|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen
What is Government
Isaiah 13:13, Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
Haggai 2:6, 7, For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
Quoting Haggai, the Author of Hebrews brings forward the Old Testament meaning of the word shake:
Hebrews 12:26-28, Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear...
Revelation 14:8, And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Revelation 18:2, And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
This shaking represents the removal of all things contrary to God's word; it represents the overthrow of all powers and authorities that oppose the Kingdom of God; it describes the falling of all things that are built upon the sands of human wisdom and understanding. The Author clearly tells us that God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all men who are against the revealed truth. (Lk. 6:47, 48, Rom. 1:18, chap. 2, Ps. 2.)
God's wrath judges the transgression of the law, causing the works of men to crumble, i.e., shaking. Though it includes a physical shaking, it primarily speaks of the fall of governments, nations, societies, powers and authorities that are against the Lord and his Christ. History shows a correlation between literal earthquakes and natural disasters of all kinds and the collapse of the powers that are in rebellion against God. (Eph. 1:21, 1 Jn. 3:4, 1 Sam. 14:15.)
In Isaiah 13:13, the people are being warned of the impending judgment and destruction of Babylon. The fall will be an amazing fall for all who see and hear of it. The fall, resulting from God's wrath, will be so expensive that it is compared to the heavens and earth being overthrown. But in the midst of all the destruction, Isaiah assures God's people that the Lord is in total control, and he is working his plan and purpose. He is overthrowing all opposition to the Son and his Kingdom, so his King and Kingdom can be established. His wrath against sin will be terrible as he casts down the mighty Babylon.
Though Babylon fell, the spirit of Babylon did not die. It is alive and well even though it has faced the wrath of God many times. For his own good pleasure and purpose, he has allowed it to continue. Revelation 18 identifies the city that put Christ to death, i.e., Jerusalem, as the end-time Babylon -- God overthrew it with a mighty hand. Though Isaiah spoke of the overthrow of the ancient Babylon as a great shaking, the prophets continually use shaking to describe God's judgment against sin, a likeness carried over into the New Testament by the Author of Hebrews.
Obviously, the previous verses have been fulfilled. All we have to do is look less than 50 miles south of Baghdad and see the ruins of this once mighty city. But the principle still holds, and will continue until Babylon's spirit is placed completely under the feet of our Lord. (1 Cor. 15:24-28.)
God devotes more words and verses to the overthrow of the kingdom of Babylon that he does to about any other one subject in the Scriptures, except, of course, the Christian gospel. There is far more to Babylon than just the overthrow of a literal city and kingdom named Babylon. He tells us more about this Babylon's overthrow than he does about the overthrow of Jerusalem. Babylon is referred to many times in the New Testament, especially in the Book of the Revelation.
The Spirit of Babylon, Nimrod
The spirit of Babylon is the spirit of pride, rebellion and independence from God. It involves mankind uniting under a common system in order to overthrow the bands and cords of the plan, purpose and word of God. It includes the attempt to be like God, which Isaiah gives in the next chapter. This spirit was born when sin was found in Satan (1 Jn. 3:8); it spread to man in the Garden when Satan offered him the chance to be like god; it is identified after the flood in Nimrod when he called his city Babel. (Genesis 10:11, i.e., "gate of the gods." ISBE.)
Nimrod was a son of Cush, a son of Ham, the father of Canaan. Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his brothers without. (Gen. 9:22.) Nimrod's name probably means "we will rebel," but regardless, he embodied the spirit of "boastful violence and rebellion." According to Edersheim:
But yet another of Ham's descendants had settled in Asia. Nimrod, the founder of the Babylonian empire, the conqueror of Assyria, and the builder of Nineveh (ver. 11), was the son of Cush. Altogether this "mighty one in the earth," who founded the first world-empire, reminds us of Cain and of his descendant Lamech. Leaving out of view the possible meaning of his name, which some have explained as being "we will rebel," boastful violence and rebellion certainly constitute the characteristics of his history. Most strangely have the Assyrian tablets of the royal successors of Nimrod been made to furnish an explanation of his description as "a mighty hunter" -- for this is the title given in them to the great conquering warrior-monarchs, as "hunting the people." Thus we gather the full meaning of the expression, "he began to be a mighty one in the earth." (Alfred Edersheim, Old Testament Bible History, Chapter 8, 56. The Master Christian Library, ver 5, CDROM. AGES Software, PO Box 1926, Albany, OR 97321. 1-800-297-4307. www.ageslibrary.com)
According to Keil-Delitzsch:
Nimrod "began to be a mighty one in the earth." .. used here, as in chap. vi.4, to denote a man who makes himself renowned for bold and daring deeds. Nimrod was mighty in hunting, and that in opposition to Jehovah; not before Jehovah in the sense of, according to the purpose and will of Jehovah... The name itself, Nimrod .. "we will revolt," points to some violent resistance to God. It is so characteristic that it can only have been given by his contemporaries, and thus have become a proper name. (K-D, Commentary on the Old Testament, First Book of Moses, 165.)
Thus, Nimrod's acts of being a mighty hunter meant trapping men "by stratagem and force." He became a tyrant over men, "establishing his imperial kingdom by tyranny and power."
