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A LAMB ON MOUNT ZION, PART 3

 

 

And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Revelation 14:8

 

The second angel immediately follows the first angel, who brought the message of the everlasting gospel. The importance of this fact is that the preaching of the everlasting gospel exposes a condition called Babylon. This Babylon exists in the man-made churches originating with both the beast of the sea and the beast of the earth of chapter 13. Up to the time that the Lamb appears on Mount Zion the great majority of believers were confined to such churches. This Babylon condition is a spiritual conspiracy designed and motivated by the great red dragon of chapter 12 using the beast of the sea and the beast of the earth to keep God’s people from following the Lamb wherever He goes.

The church built by Jesus has two phases—a spiritual phase and a material phase. The spiritual phase is the actual experience of salvation in which people are born of the Spirit and baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ as the Apostle Paul taught in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. The church also has a material phase in that born again Christians come together in congregations to worship God, to fellowship with each other, and to spread the gospel to the lost.

This Babylon also has two phases. It is motivated by a spirit of unbelief and rebellion against the true gospel of Christ. It is organized into various denominations, churches, organizations, groups and even independent congregations.

Because both the church built by Jesus and this Babylon have two phases there are four possible personal conditions that can exist among professing Christians.

First. A person can be in the church built by Jesus both spiritually and materially. By this is meant that a person can be saved from sin living a holy life—the spiritual condition—and physically worshipping in a congregation that is nothing more than what Jesus has built as part of His church.

Second. A person can be in the church built by Jesus spiritually and materially be in a church that is part of Babylon. This means that it is possible for a person to be saved from sin living a holy life—the spiritual condition—and physically worshipping in a church that is part of the beast of the sea or the beast of the earth.

Third. A person can be in Babylon spiritually and also in the church Jesus built materially. In other words, a person can be religious with a false testimony of salvation and not living a holy life rebelling against God’s claim to his life and physically attending a congregation that is actually part of the church Jesus built.

And fourth. A person can be in Babylon both spiritually and materially. He can have a false testimony of salvation and not living a holy life and be part of a church that is part of the beast of the sea or the beast of the earth.

The possibility of the biblical church in both its spiritual sense and its material sense is restored with the appearance of the Lamb on Mount Zion. This appears as a host of people identified as the 144,000 following the Lamb wherever He goes. With the crowd following the Lamb the first angel appears preaching the everlasting gospel. As others of God’s people hear this everlasting gospel it becomes necessary for a second angel to come with a very important message for them to hear, understand and obey. This message is that Babylon is fallen.

 

The Nature of Babylon

 

The Biblical and historic Babylons reveal the nature of this Babylon. Albert Barnes gives us an introduction to Babylon in his commentary.

 

Babylon was a well-known city on the Euphrates, and was, in the days of its pride and glory, the head of the heathen world. In reference to the meaning of the word in this place, it may be remarked (1) that the general characteristics of Babylon were, that it was proud, haughty, insolent, oppressive. It was chiefly known and remembered by the Hebrew people as a power that had invaded the Holy Land; that had reduced its capital and temple to ruins; that had destroyed the independence of their country, subjecting it to the condition of a province, and that had carried away the inhabitants into a long and painful captivity. It became, therefore, the emblem of all that was haughty and oppressive, and especially of all that persecuted the church of God. (2.) The word must be used here to denote some power that resembled the ancient and literal Babylon in these characteristics. The literal Babylon was no more; but the name might be properly used to denote a similar power.

 

The literal Babylon was a proud, haughty, insolent, and oppressive empire that had been the head of the heathen world at its time in history. Babylonian Empire was the instrument God used to bring judgment on the apostasy of the Israelites, removing them from their homeland and holding them in captivity for 70 years. Barnes concluded that the Babylon of Revelation 14 is “the emblem of all that was haughty and oppressive, and especially of all that persecuted the church of God;” hence its appearance in the Book of Revelation.

The first mention of Babylon in the Bible, under the name Babel, is found in Genesis 10:8–12.

 

Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.” And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).

