By Mary Kroeger
To students of the scriptures, the name Babylon is well known. It is unique in its origin. Although this city no longer exists physically, it still exists symbolically in the hearts of humanity. So let’s look at its beginning.
In Genesis 11:1-9 we read: “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. 2. It came about as they journeyed east (some translations read ‘west’), that they came to a place called Shinar, and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone and tar for mortar. 4 They said, “Come let us build for ourselves a city, a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
What an interesting account of what happened after the flood! The people multiplied, spoke the same language and used the same words. This indicates unity. After this brief introduction, we find them traveling away from where they had been living, in search of a big land suitable for the purpose they had in mind.
When this large multitude of people cane to the land of Shinar, they found the land they were looking for. They needed a large land in order to build a city and a tower whose top would reach into the heavens! Why? They wanted a name and glory for themselves! They would build a big city plus their own way to heaven.
This was a huge undertaking and would most likely require more stones than were available. This problem could be solved by producing their own materials. Instead of stone and mortar, they would make their own bricks and use tar instead of mortar.
So we see that Babylon had its beginning in a people’s dream. They wanted to make a name for themselves. This could be accomplished by building a big city, plus a road to heaven! They would be in charge of everything – the design, the building code, and the materials used. All would be produced by their own self-effort. They would build in a way that pleased them, look beautiful, and bring glory to their selfhood!
They wanted heaven to be within their reach! This amazing tower would be a monument to their intelligence and ability! Even the building materials were of their own making! They wanted heaven; they were not interested in God. They wanted a beautiful place where they could enjoy themselves! Instead of wanting a relationship with God, they wanted heaven! They wanted a place – not a relationship!
As their building progressed, God came down to inspect it. He was not pleased! To stop the building, He confused their language so they could no longer understand one another. What a shock that must have produced in them! However, it had the desired effect. Their unity was destroyed! Without unity the building could not continue. They could not even live together in peace and harmony. So the people were scattered over the face of the earth – the very thing they wanted to avoid. Each one took his language and religion with him!
Religion always operates outside of God. Each religion has its own rules and dogmas that have to be kept and obeyed. Each religion tries to build its own unique way to heaven. Each becomes exclusive. The ego comes to the fore and claims to represent the only true way to heaven. To protect its uniqueness, rules have to be made and obeyed, and woe betide those who do not adhere to them. Separation takes place and often another religion is formed. It is said that there are more than a thousand religions and denominations in the world today!
The confusion and scattering did not change the hearts of the people! They still wanted a great city, and in the passage of time, Babylon became a great city! It was situated about 85 kilometers south of present Baghdad. It was one of the great capitals of the ancient world. It was considered impenetrable. Herodotus said that the circumference of this city was 480 furlongs, or a circuit of 56 miles. Two walls surrounded this city. The outer wall was 11 feet wide and the inner wall was twenty-one feet thick, and reinforced with towers at 60-foot intervals. It was well-guarded! Since it was built on the Euphrates River, they also had a good irrigation system to water the gardens and fields within the city. Therefore it looked as though this city was impenetrable and impregnable. Yet the city was captured and destroyed in 539 B.C. by Cyrus, a Persian king.
Its demise had been predicted by the prophets in Israel. Isaiah said, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground." (Isaiah 21:9) It’s so interesting that hundreds of years after its fall and total destruction, it appears again in John’s visions – not as a physical city, but as a great city that typifies religion.
John was very aware of the strength and power of religion! He had seen how it operated. He had seen that it was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of Christians! He himself had suffered greatly under its rule! Then, toward the end of his life, in a vision he gets an important message from God concerning its present and it future.
In Revelation 18 we read that an angel having great authority, cried out in a mighty voice, saying: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a lair for demons and a haunt for every unclean spirit, every unclean bird, and every detestable beast.’”(v.2) Babylon the great is fallen! This cannot be the same Babylon that was destroyed in 539 B.C., yet it is identified as Babylon the great! How interesting! Although Babylon’s ruins declare its demise, yet it reappears, falls, and continues to live in disrepute! Since this cannot refer to physical Babylon, we know that his must be understood spiritually. Even as physical Babylon represented religion, so spiritual Babylon must represent the spirit of religion.
Babylon the great is fallen! What a rejoicing must have taken place in the spiritual realm when its fall was announced! When did this take place? It was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that announced its fall! The living Christ is the proof of its fall! Christ is the truth, and truth reveals the lies, the substitutes and the counterfeits! But its fall only takes place in the hearts of believers in Christ! Babylon the great has fallen in them!
To unbelievers she “has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, and a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.” (Rev. 18:2) Unclean thoughts and imaginations are against God, and they form the very essence of religion. They form spiritual Babylon!
