"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand," (Rev. 14: 9)
“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”. (Rev. 18: 2)
John details the work of many angels in the book of Revelation, but the angel referred to in chapter 18 seems to be especially significant, for his message is clearly associated with the three angels’ messages.
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 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. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:1-5).
The cry of this mighty angel carries an urgent message to those who are found to be associated with the apostate churches. Here the beast power is identified as Babylon, This is a fit description for ancient Babylon as we have seen it develop from Babel (confusion). Those religious powers which have not followed the truth of God have been satisfied with a confusing admixture of truth and error. These have left their adherents without any sure platform for their faith and practice. One step away from truth is apostasy. And Babylon, the beast, has moved many steps away. The adherents have been placed in the untenable position of accepting some portions of Scriptures while rejecting others. Yet in Babylon there are still many of God’s people; and a compassionate Lord who is
“...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
This sends a final message to bring into one fold all who have chosen to be entirely loyal to their redeemer. These, in spite of great testing and trial, step out to join the ranks of God’s faithful, persecuted people. Chapter 18 of Revelation must not be separated from chapter 17, for this description of Babylon leaves no doubt that it is the same power as the little horn of Daniel 7 and 8 and the first beast of Revelation 13 and 14. Of course, Revelation chapter 14 has already linked the beast and Babylon in the second and third angels’ messages.
“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. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God,” (Revelation 14:8-10).
Revelation chapter 17 uses similar imagery.
“With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:2).
Further, the beast of Revelation chapter 13 is found in chapter 17.
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.” (Revelation 13:1
“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:” (Revelation 17:4).
Here, however, a woman is seen astride the beast. In Scripture a woman often symbolizes a church. For example, the New Jerusalem containing Christ’s saints is referred to as a bride dressed suitably for her Bridegroom, Christ.
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And there came unto me one of the seven angels, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.” (Revelation 21:2,9).
That the bride represents Christ’s church is made even clearer.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:7,8).
Note that the church of Christ is clothed in the simplicity of the pure linen garment of spotless white. How different is the church depicted here from the woman on the beast of Revelation chapter 17!
“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” (Revelation 17:4-6).
This apostate church has all the outward display of pomp and prosperity, but this array cannot hide the fearfulness of its profligate fury. Truth never requires force for its vindication, for force is inimical to the love of God, but apostasy has ever been enforced by the desperate servants of Satan. Thus she seeks to impose her fornication (Spiritual adultery in attempting to link the Truth of God with the error of Satan), abominations and filthiness upon others by force, resulting in the great persecution of the saints.
In Revelation chapter 17, the woman is referred to as “that great city.”
“And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18).
Just as the pure woman represents both the New Jerusalem and God’s church, so the corrupt woman represents the apostate city and church. No doubt this city is Rome, the seat of the papal power.
After clarifying the devastating power of the beast and the corrupt woman astride it, God makes His final invitation of love to all who will Respond to His call, to come out and be separate. Like the three angels’ messages this fourth angel’s message will be given by God’s remnant people.
“Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting the threefold warning of Revelation 14:6-12, the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given to the world” (Great Controversy, p. 390).
“As foretold in the eighteenth of Revelation, the third angel's message is to be proclaimed with great power by those who give the final warning against the beast and his image:” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 118).
However, in an endeavour to further confuse mankind before the true revival, Satan initiates a counterfeit revival.
“The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God's special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.” (Great Controversy, p. 464).
But God has left no doubt as to how to determine the difference between the genuine and the counterfeit.
“Ye shall know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16).
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20).
As the loud cry is given, many in God’s church step out and tragically join the forces of Satan. By so doing, their true characters are unmasked. They have known the truth and some have even proclaimed it, but deep-seated worldliness and Laodicean inertia have eroded their relationship with Jesus. With no firm foundation to their faith, they step out and join the forces of those who will eventually lead the persecution of the faithful.
“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel's message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition.” (Great Controversy, p. 608).