 

This is the beginning of the first empire in history. Nimrod is the leading player in this narrative so there is something about the character of this man that defines the character of his empire. Dr. H. C. Leupold in his Exposition of Genesis distills the quality of his character in these words: “So this inciter to revolt came to be the first tyrant upon the earth, oppressing others and using them for the furtherance of his own interests.”[1] He was a rebel because he resisted authority and a tyrant because he was an oppressive and cruel ruler over people. He resisted the authority of God to such a degree that it became his slogan: The Mighty Hunter Before God. He hunted people with the intent to take them away from God and make them slaves in his own kingdom of Babel. He used his army to bring others under bondage to him and to increase his kingdom. About his kingdom, Leupold writes:

 

Here is the real story of the founding of empires, for that matter, of the first empires. Having the type of character that we find described in verses 8 and 9 in the person of Nimrod, we must needs regard both Babylon and Assyria as exponents of the spirit of this world. This attitude over against Babylon is the attitude of the Scriptures in prophetic utterances as well as in the book of Revelation. These early kingdoms or empires are, therefore, not to be regarded as useful institutions, guaranteeing law and order in a troubled world, but rather as the achievements of a lawless fellow who taught men to revolt against duly constituted authority.[2]

 

Besides being an opposition kingdom to the kingdom of God, Babylon has its roots and interest in the world as opposed to the realm of spirituality. The nature of this kingdom is to teach men to revolt against God’s authority over their lives. This is certainly a trait of the Babylon being revealed in Revelation 14.

 

The Tower of Babel

 

The next appearance of Babel in the Scriptures is Genesis 11:1–9. The event described takes place approximately one hundred years after the Flood of Noah. This city of Babel was founded in the land of Shinar, a fertile area of land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. At this time the whole human family was a relatively small tribe living in this area after having migrated from the region of Mount Ararat after the flood. One would think that in such a short time after the flood the human race would still be highly conscious of their responsibility and accountability to God and the thought of rebellion would be far from their minds. However, that is not the case.

The text presents a picture of a city council meeting in which the people are discussing a building project. It was probably obvious to the people that they would have to build a city, but it appears as if the tower was introduced into the plan almost as an afterthought so the people would not be aware of the planners intending to include it in the plan. Then speaking as if the people had all the time been wanting the tower along with the city, the planners justified the need for a tower for two reasons: to make us a name, and lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

This scattering abroad over the face of the whole earth in verse 4 is the very reason they wanted to build the tower. The tower was built in defiance of God. After the Flood God told Noah and his sons “to replenish the earth.” This, of necessity, involved people spreading abroad and away from the city of Babel. However, the Babylonian builders constructed this tower whose top may reach to heaven as a religious emblem and the means by which to unite the people and keep them from leaving Babel.

The building of the tower was not an attempt to dethrone God; rather it was an act of defiance against God’s authority. The spiritual Babylon of the Revelation does not try to do away with God; it rebels against God’s authority saying that men have a right to make their own way to heaven. The tower whose top may reach to heaven was a plausible substitute for obedience of God’s command. The spiritual Babylon does exactly the same thing in modern times. The everlasting gospel teaches that people must be saved from all sin to walk with God, but spiritual Babylon’s lords teach that God has made a way to heaven that does not require holiness in this life. The tower of Babel became a rallying point for the people. If their consciences bothered them, they could simply remember that they were one people, citizens of Babel, with their own way to heaven right in the middle of their city. Spiritual Babylon soothes the consciences of its citizens in the same way, “Remember we are one people, we are (name of denomination or church) and we have our own way to heaven in our confession, creed, doctrinal statement, or confirmation.” There is great power in unity; it holds the masses without their raising questions, and it intimidates the few that believe the masses just might be wrong.

Because of this united opposition to the rule of God in Babel, God moved to destroy this unity among the family of men by confounding the language. God in His infinite wisdom saw that it was best not to let mankind remain united in rebellion against His will. If they did, conditions soon would have deteriorated to those that existed before the flood. By confounding the languages, God made it impossible for men to unite against His will. Yes, one thing the human race has in common is its rebellion against God, but this rebellion is not a united rebellion. Today there are many religions, each claiming to be the way to God; but these are different ways and they are intolerant of each other.

