16.  Economic Babylon

(Revelation 18)

A development that is directly related to the tribulation period, is the rebuilding of the once renowned metropolis, Babylon, on the banks of the Euphrates River. As the birthplace of the Ancient World's pagan religion, this city must again emerge as the seat of a false universal religion. Babylon is in Iraqi territory and, since 1978, has been in process of reconstruction. The first phase of the rebuilt city was inaugurated amid great festivity between September 22 and October 22, 1987. This festival has since that time become an annual event, and is reported in the media as an international cultural festival.

Included in the first phase of the reconstruction of the old city, is the southern palace of King Nebuchadnezzar. This palace includes the famous throne-room where the writing appeared on the wall during the last night of King Belshazzar's reign. Among the other reconstructed buildings is the gateway to the temple of Ishtar. Hotels and tourist facilities have also been erected on the outskirts of the city.

To Saddam Hussein, Babylon’s historical fame as the capital of a once mighty world empire is a strong motivation for rebuilding the city. His main objective is to try and regain the lost glory of Babylon. Hussein also has great veneration for Nebuchadnezzar and sees himself as the modern successor of this world leader. He strives to become the leader of all the Arab countries, and intends using his military power to conquer Israel and have its leaders chained and dragged across the desert to Babylon.

The symbolic value of Babylon as a world capital is clearly realised in Iraq. During the inauguration feast of the first part of the rebuilt city in 1987 the Iraqi minister of antiquity referred to the fact that Babylon is the place from where the nations of the world dispersed across the globe and eventually became hostile towards one another. Should they wish to become reconciled and to restore their unity within the framework of a new world order they should – according to him – return to the place from where they dispersed: that is Babylon!

Rebellion against God

To correctly comprehend current events in Babylon, the city's origin and the relentless anti-God tradition it has followed in ancient times must be taken into account. According to Genesis 10:8-10, Nimrod established a kingdom for himself in Babylon. Apart from the fact that it was a political kingdom, it also became a powerful pagan religious centre from where idolatry spread across the world.

As protagonist of the self-sufficiency of the human race, Nimrod took a firm stand against God. Not only did he offer himself as a king to the people, but also as a god. As a builder of fortified cities in the land of Shinar (one of the earliest names for Babylonia), he was honoured as the God of Forces. He was addressed as the Liberator and Crown Bearer, and regarded as the personification of the Sun-god – the one who gives light and life. After him all Babylonian and Assyrian kings deified themselves. This tradition was imitated by the rulers of other world empires, especially in the Roman Empire. This is a pagan tradition that will be revived during the great tribulation when the Antichrist will declare himself as God and demand the worship of all men.

Since its earliest existence, Babylon was the centre and symbol of an anti-God world power. This tradition is also reflected in the name Babylon, which means Gateway to the gods. (After God confounded their language, the name Babylon was also associated with confusion and disorder). The gateway to the gods consisted of a temple tower (ziggurat) in which the priests ascended to make contact with the gods. The top could be reached by means of a helical stairway that surrounded the tower. Up there the priests meditated in order to become one with the cosmic world. Astronomical observations, used in the compilation of horoscopes, were also made from that vantage-point. The establishing of ancient Babylon is described as follows in Genesis:

“Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there… And they said: Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the whole face of the earth. But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said: Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the languages of all the earth” (Gen. 11:1-9).

The form of internationalism that was established in ancient Babylon not only promoted linguistic and social unity, but also economic and political unity. It afforded that first world empire the power base which enabled them to forcibly incorporate other nations into their empire, also to control their economies and to impose a world religion on them. The power base that they were in the process of building was so strong that they would have been able to achieve all their objectives.

This evil programme of internationalisation, or globalisation, was directly in conflict with the God-ordained order of independent, self-ruling nations. That is the reason why He stopped and destroyed their unitary reforms on the communication level, thereby forcing the participant nations to move away and conduct their own affairs without intervention by an emerging world empire. In their new situation they would not only be politically and economically free, but also able to enjoy religious freedom to serve the true God or any other gods of their choice, without coercion from a self-deified universal emperor like Nimrod.

