Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mystery Babylon

Rev. J. Frank Smith

The last few verses of Revelation 16 speak of the sound of Voices, and thunderings and lightenings coming forth. A great earthquake occurs greater that the world has ever seen before. A great city is divided into three parts. Immediately we would ask what City? The answer lies in Revelation chapters 17 –18. Is it Rome? Five times in Chapters 17 –18 Rome is called the great city.

“Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found”

The earth is shaken so violently the islands disappear beneath the water and mountain ranges are leveled. I am reminded of building mountains in a container with sand. Shake the container and the mountains are leveled. The earthquake is indeed the most violent and widespread the world has ever seen. If the mountains worldwide are leveled in this great earthquake there will be no building left standing save only those protected supernaturally by the hand of God.

Perhaps the most astounding thing of all is man himself. Scripture tells us in the middle of all this destruction there is no repentance. Instead they blaspheme God. They speak evil about the Lord, disobey him and rail against him. Out of their rebellion against God’s punishment they speak evil of the Lord. How can this be except they are apostate. It is sad to realize those who were once tolerant of, and themselves spoke of, a belief in God, to completely turn from Him in view of such total destruction by His hand.

This is a great warning to those who so loosely speak of God, but reject his son, Jesus Christ; to those who practice religion without a relationship with Jesus Christ. How fearful it is to contemplate these matters. Men refuse the gospel truth of Jesus Christ and thereby refuse a relationship with God. After the rapture their hearts are hardened because God sends a powerful delusion to believe the words of the liar Satan. Look at 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-12:

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way
Vs 8 and then shall that wicked be revealed, who the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
Vs 9 even him, whose coming is after the work of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
Vs 10 and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
Vs 11 and for this cause God shall send them a powerful delusion, that they should believe a lie.
Vs 12 That they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

We can see iniquity at work in our world today. Politicians believe they can promise the people what they are yearning to hear and then break those promises when elected. This is an accepted practice in America by politicians and voters, but it is a lie. Americans, we have become lazy and selfish, a nation of spiritual cowards allowing the government and the anti Christian people to decide our moral standards. We kill innocent babies before they are born out of selfishness. We lie and cheat to make more money. We are a nation that abuses the freedom God gave us, pushing the government to eliminate laws that check our moral decay and to adopt more laws that allow us to live in greater moral depravity. Liberal, immoral politicians are happy to give us our way. We have slipped from the standard of integrity that our founding fathers established and our leaders are no better. We are dangerously drifting into the “man is his own God” mentality that is the “Babylonian Spirit”. We, therefore, do not have to wonder how men in the tribulation are so evil they blaspheme God when he deals out corrective judgment instead of repenting and turning to him.
During this judgment that is on the other side of the rapture, God will send disobedient men a strong delusion which will harden their hearts and they will not be saved.

We come now to the judgments by which the end of the pre-messianic age is consummated. John now moves to describe the fall of Babylon, the world system and the bloody harlot. Then he gives a scene of the multitudes of heaven singing their song of hallelujah over the righteous retribution of the harlot, Babylon the Great. Then the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus himself, completes his worldwide conquest and the City of New Jerusalem descends from heaven to earth.

We have seen through the writings of John the seal judgments, the trumpet judgments and the vial or bowl judgments and the awful things that will happen. Judgment has indeed been apportioned and the enemies of God and his church are defeated. Let us not be captivated by the world system because Babylon has no future. The future is in New Jerusalem. If your name is not written down in the citizenship book of that city, you have a dim future. The only way for your name will be there in the book of that city is through your belief that Jesus is the Son of God and his sufferings and death were to cover your sins and you accepted His work of atonement. Then and only then will you have a personal relationship established with him and then and only then can he be your savior!

Back in Genesis 10 the whole world came together to build one religious system, the tower of Babel.

Genesis 10:4 “ and they said, go to, let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach into the heaven: and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

The word Babylon itself is an interesting word in that it represents in scripture the false systems of religion that have grown up in our world since the tenth chapter of Genesis. Babylon is not just an ancient city, but also a system of thinking that grew out of the spirit that developed in that city. This spiritual system of thinking goes beyond the city of Babylon into religious practices since the beginning of mankind.

M.R. DeHaan, Md., Teacher of the Radio Bible Class said in his book “Revelation”

“Babylon was an ancient city, the capital of the Babylonian Empire, but in scripture, Babylon represents the program of Satan as opposed to the program of God. It began with Nimrod the rebel, of whom we read in Genesis 1, when he built the first Tower of Babel, which was destroyed by the coming of the Lord from heaven. It was a religious and political federation of all the nations of the world in opposition to God. Babylonianism has appeared in various forms, but always it has remained essentially the same. Whether Egyptian, Assyrian, Grecian, or Roman form, it has sought to accomplish two objectives: a world-federation which denies the right of Christ to reign and a religious system which denies the authority of Jesus Christ.”

