“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great” (Revelation 18:2 NAS).
God’s prophetic pen pictures of “Babylon the Great” are detailed — from “Thou art this head of gold” (Daniel 2:38), and “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’s hand” (Revelation 17:4), to “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (Daniel 5:25), and “Babylon is suddenly fall- en and destroyed” (Jeremiah 51:8).
Babylon’s sins are recounted in Jeremiah 50 and 51. Her rulers were proud and boasted even against God Himself. They substituted images for Jehovah. They cast out God, did violence to Israel, and enslaved them. These sins led to the fall of ancient Babylon.
Ancient Babylon was Typical
Through the Apostle John, Jesus gives us scriptural authority to apply ancient Babylon as a type. Well after the city had been destroyed, Revelation refers to “Babylon” in a future context (Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2,10,21).
The Babylonian Empire is a type of Christendom. The capital city, Babylon, is a type of Papacy, the Mother of Harlots, and Protestantism is described as her daughters (Revelation 17:5). In the type, Israel was captive in Babylon. In the antitype, the true Church was captive during spiritual Babylon’s period of authority. Israel left Babylon after 70 years. Spiritual Israel is instructed, “Come out of her, my people” during the harvest (Revelation 18:4).
The Great Tower of “Babil,” 1 meaning “gate of El [God],” was built by Nimrod to reach heaven. Before its completion, “Babil” was changed to “Babel” (confusion) because God confounded their languages to “scatter them abroad upon the face of the earth” (Genesis 11:9). Another possible source of the name is “the house of Bel,” the god worshipped in Babylon (same as “Baal” in Canaan).
History describes Babylon in glowing terms, such as “The Golden City,” “The Glory of Kingdoms,” and “The Beauty of the Chaldees’ Excellency” (Isaiah 13:19, 14:4). The physical aspects of Babylon parallel the worldly glory of the religious systems of Christendom, supported by national governments.
The River Euphrates not only divided the Babylonian Empire in half, it also divided the city of Babylon from north to south, its waters supplying the deep moat that surrounded the city. Because the Euphrates was vital to economic strength of Babylon, it represents the financial support of people who uphold the sys- tem through commerce and with contributions and offerings (Revelation 16:12, 17:15).
The double walls of Babylon that encircled the city were thought to be 87 feet thick and 350 feet high. The Roman historian Curtius says that four horse chariots could pass each other on the top of the walls. These immense defensive ramparts represent Christendom’s protection by civil powers.
According to the Greek historian Ctesias, Babylon’s circuit was about 42 miles, laid out in the shape of a square. It was entered through 100 brass gates, 25 on each side, with 250 towers, four between each two gates. The city’s high gates might represent Christendom’s worldly wisdom and control over the waters (people). The high towers in the walls might represent strong, well-entrenched governments with special interests in keeping Babylon safe.
In the city were 54 royal palaces and a temple of Belus, with its golden image of Bel. The outer wall of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace was six miles in circumference, enclosing two other walls and a great tower. The palace was furnished with luxuries from conquests in Egypt, Palestine, and Tyre. Most outstanding were the Hanging, or Terraced Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world. The royal palaces remind us of elaborate church edifices with their images and decor. Nebuchadnezzar’s exotic palace reminds us of the palatial St. Peters Basilica.
However, Babylon’s glory and defenses did not prevent its enemy from diverting the Euphrates and conquering the city. Likewise, Christendom’s military powers and wealth did not prevent the gunshot 2 that reverberated around the world in 1914, ending the Gentile lease of power and beginning their destruction.
(1) The Greek form Babylon (#”$L8f<) is an adaptation of Akkadian Babili. The Babylonian name as it stood in the 1st millennium BC had been changed from an earlier Babilli in the early 2nd millennium BC, meaning “Gate of God” or “Gateway of the God” (bab-ili) by popular etymology (Dietz Otto Edzard, Geschichte Mesopotamiens. Von den Sumerern bis zu Alexander dem Großen, Beck, Munchen 2004, page 121). The earlier name Babilla appears to be an adaptation of a non-Semitic source of unknown origin or meaning. (Liane Jakob-Rost, Joachim Marzahn: Babylon, ed. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Vordera- siatisches Museum, (Kleine Schriften 4), 2. Auflage, Putbus 1990, page 2).
Why Babylon Is Destroyed
Our Lord is not only the best teacher, but the greatest artist of all time. What better way to depict the nominal church than as a woman “arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” riding “a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:3,4)?
If one doubts the identity of this woman, her name is prominently displayed on her forehead. It is not “Holiness to the Lord,” as on the High Priest’s crown (Exodus 39:30). Nor does she have our Father’s name written, as with the Lamb and 144,000 (Revelation 14:1). But “upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth” (Revelation 17:5). The identification is so clear that “we cannot fail to see her unless we shut our eyes and refuse to look.” 3
The woman manifests no shame as she publicly acknowledges her profession. While the true Church is symbolized by a virgin, the false churches are called harlots. Even today, Papacy calls herself the “Mother Church” of other “Christian” churches.
