Unveiling the Symbolism in Revelation

Chapter 18

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

"After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, `Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird." (vv.1-2)

In the midst of all these happenings John saw another messenger - one with great authority - coming down from heaven. Since this messenger had great authority, it follows that his message was of the utmost importance! The authority of this messenger was merged with the glory of his awesome message! This angel brought illumination to the darkness of the earth (the religious carnal mind). What a startling impact it has upon the human race! Who is this mighty angel or messenger who has such great authority, and whose glory can illuminate the earth? He is none other than the Christ, for only He can cause the downfall of Babylon!

"Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!" Natural Babylon was situated in the land of Shinar (Gen.10:10), present-day southern Iraq. The present site is marked by the ruin-mounds of Babili, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, and covers several square miles. The Euphrates River runs by its ruins. The Akkadian name, Babili or Babilani, means "gate of gods".

Babylon is fallen! A mighty angel has declared it! This declaration does not refer to the physical Babylon that once reigned in present-day Iraq - its ruins declare its demise. This declaration refers to Babylon - the counterfeit religion that masquerades in sheep's clothing to deceive the ignorant. In times past we also received her lies, and substituted them for the truth, but she received her deathblow when Christ (the truth) came, exposed those lies, and judged them to be false! The old Adam man, namely our sin nature, was crucified with Christ. But death could not hold Christ, and He rose triumphantly! His resurrection declared the fall of Babylon, and His life in us continues to declare it!

Although Babylon is fallen, only those who know and believe the truth, experience the result of her fall, and live in freedom from her lies. Only Christ can take us out of the bondage of religiosity and the resulting self-glorification or self-debasement. Christ brings us into His righteousness, wisdom and sanctification! He is the truth, and He frees us from all the lies of our former belief system!

Where do we still find Babylon in the world today? "She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird." A prison is a house of bondage, for it takes away our freedom. What are some of the things that take away our freedom to do God's will, and the resulting loss of inner peace? It is not difficult to pinpoint certain addictions such as alcohol and drugs, and uncontrolled appetites for food, pleasures, pornography and sex, that put people into prison. But we hate to admit that there are subtle inner feelings and attitudes, like anger, guilt, revenge, bitterness, unfairness, pride, greed, fear, unworthiness, jealousy and unforgiveness, that also bring people into the prison house. These unclean thoughts are produced by unclean spirits. Only the Spirit of Christ can free us from all the evils of the prison house, and make us free to do His will!

Birds symbolize our imaginations. How we need to guard against those vain imaginations! The natural mind imagines God to be completely different than He is. Since He alone knows who He really is, He has to reveal Himself to us if we are to know Him in truth. We can also easily imagine ourselves to be different than we really are. It is not difficult to entertain a false impression of our own importance or lack of importance. And how often haven't we imagined wrong motives for the actions of others! Maybe a friend fails to greet us, and immediately our imagination dreams up reasons why he doesn't love us any more. Then we become enslaved by those imaginations. Time passes, and finally we discover that the reason for his inattention was a particularly difficult problem that he had to deal with that day. Or we were upset because we didn't get a wedding invitation. Maybe it was sent, but it was lost in the mail. We need to cast down our vain imaginations, for they will enslave us!

"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5) A speculation is an imagination, and a lofty thought is an imagination. These things are produced in the mind, and need to be destroyed, for they are not in submission to Christ. It is of vital importance that we cast down our imaginations that are against the knowledge of God! Every thought that comes to mind that is against the nature of God needs to be cast down. Every thought that doubts the promises of God is evil and a vain imagination! So is every thought that accuses God of wrongdoing! Every thought has to come into obedience to Christ!

"For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the 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 wealth of her sensuality." (v.3) Rotherham's translation reads, "Because by reason of the wine of the wrath (passion) of her lewdness have all the nations fallen, and the kings of the earth with her did commit lewdness, and the merchants of the earth by reason of the power of her wantonness, waxed rich."