As a foot note, K-D adds,
This view of Nimrod and his deeds is favoured by the Eastern legend, which not only makes him the builder of the tower of Babel, which was to reach to heaven, but has also placed him among the constellations of heaven as a heaven-storming giant, who was chained by God in consequence.
The implication is, accordingly, that the mighty deeds of the men of renown of Genesis 6:4 were deeds against the God of heaven -- deeds that attracted everyone's attention.
According to Josephus,
God also commanded them to send colonies abroad, for the thorough peopling of the earth,--that they might not raise seditions among themselves, but might cultivate a great part of the earth... [I]t was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God... He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers! Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. (Antiquities, Book I, Chapter 4, Sec. 1-3. AGES Software, CDROM.)
In Edersheim's words,
It was the Divine will, that after the flood the whole earth should be repeopled by the descendants of Noah. For this purpose they must, of course, have separated and spread, so as to form the different nations and tribes among whom the world should be apportioned. Any attempted unity on their part would not only be contrary to Divine purpose, but also, considering the universal sinfulness of man, prove dangerous to themselves, and even be untrue, since their inward separation had already appeared in the different characters and tendencies of Ham and his brothers. (History, Chapter 8.55.)
Edersheim further points out that Nimrod's name is listed by ancient history in the line of kings of Egypt.
The goal of the builders of the Tower of Babel was to reach unto heaven, "..whose top should be in heaven, i.e. reach to the sky, to make themselves a name, that they might not be scattered over the whole earth." The "divine purpose was for man to fill the earth, i.e. to spread over the whole earth, not indeed to separate, but to maintain their inward unity notwithstanding their dispersion..." (K-D)
God's goal was unity -- unity in a common faith no matter where in the earth they went. Man's goal was unity -- unity in a common effort to rebel against God.
Genesis 11:3, Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Assuredly their meaning is; "Let us rebel!"--for not only would the Divine purpose of peopling the earth have thus been frustrated, but such a world-empire would in the nature of it have been a defiance to God and to the kingdom of God, even as its motive was pride and ambition. A German critic has seen in the words "let us make us a name" - in Hebrew, sheen - a kind of counterfeit of the Shem in whom the promises of God centered, or, if one might so express it, the setting up of an anti-Christ of worldly power. (History, 58.)
The building of Babel was a united effort to rebel against the command and purpose (Kingdom) of God. It was an effort to unite together "all material forces into one common centre" and would have "led to universal despotism and to universal idolatry, - in short, to the full development of what as anti-Christ is reserved for the judgment of the last days."
We read, that "Jehovah came down to see the city and the tower," that is, using our human modes of expression, to take judicial cognizance of man's undertaking. In allusion to the boastful language in which the builders of Babel and of its tower had in their self-confidence stated their purpose: "Go to, let us make brick," etc. (ver. 3), Jehovah expressed His purpose of defeating their folly, using the same words: "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language." And by this simple means, without any outward visible interference, did the Lord arrest the grandest attempt of man's rebellion, and by confounding their language, "scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth." "Therefore is the name of it called Babel, or confusion." What a commentary does this history afford to the majestic declarations of the second Psalm! (Ibid.)
According to Leupold:
... [H]e may be one who hunts men to enslave them... The tendency of this Cushite must have been to rise up against, and to attempt to overthrow, all existing order. In fact, he must have used this motto so frequently in exhorting others to rebellion, that finally it was applied to him as a name descriptive of the basic trait of his character. If this be so, then gibbor must be rendered "tyrant," or "despot" --- a use of the word found also Ps. 52:1, 3; and 120:4... So this inciter to revolt (Nimrod) came to be the first tyrant upon the earth, oppressing others and using them for the furtherance of his own interests... (A mighty hunter before the Lord, ed.) What the phrase then means in this connection is that the gross violation of men's rights, that this mighty hunter of men became guilty of, did not elude the watchful eye of Him, who in mercy regards the welfare of men, Yahweh, but the fact was openly before Him, even if He did not at once proceed to take vengeance upon the despot. (H.C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, Barnes' Notes, I.366, 367. Baker Book House.)
Nimrod's mighty feats, accordingly, were not necessarily mighty feats as commonly supposed, e.g., killing lions bare handed or lifting great weights. His mighty acts were acts against God, causing others who were inclined toward rebellion to admire him and thus follow him. Nimrod was within 100 years after the flood, so the ones who came through the flood were still alive. The ark that bore them through God's judgment was still visible. Think of the awe, "respect" and following Nimrod gained doing mighty rebellious feats against the God who sent the flood, especially when everyone knew the terrible judgment of God against such acts of sin and rebellion.
The implication of the context of Nimrod leads to something like this: "Look at him. (Nimrod in his mighty acts of rebellion and sin.) He knows what God did against that kind of action. The proof is all around us, but yet he still does those things. He must be someone special because God has not judged him like he did the ones before the flood."
In his rebellion against the Lord and against his anointed, Nimrod built a kingdom named Babel. Those who joined him were persuaded by maybe his personality or his threats of violence. We know that he was the first expert after the flood at getting men to follow someone away from God. (Gen. 10:9.) All people united, for whatever reason, behind his desire to thwart the purpose and plan of God, the Kingdom of God on earth.
This gives us at least seven import and foundational blocks for Nimrod's kingdom of Babel:
First, his gaol was to persuade men that their happiness and prosperity was a result of their own courage, strength and efforts, in which God had no part.
