Essay, Research Paper: Babylon Fall In Bible And History


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Comparing the fall of the Historical Babylon and the Babylon of Revelation To
understand the symbolism between the two Babylon's of the bible, one must first
understand the fall of each and how the two compare. There is a lot to be said
about the events that took place during fall of the Historical Babylon how these
events are related to the fall of the Babylon of Revelation. To begin with I
will describe the fall of the Historical Babylon and then relate this to two
mainstreams of thought regarding the fall of the Babylon of Revelation. These
two ideas are the futuristic and the historical views of Babylonís fall. The
reason for these two separate views is because there is certainly no book in the
Bible that has given more difficulty to interpreters than the book of
Revelation. Many things about it continue to puzzle the serious Bible student,
and many points remain obscure.(ref.# 4, p.220) Ancient Babylon Babylon was an
enormous city and thought by its inhabitants to be impregnable. Some estimates
put the area of the city at as much as 200 square miles, with many fields and
orchards within the city walls (ref.# 2, p320). The river Euphrates flowed
through the city, entering in under the city walls. The walls of Babylon are
believed to have been around 80 feet thick, with some area being over 120 feet
thick (ref.# 7, p.68). 100 gates of bronze gave entry to the city. In 604 B.C.
Nebuchadnezzar led an invasion of Jerusalem, taking many Jews captive and
beginning the captivity and seven times punishment that had previously been
prophesied. At this time Babylon was the greatest empire on earth, but a new
force was emerging. The Medes and Persians were becoming a mighty empire. In the
time of Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, war was raging between the two
empires. The Babylonians, which were not caring about the enemy who were even
then at the gates of the city, engaged in a huge, drunken party. During this
feast the golden vessels, taken from the temple at Jerusalem and reserved for
pure service to God, were abused at the command of the king. The judgment of God
was revealed by the "writing on the wall". That night the city was
invaded, and the Medes and Persians under Darius and Cyrus were victorious
(ref.#1 p.431) During the night of the drunken feast, the river and its
tributaries that ran under the city walls were blocked and the water diverted
into canals and ponds dug by the Medes and Persians for that purpose. The result
was that the army of the Medes and Persians could literally walk in under the
wall. The army entered Babylon at one end and rapidly moved through the city,
meeting little resistance from the defenders, who were caught completely
off-guard. The city of Babylon was utterly destroyed (ref.#7). Babylon had a
warning of their judgment for over 100 years, a warning given by God Himself.
The warning was scorned and ignored by a Godless people. This foolish rejection
of the Word of God led to total destruction. The promise of the return of
Christ, signaling the end of the world, as we know it, has been scorned by
mankind, just as the prophecy of the fall of the Babylonian Empire. This is why
the book of Revelation relates the fall of Babylon with the modern day world.
Men and women today would rather indulge in a drunken party than seek the Lord.
The need to have a spirit-filled-soul, and to remain "in the Spirit" -
grows more urgent every day. Jesus said, "Watch, for you know not when your
Lord may come!" Babylon of Revelation This Babylon is of course a symbolic
figure representing the evil on earth that distracts God's children from their
commitment to Him. Babylon is called the "great harlot" in Revelation.
This indicates a Babylon that allures, tempts, seduces, and draws people away
from God. The literal Babylon of Biblical times reminded one of the
pleasure-mad, arrogant, anti-God cultures that put pleasure ahead of all else.
Babylon of old was described as of the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the
eyes, and the pride of life," (1 John 2:16). In Revelation 18 John writes,
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my
people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of
her plagues." Here John is talking about Babylon (see verse 2). Christians
are to live in the world, but they are not to be of the world. Paul writes in 2
Cor. 6:17, "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,"
says the Lord. "and do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome
you." Babylon is the world, the seduction of the world, at any moment of
history, which would draw away a Christian from God. In John's day Babylon would
have been represented by the Roman Empire. Today, it would be represented by all
cultures that seek to seduce the Christian away from God. The futuristic view of
the fall of Babylon It is the desire of the futuristic interpretation that in
context, the fall of Babylon is directly related to an eschatological setting.
