Babylon, The Bookends of History, Part 1
Revelation 17-18 Lesson 52
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Genesis. No, I didn’t misspeak. You can hold your place there in Revelation if you’re interested but I’d like you to open your Bibles this morning to the Book of Genesis. The title of our message this morning is Babylon, The Bookends of History, Part 1. One of the things I was probably going to do is I was just going to continue on in Revelation verse by verse, and we will complete the book, don’t worry, verse by verse, but one of the things to understand is where we are in the Book of Revelation.
As we saw last week Babylon the Great has fallen and the angel that brought that judgment is going to begin to give John information about Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18. And I honestly believe that we are entering probably the most mistaught, miscommunicated, misunderstood chapters, not only in the Book of Revelation but maybe the whole Bible. I’m going to make a very radical proposition as we go through these chapters, and here’s the radical proposition…are you ready for this? When you see Babylon in the Bible it means Babylon!
And we sort of laugh at that, tongue in cheek, but the reality of the situation is some of the top Bible prophecy ministries in terms of worldwide television outreaches would discard that position. And so to interpret the Book of Revelation correctly you have to have ringing in your ear Old Testament Scripture. And people, I believe, are coming to wrong conclusions concerning who Babylon is because they haven’t looked at the totality of God’s Word.
Babylon is, I would put it this way, it’s sort of like a freight train making its way from Genesis to Revelation. And if you understand that background then you’ll get to Revelation 17 and 18 and you’ll just sort of slap your forehead and say of course, that’s what it means. But because most people don’t give you the background that I’m going to give you the whole subject of Babylon in Revelation 17 remains what it says in there, a mystery. They don’t quite know what to make of it.
So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take seven stops, if you will, on a bus ride and I don’t think I can finish all these today (as you’ll see). But we want to look at this subject, Babylon, The Bookends of History because the Book of Ecclesiastes chapter 1 and verse 9 says something there very interesting. Solomon says, and I don’t want to butcher the verse so I’m just going to read it to you very quickly. Ecclesiastes chapter 1 and verse 9, Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived other than Christ, made this statement. He says, “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 9:10]
Everything in human history is going to recycle back to where it started. The very place of the world where everything started is the very place on planet earth where everything will end. So let’s start our study, if we could, at the Tower of Babel. Notice, if you will, Genesis 11, and I don’t even know if I need to read all of these verses to you, you’re so familiar with them. But just a few verses that says this: “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.  It came about as they journeyed east,” and you should circle that word “east” in your Bible, “that they found a plain in the land of Shinar” you should circle that one also, “and settled there.  They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.”  And they used brick for stone and they used tar for mortar and they said, Come let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” And you know how that project ended, God disrupting the only language that existed at the time so that the builders could not cooperate with each other. And man’s first attempt at world government was brought to a crashing halt by the Creator.
Everything that has been will be again. This is man’s first attempt at globalism. I like to call this the first United Nations Conference, except there weren’t any United Nations yet, there were no nations because very clearly in verse 1 the world spoke the same language. And why are they building this tower to reach into heaven? Well, it’s interesting when you study the writings of the first century historian Josephus, and he comments on this passage. He says, “They were trying to build a tower so high into heaven that they would never be affected again by the global flood that God had sent in the prior chapter.” God, You will not judge us again and we’re actually going to build a one-world system of economics, politics and religion, the new world order in other words, that excludes God.
And really, to understand this properly in its role in the Book of Revelation there’s two things you need to pick up on. Number one, the location. If you look at verse 2 it’s very clear that this is being built in the east, in the plain of Shinar. Now where is the plain of Shinar? Shinar is the Hebrew word; the Greek word there is Mesopotamia, Meso means middle, Potamia means rivers, you’ll recognize the word Potamia, we have a Potomac River in the United States. Potamia means rivers
Mesopotamia means between the rivers. It’s where civilization started.
This is where man’s first attempt at one-world government began, between those rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. It’s the part of the world that Abram was called out of as an idolater, and sanctified as God told him to walk by faith, I’ll take you to a land that you don’t know, the Promised Land, and that begins the work that God had in and through the nation of Israel. But before there was a nation of Israel there was the Tower of Babel; there was globalism, there was one-worldism, and the location of this is very clear, it’s in the east, in a place called Shinar.
Shinar is interesting because it’s the exact same place geographically that much later in biblical history the children of Israel would be taken to for the seventy year captivity. You read that in Daniel 1:2. “…and he brought them” Nebuchadnezzar, “to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.” [Daniel 1:2, “The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.”]
So Shinar is a big deal, it’s where man’s first revolt started. It’s also the place of the much later Babylonian captivity. That’s the first thing to understand here. The second thing to understand is the worldwide effect of the Tower of Babel. You know, Babel is an interesting name; it comes from two Hebrew words, “Bab” meaning gave, and “el” meaning God, the gate of the gods, a stairway to heaven in other words. A system of politics and also a system of religion where the people were saying God, we don’t want your presence in it at all! We’re going to be religious without You.
And it’s interesting that what happened here had a worldwide impact. It’s sort of like a stone, if you will, or a rock being thrown into a placid pond and the wake reverberates outward in every direction. That’s that happened at the Tower of Babel, it affected every single nation and every single culture that has ever followed. Why? Because there were no cultures and nations and languages at this point in history. They came out of the Tower of Babel because of the confounding work of God. And so therefore the sin that was taking place at the Tower of Babel was exported everywhere.
