Babylon: Mother of Harlots
The world is careening toward a new order that does not bode well for the inhabitants of this planet. Quarrelsome nations are attempting to stem the tide of deterioration by creating a patchwork of alliances that will somehow bring to humanity a better day. This “better” arrangement is tending toward scrapping Judeo-Christian standards and values in favor of what is being touted as a more humane, tolerant, and creature-centered order. Political campaigning in the recent elections in America reflected the mood in a very dramatic way. Talk about family values, issues related to morality, and questions of character were hooted down by masses of self-indulgent people much more concerned about money than morality. Voters were constantly reminded by some candidates and the media that the overriding issues to be dealt with were jobs and the immediate economic environment. Issues related to historic patterns of conduct associated with the Judeo-Christian heritage were, to say the least, beside the point Consequently, “right-wing Christians” were accused of pursuing a cultural war designed to oppress those with contrary views, thereby breeding intolerance and promoting hatred and division. It was the type of rhetoric that conjured up comparisons to the Jihad (holy war) mentally of the Muslim world. The end in mind was, of course, to wed those concerned with moral and spiritual values to motives and methods odious to “moderate” Americans. Rest assured that this campaign to discredit Christians is only beginning. The dreadful spiral of degeneracy delineated in Romans 1 is elbowing its way into the mainstream of America’s national life.
As important as economic conditions are for nations and individuals, history trumpets realities that are inescapable. A bit more than half a century ago, for example, the German people made political choices based on what was viewed as economic expedience. In so doing, they made one of the most catastrophic mistakes in the history of humanity. Adolf Hitler and his legacy of 50,000,000 dead were left to scar the human record.
Such reminders are emblematic of the end-time conditions set before us in the prophetic Scriptures. The nations are nearing the juncture when human and economic expedience will instigate a calamitous decision that will make the choice of Adolf Hitler or like-minded tyrants pale by comparison. The world is preparing to opt for the Antichrist.
First Corinthians 10:32 reaffirms the segmenting of humanity into three distinct divisions: “Give no offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks [Gentiles], nor to the church of God.” Contemporary history is cascading toward concluding phases of all three of the named participants. Intriguingly, events such as those commented on above are clarifying the issues. End-time Babylon, the Mother of Harlots, is beginning to stir.
Babylon as an Ideal
Genesis 11:1–9 reveals the birth of Babylon and exposes the driving forces behind an ideal crafted by Satan—an ideal designed to be the antithesis of God’s plan for humanity. The Genesis account of the fiasco created by man’s attempt to erect his unifying tower in the place that would become Babylon introduced the Gentile world concept that would plague the earth in successive manifestations. The key to understanding the process is found in a statement made in Ephesians 2:2: “In which in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience.” The verse refers to Satan, who is elsewhere identified as “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4). He is the instigator of every counterstrategy developed to thwart God’s purposes through the Jewish nation and the Church. His instrument is the Gentile world system idealized in Genesis 11.
Man consorted with Satan to build a city and a tower—Babel—that would be his gateway to the heavens. Self-conceived, self-constructed, self-fulfilling—the operative phrase was “let us” (Gen. 11:4). Three thoughts dominated the desire to break free from the dominion of their Creator: “let us build” let us ascend; let us establish dominion. In a word, rebellion was at the heart of the movement.
But there is another “let us” in the passage, and with it comes the clarifying revelation that it is always God who has the last word: “let us,” He said, “go down … confound their language … [and] scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Gen. 11:7–9). In essence, we see the battle joined, a battle that will rage until the final rebellion following the Millennium (Rev. 20:7–10).
Man—Let us ascend
God—Let us descend
Man—Let us build
God—Let us confuse
Man—Let us have dominion
God—Let us scatter
Babylon as an Empire
The ideal born on the plain of Shinar was imperialized in the Babylonian Empire. “The king [Nebuchadnezzar] spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I gave built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30). One notes immediately that the spirit present in the ideal is embodied in the empire.
In the prophetic scheme of things, Babylon represented a prototype of the imperial structure and design that would rise in Babylon’s three successor empires. Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and Rome’s reconstituted end-time manifestation, although bearing individual characteristics, would all cherish the same desires: to ascend through idolatrous allegiance to false gods; to build grandiose monuments for their own glory; to create dominion by subjugating weaker nations and unifying them in their world system.
At the root of it all was, and is, rebellion against God. And although in secular historical records it evokes little more than a footnote, a common thread in Gentile-inspired history seems to be the need to subdue the Jewish people and establish dominion over their land, Israel.