Second, his chief end was to turn men from the fear of the Lord. Nimrod saw the best way to do this was to make them constantly dependant upon himself. This he accomplished by a gradual installation of his imperial kingdom by strategy, deceit, tyranny and power. Though we have a record of evil of individuals on Adam's side of the flood (6:4), in Nimrod, we have the founding of the all-powerful state that seeks to usurp the place of God. This usurpation was accomplished by deceitful strategy, slowly making the people dependant upon the state instead of the God of the Flood. Nimrod's methods are still the most effective means in existence for turning the hearts of men from the Lord -- that is, increase their dependance on the state a little at a time until they can not exist without the state.
Nimrod's methods were very effectively used in the Soviet Union. In its recent moves to the "free market," many people reportedly were afraid to move into a "free market' economy." They were accustom to the "womb to the tomb" security provided by the state. Nimrod was well aware that Socialism destroys the fear of God, the Christian faith. (Even our own small community looks forward to the yearly $5,000 grant made available by the all-powerful and all-caring state. The precipitants just cannot seem to understand that the money is money extracted from the general population through whatever means necessary.)
This centralized government not only refers to civil government, but it includes church government, as well as the other 5 areas of government. Therefore, all government must work at making individuals self-governing under God. (Self, family, church, school and civil governments. [Gary DeMar, God and Government, I.3.] To this list of 5 we must add vocational.) Note that the first thing God ordained after the flood was the state, giving it the power of the sword, i.e., life and death. The first thing usurped after the flood to be used against God was the state.
Nimrod's goal was to turn people away from God and to himself. If he could not entice others to join with him, he used fear and tyranny. Behind him was the united power of others who had joined in his goal to ascend into heaven and overthrow God. And let us not underestimate his mighty deeds against God -- these could have easily been used to persuade others that the Lord was afraid of him or that he had the Lord "over a barrel." We can be assured that he used any fear to its fullest advantage.
Nimrod's actions were against the very foundation of the Lord's formation of civil government to keep the sinful nature in check. Although it was written in the hearts of all men, the doctrine of the state was not yet developed through the written law. Nimrod, being the mighty hunter that he was (implying that he was the most deceitful man alive), used God's ordination of the state and its power of the sword for his own sinful purpose against God. Implied from the account of his activity and the Lord's anger against what he did, is that Nimrod misused the doctrine of the state and the godly power of the sword just as it is misused by evil men today. The corruption of the godly instructions of Romans 13 is not recent -- fallen nature developed the corruption of the proper use of the sword as soon as the sword was given. (Gen. 9:5, 6.)
Nimrod's goal was to be FREE from the fear of the Lord, which would have been no small feat considering how soon this was after the flood. Thus Nimrod had to use the fear of the sword (as authorized to the civil government) to enforce his plan against the Lord God of heaven. This was, no doubt, much like we have today as lawless civil governments threaten (and use) the sword against all who rebel against their corrupt wishes and desires. Man will fear something, so the state replaces the fear of God with the fear of the state. The threat of the sword plays a big part in wining the fear of men to itself from God.
Nimrod's goal was to make men dependent on him (his kingdom) instead of on God. Everything that was to be sought from God and obedience to him is now sought from the state. And thus we have the origin of the Divine State, whose intent is to replaces God on earth in the hearts and minds of men.
The principle of fear is one of the easer principles to trace. (Is it not significant that fear is not mentioned in Scripture until after the flood, Gen. 9:2. See Heb. 11:7. No fear of God could be a reason that sin was so rampant before the flood. Cf. Ecc.12:13.) Nimrod replaced the proper fear of God with fear of what man, united in the state, can do to the body.
Fear is the major command of the law. Fear of the Lord causes men to hate evil, and depart from it. The fear of the Lord is: a fountain of life, protection, provision, wisdom, strength, blessing and boldness. In fact, O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.(Dt. 10:12,; 31:21, Pr. 8:13, 16:6, Pr. 14:27, Ps.60:4, 34:9, Ps. 111:5, 115:13, 14:26, 27:1, 34, Pr. 28:1, Ps. 34:9.).
Conversely: There is no fear of God on the part of the wicked. The fear of man is a snare, preventing men from fearing God and departing from evil. (Ps.. 36:1, Pr. 29:25.) When the fear of the Lord is lost, fear of man takes its place. Nimrod's goal was to remove the fear of the Lord, no easy task considering how soon this was after the flood. We probably cannot imagine the means he used to accomplish his statist goal; whatever he used, it invoked the anger and judgment of the Lord.
As we follow the ideal of fear into the New Testament, Paul's words about fear are clear. The ungodly have no fear of God; the spirit of fear is the spirit of bondage; fear of the Lord is contrasted with pride; and we are commanded to give fear to whom fear is due. (Rom. 3:18, 8:15, 11:20, 13:7.) In light of the Old Testament, the fear of man or civil government (the state) that causes us to violate God's word is nothing but sin. The use of fear by the state, with the misuse of God's word to enforce that fear, is the spirit of Nimrod at work; it is the spirit of Babylon, which is under the curse of God.
The state had no power over Paul because he feared God. Fear of the Lord allows us to love one another, serve the Lord, and gives boldness to speak the word of God. (Ac. 27:24, Eph. 5:21, 6:15, Ph. 1:14.)