Now if you accept the account of Alexander Hislop and his study of Babylonian tradition he tells you exactly what was happening at the Tower of Babel. There was a religion, it was a worship of the mother and the worship of the child because Nimrod, the builder of this system, who is mentioned in the Bible, Genesis 10:8-10, you’ll find Nimrod’s name mentioned. His name actually in Hebrew means revolt, rebellion. He is in the Bible probably the best type if you think of it in terms of types of the forthcoming antichrist. [Genesis 10:8-10, “Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth.  He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.”  The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”]
What the antichrist will complete is what Nimrod started. And Nimrod, according to tradition, was married to a woman named Semiramis. And the two of them had a child named Tamous, and Tamous was killed by a wild animal, and miraculously brought back to life through satanic power, sort of like the beast rising from the dead that we study in Revelation 13, yet future. The same sort satanic operation was taking place here at the Tower of Babel. And what people began to do at the Tower of Babel, according to Hislop is they began to worship the mother and the child. And so when they were building this system and God disrupted it and everybody went their own way, into their own language, and into their own culture, they took with them that system.
Hislop’s point is you can find that system all over the world today. It’s just the names are changed from place to place. In Assyria the mother is called Ishtar, the child is called Tamous. By the way, Ishtar is where we get the word Easter from. In the Greek text I still can’t find the word Easter. I find resurrection Sunday, those sorts of words but not Easter. All of this stuff about bunnies and rabbits and eggs, that has no biblical basis whatsoever. It comes from Babylonian tradition. In Phoenicia the mother is called Astarte, the child is called Baal. In Egypt the mother is called Isis, the child is called Osiris. In Greece the child is Aphrodite, the child is called Eros. In Rome the mother is called Venus, the child is called Cupid. Now look at that, I wrecked Easter already, we just wrecked Valentine’s day. [Laughter]
You see the different names in Asia, India. And Alexander the Hislop became really a very staunch enemy of Roman Catholicism; they hated what he said because his point of the book of the Mother-Child System went right into Roman Catholicism. And it took on the name Mary and Jesus, but the Mary and Jesus of Roman Catholicism is not the Mary and Jesus of the Bible. This is Luther’s point and why we had to have the Protestant Reformation, a back to the Bible movement. The Mary in Roman Catholicism is somebody that you pray to. She’s the Co-Redemptress. The Mary in Roman Catholicism is somebody that remained a virgin her whole life, perpetual virginity of Mary. Such teachings are foreign to the Word of God. Jesus had many half-brothers. We’re never told to pray to Mary. We can venerate and respect her but she is in no sense a Co-Redemptress.
And the Jesus of Roman Catholicism is very different than the Jesus of the Bible. Roman Catholicism essentially says to make yourself right with God, God did most of the work, God paid for the meal but you need to leave the tip! And there’s one to two to five percent of things you’ve got to do to make yourself right with God. And you go to your priest and you ask what do I have to do and he says three things—pay, pray and obey. That has to be added alongside the work of Jesus Christ to be made right with God. Such a teaching is totally foreign to the Bible. Jesus, on the cross said, “It is” what? “It is finished!” and at the bottom of the screen you’ll see much later in biblical history why God was incensed with the nation of Israel. Jeremiah 7, Jeremiah 44, Ezekiel 8, because that mother-child system went into the borders of Israel and they began to worship on the eve of the Babylonian captivity the queen of heaven. Read all about it in those chapters. And that explains why God send His people into discipline.
Why am I revealing all of this? Why am I teaching all of this? I’m trying to show you that we’re going to run into an expression in the Book of Revelation called “The Mother of Harlots.” The Mother is the source of all harlotry. And if you understand the global impact that took place at The Tower of Babel there’s no question in your mind who the Mother of all Harlots is. It’s Babylon! Because there was only one language and what happened here affected all cultures to follow.
You say well, don’t you think Roman Catholicism is The Mother of all Harlots? No, she’s the daughter Harlot; she never was the progenitor of the Mother-child system; she absorbed it. Well, isn’t Jerusalem the Mother of all Harlots? No, she is not the progenitor of the Mother-child system; she absorbed the system. In essence she’s the daughter. There’s only one mother here and that’s Babylon and the location is very clear, on the plains of Shinar in between the rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Clarence Larkin in his book on Revelation says this: “This” concerning Babel, “was the origin of the nations, but the nations were not scattered abroad over the earth until Satan had implanted in them the “Virus” of a doctrine that has been the source of every false religion the world has ever known.” [Larkin, The Book of Revelation, 151] I mean, that virus was there, it just had to be disseminated everywhere once God confounded the language.
So that really becomes the basement, that really becomes the foundation for understanding any prophecy in the Bible related to Babylon. That’s stop one on the bus ride. Stop two is the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Take your Bible if you could and go to Isaiah 13 and take a look there around verse 10. Isaiah 13 around verse 10. Why are we going into Isaiah and Jeremiah? Because Isaiah and Jeremiah both make predictions about Babylon and her destruction that have never been fulfilled in biblical history… ever!
Notice what Isaiah say, I wish we had time to read the whole chapter. He describes Babylon’s destruction. In fact, if you look at verse 1 it says, “The oracle concerning Babylon.” [Isaiah 13:1, “The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.”]