Babylon invaded Israel, devastated Jerusalem, sacked and destroyed the Temple, and instigated three waves of captivity: 604 BC, 586 BC, and 535 BC.
Medo-Persia subdued Babylon in 539 BC and ultimately produced Haman during the reign of Xerxes (Ahasuerus) [522–486 BC] who attempted to destroy “all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus” (Est. 3:6).
Greece, following Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC, was divided among his generals. The infamous Antiochus Epiphanes (175–164 BC)—archetype of the Antichrist who rose out of the Syrian segment of the empire—attacked Jerusalem, desecrated the Temple, forbade the Jews to worship Jehovah, and attempted to paganize Jewry. In short, he tried to destroy Judaism and repopulate Israel with pagans.
Rome had, by 146 BC, subdued remnants of the Greek Empire. Daniel 9:26 prophesied that the Romans would subjugate Israel, crucify Christ, destroy the Second Temple, and scatter the Jewish people across the face of the Gentile nations.
Babylon as a Global System
The final stage of the Babylon phenomenon moves from imperial to global proportions. The dominant vehicle in the transition is the reconstituted Roman empire prophesied as the end-time manifestation of the fourth empire revealed to Daniel (Dan. 7).
Scholars question, particularly in the wake of the Gulf War, whether the ancient city of Babylon will be rebuilt and become the center of commercial activity during the last days. Competent theologians have divided opinions on the subject. The important factor to consider, however, is not the city itself; it is the satanically crafted system that will challenge Jehovah and try to consummate what the Devil has attempted through all the lesser empires. Revelation 17 and 18 detail the destiny of the global Babylonish system that embodies the ideal and imperial designs seen in Scripture and throughout history.
On the plain of Shinar in ancient Babylon, the people who were rebelling against God built their Babel tower as the gateway to the heavens. Their religious efforts, which have afflicted humanly from that day to this, are traced through the mystery religions spawned at Babel and threaded through apostate religious systems throughout history. Full fruition of the satanic masterpiece is described in Revelation 17:4–5: “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and bedecked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication; And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” She rises as the consummate manifestation of apostate religion without reality—a religion “drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6).
This harlot system will bring together world religions that are in opposition to Christ and His program. Apostate ecumenical Christianity, Islam, the Eastern religions, and earth worshipers will eagerly consort with the Mother of Harlots to form the Church Satan Built.
The beast (Antichrist) will carry the harlot (that is, have an alliance with the church that will, for a time, give the appearance that religion is calling the shots). This fiction will end when “the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the harlot, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (Rev. 17:16).
Intriguingly, it will be God who will put it in the hearts of these kings (ten horns) to destroy the religious harlot and give total allegiance to the beast (Rev. 17:7), who will lead her into catastrophe; for when the Antichrist destroys his religious competitor, he will declare himself divine and institute a cultic Devil worship such as the world has never seen (2 Th. 2:3–4).
Thus the stage is set for Satan’s ultimate assault on his one remaining enemy: the Christ he is attempting to dethrone. “These [the Antichrist and his cohorts] shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14).
Three things are worthy of note as Daniel’s “stone … cut out of the mountain without hands” (Dan. 2:45) crushes political Babylon.
(1) Lamentation: “Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgment come” (Rev. 18:10). The tenor of the earth dwellers’ lament is that their economic losses were more than they could endure. “The merchants of these things [gold, precious stones, pearls], who were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing” (Rev. 18:15).
The calamity of seeking affluence and economic security devoid of any association with or recognition of a beneficent God reaps the final catastrophe. A world long adrift on the sea of greed and materialism is finally exposed for what it is and brought down by God.
(2) Retribution: “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her … Babylon [shall] be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all” (Rev. 18:20–21).
There is a pervasive feeling in our blood-sodden world that one day accounts will be settled once for all, that righteousness will triumph, and that God will make an end of all the machinations of a God-hating world system bound to work its own will and build a religious, political, and economic utopia. The summary phrase is found in the stark statement, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of demons” (Rev. 18:2). God hasten the day!
(3) Bankruptcy: Perhaps the most cryptic words are found in Revelation 18:5. Remembering the objectives embodied in the ideal empires and global phenomenon Babylon represents, the words reflect the pathetic bankruptcy of Satan’s grand delusion: “For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Perhaps this is the most fitting epitaph for the headstone of all, nations and individuals, who seek a better way—one devoid of “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).