Showing posts with the label Babylon

Babel Lives!

There is a much larger and older story behind the visions of the Book of Daniel than meets the eye, one that remains relevant to this day. The Book focuses on the Empire that has been attempting to rule the world since the dawn of human history. We ignore this biblical narrative at our peril. Not only was ancient Babel alive and well in the prophet's day, but even now it is rising once more on the world scene.

Babylon Unveiled

The interpreting angel exposes Babylon’s true nature – She is a seductive whore stained with the blood of martyrs .  Chapter 17 of Revelation presents the reader with an impressive female figure, “ Babylon, the Great City .” Her outward appearance is so appealing that even John is mesmerized by her, at least, for the moment (“ I was astonished when I beheld her, with great astonishment! ”). Yet the interpreting angel identifies her as a “ whore ” and links her to the violent deaths of the “ witnesses ” of Jesus.

Tale of Two Cities

A key theme in Revelation is the contrast and conflict between the two cities - New Jerusalem and Babylon, the Great Whore . The Book of Revelation often uses several terms to portray the same reality. For example, the people of God are called the “ servants of God ,” the “ saints ,” and the “ brethren .” Churches are represented by “ lampstands ” and the “ Two Witnesses .” The overarching cosmic conflict between the “ Dragon ” and the “ Lamb ” is presented by comparing two very different “ cities .”

Daniel's First Three Beasts

In a dream, Daniel saw “ four beasts ascending ” from a chaotic sea. Each corresponded to one of the four parts of the “ great image ” that Nebuchadnezzar saw previously in his dream of a great image with a head of gold, a torso of silver, brass thighs, and legs of iron and clay. Daniel’s vision of four creatures utilizes that same fourfold structure.

Babylon, Past and Present

On the eve of the city’s conquest by the “ Medes and Persians ,” the Babylonian crown prince, Belshazzar, gave a feast “ for a thousand of his lords ” and “ tasted wine ” from the sacred vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had looted from the Temple in Jerusalem, thereby disrespecting the God of Israel while also praising the false gods of Babylon.

Empires Rise and Fall

Imperial arrogance is the legacy of Babel, humanity’s first but certainly not last attempt to establish a World Empire . The Tower of Babel incident is echoed in the  Book of Daniel  when the new ruler of “ Shinar ,” Nebuchadnezzar, gathered all nations to pay homage to the great golden image that he had set up in the “ Plain of Dura .” His empire was not a new political entity, but the latest incarnation of Satan’s ancient effort to unite humanity under his overlordship, a plan that has been underway since human civilization dawned.

God Grants Sovereignty

The  Book of Daniel  presents insights into the future with an emphasis on the rise and fall of empires. This includes times of “ tribulation ” when the people of God endure persecution at the hands of despotic pagan rulers. However, before doing so, the Book declares that the downfall of the Jewish kingdom was according to the will of Yahweh. It was the God of Israel who “ gave ” the Babylonian king sovereignty over Judah.

The King's Great Image

The King invested great effort to make his dream into reality. First, he “set up” an enormous image covered in gold to represent his majesty and the irresistible power of the Empire. Then, he commanded all the “peoples and nations and tongues” of his realm to pay homage to his image or face a horrific and certain death in the “burning fiery furnace.”

A King's Dream

Only Daniel could reveal the troubling dream of the Babylonian King, unveiling the future of empires and the final kingdom.  The second and third chapters of the  Book of Daniel  present a single story told in two parts. First, the Babylonian ruler, Nebuchadnezzar, dreams of an enormous image composed of several materials, which Daniel then interprets, thereby demonstrating the sovereignty of God over History. Second, Nebuchadnezzar attempts to implement his dream in his own way by erecting a great golden image in the “ Plain of Dura .”

Land of Shinar

The arrogant acts of Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel parallel the incident at the Tower of Babel in Genesis .  The  Book of Daniel  begins by referring to the Babylon of Daniel’s day as the “ Land of Shinar ,” a verbal link to the story of the Tower of Babel in  Genesis  and the founding of the city of Babel that centuries later became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. That incident is echoed again in the third chapter of the Book when Nebuchadnezzar gathered all the nations and peoples of his realm to pay homage to the great golden image that he had “ set up ” on the Mesopotamian plain.

