The Mystery of Babylon
January 6-7, 2018
Revelation 18. We're nearing towards the end of the tribulation period in the future; this is where of course that seven-year period God pours his wrath out upon the world. But one of the things that we've seen throughout the book of Revelation and it's a very important thing for us to understand is that even during the tribulation period; God is pouring forth the gospel. There will be many who come to faith in Jesus Christ in the tribulation period because the eternal gospel is proclaimed. Anyone who wants to turn their heart to the Lord it is not too late.
That's a very important message for us today. It's not too late to turn your heart to the Lord now. My dad was 75 years old. He lived a pretty tough life before that and God is able to redeem and to transform us, it's not too late. It's not too late in the tribulation. In the verses that we're studying, the emphasis is on Babylon. It's the mystery city because it's not actual Babylon, that city is destroyed, but this is a city named Babylon. "Babylon the great has fallen." it tells us. There's so much interest into what this could possibly mean and the impact on world events in the latter days.
It's very important that we understand what it means when he says-- he speaks of Babylon the great in the book of Revelation. In other words, is it an actual city? What city might it be today? It's interesting because, of course, in that time when John wrote this, he would have no idea. Of course, the names of the city that would be in the future. It's a great way of representing that future city for what it speaks of when it used Babylon to speak of it, to represent it.
Is it an actual city? What city might it be? What does the Antichrist have to do with this city? What does the city represent? How will it be destroyed? Will God destroy it? We know it's fallen. By what course of action does it fall? You might be surprised actually at some of the answers. A lot of books have been written particularly emphasizing Babylon. Movies have made, of course, it's a famous in a way of thinking of latter days. Many books have been written. Many theories as to what this might represent.
It's important for us to really discern and to read it with the ears open, the heart to discern and the desire to understand. Let's read the beginning in chapter 18. All of the chapter 17 deals with that, we will deal with the details between on Wednesday. It's a very, very important service, don't miss Wednesday service. Let's start in 18:1.
"After these things, I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory." What a picture is that. "And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.' And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird." That is a really interesting thing, we'll speak about those details on Wednesday.
“For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality." That is a key we need to understand, that's a picture for us to grasp. "All the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality. And then I heard another voice from heaven, saying, 'Come out of her, my people.'" Now, this is a great verse for us, right here.
"Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins." Do not drink of that wine, don't participate. "Come out of her, my people, that you may not receive of the consequences, the plagues, for her sins have piled up as high as heaven." They piled up. I mentioned this on Wednesday, there's a crescendo of immorality and when we look around the world today, we are seeing a tremendous increase in immorality in the world. Are we not?
There's going to be a culmination, a crescendo. It says, "Her sins are piled up as high as heaven and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back even as she has paid, and give her back double according to her deeds, in the cup which she has mixed, then mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself to live sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning, for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see sadness of mourning.'"
"For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire, for the Lord God who judges her is strong. And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensually with her will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, 'Whoa, whoa. The great city Babylon, the strong city.' For in one hour your judgment has come. And the merchants of the earth weep and they mourn over her because no one buys their cargos anymore."
I. History Connects to Prophecy
Those are the verses I want us to look at. I want us to start with this perspective that history connects the prophecy. It's important for us to recognize the history connects to prophecy. First Babylon in Revelation, it tells this is a mystery, this mystery city. It's not a city going by the literal name; it's symbolic of a city and more. Revelation 17:5, just a little bit to the left. John specifically says that, "There's a name written upon the forehead of a great harlot." She's represented here as a great harlot.
A. Historically; a city
It's also a symbol that says, "A mystery, Babylon the great, Mother of Harlots." Let's start by understanding that history connects the prophecy. Let's go back over a little bit of history of Babylon. Historically, it is a city. Babylon was a great city. In fact, at one time was the largest city of the world and it was the power center of the ancient Mesopotamia area. In the time, of course, when Israel was destroyed and defeated, it was the power center of the Babylonian empire.
In fact, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, maybe you've heard of it, were considered so grand, so magnificent, they were like one of the Seven Wonders of the World, such was the reputation. This was the power center that oppressed and defeated Israel and destroyed Jerusalem and took captive the inhabitants of Jerusalem back to Babylon, which is in modern day, Iraq. There they remained in captivity for those 70 years which, of course, we read when we went through that study in the Old Testament.
