Saturday, June 24, 2017
 

Back To Sermons

By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Apocalypse 14 ]

APOCALYPSE 14
Lonnie Branam

Before reading this message, please read the messages on Revelation 11,12, and 13, elsewhere on the Web Site. In Revelation 14, we behold a Lamb standing on Mount Zion and with him 144,000 people from earth, surrounding the four cheribim and God sitting on His throne. All are worshiping God, singing a new song of deliverance, and no one could understand the song but the 144.000 redeemed people from earth. Suddenly. three angels appear to deliver messages from God. Two of the announcements represent good news for God's people on earth, but one announcement was bad news for some people on earth. The first angel was seen flying through the heavens taking to the earth the gospel of Christ to be preached to every nation on earth. The message of the second angel was, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of her fornication. Then the third angel appeared with solemn warning to all people of earth who are in any way associated with the evil city of Babylon. The angel said, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead, he himself will drink of the wine of the the wrath of God, which is poured out into the cup of His indignation.” The chapter ends with a symbolical description of Christ coming to earth to separate the saved from the lost. He is said to come on a white cloud, with sickle in His hand to reap the harvest of the earth under the symbol of harvesting grapes. It is important that you read Revelation 13 which mentions the woman called Babylon in this vision.

The first five verses speak of the 144,000 previously mentioned in the Revelation. The 144,000 is the code name of the true and faithful Church of Christ on the earth. They represent true and faithful Christians. Verse 3 identifies them as people, “who were redeemed from earth.” That settles the matter. The only people on earth who have been redeemed by Christ are Christians. It is simply a term of identification for true Christians in the Christian Age of he world, whatever the time perod. However, there have always been two kinds of Christians on earth-- faithful Christians and unfaithful Christians. When Christians no longer believe what they once believed, fall away from the church, and believe teachings not found in the New Testament, they then become apostate Christians. . Faithful Christians remain faithful to the teachings of the Christian religion as taught by the apostles, , but apostate Christians are those who change their minds and fall away from the teachings of the Christian religion..The 144,000 existed in the days when Pagan Rome ruled the world, and they existed during the Dark Ages when the woman called Babylon in this chapter ruled the world. She ruled over apostate Christians and persecuted true Christians who disagreed with her teachings. All true Christians are

2 are among the 144,000 today; it is the code name for the church. In this chapter they represent God's faithful people during the Dark Ages when the woman Babylon ruled the world and made the world drunk, spiritually speaking.

Charles H. Spurgeon, the famous 19th century Baptist preacher in London, England, identified the time period referred to in this chapter in his discussion of Revelation 14. Spurgeon said, “The Church of God had undergone a very great trial; there had arisen a cruel and wicked persecuting system, described by John in this vision,-- a terrible dragon, of which we read that, `It was given him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and power was given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations.' This was bad enough, but afterwards there arose another system of evil, which was even more dangerous, because it was an imitation of the truth. Another beast came up out of the earth, having two horns like a lamb, yet he spoke as a dragon...One might have thought that under the successive attacks the Church of God would have been destroyed”(Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vo. 42, P. 42). Mr. .Spurgeon identified these two persecuting powers as the two beasts immediately following each other in history as the Western Roman Empire(43 B.C. to 476 A.D.) and the Papal Roman Empire(500 A.D. to 1600 A.D.). Both were universal world Empires. The Historical Interpretation of this book agrees with Spurgeon's interpretation of chapter 14, along with many other Protestant preachers of all faiths.