Verses 6-9 describe Babylon’s destruction as “the day of the Lord” a term of judgment. [Isaiah 13:6, “Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty.  Therefore all hands will fall limp, And every man’s heart will melt.  They will be terrified, Pains and anguish will take hold of them; They will writhe like a woman in labor, They will look at one another in astonishment, Their faces aflame.  Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it.”]
It’s analogized, verses 10-13, to disturbances in the cosmos. [Isaiah 10-13, “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light.  Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless.  I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind than the gold of Ophir.  Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the LORD of hosts in the day of His burning anger.”]
It’s clearly a global judgment as I’ll show you. In fact, it’s just going to be like the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, verse 19. We know about Sodom and Gomorrah, we know how they were destroyed—instantaneously, cataclysmically by God. And Isaiah says once Babylon falls she will be in total and complete desolation to such an extent that she will never again be rebuilt. And as she falls the kingdom of God will come and the world will enjoy universal peace and rest, chapter 15:5-8.
[Revelation 15:5-8, “After this I looked, and the temple—the tabernacle of the Testimony—was opened in heaven.  And out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, dressed in clean and bright linen and girded with golden sashes around their chests.  Then one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever.  And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.”]
If you look very carefully at Isaiah 13:10 it says something very interesting there, it says, “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light.” And you can cross reference that with end time activity; you can cross reference it with Matthew 24:29, Jesus puts a prophecy like that into the distant future; it’s never happened yet. [Matthew 24:29, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”]
In fact, if you look at Isaiah 13:12 he makes a very interesting prediction there. God, through the prophet Isaiah says that when Babylon falls “I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind than the gold of Ophir.” In other words, humanity, when Babylon falls, will be on the brink of total destruction and elimination. This is what Isaiah predicted.
Isaiah says something extremely interesting in verse 20. Look at Isaiah 13:20. It says, “It” Babylon, “will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation;” watch this now, “Nor will the Arab pitch his tent there,” I mean the fall is going to be so cataclysmic and final that the Arabs will not pitch their tent there. We have a problem because there’s a picture of Arabs pitching their tent in Babylon today, taken from a picture around 1899-1908. What am I getting at? I’m getting at a very simple point that the prophecies of Isaiah have never been fulfilled in human history. And so if you don’t have a destruction of literal Babylon in the future you have no place in history for Isaiah’s prophecies to be fulfilled.
We know that God says what He means and He means what He says. God cannot lie! And if God’s Word means anything Babylon has to be rebuilt for the simple purpose of it being destroyed the way Isaiah predicts in bowl judgment number seven. Now here’s something very interesting. Isaiah chapters 13-23 describe the oracles against the nations. Isaiah just didn’t have prophecies about Babylon, he had prophecies about all the nation, all the surrounding nations. As you read through these it’s his oracles against the nations, Isaiah 13-23. As you read through these you’ll discover something very interesting that the name Babylon gets two oracle. He doesn’t give two oracles against Egypt or Assyria or Jerusalem or Ethiopia but why is it that his two places in his oracles he’s got two oracles against Babylon, one in chapters 13 and 14, and another one in chapter 21.
Here’s the answer, because the Bible predicts two falls of Babylon, one was in the time of Daniel, the handwriting on the wall chapter, when the Persians got the upper hand over the Babylonians, 539 B.C. If you’re following the chronology of the late Harold Hoehner, I’m not sure how he gets all of this, he’s a brilliant guy. Saturday night, October 12… how’s that for precision. That’s what Isaiah 21 is talking about so why another oracle? Because there’s an additional fall of Babylon yet future, in bowl judgment number seven, meaning Babylon has to be rebuilt, it has to be restored so it can be destroyed. Like God says, it’ll be destroyed.
Now it’s not just Isaiah that talked this way, it’s the prophet Jeremiah.. Notice, if you will, you can turn in your Bible to Jeremiah 50 and 51. Notice, if you will, Jeremiah’s oracle against Babylon. He analogizes it, verse 8, chapter 51, to sudden destruction, instantaneous. [Jeremiah 51:8, “Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; Wail over her! Bring balm for her pain; Perhaps she may be healed.”
In the verses that I have on the screen he analogizes it to a complete and total desolation. In fact, the desolation will be so complete that according to chapter 51 verse 26 of the prophet Isaiah, building materials from Babylon will never be used again. According to chapter 50, verse 8, chapter 51 verse 6, chapter 51 verse 45, believers are going to flee. Believers living in Babylon are going to “get out of dodge” before it collapses. And there’s a lot of people that will tell you, well, this already happened when Babylon fell the first time in Daniel 5. I’m here to tell you this is not what it says because Daniel never fled. Remember the story of the Book of Daniel. He hung around in the administration of Persia and actually served under two Persian kings. And when Babylon falls the fall will be so severe that it will precipitate the regeneration of the nation of Israel.
I have to inform you of how far out this is in the thinking of most scholars. And even in thinking of most promising ministries today… I mean, this is completely foreign. This is not something they teach, this is not something they have been taught. In fact, most of them really do not know what to do with these chapters other than to do what people do when it doesn’t fit their preconceived system, rewrite the chapter. So the argument that is used over and over again is well, Isaiah prophesied in the eighth century, and Jeremiah prophesied in the seventh century and we all know that Babylon fell to the Persians, Daniel 5, in the sixth century so these prophecies have already been fulfilled, don’t worry about it! There’s nothing to see here folks, just move right along.
