PART ONE – RELIGION AND POLITICS / SAY GOODBYE TO RELIGIOUS BABYLON, THE GREAT
Over the past many postings on the book of Revelation, you by now, have become aware that the revelation received by the apostle John deals with different events which do not always proceed in chronological order. Occasionally John is drawn aside to receive additional information about something previously introduced but now more fully explained. On these occasions a chapter or two is insert into the narrative. Such is the case with chapter 17 and 18.
RELIGION AND POLITICS
In Revelation 14:8 the destruction of Babylon is foretold. Now John is giving greater detail about its fall. Chapter 17 and 18 deal with the destruction of Babylon which represents religion and government in the end of the age (during the Tribulation period). Revelation 17 records the destruction of religious Babylon and Revelation 18 records the destruction of political (economic) Babylon.
These two events, however, do not take place at the same time. The destruction of religious Babylon, as representing the false religion (apostate) of the future world church, chapter 17, best fits into the time period of the first 3 ½ years of Tribulation. When Christ raptures His Church (before the start of the Tribulation) and we go to live forever with Him, it doesn’t mean the end of religion. Many churches and religious orders will function with “business as usual” for the Lord Jesus Christ is not a part of them, even today. When as born-again believers we are raptured and taken to heaven, these religions will continue to thrive, and Satan will even permit them to grow. The devil will use false religion for his own evil purposes until he no longer needs it. With the rising power base of the Antichrist, in the middle of the Tribulation, religious activity of all forms, except that instituted by this beast, will cease and the great religious Babylon will be overthrown. This event is described in Revelation 17.
We should also note here that the concept of Babylon is greater than Revelation 17-18 and the Antichrist’s reign. Babylon was present in John’s day (typified by Rome), in our day, and throughout history, as the “world system.” But under the Antichrist, Babylon in both its religious, political and economic aspects will have influence over the earth as never before.
THE GREAT HARLOT
Verse one of the chapter says, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me saying to me, “come, I will show you the judgement of the great harlot who sits on many waters.” We are immediately faced with the problem of identifying this great harlot (prostitute) that is about to be judged. Verse five indicates that “upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Therefore, Scripture tells us that this harlot is Babylon the Great.
Babylon is frequently used in Scripture to refer to a system of idolatrous religion. The emphasis in chapter 17 is on the religious aspects of Babylon and in chapter 18 on the political (economic) system. It is important to bear in mind that in Revelation, Babylon refers to both a city and a religious system and that seems to be the way it is used in these chapters. This is much the same way Americans speak of Wall Street or Madison Avenue. They are actual streets, but they also stand for the financial system of free economy (WS) or advertising enterprises (MA). It is highly likely that this Babylon represents another city and religious system which displays the characteristics of the once evil Babylon. Let me very briefly share with you the religion of ancient Babylon which became a symbol of a counterfeit or false religion and is actually the mother of all other religious heresies (Genesis 10 and 11).
Nimrod’s wife, Semiramis, founded the Babylonian mystery religion. Semiramis knew God’s promise to Eve that one day He would bring forth of her seed One (Jesus) who would bruise the head of Satan and give deliverance and redemption to mankind (Gen. 3:15). Aware of this, Nimrod’s wife shrewdly connived a religion on the basis of that promise. She gave birth to a son whom she claimed was miraculously conceived without a human father. Soon images were made of Semiramis and her baby which became a central part of her idolatrous system of worship. The son, whose name was Tammuz, was worshipped as the saviour and redeemer of men, but it was Semiramis who was the real object of worship. She became known as the “queen of heaven” and demanded that little round cakes be offered in her honor. Later Jeremiah condemned the heathen practice of making cakes for the “queen of heaven and drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke the Lord to anger (v. 7:18).” For those who may not be familiar with Nimrod (and the tower of Babel) he was a great-grandson of Noah.
But Semiramis did not stop there, she introduced a doctrine of purging or purifying sin after death (purgatory?). In this mysterious Babylonian religion, salvation was obtained by countless sacraments, special feasts, rites and ceremonies. These included the Babylonian priests sprinkling holy water on the heads of all those who entered the pagan temples. Also, Semiramis established an order of virgins who wore long flowing robes and renounced all claims to ordinary life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – much like the nuns in the Roman Church. They dedicate themselves exclusively to God in the service of the temple.
The wicked wife of Nimrod instituted the festival of Ishtar (Easter) which was a period of weeping and mourning for Tammuz, because tradition says he was out hunting one day and was slain by a wild boar. Semiramis is then supposed to have wept for 40 days and her son miraculously came back to life again. Today we have churches that observe Lent, a 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Ezekiel 8:14 records the protest of God’s prophet over this pagan practice.