How the merchants of this earth become rich because of their association with religion is easily understood. However, this descriptive language paints a vivid picture in the natural realm to describe an internal condition  for this book is all about what is going on within us. These nations represent the thoughts of the natural mind that oppose the true knowledge of God, for they war against God, against His nature and against His commandments. This is immorality, and no one's mind is exempt. We have all participated in the lustful passion of her immorality.

Drinking of her wine (revelation) means we have received her understanding and the passion for her lewdness and unfaithfulness. This is shocking news, isn't it? When have we done that? The list could be long, but suffice it to say that whenever we promote substitutions such as: works for faith, choice for submission and obedience, heaven for life, hell for death, we have been drinking of her wine.

"And the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her." This has happened in the natural realm as well as in the spiritual realm. The kings in our earth are our strong fleshly lusts, for we love them and are ruled by them when we are not yielded to the Holy Spirit. They rule our natural desires and cause them to develop into lusts. They have had some form of spiritual intercourse with Babylon, the mystery religion.

"And the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality." The merchants have benefited from the religious system. How would they sustain their profits if there were no Christmas and Easter celebrations with all the accompanying traditions? In oriental countries they have their own religious customs and celebrations, and the wealth of their merchants is a direct result of keeping people bound to their customs and traditions.

How does this apply to us inwardly? Jesus began His ministry by stopping the merchandising that was occurring on the temple premises. This pictures the need for stopping the merchandizing that takes place within us. It consists of accumulating wealth by making our service for God available for money. Passion for wealth, honor, pride and power over people is its driving force. The wealth that accrues from its association with religious Babylon brings self-satisfaction in its self-effort and achievements. The natural mind enjoys honor and power over people. A thorough cleansing has to take place!

"I heard another voice from heaven, saying, `Come out of her, my people, so that you may not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.'" (vv.4-5)

A voice from the spirit realm tells us to come out of Babylon (religiosity). If we live in Babylon we will participate in her sins, and receive her calamities. What do her sins consist of? Don't they center on self-reliance, selfhood and self-righteous deeds to make us acceptable to God? Religiosity also encourages soulish pleasures. Coming out of Babylon has nothing to do with being raptured out of a bad situation. It's coming out of the rule of the self-oriented soul and receiving the rule of the Spirit. The Spirit's rule takes us into the heavenly places, and under His rule we will not suffer any spiritual calamities or breakdowns.

Babylon has taken the spiritual meaning out of the scriptures, and has put everything into the natural realm. Jesus said that His words are spirit and life. Spiritual words have to be understood spiritually! Lowering them into the natural realm puts them into the death realm. It keeps Christ wrapped in a veil of flesh, and the flesh prevents us from seeing Him spiritually. By doing this, the scriptures are corrupted.

"For her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities." Religiosity (also Babylon's sin) began with Adam and Eve when they took fig leaves (religiosity) to make aprons to cover their nakedness (self-effort). Her sins being piled up as high as heaven is symbolized by an interesting thing that happened at the time the Israelites were to pass over the Jordan (signifying death) into the Promised Land. To form a pathway across the riverbed, the priests, carrying the ark (the presence of God) had to step into the Jordan. This caused the water that was flowing down to stop flowing, thus forming a high wall of water all the way to the city called Adam. (Joshua 3:16) Symbolically this is telling us that all the sins that had piled up since Adam were washed away by the presence of the Lord, and the Israelites could walk on dry ground to the other side! The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ took care of all sin  including Adam's sin!

"Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously (or luxuriously), 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.'" (vv.6-7)

These verses tell us that this woman is in trouble. There is a backlash to all sensuous living. Her religiosity has to pass a test. The word torment should actually read touchstone, and we know that a touchstone tests metals to validate their worthiness; it checks the quality of the gold in the stone that is being tested. All things have to be tested or judged by truth, and this woman and her deeds do not pass the test. She has glorified herself, and has caused us to look to self instead of to Christ.

