Rev. 14:8 – A second angel followed, saying: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.” (HCSB)
A second angel followed
A second angel now appears, saying, “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.” The angel takes up the prophetic announcement of the fall of the city of Babylon in the Old Testament:
- “Babylon has fallen, has fallen. All the images of her gods have been shattered on the ground.” (Isa. 21:9)
- “Suddenly Babylon fell and was shattered.” (Jer. 51:8a)
God uses Babylon as an instrument of His judgment against Judah. This wicked nation to the east basks in idolatry and exports it to others. Proud, powerful, and ambitious, the Babylonians destroy the temple, sack Jerusalem, and carry the Jewish people into captivity. This is exactly what the prophets warned would happen, but the Babylonians are foolish to think they control the world’s destiny; they are, in fact, a tool in the hand of God. Years later, the Medes and Persians tunnel beneath Babylon’s seemingly impenetrable walls and take the city in a single night. Babylon the Great falls. This dark period in Judah’s history is well-known to John’s readers, and they may readily apply its message to the words of the second angel.
Rev. 14:6 – Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, having the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth — to every nation, tribe, language, and people. 7 He spoke with a loud voice: “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (HCSB)
In Revelation 14, John sees three angels and records their unique messages. The first angel flies high overhead and proclaims the “eternal gospel” to the earth’s inhabitants. The second angel announces the fall of Babylon the Great. The third angel warns that those who worship and beast and receive his mark on their foreheads or hands will be severely punished. Finally, John hears a voice from heaven promising comfort to those who “die in the Lord from now on.”
This passage raises many challenging questions:
- What is the “eternal gospel?”
- Who or what is “Babylon the Great?”
- What does it mean to “drink the wine of God’s wrath?”
- Do verses 10-11 speak of temporal punishment on earth, or of everlasting torment in hell?
- What does the third angel mean when he says, “This demands the perseverance of the saints?”
- And who are the “dead who die in the Lord from now on?”
Let’s take a closer look.
A surviving waiter, quivering as he looks up from the carnage, asks, “Why?”
Before walking out the door, the panda tosses the waiter a poorly punctuated wildlife manual and replies, “Look it up.”
The waiter searches for the relevant entry and reads aloud: “Panda. Large, black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”
This joke serves as the namesake for Lynne Truss’s best-selling book, “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”
It also reminds us how easily our language may be mangled – or manipulated – so that two people using the same words can intend totally different meanings.
Rev. 12:10 – Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have now come, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before God day and night. (HCSB)
A loud voice in heaven
In verse 10 John records, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven.” We are not told whose voice utters this celebratory hymn, just as in previous passages in Revelation we are not always given the identity of those speaking. The emphasis here is not on the messenger but on the message. We may, however, rule out an angelic source to the voice in heaven because of the words “the accuser of our brothers” (v. 10b). Satan accuses sinful and fallen people, not angels, before God. Further, scripture does not refer to the angelic host as “brothers.” So, it’s possible the voice in heaven is that of Jesus on behalf of the redeemed – or, more likely, the combined voices of the martyrs before the throne.
It is fitting that we hear a song, for the people of God often raise their voices in praise when they witness the miraculous deeds of our sovereign God. In the Old Testament, for example, there is the song of Moses at the Red Sea (Ex. 15); the song of Deborah after the Lord delivers Israel from Jabin the king of Canaan (Judges 5); and the song of David, when the Lord delivers him out of the hand of all his enemies (2 Sam. 22). In the New Testament, followers of Jesus compose hymns of praise to honor Him for His finished work on the cross, and singing becomes an integral part of worship (for example, see Acts 16:24-26; 1 Cor. 14:25-27; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
In this passage in Revelation, there is particular cause for joy. “On no occasion could such a song be more appropriate than on the complete routing and discomfiture of Satan and his rebellious hosts” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Rev. 12:10).
One of the more humbling experiences from my days in corporate life was being told that my reserved seat on a company jet was revoked at the last minute to make room for a late-arriving executive. Not to worry. I was offered the one remaining seat, located in the plane’s lavatory, where the toilet came equipped with a safety belt. Rather than cool my heels on the tarmac, I swallowed my pride and took my place on the aluminum throne.
It reminded me of Jesus’ parable rebuking those who reclined at the choicest seats at a wedding banquet. Even more, it brought to mind the future humiliation Jesus said would come to those boasting of a place in the kingdom of heaven, yet being cast out. Though the kingdom is open to all who receive Christ by faith, the day is coming when those who falsely stake their claim will be unceremoniously shown the door.
There are at least three types of people who will be cast out of the kingdom of heaven.