The third voice of this chapter is as stated, “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.” This is the second angel of this chapter and it “followed” the first both in its mode and audience. As the first came by with the message of the gospel, loudly preaching to the unrepentant world, so this angel followed in the same way. It is the gospel that will topple Babylon; it is our faith that is the victory (I John 4:4, 5). The gospel message was declared and then the message of the end of Babylon followed. In this text we see the following points: the fall of Babylon is declared, the sin of Babylon is declared, and the cause of the fall of Babylon is declared.
First, the fall of Babylon is declared. As it was declared by the first of angel that judgment is come in the present tense and now it is declared twice that Babylon is fallen in the present tense. It is repeated twice draw emphasis on the object. When Jesus wept over Jerusalem he called the name of that city twice (Matt. 23:27). That expressed the love of Christ and emphasis on that city. Here though it is not the name of the city that is repeated but the fall that is repeated twice. Some think this to mean that two falls are predicted, the fall of a religious system and the fall of a political system; we will speak more about this in the 17th and 18th chapters. When Christ wept over the judgment of Jerusalem the object was Jerusalem but when the angel declares the fall of Babylon the object becomes the judgment itself. There is no emphasis on the proud city only the act of God that is to come upon it. We take this to mean that God’s glory as revealed in His judgment is the true object here (Deut. 32:4). What will be the epitaph of a proud nation but that they were overthrown by God? “We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies” (Jer. 51:9). The fall of our text is foreseen in two separate prophecies. Isaiah spoke of it in the context of Israel waiting and watching for the end of the times of the Gentiles (the fall of Babylon): “And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground” (Isa. 21:9). Jeremiah spoke in the same context and the need to come out of her and give up on the hope of cleansing her (v.9 above): “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed” (Jer. 51:7, 8). We will speak more fully of the fall when we get to the 18th chapter of our study.
Now, who is Babylon? It is easy enough to conclude that the Babylonian Empire was based near the Ur of Chaldees near the Euphrates River, modern day Iraq. It was that Chaldean Empire and its conquering of Jerusalem that began the times of the Gentiles and its successive empires that led us to the modern day revival of Rome. But Babylon is something more than a little city in the desert that has a few stones left standing. Maybe that city will be revived, maybe it will not. There is a clear declaration that the city itself will never be built again for the scriptures plainly say this: “It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation…” (Isa. 13:20). So it would follow that this latter day Babylon has spiritual significance and is not meant to speak of a literal city. I take it to be synonymous with the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24); as the head of the image of Daniel two is always gold, always Babylon, o the whole image of Daniel represents the times of the Gentiles which starts with the head of gold representing the mind and will of Babylon the first that brought Israel into captivity. The story of Babylon is much bigger. Babylon is that world system that began in the kingdom of Nimrod that mighty hunter who anticipated the coming of the final man of sin (Gen. 10). It was there that the world was all one language and nothing would not be held back from them from the hand of God’s judgment (Gen. 11:1-11). It was there that man first attempted to forge their own way to Paradise. That was the first move of the collective; the first socialist society; the first seeming utopia on earth. It is Babel, the sound of confusion, which man has been working towards since the beginning of time: heaven without God; salvation without sin based on our own works. It represents all that is to be desired of man with its head of gold but has always only led to the iron teeth and the week mixed feet of iron and clay of Rome. It is the downfall of mankind as a whole and even for the followers of God who know the word of God it has led to their suffering. For the desire of the Babylonian garments the armies of Israel were toppled (Josh. 7:21). It is when Israel’s Samaria is sacked that the men of Babylon are ready to move in with their own gods (II Kings 17:24). It is a desire to impress the ambassadors of Babylon that leads godly Hezekiah to boast of all his riches (II Kings 20). Babylon has its continuing allure even to the people of God. But ultimately it killed the people of God and mocked them with music (Ps. 137). We should learn from the words of John to love not the world (I John 2:15-17). In the 17th chapter of Revelation Babylon is pictured as a women, a harlot, and what better way to picture the allure of the world system (Prov. 7).
Thus we come to the sin of Babylon. The sin of Babylon was stated in these words: “she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” In the 17th chapter it is summed up as “the wine of her fornication” so let us just start by focusing on that wording. We saw in the last chapter that all nations made up false bride or church that was offered up to the antichrist. The true bride of Christ is spotless, a chaste virgin, when presented to Christ. The false church is the opposite. Babylon is called a great city (great no doubt in its own eyes if not in the eyes of all men) as opposed to the city set upon a hill that followers of Christ are known as (Matt. 5:16). They are born of fornication. They are so because they are made so by the wicked world system under the influence of the false prophet. Before we get into a more serious discussion of her sin let us consider the words that describe her sin; wine and fornication. A simple study of history would bear out the truth that every nation that ever perished did so in drunkenness and immorality.
Consider the matter of fornication; sexual uncleanness without moral boundaries. This is no doubt meant to be a spiritual and physical description of the stance of the latter day world system. It is interesting that this system, whatever form it will take, is typified as a woman. She is the Jezebel that entices the king and the nation to spiritual adultery and Baal worship. She is typified as the strange woman that leads men to destruction and hell in the seventh chapter of Proverbs. She calls men who are going right on their way saying “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But [they don’t know] that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell” (Prov. 9:17, 19). It is particularly known as “her fornication.” This fornication is indicative of the spiritual adultery of following after false gods (II Chr. 21:11). The command is for men to have no other gods before the true God of all the earth. To go outside the boundaries of that command is spiritual adultery. The worship of idols is also always connected with actual sexual impurity. There is a reason that this world is continuing to become more and more sexually immoral (or rather amoral, maybe even anti-moral). Our nation itself has jettisoned the idea of religious liberty and has adopted the moral views of the sexual revolution and its sole doctrine of complete sexual liberty. All laws and public policies are now geared toward sexual liberty (which is not liberty at all but bondage): contraception access, abortion, gay rights, liberal divorce laws, FDA approved drugs, etc. The most prevalent political import we have as a nation is our message of sexual freedom and we live in a nation whose most lucrative industry is pornography. The worship of the false god of antichrist involves sexual impurities in the same way that the worship of ancient pagan deities did. It is descriptive of the last days in a world that will not repent of their fornication. As we head into those ark days, we can expect that sexuality will become more prevalent and outrageous.
The other aspect of the sin of Babylon was the wine. The idea is that the woman of this text was enflaming the nations with the enflaming wine of her fornication. Drunkenness is a power that overcomes men. It is a spirit or an influence that brings men under its power. It goes hand in hand with fornication, where you find one you find the other. “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things” (Prov. 23:31-33). It is the antithesis of being led by the Holy Spirit of God and rightly explanatory of those who are under the influence of the leading of the false prophet (Eph. 5:18).
The sin of Babylon is that it was drunk and immoral as it followed the false Christ. The last part of her sin was the sin of her influence. She was not only ingesting the wine of her fornication but she was causing the whole world to do so as well. The whole world became drunk with her wine of fornication. It is a definite evil to go astray from God but how much more to lead others to do so. There is a need for us to say “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).
Then we note the cause of the fall of Babylon. Why is Babylon twice fallen? It is twice fallen “because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” The key word that sticks out at us is the word wrath. By drinking the wine of her fornication they are drinking to their own judgment. They are drinking the poison that will kill them. “For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them” (Ps. 75:8). God is allowing them to drink as a means of their judgment. God will allow men to be judged by their own sins. Remember the text in Jeremiah, “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed” (Jer. 51:7, 8). It is for this cause that the nations are becoming mad. The nations of men desired only their own lusts and God allows them to drink it up and leaves them wallowing in the wrath that naturally comes.