Ingathering of the Grapes

The ingathering of the fruit of the vine represents the wrath of God on all men who take the mark of the Beast  – Revelation 14:17-20.  Next,  Revelation  presents the ingathering of the “ fruit of the vine , which is then pressed in the “ winepress of God's wrath .” This is the fate of all men who swear fealty to the “ Beast ” and take its “ mark. ” The “ saints ” are gathered to the “ sanctuary of God ,” but the “ inhabitants of the earth ” are “ tread underfoot ” in His winepress.

Third Trumpet - Bitter Waters

The third trumpet results in a “great star” falling into the sources of freshwater and embittering them  – Revelation 8:10-11.  The third trumpet uses imagery from the first plague of Egypt that polluted the nation’s sources of freshwater. The “ Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river ” because it had turned “ into blood .” In the book of  Revelation , the plague also kills the fish in rivers and streams, and it “ embitters ” a third of the earth’s drinking water.

Second Trumpet - Burning Mountain

The second trumpet harms much of the commerce on which human society, the “inhabitants of the earth,” rely  – Revelation 8:8-9.  The second trumpet blast upsets the sea, and thereby disrupts a third of all seaborne commerce. In  Revelation , the “ sea ” is vital to the commerce on which “ Babylon ” depends, and it is the place from which the “ beast ” ascends. This explains why, at the end of the book, no “ sea ” is found in “ New Jerusalem .” In the symbolic world, it is linked to the “ Dragon ” and the “ beast .”

First Trumpet - Hail

The first trumpet blast unleashes forces that impact agriculture, as its plague is modeled on the seventh plague of Egypt  – Revelation 8:7.  Fire from the “ golden altar ” has been “ cast onto the earth ” in response to the “ prayers of the saints .” This is followed by “ claps of  thunder, voices, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake , ” phenomena that conclude the series of “ seven seals ” and signal the commencement of the “ seven trumpets .” Thus, we find the seven angels poised to sound their trumpets and unleash their “ plagues. ”


In the letter to the “ messenger ” in Thyatira, a structural change occurs. In the first three letters, the call to heed the Spirit’s voice preceded the promises to overcomers. From this point forward, it follows the promises and concludes each letter. This serves to emphasize the need to “ hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches ” through the seven letters sent by the risen Son of Man.

Babylon's Fall Announced

Angels announce the judicial sentence on Babylon and the inhabitants of the earth, but "rest" awaits the followers of the Lamb .  Next, “ another angel ” announces the “ fall of Babylon ,” and he is followed by “ a third angel ” who pronounces the judicial sentence on the men who gave their allegiance to the “ Beast ,” namely, torment by “ fire and brimstone .” God is about to vindicate His “ martyrs .”

Heaven Celebrates

The celebration of heaven over the “wedding” of the “Lamb” follows the destruction of “Babylon, the Great Harlot”  –  Revelation 19:1-10 .  Next,  Revelation  presents the celebration of “ heaven ” over the demise of the “ Great City, Babylon .” A “ great voice ” of many people rings out in praise to God because He judged the “ Great Harlot ” that had seduced the “ nations ” and persecuted the “ saints ,” the “ servants ” of God. It is also the hour for the “ marriage ” of the “ Lamb ” to his bride, “ New Jerusalem. ”

Babylon is Fallen

The fall of mystery Babylon is pronounced, and her ritual impurity is exposed and denounced by an angel  –  Revelation 18:1-8 .  Next, John saw an angel descending from heaven, one who had “ great authority ” with which he pronounced the “ fall of Babylon ” and described her ritual pollution by demonic spirits. This was followed by a voice summoning the saints to separate themselves from the “ Harlot ,” otherwise, they would participate in her “ plagues. ”

Destruction of Babylon

Next, the  Book of Revelation  presents a detailed description of the destruction of the “ Great City, ” and the justification for it. Her demise is caused, in part, by the hatred of the “ Ten Kings ” who are allied with the “ Beast from the Sea .” They are driven by God to desolate and “ burn her utterly with fire ” for her dominance of world commerce, “ sorcery ,” and especially her persecution of the “ saints .”

Jesus Overcomes Babylon

John saw a vision of a female figure identified as “ Babylon, the Great Harlot .” She was carried by the “ Beast with Ten Horns and Seven Heads .” She deceived the “ Kings of the Earth ” along with its “ Inhabitants ” with her “ fornications ,” and she was “ drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus .” She was (and remains) the “ Mother of the Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth .” Her powers of seduction were so great that even John found himself momentarily “ marveling ” after her.