Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty [inaccessible] city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the earth,
casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
since in her heart she says,
‘I sit as a queen,
I am no widow,
and mourning I shall never see.’
For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,
death and mourning and famine,
and she will be burned up with fire;
for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.” (Rev 18:1-3,7-8; cf. Isa 47:7f. , Zeph 2:15)
It is one of Christendom’s favorite indoor sports to speculate on Babylon, which city she is or even which country, as some popular pundits see the United States as “final Babylon.” Others look to Rome, which, situated on seven hills, makes that ‘holy city’ a natural choice to mislead the lost sheep of Israel, so they wander and do not understand the reality of the spiritual warfare, and the location and nature of the powers against which we struggle. Some consider Babylon the world system which enslaves on the seas through admiralty law and traffics in human souls (Rev. 18), but that falls far short of what really constitutes Babylon, a “Great Mystery” which the fleshly mind is compelled to reduce to a physical construct. But God has left abundant clues to Babylon’s nature and the reality of her company, their nature and their objective; she has “a season” like everything under heaven (Eccl. 3:1), and without understanding what is her time and season and purpose, and without knowing that God “has made everything appropriate in its time,” (Eccl 3:11), one can but kick against the goads, and refuse the discipline that the God of heaven gives to all whom He would call sons. And a great key to the mystery we know as Babylon is just this: “That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.” (Eccl 3:15) This article will debunk these popular views by revisiting what God says about this “lofty city,” (Zeph 2:15) and her eventual destiny.
Never a popular reminder to Christians, as it was not to the physical House of Israel, God has to say it time and time again, that Babylon is His instrument to chasten His people, and now is the time when the chastening begins with the House of God, the judgment and housecleaning so critical to the harvest, in which the bad seed become tares must be removed and pass into the fire.
From a certain perspective, however we can truly say that we do live in a world-city [an attracting center], it is a unified kingdom under the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4), and as we are born consigned to disobedience (Ro 11:32), so we are within the language of the bible Zerubbabel, begotten in Babel, or seed of Babel, a word that in itself has a meaning of “empty pride.” Babel was begotten of Nimrod, whose name has a symbolic meaning of principle of disordered will, of rebellion, anarchy, despotism, self ruling will, arbitrary sway, and any power prone to follow its own violent impulse. In this way, Nimrod forms a very good shadow of the Adversary, and indeed Genesis 10:8 says “he who strove for being the high lord in the earth” (Fabre D’Olivet). It is positively divinely coordinated that this figure would represent Satan, by being a “lordly adversary before the face of YHWH” (Fabre D’Olivet).
Into this world of Babel [vanity] we are born and man grows in the physical domain of life, with the “breath in his nostrils” (Isa. 2:22), and thus not to be esteemed. How can this seed, Zerubbabel, come out of Babylon, as the Lord commands (Rev. 18:4)? Of great import is “her sins” (her lawlessness) remembered by God, and that Man is addressed to come out so as not to participate in her sins. Is Babylon ascending or descending? Should she be glorified, exalted in her capacity? Or is she merely a gold cup in the hand of the Lord to intoxicate the nations?
Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand,
making all the earth drunken;
the nations drank of her wine;
therefore the nations went mad.
Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken;
wail for her!
Take balm for her pain;
perhaps she may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon,
but she was not healed.
Forsake her, and let us go
each to his own country,
for her judgment has reached up to heaven
and has been lifted up even to the skies.
The Lord has brought about our vindication;
come, let us declare in Zion
the work of the Lord our God. (Jeremiah 51:7-10, emphasis added)
The prophets are clear, whether Isaiah, or Jeremiah, Zephaniah, or Ezekiel, but Babylon is an instrument of the Lord to follow through this demonstration of His righteousness together with the wickedness of all the sons of iniquity. For this reason we can address all of the false prophets, or pseudoprophetoi, they are termed in the new testament, are not correct in crying out “Babylon Rising,” an expression even used as title for a popular book. To even utilize it betrays a failure to understand this Mystery. She is the “mystery of iniquity” Paul declares to the Thessalonians, and she has been chosen as an instrument by the Lord, an instrument for “a dishonorable use.” Because her place is on high, and is in the land of Shinar [civil rebellion], she cannot be solely identified with a nation on earth, nor a single city on earth, nor of any single ecclesiastical authority.
Revealing mysteries hidden from the foundation of the world (Matt 13:35), Jesus hid this reality in a parable, a veiled teaching, which Matthew did not unveil. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” (Matt 13:33, emphasis added)
But here is the story of Babylon. The leaven — sin, false teaching or teaching of demons — is hidden and is growing until the entire lump is leavened. In the understanding opened by the key of David, we see in the “delayed” entry to the promised land, a waiting period required for entry, namely that the sin of the Amorites was not yet full (Gen 15:6). This physical left-handed reflection or enantiomer of a right-handed spiritual reality teaches us that the kingdom cannot come until the iniquity of the people is full; meaning, that the iniquity of the “canaanites” must be complete, or the leaven must have leavened the entire lump before the kingdom can come on earth.
This brings us full circle back to our rhetorical question of Babylon rising. Her sin must be full, the leaven must have risen all the way, her iniquity must be complete. That we see when all who remaining of mankind not killed by the plagues of the 6th trumpet, “did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and silver . . . (Rev 10:20).
