- Sermon Notes
The Mystery of Babylon
August 8-9, 2020
The world is changing before our eyes and at a pace no one expected. If on January 1, 2020 someone would have described what would be the condition of the world in just 8 months, I doubt many would’ve believed it.
It has caused many to awaken spiritually. “Stay on the alert and be watchful,” Jesus said. The troubles in the world are causing many to do just that. That’s why it’s so important to understand prophecies concerning the latter days.
Revelation 18 describes the world nearing the end of the Tribulation; that seven-year period in which God pours out His wrath on a world that has rejected Him even though God has reached out to them. Interestingly, we also read that God will continue to reach out with the gospel even during the great Tribulation.
In the verses we’re studying today, we will read that Babylon the Great has fallen. What could this mean and what impact might this have on world events leading into the last days? It’s important to understand what he means when he speaks of Babylon the Great in the book of Revelation.
Is it an actual city? Which city might it be today? What does the Antichrist have to do with this city? What does it represent? How will it be destroyed? Does God destroy it? You might be surprised by the answers.
What two cities are mentioned most often in the Bible? Jerusalem is mentioned most often. It is mentioned 811 times. The city most often mentioned after Jerusalem is Babylon. It is referred to 294 times in the Bible. These two cities stand opposite each other in biblical significance.
Jerusalem is the place of God’s own possession. He placed His name on that city, He said. Babylon the Great is called the Mother of Harlots. It represents all that’s wrong with this world.
Many books have been written on these chapters and many theories have been put forth as to what this city might represent. Let’s look at the clues and consider how to interpret and understand as well as to apply these verses.
I. History Connects to Prophecy
- First, Babylon in Revelation is a mystery, in other words, it may be a literal city that is spoken of here in Revelation, but it’s also symbolic.
- In Revelation 17:5 John specifically says that there is a name written upon the forehead of a great harlot, which is also a symbol here, saying, “A mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of harlots…”
- Let’s consider some facts about this famous city, beginning with this…
A. Historically, Babylon was a city
- Babylon at one time was the largest city in the world. It was the power center of the ancient Babylonian Empire. The “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” were once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
- It was also the city which oppressed and destroyed Israel and took them captive 70 years.
- It was a center for occultic religion from which comes the number 666 based on the magic square. History connects to prophecy.
- The name Babylon in Greek means “gateway of the gods,” but in Hebrew its name comes from Babel meaning “confusion.”
- God saw to it that the city received its due return for what they did to Israel.
Jeremiah 25:12, “Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation and the land of the Chaldeans for their iniquity,” declares the LORD, “and I will make it an everlasting desolation.”
- Babylon was overtaken when it was attacked by the Medes and Persians. They diverted the Euphrates River and the armies of the Medes and Persians entered under the water defenses while the city was in a drunken celebration and quickly overthrew the king.
- After Babylon fell, the Persian king, Cyrus, released the Jews from captivity.
- Alexander the Great tried to rebuild the city but died there in Babylon suddenly and his kingdom was divided amongst his four generals.
B. Prophetically, Babylon is a symbol
- First, it’s a symbol for the city the Antichrist will use as headquarters for his position of world power.
Note: Some have suggested that Babylon is New York City since it is the headquarters for the United Nations. Some also have suggested that the events of September 11, 2001 fulfill verse 18 which describes the smoke rising as it is destroyed in one hour. This is doubtful.
- Many have thought perhaps Babylon could be the city of Rome; since Rome was the capital of the ancient Roman Empire and bible prophecy suggests that the Antichrist will rule over ten nations of a revived Roman Empire.
- This has led some to suggest that the Catholic Church is the religion of the Antichrist and the Antichrist is the Pope. I’m not seeing that one at all.
- However, history connects with prophecy and there is a connection to the Roman Empire. The Antichrist will reign over a ten-nation alliance of states that were once part of the Roman Empire.
- The desire to have the ruling power of Caesar had led many to use the title in various forms.
Note: Various forms of the title Caesar have remained until even recently.
The “Holy Roman Emperor” in central Europe was given the title by the Roman Catholic Church beginning with Charlemagne in 800 AD. Later Germany was called “The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.” The German king was known as the Kaiser. Later, Nazi Germany referred to itself as the Third Reich, or the third kingdom of the Holy Roman Empire.