While the confounding of languages appears to be God’s judgment, and it is, it is also an act of His mercy. The reason it was a merciful act is that it allowed mankind to be redeemable. With the confounding of language there can be no one leader or no one man-made religion that can unite the human family in rebellion against God. There can be no common religion to keep the human family apart from God. Because of this, today there are countless systems of religion on the face of the earth. This profusion of religions actually makes true religion more obvious; it stands out from the rest of the religions and people that genuinely want to worship the one true God are easily drawn to it once they have seen it.

From this episode in the history of literal Babylon it is seen that spiritual Babylon also contains the concept of a confusion of doctrines, or what might be called many different religious languages, that divide the religious world and keeps it from uniting people against God in one common doctrine. This confusion of teachings drives honest people to seek the truth.

 

God’s Judgment on Judah

 

There is one more element to consider in the history of ancient Babylon that helps to give an understanding of the spiritual Babylon.

In 975 B.C. the Kingdom of Israel divided into two separate kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel, which included ten tribes of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah, which contained only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

The northern kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and the southern kingdom fell to Babylon in 588 B.C. The northern kingdom was apostate from its beginning and it never experienced a revival.

Judah, on the other hand, had several periods of apostasy and revival. Towards its end, Judah as a whole was apostate even though there were times when there was a “good” king on the throne. Hezekiah was the last of the “good” kings of Judah, but even under his reign, there was not much hope for the survival of Judah. Under apostate conditions, even good people lose their bearings and they permit things into their lives of which God could never approve.

In the days of Hezekiah, God declared that the cumulative sins of the people had earned them His severe judgment. He sent Isaiah to Hezekiah with a message in 2 Kings 20:17, “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD.”

In this context Babylon also represents the judgment of God on those that apostatize from true religion. After centuries, the Israelites had relatedly apostatized and their religion became nothing more than a formality to be observed or disregarded as one wished. Surely, there were devoted and very sincere believers among the Israelites; but there were also agnostics and atheists. There were people that were mildly religious but not committed to God. There were also sectarians who espoused modes of worship ranging from very liberal to very legalistic. Even their own king, a very good and religious king, lacked a sense of seriousness about his relationship with God, as well has the relationship of his nation to God. He struck up a relationship with the ungodly Babylonians.

This was the last straw and God sent His prophet to deliver a message of judgment. God used pagan Babylon to defeat apostate Judah and to carry them off into captivity. The Babylonian captivity was an act of God’s judgment.

While God’s judgment was heavy, it was not intended to be permanent. The prophet Jeremiah received a message from God that the captivity would last for 70 years. Jeremiah 25:11.

 

Spiritual Babylon Revealed

 

The second angel of Revelation 14 brings a message about a spiritual Babylon that had never before been heard in the church. Multitudes of God’s people divided among the various denominations and churches are made aware of this Babylon condition. And they are told that Babylon indeed is fallen. The power of the everlasting gospel as taught by the first angel was opening their spiritual eyes and giving them a spiritual hungering for a deeper and more meaningful comprehension of the truth of the gospel. It was one thing to be religious; it is another thing to be made holy and truly be a member of the body of Christ.

The traits of spiritual Babylon are inherited from its prototype emperor, Nimrod. Babylon has its roots in the world and opposes God. It is a view of religion that holds people in disobedience and opposition to God while making them believe they are serving God. Babylon uses the belief that each person can choose his own way to God as a chain to hold people in its bondage. Contrary to the beliefs of spiritual Babylon it is possible to be part of the church built by Jesus, both spiritually and materially.

This second angel reveals spiritual Babylon. While many of God’s people are tied up in this spiritual Babylon, the Lamb on Mount Zion still wants His angle to preach that Babylon is fallen and to call out all that will come and follow the Lamb.



[1] Leupold, H. C.;  Exposition of Genesis;  Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI;  1942;  Volume I, pg. 366.

[2] Ibid, pg. 368.