Interestingly that group of people- of Jews that were exiled to Babylon remained there. Even though after that 70 years of exile they were allowed to return, not by a Babylonian king, but they were allowed to return, but many did not. Though they should have, many did not. In fact even today, even recently, there was some made mention in the news about how many Jews still live in Iraq today. They are descendants- even today; they are descendants all the way back from those Jews that were exiled in Babylon all those many years before. Really is quite fascinating.
Babylon was a historic city and it was the center for occultic religion from which ancient Babylon, the occultic religion of Babylon is where the number 666 for the antichrist comes from, ancient occultic religion of Babylon. It was the number given to the occultic god, which they believed to be the Son God, the Great God, over all the other gods. The number 666 was attributed to that great God and they have, thus, the magic square. The magic square was six rose, six column of numbers from one to 36 and if you add one plus two plus three plus four plus five plus six, and you continue adding until you get plus 36 that equals 666. They have this magic square, they would put all of this 36 numbers into the square, in such a way that every row added up to 111, thus six rose, 666, and every column added up to 111, six rose, that makes six columns, 111 each, 666.
Even the diagonals made 111. This square, this amulet would be worn on the breast of the "The occultic Priest" to ward off the evil intent. In other words, their satanic occultic power behind it and so this was to appease the Gods. But the occultic religion is historic and it comes back into modern days. The number of the Antichrist, the number of his name is none other than the same numbers, 666. Now, the name Babylon in Greek means Gateway of the Gods, but in Hebrew, it means confusion, thus connecting from Babel, from it came. God saw too it though, the Babylon was destroyed.
Babylon was overthrown, is a better word. Jeremiah 25:12. "Then it will be when 70 years are completed." By the way, those Jews in exile had the words of the prophet Jeremiah to read. Jeremiah prophesied well in advanced, it would be 70 years. Those 70 years, when they're completed, "Then I will punish the King of Babylon and that nation and the Land of the Chaldeans for their inequity," declares the Lord, "And I will make it it never last desolation." which it is today. Babylon was overthrown, overtaken when the Medes and the Persians- Persians are modern day Iran.
The Medes and the Persians attacked it, it was impenetrable. It had a massive wall, just unimaginable that it could be defeated. But there was a certain vulnerability that the Medes and the Persians discerned. That was that there was a river running directly through the city. There was a security gate of bars and metal that went down, of course, to the water. What they did was they diverted the river upstream and then during the night, they crept into the city under the gates now that the waterway was opened and the city of Babylon was in a great drunken party, which we read in the book of Daniel, and they quickly overthrew the king and overtook the city.
After Babylon fell, the great city, the Persian King's Cyrus then ruled and he's the one who released the Jews from captivity. It was an amazing story because when Cyrus came into power, they showed him his name in the Book of Isaiah, which was written hundreds of years before. What an amazing moment of history that was. Alexander the Great- later on when the Greeks, of course, conquered the known world, Alexander the Great came to Babylon and tried to rebuild it but died there suddenly, actually in Nebuchadnezzar's palace. Now, that's historic Babylon but it's also prophetic. Prophetically, it's a symbol.
B. Prophetically; a symbol
First, it's a symbol for the city that the Antichrist will use as headquarters for his position of world power. I've read all kinds of things about what Babylon might represent in the Book of Revelations. Some might suggest that that Babylon is New York City because the headquarters of the United Nations is in New York City. Some have suggested therefore, that the events of September 11, 2001 fulfill verse 18, which describes the smoke of that city rising as it was destroyed in one hour. But the city was not overthrown, the city was not destroyed. Two buildings and others near it were, but I do not connect those at all.
Many have thought, perhaps, Babylon could be the actual city of Rome. It is described- we'll get in to some of these details on Wednesday but it is described as sitting on seven hills. Seven actual hills but those hills also represent kings. But it sit on seven hills. Rome sits on seven hills, very famous when you go to Rome. We were just there in November, this fall, and those seven hills are quite famous. Some have thought, perhaps, Babylon is ancient Rome. Since Rome is the capital of ancient Rome and biblical prophecy suggests that the Antichrist will rule over a revived Roman kingdom, thus they believe, that connected to Rome.
But this has led some to take a venture into a great leap, which is to suggest that the Catholic church, therefore, since speaking of Rome, that the Catholic church is the religion of the Antichrist and that the Antichrist therefore is the Pope. I do not see this and I do not believe that and I hope that you don't either. However, history connects with prophecy and there's a connection to the Roman Empire. That is true. The Antichrist does reign over a 10 nation alliance of states that were once part of the Roman Empire. The desire is interesting because when you connect history to prophecy, it's very fascinating. I don't know about you but I love reading History and connecting and seeing the correspondence. The desire to have the power of Caesar.
