Why Babylon Fell
Revelation 14, verse 8, part 2
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14:8, note c - If you're in a hurry you might want to jump to the next section below 1408d.
Was Belshazzar a fictitious character?

   From the record of the past, we know that Babylon fell during the sixth century before Christ. Daniel's story about the fall, however, has been largely rejected by biblical scholars. They sit in judgment on the inspired word as they would for a secular historical document. The story about Belshazzar has been used as argument against the truthfulness of the whole book. Some years ago, the archaeological evidence for Belshazzar was lacking. Ancient king lists show Nabonidus as the last king of Babylon and don't mention Belshazzar at all proof for the theory!
However, more ancient archaeological records, reported between 1861 and 1924, have added additional light on the situation. Belshazzar's name was found. The Bible text calls him a "son" of Nebuchadnezzar, which seemed to contradict the records. Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar's grandson reigning at the same time as Nabonidus, his father, who ruled in a different city. Now we know that the term, "son," means any male descendent mt01gen.
   Other evidence beyond the scope of our study also supports the authenticity of the book of Daniel.
   Of course ancient secular records often do have errors which furnish legitimate material for historians to debate about. Unfortunately many Bible scholars still tend to doubt Daniel's book. They say it was written to build nationalistic courage much later in the second century B.C. Obviously Satan would not want people to trust this book with its vitally important visions and stories. If it were true that Daniel was not the author, the book would be much worse than misunderstood fiction. It would be blatantly dishonest because Daniel basically tells his own story, explains what he saw, and is precise about dates.
   Jesus said that unless we become like little children we will simply not make it into the kingdom of God (Mark 10:15). Those of us with letters behind our names need to take this advice seriously. Scholarship is important, but it must always be subordinate to divine wisdom. Jesus himself confirmed the reality of Daniel and his words and that's good enough for me (Mark 13:14).
   Doubt is easy whether scholarly or not. When it comes to God's word, it is well to be cautious of interpretations we hear including those in this commentary. We can test ideas by comparing them with Scripture (Isa. 28:10) and, as the Spirit convicts, let's go to our knees claiming the promise of wisdom (James 1:5) and resist trying to figure out how plain statements of the Bible could mean something else (2 Peter 3:16).
   Praise God for the certainty of the Bible which reveals Christ to us.

Dead sea manuscripts also question the 2nd century date for the book of Daniel
   The second century B.C. date for the book is based on a reference to it dated around 125 B.C. Historical-critical scholars (who judge the Bible as a secular book) therefore consider the book history instead of prophecy. The Dead Sea scrolls were found in 1947. (Daniel is represented by more of them than is any other book.) This discovery has created a problem that the scholars don't mention. They also believe other things about the book: (1) That the "little horn" of chapters 7 or 8 was a Selucid king, Antiochus, IV. (2) That faithfulness to the original writing deteriorated as evidenced by the fact that part of the book is in Aramaic instead of Hebrew (they think the Hebrew part got lost and scholars plugged in an Aramaic translation for that part), and because of certain spelling errors. The problem is that Antiochus' desecration of the temple was only 40 years before the date they give for the writing of the book not long enough for all this assumed change. (I heard this in a lecture and don't have good reference for it. The problem was studied by a Notre Dame scholar.)
   The evidence for some minor changes in biblical and other manuscripts that were copied  is clear. God has preserved the essential messages of His word, however.  I personally believe that Daniel switched languages. He certainly knew both well. The verse where the switch begins is 2:4 which says, "Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic. . . ." From that point the language changes to Aramaic and continues through chapter 7. This switch appears in the middle of a dialogue, hardly a place where a scribe would start using a new scroll.

14:8 d
How could Babylon have fallen-fallen?

   The text says "Babylon is fallen, is fallen" in literal translation, "Fell, fell Babylon."  What could it mean for a city to fall-fall? Here's the verse:

   ^    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. (Rev. 14:8)

   Repetition often means emphasis, but I believe more is involved here. As with much of the symbolism in Revelation, the double fall of Babylon was drawn from the Old Testament in this case, Isaiah. Several elements in Belshazzar's final night are seen, including the fallen-fallen idea. is2101ff. See the endnote below.
   How could Babylon have had a double fall? Darius, the Mede, marched on the city as a minor partner of Cyrus, the Persian, but Babylon really didn't fall separately to the two powers.
   First notice that our verse gives the reason for the fall. This can help us figure out what was double about it. "Babylon is fallen, is fallen because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Let's turn back to the story in Daniel 5 for clues.
   "Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. . . . Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone."
   When words were written on the wall and the pagan information experts couldn't interpret them, Daniel was brought in. The prophet's rebuke reveals that Belshazzar knew his arrogance was wrong because he was aware of the experience of Nebuchadnezzar.
   "O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour. . . . But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. . . . till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
    "And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold . . . and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written:
   "And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." (Dan. 5:18-27).

Twice fallen
   Did you notice the two falls? (1) The kingdom had been numbered (investigated) and terminated and (2) the king, who was a religious as well as political ruler, had been weighed (compared with God's great standard of righteousness) and found too light. The kingdom fell politically because it had fallen spiritually. Babylon fell, fell. We see this also in chapters 16 and 18 1802. In the same context Babylon is to receive a double punishment 1806.