[Easter is a pagan holiday along with Lent, and Good Friday. People are deceived and have to seriously think about this – “How do Easter eggs, bunny rabbits, and hot cross buns have any connection with Christ’s resurrection?” Here in this pagan celebration, we have the goddess of spring who was supposed to have rabbits that laid eggs. Now the eggs symbolized a new life, and the colored eggs signify a wish for a bright new year ahead. Both the rabbit and the eggs are pagan symbols of sex and fertility. Easter is a fallacy and every reputable encyclopedia states that our modern-day Easter customs come from paganism. From childhood some have never known that some of our religious customs were strictly pagan. When you discover the truth about these holidays, it becomes quite shocking, and then you begin to realize how displeasing our customs are in the sight of God.]
The false religion of ancient Babylon soon spread to other parts of the world under different names. Always the system of belief was the same, just the names were changed. Idols to the mother and child soon sprang up all over the world. In Egypt the mother was Isis, the son Horus. In Greece the mother was Aphrodite, and the son Cupid. You don’t have to look far to find a religious system containing these features today.
The system of religious Babylon is described in Revelation 17 as a harlot sitting on many waters. Verse 15 interprets the waters as “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” She is portrayed as committing spiritual fornication with the inhabitants of the earth. Here we have the great harlot representing the false church, the modern-day descendant of the mystery religion of Semiramis. The woman is arrayed in purple and scarlet, bedecked with gold and precious stones and pearls (v.4). It tells us that the woman is sitting upon seven mountains, which usually refers to the city of Rome, and with the great similarities between it and the religion of ancient Babylon, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that this woman refers to the Roman Church. In Revelation 17: 4b we read that, “This woman is adored with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.” No religious system in all of history comes even close to the incredible wealth, art treasures, gold and silver, as that of the Roman Church. She has a cup in her hand which points to Rome’s holiest instrument, the Golden Cup of the Eucharist. The apostle Peter also identified Rome as Babylon (1 Peter 5:13), and chapter 18, which will be on my next posting, dealing with the judgement of Babylon will show clearly that the characteristics of the Roman Church are those of Babylon.
(Babylon – a symbolic or code name for Rome that is used by writers who wished to avoid trouble with the Roman authorities.)
However, even though the Roman Church may be the basis for religious Babylon, there are certainly Protestant and other denomination churches along with other religions involved here as well. This false system of worship described as the great harlot will include many groups as well as the mother (Roman) church. This is the ecumenical movement at its height. Here we see a one world church, based in Rome and practicing a system of worship which began back in ancient Babylon with the wicked wife of Nimrod. Today’s one world church movement (World Council of Churches) is part of the program of Antichrist. Religious Babylon symbolizes apostate religion, religion without the power or presence of the Holy Spirit.
This apostate church will make political alliances with nations in order to gain power. The fact that she rules over “peoples, multitudes, and nations, and tongues” is proof positive that this will indeed be a politically minded ecumenical church. But what will be the future of religious Babylon, this world-wide adulterous church? We read this in verse 16: “The beast and the 10 horns you saw will hate the prostitute (harlot). They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.”By comparing other Scriptures, we may place this destruction of the one world church midway through the seven years of Tribulation. During the first half of this (Tribulation) period religious freedom is extended to all. All the religions of the world, apart from those (Tribulation saints) who remain true to Christ, will gather in one great world church. The climax of this gathering is seen in the pomp and ceremony of the harlot riding on the beast (v.3).
However, with the revival of the Roman Empire and consolidation of his power base the Antichrist’s world rulership was secure, he no longer needed the church to gain power. Thus, he destroys the world church and substitutes the worship of himself. The full system of religion called Babylon, the harlot, will vanish and the beast will be unchallenged as world leader and his False Prophet as world religious leader. Using his power, the Antichrist will utterly destroy all forms of religion, even apostate Christianity known as religious Babylon centered in the Church of Rome.
All of this is in the will and plan of God. “For God has put it into their hearts to fulfil His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled(Rev. 17:7).” God has never been pleased with systems of worship which do not give Him His rightful place and counterfeit or divert the honor that is due only to God. Thus, the ecumenical movement and those Roman, Protestant and other churches so intimately involved in it are doomed to be destroyed by the Antichrist after he has used them to gain world rulership.
