhabitants of the earth.”
  • (Revelation 6:11) – “And there was given to each one a white robe; and it was said to them, that they should rest yet for a little time, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, who should be killed even as they were, should be fulfilled.
The martyrs from the “fifth seal” were told to wait until the number of “witnesses” for Jesus was complete, then all together would be vindicated. The present passage now anticipates that collective reward for all the faithful saints who have the “testimony of Jesus.”

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




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