The leaders of the eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire, used the title. When the Ottomans overthrew them, their leaders used the title of Caesar. Constantinople was called the second Rome. Later when the Ottoman Turks, who were Muslim, conquered it, many political and church leaders moved to Moscow, which then became known as the “Third Rome.”
- Babylon is also a symbol of spiritual idolatry. God uses marriage fidelity as a picture of spiritual faithfulness. Therefore, Babylon is a symbol of false religion. In the last days, a false prophet will arise and cause many to worship the beast. Religion is part of the Antichrist’s empire.
- It’s also a symbol of the party manifesto. The Lord considers anything in our lives which takes the place that He should have in our lives as an idol or spiritual unfaithfulness. There is certainly a mentality in the world which is basically, “eat drink, and be merry!!” “Party on” or “Party hearty!” (Rev 18:3)
- Symbol – economic idolatry. The kingdoms of earth are made rich by Babylon the whore. The system of materialism will also be destroyed by the wrath of God in the Tribulation.
- The lesson immediately for us is that we should hold the things of the world loosely.
Luke 16:14-15, Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And 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 detestable in the sight of God.
C. It will be destroyed by the Antichrist
- This would be a surprise for many to hear. Why would the Antichrist destroy Babylon?
- The Antichrist rises to power by using the system, but once he has power, he destroys the system. Hitler did the same.
- By destroying Babylon, the Antichrist also has a reason to move his capital to Jerusalem.
Revelation 17:16-18, “The ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God 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 will be fulfilled. The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
- All of this is executing God’s purpose. Even the Antichrist is part of God’s purpose in pouring His wrath on the earth.The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
II. Don’t Buy into Babylon
- There is a practical application from these verses that we should seriously consider.
- Though the church will be removed from the earth in the rapture, there are several things we must apply to our lives now.
A. God is against all that Babylon represents
- If God is against it, then we must be careful to not be for it.
- We know that God is against it because heaven rejoices at its downfall.
Revelation 19:1-4, After these things I heard something like the loud 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; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond servants on her.” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” And the 24 elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
- It is also a place of demons (verses 2). The power behind the immoralities is the Serpent of Old, Satan himself.
- It is important that we be agreement with God rather than in agreement with Satan.
Illus – We know that the devil is called “the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). We must be careful not to find ourselves doing the same ourselves – in our marriages, in our families, in the church. Are you critical of people? Are you critical of your spouse? But God says we should edify and build up one another in Christ.
B. Don’t be part of the party
- If Babylon is a symbol for the world’s party, we must decide that the world’s party is not where we belong.
- Verse 3 – the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality. Passion is a powerful word.
App – We will become what we are passionate about. This is actually from A.W. Tozer who wrote that “we are becoming what we love, because love is a transforming power. Therefore, what we love is prophetic of our future.”
Illus – Woodstock was a great example of loving the wrong things. Max Yasgur’s farm in 1969 became the expression of a new counter culture; “flower power” was born as 500,000 gathered to “be free” and listen to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and many others.
As Jimi Hendrix once said, “Music is my religion. All I’m going to do is go on and do what I feel.”
Within 14 months both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were dead.
- What we love becomes prophetic of our future.
Vs 4 – “Come out of her, My people,” says the Lord…that you may not participate in her sins, and receive of her plagues.”
- We see something similar in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth.
2 Corinthians 6:14-16, for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;
Notice what Christ said to the church at Ephesus…
Revelation 2:3-4, 7, “and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love… He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.”
C. “Turn your heart toward home”
- This is a quote from James Dobson, but I thought it was very appropriate here. The question is, ‘where is home?’
- God has taken us from the darkness and given us a relationship with the creator of heaven and earth.
- The Tribulation events will bring the world to a great battle in the valley of Armageddon where the nations will come together to attack Israel in one final battle.
- In the book of the prophet Joel, this is called the valley of Jehoshaphat, or the Valley of Decision.
Illus – Joshua brought Israel together just before his death for one final challenge. It was there he declared powerfully, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
- We must decide from what we will drink. Either the wine of the passion of the world’s immoralities or the Living Water God offers through Jesus.
John 7:37-38, Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of Living Water.’”
- We conclude with a quote from Joel who prophesied of many of the events of the last days.
Joel 2:12-13, “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate,”
Revelation 18:1-11 NASB
1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. 2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For 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.”