I mean, commentary after commentary after commentary that I could direct you to says that.
We have a problem though, folks, it’s the known facts of history. The known facts of history do not harmonize with these prophecies. Why? Because when Babylon fell to the Persians in Daniel 5 there wasn’t even a battle; there wasn’t even a cataclysm. I mean, there was actually nothing like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or anything of that nature.
Now, listen to this, we have the writings of Herodotus, look at the date of that, 450 B.C. He’s writing within about a century of when Babylon fell to the Persians in Daniel 5. And he describes what happened. And his account doesn’t read anything like Jeremiah describes, or Isaiah. “ He (that’s Cyrus) conducted the river by a channel into the lake and so he made the former course of the river passable by the sinking of the stream. When this had been done, the Persians who had been posted for this very purpose, entered by the bed of the River Euphrates into Babylon, the stream having sunk so far that it reached about the middle of man’s thigh,” watch this, “goes Babylonian who dwelt in the middle could not know they had been captured.” There wasn’t even a battle in Daniel 5.
Now you might recall in our series on the Book of Daniel we talked a little bit about that, how there was the last reigning king of the Babylonian Empire was a man named Belshazzar, and he went into the temple and he retrieved from the Jewish temple something that Nebuchadnezzar had retrieved; he actually brought out what Nebuchadnezzar had retrieved before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple, and these were the vessels of God in the temple. And he took something that was holy unto God, holy unto the service of God, and he used them for a profane purpose; he filled them with alcoholic beverages and him and his group in a room partied as if there was no end in sight.
And that’s when Daniel 5 describes all of a sudden the handwriting appeared on the wall. And it so startled him, the Bible says, his knees began to knock together it was so frightening. He couldn’t understand what the handwriting on the wall meant, it said, ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’]
[Daniel 5:15, “Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’] What does that mean?
And so they find Daniel whose now an old man, they bring him out of basically retirement and they say help us with this. And he interprets it, “Numbered, numbered, and divided” meaning God has weighed you in the scales of His justice, He has found you to be wanting and this very night your empire will be taken from you. You’ll be killed and it will be divided.
And Belteshazzar, who thought he was so invincible because of Babylon’s walls, forgot a simple fact that all the enemy had to do, the Persians, is divert the river Euphrates and tunnel under the wall. And so they went under the wall in the midst of all of this pride and [can’t understand word] on the account of Belteshazzar. He’s having his big party, he’s drinking his alcoholic beverages, he doesn’t even understand that he has already been conquered without using modern vernacular, without even firing a shot. No battle, no conflict. And you see, that becomes a very important lesson to us concerning who’s in control of history, because there’s an awful lot of people out there that feel that they’re invincible. I mean, they’ve stockpiled a bunch of stuff and they have all of these resources and money and they think they can live as if God doesn’t exist. They can even take the things of God and use them for profane reasons. And they forget what Jesus said to that rich fool in Luke, “You fool, this very night your life is going to be taken.” [Luke 12:20, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’”]
What happened to Belteshazzar? No battle, no cataclysm, no Sodom and Gomorrah, no fulfillment of Isaiah nor Jeremiah. We have in history something called the Cyrus Cylinder and you can find this in a book called Ancient Near Eastern Text abbreviated as ANET, and all it does, and I have a copy of it in my office, all it does it translates ancient text from the original language into the language of today so you can read them. And we have an actual inscription of the words of Cyrus, the conquering Persian king in his conquest of Babylon in Daniel 5. We have the words of what he was thinking, we have the words of what he was saying, and as you study it once again you see that the language of the Cyrus Cylinder does not fit Isaiah’s description nor Jeremiah’s description of the fall of Babylon.
Look at what Cyrus said. “Without any battle,” see that, “sparing Babel on any calamity, I am Cyrus, King of Babylon, when I entered Babylon under jubilation and rejoicing troops walked around Babylon in peace. I did not allow anybody to terrorize any place of the country, I strove for peace in Babylon and in all his other sacred cities; I returned to those sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been in ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them all their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled unharmed in their former chapels the places which make them happy. May all the gods whom I have resettled in their cities ask daily Bel and Nebo for a long life for me. All of them I resettled in a peaceful place, ducks and doves, I endeavored to fortify and repair their dwelling places.”
What is Cyrus saying? When I went into Babylon to conquer it I made sure I didn’t mess up anything. In fact, I was very nice to the temples and the sanctuaries of those Babylonian deities. I made sure they were unscratched, unscathed. Why would Cyrus do that? Because Cyrus was what we call a polytheist. He worshipped multiple gods. And if you are a polytheist you’re trying to make all the gods happy, including these Babylonian deities. I don’t want to get on the wrong side of those guys, he says. In fact, I want them to pray for me.
And so what is the point I’m making? The simple point is this. What you have in Isaiah 13 and 14 and Jeremiah 50 and 51 doesn’t fit the known facts of history. No cataclysms, no upheaval, no war, no seventh bowl judgment. So what do you do with those passages? Most people just write them off, dismiss them. You take those too seriously in scholarship today you’re called a hyper literalist.