All our carnal ideas have to be taken out of us. Give her back double of all that she has done to those who have listened to her advice and have pursued the things of the flesh. Ask them and they will tell you that, even while they were listening to her, they hated the results. At first the goal that was presented to them appeared desirable and worthwhile, but when it was within their grasp, they were disappointed, for it left them with a feeling of emptiness, futility and heartaches! After they had attained riches, they recognized that riches did not bring joy and satisfaction, so they hated the riches even while they craved for more. Though a prostitute may hate her prostitution, and a thief may hate his thievery, yet they continue to indulge in them. Focusing on the natural never brings satisfaction; there is always a craving for more.

This woman does not have a husband, and denies ever having had one, for she is not a widow. She sits as a queen in her domain. The kingdom of God does not have a queen, so we know which kingdom she is in. She has a very positive confession, namely, that she will not see mourning. She believes that her positive confession will keep her from ever feeling badly about anything. She is in denial of her true condition. She thinks she is in control, and that she can speak her future into existence. Job's friends had the same idea when they said that "You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you." (Job 22:28) So God told Job to pray for them because they did not speak the truth.

Since this woman denies having a husband, she is doing whatever is pleasing in her own sight. She loves control and will therefore not commit herself to a marriage relationship. She wants to do whatever she likes without commitment and without submission to a husband. She thinks she is not accountable to anyone. Her reference to being a queen tells us that she is also exercising power over others.

By now we know that every natural thing has its counterpart in the spiritual realm. This woman symbolizes the soul (our sense of being that is influenced by our emotions, situations, etc.) that loves the desires of the flesh. It loves being in control; submission to authority is obnoxious to her. We see this desire to please self both in ourselves and in those around us. God's ways do not seem right to us because they conflict with our desire for selfhood and pleasure. We would rather do the things that feel right in our own eyes. However, when there is no husband, no love, no relationship, the deeds of the flesh will flourish. Fruit- bearing cannot take place, for there is no life. In Isaiah 5 God pronounces a woe on those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!

The relationship of the soul to the authority of the Holy Spirit (Christ) is of utmost importance! When the soul is obedient to the Spirit, a fruitful walk in the Spirit occurs. If our soul is not hearing the Spirit, we will only produce the deeds of the flesh. Life is in the spirit  not in the soul! Our new birth brings us into a relationship with Christ. This is a relationship of love, and it grows in intimacy and unity in thought and deed. Our ignorance of spiritual realities causes us to be completely dependent on Christ. If we do not recognize this fact, and disobey His leading, we will have many problems. Christ loves us, and in response to His love we learn that obedience and submission to Him will result in the joy of beautiful intimacy, relationship and fruit.

"For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong." (v.8) Day is light, and when light comes to us, we begin to see ourselves as we really are. Darkness keeps us from seeing our true state. Our calamities are attention-getters.

The word "pestilence" can be used in two ways. It is generally thought of as an epidemic of a fatal contagious disease, but it can also be used as meaning "a harmful doctrine." (Webster's Dictionary) These harmful doctrines can only be recognized when truth is present. It is very difficult for us to give up our pet theories and dogmas. For example, the church puts so much stock in the Christmas celebration even though it has its roots in paganism! Can you imagine the mourning that would take place if it would be uprooted, and Christ would be celebrated, not like He was when He was born, but as He is NOW? The soul wants the hype and the pageantry; it does not want truth.

Our soul needs to be cleansed of all Babylon's thinking! God brings calamities and misfortunes on us for a reason. We need to be stopped in our tracks when our thinking is in the death realm, and difficulties have a way of causing us to raise our eyes upward and call on God to help us. God wants to give us life and truth. He does not want us to be destroyed by the lies that have become our truth. He is a consuming fire that cleanses us by consuming all our dross. God is not out to destroy our soul; He only destroys the lies and the impurities.

No one relishes a famine. We have all seen pictures of children who are malnourished. Lack of proper food and nourishment brings debilitation and death. However, this famine is not a dearth of physical food but of spiritual food. Lack of spiritual food produces abnormalities in the soul realm. There is no lack of spiritual food for those who are seated with Christ in the heavenlies.