Despite the crumbling of the ancient Babylonian Empire, Satan never relinquished his plans to establish an alternative world order of international unity in association with a false world religion. Often in history, satanically inspired efforts to achieve this were made. The Babylonian Empire was succeeded by the Assyrian Empire, which was later subdued by the restored Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar. They applied the same principles of power politics, the subjection and incorporation of other nations, forced cultural assimilation, and the imposition of an idolatrous state religion. After these empires, the Medes and Persians, as well as the Greek and Roman empires, followed the same model of world domination. The coming Antichrist will institute this same form of globalisation and the forced worship of images in its most severe form. The spirit and influence of Babylon permeates human history right down to the end-time as Satan persists with his strategy for the raising up of an apostate world leader who will be followed, honoured and worshipped by the spiritually blinded, morally perverted, socially disoriented, and politically deceived nations.

The God-ordained order for the nations, as reiterated in the New Testament, is the existence of independent nations with clear boundaries separating them:

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26).

According to Romans 13:1-4, the authority of governments is derived from God. They must recognise God’s supremacy and accept accountability for their policies and the use of power. As such, the God-ordained order for the nations and the Babylonian order are in direct conflict with one another. In the Babylonian order, man is sovereign and determines his own destiny. That is why influential leaders tend to exalt and even deify themselves.

God’s judgements upon this city

In the light of the continued strategies of the kingdom of darkness, God’s judgements still rest upon Babylon and its evil methods. God’s judgements upon Babylon in the Old Testament were never completely fulfilled; consequently, Babylonian conspiracies to form world governments often recurred in historical times. It is evident that the final judgement upon Babylon and its anti-Christian form of government is still future and will be fulfilled during the coming ‘Day of the Lord’. It is within this framework that the end-time world religion, world government and world economy of the Antichrist are called Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18. Its destruction during the coming great tribulation will constitute the final eradication of the age-old Babylonian conspiracy of Satan.

Prophecies that deal with the fall of Babylon are so clearly defined and absolute that no period in the entire history of Babylon and Assyria can be found in which they have been exhaustively fulfilled. Consider the following statements:

“And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation; nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, and their houses will be full of owls; ostriches will dwell there, and wild goats will caper there” (Is. 13:19-21).

Jeremiah refers to the destruction of Babylon in these words:

“And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done in Zion in your sight, says the Lord. Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys all the earth, says the Lord. And I will stretch out My hand against you… They shall not take from you a stone for a corner, nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate forever, says the Lord… My people, go out of the midst of her! And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the Lord… And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: When you arrive in Babylon and see it, and read all these words, then you shall say: O Lord, You have spoken against this place to cut it off, so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever. Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. Then you shall say: Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her” (Jer. 51:24-26, 45, 61-64).

Dr. J. A. Seiss stated as far back as 1865 in his Letters on the Apocalypse that it is obvious that the city of Babylon will be rebuilt, for otherwise the Lord cannot finally destroy it like Sodom and Gomorrah, never to be inhabited again. This is clearly an end-time event that will, according to Isaiah 13:6-9, occur on the day of the Lord, probably coinciding with the battle of Armageddon at the end of the great tribulation.

In 1918, Clarence Larkin has indicated in his famous book Dispensational Truth that Babylon was never completely destroyed or uninhabited. Jeremiah's prophecy that after the final destruction no stones from the ruins of Babylon will be used, must yet be fulfilled. Various towns and cities have in fact been built with bricks recovered from the ruins of Babylon. Before the present rebuilding of Babylon started in 1978, Iraqis removed thousands of bricks for construction purposes elsewhere. Since the official building programme started, several impressive structures have risen on the foundations of ancient Babylon. These developments underscore the biblical view that the great fall of the city is yet to occur.

International centre

In its capacity as the international economic, political and entertainment centre of the world the rebuilt Babylon will, according to Revelation 18, play an important part in the great tribulation. It can be expected that international organisations will rush to be accommodated in Babylon, and that large building projects will be undertaken and completed in a relatively short time. Very soon the city will assume a cosmopolitan character as the point of convergence for a variety of cultures and civilisations from all over the world. Here the nations were separated when their languages were confused. An attempt will soon be made to reunite them at the same place from whence they dispersed 4 500 years ago.