According to the historical interpretation, the three angelic announcements in Revelation 14:6-20 are about the tragic condition of true Christianity during the time of the Dark Ages, 500 A.D. to some 1600 A.D. The first angelic message is to the true persecuted church and is introduced by seeing an angel flying in heaven; in his hand is the everlasting gospel, and it is to be preached to every nation on earth. The angel goes on to say, “Worship Him who made heaven and earth.” To command again the church to preach the gospel to all nations was an unusual command, for Christ gave that same command before He left the earth. But it was necessary to give this command again because the everlasting gospel, in its fulness, was not preached from 500 to 1600 A.D. when Papal Rome, called Babylon, ruled the world. The everlasting gospel ceased to be preached about 500 A.D. The gospel was not preached to the whole world for over a thousand years. The doctrines of Papal Rome were preached instead of the doctrines of Christ. I have in my library a book of sermons by a Methodist preacher who lived in 1850. In the introduction of this book are these words, “Upon the

3

establishment of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire and its almost universal corruption, public preaching well nigh ceased, and religion consisted in certain mysteries in the hands of the priesthood. The period of the cessation of public preaching in the church, as a part of public worship, has, with propriety, been called the Dark Ages. For nearly a thousand years, from the 6th to the 16th century, there was no public preaching profitable to the people. The topics were ridiculously trivial, such as–Was Abel slain with a club? Of what sort of wood was it? Or what sort of wood was Moses' rod?...It as not until the 16th century that the preachers resumed their place in the pulpit, and began to recall the attention of the world from the superstitious and dangerous ceremonies and practices of the church, to pure and primitive Christianity. They denounced the Mass, the efficacy of relics and of the intercession of the Virgin and of departed saints. This was the character of the preaching at the era of the Reformation. The establishment of the Reformation changed the topics and style of public preaching.”(Short Sermons on Important Subjects, Jonathan Edmondson, P. iv.

Charles Spurgeon also made this comment on verses 6,7: “The old interpreters used to understand these two verses as referring to the Protestant Reformation(1500). When the old dragon had done his utmost against the Church of God, and the thick darkness of the middle ages rested alike on the church and the world, then God sent the Reformers, like flying angels, to preach the everlasting gospel, and their special message was, “Worship not the saints, and angels, and relics, and crucifixes, but worship Him who made heaven, and earth, and the sea and the fountains of waters.”(Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 42, P. 131. Most of expositors of the Historical Interpretation would agree with both Edmondson and Spurgeon that the angel taking the everlasting gospel to the earth was a reference to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries. This interpretation of chapter 14 goes all the way back to those Protestant Reformers who helped Papal Rome to fall and helped give the Bible back to the world. Papal Rome was not destroyed by t he Reformation, but it did cause Rome to fall from exercising universal control over the church. Of course, the members of the Roman Catholic Church disagree with this interpretation, and they are free to do so, but in the interest of truth both viewpoints must be given to the world. One thing is certain. At the time of the Protestant Reformation the gospel began to be preached again, and Rome did not stop it and has not been able to stop it to this present day.



4

The message of the second angel was, “Babylon is fallen, fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” The pronoun “she” identifies Babylon as a woman, and this woman symbolizes the unfaithful Church of God. The second angelic announcement in verse 8 is that “Babylon is fallen, is fallen.” God causes it to fall because she made all nations spiritually drunk with the wine of the wrath of her fornication. The name Babylon is the symbolic name God gave to the Gentile form of Christianity that ruled the world from 500 A.D. till the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. According to the Historical Interpretation, this is the name the book of Revelation gives to Papal Church of Rome. The fornication Babylon caused the entire world to commit was spiritual adultery against God. Is is specifically a symbol of idolatry and unfaithfulness to God. The name Babylon is given the Medieval church between 500 and 1600 A.D. because of the similarity between ancient Babylon and Medieval Christian Rome. Babylon was the center of paganism and the religion of worshiping God through idols of all kinds: bulls, cows, goats, sun, moon, stars, constellations, numerous idol gods and goddesses. The Gentile world invented this false system of religion either before the flood or shortly after the flood. For telling this lie on God that He is like bulls, cows, goats, the heavenly bodies etc, God would have nothing to do with the Gentile world until Christ came.
He let them go in their own wilful ways.

