“Babylon the Great”
Revelation 16:17 to 17:8
You wonder why I say some of these things happen at Jerusalem while the Bible says, “Babylon.” Let me explain. We give places and persons names that are mere labels and do not describe the places and names at all. For instance, we perhaps name a baby boy, “Frank.” As he grows up, he will be anything but frank. He may even be a little sneak and a liar. We will name a girl “Blanche,” which means “white,” when she is a Black girl. Or, we will name a town “Piedmont,” meaning “foot of the mountain” when no mountain exists anywhere near it.
God never operates this way. Abram must be given a name suitable to the fact he was to be the father of all believers. God, therefore, changed his name to Abraham, which means “Father of a multitude.” Sarai had a name which meant “princess,” but it was not understood by the people because it was a foreign name. Therefore, God instructed Abraham to call her Sarah, which is Hebrew for “princess.” King David’s son was to be a “man of peace” so he was named Solomon, which means “peace.” Jacob’s name means “supplanter.” He was always getting the advantage over others until one day he deeply repented. After a night of prayer when Jacob became changed in character, God named him “Israel,” which means “prince of God.”
You will recall many other instances to illustrate this point. See how Jesus changed the names of some of His followers when He chose them to be His disciples. He wanted them to have names that corresponded to what they were to become in character under His influence and through His redemption. He could not bear to have them going about with false names, so to speak, but with names that truthfully described them.
God is so true He will not make use of a false name. The word Jerusalem means “City of the God of Peace.” Do you think, then, that the Bible, God’s Word, would call that place when it is ruled by the terrible Antichrist, “the city of the God of peace?” I do not. God gives it another name. As long as it is ruled by Antichrist, He calls the place “Babylon,” which means “the gate of the god.” What god? Of course, the god is a mere idol, the talking image the False Prophet made. Christians will be killed who will not worship this god. Before Antichrist actually rules Babylon, it becomes so wicked that men rejoice and make merry over the dead bodies of the “Two Witnesses.” God is also unwilling that the polluted place should be called “the city of the God of peace,” so it is merely mentioned as the great City which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (11:8)
God is very true in all His speech! The Bible says, “Every word of God is tried.” Every word is put to the test to find out if it precisely describes the thing for which it stands. Let this teach us to be most careful in our speech, for the Lord has warned us: “Every idle [useless or false] word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” We may well be sure that God’s holy Book would not call that city, known in the Bible and by us by a name meaning “the city of the God of peace,” by such an “idle” name as this, in His own day of judgment, when it is a scene of most terrible trouble and slaughter.
We cannot conceive of the greatness of this battle of Armageddon, and the frightful destruction which will follow when God pours out His wrath upon these armies, so that forever all military power will be wiped off the earth: and then all the principal cities of the world will destroyed. Yet this will be a wonderful thing, for immediately after, Christ and His followers will set to work and restore everything in marvelous beauty and righteousness.
Of this great day of “the wrath of the Lamb,” Dr. Seiss says: “ The march of the terrific indignation of God on this occasion would, therefore, seem to be from the hills of Sinai, crashing through Idumaea (Edom), thundering by the walls of the holy city, and thence to the great fields of Esdraelon (Megiddo, the word from which Armageddon, meaning “hill of Megiddo,” is derived), where the chief stress of the awful pressure falls.” Yes the chief stress, when the Lord comes forth to battle, and the hosts are frightened away from Jerusalem by the terrible earthquake, which takes place. But the chief stress of the battle when the forces attack Jerusalem will be in the Kidron valley, at the southeastern corner outside the city wall, where the king’s garden and winepress were, of old.
In Zechariah, 14th chapter, we learn more about this dreadful “day of wrath” or “days of vengeance,” as this time is called. It is said there, that when the armies shall surround Jerusalem, “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.” “His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof towards the east and towards the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove towards the north, and half of it towards the south.”
Zechariah tells us more interesting things in this chapter: “All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it [Jerusalem] shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, ….from the tower of Hananell unto the king’s winepresses.” Here will be a great elevated plain, after the earthquake, nearly thirty miles long: and Ezekiel tells us that the Temple Platform (that is, the holy precincts immediately surrounding the temple), will, in these days, occupy a space of about twenty miles square. This is to be the throne of our Lord Himself, when He comes with His saints to rule this earth.
Then John had two visions, in which he saw Babylon before its destruction again. One of the seven wrath-angels came and carried John away, in spirit, to see first a spiritual representation of this terrible “Babylon.” He is taken into a wilderness (or desert), because “Babylon” was in the very height of worldly prosperity (as the next chapter of the revelation shows), spiritually and morally it was utterly dead: all true religion was dead.
From the standpoint of heaven “Babylon” could only be represented as a horribly wicked woman, drunk with blood, for so many martyrs had been slaughtered in the city. “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth,” was God’s judgment of her character, branded on her forehead. This is not the name the city would give herself. The Authorized Version of the bible reads concerning John, “When I saw her, I wondered with great admiration,” but the Revised Version reads more correctly, “ I wondered with a great wonder” or astonishment. John certainly did not admire “Babylon,” but he was amazed to see how wicked it was. This wicked city was sitting on a scarlet colored beast who was “full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” This is now scarlet colored because of his many murders.