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Revelation by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:59 mins 41 secs

Revelation-118c; Fall of Satan; Fall of Babylon

 

Revelation 18:2 NASB "And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird."

 

The point is that God at the end this Tribulation period brings together the final judgment, both in terms of the angelic realm and the human realm. So to understand its end we must go back to its beginning because it is related to this whole understanding of what is going on with Babylon and identifying and understanding the biblical use of Babylon and its actual history. The issue that we are now addressing has to do with the origins of the angelic conflict, the origins of Satan and his fall. The passages that describe this are found in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:11-19. These passages have been historically understood to refer to the fall of Satan.

 

We need a little historical perspective on the interpretation of these verses. We have seen already nine reasons why these verses cannot refer to a human ruler but must refer to that demonic power behind the throne.

 

First of all, there are three basic interpretations historically of these passages. This first is that this refers in some way to Satan and his original fall. There are those who take the passages as going directly to Satan and there are those who view it as either the historical king of Babylon or historical king of Tyre, but it is actually referring to the power behind that historical figure. Others see this as referring to a future leader who is empowered by Satan. Ultimately these various views see Satan as the ultimate reference in these passages. Then there have been those who have tried to interpret the passage only in terms of a historical figure. They try to identify the reference in Isaiah 14 to either Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, or some just try to lump all the kings of Babylon together, but they just want to locate it just as a historical figure that doesn't have anything to do with Satan. Then in the late 19th century with the advent of Protestant liberalism which views Darwinian evolutionary ideas and applies them to religion they assume that all religion, including Christianity, went through stages of evolution and so this is just some sort of primitive myth that was adopted and brought into the Bible. There is no evidence of that; no one has ever found a myth that even remotely resembles the vocabulary, the imagery, or anything in Isaiah 14 or Ezekiel 28, and they just assume it because they have decided it couldn't really be talking about Satan.

 

Historically, those who have taken it as Satan have a tremendous track record. They consider it was Satan directly. We can go back to the Septuagint; in the early church the pseudepigrapha (false writing, never considered to be part of the canon of Scripture), and early Christian writing. Origen, approximately 200 AD, in the early church was the first to tie Isaiah 14 to Ezekiel 28. Tertullian, Cyprian, Jerome, and then the majority of theologians from Augustine to Gregory the Great all took this as being a reference to Satan; in the Middle Ages Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas; in the Reformation, Norton, Bunyan, Wesley, William Kelly all understood this as a reference to Satan and the fall of Lucifer; in the modern era, men like Chafer, Schofield, Barnhouse, Feinberg and many others. Historically there were those who took this as a typical view of Satan. What is interesting is that Hippolytus, who was about the same time as Origen, understood Isaiah 14 to be specifically referencing the Antichrist in the future and Satan behind him, and that is the view that we hold. William Kelly an early dispensationalist took it the same way. Those who take it as historical only: Jewish Talmud, Calvin and Luther, but with the latter two it had to do with how they understood prophecy, they did not have a literal view of prophecy and that affected their interpretation of these passages. Then the mythological view enters in with the rise of modern liberalism.

 

As we get into this study we have to get into the whole background and context of Isaiah 14. We have to understand the importance of Isaiah 14 within its immediate context, which is Isaiah 13 & 14, which is in the broader context of Isaiah's oracles of condemnation of Babylon, chapters 13, 14, 21, and also within the broader context of the major prophets—both Isaiah and Jeremiah had these prophecies against Babylon—and then how that fits within the overall scope of prophecy. Revelation 17 & 18 on the final destruction of this kingdom of the Tribulation period uses the vocabulary and imagery all from Isaiah 13 & 14 and Jeremiah 50 & 51. We can't understand Revelation 17 & 18 without understanding the Old Testament background and prophecies.