God's judgment is against the spirit of Babylon; that spirit was judged and broken on the cross of Christ. It is the spirit of fear that kept us in bondage, and that spirit of fear is to be conquered by the fear of God, for it is not of God. (Ps.76:12, Heb. 2:15, 2 Tim. 1:7, 1 Jn. 4:18. Ahaz used fear to accomplish his evil ends -- turn men away from God.)
Nimrod certainly had the fear of the all-powerful state well perfected, as the Lord himself said that there would be nothing restrained from their united effort against himself. (Gen. 11:6.) Implied is that we are only now rediscovering what was lost not only through the flood, but also through the confusion of the languages. I understand that the Great Pyramid has been attributed to Nimrod -- called Nimrod's Tower; the Masons also use the symbols contained in it to represent Nimrod. These things could easily be grounded in some truth. Even in our day of high technology, we are unable to duplicate the exactness found in the Great Pyramid.
These early kingdoms or empires (Gen. 10:10-13, ed.) 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. (H. C. Leupold, Barnes' Notes, Gen. 368.)
Nimrod's cities were cities of pride, magnificence and wickedness. The purposes of Nimrod's cities was to strengthen his monarchy, centralizing his control over the people. After all, it is much easer to control 1,000 families in an apartment complex than if they are spread all over the county. One person can do the job in the apartments while it requires several in the county. In the city, also, the individual loses his voice in matters. It was in God's mercy that he confused the language at Babel, for if he had not, Nimrod would have continued to oppress all the people of the world. (Keil estimates the world's population as about 30,000 by this time.) We must admit, moreover, that if God does see fit to confuse the computer languages with the Y2K bug, it will be in his mercy -- the spirit of Nimrod is working hard to unite all peoples of the earth against God through a common computer language.
Cities mean ease of control by the Elie, but they can only control those who are lawful. The lawless element is impossible to control short of marshal law. In the cities, the lawless are quickly drawn to each other. In the country, they are diluted, and can be controlled individually.
The third import block for Nimrod's kingdom: Nimrod had a plan to avoid God's chastening hand against sin. In fact, he was determined to seek revenge upon God if God sought of judge his rebellion. To this end he built his tower. Today, Nimrod's followers cannot reach into heaven to pull down the Lord and his Christ, so they take out their revenge upon those who are called by his name.
Nimrod's precaution against another earth-covering flood was in rebellion against God's word, for God had said he would not again destroy the world by water. But, on the other hand, he may have used God's promise for his own purpose, as have sinful men of all ages.
The Nimrod's of our day have a plan to avoid the chastening hand of God. Their plan includes every discipline we can name, e.g., science, education, medicine &c. God has given skills and abilities to be used for his glory, to advance his kingdom and take dominion over the world in his name (by developing and applying his law-word into every area of life and thought -- "How does God's word say this is to be done?"). These areas have been usurped by the lawless to further their rebellion against him, e.g., "No need to be worried about V.D.; science and medicine will take care of it," and the cords of God's moral code are broken.
Fourth, Nimrod led in man's effort to preserve a name for himself. This united effort was for the glory of man, which was just the opposite of the plan and purpose of God -- all things are to be done for the glory of God. As needed, Nimrod extracted the money to enter into this great public works program. The great building by the state, the Tower, was for a purpose -- the glory of man.
As man does all things according to the word of God, he brings glory to God. Therefore, as man does all things according to his own desires and designs, he brings glory to himself. There would not have been an area overlooked by Nimrod, who knew exactly what he was doing.
Fifth, he sought to imitate everything the Lord had commanded and offered: unity, peace, security, prosperity, happiness, &c. He misused the power of the state to accomplish his goal.
Sixth, Nimrod saw words as a weapon of warfare against God. The words were not necessarily openly rebellious words, but they were words intended to lead men astray from the path ordained for them by God. this is not only true as the Marxists move to conquer the world, but it is true of the Spirit of Babylon. When the lawless do not recognize the validity of the truth of God's word, they cannot be expected to recognize the validity of men's words. The lawless are not bound by truth in their words, for words to them are no more than a means to accomplish their evil ends.
Note the context of our Lord's words, By their fruits ye shall know them. (Mt. 7:20.) The Lord warns against those who have good godly words, but their actions are contrary to the revealed word of God. The warning in Matthew 12 (v. 33) is even more pointed as the Lord warns against the Pharisees -- they had the best words, yet their fruit was rotten. The Lord says to look at their fruit regardless of their words, for words of world peace and unity without the Prince of Peace are no more than tools to revive Nimrod's dream represented in Babylon. When professed Christians get their eyes off of man's proper goal -- glorify God -- onto something else, they permit words to be misused in their minds to obtain Nimrod's goal.
Seventh, Nimrod's mighty acts of rebellion caused others to be attracted to him and follow him in his rebellion. Their united goal was to rebel against God's word with immunity (the Tower). Nimrod led in the effort, and founded a state to unite all men in his rebellious effort. With deceitful words, actions and even force, Nimrod united all people under one common leadership, the state, for the purpose of providing all of men's needs without them having to look to the Lord for any reason. Nimrod sought unity apart from the unity which the Lord had commanded.
The Lord's unity was a unity in obeying what he commanded, thereby giving world peace. Nimrod's unity was a unity to keep from having to obey the Lord. He sought unity and peace totally apart from a common desire to do what the Lord had said. He sought to unite all people and areas of government under his (the state's) authority.
