Babylon is one of the most often named cities in the Bible. As the capital of the mighty Chaldean empire, it was certainly one of the most glorious cities in the world's history. However, because of its arrogance and evil, so strongly denounced by the Old Testament prophets, it was to be destroyed completely and permanently. This was "the plan of the Lord which he has planned against Babylon, and his purposes which he has purposed against the land of the Chaldeans" (Jer 50:45).
Of course, Babylon is not the only city and kingdom to be destroyed by God. The prophets compare the destruction of Babylon "as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah" (Jer 50:40) . In the book of Revelation, Rome is called Babylon, and the fall of Rome is predicted just as was the fall of Babylon.
In order to appreciate the significance of Babylon in light of Bible prophecy, one must understand something of Hebrew history. The northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians in 722-721 B.C. The southern kingdom (Judah) had been spared that catastrophe (see Isaiah 37) but, due to her progressive apostasy, was on a clear collision course with Babylon. The prophets warned that if Judah continued her rebellion, Jehovah would raise up Nebuchadnezzar as His "servant" to punish the wayward Hebrews. Many of them would be killed; others would be captured and taken away as prisoners by the marauding Babylonians (Jeremiah 25:9). The Chaldean monarch, however, would not be commended or rewarded for this endeavor; rather, after his subjugation of Judah, the Lord would punish him, and the Babylon regime would commence a journey toward oblivion.
It is seen from the above that the destruction of the physical Babylon took place much before the New Testament period. But John sees through his prophetic eyes the great whore Babylon sitting upon many waters with the blood of martyrs in her hands. John says that the whore reigns over the kings of the earth. This means the whore still exists and has control over the kings of the earth.
According to the vision of John, it is a Babylonian kingdom represented first by the Rome. This is the dividing line between the Old Testament Babylon which was destroyed by God and the New Testament Babylon which was born through a kingdom that suppresses and persecutes the Body of Christ.
There is a good reason why the connection was made between the Babylonian and Roman Empires. Rome is called Babylon because her forces, like those of Babylon at an earlier time, destroyed the temple. The Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in the 580s B.C. and sent its people into captivity (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 52). The Roman Empire did essentially the same thing in A.D. 66-70. Thus, Rome was Babylon all over again.
Babylon the Great, however, stands for a world system more universal than that of the old Roman Empire. Here I quote the words of a biblical scholar Robert W. Wall, she is: "The 'global village' of godless power, which determines daily life for every person at any time in human history" (Revelation, New International Biblical Commentary, p. 202).
"The great city is every city and no city," said Leon Morris, another scholar, of this Babylon the Great. "It is civilized man, mankind organized apart from God. It has its embodiment in every age" (Revelation, revised edition, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 203).
What does Babylon the Great represent? It is a symbol that stands for all the ungodly religious-political-social-economic systems that humans have created. As John might put it in his letters, Babylon is simply "the world" (1 John 2:15). The world system depicted under this symbol would be that one that does not reflect God's nature of love, and which in turn enslaves mankind.
Babylon the Great may have represented the mother goddess of the ancient Near East, Athena, or the goddess Roma, or the power structure of Assyria – to mention three ancient examples. She may be state-sponsored religion or ideology in the service of worship of the state at any time in human history. If we extend the metaphor to its limits, Babylon can also be found wherever men and women use religion, ideology or political-economic power to further their ungodly aims in opposition to the things of God. But these are all just types or precursors.
In Old Testament Scripture the ancient city of Babylon stood for the power structure of evil that opposed God. That image is carried over into the book of Revelation. One commentator summarizes the book as "A Tale of Two Cities." It is Babylon the Great versus the New Jerusalem. Just as the New Jerusalem personifies the perfection and eternal state of the kingdom of God, Babylon the Great personifies the kingdom of humanity, which was to be destroyed.
Revelation's image of Babylon the Great is a timeless one. While it can be seen in every civilization – no human empire to date has been the Babylon. John through his prophetic eyes saw a fallen Babylon. God has already judged this kingdom.
This unseen, materialistic and religious kingdom still exists today. How does it exist today? It exists in every form of worship of idols and in every religious system that persecutes the Body of Christ.
Christ comes for His Bride, the Body of Christ, a glorious church which is without spot or blemish. God has set all the five tyes of ministries only in this Body of Christ and not in any denominational church. If we claim the Roman Catholic Church to be the true universal Body of Christ, it cannot be so because this Church is blemished by the blood of martyrs and by the idol worships. If we claim the Protestant Church to be the true universal Body of Christ, it cannot be so because this denominational church has also its inherent weaknesses and blemishes. The same is applicable to the Pentecostal Church also.