 

When we come to Revelation 17 & 18 it talks about a future empire or system it pictures the destruction of these systems, these influences, at the return of Christ and identifies that as Babylon. Interpreters have debated whether or not this was literal or symbolic. For example, some interpreters have viewed this symbolically, that Babylon represents the kingdom of the Antichrist in the final days. The problem with that is that in Revelation 17 & 18 Babylon is the woman who rides the beast, the beast is the Antichrist and his kingdom, the woman riding the beast bestows the dominating influence of Babylon on the kingdom of the Antichrist. The symbolic view has numerous problems because everywhere else in the Bible where the word "Babylon" is used it is always literal. So there is no basis for saying there that Babylon represents the kingdom of the Antichrist. Furthermore, there are some problems with that view because they mistakenly interpret 13 and Jeremiah 50 & 51 as having already been fulfilled. That really is the crux of this issue. Is there a literal city of Babylon that rises to political and economic dominance or is this simply an allusion to something like Babylon. That hinges on whether or not the Old Testament prophecies about the destruction of Babylon were fulfilled. The symbolic view is based on the view that the prophecies were fulfilled and that just isn't true. So we have to go back and look at the Old Testament history.

 

Babylon

 

1)  The description and imagery in Revelation 17 & 18 is based on Old Testament passages, primarily Isaiah 13, 14; Jeremiah 50 & 51, as well as Ezekiel 26-28.

2)  In Isaiah 13 & 14 and Jeremiah 50 & 51, Isaiah and Jeremiah predict the literal, physical destruction of Babylon in extremely graphic terms, and they repeatedly point out that it is going to be sudden, total, and never ever again will there be any habitation at the site of Babylon. Babylon is important in Scripture because it fits within a total flow of the conflict between the city of God and the city of man in the Bible. The city of God, of course, is Jerusalem; the city of man is Babylon. Babylon was founded first by Nimrod in Genesis chapter 10 where Nimrod and his cohorts build the tower of Babel against God. It was a theological statement: "We are going to run history our way; God, you no longer have anything to say about this," and they are in rebellion against God. The next time we have a reference to Babylon in Mesopotamia is in Genesis 14 where there is an invasion of four kings, led by Amraphel the king of Shinar. Shinar is where Babylon is located. Over against this, at the end of the episode after Abraham destroys those armies with his men, he then brings tribute from the plunder to Melchizedek the king-priest of Salem which is Jerusalem. Throughout the Bible we see this juxtaposition between Babylon and Jerusalem. There is silence after Genesis 14 for some time and this is at a time in ancient history where Babylon experiences its initial rise to fame, has its first major empire and we know it through some of its leaders such as Hammurabi. By the time we get into the eighth century, the time of Hezekiah the king of Judah, the Assyrian empire dominates. That is the background for Isaiah. Babylon is just a major city within the Babylonian empire. Isaiah was written during the reigns of four kings of Judah—Uzziah who dies in 539 BC, so Isaiah begins to prophesy in 740 the year before Uzziah dies, then Jotham, Ahaz, and then Hezekiah. Isaiah dies sometime after Hezekiah dies in 689. In 740 Isaiah begins to prophesy, and by 681 he is probably dead. In 1 Kings 20 we read of a Chaldean who conquers Babylon to re-establish his own little kingdom and he becomes a thorn in the flesh to the Assyrian ruler. For three hundred years Babylon had been under the control of Assyria but under Merodach-Baladan II Babylon began to show some signs of independence and trying to assert itself against its Assyrian leaders. In 710 BC Sargon II finally defeats Marodach-Baladan, but during this time Marodach-Baladan went over to Judah to try to enlist an ally in Hezekiah. Hezekiah very foolishly showed him all the gold and sliver and treasure in the temple. That was going to come back and haunt him later, but in 710 Merodach-Baladan is defeated but isn't killed. This is the beginning of the rise of Babylon during the Chaldean empire. By 625 when Aher-bani-pal the ruler of the Assyrian empire dies, there is anothert king by the name of Nabopolassar show up and he seizes the throne of Babylon. Aided by the Medes the Babylonians defeat the Assyrians in 609 and there was the ascendancy of what is called the Neo-Chaldean empire under Nabopolassar. He died in 605 and was succeeded by his son Nebuchadnezzar. This is the beginning of the Babylonian empire that is the background for Daniel. Under Nebuchanezzar the Babylonians invade Judah three times—605, 592 and 586. In 539 Cyrus is leading the Persians, there is an alliance between Persians and Medes, and they sneak into Babylon and conquer the city, almost without a shot being fired. Babylon becomes a major capital in the Persian empire and continues to go on in existence for a number of years.