Keil says that Babylon "...from the time of Nimrod downward has been the symbol of the power of the world in its hostility to God." Any effort toward "world peace" apart from the Prince of Peace is anti-Christ, rebellion against God. Right before our eyes in the sands of Nimrod's old Babylon, the spirit of Nimrod is very much alive -- Babylon is risen from the sand in the form of sinful rebellious man once again attempting a united world order without Christ (NWO, as seen in the Gulf War).
Nimrod, in his subtle manner, has managed to draw even good people into his goal of peace and unity, but with no place for the Prince of Peace. God's wrath and judgment are against all such efforts. Note that the anti-Christ crowd has the nerve to ask the world to pray that they will succeed in their world-wide "peace keeping" efforts. The only way we can pray for peace is that the Prince of Peace would prevail. In our Lord's words, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. A Christian cannot ask God to bless Nimrod's renewed efforts. Any plan to build a world community apart from the community of a common fait in Christ and obedience to his command-word is anti-Christ; it is apostasy and anti-Christian.
The Lord shows exactly what he thinks of all such efforts for peace and unity apart from the Prince of Peace -- he confused the language, and scattered the people abroad. In this act of confusion, we see that God's plan and purpose will be accomplished no matter how many rebel against it.
From Genesis 10 on, Babylon is used in the sense of united rebellion against God. Babylon may be personified in a literal nation or in a spiritual sense. Regardless, the purpose of Babylon was to rebel against God and to unite others in its effort to operate contrary to God's word, law and purpose. Babylon is not a location nor person. Rather, it is a spirit determined to accomplish all things apart from God and his law-word. It intends to overcome and overthrow the Kingdom of God on earth. It is a spirit of rebellion grounded in Satan himself. It unites others by any means possible (words, deceit and force if necessary) in its vain effort to throw off the bands and cords that God has placed upon mankind. It includes efforts of unity apart from God's word.
A point easily overlooked is found in Psalms 69. God's purpose is to cut off the spirit of princes. God's war is against the spirit of rebellion -- the spirit of Babylon. God's war extends against all who harbor Babylon's spirit against the Lord and against his law-word. The word of God records Babylon's spirit in action against God's kingdom, with the final conclusion of the conflict described by the prophets, including the Revelation.
Babylon represents the very peak of worldly power, splendor, wisdom, pride, unity, achievement, might and anything else that can be sought apart from God. Babylon represents everything that is opposed to the Kingdom of God. It is the peak of all of man's efforts apart from obedience to the Lord's word. Though the spirit of Babylon is at war with the Kingdom of God, the Old Testament prophets show us Babylon being used by God for his purpose. When the Lord was finished with Babylon of the Chaldees, he brought it down with a crash to the amazement of all who saw the destruction. (Isa. 13:19.) God shows us the spirit of Babylon in continual operation until the Lord puts it down in the final day of judgment. Since the fall, man's goal has been to be like god, to be able to exist by his own will, not having to depend on the word of God for anything. We trace this further in Isaiah 14 (where we must give up the idea that Isa. 14 and Ez. 28 record Satan's fall).
Abram was called out of Babylon's spirit, and obeyed by faith. The result is that he received the covenant, which included the promise of the Messiah. Thus all who believe and trust in this promise are heirs the seed of Abraham. All who remain outside of this promise are of the spirit of Babel, founded in rebellion against God. This spirit of rebellion against God and exaltation over all mankind will live until the end, at which time it will be subdued under the feet of King Jesus. This spirit of Babylon was put down in the Revelation (read the first 17 chapters) with the same description as found in Isaiah 13:10, 13.
The Revelation Babylon
Following the spirit of Nimrod's Babylon into the New Testament, we find that it manifested itself in killing the prophets, and wise men, and scribes sent by the Lord to his covenant-people. (Mt. 23:34-39, Rev. 18:20, 24.)
The Lord identifies Jerusalem as Babylon, for it hunted the souls of men as did Nimrod. (Rev. 18, v. 13.) Sinful man cannot ascend to God. But when God became man, the spirit of Babylone saw a chance to overthrow the King and grab the inheritance. (Mt.21:38.) This spirit of Babylon used every means possible to persuade men to rebel against God and to kill the only begotten Son. (Mt. 27:20.) They killed the Son, hoping they could succeed where others had failed. Killing the Son, Babylon's rebellion reached its peak, paling all other acts of wickedness. The result was not the desired overthrow of the King, but the exaltation of the Son to the throne of David, and the overthrow of the Spirit of Babylon. (Mt. 21:41, 42.). The Son is now seated far above every name that can be named, totally out of reach of wicked men. (Eph. 1 & 2.) However, though Babylon's spirit cannot pull the Son down from his throne, it operates against his people, subtilly drawing men away from the revealed truth of God.
Revelation 18 describes the King's judgment against the city of Matthew 21:42, the revived spirit of Babylon. This chapter places the writing of Revelation before 70 AD and Rome's destruction of Jerusalem (as does 17:6; note that prophecy is from the time it is written, not from the time it is read. Though J.N. Darby claimed to introduce the ideal that everything past Revelation 4:1 is yet future. That new idea was actually introduced by a Roman Jesuit, "a converted Jew," in a 1790 manuscript published in Spanish by Rome, 1812. See J.N. Darby's Collected Writings, II.362, c. 1852. The Jesuit also introduced the idea of a literal 3 ½ years yet to literally take place.)