Babylon at one time held a golden cup in her hand, representing the Bible, the receptacle of Divine Truth. But by committing fornication with the kings of the earth and claiming to set up God’s kingdom through the kingdoms of this world, “she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8). “The Divine right of Kings” wrongly asserted that monarchs received their right to rule directly from God, through the Pope as the “Vicar” of Christ.
The Babylonian Bel, or “Lord,” was “Baal,” god of the Canaanites. To appease his anger, human victims were sacrificed to him, the firstborn were burnt alive (2 Kings 16:3, 21:6, Jeremiah 19:5). Mystic Babylon was also “the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). During the Dark Ages, millions were tortured and murdered by Papacy. Her sins have “reached unto heaven and God … remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:5).4
(2) The “shot heard round the world” is a phrase
(4) Edward Bishop Elliott, Horae Apocalypticae, Volume 4, page 34 facing (5th edition, 1862) dis- plays a Papal Roman coin of Leo XII, symbolizing Rome as a woman holding out a golden cup. See The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, July 2005.
(5) In the term “seven times,” each time corresponds to one prophetic year of 360 days. The product of seven x 360 would be 2520.
The Warning of Babylon’s Destruction
— Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
On the last night of his reign, Belshazzar, King of Babylon, hosted a great feast. Dur- ing the revelry, the holy vessels taken from Jerusalem’s temple were desecrated as the king, princes, and concubines drank wine from them “and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone” (Daniel 5:4,5). Suddenly, a mysterious hand appeared and wrote words of warning on his palace wall: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (Daniel 5:25).
The words are full of meaning. Greatly distressed by the strange handwriting, the king summoned Daniel to interpret the words. As he explained the meaning of the words, God’s judgment on ancient as well as spiritual Babylon were made clear. “This is the interpretation of the thing:
MENE — God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL — Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES (Upharsin is the plural) — Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:26-28).
For pride and great wickedness, Babylon would be destroyed. Even while the king and his nobles celebrated, the army of Cyrus was entering in another part of the city and taking it by surprise.
In the cryptic handwriting we also see the length of Gentile dominion. The words used were Chaldean measurements of weight. Their values were as follows:
Mene = 1000 gerahs
Mene = 1000 gerahs
Tekel = 20 gerahs
Upharsin = 500 gerahs
The total weight is 2520 gerahs. This corresponds to the length of the Gentile Times found elsewhere in scripture (see Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24, 28, Daniel 4:25,32).5 Thus, even by Chaldean measures, Babylon’s time was limited.
Likewise, antitypical Babylon (Christendom) has been rejected for its unfaithfulness and warned that plagues will destroy her. “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen … There- fore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her” (Revelation 18:2,8).
The ancient River Euphrates was said to have been diverted and the waters dried, allow- ing Cyrus and his army to enter and conquer the city. Similarly, the sixth angel pours out his vial on the great River Euphrates and the water is dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared (Revelation 16:12). The waters (people) with their influence and financial support for Papacy and Protestantism are being dried.
Thrown Down Like a Millstone
The destruction of Christendom is described as being violent and swift. “And a mighty an- gel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all” (Revelation 18:21). “Alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come” (Revelation 18:10).
The Process of Destruction
After his death, Babylon rebelled against Darius, who recaptured the city, “leveled the walls, and took away the gates, neither of which things had Cyrus done before. Three thousand of the most distinguished of the nobility he ordered to be crucified” (Herodotus iii, 159).
Next, Xerxes destroyed Babylon’s temples. The city was captured a third time by Alexander the Great; then by Antigonus, Demetrius, Antiochus the Great, and by the Parthians. Each conquest contributed to the gradual consuming process. Although ancient Babylon fell in one day, it was not immediately destroyed. In this we see that Christendom’s lease of power ended in 1914, but it was not destroyed then. It is being gradually consumed to this day.
All That Remains
All that remains of the ancient city of Babylon are enormous mounds. As we gaze upon them we under- stand the meaning of the scripture that says, that great city Babylon…shall be found no more at all” (Revelation 18:21). “Babylon … shall be found no more at all” (Revelation 18:21). “Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 13:19). Babylon will be completely and entirely overthrown, no longer inhabited and perfectly desolate.
Historians Grasp the Impact of 1914
World War I ended the Gentile Times, and the lease of Gentile dominion over Israel was not renewed. By November 2, 1917, England had obtained a protectorate over Palestine. The Balfour Declaration favored “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” encouraging more Jews to return to their homeland and later establish the nation of Israel. These significant events bolster our faith that the Gentile Times have expired and we are in a transition period between the governments of this world and the government of God.
