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Babylon in Revelation

Brief Idea: Babylon represents the great kingdom of popular confusion. It is


defined by its errors rather than by its evil. Jerusalem in Revelation
represents the down-trodden kingdom of God, overpowered at times by
Babylon. It is defined by its adherence to truth rather than by its
righteousness.

And so there are holy men in Babylon and wicked men in Jerusalem. And
then, at the end, those facts begin to change. . .

Babylon in History

Babel goes way back. Nimrod (Gen 10) became a powerful man that built the city
that first organized itself in defiance of God. In judgment God confused the
languages of the Babel builders and they scattered from the land of Shinar. (Yes,
Babel was in the “land of Shinar” just as was modern Babylon, though lands after
the flood might have been named familiar names even if they their coordinates did
not match those of their namesakes.)

The scattering and confusion of Babel gave rise to the meaning of the word Babylon
in Hebrew – confusion.

Some six hundred years before the Messiah appeared the empire Babylon
conquered God’s people and scattered them as a judgment from heaven for their
rebellion. That was ironic in view of Babel’s history.

The history of the scattering and regathering is the subject of a previous article in
this series on Revelation, “The Remnant”.

In the book of Daniel God’s most faithful men are found in Babylon. But when
Babylon is destroyed, they are spared. Babylon seeks to slay the faithful even
before her fall to the Persians. But they are preserved nonetheless.

Meanwhile, God’s faithful are praying for Jerusalem. And in due time the faithful in
Babylon are called out to help rebuild the holy city.

Babylon in Revelation

Babylon in Revelation first appears in the Second Angel’s Message. Then, as a


follow-up to the warning of the third message, Babylon is punished in Revelation
16:19.

Then Babylon in pictured in Revelation 17 as a woman riding a beast.

Finally, she is the subject of Revelation 18, the Loud Cry that repeats and expands
upon the second angel’s message.
Revelation 17 is the subject of a future study. And so is Revelation 18. Here we will
consider the definition of which bodies, persons, or organizations are represented
by the term Babylon in Revelation.

First, notice that Babylon is a religious body. It is a woman on a beast and not the
beast itself. You do not leave Babylon by abandoning some civil state.

Second, notice that Babylon is twice fallen. (Re 14:8; 18:2). Only a once
comparatively pure body can become “fallen.” Now two falls of the Christian church
are pointed out in prophecy.

The first, the “mystery of iniquity” is mentioned in 2Th 2:7. It is the “falling away”
that had to precede the end-time events. 2Th 2:3.

The second fall is alluded to in Revelation 2 where Sardis has a name to live, but is
dead (Re 3:1) and at the same time “ready to die” (Re 3:2). And it is only a “few” in
Sardis that have not “defiled their robes.” (Re 3:4).

From this I gather that the second fall was the fall of Protestantism. But there is
another way to show that. The woman controls the state, and it is Catholicism first
and Protestantism second that aspired to control the state to crush dissenters.

Yet Protestantism has further to fall and it is her further fall that will elicit the
strongest cry against her in Revelation 18. Her most recent corruptions, her uniting
with the kings of the earth to unite church and state, will fulfill the prophecy of
Revelation 13.

But what about those individuals that rise from time to time and show, by a mass of
Bible and Ellen White materials, that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has become
Babylon?

They don’t get it. Babylon is an organized system of religion that opposes the three
angel’s messages. It is a set of doctrinal positions. And those positions, we could
gather from Revelation, include a belief in the immortality of the soul and a denial
of the seventh-day Sabbath.

And this could be shown also from the Testimonies.

The prophet says, "I saw another angel come down from heaven, having
great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily
with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is
become the habitation of devils" (Revelation 18:1, 2). This is the same
message that was given by the second angel. Babylon is fallen, "because she
made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (Revelation
14:8). What is that wine?--Her false doctrines. She has given to the world a
false sabbath instead of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and has
repeated the falsehood that Satan first told Eve in Eden--the natural
immortality of the soul. Many kindred errors she has spread far and wide,
"teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). {2SM
118.1}

These things ought to be well understood.