The Wine of BabylonBy Dan Vis
October 15, 2017
Note: This is part two in a three part series on reasons to memorize Scripture all drawn from Revelation 14. For more information, check out our Crash Course in Bible memorization. Better still, sign up for our life-changing Breakout Memory Challenge. 30+ verses in 30 days...
In Revelation 14, three angels are depicted as giving powerful messages "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" (Revelation 14:6And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,). And evidently these messages are perfectly calculated to prepare an endtime people for the final crisis, for they produce a people who "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.). While the first angel gives a call to fear God, the second angel gives a stark warning about the wine of Babylon:
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.
Without going into a detailed analysis of the prophetic symbolism in this passage, I'll simply say that it's generally agreed among Bible scholars that Babylon represents a corrupted form of Christianity, and the wine with which it has intoxicated leaders throughout the world, is its promulgation of distorted interpretations of the Bible. The book of Daniel, describing this same prophetic power, says "it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered" (Daniel 8:12And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.). And historically, that is exactly what happened.
Five hundred years ago, this month, a lowly monk named Martin Luther took steps to reverse that process. Basically, he posted a treatise on the doors of Wittenburg Chapel pointing out various faulty teachings of the established church. And Europe soon convulsed into religious conflict. Groups began to splinter, and then fragmented again and again, even further. Each group headed out in pursuit of some new truth, or some new error--until we've reached the point today where there are more than 30,000 Christian denominations in the world. And each has its own distinct interpretation of the Bible! To use Paul's words, "every wind of doctrine" is blowing.
And the situation is only going to get worse. Paul describes the last days as "perilous times" and warns that "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:1,13This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. . . . But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.). Countless millions are "giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;). And the more society drifts away from even the basics of biblical literacy, the more susceptible society will be to these deceptions.
Here's how one writer describes our day:
The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures . . . None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. (Great Controversy p. 593)
As dark as this all sounds, the Bible also makes it clear there is going to be another movement heading the opposite direction. Peter tells us Jesus will not return from heaven "until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.). The truth, so scattered among the various churches will once again be restored, and gathered together. Our destiny as believers is bright, for "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.). And that destiny is sure.
And actually, this pressing together toward biblical truth is going to lead to a great harvest. According to the prophet Micah, "many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:1But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.). Jesus himself said "other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.). Amidst all the confusion of Babylon, there is going to be a great final proclamation of truth.
In other words, the greater the darkness, the brighter the light. During the great apostasy of the dark ages, the prophet Daniel described a small minority in these words: "but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many" (Daniel 11:32-3332 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. 33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.). Similarly, the prophet Isaiah described the last days in these words: "For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee" (Isaiah 60:2For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.).
The second angel thus points to two opposing trends: rampant error spreading throughout the whole world, and a smaller group coming into "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:). And it is this contrast between the two that constitutes our second reason to memorize.
The second angel is not just a call to interpret some prophetic symbol, or even to expose it's identity to the world. That is certainly a part of it. But more, it is a call to get serious about fortifying our minds with the truths of the Bible. To have such a thorough understanding of Scripture we will be able to escape those deceptions soon to take the whole world captive. And perhaps to others escape them as well.
Now, more than ever, God is looking for workers willing to take their stand for truth in this last great conflict. Workmen who can rightly divide "the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.). Watchmen who will give the trumpet a certain sound (I Corinthians 14:8For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?). He's looking for men and women who are able "by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.).
The second angel's message is a call to "prove all things; hold fast that which is good (I Thessalonians 5:21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.). To share it effectively in such perilous times, we must learn to "keep in memory" the teachings of the Bible (I Corinthians 15:2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.). Only then, will the Holy Spirit bring it to memory in time of crisis.
To be prepared for the deceptions soon to break upon the world, we should make a serious effort to begin memorizing Scripture, now.
CommentsHow important is truth? Are you growing in your theological understanding of the Bible? And in your ability to share it? Have you made that commitment to fortify your mind with Scripture?