Results and timing of the judgment also seen in Daniel 7
   Look again at the verdict: "God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. . . . Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. . . . Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." This is what will happen in the preadvent judgment. Notice:
   "But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his [the arrogant horn's] dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." (Dan. 7:26, 27)
   In both cases, we see a time of judgment (numbering, weighing) followed by the power being taken from the wicked and given to the righteous (the kingdom being taken away and given to others).

   What an awesome challenge to us to be pure and true to the one who gives us breath and takes it back. Just as Babylon fell two ways, our Lord has promised to restore us two ways. He first restores us spiritually is0118 making us ready, by His grace, to be restored physically to the home He is preparing for us as citizens of the heavenly kingdom jn1401ff; 1co1553f.

 
Isaiah's description of the fall-fall

   Several details of the fateful end to Babylon were accurately predicted by Isaiah many years earlier (Isa. 21:1-10). From Daniel's historical account, we know that Babylon was conquered by Medo-Persia, the confederation of the two powers. Isaiah cited Elam and Media. Did Isaiah make a mistake writing of Elam instead of Persia? 
   It's unlikely that Persia existed when Isaiah wrote this chapter. Isaiah's call to be a prophet (Isa. 6) was in 740 B.C., some 40 years before Persian sovereignty had even begun. By the time Babylon fell, Elam had been taken over by the Persians. Thus the power of Elam, seen by Isaiah, became Persia which, with the help of the Medes, toppled the Babylonian empire. 
   The fear of the night of pleasure including the eating and drinking, and even the trembling legs of the king may be seen in Isaiah's account. Then a watchman on the wall of Babylon is heard exclaiming, "And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen [implying two conquerors working together]. 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). The destruction of the images is an interesting action not mentioned by Daniel. I suggest you read the whole passage. 
   Obviously God knew exactly what would happen and wanted us, as well as the people in Daniel's day, to realize the significance of the fall of Babylon. 

   Historical information gathered from The Eerdman's Bible Dictionary, 1987, articles "Babylon," "Elam," "Isaiah," and "Persia." 

When is the message of fallen Babylon given?
   This is important. It must come after the time the first angel began to announce the beginning of the judgment. We study this later re1408i.

14:8 e
What made Belshazzar's party so bad?

   Looking closely at the terrible sin of Belshazzar will help us understand the sin the second angel Revelation warns against. Notice that our verse mentions drinking wine in connection with the sin of the fall of Babylon. Wine was certainly an element in the fall of the literal kingdom.

^   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. (Rev. 14:8)

   The wine is "wine of the wrath of her fornication." Fornication, Greek pornia, means any kind of sexual action outside of marriage. I understand "wrath" here more as passionate determination than an exhibition of anger. Spiritual fornication of a nation is like adultery. A people claiming the Lord's name are adulterous when they act like a wife who gives her body to others while pretending to belong to her husband (See Ezek. 16). The supposedly pure body is impure.
   Let's refresh our memory about Belshazzar's sin. "Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone." (Dan. 5:3). At the time of the victory over Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar had taken God's vessels "into the treasure house of his god." (Dan. 1:3) Following customs of the times, this treasure house contained exhibits of conquest to demonstrate the superiority of the Babylonian gods. You can see how Belshazzar's act was serious defiance of the God of heaven who was about to quickly bring down the curtain on the blasphemous nation.
   In the end time, when the second angel flies, what sin does Belshazzar's story represent? Serving evil wine. What does the text mean, that all nations were made to drink of the wine of the wrath of Babylon's fornication? What wine do religious powers, good or bad, offer?
    Jesus spoke of His teachings in explaining that we need to be renewed containers for the new wine He offered (Luke 5:37, 38). The wine of Babylon would be doctrines contaminated by paganism re1302. The fornication announced by the second angel is putting these doctrines into Christian cups. The exterior says, "We are Christian." The interior is corrupt.
    "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." (Matt. 23:27, 28).
    Accepting beliefs and practices not taught by the Bible is drinking this wine. Belshazzar had chosen to ignore the lessons given to Nebuchadnezzar. He poured Babylonian wine into vessels from God's temple.
    The three angels preach the end-time appeal of heaven. The message of this second angel develops greater force in chapter 18 r18a. That call to come out of Babylon blended with the call of the third angel which we will soon study is God's final appeal to humanity. It's time to search our hearts and our Bibles to be sure all our religious practices are supported by Scripture. Things like stained glass windows are not in question unless we consider them to involve religious duty. Our relationship to God is in question.
    We saw that the first angel preached at a specific time, "the hour of his [God's] judgment." The second angel followed preaching the fall of Babylon so his message would follow or overlap the first message in time. In fallen Babylon, we see the condition of those who had ignored truth that had then come to light. Of course the principle is important for more than the immediate historical situation. This is clear from the later call to leave Babylon in chapter 18. We must see in both, the deceptive practice of the dominant religious power which serves the wine of its passionate doctrine in holy cups. For more on bad wine in the next comment section, click "continue."

   How wonderful to know that God loves us and understands our particular spiritual needs today. By the grace of Jesus Christ, we may respond to the call of the everlasting gospel, with new vessels to receive the pure wine of Christ as we claim victory over the sins of Babylon.

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