The purpose of Revelation was the same as was Isaiah's prophecy -- that is, to see the faithful people of God through the extremely difficult times ahead as the center of their then known world was going to be shaken to its very foundation by the judgment of God against Babylon. God's purpose with the Babylon that killed the Son is completed, and now he will destroy it.
Understanding this fact opens the book up tremendously. In Revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ, who had just been put to death maybe 30 years previously, is presented to the church that he founded and left. He is presented as the victoriously risen Lord and King over all of creation, (ch. 1). He is then presented as the all-knowing Lord and King over the seven basic churches (chaps. 2, 3). He knows all about them, and they are close to his heart even in the coming judgment. He tells them to get the sin in the church taken care of because there is tremendous judgment on its way. He then tells of the great destruction about to come upon the center of the world for both the Hebrews and the new church, the Christians -- the destruction of Jerusalem and the old Hebrew method of worship.
Through John, the Lord tells the new Christians -- and Jews if they would listen -- of the quickly approaching judgment against those who put Christ to death, which was close at hand, even within a few years. He tells them for the same reason Isaiah (and other prophets) told of Babylon's fall, i.e., to show that God is in total control and the result will be the glorious exaltation of the Kingdom of God. In all of the terrible 'trembling' that is coming, it is God who has put it in the heart of the wicked to accomplish his propose, (Rev. 17:7).
Revelation 22 tells us: First, the time is very near for the judgment spoken of in Revelation to come; second, the prophecy was not sealed (v.10). Therefore, it was for the immediate future, not 2000 years away, quite unlike the prophecy given to Daniel that could not be understood until the time was near (Dan. 12:4); third, even after the judgments described in Revelation are complete, there are still unjust people in the world (Rev. 22:11, 15); and fourth, many times throughout Revelation, as well as throughout the New Testament, the nearness of the coming judgment against Babylon is noted (v.20).
We do not find Isaiah's warning of the fulfillment of the coming judgment against Babylon being referred to as quickly coming, and the destruction he foretold was only 170 or so years away. How could the Holy Spirit change his definition of quickly from the Old Testament to the New Testament? In light of the Old Testament, quickly cannot be identified as a period of an excess of 2000 years, as modern expositors seek to make it.
The Revelation was not sealed. Being unsealed, the readers of the period understood that the events described therein would very soon come to pass, which they did within probably 10 years.
But its readers in the present, 2000 years beyond the prophesied events, have a difficult time understanding that the events were very soon to come to pass upon the ones to whom it was addressed. It is, therefore, sealed to those today who refuse to recognize its time-frame. This is why there is such a huge amount of speculation from this book, including 3:20 used as a salvation verse.
The churches mentioned in chapters 2 and 3 had to be able to read the prophecy and understand it because the great tribulation which Christ spoke of in Matthew 24 was almost upon them. Notice Christ's use of Isaiah 13:1-10 to describe the terrible time about to come upon Jerusalem (Mt. 24:29). Christ clearly identified the time spoken of by himself of the overthrow of Jerusalem with the overthrow of Babylon as described by both Isaiah and Jeremiah. Those who heard him knew immediately what he was talking about. They knew the context of Isaiah and the meaning of the terms used by the Lord. He had no need to say more, for his words clearly spoke of God's total destruction of the Babylon of the Chaldees. (Many reformers considered the Babylon of Revelation the city and Church of Rome, but that understanding does not fit the clear context of Matthew 23:37 and Revelation 18:20. We should not forget the totality of Jerusalem's destruction: Titus plowed the foundations of the walls with a yoke of oxen. What is seen over there today is several feet above the streets upon which Christ and the apostles walked. The spirits of Babylon and of the anitchrist do indeed live on in the Roman Church.)
The new Christians and the new church needed the strength to stand in the coming horror. Nothing had ever happened like it before. But since then, horrible tribulation against the church has happened many times. In fact, our Lord said that there had been and will be nothing like it in the history of the world. (Mt. 24:21.) With this statement to his hearers, he identified the coming fall of Jerusalem as far worse than even the fall of Babylon spoke of by Isaiah and Jeremiah.
What Josephus observes here, that no parallel examples had been recorded before this time of such sieges, wherein mothers were forced by extremity of famine to eat their own children, as had been threatened to the Jews in the law of Moses, upon obstinate disobedience, and more than once fulfilled, (see my Boyle's Lectures, p. 210-214,) is by Dr. Hudson supposed to have had two or three parallel examples in later ages. He might have had more examples, I suppose, of persons on ship-board, or in a desert island, casting lots for each others' bodies; but all this was only in cases where they knew of no possible way to avoid death themselves but by killing and eating others. Whether such examples come up to the present case may be doubted. The Romans were not only willing, but very desirous, to grant those Jews in Jerusalem both their lives and their liberties, and to save both their city and their temple. But the zealots, the robbers, and the seditious would hearken to no terms of submission. They voluntarily chose to reduce the citizens to that extremity, as to force mothers to this unnatural barbarity, which, in all its circumstances, has not, I still suppose, been hitherto paralleled among the rest of mankind. (Josephus, B 6, Ch 3, Sec. 3, note. The Master Christian Library, Ages Software, PO Box 1926, Albany, OR. 1 800 297 4307.)
