Wine of Babylon, Wine of Remembrance, and Alcoholic Wine
Revelation 14:8, last part
r14m

14:8 f
Good wine, bad wine

   ^   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)

   Looking at the true wine will help us better understand the false. You are probably familiar with the words of Jesus in 1 Cor. 11:23-26 explaining the bread and wine which show "the Lord's death till He come." The ceremony is based on His last meal with the disciples before His death on the cross. This, however, was not the first time He referred to these symbols. We can understand by considering His earlier explanation.
   "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. . . . Many therefore of his disciples [followers], when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? . . . It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. . . . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?" (John 6:53-67)
   Did you notice Jesus' explanation, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." He was speaking symbolically.
   So what do the bread and wine represent? His death, yes, but more. In dying what did He give us? Life. And how do we get life? By absorbing His words His doctrines. We absorb them for spiritual life the way we take food and drink into our bodies to sustain physical life je1516. We celebrate the Lord's Supper to help us remember this as we look forward to His coming in the clouds 1co1126; ac0109ff; re0107, jn1401ff.. We may view the whole inspired word as we do quotations from Christ profitable for doctrine 2ti0316. Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." jn1717, also see mt0404.

   During the Dark Ages (or Middle Ages) the church added theory and practices to the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The new ceremony resembled the practice of lifting up a sacramental offering to pagan gods. They chose to reject the idea that Jesus was speaking in symbols when telling His followers that they must eat His body and drink His blood. Obviously none of His followers did this literally.
   According to the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, the bishop or priest, acting in the person of Christ during the Mass, offers bread and wine (and water) in the Eucharist sacrifice. These thus become Christ's very body sacrificed on the cross and the very blood He poured out. Christ is present "whole and entire" in the whole bread and in each part. (Items 1348, 1357, 1365, 1377). The process is called transubstantiation. The ceremony is the Eucharist.
   A monk first presented the idea of transubstantiation in 831. It was argued for many years, finally accepted, then in 1551, confirmed by the Council of Trent (although Augustine saw the bread and wine as different from Christ's historical body). Certainly many wonderful Christians haven't stopped to think that in this ceremony the human priest acts "in the person of Christ." He supposedly becomes the Redeemer! Although a human sinner ro0323, he claims to be the creator and, by his words, the divine Christ is said to be the created! Satan has ever wanted this very thing is1413, lu0405-7.
    On the source of the idea of holding up the cup see on re1704-6.

   Of course the church had taken on other doctrines that were impure and intoxicating because they had not come from Christ and the Scriptures. They, too, would be part of the wine of Babylon.
   Do the following texts apply? I'll let you decide.
   "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [when Christ would return] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. . . . For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. . . ." (2 Thess. 2:3, 4, 7)
   "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy." (Rev. 13:1) Also see is1412f.
   "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others. . . . So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb. 9:24-28)

   The wine of Babylon is false doctrine compared to Jesus' words which lead us to spiritual vitality through his sacrifice. At Calvary, He opened the way for us to become righteous. I take no pride in telling sad stories like this. My ancestors and probably yours were involved in the "falling away" of the Christian church re1604c. It's our heritage. May God help us all as we prayerfully feed on the words of our Lord seeking to draw ever closer to Him. And may we always speak in kindness with forgiveness and love toward those who believe differently.

Historical information is from Schaff, History of the Christian Church, IV, pp. 546, 547, 549, 571, Published 1910. Schaff quotes various scholarly definitions of transubstantiation then adds, "All these terms attempt to explain the inexplicable and to rationalize the irrational the contradiction between . . . reality and appearance. Transubstantiation is devotion turned into rhetoric, and rhetoric turned into irrational logic." (p. 570).

14:8 g
Good wine, bad wine, real wine

^   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 precedent for wine representing false, deceptive doctrine may be seen in the following: "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." (Prov. 20:1). The Lord used corrupt wine as a symbol of false doctrine in apostate Israel, link.
   Now connect this concept of "strong drink" and wine of apostate Israel with Jesus' creating the wine for the wedding feast of Canna jn02, His call to be new containers for His new wine lu0536ff, and His asking us to drink it to remember him until He should return 1co1123ff. In these situations, was Jesus referring to wine that also deceives those who drink it and makes a fool out of them? Obviously not. The conflict is resolved, however, when we remember that wine in the Bible can mean either pure grape juice or alcoholic grape juice.
   Alcohol is a greater curse to our world than tobacco or misused drugs. And it has been around much longer. You may recall that Noah, the man God used as his prophet at the time of the flood, later got drunk, disgraced himself with nakedness, and tempted his sons ge0920ff. More stories could be added.
   Some have argued that, since no refrigeration was available in Bible times, all grape juice would have been alcoholic, including what Jesus used and talked about. This was a bit of a puzzle for me until someone explained that to preserve the juice, people would concentrate it or leave it unmixed with water. The greater proportion of sugar in the substance keeps alcohol from forming.
   God's wine, which we will see in the message of the third angel, is unmixed. We would not see it as deceptive or fermented.
   We are told to avoid wine (grape juice) when it shows signs of fermentation. "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." (Prov. 23:31, 32).
   In discussing the service of the bread and grape juice let's not overlook the purpose Jesus gave it: to bring to mind His death as we wait for His return. Although not a channel of salvation the Lord it lifts up is (compare Catechism of the Catholic Church, items 1324 and 846). Magnificent Saviour! What a joy it is to think of Him as we partake of the emblems of His sacrifice!