Those who are living in the earthly realm only receive spiritual realities in their natural, carnal mind. This leads to many erroneous ideas and dogmas, and these do not satisfy spiritual hunger. Yet the fear of leaving their comfort zone keeps many locked in the bondage of their traditions until the plagues appear. The lies that are proclaimed in the name of the gospel do not satisfy, so a hunger for truth is produced in the hearers. Only truth can satisfy the hungry soul and free it from plagues, pestilence, mourning and famine.

"For the Lord God who judges her is strong." Our God is able to do what He sets out to do! Truth judges all things. A judgment is a statement that declares what is right so we can discern what is wrong. It is not a proclamation of future punishment or a condition of torment. Only when the truth is known, can a righteous judgment take place. Our Lord God knows the truth about all of us, so we can safely trust Him to judge correctly. His judgment is always redemptive, for we need truth in order to eliminate the lies that have led us in the wrong direction. This is God's way of getting us to see that we need to be freed from our carnal thinking and come into agreement with His thinking!

"And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 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.'" (vv.9-10)

The judgment of God has fallen on humanity's religiosity, and the kings of the earth weep and lament over the fall of Babylon! This does not refer to the fall of the historic Babylon, for that Babylon was taken in B.C. 539 by Cyrus, as Jeremiah had prophesied. With this conquest, its decay commenced, and finally it became desolate  a place uninhabited. (Jer. 51) Symbolically, Babylon represents our religious nature. The kings of the earth are the strongholds that we cling to in our religious nature. They rule our actions. They commit acts of immorality because they do not submit themselves to Christ's rule. Their immorality consists of aligning themselves with the natural ideas that are against God, approving them, and then having an intimate relationship with them!

God dwells in our spirit, and He searches our soul and pronounces judgment against all unrighteousness. The soul realm is ruled by either the Spirit of God or by our own natural desires, and needs to be cleansed of all our thoughts and ideas that consist of religiosity. It is very difficult to leave our pet theories and philosophies, but everything needs to be tested. The flesh cannot rule in God's kingdom because it always lusts against the Spirit! The strongholds in our religious nature weep and lament when they cannot have their way.

"When they see the smoke of her burning." Smoke accompanies burning, and often alerts us to danger. Fire can be both destructive and beneficial. This fire is an internal spiritual burning that does away with the carnal nature. Trials and testings are needed to show us that faith in self cannot produce a righteousness that meets God's standard. It is difficult to accept this truth if our trust is in self. Our Father is not satisfied with a partial deliverance from selfhood. Selfhood expresses itself in religious rituals and traditions and works that are intended, or falsely expected, to produce righteousness! All has to be done away with! As the individual members of Christ's body are cleansed, the church is cleansed.

"Standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment." The Greek word for torment is touchstone. We know that a touchstone tests the value of certain metals. This symbolism tells us that there is a fear of being tested. A test reveals what a student knows; it also reveals the areas that still need to be brought up to standard. Students who are well prepared do not fear the test, but those who have frittered away their time, are fearful. It takes a great desire for truth to be willing to endure the testing that will reveal the lies that we thought were truth. It also takes a great love for truth to accept truth when it is revealed to us, for we know that religious Babylon will ignore, reject and persecute those who do not agree with her.

"Saying, `Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come." " The earth cries, "Woe!" but the heavens rejoice when religiosity is judged. One hour represents a short time. It is not a sixty-minute hour.

" And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more." (v.11) The relationship that the merchants had with this woman was to their material advantage. It enabled and expedited the sale of their cargoes. Merchants need to sell their wares if they want to become rich. These merchants are the leaders who proclaim their ideas of salvation etc., for a price. They become rich by selling their products. However, when people learn to know their living Savior, and who they are in Christ, they lose their religiosity, because truth reveals the lies that are imbedded in religiosity. When their religiosity is gone, they refuse to buy the wares (lies and deception) of the merchants. This robs the merchants of their profit, and causes them to weep and mourn.

