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Publish date: Feb 25, 2010
Summary: The Bible uses Babylon to symbolize the enemy power that will war against God in the end times. Learn about ancient, modern, and end-time Babylon, and the battle for our hearts and minds that has been taking place throughout history.
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Bible prophecy uses Babylon as a symbol for the power that would rise against God in the end times. Studying ancient and modern Babylon will help us understand the prophecies about the coming end-time Babylon.
When they sinned, God instructed Adam and Eve about how they could still have a relationship with Him. He taught them that they could be saved only by faith in Christ’s sacrificial death on their behalf. He gave them a hands-on demonstration of what their salvation would cost the sinless Son of God through the rite of blood sacrifice. They understood that the sacrifice itself could not make them right with God (see Hebrews 10:4), but faith in the sacrifice of Christ, the innocent Lamb of God, would free them of their sins and the penalty of death. By faith, they worshipped God at the gate of the Garden of Eden, trusting in Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Abel practiced this pure religion. Hebrews 11:4 confirms that “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous…”
In contrast every false religion follows the course that Cain took. He brought his bloodless sacrifice in opposition to God’s command. He did not believe the blood was necessary. Compare with Hebrews 9:22 which tells us “… without shedding of blood is no remission.”Although he was openly disobeying His Creator, Cain expected God to accept him. Instead of the required innocent lamb and a broken and contrite spirit, he brought the fruits of his own labour, thinking this was good enough and God should be satisfied. By his act, he demonstrated that he did not have faith in Christ’s sacrifice, but trusted in his own righteousness. He failed to see the seriousness of sin and would not humble himself, repent of his sins and submit to God. His act of “worship” was an act of rebellion. Every false system of worship has followed Cain’s rebellious, self-centred, works-based pattern.
In this way, many, like the Jews in Paul’s day, are deceived into believing that they can make themselves good enough to earn salvation. In Romans 10:3 Paul described the deception: “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Paul was speaking about the Jews, but his statement applies to every false religion on the planet.
During the time of Noah, God’s true church continued worshipping Him as He had commanded, not trusting their own righteousness, but having faith in Christ’s atoning work on their behalf. Everyone else on earth was in rebellion against God. But not all of Noah’s family was right with God. Noah’s son, Ham, was rebellious at heart. After the flood, Ham carried on the work of rebellion. Nimrod, Ham’s grandson, continued the pre-flood hostility against God and established Babylon and its system of sun worship. Nimrod built the Tower of Babel because he distrusted God and trusted in his own efforts to save himself. (See Genesis 11:4.)
Although the unfinished tower was abandoned, the city of Babylon became a very influential city, especially in spiritual matters. Ancient Babylon, according to the Scriptures, was the center of ancient worship. It was larger and more impressive than any other city of its time. When the Lord confused the language of the people, the Babylonians carried their Babylonian worship style to every part of the globe.
Throughout history, you can trace the corrupting influence of Babylonian worship systems. Babylonian worship had these traits:
- Works based – False religions teach that you can save yourself. There is no need for a Saviour, since you have divinity within yourself and through a system of works, you can ascend to full divinity.
- Sun worship – The Legend of Nimrod taught that after his death, Nimrod ascended to heaven and became one with the sun. Halos, solar discs, solar rays and mystic circles are all examples of ancient sun worship symbols that are still in use today.
- Mother-son worship – God told Satan in the Garden of Eden that he would receive the death-blow from a male descendent born of Eve. Isaiah prophesied of the God-Man who would reign forever. (See Isaiah 9:6.) Satan introduced mother-goddess worship and attributed greater power to the mother than to the son, to shift worship away from the Son of God to another. An example of exalting the mother above the Son is in the Catholic Church’s elevation of Mary to the position of mediatrix and co-redemptrix with Christ. The Catholic Church has attributed to Mary a mediatorial role and teaches people to pray to Mary in direct contradiction of Jesus’ own words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). They have also attributed saving power to Mary in granting her the title Co-Redemptrix. In contrast, the Bible declaries, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
- Human sacrifices – In a perversion of Christ’s sacrifice for sinful humanity and in recognition of the sacred life force represented by human blood, Satan instigated human sacrifices. Pagan religions taught that blood was necessary to appease angry gods.