The truth is that there is Phareeism in one way or the other in all these denomination churches today. Jesus condemned the Phareeism as the leaven. It is this religious kingdom that opposes the truth of the Word and persecutes the Body of Christ. It is the great whore that sits upon the waters with her hands stained with the blood of the martyrs. It is the materialistic and religious system or the kingdom that causes the martyrdom of the true followers of Christ Jesus. Be it the Ancient Rome or the Muslim fundamentalists or any denominational church.
In these last days, God is gathering His people in the one Body of Christ from all the corners of the earth.
John saw the mysterious Babylon in his vision. It is compared to 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 Rev.17:4). Further, on her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Thirdly, John saw the woman "drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Rev.17:4-6).
John reveals in the chapters 17th and 18th of Revelation on the mystery of Babylon and of the beast on which a woman rides. This woman is revealed as seated on a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns, 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 (17:3-4). The riches of this kingdom are further narrated in 18:12-13.
Economic, materialistic and religious kingdom
There is purely an economic, materialistic and religious kingdom in this world, being established on the foundation of money and wealth, and not on the laws of God, especially the doctrines of Christ and His apostles. It is well entrenched on religious practices and customs. In other words, it is a kingdom of trade and industry with a religious covering. Every ruler has committed fornication with her and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies (18:3). This materialistic and religious kingdom is quite opposed to the kingdom of Christ. This kingdom does not trust in the one true God and His Christ as revealed in the Word but in the wealth and the religion of nations. The religion of nations means following a set of religious rules and practices without the truth. This materialistic and religious kingdom makes every ruler forget God and His laws, especially the doctrines of Christ and His apostles so that he, by virtue of his material prosperity and religious practices, commits spiritual adultery with this global economic and religious system that is called Babylon the great. It has corrupted the whole world (19:2).
Wealth and Religion
It we read the church history, the rulers of this world who worshipped the god of materialism, and who did not worship the true living God and Christ killed many believers. The gospel of Christ did not allow them to lead a sumptuous and materialistic life. Nor did it allow them to help the needy because Christ preached that the rich cannot enter the kingdom of God. They had a free hand to accumulate wealth by suppression and exploitation of the weak. In every nation, this economic and religious system suppresses the poor and the weak. The millionaires of this world and those who worship God by lips and not by heart and by truth are part of this Babylonian system.
Apart from materialism, we find that the Babylonian system consists of religious rites and practices which are repugnant to the doctrines of Christ and His apostles. Religion is one of the mighty arms of the Babylonian system. Perusal of the Church history shows that the Babylonian system persecuted the members of the Body of Christ.
Babylonian Religion with men-made practices
The Babylonian religion is the one that is based on suppression of the truth and on certain religious customs and men-made practices which are repugnant to the doctrines of Christ and His apostles. It has a religion which allows religious freedom but prevents the people from understanding the truth with their minds.
It allows worship of God and Christ but blinds the people so as not to see the universal Body of Christ, the real Church. It always persecutes the Body of Christ. It does allow the people to worship God and Christ but with idols in their hearts. If we look at this religion from close quarters, we find that this system leads the people to the worship of a christ who is different from the One as mentioned in the Word.
This religious system mixes the truth with the untruth so that the people may not be able to perceive the truth through their eyes. False doctrines are the pedal on which this whole religious system operates in a surreptitious manner. The scepter of this religious kingdom is the pride. They do not accept the truth because their hearts are full of pride and hypocrisy. They are Pharisees, worshipping God outwardly and looking like whited sepulchers which indeed appear beautiful but are within full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness. They outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within they are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matt.23:27-28).
The Catholic Church persecuted the followers of Christ Jesus. Then the Protestant Churches separated themselves from the Babylonian religion of the Catholic Church. The Protestant Churches had not fully come out of this Babylonian religion. Then the Pentecostal Churches separated themselves from the Protestant Churches. But the Pentecostal Churches also, though separated from the Protestant Churches, have not fully come out of the Babylonian religion. Today the Pentecostal Churches persecute the Body of Christ. False doctrines and religious practices rule the roost in all these denominational churches including the Pentecostal churches. THIS IS THE MYSTERY OF THE GREAT BABYLON.
It does allow the people to worship God and Christ but with idols in their hearts. The Catholic Church allowed worship of God and Christ but also set the idols of worshipping mother Mary and the dead saints in their hearts. It had also set out many doctrines which were against the Word of God. Such doctrines formed part of the idolatrous system of the Catholic Church. The Protestant Churches threw away these idols but did not come out of many such false doctrines. Then the Pentecostal Churches which separated themselves from the Protestant Churches also did not come out of religious practices and customs which were repugnant to the Word of God.