The troubling part of this story for most Christians is simply that they can’t understand why God would set up this Mystery, Babylon, to fill heaven and earth with violent opposition, civil rebellion to God’s throne and His kingdom? And herein lies the mystery of creation and why the physical heavens and earth were made to be the way they are, viz. to make a demonstration of the Adversary’s alternative to the kingdom of the Most High and His Anointed, and with the failure and fall of the Adversary’s kingdom could come the kingdom of Heaven to earth. “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been. The Lord looks to what is past.”
You can see why this would be troubling to Christendom, because, and here is a word they do NOT want to hear, they belong to the Adversary, they are slaves to sin, and do not accept the kingdom of heaven on God’s terms but expect it to come on their own. They have not ratified the covenant with their participation and therefore, they are, in a way, strangers to the covenant, folks to whom the Lord would say, “I know you not.”
So, while Babylon is still rising like a loaf of leavened bread, she has been condemned, “her judgment has reached up to heaven,” she is condemned like a prisoner on death row, which is precisely what she is. And when her iniquity is full, then shall the kingdom come. And like a risen loaf that is shaken or stirred, she will collapse in an instant when God shakes yet once more, the heavens and the earth. This Mystery was secret counsel of the Most High and His Beloved when the foundations of the earth were laid.
But it is disingenuous to speak of the Mystery of Iniquity, aka “Wickedness” (Zech 5:8), the woman sitting in the ephah measure, as presenting anything new or rising. No, she became a city [Heb. whir ] from time immemorial, even with the creation of the physical heaven and earth, as the company of rebels poured out of heaven into their new locale in the abyss. She is mother of harlots. In the hieroglyphic sense of the Hebrew characters, she is that which manifests a physical impulsion, an attraction, a common center of activity. In this regard, the great city as fort or rampart is the fellowship of rebels engaged in civil rebellion, and it is replicated like the yeast of leaven in every city of the world system, because the nature of the adversary is upon her head, for the adversary is her head. It is she who placed the leaven in heaven, and on earth, imprinting the teaching of demons into every culture and religion on the face of the earth.
As this was the condition uncovered in “Eden, the garden of God” (Ezek. 28:13) , so it is the quality revealed within the abyss, filling the three measures — the three dimensions of space — with lawlessness growing like a fungus. And when her sin is full, then shall come the kingdom.
There will be at least one more installment on Babylon, because it is an important Mystery to settle on the basis of God’s disclosure apart from the traditions of men. For now, we can conclude that there is NO “Final Babylon,” nor is “Babylon Rising,” except as a loaf of leaven, but not as a new phenomenon of Rome, or of the United States.
As Qoheleth, the writer of Ecclesiastes, said “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has vanished. (Eccl. 3:15). Babylon has already been, and when John, our “fellow partaker in the affliction, and kingdom and endurance” (Rev. 1:9) saw her, Mystery Babylon, he was carried away in the Spirit into a wilderness. (Rev. 17:3) There she was sitting on the beast which is none other than the great red dragon (Rev. 12:3), the beast rising from the sea with seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 13:1). As she is in the wilderness, and the Beast is in the sea, then John is saying that she is not on earth, but is a reality in Spirit, in the heavens, although she has made the nations drunk with the wine of her passion and her immorality. She sits on seven mountains which are seven kings, which are the seven heads of the Beast, or the principalities or thrones of the adversary’s rulership in the heavens. But look, she is cast down to the earth, and so we come round full circle to the first citation of Isaiah 26, God lays the lofty city low to the earth, and casts it to the dust.
Babylon really is a Mystery, and should be understood as the mystery of iniquity (2 Thess 2:7), or lawlessness, for her name is wickedness (Zech. 5:8), to reiterate a point made earlier, and she is the mother of abominations of the earth. And as a Mystery, or ‘sacred secret,’ she cannot be understood without the mind of Christ to ‘reveal’ her. The fleshly mind will try to fix her to any one or more of different physical realities, but her reality is spiritual, while her shadow is cast in the physical.
The graphic images portrayed with linguistic icons by John are functional symbols, so we know, for example that in Rev. 5 there is no slaughtered animal that approaches the throne of God, but it is Christ Jesus, the Passover Lamb of God who was sacrificed. Likewise in Rev. 17, there is no woman in a wilderness riding on a beastly creature, but it is a reality in spirit that is functionally the mother of all lawlessness, just as Eve was the mother of all living. The spiritual reality that is broadcast by the Prince of the Air and supported by his leadership who are the principalities of the Host of Heaven is a ‘beastly’ reality, and that is the nature of Babylon. And as the gods of Babylon ruled over the people in their religion, so too throughout the earth the Host of Heaven is worshiped by the idols made by hands, the self-governance and self-glorification and commerce of Man.
And Babylon’s nature as the mother of harlots, means that this spirit gives birth to an unfaithful, and unbelieving nature, so that a person who does not believe God, but believes the lies and deception of the adversary is a child of this spirit and consequently, a harlot by nature. It does not help the Christian to externalize and set Babylon up as the scapegoat and the harlot. What helps is to understand that we were born into this nature, and when we are born of spirit so that the spirit of Christ dwells within us, then we must put the old man to death daily, who is the one begotten in Babylon. This spiritual reality of iniquity is what is falling. She is decreed to be under judgment.
This is what God will bring down to earth to rest in the earth, never to rise again. It is the pride of Man, yes, but it is so much more. It is the pride of rebel sons of God, who turned against the Holy One who gave them life, and want nothing else but to engender their spirit in others. Indeed, they have done it, for this is the way of the world and those of whom Paul spoke to the Ephesians. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph 2:1-2)
Future installments on Babylon will focus on just how her fall will occur, and also what she will look like in the millennium, for she will serve a surprising purpose during the millennial kingdom of Christ.