sermon: What's So Bad About Babylon? (2013) (Part Two)
What Is and What's Coming Up
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 01-Apr-13; Sermon #1151B; 78 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, continuing the admonition to flee Babylon, reaches back to a prophecy of Jeremiah the first time Babylon was destroyed in order to draw some parallels to today's events. Babylon rose to prominence by plundering and pillaging, subjecting conquered peoples to slavery. God destroyed Babylon through the Medes and Persians, but still the culture survived. Babylon's spirituality has impacted on our culture The end-time prophecies in Revelation 17-18 echo the prophecies of Jeremiah 51. Babylon is headed toward a quick and abrupt end; we need to prepare to get out by ridding our minds of the cultural (religious, economic, and political) influences. Babylon's way is the culture of the western world, having the same way of life, religion, economic systems, and political systems, enslaving people to the state, starting by gentle persuasion, but culminating as the most vile tyranny ever imagined. The woman does not represent the Catholic Church (though she may be an integral part of it), but it is the political, economic, philosophical, and syncretistic religious system (every facet of life) shared by the entire western world. The Federal Reserve System originated in Babylon. Babylon was established from the very beginning in the depths of depravity. Abraham was summoned out of Babylon, journeying to a city made by God. The Tower of Babel was the original foundation of the Babylonian system. Nimrod, the great -grandson of Ham and the husband of Semiramis, founded Babylon and the world system which is still extant today. The towers constructed by ancient and modern civilizations represent the structures people put their trust in, totally casting God out of the picture. This system is carnally attractive to the senses, but the propelling force is immoral and self-centered, causing us to be drugged
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Architecture Babylon Beast Brick and asphalt Concentration of population Confusing the languages Cush Beast Destruction of Babylon Dwelling place Easter Eastward Eber Ezekiel 34: 1-3 Faithlessness Fifteen days Flee from midst of Babylon Genesis : 31; 11:1-2 Hanging gardens of Babylon Golden cup full of abominations Harlot Hebrews 11:18 Jeremiah 51:6-11 Jochtan Liberties Money and religion Monsanto Bill Multi-cultural system Mystery revealed Nimrod Peleg Prostitute committing fornication with the leaders Proverbs 7; 20:1 Psalm 11:3 Records of Babylonians disappeared Revelation 17: 1-7; 18: 1-8 Scattering of languages Scattering of peoples Shepherds of Israel Seven heads and ten horns Supreme Court Spiritual idolatry Tower of Babel Tower Under the sun Whorish cultural system
This is an extension of the sermon that I gave on the last holy day, and we are going to begin in the Old Testament.
Jeremiah 51:6-11 Flee from the midst of Babylon, and every one save his life! Do not be cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance: He shall recompense her. Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged. Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her, and let us go everyone to his own country; for her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies. The Lord has revealed our righteousness. Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God. Make the arrows bright! Gather the shields! The Lord has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes. For His plan is against Babylon to destroy it, because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for His temple.
As we begin today, I am reaching back into the past regarding Babylon to a prophecy made through Jeremiah the first time Babylon was destroyed. Notice the similarities that you read last week as we were going through Revelation 17 and 18. You will find that they are very similar. These warnings exist because God did not then allow it to be completely destroyed. That we must have in our mind as we go into the New Testament.
Libraries in the advanced nations around the world contain histories about Babylon and its grandeur. However, what about it has survived that is truly beautiful and positive? Can you name anything? Can you dig up any pictures you might have in your mind, something about the hanging gardens that they had in that area (but nobody took a photograph at all), so we have to rely on man's imagination as to how they would look. They probably were very exciting and interesting to look at.
Babylon's histories are replete with records of it plundering cruelties imposed on those it conquered. To the best of my knowledge, virtually all we know is that is was incredibly wealthy, militarily powerful, and that the people were religious. Somehow or another militarily powerful and money and religion do not seem to go together, but they do. That is about it. Otherwise we do not know a great deal about Babylon.
I do not know if you know of any great writings that they made, any histories that they left. Was there any architecture that survived all the way down to our time? We have architecture from Greece, beautiful buildings. They had soaring imaginations in their minds about how to work things like that. But the Babylonians, all they basically did was destroy—they destroyed and got wealthy.
Part of the wealth came from plundering other nations who did not have armies as they did. Then again, Babylon did not survive. But maybe they did survive! You know that they survived, because in Revelation, God writes about Babylon again and believe it or not, He says virtually the same thing in Revelation 17 and 18 that He says back in Jeremiah 51.
God carried out against Babylon what He said in Jeremiah. He destroyed it, and He destroyed it through the Medes and the Persians. But somehow Babylon still survived. I know why they survived and I will expound on this. It is not a difficult situation at all to understand how it survived. It did not survive as a nation. There is no nation Babylon on earth. When God wiped it out in 539 BC, He wiped it out and it ceased to exist, shortly after that, as a nation.
