In Revelation 18 John is given the vision of an angel with great authority from God descending from heaven, and his body is shining with such a brightness of light and glory, that he lights up the entire earth. With his mighty voice he utters this comforting message, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons. “ The. angel goes on to say that she has deceived all nations with her false religious teachings. She is the harlot woman in chapter 17, and God gives her the name of “MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Then the angel gives this direct command to all people on earth who are in any way associated with this religious woman and her religion: “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”
When God causes this woman to fall and lose the power and control she once had, it disrupts the trade and economy of the whole world. The entire world mourns over her downfall. Her downfall is compared to the destruction of ancient Babylon to whom she is likened. Babylon was an idolatrous city that persecuted God's Old Testament people. It supported an idolatrous religion, a false religion that God would not accept. The final paragraph of the chapter tells of a mighty angel who picked up a great millstone, hurled it into the ocean, and it sunk to the ocean floor. He then announces, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down and shall not be found anymore. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.” God's judgment would fall on her for the many Christians she had put to death for refusing to serve her. She was a persecutor of the Christian religion.
I will make no further effort to prove who this woman is that is called a harlot and Babylon the Great. We have been studying this woman from chapter 11-17. She is the chief character in all these chapters, and she is the chief character in chapter 18. Noteworthy Bible expositors have established, according to the Historical Interpretation, that this woman represents the Roman Catholic Church under the rule of the Papacy. Their contention is that this woman was once the bride of Christ, but she is no longer the bride of Christ. He has rejected her as an unfaithful wife. She became unfaithful to Christ the only head of the church, and like Jezebel of old she introduced idol worship into the Christian religion, along with many other unscriptural
innovations, such as baptizing babies and praying to Mary. . She changed this and that teaching, made Mary the mother of God, and many other man-made teachings. She was once just a single congregation of Christ's church, but when Pagan Rome fell in 476 A.D., she saw an opportunity to take over all churches in Christendom. She was able to do this, and then made whatever changes pleased her. I think all should agree beyond all dispute that it is wrong for one congregation to assume power and control over all other congregations in the world. She then introduced a Gentile form of idol worship into the Christian religion that authorized worshiping God by idols, images and statues. This was the number-one sin in the Old Testament. The New Testament says, “Keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21).
On verse 2, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen,” E.M. Zerr makes this comment, “”The fall refers to the dissolving of the church and state through the influence of the Bible that had been given to the people by Luther and his fellow workers.”(Bible Commentary, E.M. Zerr, 1955).
John T. Hinds in his book, “Commentary on the Book of Revelation, P. 200, makes this comment on Chapter 18, “The general idea of the chapter is that of a rich populous city being reduced to desolation. The fall of Babylon is the symbol by which is prophetically described the destruction of the apostate church.” According to the Historical Interpretation the angelic message, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, “ is a future prediction, and it would suggest that Babylon began to fall and lost its power and control at the time of Protestant Reformation in the 1500's. Since the Reformation, there have been two forms of the Christian religion in the world. The woman Babylon still exists, but she has fallen from her past power and glory since the Reformation.
I consider the most important statement in this chapter is the command of the angel in verse 4, “ Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues.” This verse shows the importance of understanding who this woman refers to, this woman mentioned so often in Revelation, chapters 11-19. Who is this “her?” Who is this woman? Who is Babylon? Whoever she is, God's people are commanded to come out of her. How can God's people come out of her if they do not know who she is? Other interpretations say this woman doesn't refer to anyone specific. Perhaps, she stands for the world in general, and Christians are commanded to come out of the world in general. According to this explanation, the book of Revelation refers to nothing specific but to everything in general.
What a profound view! Still another view would say this woman does not exist today; she will make her appearance near the end of the world. If this be so, how shall they explain the great events of the past two thousand years that have so decimated the church?. What caused the tragic divided condition of the New Testament church as it exists in this 21st century? Shall we just ignore the fact there was a great falling from New Testament Christianity about 500 A.D? Paul said to the first century Christians that Christ would not return until a great falling away from the church would take place in the future(2 Thessalonians 2:1-8). Can anyone deny that such a falling away has already tken place? What should be the attitude of Christians toward the Roman Catholic church?. Should it be accepted as the original Church of Christ, as it claims to be today? If not, why not? Another interpretation would have us believe that the first nineteen chapters of the Revelation talks only about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and has no reference to time, or future historical events. This would make this woman to be Judaism persecuting Christians in the first century and make the antiachrist to be Nero. Some would make Nero the dragon and his woman to be Pagan Rome. When were Christians ever commanded to come out of Pagan Rome? Pagan Rome was never the bride of Christ. The New Testament is full of teachings that Christians should not live like people in the world live. Why would God use such symbolic language to warn Christians of such a a commonplace truth. All these different views are telling the world we don't really know who this woman is, and if we do not know who this woman is, how can God's people come out of her? I would suggest that this command to come out of this woman shows that we should all know more about the Christian religion and its past history than we do. We should study God's word sufficiently that we know what the original church taught and stood for. We should know what God requires to become a Christian and how to worship God in spirit and in truth. There is no excuse for not knowing who this woman is. I invite you to study carefully the interpretation presented this series of studies and search the scriptures daily whether these things are so.
Please note that in this command to come out of her, it is addressed to God's people. This implies that some of God's people were in her and associated with her. In all fairness, “God's people” in this verse includes all penitent immersed believes in Christ, and all professed followers of Christ. According to church historians, immersion was practiced until at least about 400 A.D. We do not know exactly
when this transition took place, the exact time period the great falling away from the church occurred. It may well be thatt many pentitent baptized believers were among those when the falling away took place. Just when those Christians departed from the faith and became an apostate form of the Christian religion, we cannot give the day, month and year. However, whenever it became evident that numbers of true Christians had become part of the apostate church of Rome, this command applied to them: “Come out of her.”
If the interpretation presented in this study is correct, and many good, honest and excellent Bible scholars believe this woman is the Roman Catholic church, then the command of this angel exhorts people in the Catholic church, “to come out of her.” It is very painful for me to comment on this command, “Come out of her.” I do not like to hurt people's feelings or say things that would hurt people. I believe there are many devoutly religious and good people in the Catholic church who believe in God, Christ and the Christian religion, and this interpretation is shocking indeed to them. I simply ask you to study this woman for yourself in Revelation 17, and this command in Revelation 18 and make up your own mind. Educate yourself on the teachings of the Christian religion as found in the New Testament. Read your New Testament from Matthew to Revelation and then examine and confirm your beliefs and practices. May God bless in this study.