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    Bible Study - Thread: Babylon in Revelations 18

    1. #1
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      Babylon in Revelations 18

      I visited a new church this morning and the pastor preached on this passage in Revelations 18:1-18. I thought it was an odd passage to talk about on Palm Sunday.

      Babylon Is Fallen
      18 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. 2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “[a]Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a [b]prison of every unclean spirit, and a [c]prison of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all the nations [d]have drunk of the wine of the [e]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 [f]wealth of her [g]sensuality.”

      4 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; 5 for her sins have [h]piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Pay her back even as she has paid, and [i]give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. 7 To the degree that she glorified herself and lived [j]sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’ 8 For this reason in one day her plagues will come, [k]pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.

      Lament for Babylon
      9 “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived [l]sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’

      11 “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more— 12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious [m]stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and [n]bronze and iron and marble, 13 and cinnamon and [o]spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and [p]slaves and [q]human lives. 14 The fruit [r]you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them. 15 The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 16 saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and [s]adorned with gold and precious [t]stones and pearls; 17 for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every [u]passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, 18 and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?

      I realize there was a Babylon in what is modern day Iraq now. But, who do you think was meant by Babylon in this passage? Rome? Something else? A literal place? I'll tell you what the pastor said after i get a few responses. I'm not sure that I agree with him. I will have to do some studying myself first.

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      There is also a passage in Ezekiel that also deals with this and my interpretation of this is New York the modern center of most industry and finance.
      Isaiah 40:31

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      Quote Originally Posted by psalms 91 View Post
      There is also a passage in Ezekiel that also deals with this and my interpretation of this is New York the modern center of most industry and finance.
      The pastor I heard said that Babylon wasn't America, but i think it is logical that it could be.

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      Quote Originally Posted by jsimms435 View Post
      The pastor I heard said that Babylon wasn't America, but i think it is logical that it could be.
      I must admit I wonder whether Babylon particularly needs to be America. It often seems to me like Christians in the US are looking for America to feature in the Revelation.

      Based on the world right now it's conceivable that Babylon is a symbol for New York but it could potentially be one of a number of other cities. Is there anything specific about the reasoning behind New York that wouldn't also apply to a city like London, Tokyo or Beijing? We might look at the business going through New York but a lot of business goes through other world cities too.

      It makes sense to me that Babylon refers to a location that could be considered as some form of urban area. In theory I don't see why it should exclude a city-state such as Singapore or conceivably Vatican City (and to be clear, I refer to these locations based on the fact they are technically states although sized more like cities). Whether it refers to a city we would currently recognise as such, a city that will arise in the future, or a city currently not known for anything in particular that arises as a major center of commerce in the future.

      Beyond that I think it's largely pointless to speculate in detail just what Babylon might represent because we don't know how far in the future we're supposed to be looking. If we start from the assumption that mystery Babylon will be revealed in the next couple of months then we need to be looking to major cities in the world as we know it. If mystery Babylon isn't to be revealed for another 1000 years then for all we know New York could have turned to ashes in that time. For all we know in 1000 years time Finland might be the world superpower and Babylon might refer to the town we currently call Turku.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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      Quote Originally Posted by tango View Post
      I must admit I wonder whether Babylon particularly needs to be America. It often seems to me like Christians in the US are looking for America to feature in the Revelation.

      Based on the world right now it's conceivable that Babylon is a symbol for New York but it could potentially be one of a number of other cities. Is there anything specific about the reasoning behind New York that wouldn't also apply to a city like London, Tokyo or Beijing? We might look at the business going through New York but a lot of business goes through other world cities too.

      It makes sense to me that Babylon refers to a location that could be considered as some form of urban area. In theory I don't see why it should exclude a city-state such as Singapore or conceivably Vatican City (and to be clear, I refer to these locations based on the fact they are technically states although sized more like cities). Whether it refers to a city we would currently recognise as such, a city that will arise in the future, or a city currently not known for anything in particular that arises as a major center of commerce in the future.

      Beyond that I think it's largely pointless to speculate in detail just what Babylon might represent because we don't know how far in the future we're supposed to be looking. If we start from the assumption that mystery Babylon will be revealed in the next couple of months then we need to be looking to major cities in the world as we know it. If mystery Babylon isn't to be revealed for another 1000 years then for all we know New York could have turned to ashes in that time. For all we know in 1000 years time Finland might be the world superpower and Babylon might refer to the town we currently call Turku.
      Below is a quote from the pastor I heard on Sunday. He emailed me to clarify his viewed when I asked him a question. He said

      "So at the end of my view, Babylon is to be interpreted more as a one world movement of religion, economy, and politics. Could this one world system be a combination of the roman catholic church, the muslim believers in muhammed, and all ecumenical churches that do not teach a gospel of repentance and faith in Jesus christ? yes quite plausible and even possible, but to say it is just Rome or to imply it is just the roman catholics is to force the text as opposed to letting the text interpret itself."

      I don't know if the pastor will join us for the discussion or not. I have told him we are discussing it on the forum. My own view is that John the apostle most likely understood this reference to Babylon as being Rome. That could possibly mean not just the city of Rome, but the government that had its capital in Rome at the time. If you interpret it that way then most of this is past tense and not future tense at all. Of course, it could have a wider meaning that John was unaware of. That is more than possible. Others have interpreted it as the Catholic church, which is something I don't agree with.
      Last edited by jsimms435; 03-26-2018 at 12:19 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by jsimms435 View Post
      Below is a quote from the pastor I heard on Sunday. He emailed me to clarify his viewed when I asked him a question. He said

      "So at the end of my view, Babylon is to be interpreted more as a one world movement of religion, economy, and politics. Could this one world system be a combination of the roman catholic church, the muslim believers in muhammed, and all ecumenical churches that do not teach a gospel of repentance and faith in Jesus christ? yes quite plausible and even possible, but to say it is just Rome or to imply it is just the roman catholics is to force the text as opposed to letting the text interpret itself."

      I don't know if the pastor will join us for the discussion or not. I have told him we are discussing it on the forum. My own view is that John the apostle most likely understood this reference to Babylon as being Rome. That could possibly mean not just the city of Rome, but the government that had its capital in Rome at the time. If you interpret it that way then most of this is past tense and not future tense at all. Of course, it could have a wider meaning that John was unaware of. That is more than possible. Others have interpreted it as the Catholic church, which is something I don't agree with.
      I'm not sure that regarding Babylon as a movement particularly works, simply because it leaves everything so vague. Whether "Babylon" literally means the historic city of Babylon, references a revived city of Babylon some time in the future, or metaphorically references some other city certainly isn't clear but the idea it refers to a one-world movement seems, to me at least, to try and force something into the text. In that regard it doesn't seem entirely unlike the theory that the two witness of Revelation 11 refer to the Jews and the Gentiles - it might seem like a convenient way to avoid identifying them but doesn't sit well with the vision of their bodies left in the street while the world rejoices at their demise.

      Given the global dependence on oil and the odd speculation that Israel might have as yet undiscovered oil reserves, I wouldn't 100% rule out the idea that Babylon could conceivably refer to the literal city of Babylon, revived based on as yet unknown future events.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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