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Sun, Aug 12, 2007

119 - Fall of Babylon [C]

Revelation by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:1 hr 4 mins 32 secs

Fall of Babylon


We have already been through a comparison of several key prophecies on Babylon. The purpose was to pull together and to summarize what was in all of these chapters to show that the prophecies that were made in the Old Testament which were related to the final destruction of Babylon have never actually taken place. The reason this is important is because to understand Isaiah 14:12-14, one of the key passages describing the fall of Satan, fits within this historical oracle or announcement of judgment on Babylon. Babylon represents the kingdom of man in the Bible verses the future establishment of the kingdom of God.


In the timeline from eternity past to eternity future we begin with the creation of the material universe. This is followed by the fall of Adam and the Noahic flood. The first mention of Babylon comes in Genesis chapter 11 with the construction of the tower of Babel where all of the human race gathers together to build this edifice that is going to elevate them, and the idea behind it is: well, God might have gotten mad at us, so now we are going to build a mountain high enough to survive any future flood. It was an expression of man's arrogance and his independence of God. God came down (metaphorically) and confused their languages so that the place was called Babel, which has the idea of the gate of God but it came to indicate the confusion of languages, and even today in almost every language of the world the word "babble" means to just talk in nonsense. The tower of Babel is the origin of the centre of the kingdom of man.


The kingdom of man represents the vast majority of human history from the events in Genesis chapter 11 to the return of Jesus Christ at the end of the Tribulation period. There was the call of Abram who lived in Ur of the Chaldees which was geographically close to Babylon. The next mention or inference of Babylon occurs in the time of Abraham. In Genesis chapter 14 there was an alliance of four kings, one of whom was Amraphel of Shinar. Shinar was where Babel was located. That was the last mention of Babylon until the period of the divided kingdom of Israel. So in the early stage of Genesis there was the tower of Babel representing man's independence of God. Mankind at that time was being influenced and energised by Satan. God counters with the call of Abram, and He is going to build out His own people through whom He is going to work.


In the period of the divided kingdom the northern kingdom went out in 722 and was destroyed by the Assyrian empire as God was disciplining them for their disobedience. Not long after that Babylon began to rise as a military power. By 625 BC Nabopolassar had defeated the Assyrians, seizes the throne of Babylon, and aided by Medes he defeats the Assyrians. He died in 609 and was succeeded by his son Nebuchadnezzar, and in 586, the third invasion into Israel, he destroys the temple and the Jews are taken captive and taken out of the land. The Babylonian empire last from roughly 612 to 539 BC, and in 539 Belshazzar is defeated by the Persians.


The Rapture of the church will come sometime shortly before the beginning of the Tribulation, so there is a rebuilding of Babylon because these prophesies of its destruction were never completely fulfilled. There is a future restoration if literal Babylon. There will be a seven-year period known as the time of Jacob's trouble or the great Tribulation, at the end of which time the Antichrist, indwelt by Satan, will establish himself as a god and then in an hour the city of Babylon will be destroyed at the second coming of Christ. This ends the rule of Babylon, the kingdom of man, and Jesus Christ establishes His one thousand-year reign, the Millennium, and this is the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. That gives a panorama of human history and the way Babylon fits into this particular revelation.


In the Old Testament there is Babel, the gate of God. By the way, the headquarters for the European Union in Brussels is built intentionally and self-consciously to model the unfinished tower of Babel. These things don't happen by chance. The tower of Babel was religious in its orientation, an elevation to be closer to God. Babylon was one of the largest and most significant cities in its hay-day in the ancient world, but it was not destroyed as the Scriptures prophesied. Babylon is located on the Euphrates River in the area known as Mesopotamia.


