In previous messages we have looked at the progression of the children of Israel through the wilderness. The wilderness is a place of testing and proving. Two groups are produced: those who overcome to enter and possess the fullness of the Promised Land (Christ) and those who surrender to the various bondage of carnality and self. In the latter group, carnality manifests in a desire for Egypt’s nourishment (fleshly gratifications) and in worship and devotion of the golden calf (false teachings and images). Thus we saw that even in our day, religion finds expression in the wilderness experience of many saints who pay homage to a denomination or a minster or a program or false doctrines or some other idol. John saw this present condition of this hour in his vision as he was carried by the Spirit into the wilderness to see a woman with the title ‘mystery Babylon’. (Rev. 15:3, 5).
Babylon – Confusion by Mixture
The book of Revelation is a book of contrasts. There are two cities mentioned: the New Jerusalem and Babylon. With each city is associated contrasting women: the bride of Christ and the harlot riding on a scarlet beast. The bride of Christ is the Lamb’s wife; the true church, for in Revelation 21:9-10 we read: “come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” The bride is called a great city – the heavenly Jerusalem. This holy city is the government of God; a corporate body possessing the glory of God.
In contrast, the harlot woman is also referred to as a great city which reigns over the kings of the earth (Rev. 17:18). John sees this woman who has the name ‘Mystery Babylon’ and who mothers many harlots: “come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication…. and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev. 17:1-5).
We should first establish that the book of Revelation is a book of symbols and images. Thus the woman on the beast is not a literal woman nor is the beast a literal beast. The symbolisms of the book are evident as we read that the dragon which John saw in Revelation 12 is not a literal dragon but the devil (Rev. 12:9) or that the waters where the harlot sits is not literal waters but peoples and nations (Rev. 17:15) or that the seven candlestick are not literal candlesticks but represent the seven churches (Rev. 1:20). Thus in Reading this book, we are counseled of the Lord to have ears to hear what the Spirit says that we may rightly divide and understand the heart of the imagery in this book. So who is this woman Mystery Babylon and of what relevance is she to us?
Babylon at its essence is a spirit and condition within the human heart. It is a state of duality and double mindedness. This condition finds its chief expression in the external world in the babylonish system of religion. The following words by J. Preston Eby give fresh insights to the meaning of mystery Babylon: “the mystical Babylon can be nothing else but a CHURCH which is also a religious GOVERNMENT backed by power and influence. But this “church” is a “harlot” church; corrupt, fallen, with a head other than Christ, taking to herself many “lovers” other than her rightful husband; an apostate church, which is also a great ecclesiastical kingdom, exalted to power and dominion, and backed, to a considerable degree, by the kings of the earth, the civil powers, which are all more or less intoxicated with her spirit and doctrine… Her unfaithfulness to the Spirit of the Lord, whose name she claims, and to her high privilege to be the “chaste virgin” espoused to Christ, is the occasion of the title “harlot”, while her influence as an ecclesiastical empire, full of inconsistency, confusion, idolatry, and spiritual drunkenness, is symbolically represented under the name “Babylon”, which when we compare her with the types of the ancient Babylonian empire, we instantly recognize her and her daughter cohorts to be the recognized and institutionalized Christian churches and nations.”
Let’s consider the name ‘Babylon’. Both the Greek and Hebrew words for ‘Babylon’ mean ‘confusion’. But the Hebrew word distinguishes the cause of this confusion – as confusion by mixture. Mixture is synonymous with pollution, contamination and impurity. Such mixture refers to the mingling of the pure things of God with the things of man. We see the manifestation of this in the church in Laodicea where Jesus Christ instructs those who are lukewarm, an effect of mixture of hot and cold: “I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16). Religion’s infiltration of the church is evident by the mixture of that which is soulish and spiritual. What happens when you have a mixture of the spiritual and carnal, truth and error, spirit and flesh? You end up with confusion – Babel (Babylon).
No wonder then that John saw this woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy. This is the same beast that rises up out of the sea in Revelation 13 which has seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. The fact that she is sitting upon the beast indicates the woman’s agreement and union with the beast out of the sea (carnal system of the world). The woman’s position; being seated on the beast, shows not only her union but her elevation and status. Thus she has the name ‘mystery Babylon the great’. She has become great on the earth having made the inhabitants of the earth (religious minded) intoxicated with her wine and the merchants (false teachers & minsters) to become rich by her devices.
Babylon exercises great power over the people who live in the earth realm. Those who dwell on the earth comprise of carnal Christians, soulish men – moral, intellectual and religious people who mind earthly things. We witness that the warning of Jesus about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees has come to reality here. The infiltration of the religious mindset and its doctrines has grown with such momentum that it influences those who have given allegiance to the Lord and have even experienced the baptism of the Spirit.
Yet the harlot assumes dominion not only over the inhabitants of the earth but we read that she sits on many waters. These waters represent peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (Rev. 17:5). Without exception, the Babylonish spirit has consumed the world. “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication (Rev. 18:3).
To those who would listen with spiritual ears to the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him, there is a call to “come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins” (Rev. 18:4). Abba, continue to endue us with the life and power of Christ that we may heed your counsel. Sanctify us by the Truth. Draw us by your Spirit to rise above every fornication of religion.
To be continued…