This is partly one reason why records of it have more or less disappeared, because unlike the Babylonians, Israelitish people survived. But the Babylonians who destroyed the Israelitish people (seemingly), they disappeared from view, but they did not disappear to God.
Without realizing it, here is what happened: some of Babylon's spirituality has impacted on our personal character. When I say our, I am primarily talking about the Israelitish people.
He tells us there exactly what He told us here in Jeremiah 51, and Revelation 17 and 18: "Flee, get out of there!" Did you ever stop to think that no matter where we go, we take it with us (unless we are coming out of it already)? If we do not watch out and begin to come out of it, and come out of it as far as we possibly can, as God commands there, then we are going to continue to take it with us. Babylon is in our minds, it is in our character, it is in our entertainment, it is in our banking. It is everywhere, because we brought it with us. Please turn to Revelation 17:1-7 and 18:1-8, you will see parallels between what we just read in Jeremiah 51. it is a preface.
Revelation 17:1-7 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “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.” [Does that sound like Jeremiah 51?] So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of the 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. [That comes right out of Jeremiah 51.] And on her forehead a name was written, MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of he martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has seven heads and the ten horns.
Revelation 18:1-8 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen [notice there are two “fallings.” The first time it fell was shortly after the prophecy was uttered in Jeremiah 51, which only has one fallen, even after it fell it continued, but this time, this is it. God is saying, “I have had with you.”] and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication [Now he points out specifically:], the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury. 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. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her [remember I mentioned to you that Babylon was a plunderer] double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day [meaning a short time.]—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
At one time a man I know decided to figure out "one day" mathematically, by comparing it to other periods of time within the Bible to see how much it actually measured out to in time if it kept the same ratio as others did. Do you know how much it was? Fifteen days. I thought that was interesting when he told me, but compared to other prophesies, even fifteen days is a very short period of time.
Clearly Babylon, as prophesied, is headed for a disastrous end. Revelation 18:8 said that her plagues will come in one day, death and mourning and famine, and it will be utterly burned with fire. However, those in the church are mercifully warned by God, to get out so that we will not suffer the same plagues it is going to be devastated by. But getting out involves some mysteries, as we saw last week.
The prophecy does not indicate clearly where the church is located or where and when one moves to. Thus the conclusion is that at present we sit tight until God clearly provides this information, but in the meanwhile we diligently spiritually prepare to leave by overcoming any remnant of what Babylon has impressed of its vile way upon us. We must not learn from this whore’s example.
Babylon no longer exists as a literal nation of this world any more than Medo-Persia, of Greco Macedonia, or the Roman Empire, all of which were part of the great image that Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of. Babylon was destroyed by Medo-Persia in 539 BC, and then gradually faded from view, but its spirit lived on.
We have proof that it lives on to this day because God establishes right here in Revelation 17 and 18 that it still exists in terms of a culture, of its way of life. The spirit of much of its entire culture has survived. So that woman, God has named her Babylon—even though it does not exist like the other nations of the earth.
God shows by means of Nebuchadnezzar's image dream that Babylon's way of life was impressed, first upon the Medo-Persians, then the Greco-Macedonians, and then the Roman Empire and all their its, and this continued for about twenty six hundred years into our day just before Christ returns.
Babylon's way was impressed also upon the Israelitish people, first of all by conquering them through Nebuchadnezzar in that period right around 600 BC. So it was impressed upon the Israelitish people through military and cultural invasions, deportations and emigrations, and accepted by Israel’s citizens. In the passage of time, the way God gave and taught through His prophets was not only rejected, but many Israelites completely forgot what God said through His prophets and through His Word.
How many times did God rail through His prophets about how He was being rejected, how His commandments were rejected, how His ways were rejected? And you see on the other side of the fence there, all the while was the Babylonish spirit that was already in their hearts.
Babylon's way exists to this day wherever the Israelitish people, and those Gentile nations anciently near them, have emigrated over the passage of time. God calls the location of Babylon's way of life a mystery, in Revelation 17:5. However, to the church it ought to be understood as a mystery revealed as the return of Jesus Christ nears.
This location is commonly called by the news media, the Western world. It is there that the bulk of the Israelitish people emigrated. Babylon's way is the dominating way of life, in most of the nations of Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Israel. All of these nations have, with only minor variations, the same basic way of life, the same kind of representative governments, the same religions. The same economic system, called capitalism, the same educational system, entertainment system, and on and on it goes.
Every one of those is a syncretization of the Babylonian way with the Israelite way. Thus the woman riding the beast is not a nation, but she symbolizes a way of life, a deceptively vile Babylonish way. She symbolizes Babylon's carnally attractive cultural system which is very much still in existence, unknowingly impressing its sinful, God-defying way upon the Western world.
That aspect remains as a mystery to almost everybody in these nations unless God has revealed to them, even though finding it is relatively easy to do in a good public library if one believes what they are reading. I believe that a lot of people read but it really makes no difference to them. They just say, “Well isn’t that interesting. They keep Easter too. How about that?” That is what happens unless God opens the mind and begins to reveal to them: This is a lot more important than you think it is.