 

Isaiah 13:1 says: "[This is] The oracle concerning Babylon…" The total and final destruction of Babylon is described in Isaiah 13:17-22. The centre of this section is Isaiah 14:1, 2 which says that after the destruction of Babylon there will be a final restoration of a united Israel in the land, and there will be peace. That didn't happen historically. This is the centrepiece of the interpretation. Then there is a taunt rehearsing the total destruction of Babylon's king in 14:3-21, in the middle of which is this reference to the power behind the throne. There is a summary of the Lord's defeat of Babylon in 14:22, 23. 

 

All of this prophecy is related simply to God's faithfulness and His encouragement to the people, that no matter how chaotic things look, no matter how many times the nation may be overrun, he will be true to His promises. The same is true to every single believer in Jesus Christ in history. No matter how chaotic things may look in our historical era we know that God is in control, that God will bring about the close of history as he has prophesied and promised, and there will be a time of rest and stability because he is faithful to His promises.

 

Looking at the comparison of Scripture passages: Jeremiah 50 & 51; Revelation 17 & 18; Isaiah 13.

 

a)  In these passages there is reference to the evil influence of Babylon and it is compared to drinking wine from a golden cup. Jeremiah 51:7 NASB "Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the LORD, Intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; Therefore the nations are going mad." Cf. Revelation 17:3, 4 NASB "And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman [Babylon] sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality." Revelation 18:6 NASB "Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back {to her} double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her."

b)  The influence of Babylon is compared to dwelling on many waters. Waters is used as a symbol for the nations. Jeremiah 51:13 NASB "O you who dwell by many waters, Abundant in treasures, Your end has come, The measure of your end." Cf. Revelation 17:1 NASB "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters."

c)  Babylon will be surrounded and attacked by many nations whom she has influenced. Isaiah 13:14 NASB "And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, Or like sheep with none to gather {them,} They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land." This is the coming judgment on Babylon because the nations will attack her. Jeremiah 51:7 NASB "Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the LORD, Intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; Therefore the nations are going mad." Cf. Revelation 17:2 NASB "with whom the kings of the earth committed {acts of} immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality."

d)  They all relate to the same name, they are all identified as Babylon. Isaiah 13:19 NASB "And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans' pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah." Isaiah 21:9 NASB "Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs." And one said, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon; And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground'." Jeremiah 50:1 NASB "The word which the LORD spoke concerning Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, through Jeremiah the prophet." Cf. Revelation 17:5 NASB "and on her forehead a name {was} written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." All of these are identified with the same literal name of Babylon.

 

Then there are comparisons on how they describe the destruction of the city of Babylon.

 

a)  Babylon is going to be destroyed suddenly, quickly, and unexpectedly. Jeremiah 51:8 NASB "Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken…" Cf. Revelation 18:8 NASB "For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong."

b)  The destruction of the city is described as being accomplished by the Medes who will pillage, plunder and massacre the women and children. Isaiah 13:17 NASB "Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them, Who will not value silver or take pleasure in gold." Isaiah 21:2 NASB "…Go up, Elam, lay siege, Media; I have made an end of all the groaning she has caused." Jeremiah 51:11 NASB "Sharpen the arrows, fill the quivers! The LORD has aroused the spirit of the kings of the Medes, Because His purpose is against Babylon to destroy it; For it is the vengeance of the LORD, vengeance for His temple." Jeremiah 51:28 again focuses on the king of the Medes.

