We are going to look at the second angel and his message for us and the world. Now I want to remind you of two things that we have covered so far. Number one, that the Three Angels' Message is one message. It is the everlasting gospel but in three settings.
And we looked at the first angel already which is the everlasting gospel in the setting of God's judgement hour. Probation is about to close, God doesn't want anyone to be lost, so He's giving a final call to the world, "Please turn away from self, turn to Me, fear God and give glory to Him, He is your only hope."
Today we will go to the second angel, it's only one verse, but it's loaded. Revelation 14:8.
And there followed [or went with] another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Now the clue in this verse is "that great city." In other words what John is doing here is using the fall of that great city Babylon as a model of the fall of Babylon, and her problem is not only her fall but she also makes all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Therefore to understand the fall of spiritual Babylon, we need to understand the fall of literal Babylon. And that's why I asked you to read chapter 4 and 5 of Daniel. What I'm going to do is go to the two chapters and look at them in a general way and pinpoint what the issue is. So please turn your Bibles to Daniel 4. Daniel chapter 4 is a testimony. It is a story about the conversion of the greatest king that was ruling in those days, Nebuchadnezzar. I want you to notice how he begins this chapter in verses 1-3:
Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. [So this is a testimony; Nebuchadnezzar is giving a testimony about his conversion.] How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
So that's his testimony. But now from verses 4-37, he talks about how he was converted. It's a fascinating story. I can only put what he says in a nutshell. In verses 4-18 he describes a dream that he had. The dream has to do with a large tree. You'll find this in verse 10.
...I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth.
And he describes this tree. The trouble is he did not know what the dream meant. And so in verse 19 Daniel is called. And just like the other dream in chapter 2 and so on, Daniel was asked to reveal this dream. Now I want to notice what it says in verse 19:
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar [that was his Chaldean name], was astonished for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.
Have you ever had a problem where God asks you to give a difficult message to somebody? It's difficult. Daniel knew that what God was telling him through this dream was not a pleasant one. And so he said "How on earth can I tell the king this vision, the meaning of the dream?" But Daniel was a faithful servant, and so in verses 19 onwards he begins to explain the dream. And you can read it for yourself. Look at verse 22:
It is thou, O king, thou art grown and become strong....
So the tree represents Nebuchadnezzar. He has grown, his empire has grown, he is great now, and his kingdom has reached up to heaven and the dominion to the end of the earth. But there is a problem. This power that came to Nebuchadnezzar went to his head. And God is telling Daniel through this dream that if Nebuchadnezzar doesn't humble himself, he is going to have a terrible experience. He's going to lose his kingdom, the kingdom wouldn't fall, but he would fall. And he would go into the fields and he would have to live on grass like animals, verse 25:
That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field ... till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
"You did not reach this glory by your own strength. It was allowed by God. So give God the glory." And so in verse 27 Daniel pleads with the king:
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness [stop being proud] and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Well, it seems that Nebuchadnezzar did listen for a season, for about twelve months. But in verse 29 at the end of twelve months he forgot the counsel. He walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon, and he spoke. Now listen to what he says in chapter 4:30:
Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
Who is he giving glory to? Himself. Verse 31:
And while the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
Now please remember, Babylon hasn't fallen. The king has fallen. Well, verse 33:
...that same hour, that thing was fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar.
You know the story. He was driven into the forest, into the fields. He had to live on grass like a beast until he came to his senses, and that's in verse 36 onward:
At the same time my reason returned unto me and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors; and my lords sought unto me;...
In other words, in verse 35, he humbled himself; in fact, in verse 34:
At the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever...
He's a humble converted man. And so he ends up in verse 37:
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to humble.
Now we have to go 32 years later. The great grandson of Nebuchadnezzar takes the throne. Nebuchadnezzar is dead. This is approximatly 32 years later in chapter 5. His name is Belshazzar. Verse 1:
...The king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
He is celebrating. This is probably his first big party after his inauguration. Now look at verse 2:
Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, that the king and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might [he's defying the God of heaven] drink therein.
And then from verse 3 onwards you have the story of what happened. Now look at verse 5:
In the same hour [that's when he was drinking and boasting and defying the God of heaven] came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace.
