“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great…” (Revelation 18:2).
- Tomorrow will be a day of revelation of all who falsely claim to be saved.
- The great hypocritical establishment which has oppressed and repressed the true church will finally be exposed and laid waste.
Prophecy from God invites us to travel into the future, and to discover what God is going to do. It sometimes disturbs us to know about our future, because we have expectations and false assumptions that are challenged by such knowledge. But knowing the future is also encouraging when we face troubles and enemies that we cannot control or defeat, because it reminds us that there is one who can overcome for us.
I invite you to join me inside the blue box for a while. We are going to go back and forward through time, and try to see what people saw who are now long dead, and eventually see what we will see in our own future.
what Isaiah saw
“Now at last– look! Here comes a man in a chariot with a pair of horses!” Then the watchman said, “Babylon is fallen, fallen! All the idols of Babylon lie broken on the ground!””1
What a thing for this prophet to see, and what a time for him to see it. Isaiah’s ministry began in 740 B.C. He saw this vision over a hundred years before the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. Assyria was the power that would very soon swoop down and devour the northern kingdom of Israel, in 722 B.C. So, why does this prophet see a vision of the downfall of a future superpower?
Obviously, some look at this text and see it as proof that this prophecy came much later, and that Isaiah never saw this, and never said this. But, what if he did? What if God really wanted his people to know that a major threat to their existence – in their future – will be taken care of by him?
The watchmen said that not only is this great city fallen, but its idols are crushed and scattered on the ground. We know from the book of Daniel that Babylon used its religion as a means of controlling its people and its captives. So, if Isaiah really saw this vision, he would be warning the people of this great wave of apostasy that is coming upon them. But, at the same time, he would be assuring God’s people that the LORD will overcome it.
what Jeremiah saw
“But suddenly Babylon, too, has fallen. Weep for her. Give her medicine. Perhaps she can yet be healed.”2
“And I will punish Bel, the god of Babylon, and make him vomit up all he has eaten. The nations will no longer come and worship him. The wall of Babylon has fallen!”3
“Babylon must fall because of the Israelites she has killed, just as the earth’s mortally wounded fell because of Babylon.”4
Jeremiah began his ministry in 627 B.C. In just a few years, Babylon would emerge as the world superpower, conquering Assyria in 605 B.C., and Judah in 586 B.C. Jeremiah would live to see that devastation. He spent most of his ministry trying to convince his countrymen not to form an alliance with Egypt against Babylon. For that reason, most of his own people despised Jeremiah for not being patriotic. Everyone knew what a threat Babylon was to the Israelites, but at times it seemed to Jeremiah that only he understood that alliance with another foreign country was not the answer.
Jeremiah also saw the fall of Babylon. His picture included some of the ideas expressed by Isaiah. It would be a sudden fall, and the religious hold that Babylon had on the nations it held in its power would end. Jeremiah depicts it as the Babylonian god Bel vomiting up all that he has eaten.
Jeremiah also sees Babylon as the strong soldier who is suddenly struck down, and in need of first aid. He sees Babylon as a fallen wall, no longer a source of safety and strength. These images speak to the reason the Babylonian empire was formed and strived. Babylon was the Mafia of the ancient Near East. It had an offer that the nations around it could not refuse: join us and we will do great things — or die a violent death.
Now Jeremiah sees justice coming to this great empire. Just as it had caused the fall (death) of many, now it will fall. The violence and death it caused to both Israel and all the earth would now be visited upon the great Babylon.
what John saw
“And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”5
“He called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul bird, a haunt of every foul and hateful beast.”6
Our time travel now takes us over six centuries into Jeremiah’s future, and we hear similar words coming out of the mouth of another Jewish prophet – John in exile on Patmos. But Babylon had fallen to the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C. So, it seems just as out of place for John to mention Babylon’s fall as it did for Isaiah to mention it. Unless – John pictured another Babylon.
Some today believe that a new Babylon is coming which will force the nations of the world into its power using apostate religion and violent coercion. The Protestant reformers believed that the church had already experienced that second Babylonian captivity, and that the reformation was an attempt to overthrow it by restoring the gospel of grace.
God’s message through John was – just as he had caused the fall of the first Babylon, he will cause the second Babylon to fall as well. There is no conspiracy and no power and no deception that can outlast the faithfulness of the LORD. He will prevail over all his enemies. While we may not see Babylon fall in our lifetime, we can believe it. The one who is timeless has assured us of this truth over and over again. No weapon – and no superpower – formed against him will prosper.
- Isaiah 21:9 NLT.
- Jeremiah 51:8 NLT.
- Jeremiah 51:44 NLT.
- Jeremiah 51:49 NET.
- Revelation 14:8 NASB.
- Revelation 18:2 NRSV.