Caesar was the greatest, most powerful Emperor to that time. World had never known such a ruler as the Caesar of Rome. To have that title has been desired by world leaders for many, many generations. Various forms of that title, Caesar, have been used even fairly recently. If you remember your history, you might remember that the great Roman Empire, at one point, became divided between the Western Empire and the Eastern Empire. The western, centered in the city of Rome, but the Eastern Empire centered on Constantinople, named after Constantine the Emperor. Let's follow and trace each of those through history just for a moment.
The Western Roman Empire, as we know, weakened overtime. But in 800 AD, when the Pope ordained Charlemagne, French king- Charlemagne means the Great Charles- to be the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in central Europe. Thus, the "Holy Roman Empire" existed for quite some time. Then later on, Germany also- as nations evolved and moved, later Germany was called the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. In fact, the German King was known as the Kaiser, which is the German pronunciation of Caesar for us. Then later on, Nazi Germany referred to itself as the third Reich.
You might remember this from history, the third Reich representing then the third empire. The Holy Roman Empire, being the first, the Holy Roman Empire, the German nation being the second and the Nazi Nation being the third Reich, the third Empire. Moving to the Eastern, Constantinople. The leaders of Eastern Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire, also used the title of Caesar. Then, interestingly when the Muslim adamants destroyed or took over Constantinople, the adamant's, for a time, used the title Caesar, such was its desire to be known by its great name and great title. But many of the leaders of the Byzantine, the Roman Empire in East fled. Where did they flee to?
They fled to Moscow. The religious leaders and the political leaders, they fled to Moscow. Thus, they call Moscow the third Rome. First Rome being Rome, second Rome being Constantinople, which by the way sat on seven hills and they moved it to Moscow, which interestingly sits on seven hills, called the third Rome. I don't know about you but I find this fascinating. Babylon, therefore, is a symbol of spiritual idolatry. It's traced its history, now we look prophetically; it's a symbol of spiritual idolatry. There's a spiritual nature to what is coming upon the world. Now God uses marriage fidelity as a picture of spiritual faithfulness. That's why Babylon the city is called the harlot because he uses spiritual fidelity in sexual terms because it's very powerful. A powerful way of expressing it. It's a symbol of false religion, that's true and in the last days the false prophet arises and causes many to worship the beast, the Antichrist. Religion, therefore, is part of the Antichrist empire. Now it is also a symbol for what we might call the party approach of life.
The party manifesto, we can say it that way. The Lord considers anything in our lives that takes the place, that He should have in our lives to be an idol, spiritual unfaithfulness. So there's a certain mentality in the world that basically is; eat, drink, and be merry. Party it up in other words. Party is part of the theme of Babylon. Revelation 18:3 all nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality.
It's also a symbol of economic idolatry or materialism. The kingdoms of earth are made rich by the system, by Babylon-- the whore actually is said kind of graphically. The system of materialism is also destroyed by the wrath of God in the tribulation period. The lesson immediately for us is that we should be very careful in regards to our perspective, our view of the world. In fact, even in material things, we must hold the things of the world loosely, don't put your heart on material things. That's like clamoring to get the best room on the Titanic.
There's a certain defeatedness to the logic. Luke 16:14 to 15 says, "Now the Pharisees who were lovers of money were listening to all of these things and were scoffing at Jesus." He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men but God knows your hearts." For that which is highly esteemed among men is quite detestable in the sight of God. It's important for us to be recognizing that now. Recognize that now.
C. It is destroyed by the Antichrist
Then I want to say this and this might be surprising to learn but the Scripture tells us that Babylon is destroyed, but who destroys it? You might be surprised to learn that Babylon is actually destroyed by none other than the Antichrist himself. That is a very intriguing thing but unless you wonder where that comes from it's in Revelation 17. You are very close to it. Revelation 17, let's begin in verse 16 and just read a few verses. "And the 10 horns, which you saw, and the beast." Remember that the picture, he has this picture of this woman who is riding on the beast. "The 10 horns of the beast that you saw, these 10 horns are 10 kings tell us and they will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire." Who?
These ten kings who have their authority from the Antichrist. For God, verse 17, has put it in their hearts to execute his purpose by having a common purpose and by giving their kingdom to the beast until the Words of God should be fulfilled and the women whom you saw is that great city who reigns over the kings of the earth. So why then would the Antichrist betray his own system, you might say. The answer is that the Antichrist will rise to power through the system but then once he has the power, he destroys the system.