Now the plaster was hard, but God's hand made it soft. Now here He writes, and you remember He wrote those famous words:
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.
It shocked the king, it shocked the lords. And he did not know what the words meant. It was not in his language. And so, in verse 11 of chapter 5, we are told again about Daniel:
There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, chaldeans and soothsayers.
In other words, there is somebody here that can help you understand the meaning of the words. And so Daniel was brought before the king. And do you know what the king said? Look at verse 14:
I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.
And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Boy! What an opportunity to rise up in this world. But I want you to notice how Daniel reacted in verses 18 and 19:
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor. And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and who he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
And then what Daniel does in verse 20 onwards, is remind Belshazzar about how his father was converted. We can only look at a few verses. Look at verse 20:
But when his heart [i.e., Nebuchadnezzar's] was lifted up and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.
And then he explains how he was converted and so on. Now look at verse 22:
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this. [You knew and yet you did not do what?...humble yourself.] But have lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven....
And then he goes on. And now look at the last part of verse 23:
...and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.
Remember? The first angel says "Give glory to God." Did Nebuchadnezzar, after his experience, give glory to God? Yes. Did his son? (Now, of course, the word "son" here: you know in the olden days, like it is in some places today, they had the extended family. He was not exactly his son; he was his great-grandson. But you know in the bible a great grandson is called a son.) But what Daniel is saying to him is "Look, you knew this thing. It isn't that you are ignorant. Your father's experience should be enough to tell you that you do not play with the God of heaven. You do not desecrate his vessels." Therefore, because you have deliberately, willfully, persistently rejected the God of heaven, and not given Him glory, three things have happened:
The hour of judgment is come. Why? Because your pride and your defying of God's kingdom is not out of ignorance, you have done it deliberately after you knew the truth.
Now look at verse 30, and 31:
In that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
Babylon had fallen. Why had Babylon fallen? Because she had deliberately, willfully, rejected the God of heaven. It is this that is used as a model. So "Babylon is fallen" in the Second Angels Message is referring to apostate Christianity which has deliberately, wilfully rejected the gospel after it has been proclaimed in clear and distinct tones.
Now I would like you to get an idea of the issue in more detail so I'm going to go now to Rev.13, because Rev.13 talks about the fornication of Babylon. If you read verses 1-6, you will discover the story about the beast. In verse 2 of chapter 13, I want you to notice the symbols used. The symbols are taken from the book of Daniel. Remember the four kingdoms? One was like a leopard, one was like a bear, and one was like a lion. Here they are in verse 2:
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion [these are the pagan nations]; and the dragon [Who is the dragon, by the way? Satan. How do you know? Chapter 12:9 tells you who the dragon is.] gave him his power and his seat and great authority.
And then you know the famous verse 3, the wound was healed and so on. But look at the last part of verse 3:
And all the world wondered after the beast.
Here was apostate Christianity convincing the world not to accept the everlasting gospel. In other words, apostate Christianity is saying, "Don't look at the God of heaven. I'm the one who will give you salvation. Come to me. The glory, the power, the authority is in my hands." Now folks, that's what the blasphemy is. Look at verse 6:
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God [just like Belshazzar did].
Now I want to go to one more passage because here is pinpointed the fundamental cause of the fall of Babylon. We have touched on it but here it goes into detail and that is in Isaiah 14. Now you must get the context of Isaiah 14, especially beginning at verse 4:
That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon.
As you read verse 12 in the King James Version, notice what it says:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
Now let me read you the same statement from the Good News Bible:
King of Babylon, bright morning star, you have fallen from heaven.
So is verse 12 talking about Satan, or is verse 12 talking about Babylon? Well I'll tell you, Babylon and Satan are partners just like the beast and the dragon are partners. Babylon is the symbol of Satan's kingdom, just like the Jerusalem from above is the symbol of God's kingdom. Now the actual Hebrew text simply uses the words "O Day Star": "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Day Star." The scholars of the King James applied the Day Star to Lucifer, the Good News Bible applied it to Babylon. But they are not wrong. They are partners. It is the dragon who give the beast the power. They are partners. But let me read you the whole text from the Good News Bible, Isaiah 14:12:
King of Babylon, bright morning star, you have fallen from heaven. In the past you conquered nations. But now you have been thrown to the ground. You were determined to climb up to heaven and to place your throne above the high stars. You thought that you would sit like a king on the mountain in the north where the gods assembled. You said you would climb the tops of the clouds and be like the Almighty. But instead you have been brought down to the deepest part of the world of the dead.