Today religion appears as indestructible as Babylon did in the height of its glory. It is found everywhere. Its substitutions and counterfeits are found in every religion. Although they may look like the reality, they are lies! Religion highlights the glory of self-will and self-effort. It also claims to have their power to produce righteousness in us! Religion has even entered Christianity!
Religion thrives on substitutions that spring from the soul realm that is ruled by the flesh. Since the reality looks difficult, easy attractive looking substitutions look more attainable to the flesh. So they can easily sneak into Christian beliefs. They focus on the visible realm and on feelings. It’s easier to visualize a beautiful city called heaven, than to see that it as the throne of God. (Matt. 5:34, and Is. 66:1 – “heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool”) So heaven becomes our goal instead of our rule of government. Works for righteousness look more attainable than the works that flow out of the obedience of faith. Outwardly these works may look the same, but the substitutes bring glory to self instead of glory to God.
Let’s just review some of the lies that religion has taught us. Instead of a relationship with God, a relationship with the self-life is instituted. Instead of being rooted in Christ, it is rooted in the attractiveness of self-effort. Our own way is substituted for God’s way. Works for righteousness instead of works of righteousness. Believing religion’s promises, instead of God’s promises. Religion is like a magnet that draws the ego into its orbit of glory and honor for self!
Furthermore, religion emphasizes the necessity of making right choices (self-ability) instead of listening to God and obeying Him. It loudly trumpets a free will, for without it, we are told that we are robots. What a lie! We do have a will, but it is not free, for it can be influenced. Neither is the claim of a free will supported by scripture! We believe the lie because it feels right. It puts us in control of our future, and the right to judge others who are not as smart. We are ignorant of the fact that a FREE will CANNOT be influenced! But we know that it is influenced by advertising, anger, love, fear, hunger, greed, etc. Adam and Eve were certainly influenced as they dialoged with the serpent. God wants obedience. Our own will has its source in human knowledge, logic, feelings and desires, while obedience has its source in faith –faith in God’s perfect knowledge and trustworthiness!
Religion serves the kingdom of self instead of the invisible kingdom of God. It wants earthly prosperity is instead of spiritual prosperity. It functions in the legalism of the law instead of in the grace and truth that Christ is! Religion wants heaven after death, instead of everlasting life. Religion substitutes hell as the punishment for disobedience, instead of death. God told Adam that if he disobeyed he would die. He did not say that he would go to hell and endure its torture forever. Do you see how easy it is to accept these substitutions? They look like truth, but they are counterfeits. There is no end to the long list of substitutions religion can conjure up!
All vain imaginations, all the beastly thoughts against others, all substitutions, and everything that is against the true knowledge of God, dwells in the prison house of religion. Its legalisms produce strife, bitterness, pride, anger, unforgiveness and retaliation. Religion’s home is a prison house of bondage.
Truth cannot receive a lie, for then it is no longer truth. Truth brings a division; it is a sword that cuts away all that is not of God. This is the division Jesus Christ said that He came to bring. In Him all the lustful strivings of religion are cut off. In Him the unity that faith in the lie had produced, is gone. In Him all the lies and substitutions that masquerade as truth are revealed and cut off. Babylon cannot exist in Christ!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ proved His triumph over death! It proved the inadequacy of religion in whatever form it appeared and will appear! All that is eternal has to have its source in life and remain in life. Everything that has its source in humanity and its many ways to heaven, ends in death.
Only by faith in Jesus Christ can we come out of Babylon! Only the Holy Spirit can lead us into all truth! Since Jesus Christ is the truth, the Holy Spirit leads us deeper into Christ! He brings us revelation knowledge of Jesus Christ! He illumines us and we see that His life in us brings us into unity with Him and with our brothers and sisters. He truly is the only way to God and to be changed into the image of Jesus Christ!
Will the fall of religious Babylon ever be as complete as the fall of physical Babylon? Since the physical symbolizes the spiritual, we can look forward to a glorious future! In Mark 3: 25 Jesus said, “A house divided cannot stand.” Religion is a house that is divided into ever so many types of religion. It looks strong to us, but it is divided. Yet within the divisions, there is a uniting force. Each religion is against God and His Christ! This union has to be destroyed before the fall of religious Babylon is complete!
God only has one kingdom! It is not a divided house! Of the growth of His kingdom there shall be no end! The growth of God’s kingdom will do away with religion. Religion vanishes in the light of truth! “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28 NKJ)
Our sovereign God has the power, authority and ability to do His will! His desire is for all to be saved! He wants all to come into the knowledge of truth! He is love, and He draws people by His love. Love is patient. In 1 Cor. 13 it says that love never fails! God always keeps His promises! Therefore we know that the time will come when the fall of Babylon will be complete in everyone, and Christ’s reign of truth and love will be manifested in everyone! God will be all in all! Praise His wonderful name!