COUNTERFEIT APOSTATE CHRISTENDOM
PROFESSING CHRISTIANS VS POSSESSING CHRISTIANS
A pure chaste woman represents the true church, while a harlot (prostitute) represents the fallen church. The bride of Christ, the true church, radiates the glory of God, revealing His truth to the world. The apostate church, pictured as a harlot, offers her enticing false doctrines, confusing the mind and leading multitudes to destruction. Revelation’s Babylon represents the false religious system which carries over the principles of Old Testament Babylon into religious worship in the Christian era.
Christ knew what would happen after the disciples were gone. Jesus knew that Satan would infiltrate and counterfeit this young growing Christian church. Jesus knew that Satan would counterfeit the gospel and set up a counterfeit religious system to deceive the masses. The church has been the object of attack from Satan from early in the apostolic era. One of the methods of Satan is to destroy the church from within and that is precisely through false teaching and false teachers. Paul warns us about this: “The Spirit says that in latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons(1 Tim. 4:1).” Paul was talking about individuals who had professed to be Christians. They profess for a time to follow Him, but then they apostatized from the faith. These false teachers who pose as ministers of righteousness but are, in reality, ministers of the devil. We read in 2 Corinthians 11:15, “It is no great thing therefore if his (Satan’s) ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.” They profess to lead people in the way of truth and righteousness, but they are agents of the evil one. False doctrines, creeds, sacraments, rituals, and practices, all supposedly Christian yet none of them corresponds remotely to the Christianity that Jesus and the original apostles taught. Satan has indeed done a masterful job of creating a counterfeit Christianity that has deceive the masses over all the centuries.
You see, Satan has a counterfeit for every divine reality. Satan sows the world with a counterfeit company of professing believers who look and act like Christians and who associate with believers in our churches and even learned to speak the jargon of believers, but they are pretenders and not genuine followers of our Lord and Savior – they have not been converted and do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. They are not true possessors of Christ (born again) but merely professors and that’s the difference. Jesus warns us of these professing Christians in many passages of Scripture. One only has to look at the parable of the Wheat and the Tares. A parable picturing professing Christendom (apostasy). Wherever true believers are found Satan will also have his counterfeits. Just because a person goes to church it doesn’t make them a true born-again believer. It’s just like if I go to a garage, it doesn’t make me a mechanic. These people can sit right next to you in church, and you would not be able to tell the difference from their outward appearance. Only God knows their heart and only Jesus knows His sheep. According to Scripture their identity will not be known until Jesus comes back at the end of the age with His angels to separate the possessing Christians from the professing Christians – to separate the wheat from the tares.
Let me give you an example of apostate Christendom that I personally experienced. Going back years ago I used to go to the Anglican Church. It is the third largest denomination in Canada with around 1700 individual churches according to one of their websites. After years of debate, they finally held a vote in regard to whether or not they should ordain practicing homosexual ministers. Only 21 churches out of approximately 1700 voted NOT to ordain practicing homosexual ministers. The church that I went to was one of the churches that voted no. Unbelievable as this may sound, but less than less than 2% of the churches voted to honor God’s word – 21 out of 1700 churches. The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are “wrongdoers”who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Yet over 98% of the Anglican churches voted to follow the ways of the world and not submit to God’s word. They all call themselves Christians (in name only) yet do not adhere to God’s word. There are many people going to these Protestant and other church denominations who are really professors who have not actually been converted with the Holy Spirit dwelling in them (born again) that will be left behind in the Rapture and will be part of this end time apostate church – religious Babylon.
When the true Church is removed from the earth by the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18) before the Tribulation begins, religion does not disappear from the earth. Actually, religion will flourish following the Rapture through the first half of the 3 ½ year Tribulation period until it is destroyed by the Antichrist. Religious Babylon will likely build on the remnants of the professing Christian church that existed before the Rapture. Professing Christians who will not be raptured will remain on the earth to form the base for this end time apostate church. Now, those individuals who are born again after the Rapture and during the first half of the Tribulation will oppose this false church and be opposed by this false church. We read in Revelation 13:7 that “He (Antichrist) makes war with the (Tribulation) saints and overcomes many of them.”
We read that this one world religious system will persecute genuine believers in Jesus Christ – those who were left behind when the Rapture occurred prior to the Tribulation period. Revelation 7 reveals that at the beginning of the Tribulation, 144,000 Messianic Jews will be sealed and sent on a worldwide evangelistic campaign of spreading the gospel that will result in multitudes of conversions worldwide. The fifth and sixth seal judgements reveals that many of these converts will be martyred for putting their faith and trust in Christ Jesus and not in the Antichrist. “So, he said to me, These are the ones (tribulation saints) who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (v.14).”
To be continued…. Part Two – SAY GOODBYE TO POLITICAL BABYLON
F/B – Signs Of Our Times