"A second angel followed and said, 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.' "
– Revelation 14:8
A Horrible Mistake
The Great Tribulation will begin with a global earthquake (Revelation 8:5) followed by a rapid sequence of four divine judgments (the first four trumpets, Revelation 8:6-12). When God's wrath begins, the Bible predicts the world's religious and political leaders will unite in an otherwise unthinkable union. This union or "crisis authority" is represented in the Bible as a composite beast that rises out of the sea. (Revelation 13:1) The union of religious and political powers will be widely accepted at that time as a sincere and desperate effort to appease God throughrepentance and worship.The Bible indicates that all of the world will follow (Revelation 13:3) and worship the beast except those whose names are written in the Book of Life. (Revelation 13:8) The marriage of religion and politics will prove to be a horrible mistake. Ironically, man's efforts to appease God will accomplish two terrible things – increase human suffering and offend God even more.
Religions Put on Display
God has designed a brilliant process to prove to the honest in heart that all of the religions of the world are blasphemous (opposed to God). To bring this revelation about, Jesus will send an initial volley of four judgments and predictably, the leaders of the world will "come together" in a global effort appease God. The nations and religions of the world will unite, at least in principle, based on the need for repentance and worship. In this setting, the first two messages presented by the 144,000 (Revelation 14:6-8) will have a powerful and stirring context. The first message – "Fear God, repent and give Him the glory He is due, and worship the Creator, Jesus Christ," will sound similar to the message that comes from the beast (the crisis authority). However, the repentance and worship which Jesus demands and the repentance and worship which the beast (the crisis authority) demands will be different. This is how the contest between the laws of man and the laws of God begins.
It is interesting to note that a conflict over worship occurred between the first two sons of Adam and Eve and the same type of conflict will be repeated between the last of Adam and Eve's offspring. God has carefully designed a series of events that will contrast His truth against man's rebellion. These events will produce a powerful and telling contest that ultimately separates the sheep from the goats. Several revelations will occur during the Great Tribulation. One revelation will be the blasphemous nature of religion. Another revelation will be man's need to forsake his sins and receive Jesus as Savior, and the greatest revelation of all will be the fact that Jesus Christ is God and He has all the prerogatives and powers of God the Father!
These revelations will be bitter-sweet. For the honest in heart, they will be wonderful to understand, but they will come with a high price. The eternal gospel will separate family and friends. Some people will rejoice and respond to God's call when they hear about the repentance and worship that Jesus wants, but a majority, like Cain, will reject the repentance and worship that God wants. In its place, they will substitute a repentance and worship they prefer to give. Like Cain, when wicked people see God's approval for His children, they will do everything in their power to keep others from obeying God and receiving His approval!
The Second Message
There are seven religious systems in the world (represented by the seven blasphemous heads on the beast in Revelation 13). Hundreds of variations exist within these systems and every one of them is false! This fact provides the basis for the second angel's message (Revelation 14:8) which declares three things.
First, the 144,000 will make a startling announcement: "The crisis authority (Babylon) does not represent the interests of God." Babylon does not have the right answer and Babylon cannot appease the wrath of God because Babylon is fallen. The word "fallen" means "brought down" or "exposed as false." Currently, religious people look "up" to their spiritual leaders for information and truth about God and His will. However, the 144,000 will present a second message which is a declaration that all religions are false and are create by fallen man. (If religious leaders really understood God's plan for the Great Tribulation, they would be able foretell the sequence of events that Jesus intends to follow and would strenuously object to the formation of Babylon, the crisis authority.)
Second, the 144,000 will announce that the union of the religious and political leaders to appease God is a great mistake. When religious and political leaders convene and form the crisis authority, political leaders will "drink" two intoxicating ideas presented by the clergy. The clergy will convince political leaders that if global repentance and worship are implemented, God will be appeased and His judgments will cease. The clergy will also convince political leaders that the only way repentance and worship of God can be implemented is through the imposition of "sin-less" laws. After viewing and experiencing the overwhelming destruction caused by God's wrath, the political leaders of the world will "buy into" this horrific error. Fear of God and uncertainty about His wrath will make the doctrine (wine) of appeasement appear reasonable (intoxicating), but the results will be maddening and horribly flawed.
Third, adultery is used throughout the Bible to convey the idea of moral corruption and unfaithfulness. When ancient Israel abandoned the laws of God, He called them adulterers. (Jeremiah 9:2; Hosea 7:1-4) The second message says,"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."The phrase, "the maddening wine of her adulteries," points to the immoral result of an intoxicating idea. Political leaders will "prostitute" their appointed purpose (Romans 13:1) when they "get in bed" with religious leaders and impose laws demanding repentance and worship. The last resort of false religion is force. The 144,000 will soundly condemn the maddening wine (the idea that God can be appeased with forced repentance and worship) and the resulting adultery (the union of church and state to accomplish repentance and worship).
I have said many times that the second angel's message could be the most difficult message that the 144,000 gives because people who resist the repentance and worship laws mandated by Babylon will appear to be defiant towards God. Because a large majority of people will be in one accord on the necessity of appeasing God and the formation of Babylon, our peers will think that we are opposed to appeasing God when in reality, we will be opposed to the dictates of Babylon!
Because the laws mandating repentance and worship will be uniquely established in different nations, the confusion that results will be maddening. Hapless civil servants will be required to enforce laws that are religious in nature. Thoughtful, good people, will be punished for refusing to go along with the beast (the crisis authority). For 890 long days, this will be the order (actually, disorder) caused by the formation of Babylon. As a result, humanity's suffering will increase, man's rebellion against God and hatred for His saints will intensify as it becomes clearer and clearer that the formation of Babylon was a horrible mistake. May the Lord give us grace and strength to stand firm for His gospel which has no beginning and no end. Next month, we'll examine the third message which the 144,000 will proclaim.