Babylon

The Old Testament traces the origin, history, and destiny of the ancient capital city of Shinar (Gen. 10:10; 14:1). It is not within the scope of this outline study to trace the history and development of the ancient city itself. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia presents this history quite fully and from the Biblical viewpoint. The name Babylon means 'confusion,' and is linked with disorder from the day of the confounding of human language as recorded in Genesis onward to the final destruction of great Babylon as recorded in Revelation. Of the theory that the ancient city will yet be rebuilt for it to be destroyed in fulfillment of prediction, little can be said in its favor. On the contrary, such a fruition directly contradicts the Scriptures (cf. Isa. 13:19-22; Jer. 51:61-64); however, confusion or babel continues until order is restored in the earth by Christ when He comes again. No more accurate or complete statement with respect to the local and larger meaning of Babylon has been found than that prepared by Dr. C. I. Scofield in the notes of his Reference Bible under Isaiah 13, verses 1 and 19:

The city, Babylon, is not in view here, as the immediate context shows. It is important to note the significance of the name when used symbolically. "Babylon" is the Greek form: invariably in the O. T. Hebrew the word is simply Babel, the meaning of which is confusion, and in this sense the word is used symbolically. (1) In the prophets, when the actual city is not meant, the reference is to the "confusion" into which the whole social order of the world has fallen under Gentile world-domination. ... Isa. 13:4 gives the divine view of the welter of warring Gentile powers. The divine order is given in Isa. 11. Israel in her own land, the centre of the divine government of the world and channel of the divine blessing; and the Gentiles blessed in association with Israel. Anything else is, politically, mere "Babel." (2) In Rev. 14:8-11; 16:19 the Gentile world-system is in view in connection with Armageddon (Rev. 16:14; 19:21), while in Rev. 17 the reference is to apostate Christianity, destroyed by the nations (Rev. 17:16) headed up under the Beast (Dan. 7:8; Rev. 19:20) and false prophet. In Isaiah the political Babylon is in view, literally as to the then existing city, and symbolically as to the times of the Gentiles. In the Revelation both the symbolical-political and symbolical-religious Babylon are in view, for there both are alike under the tyranny of the Beast. Religious Babylon is destroyed by political Babylon (Rev. 17:16); political Babylon by the appearing of the Lord (Rev. 19:19-21). That Babylon the city is not to be rebuilt is clear from Isa. 13:19-22; Jer. 51:24-26, 62-64. By political Babylon is meant the Gentile world-system. ... It may be added that, in Scripture symbolism, Egypt stands for the world as such; Babylon for the world of corrupt power and corrupted religion; Nineveh for the pride, the haughty glory of the world.

Verses 12-16 look forward to the apocalyptic judgments (Rev. 6-13). Verses 17-22 have a near and far view. They predict the destruction of the literal Babylon then existing; with the further statement that, once destroyed, Babylon should never be rebuilt (cf. Jer. 51:61-64). All of this has been literally fulfilled. But the place of this prediction in a great prophetic strain which looks forward to the destruction of both politico-Babylon and ecclesio-Babylon in the time of the Beast shows that the destruction of the actual Babylon typifies the greater destruction yet to come upon the mystical Babylons (pp. 724-25).

The end of symbolical Babylon or confusion is described in Revelation under three aspects—the ecclesiastical, commercial, and political. Chapter 17 records the final destruction of ecclesiasticism. This destruction is of the great system known as Rome. The identification is so exact that the Church of Rome does recognize it to some extent. She incorporates all the mysteries of ancient Babylon with those of her own forming. Being centered in the city of Rome, she sits upon seven hills (Rev. 17:9), she reaches her agelong ambition to rule the kings of the earth (Rev. 17:18), she was in the day that John wrote the center of world trade (Rev. 18:3, 11-13), she is the corrupter of nations (Rev. 17:2; 18:3; 19:2), and the persecutor of saints (Rev. 17:6). Following the removal of the true Church from the earth, this apostate church will gather into her fold all that remains of a professing Christendom (Protestantism) and will be permitted to realize her unholy ambition to rule over the earth, riding the scarlet-colored beast. From this place of authority she is cast down and destroyed by political Babylon as headed up by the beast. That apostate church is by inspiration termed "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS." In chapter 18 commercialism with its confusion is brought to destruction. It falls under the hand of God in a judgment which the kings execute as God wills (cf. Rev. 17:17, 20). The destruction of commercialism as recorded by John is in three parts—(a) the fact of the destruction (Rev. 18:1-8), (b) the human viewpoint thereof (vss. 9-19), and (c) the angelic viewpoint (vss. 20-24). A world system which is built on greed and desire for riches can have no understanding of a future state of society wherein that element will be wholly lacking. For the sake of gain nations have gone into devastating wars and destroyed the lives of their young men and wasted their resources. A world undominated by greed is in prospect but beyond human imagination. Finally, the whole structure of human government, Gentile authority in its last form under the rule of the beast and all that belongs to this vast political structure, gives way under the mighty crushing power of the returning King of kings (Rev. 19:11-21). Thus the way is cleared for "the God of heaven" to "set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Dan. 2:44-45; cf. Ps. 2:7-9; Isa. 63:1-6; 2 Thess. 2:8-12).

Confusion must reign in every part of human existence on the earth when the divine order and arrangement is disturbed, which arrangement provides for Israel, the center of all earthly realities, to be inside her land in blessing under Messiah's rule with the nations sharing in that benediction. Such is the glorious future predicted, but it cannot be realized apart from the destruction of every form of babel that now infests the earth.

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