Babylon the Great City
Babylon the Great City
We are living in a time when churches and nations are attempting to unite as at no other time in history. It is hoped by many that through gaining unity, war and poverty and many other awful things going on in our world will be eliminated. The promoters of this unification process have been planning and working for the unification of the world for several generations. A carefully planned but rather covert crusade is working to bring this world-unification about. Various facets of this intricate and comprehensive plan can be seen in the educational system, the political and military system, the economic system, the large religious bodies of the world, the media, the medical and legal fraternity, the various secret societies, the money and banking conglomerates, the combinations of the working classes for the protection of their interests and the entertainment industry.
Most of the players in this crusade have little or no idea about what is really going on or what they are actually participating in. The scope of what is happening in our world is so intricate and globally pervasive that not even the thought leaders of the world and the most powerful people comprehend the whole picture. Only by a study of Bible prophecy is it possible to partially unravel to the human mind what is taking place in the world today and get a glimpse of the total picture.
First of all, we know from Bible prophecy that we are living in the last days of this world’s history, described in Daniel 11 as "the time of the end." In the book of Revelation the great unification of the world during the last of this great epochal period is plainly foretold. The following details are clearly specified:
1. Almost all of the world will be deceived. Satan "deceives the entire inhabited world." Revelation 12:9. "And the whole earth wondered after the beast." (Some translators prefer to translate the verb thaumazo in the previous verse as, "the whole earth worshipped the beast" or "the whole earth followed the beast.") Revelation 13:3. "All who dwell on the earth shall do him [the beast power] homage, whose names are not in the book of life." Revelation 13:8. "He [the two-horned beast] deceives those who dwell on the earth." Revelation 13:14. "And I saw out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are the spirits of demons doing signs to go forth to the kings of the earth and the whole inhabited world to gather them together to battle of that great day of God the Almighty." Revelation 16:12–14. "Those that dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Revelation 17:2. "All nations have drunk the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Revelation 18:3. "Your merchants were the great ones of the earth, because by your sorcery all the nations were led astray [or deceived]." Revelation 18:23.
This deception will involve miracles. Ellen White was given a view of that which in her time was mostly in the future: "We are coming right upon the time when Satan is to work with all manner of bewitching influences, and those who are charmed with them now, or give them the least countenance now, will be all ready to be swept right in to act a part with the devil then. Evil angels are working all the time upon the hearts of men. Satan is working with everyone who is not under the control of the Spirit of God. It is the lying wonders of the devil that will take the world captive, and he will cause fire to come down from heaven in the sight of men. He is to work miracles; and this wonderful, miracle-working power is to sweep in the whole world. It is now just beginning." Selected Messages, vol. 2, 51.
2. The texts above show that the person who deceives the whole world in the last days is the devil (Revelation 12:9); however, he works through human agents and organizations. He will work through a union of three major human powers: the dragon power, the beast power and the false prophet.
There are twenty to twenty-five identifying marks of the beast power given in Daniel 7, Revelation 13, 2 Thessalonians 2 and 1 John 4. A few principle items will suffice.
1. This power would arise among the powers that divided up to become the Roman Empire. (Daniel 7:8.)
2. It would not become an independent political power (a "horn" or "beast" or kingdom) until three of the ten horns (the Ostrogoths, the kingdom of Odoacer and the Vandals) were uprooted. The earliest date that can be given for this is when the Ostrogoths were defeated and driven from Rome in 538 A.D.
3. This power was to intend to change times and law. (Daniel 7:25.)
4. It was to be a persecuting power. (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:7.)
5. It was to persecute, not atheists or criminals but, the saints or holy people of God. (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:7.)
6. It was to be a superpower—to exercise power and authority over all nations. (Revelation 13:7; Daniel 7:20.)
7. It was to be a religious power because men would worship it. (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:3, 8.)
8. It was to continue until the second advent of Christ—so it is obvious that it is in the world today. (Daniel 7:26, 27; Revelation 19:20; 16:12–14; 2 Thessalonians 2:7, 8.)
9. It had roots that go all the way back to the apostles. (2 Thessalonians 2:7.)
10. This power was to persecute the saints for 1260 prophetic days or literal years.
11. This persecution would be cut short for the elect’s sake. (Matthew 24:22.)
12. This power was to receive a deadly wound—it would appear to receive such a deadly blow as to destroy it, but it would recover from this deadly wound and afterwards the whole world would follow it again! (Revelation 13:3.) This occurred in 1798 when France (sometimes called the eldest son of the papacy) took the pope prisoner. The pope died in a prison in France and there was no papacy for a number of months.