In our study of Revelation we have reached the end of the Tribulation period. Chapter 16 gives us a future glance of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ, but that actually takes place in Revelation 19. Between Revelation chapters 16 and 19 there are three chapters which discuss one great topic, the judgment that is the final judgment of God on the ungodly world-federation of the nations in the end time under the leadership of the last great world dictator. The beast we saw come out of the sea of people in Revelation 13, the antichrist and now the system of the antichrist is judged. Babylonianism begins way back in Genesis and comes to an end in Revelation 17-19 under the judgment of God.

Babel was an ancient kingdom that flourished for a long time before it was taken over by a stronger nation. For students of scripture the words Babel and Babylon have a much more important meaning. Babel was not only a great city, it symbolizes a political ideal and governmental system that survived the death of the city. This governmental system is still at the root of the world’s disorders. Babylonianism is the spirit of the antichrist that operates the world kingdom that opposes the Kingdom of God. It is also a religious system that challenges the Church of Jesus Christ. After the Flood, the descendants of Noah, forgetting the lesson they should have learned, turned from God and moved to a region to the North of Palestine in the area of the original Garden of Eden. Called the land of Shinar, it was in the area of the Euphrates River, one of the principal rivers of the Garden of Eden.

A ruler named Nimrod was the leader of this movement. He began building a great city called Babel that was to become one of the seven great wonders of the world. In the middle of the city he built a gigantic temple dedicated to a God named Belus, later called Baal. During the construction he also began building a tower, which we know biblically as the tower of Babel. The tower of Babel became the symbolism of Satan’s program throughout the ages that is in direct opposition to the plan of God. The city of Babel had great splendor. Two people, a man named Nimrod, and a woman named Semiramis ruled Babylon. The King Nimrod ruled politically and was the head of the Babylonian State and Queen Semiramis ruled religiously being the head of the pagan system of religion and idolatry. Politics and religion merged into one great gigantic system of worship under these two and this system spread across the world. The word Babel literally means the “gate to glory”. God, as you will remember, changed the “gate to glory” to the “gate of confusion” by changing the language of those who worked on the tower of Babel so they could not communicate thereby halting work on the tower. God did this not only to stop work on the tower but more important to stop man’s attempt to bypass God’s plan of salvation.

Semiramis the leader of the religious system gave birth to a son whom she claimed was conceived by a sunbeam. She touted him as the great deliverer of the earth. His name was Tammuz, a God whose name is referred to in Ezekiel 8:14. Tammuz was killed by a wild boar after reaching manhood, an event that sent his mother into mourning. She mourned for 40 days, weeping. According to his mother, he was raised from the dead as a result of her mourning. This perpetuated their legend and the mother-son deity established. The legend and the worship of this mother-son deity spread across the world. Semiramis was known by different names in different countries so the legend varies from region to region. In Rome this mother-son deity is known as Venus and Cupid. As the religion spread, the liturgy of worship began to be defined. Semiramis also became known as the “queen of heaven” and was worshipped by the presenting of a little wafer or cake. The period of the 40 days became known as lent memorializing the 40 days Semiramis spent mourning for her son. At the end of the period of lent a celebration of resurrection was held called the “feast of Ishtar”. Ishtar was Semiramis Asyrian name. Part of the celebration included the exchange of Ishtar eggs symbolizing new life. Our word Easter comes from the name Ishtar and our Easter Eggs are actually Ishtar Eggs. The pagan religion that resulted has remained underground for most of the time between Babel and today and is clouded in mystery. However the liturgy and customs it brought to the world continued. This false religion has shown up in Priestly Ablutions, sacramental rites, the dedication of virgins to the God, Purgatorial fires and the celebration of the “sign of the cross”. Many of these practices are still used today in various forms. You might also be interested to know the “sign of the cross” was actually the pointing out of the letter “Tau” which stood for Tammuz. The commonality of these rituals is that they came out of this Babylonian system, all a counterfeit of the truth, which is found in God and through his son Jesus Christ. This is not just ancient history. God became very upset when this false religion made its way into the Jewish nation. Jeremiah wrote about it and warned the Israelites of this false religion and God’s displeasure of it.

Jeremiah 44:15 "Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other Gods and all the women that stood by a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah saying,
Vs 16 As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not harken unto thee.
Vs17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our Kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and say no evil
Vs 18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.

