March 2, 2015

Babylon in Revelation

There is much speculation-- and misunderstanding-- regarding references to 'Babylon' in the book of Revelation. In particular, some pundits and denominations are emphatic that it must refer to the Roman Catholic Church (or the Vatican, the papacy). But it's too easy, too facile, to simply accept those theories, no matter how convincing a preacher may sound. Let’s get radical and see what the Bible has to say about the topic in the last ‘book,’ that of Revelation.

The first place Babylon is referenced is in ch 14:8, the 'second angel's warning:' (And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her immorality.”). At that point, it is quite unclear who or what it refers to, or if the 'fall' is of a moral or physical nature. It is simply a forewarning of something momentous.

The next reference is in ch 16:19, where the text states that God remembered great Babylon and made her taste the full wrath of His fury. So, it appears that it's talking about a physical calamity (an ‘act of God’) of some kind. Since Babylon identifies a literal city, in Revelation's context it could refer to a city-- or, a city-state, as was common in biblical times. 

Here is where the student of prophecy must step back and understand how this book is constructed. The whole 'book' was given to its author, John the apostle as a trance-vision which unfolds like a dream, where we know that images are symbolic in meaning. Like a dream, moreover, images may morph into different symbols from one sequence to the next. I have argued in other essays that this is a key to understanding the use of Babylon in Revelation.

The name Babylon is intended to establish in the reader's mind the evil traits associated with that ancient city-state-empire-- its connection to the occult, and pagan practices, such as child-sacrifice and idol worship. It bears noting that Peter referred to Babylon long after that city had been destroyed, making it clear that he was talking about Rome, the dominant anti-christian city-state-empire of his age (1 Peter 5:13).

In ch 17:5 we find a notorious prostitute that represents a 'great city' that is to receive God's punishment. On her forehead is written her description, which calls her Babylon, the mother of all harlots and perverts. Because punctuation had to be added later by translators, her title could also be 'Mystery Babylon' as some versions have it. Looking at all the clues in this chapter (which presents a complete 'dream-sequence') it is certain that this harlot is Not the Babylon that has fallen! The closing verses state that it's the ten 'horns' or kings that destroy this entity, and not some great 'act of God' catastrophe.

To cut to the chase, I will state my conclusion from my study of ch 17: the great harlot/city in this instance, is the corrupt, exploitive, capitalist banking system headquartered in the City of London, one of the three independent city-states that rule the masses. Her designation as Mystery Babylon is well-deserved, since the invention of 'fiat' ('let it be so') money having no basis in true wealth, and used by the banking elite to create debt slaves, is indeed a form of black magic, and can be rightly seen as demonic.

It’s in ch 18 we find the ultimate  fulfillment of the foreshadows given in 14:8 and 16:19. Here is the full description of the fall of mighty Babylon. Many significant clues as to her identity are provided in this chapter (which, again, represents a complete vision sequence ). Without repeating the proofs provided in another essay, let me state the conclusion, which by now, a number of other commentators have also reached. That is that this modern Babylon is none other than the USA! The true Christian prophets of the hour are the few that are proclaiming this awful truth for our age. Any authority that denies this fact is a false prophet and must not be believed!

Once more, I repeat one of the key concepts necessary for an understanding of Revelation-- to whit, that the symbols and sequences are purposely complex. And that purpose is to prevent easy comprehension by those with ill motives, while allowing understanding to those who function under the guidance of God's Spirit.

John uses the Babylon motif to color those End Times entities that have the ungodly characteristics associated with the ancient kingdom. Rightly discerned, the text shows us that we should not expect the title to designate one, single entity. In that light, the Book of Revelation can be seen to paint a truly accurate panorama of what is taking place before our eyes in these apocalyptic times!

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