13. This deadly wound has now been healed and the entire world is wondering after the papacy again.
14. This power was to blaspheme (revile, defame or speak evil of) the following three: God’s name, His tabernacle (or sanctuary in heaven) and those who dwell in heaven. (Revelation 13:6.)
When all of these identifying marks are put together it is impossible to conclude that this beast power represents any other than the papacy of Rome.
My brother Marshall explained it to non-Adventists in his prophecy seminar this way: What religious power had its roots in Paul’s day, became involved with politics after the demise of the Caesars, began to persecute people on religious grounds, and had its headquarters among the countries of Europe? As we think about it, there is only one religious-political power of the Dark Ages that even remotely fits this description, (and it fits every detail) and that is the Papacy of Rome.
Did the Papacy of Rome become a political ruler after the breakup of the pagan Roman Empire? Let a Catholic historian answer this question: "Long ages ago, when Rome, through the neglect of the Western emperors, was left to the mercy of the barbarous hordes, the Romans turned to one figure for aid and protection, and asked him to rule them . . . and thus . . . commenced the temporal sovereignty of the popes. And meekly stepping to the throne of Caesar, the vicar of Christ took up the scepter to which the emperors and kings of Europe were to bow in reverence through so many ages." James P. Conroy, American Catholic Quarterly Review, April 1911.
If the beast power is the papacy, then who and what is the dragon? The dragon is the power that gave to the papacy its power, throne and great authority. It is obvious from the study of history that this power must refer to the pagan or heathen Roman Empire.
That which was started by Constantine and continued by Theodosius was completed by Justinian. Justinian first made a law in 532 A.D., which was to take effect in 533, that was to unite all in one faith. "Whether they were Jews, Gentiles or Christians, all who did not within three months profess and embrace the Catholic faith, were by the edict ‘declared infamous, and as such excluded from all employments both civil and military; rendered incapable of leaving anything by will; and all their estates confiscated, whether real or personal.’ As a result of this cruel edict, ‘Great numbers were driven from their habitations with their wives and children, stripped and naked. Others betook themselves to flight, carrying with them what they could conceal, for their support and maintenance; but they were plundered of what little they had, and many of them inhumanly massacred.’ " Bower History of Latin Christianity, Book III, Chap. 1 Par. 5, quoted in The Two Republics, by A.T. Jones, 545.
However, this was just the legislative decree giving the papacy his unlimited power and authority. (The throne or seat of government of the papacy [Revelation 13:2] had already been bestowed by Constantine.)
Justinian was persuaded by the Catholic clergy to wage war on all Christians who did not acknowledge the supremacy of the pope over all churches, pastors and individual Christians. "The conquest of Italy by the Greeks was, to a great extent at least, the work of the Catholic clergy. . .The overthrow of the Gothic kingdom was to Italy an unmitigated evil . . . In their overthrow began the fatal policy of the Roman See, fatal at least to Italy. . . which never would permit a powerful native kingdom to unite Italy, or a very large part of it, under one dominion.
Whatever it may have been to Christendom, the Papacy has been the eternal, implacable foe of Italian independence and Italian unity." Milman, History of Latin Christianity, vol. 1 b. 3, ch. 4.
There had been three nations which had not acknowledged the supremacy of the pope over all, and these three nations were the kingdom of Odoacer which had been destroyed by 493 A.D, the nation of the Vandals (destroyed by Justinian’s armies in 534 A.D.) and the Ostrogoths (driven from Rome by Justinian’s armies in 538 A.D.)
The dragon then represents the pagan Roman Empire and this is a most suitable symbol, for the Roman Empire is where paganism reached the zenith of its development. The religion of paganism is the worship of nature but in its fullest development it becomes the worship of the greatest intellects in God’s creation, or bluntly, the worship of evil spirits. It is impossible to fully develop this thesis in a magazine article, but any research into the nature of idolatry, whether in ancient Egypt or Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece or Rome, will reveal that idolatry in its fullest development involves intercourse with and worship of evil spirits.