Israel had become heavily involved in the worship of the false religion. Read forward a few more verses and you will find Jeremiah admonishing them that their worship of the false religion was seen by God and prophesized his judgment would come. The lesson to be learned is that God has seen America’s sin; the murder of unborn children and the love of money, the worship of false Gods and He will respond. Greed is the reason for our present chaos and the faster we realize it and repent, the faster we will end our present problems. Jeremiah warned the people of this day:

Jeremiah 44:23 “ Because ye have burned incense, and because you have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day”

Ezekiel addressed the same issue:

Ezekiel 8:13 “He said also unto me, turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they d, vs 14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and behold, there sat woman weeping for Tammuz. Vs15, Then said he unto me Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. Vs 16, and he brought me unto the inner court of the Lord’s house, and behold at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the alter, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Vs17, Then he said unto me, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit to the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and lo, they put the branch to their nose. Vs18, Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.”

Ezekiel saw the women in the temple observing the 40 days of lent for the slaying of the Pagan Tammuz. The mother-son cult that was started in ancient Babylon with a system of worship that later moved into Rome when Cesar was Pontiphex Maximus was elected the great high priest. He became the high priest over this whole system of idolatry in the Roman Empire. When the office of emperor of Rome was eliminated the office of Bishop evolved into what is today, the office of Pope. Many claim the Pope is a successor of Simon Peter, but he is not. He is a successor to the High Priest of the heathen mysteries that began way back in Babylon. Constantine later rose to the throne in Rome and the first Pope assumed the title of Pontiphex Maximus and all those heathen associations and ceremonies that had their beginning with Nimrod by the worship of the “queen of heaven”, the eating of the wafer in honor of her, the doctrine of purgatory, the wearing of vestments and the observance of a 1001 lesser mysteries, were brought into the church and observed for over 1000 years all over Europe. Thus the Roman Catholic Church with all its God dishonoring doctrines and practices come into existence. The Roman Catholic Church is an amalgamation of the Christian church and the Roman Empire that took place when Constantine embraced the faith and merged the pagan religious practices with Christianity. He performed mass baptisms of government workers and the military and made Christianity the state religion. Unfortunately for Christianity all the pagan-Babylonian customs that had become a part of Roman practice were merged with the Christian faith. Today, many of these traditions still remain. If you ask most good, loyal Catholics today where these traditions come from, they have no clue. Study history and the facts will bear out their origin. In all scripture there is no such thing as the worship of a female deity. Women of God are never presented in scripture as anything but the humble servants of God; human vessels used by God for his purpose. Look at Revelation 17:5; the female deity that is worshipped is a false religion.

Revelation 17:5 “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

In the last days the religious system of man and the government of man will come together as the antichrist will marry this final form of Babylonian false cult that I believe is the spirit of religion that is in the world today. The marriage between the political system of that day and the religious system left here on this earth will complete and the final coalition world government of the antichrist. Satan will try to rule the world. What will follow prophetically is that this Babylonian system will be destroyed and the great city of Rome as well. Please understand, no present denomination is being condemned here, only the study of an evil world system that has infiltrated organized religion to the displeasure of God. This system, as said before, has infiltrated all denominations in various degrees.

Now you are prepared to understand why this is called the destruction of Babylon. It is the destruction of the Babylonian system of government and religion that we see today that has been incorporated into all denominations. The Catholic system happened to be the first. If you have any doubt about this, stay with us as we study in depth in the next few verses.

Revelation 17:1 “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked, saying unto me, come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: vs2, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. Vs3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw the woman sit up on a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. Vs4 and the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. Vs5 and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Vs 6 and I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw I wondered with great admiration.

There are two Babylon systems, religious and political. They come out of Babylon where wicked men aspired to make a gateway to God because of their in defiance of God’s plan of salvation. Babylon was destroyed and has not been rebuilt to this date. Scripture seems to indicate it will be rebuilt, however, many believe the system of the original city was transferred to Rome. The system is still around and will be destroyed. In either case scripture says God will destroy both the city that is central to the system and the system in a great earthquake in the tribulation. It will flourish and become the Mecca the bible predicts but its doom has been pronounced. These events unfold in the chapters 18 and 19 of the book of Revelation.

Revelation 17 reveals a great whore described in the beginning as “sitting on many waters.” The Holy Spirit often depicts a woman as a symbol of a religious system, usually an evil system, with one exception being the reference to the true church symbolized as the bride of Christ. Any time she is described as a whore it is always references religious fornication. Reference is made to Isaiah 23:17; Isaiah 57:3-7; Jeremiah 3:2-9 Ezekiel 16:1-63; Ezekiel 20:30-32; Ezekiel 23:7-49; Hosea 4:12-19 and Nahum 3:4. The reference in Rev 17 is to idolatrous religious practices. The woman is not a political power because she is not classified as one of the kings of the earth. What she does is cause the kings of the earth and the inhabitants of the earth to be drunk with the “wine of her fornication” a term which means they indulge in the sin of her pleasure and it is addicting. Their indulgence in the sin of her pleasure brings them into the bondage of her evil. Their hearts are captured and turned to evil because of the lust of their hearts. Since fornication here refers to religious harlotry, her influence over the nations is religion. It is a religion that draws people in but denies the truth of God. It pleases because it is full of rituals and the preaching of physical pleasures. It may be well to note here that the true church of God is gone, but religion that pleases the lust of the flesh remains. The word whore in the Greek is pornea and translated as harlot. God is using this word to describe a religious system. This is a very offensive word but there is a reason it is used. The symbolism of spiritual adultery is never used of heathen nations who do not know God but always of people who carry the name of God while actually worshipping and serving other Gods. The New Testament church is portrayed in scripture as a virgin and is warned continuously of adultery.

