- What is Babylon?
Babylon is the symbolic name for what the church has unfortunately become. Where does this name come from? Revelation 17:1-5. In this passage, we are shown a vision of a great whore, and we are told that one of her names is Babylon. A whore is a harlot, or an adulterous wife-a bride that leaves her husband to go for other men. This whore is used as a symbol to represent the bride of Christ [the church] that has turned away from Christ [the Bridegroom], and set up others in His place.
How do we know this-that the whore refers to the adulterous bride of Christ [the church]?
God used a similar symbol in Jeremiah chapter 3 to refer to the people of Israel when they turned away from Him and set up idols in His place. Verses 1 and 14 clearly show that the covenant between God and the people of Israel was a symbolic marriage relationship. That’s why, in verse 9, when they turned from Him to worship idols made of stones and stocks, He saw it as adultery, and called them a whore [a harlot].
We can therefore understand that the whore in Revelation 17 is a symbol for a body of people who ought to be in a faithful marriage relationship with God but have turned away from Him and replaced Him with something else. But unlike the Old Testament where the rebellion of the Israelites was quite obvious, this rebellion of the whore in Revelation 17 is not quite obvious. That’s why she is also called Mystery.
Ephesians 5, from verse 22, makes it clear to us that the marriage relationship in the New Testament is between Christ and His Church. As such, the great whore in Revelation 17 is a symbol for a Church that has committed adultery-a church that has turned away from Christ, in a mysterious way, and has set up another to take His place as husband of the Church.
Now we live in an era where there are many church denominations, so we may be tempted to ask: which church is the bible referring to as the great whore in Revelation 17? The truth is, although this great whore began as one church, she has multiplied herself into many churches, and will soon return again to be one church [which is why we need to understand these things now]. So what church did the great whore begin as?
Verse 3 of Revelation 17 tells us that, in the vision, the great whore was seen sitting on a beast with seven heads and ten horns. This gives us a clue to which church she began as. But we first need to understand what a beast represents, and particularly, what the beast with seven heads and ten horns refers to. We can find the answer in Daniel 7. From Gabriel’s answer in verse 23, we can understand that a beast is the symbol for a kingdom. As such, we can understand that the four beasts shown to Daniel in verses 1-8 actually refer to kingdoms. These kingdoms are the same kingdoms shown symbolically in Daniel chapter 2, in the dream God gave to Nebuchadnezzar. When we read Daniel chapter 2, from verse 28, we will see that the first kingdom is represented as gold. This was the Babylonian Empire, and it is the one shown as the first beast in Daniel’s vision in Daniel chapter 7. The second kingdom is represented as silver. This was the Empire of the Medes and Persians, and it is the second beast in Daniel 7. The third kingdom is represented as brass. This was the Grecian Empire, and it is the third beast in Daniel 7. The fourth kingdom is represented as iron. This was the Roman Empire, and it is the fourth beast in Daniel 7 [the one with seven heads and ten horns]. There was a fifth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It is represented as iron mixed with clay. This kingdom has not yet come. It refers to a return of the Roman Empire in an evolved resurrected form, and it is also included in the fourth beast in Daniel 7.
Our concern for now is not the calendar of kingdoms that will rule the world before the Kingdom of God is established on earth. Rather, we came to find out what the beast with seven heads and ten horns represents, and we have seen that it refers to the fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire.
Now with this, we can return to the vision of the great whore in Revelation 17. We know that she represents a church that has backslidden from Christ by setting up another to take His place as husband of the church, and now we know that the beast she was riding on is the Roman Empire. So we can then ask: which church rode on the strength of the Roman Empire, and became very rich and glamorous in the process? The answer is none other than the Roman Catholic Church. So if you are part of the Roman Catholic Church, you now know that you are part of the great whore. And what does God say? “… Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” [Revelation 18:4, KJV].
But it’s not just the Roman Catholic Church that people should come out of. As we mentioned earlier, the great whore began as one church, but has multiplied herself into many churches and denominations, and will soon be re-united to become one church again. In Revelation 17:5 we are told that this great whore is also called Mother of harlots. Meaning, just as she is a harlot, out of her have come out other churches [or church denominations] that are equally harlots. And why are they harlots? It’s because they have copied her system of setting up another to take the place of Christ as the true Husband and Head of the Church-a system where man receives the glory and allegiance of the people, rather than Christ.
The problem is men have become idols [that the people worship] knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly-the system ensures this. And the result of this is similar to what God said to the Israelites in Jeremiah 3:3-“Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed”. For them, it was physical showers of rain that God withheld, but for the church, it is the rain of His presence and His revelatory word to move us into the next level of being His bride in glory. This rain is withheld from majority of the denominational church system, and it’s no wonder they have devised various programs and activities to fill in the gap. As God said in Jeremiah 3:3, they have a whore’s mindset-they refuse to be ashamed.