At the heart of the fall of Babylon is self, self exalted in the place of God. Please remember the everlasting gospel: "Not I but Christ." The everlasting gospel is the righteousness of Christ, and the gospel of Justification by Faith. And this message is to take the glory of man and put it in the dust.
The most difficult thing in the formula of the gospel, which is "Not I but Christ," is the "not I." For you and me to say "not I" is the most difficult thing. The greatest hindrance to the power of the gospel in the church is self. And what the second angel is saying is, "Look at the history of Babylon, the greatest nation in the world in those days. It fell. Why did it fall? Because it exalted self."
And so the second angel is a warning to anyone who does not humble himself and accept God and His gospel and give Him glory.
Babylon is fallen because she has made all nations drink of the wine of her fornication.
What does it mean? Babylon is causing the whole world to elevate self in exchange for the glory of God. And this is exactly what is happening in our own country. Humanism is creeping in. Man is thinking that he has in his hands the capability of solving his problems. Pride is taking over. And that is why we need to realize that the purpose of the Three Angels' Message is two-fold:
The second angel is dealing with the "Not I" and using the fall of Babylon as a symbol of warning. If the greatest nation in the world in those days could fall, you can fall, too. And remember what Daniel said to Belshazzar? "You knew all these things and you still did not humble yourself." And what the second angel is saying is: "You know about the fall of Babylon. It's history. Please learn from it. And humble yourself lest you fall, too."
So please remember that the second angel is a warning message to those who will deliberately, willfully reject the everlasting gospel and give glory to themselves. Because, you see, at the end of time this world will be divided into only two camps: those who give glory to God and have no confidence in the flesh, and those who have tremendous confidence in the flesh and do not give glory to God. These are the only two camps there will be.
And so we must be careful because this is God's final warning. "Don't be a fool!" says the second angel, "Look at the history of Babylon. It fell. It was a great city, but it is in ruins." And to this day, folks, Babylon is in ruins. They have spent fourteen years excavating Babylon, but it's still in ruins. And they have recognized that it was a great city, one of the seven wonders of the world. Remember the hanging gardens of Babylon? But it is a ruined city. It is a warning to us. That's what happens to anybody who joins that camp.
In concluding, I would like to look at the word as it is used in the Babylonian. What does the word Babylon mean? Not in Hebrew, but in the Chaldean language. What does it mean? It comes from two words. "Bab" is gate and "el" is God. You see, the common word for God in the Middle East is "El" or "Al." For example, for the Muslims, God is "Allah." And the Jewish God is "Elohim." But it is a Semitic word. "El" is God. Gate means the "gate to God."
Babylon is the basis of the city. I have here something that may interest you. I mentioned to you that they excavated Babylon. It was a British scholar who did it and I want to read to you some archaeological notes. Notice what they discovered. The excavation took place from 1899 to 1913.
"The discoveries in Babylon were no less than phenomenal. Among the more important finds were [and there were six things, I will read you one of them, and that is no.5] they discovered in the city the foundation and outline of the tower of Babel known as 'Atakamakin, The house of the foundation platform of heaven and earth,' believed to have been the ruins of the ill-fated tower of Babel."
Now what was the tower of Babel? It was man trying to reach up to the gates of heaven. That's why it was called "Babel" in the Chaldean. Nebuchadnezzar said, "I have reached up to ..." where? God humbled him and converted him. Belshazzar, having known this, refused to learn the lesson and he tried to exalt himself up to the God of heaven. And God said, "This is it. You have done it deliberately, willfully. You are inexcusable. Therefore you are numbered, finished, and you're judged."
And so folks, when this final message of the gospel goes to all the world, this final message, you will have only two choices. Accept it, humble yourself, and say "Thank you God for such a wonderful gift." Or you will reject it and say, "I no longer believe in that God, He's dead," like many people are saying today, and give glory to self. And so these are the two options that we have.