We see in Revelation 1:3, that the prophecy was unsealed. Any child of God could read it and readily understand the warnings, threats and promises contained therein. Thus the promised blessing to all who read it. This promise was an encouragement for the people of God to read this book. They had to in order to prepare them for what was soon to take place, so they would not be shaken in their faith. This encouragement was as much needed by the people of God before this terrible time spoken of by our Lord in Matthew 24, if not more so, as was the encouragement needed in Isaiah's time. Without the explanation of what was soon to take place, the people of God would have been at wit's end, thinking that the promise of God had failed.
The promise from the time of Abraham on was/is for the exaltation of the King and his Kingdom. The Messiah was the personification of the promise: everything, every fulfillment, all hinged upon the Messiah, and he was going to be killed. To the natural mind, Christ's murder proved the spirit of rebellion more powerful than the King. (Even the Apostles lost hope until the risen Lord appeared to them on the sea shore.) The Lord, therefore, warns his people, both in Matthew 24 and in the Revelation, that the judgment and overthrow of Babylon, which killed the Son, would be more violent than anything since the foundation of the earth. Therefore, they were not to lose hope in the promise of the exaltation and victory of the Kingdom of God over the spirit of Babylon that put the Son to death.
Isaiah and Jeremiah prepared the people of God for the coming destruction of Babylon of the Chaldees and the glorious Kingdom of God after it. The prophet John prepared the people of God for the coming destruction of the Babylon of apostate Israel and the glorious Kingdom of God after it. This is not to say that the spirit of Babylon is now inoperative since Jerusalem's destruction, for obviously it is still very much in operation -- Revelation 22 points out that the dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers, idolaters, and those who love and make a lie, are still very much in action.
But the power behind the spirit of Babylon (Babylon defined as rebellion in all its shapes and forms, against the Lord and his Anointed and the Kingdom of God) was most certainly broken -- it was broken on the cross of Christ. (Col. 1:13, 2:15.) The spirit of Babylon can only operate as God permits.
Isaiah 13 describes the coming terrible judgment against Babylon of the Chaldees as a trembling in nature itself. Hebrews 12 tells us there is to yet be a final trembling and throwing down of the end-time Babylon when all men and nations are subdued to the Kingdom of God and the King.
John's exhortation to the covenant-people was the same as was Isaiah's -- look past the apparent depressed and defeated condition of the present Kingdom of God, and look to its future promised glory according to God's word. We are not to just look, but we are to work at bringing all things into this Kingdom. Setting back and waiting for the future greater glory results in the judgment of God.
Jeremiah 50 describes the reason for God's wrath against Babylon of the Chaldees, which was basically pride. God sent Babylon as a rod of chastisement against his disobedient people. Babylon destroyed the people of God with great zeal and joy, stirring up the wrath of God against it. Babylon was extremely exalted with pride because of the strength God had provided her. But, as the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Therefore, the fall of Babylon is compared to the overturning of nature itself. (Isa. 13:10, 13.)
In Isaiah 13:3, 4, the Lord makes it clear that he called Babylon against his sinful people. We must, hence, conclude that even the most powerful and glorious men (Isa. 14) are nothing but a tool in the hands of the Sovereign, Almighty God. God allows them to gain strength for his propose, and when that purpose is accomplished, they are cast down. This fact is one of the most obvious of the Old Testament, e.g., Pharaoh.
History is simply a record of Jehovah God allowing the spirit of Babylon, Satan, to exalt itself through ungodly men and nations to accomplish his purpose. Even when it seems that the enemy is at his very worse, he is accomplishing the Lord's purpose. No matter what takes place, the Lord is in complete control and he allows it for his propose. Our job is to be faithful to his calling no matter what.
The Prophet Isaiah (13:14) looks ahead to give a vivid description of what was going to take place in Babylon's judgment. Judah is still in her land; Ahaz makes a deal with Assyria, along with serving her gods. Babylon overtakes Assyria, and as God's instrument of judgment against her sins, moves in judgment against Judah. Isaiah is speaking before it happened, warning the people. The coming judgment against them, executed by God's servant Babylon, will be beyond anything they can imagine. (Babylon is not any kind of a threat to them at this point in time. The threat is Assyria. Therefore, as Isaiah looks ahead to Babylon's exaltation, his threats seem foolish.)
Isaiah calls God's people to look past the Lord's judgment when it comes, and not give up hope. It includes the promise that they will not be completely destroyed from off the face of the earth, as it will seem when Babylon moves against them.
The key to the terrible judgment lies in Jeremiah 50:15 -- Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her. (Note Mt. 27:25; Rev. 16:6, 17:6, 18:6, 24, 19:2.)
Jeremiah describes Babylon at her fall. She fell for what she did to the covenant-people when she went into Judea as the Lord's rod of chastisement. (Cf. Jer. 51. Assyria is also called the "land of Nimrod, Mic. 5:6, and Assyria is also called the rod of mine anger, i.e., God's indignation against his people, Isa. 10:5. Isa. 10 describes the same threats against Assyria as are given against Babylon in Jer. 51.) We see that even the pagan nations will be and are held accountable to the basic principles of God's word. He exalts them for a purpose, and they must execute that purpose according to his word because they will receive back upon themselves as they did to others.