Certain passages relate the fall of Babylon to the Day of the Lord. Babylon's
fall and the Day of the Lord. The futuristic interpreters insist that Isaiah
13:6, 9, 13 definitely establishes the setting for the fall of Babylon as the
Day of the Lord. To these interpreters the Day of the Lord is always an
eschatological event. Since in Isaiah 13:2-16 the terminology "Day of the
Lord" appears these verses must have a future fulfillment. But if these
verses have a future fulfillment then it would seem to be impossible to
interpret verses 17 through 20, which describe the overthrow of Babylon as
having been fulfilled in the past. The conclusion is therefore offered that
since the fall of Babylon as prophesied in Scripture is to take place in the
setting of the Day of the Lord; and since the Day of the Lord is yet future,
then it follows that the destruction of Babylon yet awaits fulfillment. The
futuristic interpreters point out that the prophecy of Babylon's fall not only
relates to the Day of the Lord but also to the events that mark the beginning of
the Millennium. The passage which most clearly supports this contention is
Isaiah 14:1-7. This idea points out that there are at least three things in
these verses concerning Israel's history, which have not come to pass: (1) God
has not yet set them in their own land (14:1); (2) Israel does not yet possess
the peoples of the earth for servants and handmaids (14:2); (3) Israel has not
yet taken them captive whose captives they were, nor ruled over their oppressors
(14:2). Thus Scripture makes Babylon's fall contemporaneous with two concurrent
events-the forgiveness of Israel and the coming Day of the Lord. Even if it
could be shown that the desolation of Babylon and its land has reached a point
that adequately answers to predictions of Scripture respecting it, a revival of
Babylon would still be necessary in order for Scripture to be accomplished. The
Historical View of Babylonís Fall The Babylon role is played several times in
the Scriptures. In Revelation the three angels would begin to fly one after the
other. The first angel announced the beginning of the judgment period which
precedes the coming of Christ. God called many around the world to begin to
study the 2300-day prophecy. The most prominent of these was a Baptist farmer,
William Miller. In 1818 he came to the conclusion that the judgment would begin
around 1843 and that Jesus would then return in glory to cleanse the earth by
fire. (Of course he was wrong about the return of Jesus.) His public ministry
began in 1831. Before the time of disappointment in 1844, had been joined by
around 300 other ministers. 135,000 people are estimated to have expressed their
commitment to the movement. This was a significant part of the population of the
United States (ref.#8). Thus 1831 would mark the beginning of the call of the
first angel (Rev. 14:6, 7). As the movement was coming to its climax, the
Protestant churches began to denounce the new ideas, placing themselves in the
position of corrupted Babylon. The second angel's message, therefore, began
shortly before the time of disappointment in the fall of 1844. The third angel
predicts God's final wrath for those who accepted the beast's mark. It began
when the significance of his message was discovered from the Scriptures by those
who earnestly studied and prayed after the disappointment. "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." (Rev. 14:8) The Historical interpiters believe that Babylon
was the Roman church which developed new doctrines adulterated by combining
Biblical truth with pagan beliefs. The effects of the Counter Reformation and
the refusal of the Protestant churches to continue searching the Scriptures for
new truth, was bringing them into the camp of spiritual Babylon. The verse just
quoted, the angel simply says "Babylon is fallen." Can be contrasted
to the message of the powerful angel of Revelation 18 who cries out mightily in
a loud voice with the same message. The angels continue to fly and the messages
continue to be increasingly urgent until the climax in chapter 18. There the
final call is given to come out and the punishment of plagues predicted by the
third angel is given to Babylon who is pictured as the woman on the beast. It is
in this sense that Protestantism may be said to have fallen. Reminder of what
happened in 1844 The advent preachers were wrong about Jesus coming in 1844, and
the churches of the time justly pointed out their error. The churches failed,
however, to recognize the leading of God and refused to see that the temple to
be cleansed was in heaven (Heb. 8). In other words, these Protestant churches
rejected the idea that something important had happened. At the same time the
vast majority of the people who had been moved by the Holy Spirit to repent and
prepare for the judgment quickly returned to their old ways without further
study to understand what had happened to the calculations and events predicted.