- Mystery cults and secret societies – Satan has convinced many that the Bible is not the full revelation of God’s will, but that a select group of initiates holds the secret to salvation. This is an outright lie, as Jesus Himself declared, “ I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing” (John 18:20).
The Bible teaches that man cannot save himself. When a devout and wealthy man came to Jesus asking about the way to salvation, Jesus’ disciples must have thought that Jesus would commend the man. After all, outwardly, he was the perfect Jew. He kept the law to the letter and his wealth attested to the fact that God had blessed him, so the disciples thought. They were shocked when Jesus, rather than commending the man, announced that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved. The disciples asked in amazement, “Who then can be saved?” In other words, If this righteous man, so obviously blessed by God, can’t be saved, then who can possibly be saved? Jesus answered, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
Contrary to false religions of all kinds, only with God is salvation possible. Earning salvation is a impossibility.
In contrast, the temple sacrifices God ordained pointed to the coming of the world’s Redeemer who would pour out His life for fallen humanity. The Bible does not teach that blood appeases God. Rather, the sprinkling of the blood of sacrificial animals upon the altar and before the Mercy Seat, or throne of God, pointed to Christ’s atonement and acted as legal evidence that the penalty for sin had been paid. When a person brought a sacrifice to the temple, he leaned his whole weight upon the animal, confessing his sins, and then took the animal’s life. The sprinkled blood recorded that the life of an animal had been sacrificed in place of the guilty sinner. By faith, the sinner accepted Christ’s work of redemption on his behalf. The sacrifice of innocent animals, as ordained by God, pointed to the innocent Substitute who would take the sins of the world upon Himself to die the death that sinners deserved. When God came in the person of Jesus Christ and died on the cross, symbol met Substance and the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom, signifying the end of the sacrificial services.
God condemned human sacrifice and never, ever required them. Through Jeremiah, He declared the practice to be evil saying, “And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart” (Jeremiah 7:31; see also Leviticus 18:21).
These practices were part of ancient Babylonian religion and have been passed on through the ages to various cultures around the globe. Many of these ancient practices continue to be a part of modern or figurative Babylon, the false religious systems of today.
Historical Babylon reached the height of its power and glory under Nebuchadnezzar. Ancient inscriptions tell how Nebuchadnezzar and his father Nabopolasser restored the ancient tower of Babel, a monument to the power of humanity. Nabopolasser said this:
At the time Marduk commanded me to build the tower of Babel, which had become weakened by time and fallen into disrepair; he commanded me to ground its base securely on the breast of the underworld, whereas its pinnacles should strain towards the skies.
Approximately 300 years before King Xerxes of Persia destroyed Babylon, the prophet Isaiah predicted its fall:
And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there (Isaiah 13:19-20).
In spite of Isaiah's prophecy, there have been attempts to rebuild Babylon. Alexander the Great tried to restore the tower of Babel to its original glory and make the city his capital in 330 BC, but he died before he could begin.
More recently, Saddam Hussein of Iraq was also restoring Babylon, a work he began in the 1980s. He used approximately 60 million bricks in the process and had his name engraved every three meters so that he would be remembered.
However, Hussein must have read the prophecies of Isaiah. His restorations were not an attempt to inhabit the city. Instead, he had his palace built on the other side of the Euphrates River.
Babylon, the great city we read about in the book of Revelation, does not refer to literal Babylon, as that was never to be inhabited again. Rather, Revelation is referring to end-time Babylon, a much greater fulfillment of all that ancient Babylon stood for.
End-time Babylon will be a confederacy of intolerance and false doctrine. This end-time confederacy, however, will fall just like ancient Babylon did. It will even fall for the same reasons—because it will seduce all the nations of the earth into following its false doctrines (Revelation 14:8). Christ will put an end once and for all to all the lies, deception, and hatred when He comes.
Read more about end-time Babylon of the Bible:
Revelation 17 describes Babylon using common symbolism found throughout the Bible. Who is this "woman arrayed in purple and scarlet" and what will she be like?
Salvation can only be found through faith in Christ. This belief is foundational to true Christianity. Religious practices and sacraments cannot contribute to salvation.
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