Hitler did the very same thing. You might remember in history that Hitler came to power starting out by being a Chancellor and then rising when the President died, he then combined the two positions together and then had no need for the parliament and dissolved that. There's that idea, that same idea. Rising to power through the system and then destroys the system which guarantees his power. He has therefore also a reason to move his capital to Jerusalem because the intent of the Antichrist is to take Jerusalem from Israel.
Thus it connects even to what's happening in the news today, the moving of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a very important picture for us because it shows us the significance of Jerusalem as the center of Latter-day events. In fact, the Scripture says, "That the Antichrist will betray Israel after making a covenant of peace. He will betray Israel, he, the Antichrist will take back the Temple that he allowed it to build, and therefore will set up an image of the beast, set up in the holiest of holy places in the Temple, betraying Israel." As you can imagine, all hell breaks loose at this point.
The Scripture then says that he will also take Jerusalem itself because we read in Revelation 11, he said, "I was given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple but do not measure the outer court, for the Gentiles will trample that great city underfoot for three and half years." This is a very significant thing to understand that it relates to prophecy that is amazing, because it's connecting even to modern day events that we're seeing unfolding before our very eyes. Let's make some conclusions that are important. First of all, can we say this? Don't buy into Babylon.
II. Don’t Buy into Babylon
There's a practical application for us to consider seriously, though the church is removed through the rapture, there are several things that apply to our lives right now. Let's start with this. God is against all that Babylon represents. Let's just start with that. God is against everything that Babylon represents. If God is against it, then we must be careful not to be for it. Amen.
A. God is against all the Babylon represents
If God is against, it we must be very careful not to be for it. For example-- I mean, here's just an example. We know for example that God is against it because of the response of heaven after it's downfall. In fact, we are very close to Revelation 19, just go over one more chapter and we'll begin reading just a few verses starting in chapter 19 verse 1 after these things I heard as it where a voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, "Hallelujah. Salvation and glory and power belong to our God because His judgments are true and righteous. He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality and He has avenged the blood of His bondservants on her." The scripture says, "She was drunk with the blood of the believers of Jesus Christ. Many died for their faith in that city and thus judgment came."
What is interesting is that God uses the Antichrist to accomplish his purpose. That is a fascinating thing to grasp but it's also important for us to see that the Antichrist himself is not released until the time that is set forth according to the purpose of God and that is important for us to grasp as well. We continue back in Revelation 19 and the second time they said, "Hallelujah." her smoke rises up forever and ever and the 24 elders and the four living creatures they fell down and they worshiped God who sits on the throne and they said "Amen and Hallelujah." and a voice from heaven said, "Give praise to God, give praise to God, all you as bondservants, you who fear Him, small and great for the great city has fallen."
It's important for us to recognize that it is a place of demonic power and demonic activity. Gods against it because of the demonic nature of it, Revelation 18:2 tells us that it's a place of demons and the power behind immoralities is the serpent of old. The power behind many immoralities is Satan himself. It's important that we be in agreement with God. If God is against it, we should be against it. We should align our hearts with the purpose of God himself. Is that not true? And so we, therefore, must be very careful that we do not align our lives with the intent and purpose of the enemy. Isn't that true?
In fact, here is just an example of that. You know the enemy is called the accuser of the brethren? We must be careful not to be the accuser of the brethren. We are called to build up and edify, let our words be a blessing, let our words accompany from our mouth build up and notify. Make sure that you do that because that's God's heart, to build up and notify. Satan is the accuser. He is the one who criticizes. He is the one who reminds people of their failures. He is the one who reminds people of their shame. Let us not be in agreement with Satan. Let’s be in agreement with God.
B. Don’t be part of the party
Next thing, don’t be part of the party. Let's play it that way. If Babylon is the symbol for the words- worlds’ party, we must decide that the world’s party is not where we belong. Does nothing for the soul. In fact it makes the soul sick. If you drink of the wine of the passion of immorality, it will make your soul sick. Verse 3 is a very picture for us, that drinking of the wine-- what do you drink from? See, we will all become what we are passionate about. We are people made to have passion in our lives. That’s right. But we will become what we are passionate about. A. W. Tozer, very famous Christian writer wrote that, "We are becoming what we love." What a picture is that?