James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”

Following the rapture of the true church of God the false church or religious system will flourish and God identifies it as a whore or harlot because religion will join together with the evil political system to deceive the nations. The church will ignore God and rest on the political system. In Chapter 17 of revelation, the woman, that is the apostate religious system, is riding on the beastly political system. This counterfeit religious system will adulterate itself before God by choosing the world political system as the source of its power. The “woman” commits spiritual adultery because she unites demonic spiritual power with political power that is the heathen Babylonian system of the world. The last verse of chapter 17 clearly tells us the identity of this woman. She is the city that is the seat of the world’s system, a great city that reins over the kings of the earth. Many believe this can only be Rome, the city that ruled the world in John’s day. Chapter 17:9 reveals this city sits on seven hills. Rome was built on seven hills that are Abentene, Kallaen, Captalene, Esquileen, Polatene, Koronol and Bibinol. The color scheme is also mentioned there, purple and scarlet. The Vatican counsel that governs Rome wears purple and scarlet robes. She sits on many waters, meaning peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues. Hers is a universal power. Rome is the logical place for a concentration of power. The Cesars reached out into the world from Rome. The church reached out from Rome to the rest of the world. It was from Sicily, which is near Rome, that organized crime reached out into the rest of the world.

Rome is certainly no stranger to power and political systems. The Roman system, centered in the Vatican, is a very strong political system. The one at the top of the power structure is the Pope himself. Under the Pope are the Cardinals, then the Roman Curier with its departments and commissions. The Papal diplomatic corps follows with its nuncios, internuncios and apostolic delegates. The ordinary government is beneath this structure, the extra ordinary government, the clergy made up of friars, sisters and nuns. Finally, at the bottom is the laity. How can anyone say it is only a religious system? There is no other religious system that gets a United States ambassador assigned to it because it is not only a religious system but a political system.

Revelation 17:3 gives us the position of the woman:

“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns."

The woman is in partnership with the political system of the beast. They cooperate with each other in the same pursuit that is to rule the world. God is totally ignored. The seven heads and ten horns are the political system established by the beast during the tribulation period. This woman enjoys unlimited prosperity. She is literally decked out, arrayed in purple and scarlet color with gold, precious stones, pearls and a golden cup in her hand. There is a grave danger of any denomination or religion that becomes rich and powerful. The rise of material level brings a decline in spirituality and the church becomes spiritually powerless. God will not honor any system that becomes so materially rich it begins to imagine its doing well and has no need of him. Such quasi political-spiritual systems may present great liturgy, and impressive system of government and popularity among the masses. It may become a mysterious power that impresses men, but the power of God is not with them. They may be able to boast of silver and gold, but they cannot say, “take up thy bed and walk” for they have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. This woman is decked out but in her golden cup are abominations, and the filthiness of her fornication. Revelation 17:5 says her name is MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

There is a second warning to Christians here. Jesus Christ is the head of the church. When His leadership is negated the organization ceases to function as a church and becomes an apostate religious system with a governmental bureaucracy. It has a lot of function, but no power.

In summary, back in the beginning of history we find Babylon and the building of the tower of Babel. We have learned it is a system of idolatry that began in Genesis and continues to this day. This anti-god system has been centered in Rome since Cesar was elected Pontipas Maximus, a title that has been held by each Roman emperor from the time of Constantine. Constantine professed to be a Christian and the ancient pagan Babylonian mysteries were transferred completely into the Christian church. The entire system of Paganism was also incorporated into Christianity. The worship of “the queen of heaven, purgatory, the use of holy water, priestly ablusions, bells, candles, the celibacy of the priesthood, the dedication of virgins, prayers for the dead are some of the pagan practices drafted into Christianity. Men in Babel called it the “gate to God” but the Babylonian system is nothing more than a denial of God’s way to heaven; through the suffering of Jesus for sins and the atonement of his blood in sacrifice. Genesis 3:21 clearly revealed God’s way for he killed an animal, shed its blood, and used the skin to clothe the first sinners. God has made known his plan of salvation. Man must be saved through the shedding of the blood of an innocent substitute and by the death of another in payment for sins. The Babylonians denied God’s way and substituted their own works by attempting to build a tower that was to be their way to God. This is the spirit of religion formulated by Satan through the Babylonian world system that God warns us to avoid

Romans 12:2
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”

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