Yet the loud cry will result in bringing back to the ranks of the persecuted, some who have fallen away from the truth.
“...many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, p. 401).
Another wonderful prediction is that many of those who hear the loud cry and for the first time sense the fullness of the claim of God upon their lives, respond in spite of the formidable crises facing the despised saints.
“Multitudes will receive the faith and join the armies of the Lord” (Evangelism, p. 700).
“Souls that were scattered all through the religious bodies answered to the call, and the precious were hurried out of the doomed churches, as Lot was hurried out of Sodom before her destruction.” (Early Writings, p. 279).
In many cases the harvest will come and much seed that has been sown over the decades, and seemingly has lain dormant, now burst in newness of life to join the triumphant redeemed. The character of Christ has been seen in the lives of His children, and this is impelling evidence of the truth.
“The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord's side.” (Great Controversy, p. 612).
This revelation is to come through His remnant church, His bride, for Christ will have a church on earth reflecting His image before He returns.
“God has a church upon the earth who are His chosen people, who keep His commandments. He is leading, not stray offshoots, not one here and one there, but a people. The truth is a sanctifying power; but the church militant is not the church triumphant. There are tares among the wheat.” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 61).
“The church of Christ on earth will be imperfect, but God does not destroy His church because of its imperfection. While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into its fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God.” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 46).
“Whole conferences are becoming leavened with the same perverted principles. "For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth." The Lord will work to purify His church. I tell you in truth, the Lord is about to turn and overturn in the institutions called by His name. Just how soon this refining process will begin I cannot say, but it will not be long deferred. He whose fan is in His hand will cleanse His temple of its moral defilement. He will thoroughly purge His floor.” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 372, 373)
She was referring here especially to Battle Creek (institution – falsely being led and congregated together), but the message is just as applicable today to a church standing in the same footprints as it was then. Seventh-day Adventism was being called to the latter-rain experience then, and it most certainly is today. If we refuse to follow God’s warnings, similar drastic consequences must come to awaken a sleeping, lukewarm church.
“Has God no living church? He has a church, but it is the church militant, not the church triumphant. We are sorry that there are defective members, that there are tares amid the wheat ...In the parable of the wheat and the tares, we see the reason why the tares were not to be plucked up; it was lest the wheat be rooted up with the tares. Human opinion and judgment would make grave mistakes. The Master says, "Let both grow together until the harvest;" then the angels will gather out the tares, which will be appointed to destruction.”(Testimonies to Ministers, p. 45).
Please note that the wheat is not removed or even harvested when this separation takes place, but the tares are removed before the harvest of the wheat. The church will appear changed, but it is still a church.
Sister White, in speaking about a vision of the final-day church and the shaking that came upon it, says,
“The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out and left by the way. The careless and indifferent, who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to perseveringly plead and agonize for it, did not obtain it, and they were left behind in darkness, and their places were immediately filled by others taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks. Evil angels still pressed around them, but could have no power over them”. (CET 177)
We see here the promise of a church victorious. One that is the final witness to the world of the work of God’s Spirit in humanity. And it has results – their numbers were immediately made up by others taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks.
“...the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them”. (Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 415, 416).
At that time the world will be divided into two camps the persecuted and the persecutors. If we refuse to accuse our brethren, then we will be accused with them, and the fury of the accusations will be vented by former brethren who once worshipped, fellowshipped, and even witnessed with those they now accuse. These accusers, using their detailed knowledge of the lives of God’s children, bring false and fearful charges against them. But the authentic saints have settled into the faith and cannot be moved. The bitterest persecution and the severest distortion to truth only draw them nearer to their Lord. Just as surely those in rebellion against God have settled their destinies, and a thousand years would not reverse their rejection of His invitation. No purpose is served in continuing to sound the loud cry. The Holy Spirit is withdrawn from the world and probation has closed. God’s saints are all in one fold following one Shepherd.
Extracts from “Adventism Proclaimed” by Standish and Standish, pp 113-119.