Babylon – Past and Future
The Bible speaks of two Babylons – the ancient empire of Babylon that invaded Israel around 597 B.C. and a ‘Mystery’ Babylon that is mentioned in the book of Revelation. There is no mystery surrounding the Bible’s description of the Babylon empire. The Old Testament speaks of the rise and fall of Babylon and the Israelite captivity that resulted from the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah both gave prophecies concerning the Babylon Empire – all of which came to pass.
The ‘mystery’ here is – who is the ‘Babylon’ of Revelation chapters 14, 17 and 18? As we reviewed in previous posts, I believe that the ‘Mystery’ Babylon of Revelation is the Roman Catholic Church. Since we have already explored Revelation chapters 14, 17 and 18 and related prophecies concerning the Roman Catholic Church, in this post we’re going to examine what the Bible tells us about both Babylons. Does the Old Testament give us any additional information regarding ‘Mystery’ Babylon? Does the Old Testament help us confirm who ‘Mystery’ Babylon is? As we’ve seen before, prophecies in Revelation often relate to Old Testament prophecies – and this prophecy is no different. We’re going to see that the Old Testament description of Babylon gives us additional insight into who ‘Mystery’ Babylon is and what the future holds for ‘Mystery’ Babylon.
Let’s start by comparing Old Testament prophecies concerning ancient Babylon with Revelation’s prophecies regarding ‘Mystery’ Babylon. In addition to their names, does the Bible give us a clear indication that these two entities are related? Absolutely.
Revelation chapter 17 begins the description of ‘Mystery’ Babylon:
“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."
Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead:
BABYLON THE GREAT
THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.” (Revelation 17:1-6)
To summarize, we see the following regarding ‘Mystery’ Babylon:
1. Commits spiritual adultery against the Lord
2. People of the world are ‘intoxicated’ with the ‘wine’ of her adulteries
3. This Babylon is very wealthy
4. She holds a ‘golden cup’ in her hand
5. The ‘golden cup’ is filled with the ‘filth of her adulteries’
6. She is the ‘Mother’ of ‘Prostitutes’ (false religion/churches) and abominations (unbiblical doctrine and worship)
7. This Babylon is ‘drunk’ with the ‘blood of the saints’ – meaning that it has killed the Lord’s people
Let’s compare the opening verses of Revelation chapter 17 with what the Old Testament tells us about ‘Babylon’.
“Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD's hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad.” (Jeremiah 51:7)
Here we see a ‘golden cup’ mentioned and that Babylon has ‘made the whole earth drunk’. Because the nations drank her ‘wine’, they have now ‘gone mad’. What is this referring to? The Lord is telling us that Babylon’s worship of false idols (idolatry) has made the people spiritually ‘drunk’ with this intoxicating spiritual ‘wine’. The Lord tells us through Jeremiah that Babylon’s worship of idols causes widespread ‘madness’ – the worship of false gods and idols. We see the same descriptions regarding ‘Mystery’ Babylon in Revelation chapter 17. The Lord is telling us that both Babylons are rife with idolatry and false worship. We’re also told very clearly that much of civilization during the time of each Babylon adheres to these false beliefs. The empire of Babylon included much of the world during its reign. It’s easy to see that this ‘Mystery’ Babylon is also present throughout the world.
What was the result of ancient Babylon’s idolatry? It was judged by the Lord – conquered by Cyrus the Great (Persia) in 539 B.C. The fall of Babylon was foretold by Isaiah and Jeremiah.
'Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!' (Isaiah 21:9)
“For the time will surely come when I will punish the idols of Babylon; her whole land will be disgraced and her slain will all lie fallen within her.” (Jeremiah 51:47)
"Babylon must fall because of Israel's slain, just as the slain in all the earth have fallen because of Babylon.” (Jeremiah 51:49)
What is the reason for its fall? Its worship of idols and because it killed the Lord’s people. Very clear.
“A drought on her waters! They will dry up. For it is a land of idols, idols that will go mad with terror.” (Jeremiah 50:38)
What awaits ‘Mystery’ Babylon? The same fate.
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries." (Revelation 14:8)
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.” (Revelation 18:2-3)
Your merchants were the world's great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth." (Revelation 18:23-24)
What is also amazing is that the Lord warns us before the judgment of both Babylons.
"Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD's vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves.” (Jeremiah 51:6)
"Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the fierce anger of the LORD. (Jeremiah 51:45)
We see that the Lord gives a very clear warning before the downfall of ancient Babylon. Do we see a similar warning concerning ‘Mystery’ Babylon? Absolutely.
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. (Revelation 18:4-5)
I believe Jeremiah 51:9 relates to both Babylons – the Lord would have healed both if they would have humbled themselves. He makes it clear – both refuse to be healed. Both refuse the path of humility and repentance – and both are destroyed because of this.
'We would have healed Babylon, but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to his own land, for her judgment reaches to the skies, it rises as high as the clouds.' (Jeremiah 51:9)
Did Ancient Babylon fall quickly or did it take some time. History records that Babylon fell quickly – in one night the mighty city of Babylon fell to the Persians. Was this foretold? Yes.
“Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.” (Jeremiah 51:8)
"Sharpen the arrows, take up the shields! The LORD has stirred up the kings of the Medes, because his purpose is to destroy Babylon. The LORD will take vengeance, vengeance for his temple. Lift up a banner against the walls of Babylon! Reinforce the guard, station the watchmen, prepare an ambush! The LORD will carry out his purpose, his decree against the people of Babylon. (Jeremiah 51:11-12)
We see that ‘Mystery’ Babylon will suffer the same fate – a quick and final end.
“Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.” (Revelation 18:8)
"When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: "'Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!' (Revelation 18:9-10)
It’s also interesting to note that the ancient city of Babylon fell in one night. We also see that ‘Mystery’ Babylon will fall very quickly – and we also see that a ‘city’ is mentioned more than once. This is a clear message to us that the center of ‘Mystery’ Babylon will be destroyed. As I’ve mentioned in other posts – I believe these are references to the city of modern day Rome.
We also see that wealth is taken from both Babylons as a result of these judgments.
You who live by many waters and are rich in treasures, your end has come, the time for you to be cut off. (Jeremiah 51:13)
They will say, 'The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered. (Revelation 18:14)
'Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin! (Revelation 18:16-17)
Would ancient Babylon ever rise again? Jeremiah prophesied that it would not – and history records that Babylon never rose again.
Then say, 'So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring upon her. And her people will fall. (Jeremiah 51:64)
Once ‘Mystery’ Babylon is judged, will it ever rise again? The Lord is clear.
Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. (Revelation 18:21)
Notice that ‘fire’ is mentioned as a method of judgment for both Babylons.
"I am against you, O destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth," declares the LORD. "I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs,
and make you a burned-out mountain. (Jeremiah 51:25)
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Babylon's thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire; the people exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations' labor is only fuel for the flames." (Jeremiah 51:58)
The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:16-18)
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. (Revelation 18:8)
We also see that people are horrified at the aftermath of both judgments.
Because of the LORD's anger she will not be inhabited but will be completely desolate. All who pass Babylon will be horrified and scoff because of all her wounds. (Jeremiah 50:13)
"When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: " 'Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!' (Revelation 18:9-10)
If we compare ancient Babylon with ‘Mystery’ Babylon we see striking similarities:
1. Both are full of idolatry and false religion
2. Both deceive many into believing that idolatry and false religion is the way of truth
3. The Lord considers the beliefs of both to be ‘filth’ and spiritual ‘adulteries’
4. Both are extremely wealthy
5. Both are arrogant and full of pride
6. Both wield enormous worldly power
7. Both kill the Lord’s people
8. Both will be judged because of their evil ways
9. The judgment for both is by fire
10. In both cases, people see this judgment and mourn
11. In both cases, the Lord warns people to ‘flee’ or ‘come out’ of these entities prior to judgment
I would recommend that you read Isaiah and Jeremiah to understand all the Lord has to say about Babylon. It’s very interesting reading. As always, you’ll gain knowledge and wisdom by being in His Word. We should note that the Lord raised up someone to overthrow Babylon (Cyrus). Will He do the same with ‘Mystery’ Babylon? Time will tell.
"Come together, all of you, and listen: Which of the idols has foretold these things? The LORD's chosen ally will carry out his purpose against Babylon; his arm will be against the Babylonians. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission.” (Isaiah 48:14-15)
What is amazing to me is that we all go about our lives – and most of us believe that the events taking place throughout the world are purely random - empires rise, empires fall – religions rise and religions fall. What you are seeing as you read through this blog is that these things are not random. There has been a hidden hand moving human events. Only the Lord’s children can truly see this – by His Spirit. People throughout history have gone their own way – following their own evil ways and then are surprised when their world collapses around them – and this certainly continues today. We are seeing the beginning of this in America. We have gone our own way – and our world is starting to collapse. It is the Lord who lifts us up and it is the Lord who judges those who follow the evil ways of the world. We like to think that we rule the world – but the truth, as you see – is much different. The truth is that the Lord gave us the world – and we ultimately destroy it. I wouldn’t exactly call us good stewards – worthy to rule anything.
Do you think that the rulers of ancient Babylon knew that their rise and fall would foreshadow the future rise and fall of another ‘Babylon’? Not a chance. They were the blind leading the blind – and we see this today with political and religious leaders. Most claim to know God – but few do. There are few in the world who truly overcome this world and find the Lord waiting for them. I, for one, am no longer listening to the lies of the world. I want to hear the truth. How about you? Who are you listening to?
Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
Test me, O LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
for your love is ever before me,
and I walk continually in your truth.
I do not sit with deceitful men,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, O LORD,
proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
I love the house where you live, O LORD,
the place where your glory dwells.
Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with bloodthirsty men,
in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
But I lead a blameless life;
redeem me and be merciful to me.
My feet stand on level ground
in the great assembly I will praise the LORD.