The Bible supports this conclusion. Paul said, "But that which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not go God." 1 Corinthians 10:20. When Paul was called to preach, the Lord told Him that he was to turn the people from the power of the devil to the power of God. (Acts 26:18.) Spiritualism from its development in Eden, in Genesis, has always claimed to make men and women into gods, and the leaders of heathen religions had God-like power over the consciences, minds and bodies of the adherents of those religions. Behind all of this apparent transformation of human beings into gods, was the arch-fiend who controlled the leaders of these religions andthrough them the people.
The False Prophet
The third power through whom Satan will deceive the world in the last days is the False Prophet. This is a most carefully chosen symbol. A prophet is a person who has received a special gift of prophecy from the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12.) If a church claims to be led by prophets and live by the teaching of prophets, it will be a church claiming the Bible as its ultimate source of authority, since the Bible was written by prophets, and this is what gives it its authority. A church that lives by tradition or man-made commandments does not even claim to be controlled or ruled by prophets. What power in the world claims to be controlled and led by prophets—claims to receive their religion from the Bible—yet is attempting to influence men and women to receive the mark of the beast? (See Revelation 19:20.) The only group that this can indeed refer to is the Protestant world which is indeed seeking to lead people to receive the mark of papal authority—Sunday observance.
This goes back a long time. The Protestant churches were at one time accepted by God and were progressing in their knowledge of Biblical truth. But the time came when they, as entire churches, rejected the teaching of the First Angel’s Message, and as a result, the Lord rejected them. Those who accepted the truth in all these different bodies were called out to finish God’s work on the earth.
Ellen White described it like this, "Ministers laid aside their sectarian views and feelings and united in proclaiming the coming of Jesus. Wherever the message was given, it moved the people . . .Thousands were led to embrace the truth preached by William Miller, and servants of God were raised up in the spirit and power of Elijah to proclaim the message . . . many who were united with the churches received the healing message; they saw their backslidings, and with bitter tears of repentance and deep agony of soul, humbled themselves before God. And as the Spirit of God rested upon them, they helped to sound the cry, ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.’ The preaching of definite time called forth great opposition from all classes, from the minister in the pulpit down to the most reckless,heaven-daring sinner . . . these shepherds stepped in between the truth and the people, and preached smooth things to lead them from the truth. They united with Satan and his angels, crying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there was no peace. Those who loved their ease and were content with their distance from God would not be aroused from their carnal security . . . Ministers who would not accept this saving message themselves hindered those who would have received it . . . Angels were watching with the deepest interest the result of the heavenly message, and when the churches turned from and rejected it, they in sadness consulted with Jesus. He turned His face from the churches . . . Satan and his angels triumphed, and cast it in the face of Christ and His holy angels, that His professed people had so little love for Jesus that they did not desire His second appearing.
"The believers in this message were oppressed in the churches . . . As the churches refused to receive the First Angel’s Message, they rejected the light from heaven and fell from the favor of God . . . As the time passed, those who had not fully received the light of the angel united with those who had despised the message, and they turned upon the disappointed ones with ridicule. Angels marked the situation of Christ’s professed followers. The passing of the definite time had tested and proved them, and very many were weighed in the balance and found wanting. They loudly claimed to be Christians, yet in almost every particular failed to follow Christ. Satan exulted at the state of the professed followers of Jesus.
"He had them in his snare . . . As the people of God united in the cry of the second angel, the heavenly host marked with the deepest interest the effect of the message. They saw many who bore the name of Christians turn with scorn and derision upon those who had been disappointed. As the words fell from mocking lips, ‘You have not gone up yet!’ an angel wrote them. Said the angel, ‘They mock God.’ I was pointed back to a similar sin committed in ancient times. Elijah had been translated to heaven, and his mantle had fallen upon Elisha. Then wicked youth, who had learned from their parents to despise the man of God, followed Elisha, and mockingly cried, ‘Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.’ In thus insulting His servant, they insulted God and met their punishment then and there. In like manner, those who have scoffed and mocked at the idea of the saints’ going up, will be visited with the wrath of God, and will be made to feel that it is not a light thing to trifle with their Maker . . .Those who rejected and opposed the light of the First Angel’s Message, lost the light of the second, and could not be benefited by the power and glory which attended the message, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.’ Jesus turned from them with a frown; for they had slighted and rejected Him . . . I saw Jesus turn His face from those who rejected and despised His coming, and then He bade angels lead His people out from among the unclean, lest they should be defiled." excerpts from Early Writings, 232–249. All emphasis supplied.