Among many traditional dispensationalists it was thought that Babylon was a sort of code word for the revived Roman empire. Now through greater study by more scholars it is recognized by a vast number of prophecy scholars that Babylon refers to a resurrected city of Babylon distinct from the revived Roman empire and the power base of the Antichrist. We have seen that Babylon in the Old Testament and in Revelation 17 & 18 is compared to a golden cup, Jeremiah 51:7; Revelation 17:3, 4; 18:6. In Jeremiah 50 and 51 Babylon is pictured in terms of influences dwelling on many waters. The same terminology is used in Revelation 17:1. Isaiah 13:13, 14 describes Babylon as being surrounded and attacked by the nations. This is also stated in Jeremiah 51:7b and revelation 17:2. An identical name is used in Isaiah 13:19; 21:9, as well as Jeremiah 50:1 and Revelation 17:5; 18:10. So there is no code word here. Babylon means Babylon in every other place in the Bible then it must be Babylon in Revelation 17 & 18 and not be used as some sort of allegorical term or symbol. In Jeremiah 51:8 the city was to be destroyed suddenly. Revelation 18:8 says it will take place in an hour. It is unexpected and sudden. It will be destroyed by the Medes. The Medes lived in the area of modern northern Iran or Persia. They will come from the north and the east. Isaiah 13:17; 21:2; Jeremiah 51:11, 28 indicate that they are part of the alliance that destroys Babylon at the end time. Following its destruction it will never again be inhabited.


The destruction of Babylon will be at the end of the Tribulation when the Antichrist is overthrown, as taught in Revelation 17 & 18. In the campaign of Armageddon there are actually eight stages, as have been set out in Arnold Fruchtenbaum's "The Footsteps of the Messiah." The first stage is the gathering of the forces of the Antichrist in the Valley of Esdraelon. While they are there evil news comes and the Antichrist looks to the east and sees the smoke rising from the destruction of Babylon and this sets him off to attack Jerusalem. There is an angelic announcement that takes place: Revelation 18:2 NASB "And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! …"


Today there has been an attempt to reconstruct Babylon, especially under Saddam Hussein; but even earlier there was an attempt by the Iraqis to reconstruct Babylon. In Revelation 16:18, 19 we read NASB "And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake {was it, and} so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath."


Revelation 18:1-3 NASB "After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. 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. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed {acts of} immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality'." This describes the fall of Babylon at the end of the Tribulation period. Chronology is very important to understand the interpretation of Isaiah 13: 14.


Isaiah began his ministry in 739 BC and he died some time after 681 BC. During this time period there is the rise of the Assyrian empire which conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722. Tens of thousands were killed in the northern kingdom; tens of thousands fled south for protection. That is the background for understanding Isaiah 13 and 14. Babylon at this time is just a major city within the Assyrian empire, and yet Isaiah is going to announce this future judgment on it. Isaiah 13:6-9 really describes the day of the Lord, that puts it at the end of the Tribulation period: 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." Verses 10-13 describes this in terms of the cosmological diasters: "For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold And mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger."


Then we come to the results of this judgment in Isaiah chapter 14. Isaiah 14:1 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." This is a focus on the united Israel nation. Only a few at the time of the coming of Christ had returned, the vast majority of the Jews lived outside the land. [2] "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." That has never happened. This is a picture of Israel taking their full inheritance which only happens in the Millennial kingdom. The point is that following the judgment on Babylon is when Israel united and at peace comes into the land and realises their full inheritance; something that ha never taken place. [3] 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, [4] that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say, 'How the oppressor has ceased, {And how} fury has ceased!'"

When are they going to take up this taunt against the king of Babylon? When God has established them as the kingdom. So the time frame for the taunt beginning in v. 4 is in the future at the beginning of the Millennium following the defeat of their enemies at the end of the Tribulation.

In verses 9-11 part of this taunt is that those in Sheol, i.e. the kings of the nations that have fallen, begin to rejoice over the fall of this particular king of Babylon. NASB "Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; It arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. [10] They will all respond and say to you, 'Even you have been made weak as we, You have become like us. [11] Your pomp {and} the music of your harps Have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out {as your bed} beneath you And worms are your covering.'"

Isaiah is looking far into the future at the time of the second coming of Christ, at the time when the Jews are rescued and they establish their kingdom. It is at that time that this king of Babylon is cast into Sheol, into the bottomless pit, and those who are there already take up this taunt against him. In their taunt, looking back in time, they will say, verse 12 NASB "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! [13] But you said [this is what you said] in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north." When did he say that? Back at the time of his original fall. It is said in the future but it is referring to an original statement made by this creature, Lucifer the light bearer, and this characterises his sin at the time he rebelled against God in eternity past. That is what initiated this cosmic war against God, this conflict that human history is a part of. There will be a resolution of this finally at the end of the Tribulation. But human history must be understood within this broader panorama and it is the cross that is the centrepiece because at the cross redemption is accomplished, which not only speaks of our individual salvation but also redemption of the universe, redemption of the earth, and the rolling back of the curse that is the result of sin and evil in the universe.