False doctrines and religious practices
Certain false doctrines rule the roost in most of the Pentecostal Churches. These doctrines have become their idols. Certain personal experiences in the Spirit realm experienced by the founding fathers of the Pentecostal movement have become the idols of these churches. These experiences have become their religious practices over the years. These personal experiences have since taken the place of the Word of God.
The gifts of the Spirit were given undue importance with the result that the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy were misused. The spiritual experience of speaking in tongues was over emphasized with the result that those who did not receive this experience were condemned.
The truth concerning the gift of prophecy was not properly understood with the result that many started prophesying under the Old Covenant, saying, "Thus saith the Lord thy God". They speak words purported to be from the mouth of God the Father. We should note that God the Father has spoken to us through His Son only, and does not speak to the world through any person (Heb.1:1-2). No prophecy under the New Testament would reveal a new way of salvation. "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John" (Matt.11:13).
The truth concerning the five-fold ministry and the truth concerning ministry to the saints, especially the poor saints, widows, etc. were relegated to the background. But the doctrine of giving of tithes and offerings was overemphasized with a view to amassing wealth by the pastors. The apostolic doctrines of ministering to the saints, especially the poor saints, were thrown to the wind. The doctrine of material prosperity, one of the tools of the Babylonian system, has permeated all these churches. The people are taught to become rich and to give more to the churches. Poor saints, widows and women forsaken by their husbands are not ministered to in many of these churches. The Babylonian doctrine of materialism is brought into these churches. Cross-bearing, suffering, etc. have taken the back-seat in most of these churches. Sins like remarriage of divorced spouses during the life-time of the spouses of the opposite sex, pre-marital relationship between boys and girls, etc. are condoned with the result that these churches have become the citadel of "every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Rev.18:2). Nationalism or patriotism has since become an idol in many of these churches in the USA. USA, etc. has grieved the Holy Spirit.
The truth concerning the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was overemphasized and twisted with the result that those who had received this spiritual experience started glorying in this experience but failed to evangelize the world. Evangelism and burden for lost souls have become anonymous in these churches. Most of the churches preach mainly on the subject of rapture and are reported to to be preparing themselves for the rapture.
The truth concerning the universal Body of Christ was ignored with the result that most of these churches started condemning the churches of other denominations who did not subscribe to their doctrines and beliefs. They started condemning the individual evangelists who were used by God mightily through signs and wonders and even asked their congregations not to give money to these evangelists. Without loving the members of the Body of Christ in other churches in their own nations and in other nations, they worship God and Christ. How can they love the Christ Whose Body they do not love? They worship another Christ – a christ sans the body. The apostles and prophets who are the foundation of the Church, the Body of Christ are not received in these churches. The pastors have themselves usurped the apostolic and prophetic ministries. The same Levitical priesthood that existed during the Old Testament period and that was revived during the Roman Catholic Church period is still being followed in these churches. The pastors covet obeisance of their congregations to their leaderships and not to the truth of the Word. If there is any dissent from any quarters, the pastors excommunicate the sheep concerned from their churches.
Those who question the leaders of these churches on the above doctrinal errors are being persecuted and driven out of their churches. They stone the prophets sent by God to them. Does not this amount to persecution of the Body of Christ that the early Catholic Church did? The idols of false doctrines still rule the roost in these churches.
Most of these churches have since become part of the MOTHER OF HARLOTS because the Holy Spirit has left many of these churches.
Through the ages God has been exposing this Babylonian system ever since the birth of the Church. God has already judged the great Babylon. The judgment of the great Babylon as depicted in the 18th chapter of Revelation has already taken place. John through his prophetic eyes saw the fall of this kingdom when the angel who came down from heaven, having great power and the earth being lightened with his glory, cried, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Rev.18:1).
This Babylonian stands already judged by God. It is the habitation of devils. The Holy Spirit cannot cohabit with His people in the den of devils, and in the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
John heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev.18:4)
We have to come out of this religious and materialistic kingdom of the Babylon because God has already judged her. I am not exhorting you to come out of any local church but to come out of this unseen kingdom of the great Babylon. This Babylonian kingdom is not visible to our eyes. It is an unseen kingdom. If your local church or your pastor does not obey the truth of the Word, you need not subject yourself to his authority. Instead, you should submit yourself to the authority of the Word of God and to the dominion of the Holy Ghost.