In The Great Controversy, Ellen White describes the same experience as follows: "But as ministers and religious leaders decided against the advent doctrine and desired to suppress all agitation of the subject, they not only opposed it from the pulpit, but denied their members the privilege of attending preaching upon the second advent, or even of speaking of their hope in the social meetings of the church. Thus the believers found themselves in a position of great trial and perplexity. They loved their churches and were loath to separate from them; but as they saw the testimony of God’s word suppressed and their right to investigate the prophecies denied they felt that loyalty to God forbade them to submit. Those who sought to shut out the testimony of God’s word they could not regard as constituting the church of Christ, ‘the pillar and ground of the truth.’ Hence they felt themselves justified in separating from their former connection. In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the churches . . .
"The first angel’s message of Revelation 14, announcing the hour of God’s judgment and calling upon men to fear and worship Him, was designed to separate the professed people of God from the corrupting influences of the world and to arouse them to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding. In this message, God has sent to the church a warning, which, had it been accepted, would have corrected the evils that were shutting them away from Him. Had they received the message from heaven, humbling their hearts before the Lord and seeking in sincerity a preparation to stand in His presence, the Spirit and power of God would have been manifested among them. The church would again have reached that blessed state of unity, faith, and love which existed in apostolic days, when the believers ‘were of one heart and of one soul,’ and ‘spake the word of God with boldness,’ when ‘the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.’ Acts 4:32, 31; 2:47 . . . But the churches generally did not accept the warning.
"In refusing the warning of the first angel, they rejected the means which Heaven had provided for their restoration. They spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness they turned to seek the friendship of the world. Here was the cause of that fearful condition of worldliness, backsliding, and spiritual death which existed in the churches in 1844 . . .
"The unfaithfulness of the church to Christ in permitting her confidence and affection to be turned of the marriage vow . . .
"The woman (Babylon) of Revelation 17 is described as ‘arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness . . . and upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots.’ Says the prophet: ‘I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.’ Babylon is further declared to be ‘that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.’ Revelation 17:4–6, 18. The power that for so many centuries maintained despotic sway over the monarchs of Christendom is Rome.
"The purple and scarlet color, the gold and precious stones and pearls, vividly picture the magnificence and more than kingly pomp affected by the haughty see of Rome. And no other power could be so truly declared ‘drunken with the blood of the saints’ as that church which has so cruelly persecuted the followers of Christ. Babylon is also charged with the sin of unlawful connection with ‘the kings of the earth.’ It was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen, that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers, receives a like condemnation . . .
"Babylon is said to be ‘the mother of harlots.’ By her daughters must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world. The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of Babylon must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and have become corrupt. Since this message follows the warning of the judgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it cannot refer to the Roman Church alone, for that church has been in a fallen condition for many centuries. Furthermore, in the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation the people of God are called upon to come out of Babylon. According to this scripture, many of God’s people must still be in Babylon. And in what religious bodies are the greater part of the followers of Christ now to be found? Without doubt, in the various churches professing the Protestant faith. At the time of their rise these churches took a noble stand for God and the truth, and His blessing was with them. Even the unbelieving world was constrained to acknowledge the beneficent results that followed an acceptance of the principles of the gospel . . .
"Many of the Protestant churches are following Rome’s example of iniquitous connection with ‘the kings of the earth’—the state churches, by their relation to secular governments; and other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world. And the term ‘Babylon’—confusion—may be appropriately applied to these bodies, all professing to derive their doctrines from the Bible, yet divided into almost innumerable sects, with widely conflicting creeds and theories.
"Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ’s true followers are still to be found in their communion. There are many of these who have never seen the special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their present condition and are longing for clearer light. They look in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they are connected. As these bodies depart further and further from the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the
difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally result in separation.
"The time will come when those who love God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as are ‘lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.’ "The Great Controversy, 376–390.
This three-fold union of Spiritualism (pagan religions are included in this term), the Papacy, and Protestant churches, who seek to shut out the testimony of God’s Word and cling to doctrines
originating with the Papacy, sacrifice the truth and approval of God in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world, make up, what the latter part of the book of Revelation refers to as,
Mystical Babylon. Babylon will be made up of a union of these three great powers: Spiritualism, the Papacy and Apostate Protestantism.
Ellen White describes this as follows, "Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in
trampling on the rights of conscience." The Great Controversy, 588.
"By the decree of enforcing the institution of the Papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with Spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and Republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan, and that the end is near." Testimonies, vol. 5, 451.
To be continued.
May 1998 Table of Contents