In contrast to the futuristic view of Babylon's fall the historical interperters
holds the view that the Old Testament prophecies relating to the fall of Babylon
have already been fulfilled. They contend that the prophecies regarding
Babylon's fall do not relate to one specific historical situation but to an
ideal fall of the city. The definite historical beginning of the ideal fall of
Babylon is indicated in the prophecies of the coming of the Medes (Isaiah 13:17;
21:2, 3; Jeremiah 51:11, 28). Cyrus is named as the leader in the expedition
against Babylon (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1). Because of these definite historical
allusions the historical school of interpreters cannot see how the fall of
Babylon could be an eschatological event. While the futuristic interpreters
distinguish between the Babylon of Revelation 17 and that of chapter 18 the
historical interpreters, as a rule, do not. Whatever interpretation is given to
the harlot of Revelation 17 is also given to the metropolis of chapter 18. Among
the interpreters who reject any reference to literal Babylon in Revelation,
three views prevail. Some hold that Apocalyptic Babylon is the figurative
application of that name to a totally different city, Rome. Others hold that
Apocalyptic Babylon is the apostate church. A third group holds that the term
Babylon in Revelation applies to a system or civilization rather than to any
specific geographical center. However diverse their explanations of the
Apocalyptic Babylon may be, these interpreters are convinced that no reference
to literal Babylon is intended. They feel that the notion that literal Babylon
is to be rebuilt is in conflict with the Old Testament prophecies, which
indicate Babylon is to be destroyed and never again inhabited. Conclusion
Revelation has been very difficult for many to understand for many biblical
scholars, however in researching the two mainstreams of thought regarding the
fall of Babylon of Revelation I have come to my own understanding that the fall
of Babylon has yet to come. And I am reassured of this because Revelation gives
details related to the collateral damage caused by the fall of Babylon. Which
seems that these are warnings and descriptions of things to come. Also I believe
that Christ warns of the fall of Babylon in the Parable of the Ten Virgins.
Predicted by a story Jesus told This pattern of events traced in Jesus' story of
the ten virgins. All carried oil in their lamps, but five foolish ones didn't
carry extra oil with them. The foolish virgins ran out of oil and were not
admitted to the wedding. All are claiming a place in the wedding but some won't
be as ready as they had imagined. The wedding represents the time when the
members of the kingdom of God are identified in judgment and become the bride of
Christ. In Luke 12:32 we see Jesus coming out from the wedding and into the
wedding feast. Thus the wedding begins before Christ returns in glory. It ends
at that time when we go to celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev.
19:9). Many of the references seem to indicate that fall of Babylon will
strongly affect the social and economic structure of the world. They imply that
the creativity, skill and naturally industrious nature of man will suddenly come
up missing. And darkness will descend on mankind as the light of the world; the
"candles" shine no more "at all in thee"(Rev.18:23). Jesus
related the light of a candle to the inner spirit of man, comparing it to either
evil (darkness), or goodness (light) (Luke 11:33-36). Revelation states that
when Babylon falls, she is to be "utterly burned with fire (Rev.18:
8:9)." At Pentecost, tongues of fire sat over the heads of the apostles,
but they were not harmed. Instead they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).
The firebrand that destroys Babylon will not be made of the natural material we
humans might first consider. The fire that destroys Babylon is the fire of the
Holy Spirit. And as its power floods the earth, whether directly or through man,
it will finalize the removal of man's bondage to the physical world and set him
eternally free. What a wonderful day this will be, when we will be set free!Bibliography1. Jones, Alonzo Trevier. The Great Empires of Prophecy. Chicago: Review and
Herald Publishing Company, 1898. 2. Goodspeed, George Stephen. A History of the
Babylonians and Assyrains. New York: Charles Scribnerís Sons, 1917. 3. King,
Leonard W. A History of Babylon. London: Chatto and Windus, 1919. 4. Hislop,
Rev. Alexander. The Two Babylons or The Papal Worship. New York: Loizeaux
Brothers, Bible Truth Depot, 1944. 5. Winckler, Hugo. The History of Babylonia
and Assyria. New York: Charles Scribnerís Sons, 1907. 6. Parrot, Andre.
Babylon and the Old Testament. New York: Philosophical Library, 1958. 7. Saggs,
H.W.F. The Greatness that was Babylon. New York: Hawthorn Books Inc. Publishers,
1962. 8. Maxwell, C. Mervyn. God Cares Vol. 2. Boise, Idaho; Oshawa, Ontario,
Canada: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985.
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