Let me tell you something about God folks; God doesn’t lie! God means what He says and says what He means. And therefore before we’ve even gotten to the Book of Revelation, if I’m a diligent student of the Old Testament I have an anticipation that some way, somehow Babylon has to come back to life so it can be destroyed exactly like Isaiah and Jeremiah indicate.
It’s interesting that in Isaiah 13:20-22 and in some of these passages in Jeremiah it talks about a total and complete destruction of such a magnitude that the city will never be rebuilt. [Isaiah 13:20-22, “It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; nor will the Arab pitch his tent there, nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there.  But desert creatures will lie down there, and their houses will be full of owls; ostriches also will live there, and shaggy goats will frolic there.  Hyenas will howl in their fortified towers and jackals in their luxurious palaces. Her fateful time also will soon come and her days will not be prolonged.”]
Folks, that never happened in 539 B. C. because there’s people living in Babylon right now. Herodotus went to that city for 450, Alexander the Great visited that city, 323, so did Seleucus, Strabo, long after 539, called Babylon’s Gardens, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Did you know that there were Babylonians that listened to Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost in the New Testament? Acts 2:9, it’s where the Jews were taken into captivity, some of them kept living there. [Acts 2:9, “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, King James Bible Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia”]
They actually formed a Jewish writing there called the Talmud. The villages were renamed much later on in history, up to 1100. Are you telling me that Isaiah has already been fulfilled on this when Isaiah said it would be destroyed and never be rebuilt again? That hasn’t happened; it never happened! Well gee, pastor, you’re talking like a crazy person, and you contradict everything I’ve ever been taught in prophecy. That’s why I like to quote other people. “As far as the historic” Walvoord says, “fulfillment is concerned, it is obvious from both Scripture and history that these verses” the ones we’ve been looking at, “have not been literally fulfilled. The city of Babylon continued to flourish after the Medes conquered it and though its glory dwindled, especially after the control of the Medes and the Persians ended in 323 B.C., the city continued in some form or substance until A.D. 1000 and did not…” “and did not,” “AND DID NOT experience a sudden termination such as anticipated in this prophecy.” [Dr. John Walvoord, The Nations in Prophecy, 63-64] Where are you going to put Jeremiah 50 and 51?
Charlie Dyer, my professor at Dallas Seminary knows exactly where it goes and that’s why he put together this chart showing the parallels between Jeremiah 50 and 51 and Revelation 17 and 18.
[Parallels between Jeremiah 50-51 and Revelation 17-18.] The golden cup found in both sections. Babylon dwelling on many waters found in both sections. Babylon intoxicating the nations, given the name Babylon found in both sections. Babylon analogized to a stone sinking into the Euphrates River analogized in both sections, used in both sections. The same with destroyed by fire, rendered uninhabitable, having a deserved punishment, God’s people fleeing when this happened, not like Daniel who stayed behind. And heaven exploding into praise. [Dyer, “The Identity of Babylon in Revelation 17–18 (Part 2),” 441-43.]
You’re going to read that, or we’ll be reading that in the Book of Revelation, 17 and 18, and if you’re a diligent student of the Bible you’ll say well, I read that somewhere before. It’s in Jeremiah 15:51, what’s the BLT? Which is not Bacon Lettuce Tomato. Bottom Line Time.
Clarence Larkin writes, “as ancient Babylon was not thus destroyed, the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah cannot be fulfilled unless there is to be a future Babylon that shall be thus destroyed. [Larkin, The Book of Revelation, 158.] And then you get to Revelation 17 and 18 and there’s your aha moment. Ahhhh, that’s what Jeremiah was talking about. That’s what Isaiah was talking about.
Let me take you to a third stop on the bus; take your Bibles and go to Zechariah 5:5-11, a very interesting prophecy here that hardly gets any air time in the body of Christ today. Zechariah chapter 5, verses 5-11, one of the prophecies of the great prophet Zechariah. Look at what he says here.
“Then the angel who was speaking with me went out and said to me, “Lift up now your eyes and see what this is going forth.”  I said, “What is it?” And he said, “This is the [a]ephah going forth.” Again he said, “This is their appearance in all the land  (and behold, a lead cover was lifted up); and this is a woman sitting inside the ephah.”  Then he said, “This is Wickedness!” And he threw her down into the middle of the ephah and cast the lead weight on its opening.  Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and there two women were coming out with the wind in their wings; and they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heavens.  said to the angel who was speaking with me, “Where are they taking the ephah?”  Then he said to me, “To build a temple for her” oh my goodness look at that, “in the land of Shinar;” isn’t that where Babel was? Isn’t where the children of Israel went into captivity? Isn’t that Mesopotamia? Isn’t that modern day Iraq? “… and when it is prepared, she will be set there on her own pedestal.”
What is this all about? There’s a woman in this vision, her name is Wickedness. She’s put into an ephah which is a basket, the basket most likely represents commerce because that was a key tool of commerce in Zechariah’s day. And there’s a lead cup covering put over the basket so the woman named Wickedness can’t get out until God allows it. But one of these days that lead covering is removed and the woman gets out of this basket. And Zechariah says where is she going? She’s going to Shinar. What’s she going to do there in Shinar? She’s going to build a house. Now the Hebrew word for house is the exact same word for temple, used to describe even the temple that God predicted would come through David’s line. Somehow, someway in human history in the providence of God wickedness, and commerce, and religion for that matter, is going to be relocated in a place called Shinar. Shinar is where the tower of Babel stood, it’s where the children of Israel went into captivity.