            In the days of ancient Babylon, the first United Nations conference on record was held on the plains of Shinar:

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4).

In modern times, a similar appeal may be issued as follows:

“Let us co-operate and build ourselves a city between the East and the West and the North and the South as a symbol of global unity and internationalism. Let us create a united league of world religions and develop our spiritual potential to ascend to the ultimate zenith of the evolution of humanity to divinity! Let us establish one monetary system, one government and a classless social order for all people. Only then will we be united into a peaceful and harmonious society of planetary citizens that does not become separated into conflicting and self-centred national groups.”

In the USA, the catastrophe that occurred in 2001 during the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, has given new impetus to their campaign to eradicate terrorism and establish a peaceful global society. The threat emanating from fundamentalist Muslim groups is playing an important role in their efforts to normalise relations with Islam, the biggest single religious group in the world (Roman Catholicism being the second biggest). Much attention is now focused on Iraq as a sponsor for terror groups, with a view to bringing peace to the troubled Middle East region by replacing radical leaders such as Saddam Hussein (and also Yasser Arafat) with moderate, peace-loving leaders. It may just be that an international prince of peace will soon rise in Iraq to promote the humanistic peace programme of the deceived nations from there! According to the Bible, he will have the full support of Satan to become a globally acclaimed angel of light and champion of a unified new world order.

The ideology of the modern tower of Babel is rapidly gaining ground in the world. Its final implementation will occur very rapidly. At the close of the great tribulation, the evils in the reconstructed city of Babylon will have no limits. Revelation 18:5 tells us that the sins of Babylon, like those of Sodom and Gomorrah, will reach unto heaven.

Saddam Hussein and the rebuilding of Babylon

Although Saddam Hussein played a big part in initiating the rebuilding of Babylon, he is only one of many forerunners of the Antichrist. The following characteristics of the Antichrist are also manifested by him:

·      He is mustering tremendous military power, including accurate long-range missiles capable of destroying Israeli towns and cities, and horrifying chemical and bacteriological weapons for use as missile warheads.

·      He fosters tremendous hatred against the Jews and Israel as well as the countries supporting them, particularly the USA and Britain.

·      He is utterly opposed to all moderate Arabs who do not support his radical policies.

·      He is a cruel and ruthless dictator who oppresses his own people and other nations.

·      He has no regard for human life and will not hesitate to instigate a world war and to cause great disasters.

·      He rebuilds Babylon in an effort to revive and focus upon himself the fame of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire.

The dreams of Saddam Hussein will not be realised during his reign. But when the Antichrist comes he will restore the Babylonian Empire in a dramatic way and fulfil these dreams for a short time during the coming day of the Lord.

The destruction of Babylon

The final fall of the rebuilt Babylon will occur suddenly at the end of the great tribulation. John describes it as follows in Revelation 18:

“After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority… And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying: Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling-place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.

“And I heard another voice from heaven saying: Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities…

“…her plagues will come in one day – death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. And the kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying: Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgement has come! …And every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning…

“Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying: Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore… for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth” (Rev. 18:1-5, 8-10, 17-18, 21, 23-24).

From these Scriptures it is evident that there will not be a gradual decay and decline of the city over a long period of time. The destruction of Babylon will occur in one hour. As with Sodom and Gomorrah, it will be consumed by fire. At the same time a great earthquake with continuous thunder and lightning will occur, as described in Revelation 16:

“And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth… And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath” (Rev. 16:18-19).

When this earthquake occurs a huge crater will appear, from which flames of burning pitch will emanate. The city will subside into a lake of fire, never to be restored or inhabited again. The smoke of her burning will form dark clouds across the plains of Shinar and be clearly visible from ships in the Persian Gulf. The merchants and the seamen will weep and mourn over the destruction of this city with its riches, pomp and glory.