We are becoming what we love. Love is a transforming power. Therefore, what we love is prophetic of our future. Therefore, we, who have been made in the image of God, should have in our hearts the very desire to love God. What is the highest, first, foremost of all, that God has ever said to men? “You shall love the Lord your God. With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. Amen.” "Do not love the world nor the things of the world”, the Scripture says. Woodstock was a great example of loving among things. Does anybody remember Woodstock? It’s part of cultural history. You’re ol- I was going to say, you’re old enough to remember. I myself, read about this.
I read all about it in history books. So Max Yasgur’s farm, this Woodstock, cultural moment of history. Max Yasgur’s farm, 1969, became an expression of a new counter culture. Flower power was born as 500,000 gathered to be free, so called, "To be free" and to listen to Jimmy Hendricks and Janice Joplin and many others. Jimmy Hendricks once said, “Music is my Religion.” Jimmy Hendricks said, “I’m going to do-- I’m going to go on and do what I feel, for music is my religion.” Within 14 months, after Woodstock, both Jimmy Hendricks and Janice Joplin were dead.
What we love becomes prophetic of our future. That’s why in verse 4, there is this powerful statement, “Come out of her, my people. Come out of her, my people so that you may not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues. Come out of her, my people.” Doesn’t that remind you of some other things we read in the scripture? That’s thus hard, isn’t it? "Come out of her, my people. Draw near to me. Draw near to the Lord."
2nd Corinthians 6:14 to 16, “For what partnerships have righteousness and lawlessness, what fellowship has light with darkness, what harmony has Christ with Belial. What does a believer have in common with the non-believer? What agreement does the temple of God have with idols, for we are the temple of the living God." Revelation chapter 2, we read that earlier, ”And you have perseverance and have endured for my name’s sake and have not grown weary.”
C. “Turn your heart toward home”
What a great thing to have set of us. But it continues, "but I have this against you, that you’ve left your first love. He who hasn’t hear, let him hear what the Spirits says to the churches to him. Overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God. Men, set your heart on that." In fact, can we say it this way? Turn your heart toward home. It’s an only expression from James Dolsen, but I love it. “Turn your heart towards home.” is a great expression. Where is home? Where’s home? God is taking us out of darkness.
God is taking us out of the kingdom of darkness and given us a relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth. We’re home. Home is that place where God Himself dwells amongst His people. There is no temple there, for God, Himself, dwells amongst the men. There’s no need of the sun, for the glory of God illuminates it. That picture for us is to turn your heart toward home, is to turn your heart toward heaven. The tribulation events bring the world to a great battle.
The valley of Armageddon, the Scripture says, “Where the nations will come together to attack Israel on one great, final battle." The book of Joel which is read on Wednesdays, called the valley of Jehoshaphat, the valley of decision. That’s a great word, "Valley of decision". When you see that there is a great culmination of immorality building now, we’re seeing a Christian of building of immorality; we know where this is headed. Therefore, now is the time. This is the valley of decision, for us.
Joshua brought Israel together before his death with one final challenge and he declared powerfully, "Choose, you, this day, whom you will serve but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The valley of decision, that was the day, because we see where the world is going. We must decide for what we will drink. We have to decide for what we will drink, either the wine of the passion of the immorality of the world. “Don’t drink.” he says of that wine. "Don’t drink of that wine." Drinking is a good picture of that, isn’t it? When you drink something, it goes into you, it goes into your being, it becomes part of who you are, doesn’t it?
When you drink, it goes in and it becomes part of you. It begins to define who you are. What do you drink? He is speaking here of course, of that which goes into the soul. It’s a picture. It’s a picture of what you drink that goes into your soul. Jesus said in John chapter 7, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” There is in the human soul, a great longing, a great thirst. In the human soul, there’s a great thirst, a great longing. Many people live their lives searching for what might satisfy that thirst. They’re looking, they’re searching, they’re longing. There’s emptiness and they’re trying to understand.
What would, what could they drink that could satisfy this dire, this longing, this searching in their soul? But many people, they drink of the wrong thing and the end result is a sickened soul. "Don’t drink of that wine." Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let them come to Me and drink.” “He who believes in Me” as the scripture says, “out of his innermost being, will flow rivers of living water.” In other words, you drink of that living water that God gives to you through Jesus Christ and He will still transform your soul that you yourself will be a source of living water for people to drink.
Your life will make a difference in this world. You want purpose? You want meaning? Then make a difference in this world. That’s a beautiful picture for us. There we see, as we look at the book of Revelation and what Babylon represents, we understand that today, now is the time to decide what we will drink. For this world is headed for a great point of conflict and we must decide now that we will be on the side of the Lord and we will drink of that which is living water.