And so the Second Angel's Message is warning us and telling the world that this is the final call that God is giving to them. He is going to preach the gospel in clear tones:
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached into all the world for a witness...
Nebuchadnezzar's conversion was a witness to Belshazzar. Nebuchadnezzar had an excuse, because he was still learning, he was a pagan king. But when God revealed clearly that He's the God of heaven, Nebuchadnezzar bowed down and was converted. He said "God, I recognize you are the only one that deserves glory." Belshazzar had no excuse. He knew these things and he refused.
And so. when this gospel is restored and proclaimed with clear tones to the whole world, and you deliberately, willfully reject it, Christ will say to you what He said to Jerusalem, not the heavenly Jerusalem but the earthly Jerusalem which had apostatized. (You see, there are two Jerusalems in the book of Galatians: the one from above, which is the mother of all believers; and the one below, which is in bondage.) Do you know what Jesus said at the end of his ministry? "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often have I brought you under my wings like a hen brings her chicks. I protected you, I blessed you ... but you would not." You deliberately, willfully rejected Me. And therefore he says "I leave your house desolate."
The greatest evidence God gave the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah was the resurrection. He even was willing to forgive them for crucifying his Son. But when this Son, whose tomb they had sealed, broke it open and was resurrected, and when the soldiers told the Jewish leaders, "This must be the Messiah. He is resurrected," they had two choices: to admit that they were wrong and that they had crucified the Son of God and humble themselves, or cover up.
And you know what they did. And so when they stoned Stephen, they were giving the outward evidence of the deliberate, willful rejection of the Messiah. And God said, "I leave your house desolate." And it was only a few years later that Jerusalem was ruined, was brought to the ground. And to this day they are crying to God "Please restore our temple."
Jerusalem will never be raised again as a nation of God because God took the light and gave it to the Christian church. But we are repeating the same history and God is going to give us a final chance, the Christian church. Please, don't apostatize from the gospel. Do not mix self with the gospel. It is: "Not I, but Christ." No humanism in salvation. It's all of God. It's the righteousness of God apart from me. It's a gift. And I say, "Thank you!"
And so it is my prayer that this is the message that the world needs to see. And the world will see it demonstrated in power. Next we will deal with the Third Angel's Message, "If you deliberately, wilfully join Babylon, then God will leave your house desolate. You will have to face the wrath of God without any mixture of mercy, because probation has closed."
And it is my prayer that you will be in the camp that Nebuchadnezzar was. Won't it be wonderful to see Nebuchadnezzar in heaven, and listen to how he was humbled by God, and learned the bitter way that there is a God in heaven who is in charge of this universe. I hope that we will learn from this.
You know, we have an advantage. We have history behind us: the history of Nebuchadnezzar, the history of the fall of Babylon, the history of the Jews. And yet we are making the same mistake. The world is making the same mistake. We are not learning. We have to go through the same thing all over again. But it is my prayer that we will not be among those who will join Babylon.
So it is possible to be a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church and be part of Babylon. Where there is self, you belong to Babylon. So please don't say that I am an Adventist and out of Babylon. Be careful. Where there is self, there you have Babylon. That is why we must humble ourselves and say "Lord, in me, that is in my human nature, there is nothing good. Nothing good. But thank God in your Son I have everything. I have salvation, I have power, I have peace and it is not 'I.'"
So as Paul says in 1 Cor. "If any man wants to boast, let him boast in what God has done."
And may God help us and deliver us from pride, individual pride as well as denominational pride. We want no pride. Sister White was told by her angel that, "As long a pride begins to lift up in your heart I will humble you with sickness." And she was sick all her life. God said to Paul, "Because you are in danger of exalting yourself because of the many revelations I've given you, I will allow a thorn in the flesh to keep you humble."
Now I don't know what thorn in the flesh he will give you but when God puts you through the grill and humbles you, it is not because he doesn't love you. Because he knows that self is your greatest enemy to your salvation. And so when he does that, thank God. Say with Paul, "I rejoice in my infirmities that I may glory in God." May God bless us folks, that we will know this truth and be set free from pride and self, the downfall of Babylon the Great.