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Babylon's Fall

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Babylon's Fall

Another prophetic key is the destruction of the earlier mentioned city of the obstinate wedding guests, - also sometimes called Babylon, Babylon the great, and Mystery Babylon. While the name Mystery Babylon occurs only once (Revelation 17:5), it is probably the most famous of the three because the name conveys the confusion surrounding the city's actual identity. Theories about this city's modern identity abound with speculation including a modern revival of ancient Babylon (perhaps in modern Baghdad), Rome, and New York City. Alternative theories suggest that Mystery Babylon is not a city but a system of religion, a system of commerce, a form of government, or a combination of any of these. Since the following representative description describes the destruction of a physical location these last alternative theories seem unlikely:

Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. (Revelation 18:8)

Quickly destroyed by fire, Mystery Babylon's destruction brings the normal aftereffects of war: death, mourning, and famine. Both the manner of its destruction and the destruction's aftermath point to an actual, physical city and seem to rule out any of the alternative proposals. The great tribulation chapter explores clues to Mystery Babylon's identity while this section focuses on the city's destruction and its possible ties to ancient Babylon. Clues to linkages between Mystery Babylon and ancient Babylon abound including not only their names but also in the pronouncements of angels at its destruction:

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. (Revelation 18:2)

Notice the repetition of the phrase ‘is fallen'. Most commentators treat this as a device emphasizing the certainty and completeness of its destruction. Several other passages throughout the Bible show this same ‘emphasis' when speaking of Babylon's fall:

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. (Revelation 14:8)

That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! (Isaiah 14:4)

And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. (Isaiah 21:9)

Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. (Jeremiah 51:8)

In each reference, Babylon falls twice. Rather than simple emphasis, these verses probably refer to both falls of Babylon: ancient Babylon's fall to Media-Persia and Mystery Babylon's future fall. Although ancient Babylon remained inhabited for sometime afterwards, its national sovereignty was forever broken. After the Persians, Alexander the Great conquered it and briefly ruled from its palaces. Throughout this time, Babylon never seemed to regain its autonomy and was probably destroyed prior to 100 B.C. It lay in ruins until Sadam Hussein started reconstruction in the 20th century and today is an uninhabited architectural site.

Mystery Babylon's relationship to ancient Babylon remains a great mystery. If their physical location is the same, then the relationship is clear. If not, do their religious, governmental, or commercial systems tie them together? Perhaps, it is simply people's desire to replace God's throne with a single worldwide government to solve all humanity's problems. The resolution of the ties between the two would make it much easier to deduce Mystery Babylon's modern identity. Nebuchadnezzar's vision of a statue with a golden head may hold a clue (Daniel 2:28-45). In this vision, the head represents the first Babylon. Several other portions of the statue represent world empires that rule Jerusalem. Each lower portion of the statue represents a succeeding empire and is composed of materials of ever decreasing value. The first, Babylon, is made of gold and the last is clay mixed with some iron. A stone cut without hands (a common reference to Jesus) crushes the feet destroying the entire statue. The feet of clay describe a future alliance of nations exploited by the antichrist in his quest to rule the world from this alliance's capital, Mystery Babylon. The statue links ancient Babylon (the head) to Mystery Babylon (the feet of clay) through several intervening world powers: Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome[1]. God destroys the entire statue by crushing the feet (and, by inference, Mystery Babylon) of clay representing the alliance of nations and its capital. Over 2,500 years ago, God struck down the image's head and, in the future, He will strike down the entire image by destroying its feet, the modern successor of Babylon's world domination.

[1] for more see Mystery Babylon section in the great tribulation chapter