c)  Babylon will also be destroyed with an alliance of nations from the north. Jeremiah 50:3 NASB "For a nation has come up against her out of the north; it will make her land an object of horror, and there will be no inhabitant in it. Both man and beast have wandered off, they have gone away!" [9] "For behold, I am going to arouse and bring up against Babylon A horde of great nations from the land of the north, And they will draw up {their} battle lines against her; From there she will be taken captive. Their arrows will be like an expert warrior Who does not return empty-handed." Jeremiah 51"27 NASB "Lift up a signal in the land, Blow a trumpet among the nations! Consecrate the nations against her, Summon against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz; Appoint a marshal against her, Bring up the horses like bristly locusts."

d)  Babylon will be destroyed by fire. Jeremiah 51:30; Revelation 17:6; 18:8 all talk about the fact that she will be burned by fire. That did not happen historically.

e)  The prophecies agree that it will never ever again be inhabited. Isaiah 13:19, 20 NASB "And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans' pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; Nor will the Arab pitch {his} tent there, Nor will shepherds make {their flocks} lie down there." There have been ongoing Arab villages within the confines of the ancient walls of Babylon throughout all time; it has never been totally destroyed. [21] "But desert creatures will lie down there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches also will live there, and shaggy goats will frolic there." Isaiah 14:23 NASB "I will also make it a possession for the hedgehog and swamps of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," declares the LORD of hosts." Jeremiah 50:13 NASB "Because of the indignation of the LORD she will not be inhabited, But she will be completely desolate; Everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified And will hiss because of all her wounds." Jeremiah 51:29 NASB "So the land quakes and writhes, For the purposes of the LORD against Babylon stand, To make the land of Babylon A desolation without inhabitants." [37] "Babylon will become a heap {of ruins,} a haunt of jackals, An object of horror and hissing, without inhabitants." This did not happen in 539 BC. Even during the time of the New Testament there was a large population there of 15-20,000.

f)  The whole of Babylon is destroyed. Isaiah 13:5 NASB "They are coming from a far country, From the farthest horizons, The LORD and His instruments of indignation, To destroy the whole land."

g)  Babylon will be severely punished for her hostility to God and Israel. Jeremiah 50:29 NASB "Summon many against Babylon, All those who bend the bow: Encamp against her on every side, Let there be no escape. Repay her according to her work; According to all that she has done, {so} do to her; For she has become arrogant against the LORD, Against the Holy One of Israel." Cf. Revelation 18:6 NASB "Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back {to her} double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her."

h)  This time of judgment on Babylon is described as the day of the Lord. Joel chapters 2 & 3 describe the day of the Lord. This is a term usually used for the end period of the Tribulation. Isaiah 13:6-9 NASB "Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will fall limp, And every man's heart will melt. They will be terrified, Pains and anguish will take hold of {them;} They will writhe like a woman in labor, They will look at one another in astonishment, Their faces aflame. Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it." Isaiah 21:31 describes it as labour pains. Jeremiah 51:6 NASB "Flee from the midst of Babylon, And each of you save his life! Do not be destroyed in her punishment, For this is the LORD'S time of vengeance; He is going to render recompense to her."

i)  The final destruction of Babylon is depicted by the same imagery, of a stone being throne into the Euphrates. Jeremiah 51:63, the stone is throne into the Euphrates, then in verse 64 NASB "and say, 'Just so shall Babylon sink down and not rise again because of the calamity that I am going to bring upon her; and they will become exhausted.'" Cf. Revelation 18:21 NASB "Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, 'So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer'."

j)  The destroyer is the Lord of hosts, a title in the Old Testament that often describes the pre-incarnate Christ as he is leading the armies of Israel in victory. Jeremiah 51"19, 20 NASB "The portion of Jacob is not like these; For the Maker of all is He, And of the tribe of His inheritance; The LORD of hosts is His name. {He says,} 'You are My war-club, {My} weapon of war; And with you I shatter nations, And with you I destroy kingdoms'." [55] "For the LORD is going to destroy Babylon, And He will make {her} loud noise vanish from her. And their waves will roar like many waters; The tumult of their voices sounds forth." Cf. Revelation 17:14 NASB "These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him {are the} called and chosen and faithful."