When you read about the woman, called the “mother of harlots,” in Revelation 17 that’s the same woman that comes out of the basket in Zechariah 5. Most people have never connected the dots between the two women but it’s the same woman. It’s the woman whose name is wickedness, it’s just in Revelation 17 she’s called the “mother of all harlots.”
Look at these parallels between the two women indicating that they must be the same woman. Both women are sitting, Zechariah 5 she’s sitting in a basket, Revelation 17 she’s sitting on many waters. The first woman, Zechariah 5, is known for commerce, the Ephah. The woman in Revelation 17, and I believe it bleeds over (as I’ll show you) into chapter 18. Commerce is very prominent in Revelation 17 and 18. The woman’s name is Wickedness; Zechariah 5 she’s just called the mother of all harlotry, Revelation 17 and 18. There’s a focus of false worship in both sections of these prophecies, the temple that this woman is going to build and the one-world false religious system that will exist from Shinar in the Book of Revelation. In Zechariah 5 the woman is taken to Shinar, another name for Babylon. In Revelation 17 she is simply called Babylon.
What do you have there in Zechariah 5. Arthur Pink puts it this way: “The vision of prophecy” Zechariah 5, “contains the germ” or seed, “which is afterward expanded and developed in such detail in Revelation 17 and 18. Zechariah 5, the beginning of the story, Revelation 17 and 18 the end of the story.” But if you’ve never been exposed to Zechariah 5 you would never connect the dots between the two. As I’ve tried to indicate over and over again you can’t understand the Book of Revelation without some kind of working knowledge of the Old Testament.
It’s interesting, the Book of Revelation says if you want to be blessed read this book, read it and heed it. And I’ve always tried to figure out what’s the blessing? My answer is I don’t know, but here’s my working guess. You ready for this? If you become a student of the Book of Revelation you will see that the whole Book of Revelation hinges on Old Testament information. The Book of Revelation therefore when you study it will take you into every single Old Testament book, simply so you can make sense of what is happening in the Book of Revelation.
Now God, I have to say, pulled a fast one on me because as a young Christian the very first area of theology, the very first part of the Bible that I had any interest in was the Book of Revelation. In fact, for years I called it the wrong title, The Book of Revelations. My pastor asked me to do a devotional. I said what do you want me to talk about? He said something very dangerous, he said you pick the subject. So I did my devotional on something out of the Book of Revelation. And I can just say this; I praise God that that was before the internet era [laughter] where there is absolutely no record of what I said! [more laughter] Because I had no idea what I was talking about, because I really hadn’t studied the Old Testament. But as I began to grow in my understanding and appetite for the Book of Revelation I said well, gosh, if this is what’s happening in the Book of Revelation I need to learn something over here in the Old Testament, and over here in the Old Testament, and over here in the Old Testament, and God made me a student of the whole Bible to understand the Book of Revelation. I think that might be the blessing; you love Revelation you start to love the whole Bible. It’ll take you into the whole Bible, including this prophecy here in Zechariah 5.
Now here’s sort of the game that’s played… well, gosh, how literal do we take this, Zechariah 5, how literal do we connect the dots. I mean, after all, if we can just get Isaiah 13 and 14 and Jeremiah 50 and 51 to be fulfilled in Zechariah and Daniel 5, then let’s just get Zechariah 5 to somehow get fulfilled in Daniel 5 and then we can get rid of Zechariah 5 and we can get rid of Isaiah 13 and 14 and we can get rid of Jeremiah 50 and 51, and we can just go ahead and teach this the way we’ve always been taught, always taught it, not allowing the Bible to interrupt our thinking.
Problem—Zechariah 5 took place in the second year of Darius. What year would that be? It would be 519 indicating that Zechariah chapter 5 took place 20 years after Babylon fell to the Persians in Daniel 5. See, you can play your game linguistically if you want with Isaiah 13 and 14 and Jeremiah 50 and 51; you can’t do that with Zechariah 5, for a very simple reason, unlike Isaiah 13 and 14, unlike Jeremiah 50 and 51, Zechariah 5 was written 20 years after the fact.
Newton, in his commentary says this: “This event predicted in this remarkable passage, Zechariah 5, remains still unaccomplished. It is sufficiently evident from the fact of Zechariah’s having prophesied after Babylon fell, and had received that blow under which it was gradually waned. Zechariah lived after Babylon had passed into the hands of the Persians. This has nothing to do with Daniel 5 because it’s written twenty years after Daniel 5.
It’s interesting to me how the Holy Spirit has sort of anticipated these human arguments that would come up throughout time. He said okay, you can try to do away with Isaiah 13 and 14 but you can’t do anything with Zechariah 5; you cannot get rid of Zechariah 5. So in order for Zechariah 5 to be fulfilled commerce and religion and wickedness has to be relocated to that part of the earth one day. And then you read Revelation 17 and 18 and you have your aha moment and you think oh, that’s where it’s all going to be fulfilled. See, we haven’t even gotten to the Book of Revelation here in this study, we’re totally in the Old Testament. And yet the expectation should be building of a future Babylon.