Unfortunately, the greater majority of her harlot daughters are now expressed as Pentecostal and Evangelical churches. And they are included when God says in Revelation 18:4 “… Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” [KJV]
- Why is it important to respond now?
God already gave the answer in Revelation 18:4. He said “… Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”. Meaning, we need to respond now so that we do not take part anymore in Babylon’s sins [both the ones she has been committing-adultery], and the one she is about to commit-outright rebellion and worship of satan]. It is important to come out now so that we do not have any part in this, and are not included when God is judging her.
From the way God spoke in Revelation 18:4, we will notice that even in Babylon, there is a distinction between those who are God’s people and those who are pretty much gentiles [unbelievers masking as Christians]. The outright rebellion that is coming will be welcomed by these gentiles, but God is calling those who are truly His to come out as soon as possible, before it is too late, or too costly.
We should therefore ask: What is coming? What is Babylon about to do? Or what is Babylon about to become, and how will it happen?
Simply put, Babylon is about to evolve into the image of the beast mentioned in Revelation 13:14. If we remember, the beast simply refers to a kingdom that will rule the world. And we mentioned that the fourth beast, the one with seven heads and ten horns, will resurrect again as a fifth kingdom. It is this resurrection as the fifth kingdom that is shown in Revelation 13, and verse 3 points it out clearly by saying the beast had a deadly wound which was healed. But the point is that the beast in Revelation 13 is a kingdom, or governing power, that will rule the world. Some of us may have heard of one world government. That is pretty much what this beast will be when it resurrects.
Now, the image of the beast simply means the replica of the beast. Image means replica. So since we know that the beast will be the one world government [in simple terms], then we can understand that the image of the beast is also a governing system that is similar to the one world government. If we read, Revelation 13 and Revelation 16:13, we will see that the creature that came out of the earth in Revelation 13:11-14 is also symbolically called “the false prophet”, meaning it is a religious entity. It simply refers to the system of backslidden and false religious leaders that will work together to establish the image of the beast. Since these are the people behind the image of the beast, then we know that the image of the beast is not just any replica of the beast, rather it is particularly a religious replica of the beast. In simple terms, as the beast is the one world government, so the image of the beast is the one world religious system-a system which is equally a resurrected version of the polytheistic religious system within the Roman Empire, where there were multiple gods, temples and traditions, and all were acceptable paths of worship.
Babylon [the backslidden church system] will evolve into this one world religious system by coming together with other religions, and elevating them as equally acceptable paths of worship or access to God. A move that is in clear rebellion against our Lord Jesus Christ who alone is the way, the truth and the life, besides whom no one can come to the Father [John 14:6]. But this transition from a backslidden church system to the one world religious system will not be smooth. It will be more like a take-over. Gentile forces will come at the church system to take it over and make it conform to the new order. Some of the gentile forces are currently operating as Christian religious leaders in Babylon. In God’s eyes they are clearly gentiles [unbelievers]. So, again, God says “… Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” [Revelation 18:4, KJV]
So how do we know these? How do we know that gentile forces will come at the church to take it over and make it conform to the one world religious system? It’s because our Lord Jesus prophesied it. We can find this prophesy in Luke 21:20-24. This prophecy has two levels of fulfillment: one to the physical Jerusalem and one to the spiritual Jerusalem. In case we didn’t know that there are two Jerusalems, Paul explains it in Galatians 4:22-27. The spiritual Jerusalem is the one shown symbolically as the holy city in Revelation 21:2-10. The spiritual Jerusalem is the New Jerusalem, the Jerusalem of the New Covenant, which is the Lamb’s wife-the Church. So when our Lord prophesied that Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies and will be trodden down by the gentiles, it was fulfilled for the physical Jerusalem and is about to be fulfilled for the Church. It is the fulfillment of this prophesy for the church that is re-echoed in Revelation 11:2 [which was written after the prophecy had already been fulfilled for the physical Jerusalem].
So what does the prophecy mean for the church? What does it mean that the church [New Jerusalem] will be surrounded by armies? What does it mean that the people of the church will fall by the edge of the sword? What does it mean that they will be led away captive into all nations? What does it mean that the church will be trodden down of the gentiles?
The church surrounded by armies simply means that she will be surrounded by ungodly forces whose aim is to corrupt her totally. These ungodly forces will be expressed physically as governmental powers. It will be similar to how the physical Jerusalem was surrounded by the Roman armies under General Titus. Their original agenda was to take over the temple and make it a place of worship for the many gods in the Roman Empire. But there was resistance so they burnt it down with fire. Likewise, the ungodly forces of governmental and political powers will come at the church to make it part of the one world religious system by force and manipulation. And we should keep in mind that the church they’ll come after are such that are registered as religious organizations with the government-all of which we have understood are Babylon.
