And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: ‘She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen.’” (Revelation 18:1, 2a)
5. (a) Whom does the angel use in heralding the fall of Babylon the Great? (b) When judgment began on those professing to be “the house of God,” how did Christendom fare?
5 Whom does this angel with great authority use in heralding such amazing news before mankind? Why, it is the very people that are released as a result of that fall, the remaining anointed ones on earth, the John class. From 1914 to 1918, these suffered greatly at the hands of Babylon the Great, but in 1918 the Lord Jehovah and his “messenger of the [Abrahamic] covenant,” Jesus Christ, began judgment with “the house of God,” those professing to be Christians. Thus apostate Christendom was brought to trial. (Malachi 3:1; 1 Peter 4:17) Her tremendous bloodguilt incurred during the first world war, her complicity in persecuting Jehovah’s faithful witnesses, and her Babylonish creeds did not help her in the time of judgment; nor did any other part of Babylon the Great merit God’s approval.—Compare Isaiah 13:1-9.
6. Why can it be said that Babylon the Great had fallen by 1919?
6 So by 1919 Babylon the Great had fallen, opening the way for God’s people to be released and restored, in one day as it were, to their land of spiritual prosperity. (Isaiah 66:8) By that year, Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, the Greater Darius and the Greater Cyrus, had maneuvered matters so that false religion could no longer keep a hold on Jehovah’s people. No more could it prevent them from serving Jehovah and making known to all who might hear that harlotlike Babylon the Great is doomed and the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty is at hand!—Isaiah 45:1-4; Daniel 5:30, 31.
7. (a) Though Babylon the Great was not destroyed in 1919, how did Jehovah view her? (b) When Babylon the Great fell in 1919, what resulted to Jehovah’s people?
7 True, Babylon the Great was not destroyed in 1919—any more than the ancient city Babylon was destroyed in 539 B.C.E. when it fell to the armies of Cyrus the Persian. But from Jehovah’s viewpoint, that organization had fallen. She was judicially condemned, awaiting execution; therefore, false religion could no longer hold Jehovah’s people in captivity. (Compare Luke 9:59, 60.) These were released to serve as the Master’s faithful and discreet slave in providing spiritual food at the proper time. They had received a judgment of “Well done” and were commissioned to get busy again in Jehovah’s work.—Matthew 24:45-47; 25:21, 23; Acts 1:8.
8. What event does the watchman of Isaiah 21:8, 9 proclaim, and who today is foreshadowed by that watchman?
8 Millenniums ago Jehovah used other prophets to foretell this epoch-marking event. Isaiah spoke of a watchman who “proceeded to call out like a lion: ‘Upon the watchtower, O Jehovah, I am standing constantly by day, and at my guardpost I am stationed all the nights.’” And what event does that watchman discern and proclaim with lionlike boldness? This: “She has fallen! Babylon has fallen, and all the graven images of her gods he [Jehovah] has broken to the earth!” (Isaiah 21:8, 9) This watchman well foreshadows the wide-awake John class today, as it uses the Watchtower magazine and other theocratic publications to sound abroad the news that Babylon has fallen.
Decline of Babylon the Great
9, 10. (a) The influence of Babylonish religion has suffered what decline since World War I? (b) How does the mighty angel describe the fallen condition of Babylon the Great?
9 Ancient Babylon’s fall in 539 B.C.E. was the start of a long decline that ended in her desolation. Similarly, since the first world war, the influence of Babylonish religion has declined remarkably on a global scale. In Japan, Shinto emperor worship was proscribed following the second world war. In China, the Communist government controls all religious appointments and activity. In Protestant northern Europe, most people have become indifferent to religion. And the Roman Catholic Church has recently been weakened by schisms and internal dissent in its global domain.—Compare Mark 3:24-26.
10 All these trends are doubtless part of the ‘drying up of the river Euphrates’ in preparation for the coming militaristic attack on Babylon the Great. This ‘drying up’ is reflected, too, in the pope’s announcement of October 1986 that the church must “again become mendicant”—because of huge deficits. (Revelation 16:12) Particularly since 1919 has Babylon the Great been exposed to public gaze as a spiritual wasteland, just as the mighty angel here announces: “And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a lurking place of every unclean exhalation and a lurking place of every unclean and hated bird!” (Revelation 18:2b) Soon she will be literally such a wasteland, as desolate as Babylon’s ruins in modern Iraq.—See also Jeremiah 50:25-28.
11. In what sense has Babylon the Great become “a dwelling place of demons” and ‘a lurking place of unclean exhalations and of unclean birds’?
11 The word “demons” here is likely a reflection of the word “goat-shaped demons” (se‘i·rimʹ) found in Isaiah’s description of fallen Babylon: “And there the haunters of waterless regions will certainly lie down, and their houses must be filled with eagle owls. And there the ostriches must reside, and goat-shaped demons themselves will go skipping about there.” (Isaiah 13:21) It may not refer to literal demons but rather to shaggy-haired, desert-dwelling animals whose appearance made onlookers think of demons. In the ruins of Babylon the Great, the figurative existence of such animals, along with stagnant, poisonous air (“unclean exhalation”) and unclean birds, signifies her spiritually dead condition. She holds forth no life prospect whatever for mankind.—Compare Ephesians 2:1, 2.
12. How does the situation of Babylon the Great match Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter 50?
12 Her situation also matches Jeremiah’s prophecy: “‘There is a sword against the Chaldeans,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and against the inhabitants of Babylon and against her princes and against her wise ones. . . . There is a devastation upon her waters, and they must be dried up. For it is a land of graven images, and because of their frightful visions they keep acting crazy. Therefore the haunters of waterless regions will dwell with the howling animals, and in her the ostriches must dwell; and she will nevermore be dwelt in, nor will she reside for generation after generation.’” Idolatry and chanting of repetitious prayers cannot save Babylon the Great from a retribution resembling God’s overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah.—Jeremiah 50:35-40.