   One interesting response to the first appearance of this note about pure and fermented wine pointed out that the Scriptures do not use the Greek word for wine (oinos) in connection with the Last Supper. The term is simply "fruit of the vine."

14:8h
The forgotten ordinance

   All Christians, as far as I am aware, celebrate the service of the Last Supper. I have shared my concern that we should not add spiritual duties to the ceremony. I am also concerned that we not subtract from it. Please read jn13.

14:8i
Babylon's fall in historic context

   We have discussed the fall of Babylon in some detail to understand it's spiritual significance, but we must also consider it in historical context. I'll share with you how I understand it, realizing that you will want to give these ideas prayerful thought before accepting my conclusions.
   We said that the three angels would begin to fly one after the other 1406b. The first angel announced the beginning of the judgment period which precedes the coming of Christ. God called many around the world to begin to study the 2300-day prophecy. The most prominent of these was a Baptist farmer, William Miller 0610. In 1818 he came to the conclusion that the judgment would begin around 1843 and that Jesus would then return in glory to cleanse the earth by fire. (Of course he was wrong about the return of Jesus.) His public ministry began in 1831. Before the time of disappointment in 1844, he had been joined by around 300 other ministers. 135,000 people are estimated to have expressed their commitment to the movement. This was a significant part of the population  of the United States. Thus 1831 would mark the beginning of the call of the first angel (Rev. 14:6, 7, 1407d). As the movement was coming to its climax, the Protestant churches began to denounce the new ideas, placing themselves in the position of corrupted Babylon. The second angel's message therefore began shortly before the time of disappointment in the fall of 1844. The third angel predicts God's final wrath for those who accepted the beast's mark. It began when the significance of his message was discovered from the Scriptures by those who earnestly studied and prayed after the disappointment.

Crescendo
   "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)
   We often think of Babylon as the Roman church which developed new doctrines adulterated by combining Biblical truth with pagan beliefs. The effects of the Counter Reformation and the refusal of the Protestant churches to continue searching the Scriptures for new truth was bringing them into the camp of spiritual Babylon.
   In the verse just quoted, the angel simply says "Babylon is fallen." We contrasted this to the message of the powerful angel of Revelation 18 who cries out mightily in a loud voice with the same message. The angels continue to fly and the messages continue to be increasingly urgent until the climax in chapter 18. There final call is given to come out of the city in order to escape the punishment of plagues predicted by the third angel. Babylon is pictured as the woman on the beast. It is in this sense that Protestantism may be said to have fallen. The double fall of Babylon 1408d is clearly seen there.
   The fact the angel declares that Babylon fell implies that she was once pure (represented by Nebuchadnezzar's repentance).

Reminder of what happened in 1844
   The advent preachers were wrong about Jesus coming in 1844, and the churches of the time justly pointed out their error r06e. The churches failed, however, to recognize the leading of God and refused to see that the temple to be cleansed was in heaven (Heb. 8). In other words, these Protestant churches rejected the idea that something important had happened. At the same time the vast majority of the people who had been moved by the Holy Spirit to repent and prepare for the judgment quickly returned to their old ways without further study to understand what had happened to the calculations and events predicted.

Predicted by a story Jesus told
   We see this pattern of events traced in Jesus' story of the ten virgins. All carried oil in their lamps, but five foolish ones didn't carry extra oil with them. The foolish virgins ran out of oil and were not admitted to the wedding. All are claiming a place in the wedding but some won't be as ready as they had imagined. The wedding represents the time when the members of the kingdom of God are identified in judgment and become the bride of Christ. In Luke 12:32 we see Jesus coming out from the wedding and into the wedding feast. Thus the wedding begins before Christ returns in glory. It ends at that time when we go to celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). 

   Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
   While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
   And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matt. 25:1-13)
   After the disappointment, the Protestant churches identified themselves more closely with the position of the church of Rome in resisting light and thus fell. As we have seen above, however, the fall was only partial. It becomes final after paganism has joined the two to make the three part alliance 1613 which will be the the final, unified world religion.
   Many since 1844 have heard the call of the Spirit and have come into the closer relationship with Christ which will be the identification of the remnant of the woman's seed keeping the commandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus 1217a. The final fall comes just before the final appeal of chapter 18. The angel coming down from heaven illuminated the earth and cried "mightily with a strong voice," Babylon is fallen. The message of the third angel along those of the first two continues until this climax 1801.

Apology
   These things are difficult to write about because they tend to sound like I'm considering myself above other sincere Christians. This is certainly not how I feel. My ancestors were a mix of Catholics and Protestants and non-Christians as were many of yours. I certainly respect those who do not believe as I do. The final test will come when truth and error are made clear to everyone. That is the story of chapter 18 (link above).

Our responsibility and, by God's grace, privilege is to walk closely with our Lord Jesus to be found ready when He will appear.

Previous
Next
Chap. 14 home
Rev. home
Commentary home
E-mail list
Contact