"Cargoes of gold and silver and precious 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 bronze and iron and marble, and cinnamon and 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 slaves and human lives." (vv.12-13)

This is a very descriptive and itemized list of the cargoes they merchandize. It includes everything from gold and silver to slaves. . The merchants are suddenly out of business because the judgment of God has fallen on this harlot called Babylon. Those who have received truth won't buy her lies. They won't buy the counterfeit, the external copy of a genuine spiritual experience.

The merchants were dealing with heavenly, spiritual realities that had been lowered to an earthy, carnal level. They taught that these could be bought for money or obtained by good works. This was big business, but it was not pleasing to God!

To understand this spiritually we have to look at the symbolic meaning of these items. Gold represents the divinity of God; silver symbolizes our redemption; precious stones our riches and gifts in the Holy Spirit; pearls symbolize suffering; fine linen and purple and silk symbolize our priestly and kingly garments of righteousness and royalty; scarlet represents our sinful nature; citron wood is good wood, so it represents the good humanity; articles of ivory are articles of beauty; articles made of costly wood symbolize the first fruit; brass speaks of judgment; iron symbolizes inflexibility. Religiosity embodies the inflexibility of the law, and woe betide anyone who does not adhere to its codes. In Christ we have the inflexibility of truth, for it cannot be changed, altered or bent. Any compromise changes the truth into a lie. Marble speaks of kingdom beauty!

Verse 13 begins with fragrant spices and incense and perfume  the things that smell good to God. They refer to our worship and prayers. Wine symbolizes revelation; olive oil speaks of our anointing; fine flour is pure, for it does not contain any lumps, and wheat contains nourishment. Cattle and sheep and horses and chariots and slaves and human lives are symbolic of riches and power.

The merchants were selling these wares. They were merchandizing these precious spiritual truths, and in the process they were corrupting them by bringing them down to the natural level. They were bringing people into the slavery of the law. God's way is different; He freely gives us spiritual truth, and He wants us to freely pass it on.

"The fruit 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." (v.14) Those who have received truth no longer desire the things they formerly longed for. They formerly lusted for the things of this world; they wanted a luxurious life, and power over others. But once we feed on the bread of life, we are satisfied, and the former things pass away.

"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, saying, `Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!' And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, `What city is like the great city?'" (vv.15-18)

In the Roman world, commerce and trading were done by sea. Much of their communication also depended on sea travel. The merchants, shipmasters, sailors, and passengers all belong in the same category, for they all deal with natural humanity. Jesus often used the natural to explain a spiritual principle. If we only remain with the natural understanding we won't hear what God is telling us. When the Spirit of God illumines our minds, the natural ideas of salvation and righteousness and giftings are put away. Those who still function in the natural ideas will become very upset because they can't control and enslave us any longer! This affects their money-maker account, for they were using religion to make money. No wonder they grieve over the loss of their profits! The ships were made of wood (symbolizing humanity) and they sailed on the sea of unregenerate humanity. The carnal mind is religious, and it uses whatever it can to enslave us.

Babylon represents religiosity. Babylon was a great city. 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. 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 was thought that this city was impenetrable and impregnable. Yet the city was captured in 539 B.C. by Cyrus, a Persian king. Our religious mind also seems inaccessible, but Christ, the truth, can overcome it!

Those who live in the soul realm, stand at a distance for fear of her torment (testing). Why? Because they know that they have had an intimate relationship with religion (religiosity), and that they have used Babylon to become rich. They have not been ruled by Christ, and have never had an intimate relationship with Him. This makes them feel guilty and condemned, and they fear the outcome of the test. Those who know that they have been born from above have no reason to fear, for Christ has become their righteousness.

God is a consuming fire; His fire consumes our religiosity. The religious church system is horrified when it sees the evidence (the smoke of their burning) of the decline of religiosity. Just as the Ephesians cried, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians", so the false church cries out, "Great is the source of our revenue!"

