1. Babylon the Great
IN THE Holy Scriptures there are revealed two churches-the true and the counterfeit which arediametrically opposed to each other. God gives the title "synagogue of Satan”
to the false or apostate church. It is Satan's masterpiece of counterfeiting the true church. He has a wonderfulorganization and a large membership.Satan's counterfeit religious system, which he uses to deceive the whole world, lacks nothingto make it complete and like the genuine. His ministers "are false apostles, deceitful workers,transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformedinto an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministersof righteousness.”
It is by the mingling of false teachings with truth that this counterfeit church has been promoted. God's true church, in contrast, will not seek that which does not bear His mark andsuperscription. Christ Himself declared that worship which mingles the human with the divine isworthless, and foretold the fate of the counterfeit religious system of doctrines and institutions. "In vainthey do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. . . . Every plant, which Myheavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.”
Since man-made worship is vain or worthless, because it is counterfeit, we must have somestandard by which to test doctrines and determine what is truth. This test is given in the Holy Bible:"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no lightin them.”
It is quite natural for men to desire to belong to the true church. But with the multiplicity of sects, with their conflicting creeds and doctrines, it may seem difficult to determine which is the trueone. It is not very difficult after all. God's word declares that the two outstanding characteristics of thetrue church in the last days, marks which distinguish her from all others, are “keeping thecommandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of prophecy.”
As foretold in prophecy, Satan's rage against Christ, whom he failed to hold in the tomb, ishurled against His followers, whom he has persecuted bitterly down through the centuries to theremnant living in the time of Christ's return
. The final outburst of Satanic wrath will be against theindividuals "which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Butthough Satan wars against those who obey the law of God, we are not left in doubt as to the result of the issue. The Lord will vindicate His law, and at His coming He will utter these words: " Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Thus God has a true church in the world, and Satan also has his, and there is constant war between them. Our position in this conflict depends on our attitude toward God and the truth, that Hehas revealed to men, for all other worship is "vain" and will be " rooted up. " According to the standardset up by God, the true church makes the "commandments of God" and "the faith of Jesus"
the veryfoundation of its teachings. Because the false church is a close counterfeit of the true, we would notexpect to find the false system repudiating the whole law of God. Satan's system deals in "theknowledge of good and evil”
. It rejects a part of the Ten Commandments, substituting for acommand of God a precept of man. It is this perversion of worship that has given rise to numeroussects and creeds. Our individual attitude to the law of God determines the church to which we belong.The wrath of "the dragon," Satan, is said to be directed against "the woman."
A woman isthus used in symbolic prophecy to represent a church. In the Revelation we have the true and the falsechurch each symbolized by a woman. John saw “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth,and pained to be delivered." This glorious woman is the true church of Christ. "I have likened thedaughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman."
"I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one, husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
Her child is the Lord Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem and "caught up unto God" after His death andresurrection.
The sun with which the woman is clothed represents the full light of truth shiningfrom the Bible after the first advent of Christ. The moon represents the gospel light of truth as reflected by the symbolic, sacrificial service of the Old Testament, which pointed to Christ and was thusilluminated with borrowed meaning, just as the lunar orb shines with borrowed light from the solar body.In Revelation 17 is God's picture of the false church. The symbol used for it is also a woman,a lewd and fallen one. It is pictured thus: "There came one of the seven angels which had the seven