This is the destiny of a global kingdom and society that revolted against God and scorned His mercy. In world empires of this nature, as well as world religions in which relationships with heathen religions are entered into, the children of God have no common cause. The command to them is clear:

“Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).

This command is not only meant for the people of God who may find themselves in the city of Babylon during the great tribulation, but also for all those who are members of Babylonian-type churches, political parties and other movements. Do not be influenced and led astray by those who participate in the building of a modern tower of Babel. Their compromise and spiritual blindness may have a severely detrimental effect on you. Through a subtle process of brainwashing they may succeed in deceiving and misleading you in this critical hour just prior to the coming of Jesus, the Head of the true church and the King of kings.

It is frightening and almost incomprehensible that in spite of the historical facts at their disposal, as well as biblical prophecies, modern world leaders are proceeding with their plans to establish a Babylonian new world order. In the process they are creating structures for the world government, world religion and world economy of the coming Antichrist. The European nations are eagerly participating in this Babylonian Empire by relinquishing a significant degree of their sovereignty and transferring it to the European Parliament. A common European monetary system is part of these internationalising reforms.

Recent world financial turbulence is driving the nations inexorably towards global financial control, which will inevitably involve centralised global political control. The urgent need for global financial control will force all nations into very rapid moves towards international political control under strong central leadership, making way for a strong charismatic personality to take over.

In the coming European/Middle East empire various national leaders will relinquish their powers and transfer them to the Antichrist: “These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast” (Rev. 17:13). Other world leaders will also follow this example, and together they will rebuild Babylon as the capital of the Antichrist. This venture, which will be undertaken under the illusion of promoting international peace, unity and reconciliation, will form the basis for Satan’s great end-time conspiracy to subject the entire world to his direct authority. Against this evil, Babylonian empire God’s final judgements will not be long delayed.

History comes full circle

The history of the nations started with a Babylonian conspiracy against the kingdom of God, as described in the first book of the Bible – Genesis. In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, a description is given of how the history of the nations will end in this dispensation – with a repetition of that early Babylonian conspiracy against the kingdom of God. Modern technology and the proliferation of evil will render the present conspiracy exceedingly more fierce and destructive.

This author is confident that the rebuilding of the ancient city of Babylon will play a major role in the culmination of the end-time Babylonian new world order after the coming of the Antichrist. The Bible strongly supports such a notion. But even if that does not happen and some other capital is chosen for the Antichrist's world empire, the fact remains that the globalism, power politics and heathen practices of ancient Babylon have strongly re-emerged in our time. We should at least be mindful of the fact that the Bible does not call the multi-religious ecumenical movement of our time the mother of harlots, or Mystery Babylon, without indicating a strong relationship between the end-time interfaith movement and the ancient Babylonian conglomerate of false religions and New Age cosmic powers. We are confronted with the same situation.

Furthermore, economic and political Babylon represent the two other power bases of the ancient empire, thereby indicating that the cement of Nimrod's world empire was centralised political domination in association with economic control and the compulsory veneration of heathen gods. The functioning of these three power bases helps us to understand the make-up and functioning of the present new world order, of which the substructure also consists of a strange synthesis of political, economic and religious globalism.

With every passing day, the world is more and more unified in accordance with the principles of the ancient Babylonian empire. The final and formal institution of this new international order will coincide with the dramatic revelation of the Antichrist, who will be the undisputed leader and god of the emerging new world empire.

The utter rebelliousness and blasphemous actions of this new ruler will be seen in the use of occult powers, self-deification and the rigid enforcement of Satan-worship. As the end-time king of Babylon, he will openly challenge the authority of the most high God and thereby invite His anger upon the empire of the beast as well as its capital city. The destruction of Babylon will, therefore, be much more significant than divine judgement upon a single city or kingdom – it will be part of the outpouring of God's wrath upon an entire generation of apostate planetary citizens who joined the devil in his bid to once again challenge the supremacy of God in the universe.

We are now living in the early stages of the end-time Babylonian world society. The people of God have no common cause whatsoever with Babylon and must not associate with any of its structures and evil practices.