A multitude of historians have recorded how the world has drastically changed since 1914. The year 1914 is well recognized as a turning point in human history. We refer our readers to a list of quotations from historians given on two websites.6 Similar quotations can be found in any public library under “World War I.” Here we only quote three.
(1) A War Imagined, Samuel Hynes, Atheneum, New York, 1991, page xi. “The best known and most often quoted response to the beginning of the First World War is surely Sir Edward Grey’s: ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.’ … The nature of what had ended was variously defined … the deaths of Social- ism, Christianity, avant-garde ideas, and tradition were all announced and mourned for. What the mourners felt in common was simply that something of great value … had come to an end on August 4, 1914.”
(2) Events That Changed the World in the Twentieth Century, Frank W. Thackeray and John E. Findling, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1995, page 17. “World War I was a watershed in history. … After 1918 ideologies extolling the group and collective action, such as fascism and communism, and urging physical violence as a liberating experience, proved more attractive. … Indeed it is difficult to imagine the success of either the Russian Revolution or the Nazi seizure of power without the groundwork laid by the war itself. Moreover, U.S. military involvement in the conflict … ensured that, despite strong isolationist sentiment, the United States was now tied to European affairs. Therefore, the principal trends of twentieth-century European history are all tied to the experience of the first total war.”
(3) The World in Arms, Time Frame AD 1900-1925, Editors of Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1989, page 1. “Eclipse of the Old Order. As the world entered the twentieth century, it carried with it a host of dynasties who regarded their right to govern as a divine dispensation. … The greatest change was to come with the Great War … August 1914. … By 1919, following the carnage of four years of warfare, the Hapsburgs of Austria-Hungary, Germany’s Hohenzollerns, and Russia’s Romanovs dynasties that had shaped the destiny of Europe for centuries had been dethroned. The survivors among the patriotic masses who had marched so obediently into battle now emerged to reshape the world.”
The evidence of history teaches that 1914 is the most significant date in modern times. It marks a sharp break with the past. The wars and upheavals, social turmoil and unrest since 1914 are greater, deeper, and more unrelenting than anything mankind has ever experienced.
Watchman, What of the Night? What Do You See in 2014?
Babylon has lost much, but still lingers. The eviction notice came in 1914. Over 25 church-state governments ended between 1914 and 1918. An additional 29 nations disestablished church- state governments between 1919 and 2009. There were just 9 church-state governments existing in 2013.7
Babylon no longer controls the nations as it once did. However, the mother and daughter churches are still here. Pope Francis was “Man of the Year” in 2013, suggesting a high involvement in social and political affairs. In March of 2013 there were an estimated 1.2 billion Ro- man Catholics in the world and 800 million to 1 billion Protestants.8 This shows that, even today, Babylon is not without its supporters.
Daily news reports show continued global woes — wars, economic collapse, demonstrations, walkouts, terrorism, and revolutions. There are still governments controlling and killing millions. From 1990 to 1995, 70 states were involved in 93 wars which killed 5.5 mil- lion people. From 2003-2013 there were 45 wars.9 Though Babylon is still alive it is in a process of disintegration. While Christendom is being ground to powder, the nation of Israel has been in training for blessing all the families of the earth. In spite of the “new anti-Semitism,” Israel, through its disaster relief organization “ZAKA,” continues to be a first responder to nations experiencing natural disasters.10 Such display of brotherhood is surely in the spirit of the kingdom.
How Does the Destruction of Babylon Affect the True Church Today?
(1) Our instructions are to leave Babylon. Do not support her activities. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
(2) In being free from Babylon we should gather with like-minded Christians. “Gather my saints together unto me” (Psalm 50:5). “Wheresoever the carcass [of Bible Truth] is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:28).
(3) Our responsibility is to lift a standard of truth high on the mountains. “Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard publish, and conceal not say, Babylon is taken” (Jeremiah 50:2).
Watch, pray, study — and trace the stately steppings of our Lord. Zealously proclaim the truth — by word of mouth, printed page, web- sites, fair booths, radio, television, newspaper ads, billboards, tracts — marking our path so everyone can find us. Be ready for every opportunity the Lord may open for us at all times, at all costs, in all places. Herald the Truth far and wide, at home and abroad.
“Watchman, What Do You See?”
“Mine eyes can see the glory of the presence of the Lord: He is trampling out the vintage, where the grapes of wrath are stored; I see the flaming tempest of his swift descending sword: Our King is marching on.”
(6) www.christsecondpresence.com/When/gentile.htm — also —
christiantrumpetsounding.com — “A Time of Trouble” booklet — Subhead “1914 changed the World”
(8) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21443313 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestantism_by_country
(10) christiantrumpetsounding.com — Israel — Is- rael, 60 Years booklet — “Israel Blessing the World Today”