Monday, June 8, 2015

End Times Babylon

As we get closer to the return of Christ, people wonder why we don't find references to the United States in Bible prophecy. Since the U.S. is a superpower, you'd think there would be some references to it in Scripture if we are truly on the cusp of the Tribulation. Some have surmised that a great disaster must happen to the U.S. to explain why this country does not appear to be mentioned. Certainly a disaster will happen to the world during the Tribulation and the U.S. would be part of that but the Bible's silence about any country like the U.S. could give people reason to think the Tribulation must be further away than everything would otherwise indicate.

It has also been postulated that the Rapture of the Church could explain why there doesn't appear to be any country like the U.S. mentioned in the prophetic Scriptures. While there is probably a higher concentration of Christians in the U.S. than in any other country and there will be great disruption when the Lord comes for us, the impact will probably not be as great as we'd like to believe. How many true Bible-believing born-again Christians are there in this country? Surveys have indicated that about 33% of Americans claim to be born-again. But other surveys have also shown that only 1-in-3 young born again evangelicals believe Jesus is the only way to heaven which means they don't really have a biblical understanding of Christ. This means that the number of adults taken in the Rapture could be as low as 11% of the population. Such a loss would hurt any country but would hardly be something it couldn't recover from.  

In light of this, it is worth taking another look at Scripture's many references to End Times Babylon. The best fit for this last days national entity is the United States. Some people like to take the Bible's references to Babylon in the last days literally thinking it is talking about the original city site in modern day Iraq. But this just doesn’t fit very well because the there is no place in Iraq that is likely to be the center of worldwide commerce anytime soon, if ever. We should certainly take Scripture literally where the plain sense makes sense but when it doesn’t we should look for a symbolic meaning.

The characteristics of Babylon in the end times are mostly given in Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51 along with Revelation chapters 17 and 18. Jeremiah 50:42 uses the term “Daughter of Babylon” which is a clue that it must not be referring to the original Babylon, but some other country. The book of Revelation calls End Times Babylon “Mystery Babylon” indicating symbolism applies here and it is only spiritually related to the original Babylon.

Both Jeremiah and Revelation represent End Times Babylon as having much wisdom, wealth and knowledge while thinking it is secure and invincible. In the book of Revelation, Mystery Babylon is presented as the final world government of man that rules over Jerusalem. It is at the same time a political, economic and religious system which becomes the Tribulation government of Antichrist.

Jeremiah 50:12 says this about End Times Babylon: "Your mother will be greatly ashamed, she who gave you birth will be humiliated. Behold, she will be the least (youngest) of the nations" (NIV). The U.S. best fits this description having had Great Britain as a mother nation, and is the youngest of the world's superpowers. Likewise, Jeremiah 51:13 describes End Times Babylon as, "you who dwell by many waters."  This description certainly fits the U.S. which has 15 major ports on 3 oceans and 5 Great Lakes. In comparison, modern day Iraq has only two small ports on one ocean.

We also see that End Times Babylon has to be a significant military power: "How the hammer of the whole earth... has been cut off and broken!" (Jeremiah 50:23). The U.S. is certainly still the dominant superpower in the world and is the primary military hammer of both NATO and the United Nations.

End Times Babylon is described as being engaged in worldwide commerce where Jeremiah 50:26 says, "Come to her from the farthest border; open up her barns." Revelation 18:11 indicates that this Babylon will be an economic powerhouse where, "the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more." Thus End Times Babylon must be a large consumer nation importing products from far away just as China supplies a huge portion of what is purchased in the United States. This is further reinforced by Revelation 18:19 which says, "all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth." Thus End Times Babylon is a nation with great resources, is wealthy, has world-wide influence and conducts trade via the sea. These are all characteristics of the United States.

End Times Babylon has great wealth and resources. Jeremiah 50:37 declares "a sword against her treasures" and Jeremiah 51:13 refers to her as being "abundant in treasures."  This nation had been blessed by God with natural resources and has leveraged it to amass great wealth that has driven the world economy: "your merchants were the great men of the earth" (Revelation 18:23). This nation has been emulated worldwide having many great merchants that reach the far corners of the earth. Our English language has become the default language of commerce, the petro-dollar is the reserve currency of the world.

End Times Babylon is has a powerful media. Jeremiah 50:2 says. "her images have been put to shame, her idols have been shattered"; and Jeremiah 50:38 says, "it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols." How would the prophet Isaiah describe TV, movies, or the Internet 3,000 years ago?

End Times Babylon travels in space: "though Babylon should ascend to the heavens" (Jeremiah 51:53). If this is a reference to space exploration in the celestial heavens, it certainly narrows the field of prospective countries!