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/26/20|
|Yes, so true Carla! A great deception is coming--and only a genuine love of the truth will be enough to protect us (II Thessalonians 2:10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.). Time to dig in to the Scriptures...|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/25/20|
|Agreed Carole! There is terrible confusion in the world. So important that we cling as tightly to the Word as we can! :)|
|Posted by Carole Bliss on 03/24/19|
|It's vital we know the truth. Otherwise confusion takes place. This is what the world deals with.Daily being in His Word is vital.
|Posted by Pamela Kendall on 05/06/18|
|I'm loving this series on the connection of the 3 Angels' Messages with scripture memory! I think I am getting more out of it the 2nd time around than the first. Thanks for pointing us back to these articles at BMC Dan !
I was reading a book yesterday called The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. He was out interviewing Christians who had lived through persecution trying to determine if and how faith could thrive in hard places. One story he heard is worth sharing in brief here: Some pastors gathered together about 700 young people for a youth congress (the pastor's ended up going to jail for this afterward). During the conference they asked the young people to see how much of the gospels they could reproduce from memory as a team... and they were able to reproduce all 4 gospels with only 10-12 mistakes! (And they had not been told in advance they would be asked to do this). This happened in times of persecution... the author visited this country after some freedom had been given to the church for about 10 years. When he asked the young people in the "free" time how many Bible stories they knew the list was fairly short and when he asked them how many names of books of the Bible they knew they said "not very many". What made the difference? (See pages 164-165)
"Under communism the church had found a way to survive and often thrive. Scripture and holy song was its lifeblood. Now in a much freer day for the church, Scripture and holy song did not seem nearly as important." (page 166).
This lead me to ask an opposite question to that of the author... HOW can faith thrive in times of ease... times like ours when we have great freedom to worship God and when the Bible is freely available with multiple copies in our homes and on our phones and gadgets? The Bible is so common we often fail to recognize what a treasure it is. Like a currency decreases in value if too much money is printed... we fail to see the value of something that is freely available when there is no scarcity. If gold became as common as gravel we would start ignoring it and stop picking it up. Psalms 19:7,10The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. . . . More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. We fail to see our need for God and the word when we don't feel we are in danger. But times of freedom hold more subtle danger...we just don't recognize it because it is so subtle... Indeed "Perilous times" are upon us even now for men are more than ever before "lovers of their own selves" and "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" "having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof." II Timothy 3:1-51 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
The devil is mixing his poisonous wine and disguising it with attractive "good sounding" thought patterns. The only way we can detect and escape the subtle dangers of our own times of ease, the only way we can detect and escape the "Babylonian" dangers yet coming is to "fortify our minds with scripture" now. God's word must be our "Lifeblood" now. We must fortify our minds with scripture NOW... and not wait for times of obvious mortal danger in the future days of persecution. Our danger is more serious now when things are easy for we are lulled to sleep and don't see our need Revelation 3:17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: ; I Thessalonians 5:3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
Satan well knows that all whom he can lead to neglect prayer and the searching of the Scriptures, will be overcome by his attacks. Therefore he invents every possible device to engross the mind. GC 519:2a
|Posted by Fiona van Wyk on 11/02/17|
|Merilyn - How nice to see a comment from you again. Lovely to have you here. :-)
Thank you for those thoughts about fixing our minds on God's love. It does indeed simplify our lives.
|Posted by Debbie Payne on 10/23/17|
|Thank you for this timely message and reminder to focus on God's word and to hide His words of love in our hearts. Blessings!|
|Posted by Arthur Martens on 10/21/17|
|Amen to all the Work of The LORD in each of us!
He brought me to tears with Psalms 107:43Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD. today. while reviewing it He impressed on my heart how the wise have their minds set on the Goodness of The LORD and His constant love. Since His Love is constant why would I want to discuss the evil or problems in my life except to bring my needs and the needs of others to Him for intervention?!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/16/17|
|Thanks everyone! Glad you all found this memo encouraging, and love reading your testimonies! Ann, Colette, Valerie, Joyce, Carole
Exciting to hear how God is working in each of you, and also through you. :)
|Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 10/16/17|
|These are very somber words. I want to hide His word in my heart. His word is our only defence.|
|Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 10/16/17|
|This is the best Monday memo yet. The final days are upon us and we need to fortify our minds with the scriptures.|
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