When the Lord said that the people of Jerusalem will fall by the edge of the sword, for the church, it simply means that the faith and spiritual life of many will be slain by false doctrines. Psalm 64:3 tells us that the tongue is like a sword. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Thus, the words of the enemy are their swords [symbolically speaking]. It is with these deceitful words and doctrines that they will destroy the faith of many. And it is in Babylon that they will be [and are already] able to do so, through leaders who parade themselves as God-sent, but are actually gentiles in God’s view.
When the Lord said that the people of Jerusalem will be led away captive into all nations, for the church, it means that people will be led away into other beliefs. The other nations are symbolic of other religions, beliefs, traditions, etc. With their true faith slain, many people will be led away as spiritual prisoners in chains of false doctrines into other beliefs that are contrary to the truth of God. And when our Lord said that Jerusalem will be trodden down by the gentiles, for the church it means that the truth of what the church should stand for will be cast down and ridiculed. And the church will become something completely opposite of what it should be.
But be mindful that all these are true for Babylon. It is the visible church systems registered with the government that they will come after and do these things to. And in verse 21 of Luke 21 our Lord Jesus instructed that when we see these things beginning to be fulfilled then we should flee. Why? So that we are not caught up in it. Even Revelation 18:4 says: “… Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” [KJV].
- What is the vision after coming out?
The answer to this question will become obvious when we understand the prophetic parallel between coming out of Babylon and the people of Israel coming out of Egypt. Interestingly, Babylon [the great city in Revelation 17:18] is also spiritually called Sodom and Egypt in Revelation 11:8. As such, “coming out of Babylon” can be rephrased as “coming out of Egypt”. We should therefore not be surprised if we are faced with opposition from church leaders when we want to come out, because they are like pharaohs in Egypt [whether or not they know it].
The most potent kind of deception is when the deceiver doesn’t even know he/she is a deceiver. And unfortunately, such is the case for many church leaders who, unknown to most of them, they are actually pharaohs in Egypt, and they act oppressively whenever anyone wants to leave their congregation. But God has already ordained and prophesied victory for those who will chose to come out. With a Mighty Hand, He will bring His true people out. Amen. He is willing again to path every red sea so His people can pass safely away from the influence of “Egypt” and its “pharaohs”. Amen.
So what was the vision of the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt? It was to enter into the promised land. And to enter into this promised land, they journeyed through the wilderness, maturing from simple slaves to armies of faith that could conquer established kingdoms.
This is what our vision is-to obtain the promise God has ordained for His people-that we should be the fully unified bride and body of Christ in glory, honour and immortality. A body of people who operate in oneness under the Headship of Christ Jesus the Lord as helpers with Him to govern the Kingdom of God over all creation [in heaven and on earth, spiritual and physical] for all eternity.
Paul speaks of a point we need to get to [as a fellowship] if we want to obtain this promise of being the bride and body of Christ. He says: “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace… Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” [Ephesians 4:3&13].
This is the standard we should strive for with our fellow brethren [prayerfully and with godly effort in love] after coming out of Babylon [Egypt]. That is, we should endeavour to maintain unity and peace, we should encourage and carry everyone along so that we have the same faith and hope and same understanding of who the Son of God is, and we should press on to a level of fellowship where we operate as one body [one perfect man headed by Christ Jesus]-a body that expresses a level of life that measures up to the stature of the fullness we see in Christ. This is what we should strive for as a fellowship if we want to obtain this promise of being the bride and body of Christ.
We should also know, however, that at this time, God is in the process of gathering and empowering those He will empower [like He empowered Moses] to deliver all of His true people from the deceptive and spiritual hold of Egypt/Babylon. God is no respecter of persons. If you draw near to Him with a sincere heart, He will draw near to you and give you more of Himself. Meaning, you can be part of this people.
But just as Moses needed to come out of Egypt first before God trained Him in the wilderness for 40 years, likewise you will need to come out [if you haven’t already done so] and be a part of a sincere fellowship that is pressing on to the standard for the promised land-the standard mentioned earlier which is summarized in Ephesians 4:1-13. It is in such fellowships that He will train you to operate with your brethren as a well integrated body [a perfect collective man] that measures to the stature of the fullness of Christ, and not just as an individual. And it is in [and from] such fellowships He will empower His “Moses” people.
Revelation 12 shows the prophetic picture of how God will use His empowered people to bring out their brethren from Babylon [Egypt] and prepare them as a bride for Christ “in the wilderness” [simple sincere fellowships] till she becomes the promised picture in Revelation 21.
May the Lord cause our hearts to yield to His call to come out of Babylon and be part of the true Church He is building “in the wilderness”-the church that will obtain and express the promised land on earth and in heaven.
Isaiah 21:5-“Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.” [KJV]