End Times Babylon rejects God: "for she has become arrogant against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel" (Jeremiah 50:29). Since this nation "has become arrogant," it must have once been humble toward the Lord as could be said of the United States. This nation does not just become arrogant against God, but against Jesus Christ, "the Holy One of Israel." Every day there is more evidence that the U.S. is becoming a post-Christian nation. The Marine getting court marshaled for displaying a passage of Scripture at her work station comes to mind as a recent example. We have also flaunted our Christ-given liberties exporting pornography and our godless corrupt culture worldwide. We have taken God out of the classroom and the public square under the auspices of not wanting to offend anyone. And we have embraced multiculturalism advocating the equal validity of all religions with many paths to heaven.

End Times Babylon is a manufacturing powerhouse that has driven the culture of the world, "the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer" (Revelation 18:22). God enabled this nation to develop luxury, culture and industry allowing them to export their blessings throughout the world. But as our culture became more corrupt, this only served to facilitate the world moving further from God.

End Times Babylon is described as a harlot: "I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters" (Revelation 17:1). The United States has certainly prostituted ourselves to the world seeking to be wealthy beyond our blessings from God. As we prostituted ourselves, we have corrupted the world: "the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication" (Revelation 17:2). We have caused the world to buy into our culture of democratic capitalism apart from God as the critical enabler of the American Dream.

End Times Babylon will persecute the saints: "I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Revelation 17:6). During the Tribulation, it is likely that the U.S. will lead the world in embracing the Antichrist’s campaign to eliminate those perceived to be holding society back.

Some have suggested that the Mystery Babylon of Revelation refers to Rome. This comes from Revelation 17:9-10 which says, "the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come." While Rome is known as a city on seven hills; in context, the reverence to mountains in this passage is talking about historical kingdoms. The five kingdoms that had fallen at the time Revelation was written were the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks. Rome was the kingdom that “is” and the Turkish Ottoman Empire would be the seventh kingdom. The future kingdom of the Antichrist would be the eighth.

Others have proposed that the Mystery Babylon of Revelation could just be another reference to the world. But Revelation 18:17-18 says, "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, saying, `What is like this great city?'" Thus End Times Babylon must be at least represented by a real place. Certainly the U.S. has led the world system but no place better represents the world system than New York City, a huge hub of world commerce and home of the United Nations.

The arrogance of End Times Babylon will have consequences. Jeremiah 50:35 prophecies, "a sword against... her wise men!" This nation is very educated and has much knowledge but this intelligence does not keep them from being attacked.

The fate of End Times Babylon is to be cut down and lost in the wind: "The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor when it is time to thresh her; yet a little while and the time of her harvest will come" (Jeremiah 51:33). This nation is made up of good grain and bad chaff. God comes for the good grain at the Rapture and the bad chaff is blown away during the Tribulation. Jeremiah 50:3 says End Times Babylon will be attacked, "a nation has come up against her out of the north," and this is re-emphasized in Jeremiah 51:48 where is says, "the destroyers will come to her from the north." An attack on the U.S. from Russia would be from over the North pole. Russia (Magog) is aligned with Iran (Persia) in the Ezekiel 38/39 invasion of Israel (probably post-Rapture but not necessarily). The U.S. could be the "coastlands" (Ezekiel 39:6) that gets attacked in the Gog invasion.

Revelation 18:17 comments on the demise of End Times Babylon by saying, "in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste." This is reinforced in Jeremiah 51:8 which says, "suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken." Isaiah 47:11 also comments on the fate of End Times Babylon saying, "destruction about which you do not know will come on you suddenly."  Such sudden destruction could refer to a nuclear attack which is also supported by Jeremiah 51:62: "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."  Nuclear weapons would so pollute the land that no one would ever live there again. It is interesting to note that Russian doctrine for nuclear weapons is to employ ground bursts which maximizes their destructive effects by producing massive amounts of fallout.

The Tribulation will be characterized by mass death: "Power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth" (Revelation 6:8). And Revelation 9:18 says, "by these three plagues a third of mankind was killed-- by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths." Now this could be supernatural but it is more likely that this devastation will be by natural means which reinforces the idea that nuclear weapons will be used.

We are so used to being blessed by God in the United States that it hardly occurs to anyone that we could build up so much of God's wrath that He'd allow us to be utterly destroyed. But, "for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required" (Luke 12:48). We have stopped using our blessings to advance the cause of Christ in the world; we promote secular humanism as the savior of mankind exporting our corrupt culture worldwide. The U. S. has become an idol for human achievement apart from God that must be broken during the Tribulation.

The likely fate of the U.S. should drive us to Christ. As we may be in the world but not of it per John 17:11 and 16, we may be in Mystery Babylon but not of it. "And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues'" (Revelation 18:4). We should not allow ourselves to get caught up in the destructive ideology of the world. "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20). We should also do what we can to help others see that they should put their hope in Christ as all citizens of heaven do and not in any worldly kingdom.

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