With the conclusion of the bowl judgments we've seen the end
of the Great Tribulation. Now we'll back
up a little and get the detail on Babylon's
Destruction. Remember the verse from Rev.
16:19? God remembered Babylon the Great and
gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Well, chapters 17-18 will give us the
blow-by-blow. Almost since the beginning
of time, the story of man on Earth has been the Tale of Two Cities. Babylon is the
city of man, and Jerusalem the City of God. It's no coincidence that the final days of
the Age of Man are taken up with a battle involving these two cities.
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
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:
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. When I saw her, I was greatly
astonished. (Rev 17:1-6)
As I said in our last segment, there are three facets to the Babylonian
world system that have enslaved men through the Ages, religious, commercial,
and governmental. We'll deal with the
religious first, characterized here by the woman. Notice that she's riding the beast. The rider always controls the animal, and the
third mention of seven heads and ten horns indicates that this is the same
beast that came out of the water in Rev. 13, the one empowered by Satan,
the dragon from Rev. 12. This
tells us that the anti-Christ will initially derive his power through his
association with the one-world religion. Having fought for most of the past
century to divest himself of his relationship with the one true God, man will
embrace this false god. Jesus said,
"I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if
someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him (John 5:43).
The Woman is called mystery Babylon because
she's not in Babylon,
as we'll soon see. But the Babylonian
religion is literally the mother of all the cults and mythologies that have
been set up in opposition to the Gospel.
Briefly, back in Genesis 10, when Nimrod founded Babylon, his wife Semeramis sowed the first seeds of false religion by
claiming that her son Tammuz was the supernatural
offspring of the Sun God, borrowing from the promise first disclosed in the
Garden that the seed of the woman would redeem mankind.
According to tradition, when Tammuz was killed in a hunting accident, she went into 40
days of mourning. Near the end of this
time she burned a yule log (yule
means child in the Babylonian language) as the Sun slowly died. After the longest night of the year, the
winter Solstice, Tammuz came back to life in the
world's first counterfeit resurrection.
In joy, she decorated an evergreen tree, a symbol of life, and passed
out pastries with her son's initial on top to commemorate the event. Today we call these pastries hot cross buns,
since the Babylonian "T" looks like our "X". As if to validate this celebration, the sun
began coming back to life as well.
She memorialized the 40 days of mourning (which we call Lent) by forming a
celibate priesthood to lead the people in the worship of her risen son. She
declared the high priest to be infallible and herself to be the Queen of
Heaven, and the mother-child cult was born.
Every mythology from that time forward has carried elements of this
story. In the Egyptian version she was
known as Isis, in neo-Babylon as Ashteroth or Ishtar, in Canaan as Astarte, in Greece as Aphrodite and in Rome as Venus. She's variously called the goddess of love
and fertility. Her main objective has
always been to usurp God's role as the sole Giver and Sustainer of Life.
Then the angel said to me: "Why are you astonished? I will explain
to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven
heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will
come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the
earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation
of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was,
now is not, and yet will come. (Rev. 17:7-8) The beast is again
identified as the indwelt anti-Christ, this time by using a corruption of the
name of God to signify his supposed death and resurrection. And again we see that our names were written
in the Lamb's book of Life from the very beginning. It's great to have a
confirmed reservation for the most desired place in the entire Universe, made
by the Owner Himself.
"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills
on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is,
the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little
while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to
the seven and is going to his destruction. (Rev 17:9-11) The imagery
of the seven heads and ten horns has now been expanded to give us added
insight. By all historical accounts, the
city on seven hills is Rome,
current seat of the Babylonian Religion.
It had moved to Pergamum
during the reign of the Greeks and then to Rome.
Later, in the 4th Century AD, it would be blended into
Christianity becoming first the Holy Roman Empire,
then the Catholic Church. One more
metamorphosis (a merger with Islam?) will make it into the woman who rides the
At the time of John's writing history had noted the passing of five World
Empires, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. The current Empire was Rome, components of which (Spain,
England, and the USA) have reigned
to this very day. The one that has not
yet come is a revival of Ancient Rome, soon to emerge out of the European
Union. The anti-Christ is an eighth king, that is he's
not specifically identified with any of the seven, but in his goals and
ambitions will belong to all of them.
This could be a hint that the anti-Christ will not have previously held
a leadership position in the European Union, but will come from outside that
group's current political structure.
"The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a
kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the
beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the
beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them
because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called,
chosen and faithful followers." (Rev. 17:12-14) Some see the ten horns as the heads of ten
regions of the coming One World Government.
Some see them as the 10 fully vested members of the EU. Either way they'll have governmental
authority over the Earth under the headship of the anti-Christ, eventually
massing all the armies of man to oppose the return of the Lord with His Church. The three words used to describe His followers
are always and only used of the Church, and He's coming with us, not for
Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute
sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 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." (Rev 17:15-18)
This is the destruction of religious Babylon foretold in Rev. 14:8.
Although the anti-Christ came to power under the auspices of the World Wide
Religion, this very religious system becomes a barrier to his ultimate goal of
being worshipped himself as the only god. And so governmental Babylon turns on
religious Babylon to destroy it. Notice
that it's God Who puts them up to this.
For "one hour" (the time of the Great Tribulation) the Beast
and his 10 kings get power over Earth just so they can destroy the Woman who
made their rule possible, thereby fulfilling God's purpose.
At some point along the way, perhaps in
preparation for the destruction of the harlot church, world headquarters will
move from Rome to Babylon. Zechariah
5:5-11 speaks of a woman in a basket,
representing the iniquity of the world, being carried from her current position
to a place prepared for her on the plains of Shinar,
a reference to Babylon's location in modern day Iraq. Women with the wings of storks, unclean
birds, lift the basket into the air and carry it there.
Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon had been conquered by the Persians nearly
100 years before Zechariah's prophecy.
Within 200 more years the Persians would lose it to Alexander who
intended to dredge the Euphrates and make Babylon into a giant river port for
ships from the Persian Gulf and points East.
Alas, he died before he could start it.
When one of Alexander's successors built his dreamed of port in a
natural harbor on the neighboring Tigris River and named it Bagdhad,
Babylon dwindled to a town of 10,000, it's massive walls cannibalized for
Current conditions in Iraq may just be
leading us toward the fulfillment of the Bible's prophecy to restore Babylon to
a mighty city in preparation for its ultimate and complete destruction. No other city except Jerusalem is given as
much mention in the Bible as Babylon, and in the 6 chapters devoted to its
destruction (Isaiah 13-14, Jeremiah 50-51,
and Rev. 17-18) never has it been so
completely overcome as these passages require.
In fact, one of the great surprises from the Gulf War was the vision of
Babylon, having undergone a billion dollar reconstruction, sitting there tall
and proud on the banks of the Euphrates.
As tempting as it is to read these
passages figuratively and see them as representing New York or some other city,
and as much as we can all agree that such punishment is certainly warranted for
them, there's simply no Biblical reason to do so. The plains of Shinar
is a specific geographical location in Iraq, and after the pagan religion moved
to Pergamum during the time of the Greek Empire it
never came back there as the prophecy requires.
So while there's no specific indication of
this in Scripture, I believe the woman in Zechariah 5 to be the same as the woman in Rev 17, returned from Rome to her original home in Babylon
in fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy.
After this I saw another angel coming
down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his
splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:
"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. The
kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew
rich from her excessive luxuries."
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. Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her
own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave
In her heart she boasts, 'I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will
never mourn.' 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.
"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!' (Rev. 18:1-10) Once more we see
religious Babylon in ruins, burned in the fire of righteous judgment, in an
expansion of Rev. 17:16. She has
enslaved God's children with her inquisitions and threats of eternal
punishment, her man made rules, her oppressive religious works, and her
voracious thirst for wealth, and now she gets back double as her punishment.
Next comes the commercial component.
"The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her
because no one buys their cargoes any more— cargoes of gold, silver, precious
stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of
citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze,
iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and
frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep;
horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.
"They will say, 'The fruit you longed for is gone from you.
All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.' The
merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far
off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out:
" '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!'
"Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship,
the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off.
When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, 'Was there ever a
city like this great city?' They will throw dust on their heads, and with
weeping and mourning cry out:
" 'Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich
through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her,
O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the
way she treated you.' "
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. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and
trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever
be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you
again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of
bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. 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." (Rev. 18:11-24)
We could devote much time to a discussion on the details of Babylon's
destruction, but a quick review of Isaiah 13-14 and Jeremiah 50-51 will
make it obvious that never in history has this evil city and all it represents
been so totally brought down. And even
if the city itself had been dashed to the ground and its refuse dumped into the
sea, the systems created there have certainly survived to this day. What I'd like us to focus on here is the
insidious nature of the world's commercial system and how it's enslaved mankind
to an extent that actually surpasses the religious oppression we've discussed
because by its nature, it closes the door to God's truth. Consider these words
from the Lord in His Kingdom Parables. The one who received the seed that
fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this
life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. (Matt.
From my studies, I've concluded that with the rise of the anti-Christ the
world's religious, political and economic systems will all be consolidated
under one authority, and this authority will be headquartered in Babylon. It will be the Vatican, Mecca, the UN, the
stock and commodities markets and the monetary exchanges of the world all
rolled up into one.
Today many of us don't realize the extent to which we've become
enslaved. It isn't until you opt out of
the system that you begin to realize the hold it's had on you. His American audiences used to roar in
laughter when Charles "Tremendous" Jones, one of my favorite
humorists accused them of "spending money we don't have, to buy things we
don't need, to impress people we don't like." The accusation was all too true, but it seems
like all we can do about it is laugh at ourselves.
The secret to success was once identified as the ability to find a need and
fill it. Now the advertising industry
promises, "You create the product, and we'll create the need for it." Promotional costs can add 30-50% to the price
of the things we buy, and yet we willingly pay the premium, because everybody
else is. And then we add in the cost of
financing our purchases because we don't really have the income to support the
lifestyle we've been manipulated into. So we borrow from the future to pay for
the present. Americans currently spend
125% of their annual incomes, accumulating trillions of dollars in consumer
debt just to appear more successful than reality would admit because the
advertising industry makes it sound like the right thing to do.
In 2006 every dollar that Americans earn from January 1 to June 3 will be
required to pay the various taxes levied against us by our government. The hidden costs of promotion and credit will
more than consume the rest. We're all
just two major medical events from bankruptcy, and most of us could not survive
60 days without incomes. And we think
Similar statistics can be cited for much of the so-called developed world,
though they're often obscured by the ridiculous promise of their governments to
take care of them. (Don't they realize that governments don't produce wealth,
but consume it?) For the rest, wages
counted in pennies keeps people in a state of poverty you can actually feel,
while those who pay them often enjoy lives of obscene luxury.
So whether he thinks he's rich or knows he's poor, the average human being
is economically enslaved for life. As
much as God hates false religion, He hates the economic enslavement of His
people no less. And so when it comes
time to visit His vengeance on those responsible, there's no holding back.
Cries of excessive force and improper lack of restraint will fall on deaf ears
this time. Commercial Babylon and its
worldwide system of enslavement will oppress mankind no more, and those who've
been enriched by it will lament its loss.
Next time it's governmental Babylon in focus. See you then.