Notice Revelation 18:6 -- the wrath against Babylon (Jerusalem) was to reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. The comparison between the two Babylons is amazing. Those to whom Revelation was written easily and readily made the connection.
A conclusion here is that as 'expositors' try to make the primary interpretation of the Revelation future from our day, the book becomes closed and the source of much false doctrine.
The similarity between the destruction of Babylon of the Chaldees and the Babylon of the Jews is striking.
[Liking the following when I saw it some time ago, I scanned it in, and filed it on my hard drive. I did not record the source, so I do not remember where I copied it from.]
When this question is asked, most people respond by equating government solely with a centralized state. Even our language reflects the confusion: "Government? It's in Washington," or "The government will take care of its citizens through its many programs." Both of these statements reflect a misunderstanding of the true nature of government. They portray the idea that the only governing institution is a political one. Historically, however, the term "government" was always qualified in some way, unlike our present-day definitions.
Our educational system reflects the same confusion. A generation ago high school classes dealing with state government were given the title "Civics." The emphasis was on the function of government in civil matters. This is no longer the case. Such classes are now given the broad title of "Government," implying that the many governments are absorbed into one all-encompassing government. Before World War I, textbooks dealing with national government were qualified with the title "Civil." An example of this can be seen in a textbook used in 1903: Elements of Civil Government. According to its author, "The family... is a form of government, established for the good of children themselves, and the first government that each of us must obey" (p. 18). The book continues by defining five areas of civil government: "the township or civil district, the village or the city, the county, the State, and the United States" (p. 18). The term "government," as the older educational definition indicates, is broader than the state. Textbook writers were aware that there were personal, family, church, school, and civil governments, each having a legitimate realm of authority. The state was seen as only one government among many.
To deny the validity of the many governments and the responsibilities that each has under God, would be to deny the authority that belongs to each of them in the realm of their activity. If we as individuals neglect our personal governing duties, then we can expect the state to assume the role of all other legitimate governments and claim to be the sole government, while labeling all others as counterfeits. Therefore, to see the state as the only governing institution "is destructive of liberty and of life" (R.J. Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity, p. 332).
The concept of the multiplicity of governments was as old as our country, because the principles were extracted from biblical principles. Noah Webster's definition of government in his American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) reflects the biblical concept of the diversity of governmental authority. Webster defined government in this way: "Direction; regulation. "These precepts will serve for the government of our conduct. Control; restraint. 'Men are apt to neglect the government of their temper and passions.'"
While Noah Webster, in 1828, defined government in terms of personal self control, most modern definitions largely limit government to the realm of institutions, especially civil or statist governments. This is made evident by the fact that the definition for civil government is placed first in modern dictionaries. Nowhere are self and family governments even listed. For example, Webster's New World Dictionary (1972), defines government in this way: "The exercise of authority over a state, district, organization, institution, etc."
Noah Webster, in the older definition, even goes on to include family government as part of the complete definition before he deals with the government of an individual state or nation. He defines family government as: "The exercise of authority by a parent or householder. 'Children are often ruined by a neglect of government in parents.'" According to the Bible, it is the duty of parents to govern in the home: "And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). It is not the duty of a civil government to interfere with the affairs of the family. Too often, however, parents neglect their God-given duty to raise their children in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord." When this happens, we can expect the state to take an increasingly dominant role in family affairs. Such a role is to the detriment of the family. The state on many occasions has even claimed ownership of children.
If generations continue to be indoctrinated with the modern definition, as they have been, they will neglect their own personal, family, church, and local governing duties. They will believe that these duties are outside their area of authority and responsibility. Each generation will become more dependent on the "benevolent" state for care and security. We are beginning to see such a trend. "Today, most Americans have lost their faith in Christ as Savior, and they expect civil government to be their savior. They have no desire for the responsibilities of self-government, and so they say to politicians, 'Do thou rule over us.' Instead of Jesus Christ as their good shepherd, they elect politicians to be their shepherds on a program of socialistic security for all" (R.J. Rushdoony, Law and Liberty, p. 61)
Government, then, in our American Christian heritage which was formulated from biblical principles, begins with the individual and extends outward to include all institutions. Presently, however, most Americans are unaware of the varied nature of government. The civil government has assumed responsibility to be the government. It is sad to say that many Americans are thankful that Washington has relieved them from what they believe is the heavy burden of governing themselves, their families, churches, and schools. If the people of the United States do not once again establish self, family, church, local, state, and national governments to their proper places of power and authority, our nation is doomed.
The central focus of all realms of government is the regenerating
work of Jesus Christ. Institutions and civil governments are made
up of people who are governed by the condition of their hearts.
If the heart is in rebellion against God, we can expect undisciplined
and ungovernable people. If the heart has been made new in Christ,
we can expect a people who will govern their lives according to
the governing principles of Scripture. A.A. Hodge speaks of the
essence of the new heart, regeneration, as consisting of "the
implantation of a new governing principle of life--from the fact
that it is a 'new birth' John 3:3], a 'new creation' [2 Corinthians
5:17], wrought by the mighty power of God in execution of his
eternal purpose of salvation, and that it is as necessary for
the most moral and amiable as for the morally abandoned"
(A Commentary on the Confession of Faith, p. 238).