The Gentile world became worse about 500 A.D. when the Barbarians of northern Europe swept through Europe and finally conquered Rome and ended the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. Great multitudes of Barbarians accepted the Roman Catholic form of Christianity, not the New Testament form of the Christian religion. This Gentile form of Christianity included the worship of God through idols, statues, worship of Mary, statues of apostles, saints, and giving men the power to forgive sins by their own special priesthood. The Gentile form of Christianity invaded the true form of Christianity that existed for the first three centuries and overcame it. This invasion was predicted in Revelation 11 and 17. That is why the next one thousand years were called the Dark Ages. Idolatry was practiced in Catholic Rome similar to idolatry in ancient Babylon. From 500 A.D. to 1600 there was a Gentile invasion of Christianity which allowed idolatry to be practiced in Christian worship. True Christians will not participate in any form of worship that bows down to idols of any kind. The apostle John gave this command, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”(I John 5:21) The one true God never allowed idolatry in Old Testament times, and He does not allow it in


5

New Testament times. The one and only city in modern history that could be symbolized by the name of Babylon is the great city of Rome that took over the church and ruled the world for over a thousand years. The Gentile world invaded the church as revealed in Revelation 11, and introduced a form of idolatry into the New Testament church. This is one of the chief reasons the Protestants broke away from the Papal church in 1500, 1600 and 1700. The Gentile world fell into another form of idolatry similar to the one that existed from the flood till the time of Christ. Here is a statement from the Pulpit Commentary, a widely recognized commentary on the entire Bible: “What is meant by Babylon? There can scarce be any doubt that the name points to persecuting Rome. She is spoken of under this pseudonym because it was not safe to write, or in any way openly utter words which might be construed as treasonable to the empire. There were laws sharp and stern and accusers only too willing to bring these laws into action, which involve ruin and death of those who spoke or wrote open word. Therefore under this disguise, penetrable enough by the Christian church, the name of Rome, her cruel and relentless persecutor, was concealed.” According to the Historical Interpretation, that statement gives the full reason why this book was written in such a difficult and symbolical manner. It was to keep both Imperial Rome and Papal Rome from understanding that it was taking directly about them. Yet, true Christians would be able to clearly understand who it was taking about.

. Thomas Newton, one of the Protestant preachers of England, made this statement in his book, Newton On The Prophecies, P. 553: “By Babylon was meant Rome, as all authors of all ages and countries agree, and continue to agree; but it was not prudent to denounce the destruction of Rome in open and direct terms. It was for many wise reasons done covertly under the name of Babylon which was the great idolatrous of the earth and enemy of the people of God in former times, as Rome has been in latter times.” John T. Hinds in his commentary on the Revelation says, “The antitypical Babylon, the papal hierarchy, through a perversion of the church, took away the true worship of God, and put the people in spiritual bondage to papal authority for 1260 years. The Reformation ended that bondage, but did not destroy the papal system.” Protestant reformers agree that Papal Rome has fallen, in a real sense, from the power and glory she one had had during the Dark Ages. It is only fair that we give the answer of Roman Catholic scholars to this interpretation of the book of Revelation. They readily admit that Babylon in this chapter refers to Rome, the city built on Seven Hills. But their explanation is that it refers Pagan Rome and not Papal Rome. It only refers to Imperial Rome who ruled the world

6

from 43 B.C. To 476 A.D. Here are the two choices that both Roman Catholic scholars, Protestant scholars and other religious scholars have given to the world. To reject these two interpretations is to reject the best thinkers in Christianity from the Protestant Reformation to the present day. Wise and informed people will not look for any other interpretations. Every preacher and every follower of Christ must study the evidence for themeslevesf and make their own decision on this great controversy that has divided all Christendom into two different forms of Christian worship The salvation of peoples souls are at stake. This book either refers to Pagan Rome alone(43 B.C. to 476 A.D.), or to both Pagan Rome and Papal Rome(500 to 1500 A.D.) In the judgment of this commentator all other interpretations of this book just add to the religious confusion that already exists in Christianity. In my judgment, there are really only two choices, as stated above, and not four indeterminate interpretations; and no one can say which one is right. This is to charge the Holy Spirit of writing a book that no one can understand. Revelation 14 ends with a symbolical description of the second coming of Christ, at which time He will judge the world in righteousness.

Back To Sermons

San Fernando Church of Christ © 2005