The fourth stop on this bus ride, and I’ve already made reference to this as we’ve been moving through the Book of Revelation, is the kings of the east… you remember trumpet judgement six? “One saying to the six angels who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” [Revelation 9:14] Where is the Euphrates? It’s in the east. There’s an army there in the east, and according to this particular judgment the angels that are bound there have to be released to make way for this army. And that army moves from that part of the world into northern Israel and as we studied in the Book of Revelation they exterminate in their path a third of the world’s population.
And then we saw not just trumpet judgment six, we saw recently bowl judgment number six which I think expedites the path further. It says, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.” [Revelation 16:12] Have you ever studied the word “east” in the Bible? “East” in the Bible is always Babylon… always! The Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:8, was located in the East. [Genesis 2:8, “The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.”]
Now I really don’t know how much the flood waters rearranged the topography of the modern earth but Genesis 2:8 talks about the Euphrates and the Tigris and if that’s the same Euphrates and Tigris that I know about then the Garden of Eden itself was located in what we would call modern day Iraq. Is that something I would start a new church over. Not necessarily. We’ve already seen, have we not, Genesis 11:2, how the tower of Babel, the very first Scripture we looked at was located in the east. Didn’t it say that? [Genesis 11:2, “It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.”] Didn’t it say that?
Well, where is “the east”? It tells us, Genesis 11:2, “in the land of Shinar.” By the way, on all of your Christmas cards you’ve got the wise men, the magi, coming to give gifts to the Christ child. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself where those folks came from? Matthew 2:2 tells us that they came from the east. [Matthew 2:2, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”] Why would they do that? They did that because they had access to Daniel 9:25 which gives the exact day, Daniel 9:25, when the Messiah would present His Messianic credentials to the nation of Israel. [Daniel 9:25, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”]
Well how did they know about that prophecy all the way in Iraq? Ah, I know why? Because that’s where the Jews were taken into captivity for seventy years. And do you remember that when Daniel successfully interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, both the revelation of it and the interpretation of it. Daniel 2:48 says Nebuchadnezzar promoted Daniel into the ranks of the soothsayers and the magicians. [Daniel 2:48, “Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.”]
So six hundred years earlier Daniel was one of the Magi. They had a record of what Daniel predicted. It’s kind of interesting that they were following from the east. What were they following there? A star! Why would they do that? That’s weird! Numbers 24:17 analogizes the coming of Christ to a star through a man named Baalim. [Numbers 24:17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near—a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the borderlands of Moab, and the territory of all the Shethites.”] You want to know Baalim’s home town? Any guesses? Mesopotamia! Deuteronomy 23:4. [Deuteronomy 23:4, “because they did not meet you with food and water on your journey out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam son of Beor, from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.”]
Why would these Magi coming at a particular time following a star, they had Daniel’s prophecy and they had Numbers 24:17 prophecy. And God is using this as a rebuke to the nation of Israel because He’s saying even the pagans have it figured out. Even the pagans know who Jesus is. Even those that are descendants of the lineage of Nimrod in Iraq know who Jesus is. And My people who have more knowledge and more prophecy can’t put the pieces together. It’s a rebuke to Israel.
So east is Iraq, and so is it not interesting that when this giant army comes from the east why would they be summoned from the east? It’s a hint that the antichrist is residing there, controlling the nations of the earth, and he summons this giant army from the east, most likely further east, but he’s summoning them from the east and as they’re coming into Armageddon the Euphrates River is dried up because that is the final barrier between the Far East and the Middle East. And so they’re moving into northern Israel, they’re destroying a third of the world’s population on the way because the East itself is where the antichrist summons them from. And so even before we’ve gotten to Revelation 17 and 18 you see an awful lot of hints, do you not, of a revived Babylon.
Step five on the bus is the end time harlot. Now we can go to Revelation 17 and 18. We have now entered into our last non-chronological parenthetical insertion, this has happened four times total, where John stops the chronology to give more in depth explanation to something happening in the chronology. That’s what Revelation 17, really all the way through chapter 19:6 is about. You’ll see that in chapter 17 verse 1, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls” in other words this is the angel that just destroyed Babylon in bowl seven. “Then one of the angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.” Because as you’re going through the Book of Revelation and you’re seeing Babylon’s destruction in the seventh bowl judgment you’re probably saying to yourself gosh, I wish I knew more about Babylon. So the Holy Spirit says I’m glad you asked, let me tell you a little bit more about Babylon. This Babylon in Revelation 18:10 is called the great city, Babylon. [Revelation 18:10, “standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’”]
Now the word “Babylon” is used in the Bible 300 times. Guess what it means every single time? Babylon, EVERY SINGLE TIME! So if Babylon means Babylon for 300 times why in the world would someone get to the Book of Revelation and say well, I think it means Rome? As we’ve carefully documented moving through the Book of Rev what we have seen is that the places of geography are always literal. Every single place of geography that we’ve ever encountered moving through the Book of Revelation is always literal, Asia, Patmos, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Laodicea, the seven churches, Euphrates is literal, Jerusalem is literal, Armageddon literally means Mount Megiddo, a literal place. Millennial Jerusalem, New Jerusalem, literal, literal, literal, literal, literal, literal. Geography is always literal in the Book of Revelation. And people say well it’s not literal here in Revelation 17 and 18. Why do they say that? Well they say that because there’s something on the harlot’s forehead that says mystery, Mystery Babylon. And before I even get into that, which I won’t be getting into today because I’m running out of time, I want to show you this last chart and I want to show you how, when you read Revelation 17 and 18 you’ve got to see Babylon in the background. “The harlot sits on many waters” doesn’t that sound a little bit like Psalm 137:1, the last and oldest psalm in the Psalter where the nation of Israel in captivity wept “By the rivers of Babylon”? [Psalm 137:1, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.”]