k)  God's people are told to flee Babylon when Babylon is destroyed. Jeremiah 51:6 NASB "Flee from the midst of Babylon, And each of you save his life! Do not be destroyed in her punishment, For this is the LORD'S time of vengeance; He is going to render recompense to her." [45] "Come forth from her midst, My people, And each of you save yourselves From the fierce anger of the LORD." Cf. Revelation 18:4 NASB "I heard another voice from heaven, saying, 'Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues'."  This didn't happen. Daniel stayed in Babylon, he didn't flee. It wasn't fulfilled in the ancient world.

l)  Heaven rejoices at the final destruction of Babylon. Jeremiah 51:48; Revelation 18:20.

m)  Following the destruction there is peace on the whole earth. Isaiah 14:7 NASB "The whole earth is at rest {and} is quiet; They break forth into shouts of joy." Following the destruction of Babylon Israel and Judah are reunited, they come back to the Lord, and there is a time of spiritual obedience to the Lord, and the whole earth is at peace. This did not happen in 539; it did not happen in the Old Testament. These judgments in the Old Testament become fulfilled at the end of the Tribulation in Revelation 17 & 18.

n)  Following the destruction Israel is united and obedient to the Lord. Isaiah 14:1-4 NASB "When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. The peoples will take them along and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the LORD as male servants and female servants; and they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors. And it will be in the day when the LORD gives you rest from your pain and turmoil and harsh service in which you have been enslaved, that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say, "How the oppressor has ceased, {And how} fury has ceased!" Jeremiah 50:4 NASB "In those days and at that time," declares the LORD, "the sons of Israel will come, {both} they and the sons of Judah as well; they will go along weeping as they go, and it will be the LORD their God they will seek. [5] They will ask for the way to Zion, {turning} their faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the LORD {in} an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten."

 

Summary

 

Babylon will be destroyed unexpectedly, Jeremiah 51:8. That did not happen. It was conquered but not destroyed. Babylon was to be destroyed completely, according to Jeremiah 50:3, 39, 40; 51:29. The Persians came from the east and not the north, Babylon remained a major city for another 500 years at least. Though the numbers have diminished throughout the church age Arabs have lived there. The judgment described in Isaiah 13 as final and complete; that has not yet happened. Furthermore, the prophesy in Jeremiah 51 says that the stones and the bricks of destroyed Babylon would never be renewed (51:26). However, according to one who wrote in 1875: "To this day there are men who have no other trade than that of gathering bricks in this vast heat and taking them for sale in the neighbouring towns and villages, and even to Baghdad…" The prophecies have not been fulfilled.

 

Jeremiah warns all the Jews to flee Babylon prior to the destruction (50:8). But that did not happen.

 

Israel and Judah are to be reunited in a time of spiritual revival, according to Jeremiah 50:4, 5. That did not happen.

 

The modern Iraqis have been rebuilding Babylon. It started in the early years of Saddam Hussein in the early eighties.

 

The point of all this is that you can't just go into revelation and pick out a chapter and say you can figure out what it means. You have to understand the whole flow of God's purposes in history. That plan and purpose focuses on the cross where Satan was defeated. But the final battle when judgment of sin and evil and injustice takes place is at the Battle of Armageddon, that great end-time period at the end of the Tribulation. And we recognize that from the Old Testament all the way up to the present that has been prophesied. So when we go back to Isaiah 13 & 14 and look at the content there we realize that what Isaiah was talking about was not just the final judgment of future Babylon but that the leader was the Antichrist, and the one who empowers the Antichrist is Satan. So that Isaiah 14:12-14 depicts the arrogance of Satan as he originally rebelled against God and attempted make himself God and to be worshipped as God. It is from that that all sin and evil in the universe derives. 

 

Illustrations