"And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, "Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste." (v.19)

What a fitting description of the religious mind! It desires wealth, and it doesn't mind what tactics it uses in order to amass that wealth. History reveals that a great many religious leaders, and even pastors, have fallen prey to their passion for money and sex. The desire for money and sex are the great pitfalls of religiosity.

Only when the Holy Spirit illumines us with His light, and changes us from within, are these desires taken away. Instead of material wealth we now want spiritual wealth! The love of God that is poured into our hearts makes us want to give instead of to get. In one hour, that is, within a short time, the old desires are eradicated when Christ becomes our Lord! However, the world is always beckoning us to partake of its so-called delights, and care must be taken that we are not lured back into the religious mold.

"Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her." (v. 20) Let's notice what God calls His people! He calls them saints, apostles and prophets  heavenly beings! This clarion call to rejoice is spoken to those who are in their physical bodies, and living in time. Since God calls us saints, do we have the right to contradict Him and call ourselves sinners? Sinners have not been born from above. Our new birth gives us a new identity, and transfers us out of the kingdom of this world, and brings us into a new kingdom  the kingdom of heaven where God rules!

Our rejoicing takes place "because God has pronounced judgment for you against her." The Concordant Literal reads, "God judges by passing your sentence upon her." We are told that a literal translation of the Greek says, "God has chosen the decision." God has chosen us, and He has chosen the decision. The decision He has chosen isn't going against us; it's going against her, and the word "her" refers to Babylon, the great city that symbolizes religiosity! This is good news! We don't have to judge anyone. We just agree with God's judgment and rely on Him to perform it!

"And a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, `So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.'" (v.21) At the time this was written natural Babylon had already been destroyed, so we know this does not refer to the Babylon that existed in Iraq many years ago.

Babylon means "the gateway to the gods". Babylon's many gods bring contradictory messages, so they bring confusion to the soul. In the scriptures Babylon always symbolizes confusion because of the confusion of language that occurred there. Babylon leads us away from the one true God. God unites us with Himself, thus bringing us peace. In order to live in continual peace, the Babylon within our soul has to be thrown down.

A powerful messenger can do the job! This messenger is Jesus Christ! Babylon is thrown down, and disappears under the water as quickly as a big millstone would disappear when thrown into the sea. All we would see is a great big splash  and it would be gone! We don't concentrate on the splash, but on the joy that enters the soul when the counterfeit is cast down!

"And 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; and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery." (vv. 22-23)

The soul that is ruled by the flesh (Babylon) can only produce the things that are in opposition to the Spirit, and these appeal to the base appetites of the flesh. She indulges in, and feeds on: her type of music, crafts, art, religion, affluence, luxury, riches, trade, commerce, entertainment, sports and sex. God is left out of all these things! Babylon takes all the beautiful things in life and desecrates them. She uses them to decorate her shrine of selfishness! Then she calls out and bids us come and worship at her shrine.

In the name of art a woman's body is exploited. Venus, the beautiful lady with no arms, is found in art galleries and art museums. The image is beautiful, but it originated in Babylon - and God is not in it! Music, crafts and art are distorted in order to make them appeal to humanity's lust for self-gratification and self-worship.

The things that will no longer be, refer to the things that, under Babylon's rule, existed in the lower soul realm. They will be cast out of the lower realm that feeds our selfishness, lusting, and ideas. It doesn't mean that they will not exist  but they will not exist in us. This brings glory to God, for we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, and lifted up into a heavenly, spiritual realm.

All the beautiful things in life need to be cleansed of all duality! This can only take place when the Spirit rules. Our crafts, music, worship and desires have to be lifted out of Babylon's dominion and placed under the Spirit's rule. The sound of a mill will not be heard grinding out a distortion of the scriptures. God's words are life-giving, but when they are ground out on the soul level, they produce death. When Babylon is cast down, the Christ will feed us!