You’ll see this expression “Babylon the great,” that’s exactly the way Nebuchadnezzar described Babylon in his day. Daniel 4:30. [Daniel 4:30, “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?”]
You’ll see this expression, “mother of harlots.” [Revelation 17:5, “and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”] The source of all harlotry in the world, what city could that possibly be talking about? We saw earlier it has to be the tower of Babel. Everyone else is a daughter harlot, not the mother of harlots.
You’ll see in Revelation 18:2 the expression “fallen, fallen is Babylon.” [Revelation 18:2, “And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.”] That’s right out of Isaiah 21:9 describing the destruction of Babylon. [“Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs. And one said, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground.”]
You’ll see in Revelation 18:7 the fact that this woman is going to die under God’s judgment and she will not see widowhood. That’s exactly almost word for word. [Revelation 18:7, “To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘ I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’”]
Isaiah 47:7-9, you’ll see this woman clothed with purple and gold and you wouldn’t believe the imagination you get on that; you get all this information from all of these commentators about the Roman Catholic system and look at the colors of their robes. I’m not here to let Roman Catholicism off the hook but Roman Catholicism is not the mother of all harlots. She’s a daughter, not the mother. If you want to see purple and gold you’ll see it in Daniel 5:7, verse 16 and verse 29 related to Daniel’s interpretation of the handwriting on the wall.
And Belteshazzar was so thrilled with the least understanding what the handwriting on the wall represents that he put a robe on Daniel, and guess what the colors of that robe were? Purple and gold! It’s the exact same colors that are brought up in Revelation 17 and 18. Belshazzar did that as the acting head of Babylon, not Rome. Rome wouldn’t even exist yet for centuries. Not Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholicism wouldn’t even exist yet for centuries. Revelation 18:23 talks about this city corrupted with sorcery. That reads right out of Isaiah 47:9-13 of the sorcery of Babylon.
[Isaiah 47:9-13, “But these two things will come on you suddenly in one day: Loss of children and widowhood. They will come on you in full measure in spite of your many sorceries, in spite of the great power of your spells.  “You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’  “But evil will come on you which you will not know how to charm away; and disaster will fall on you for which you cannot atone; and destruction about which you do not know will come on you suddenly.  “Stand fast now in your spells and in your many sorceries with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you will be able to profit, perhaps you may cause trembling.  “You are wearied with your many counsels; let now the astrologers, those who prophesy by the stars, those who predict by the new moons, stand up and save you from what will come upon you.”]
The more I look at this the more it’s so clear, it’s almost dumbfounding to me how we could have gotten it so wrong. And yet some of the most prominent prophecies voices in prophecy circles today, some of the more prominent scholars in prophecy circles today, continue to trump it over and over again their wrong conclusions to such an extent that the evangelical church has been so enmeshed in wrong understandings that they never had the right understanding. And that’s why in this series I’ve decided to sort of take my time (as if I don’t normally do that anyway) [laughter] and to give you this history which we’ll pick this up next time I’m with you.
But here’s the deal folks, Babylon is going down! And if you are not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ your identity is in a city and a system that’s destined for destruction. And what a glorious thing it is when a person hears the gospel and they receive the gospel by believing the gospel and their citizenship switches to the coming kingdom which cannot be shaken. If you’re not part of that citizenship of that coming kingdom because you never trusted Christ as your personal Savior then you’re stuck with this world Babylonian system that’s crumbling as I speak, and is on its way out. Oh yeah, she’s going to get her run, she’s going to get her heyday, but in one hour the whole thing dissolves under the judgment of God in bowl judgment number seven.
So the question becomes today, as I’m closing, is where is your citizenship? Is your citizenship in heaven, Philippians 3:20, because that’s the only safe investment I know of. [Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”] How do you get your citizenship in heaven? You respond to the gospel, you believe in the gospel, you trust in what Jesus did for you. You come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit where you say to yourself you know what, all this stuff about the gospel of Jesus Christ is right, I don’t understand it all but it’s right! And you trust in that and that alone for the safe keeping of your soul and your eternity. And the instant you do that your citizenship just got transferred.
And so our exhortation to you at Sugarland Bible Church is to do what I just said, to trust in what Jesus did for you personally on the cross two thousand years ago so your citizenship could be transferred so you’re involved no longer in the world’s program but God’s program and your eternity is secure. And you go through this world with its cataclysms and its upheavals and you never lose hope because your hope comes from a kingdom that’s coming.
If it’s something you need more explanation I’m available after the service to talk. But trusting Christ as your personal Savior is something you can do right now in your own mind, thoughts, privacy, quietness, even as you’re listening, maybe you’re listening on the internet, maybe you’re listening on social media. Our exhortation to you is to trust Christi. It’s not a matter of walking an aisle, joining a church, giving money, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord, where you trust in the completed work and what He’s done for you. And we exhort you to do that.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for Your truth, grateful for Your Word, grateful for these bookends of history that You’ve given us. Help us to be good stewards of this material as we walk through it together in the church. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!