We know that the devil masquerades as an angel of light. This is not the true light. Jesus Christ is the light of the world! He is not a container of light, but He is the substance of light. He comes to us from above, and illuminates our darkness. His light does away with the counterfeit light of the soul that we thought was the true light. All counterfeits have to be thrown down!

"The voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer." This may shock us because they represent something beautiful to us. But the bridegroom and bride in Babylon (confusion) represent a wrong alliance. They represent the alliance that the soul has with the flesh before we become Christians. This fleshly union is broken when Christ becomes our true bridegroom. Only then can we recognize the counterfeit, and become willing to cast Babylon out of every area in our lives. Often we are not even aware how it has invaded the beautiful things God has given us until the Spirit pinpoints our need for cleansing. Here God is saying that all our commitment to, and reliance on self, will be taken away. We will no longer be married to the flesh and function under its dominion. Christ frees us from our bondage to the flesh!

"For your merchants were the great men of the earth"; they were not heavenly men. These are men of great reputation. In times past we idolized the great men of the earth. We wanted their wares, and they promised great things if we followed them. Following people creates problems. Don't listen to the empty promises of the politicians. "Follow me," they promise, "and I'll take care of you. You'll have better roads, lower taxes and better jobs." They renege on their promises, conditions worsen, and the national debt increases.

The merchandizing spirits within us are willing to sell truth for honor, acceptance and comfortable living. Gifted people, instead of Christ, are put in our show window. This causes us to idolize them, and to blindly follow their teaching. When people are idolized, it breeds a dependence on them and their wares (messages). So their wares are sold for money, honor, and/or services. This merchandizing takes place in the religious Babylon society as well as within us. God does not want us to idolize people. He wants us to love truth to the extent that we are willing to leave our preconceived ideas, dogmas and traditions, and be taught by the Holy Spirit. We can buy truth from Christ without money! Christ is the only One we are to follow! He keeps His promises and will not deceive us nor disappoint us!

"Because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery." Sorcery is witchcraft. According to Webster, sorcery is the use of a supposed evil supernatural power over people and their affairs. This word is actually derived from the Greek PHARMAKIA. It primarily signified the use of medicine, drugs, spells, and even poisoning. These drugs were usually administered with the accompaniment of incantations, charms, etc., designed to impress the victim with the mystical and magical powers of the sorcerer. Sorcery produces changes in the mind, and opens the mind to more deception.

All the nations have been deceived by Babylon's sorcery. There are no exceptions. We have all inherited this mindset from Adam. Only Christ can deliver us from this great predicament!

"And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." (v.24) Why? Because she is motivated by selfishness! She craves luxury and sensual gratification! She hates everyone that would keep her from getting what she wants. She hates everyone who makes her feel guilty by word or example. The words and witness of prophets and saints interfere with her lifestyle. In order to do away with their witness, she has to kill the witnesses.

The desire for riches and possessions has caused many to worship at her shrine. That desire does not come from God; it belongs to the world system. We are in the world, but we are not part of that world system. If we have been drawn into that system, we need to get out of it! Do we possess our possessions, or do our possessions possess us? If they are taken away from us, will we agree with Job who said, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed is the name of the Lord"?

The flesh and the Spirit have nothing in common! The flesh is motivated by greed, and the Spirit is motivated by love. The two can never join hands and work together in unison! Love abides forever, but the world and all that is in it shall pass away. Babylon has to pass away in us! This book gives us the assurance that it will be thrown down, and we will be completely free of her!

History proves that religiosity is filled with the blood of martyrs! But Babylon's kingdom is not forever. It is founded on deception, and deception is a negative, even as darkness is a negative. Just as light does away with darkness, so truth does away with deception! The truth frees us from the worship of self, so we can worship the true and living God!

The world and all that is in it shall pass away, and it has to pass away in us. All our possessions and talents are only ours in stewardship. Only when we realize this, are we free to do the will of God. The things of this world are for a season; they produce a big blaze and a lot of noise, but they end in ashes. The things of God endure forever!

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