The mysterious, whorish, Babylonish cultural system riding the beast, by this means, is exercising control over the nations of the Western world. That is why she is pictured riding the beast. Thus the focus of the vision is not on a specific nation, but on a gigantic multinational cultural system and anti-God way of life.
The mystery culture is pictured as an alluring and manipulative person, ensnaring the citizenry into bondage to the system and also to the state. I want you to think about that because that is exactly what is happening in the United States. We are the last of the Western world to collapse to this system, and right now we have a president and administration that is tying people to the state in a way that we have never been tied to the state before, but it is in progress.
This system's absorption is a matter of gentle persuasion, which is pictured through the woman. Women are not rough like men are in the same way. Her way of life is absorbed. How do we absorb it? We are born right into it. We just accept it for what it is: that is the way it was, that is what mom and dad did, that is what I did, and we just go right along with it, never really questioning it at all.
On the other hand, the woman is not the only one there, the beast is also there and it symbolizes coercive power to force one to submit through fear. It has not really done that to any great extent here in the Western world. Most of the nations of the Western world, especially the Israelitish nations, are a lot freer than most other nations of the world.
We are feeling the effects of change here in the United States as we move along and the coercive power of the government is beginning to take effect and we do not like it. It is not just we, here, who do not like it; the citizens out there do not like it either. They do not like what is happening to their liberties, but it is happening.
The woman appears weaker because it is depicted as a female, and the most common speculation is that she represents the Catholic Church. That is not right though. This woman is much more influential than that. This symbol permeates the culture much more thoroughly than only religion. Her way controls virtually everything and wherever she lacks the persuasive authority or power, the state is beginning to take over, and make sure that it is impressed upon us.
I thought for a good long while that the woman represented the United States of America, but I dropped that because this is a symbol controlling the populations of many nations. The beast has a lot of nations tied to it. The United States does not really control those nations. We have a good bit of influence but we do not control like the woman does. She is riding the beast, we are just one nation that is within the beast. The entire Western world is dominated by her. Remember she represents the spirit of Babylon the Great.
In regard to the nations of the Western world, it has been dominated for the past four hundred years, first by Spain, which is not Israelitish, but they are part of the Western world. If we are entering the period of time about four hundred years ago, Spain was a very powerful nation at that time. Gradually the French took over the leading role in Europe, and then the Netherlands, of all things, became quite a power. They were the ones who settled the Dutch West Indies, and they were a powerful nation for a period of time. But in the last one hundred years or so, first the United Kingdom dominated, and now it has passed on to the United States of America and interestingly both of them are descendants of Joseph.
But regardless of which nation the woman is still riding, she is controlling the nations and religion, commerce, government, and conduct. It is not just personal behavior in terms of morality, but every facet of life, politics, economics, educational systems, and disposition, its attitude toward laws.
The religion of the Western world is called Christian, as though it directly received from Jesus Christ. However, the truth of it is a syncretism with a measure of Christianity melded together with the Babylonish religion, derived from Nimrod and Semiramis, minus the idol statuary and some of the names that they may have used in their religion. But the features of it are blended together.
In addition to the religion, the fractional reserve banking system, employed in the Western world’s nations, originated in Babylon. This system enables a very few of the population involved in the banking business to become very, very wealthy, by creating fiat paper money, out of nothing. That is what we are doing now with the Fed. We are creating forty billion dollars a month out of nothing—with a computer!
It is a debt-driven economic device and in reality it is a sham created by credit and leading to enslavement of those who borrow. It thrives by taking advantage of the sin of coveting, and in contrast you will find that the wealth creation in God's system is real. I mean that, it is real. That is it literally exists. It is not fiat, it literally exists. It exists in the form of real estate, precious metals, such as gold and silver, the wealth that God provides can be held in one’s hand, it can be walked upon, as acreage, it can be worked within as in manufacturing plants, and it can be lived in as in homes. It is real.
When Israel entered and settled the Promised Land each family was given land as the foundation from which to build more wealth, greater wealth, and God's generosity gave each of those families what amounted to a gift in order to produce greater wealth. God's economic system spreads the wealth around generously, and it is real. Do not ever forget that.
Psalm 11:3 If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?
We are going to take a long step backward in time to the very foundations of Babylon, because once one looks there, one can see that Babylon, the city first, and then the nation, from the very beginning set a course destined for greatness in depravity. We are going to look at its foundations. If the foundations are bad, the whole rest of the building is going to be tilted. It is going to be bad too, and in danger of collapsing.
Babylon, we are going to see in the Bible was founded in sin, and it never changed. Foundations are clear indicators of how stable and sure that a building will be and thus they are frequently used as metaphors symbolizing and forecasting what the future may be like. The Hebrew word that was used here in Psalm 11:3 means established, fixed.
What we are going to see is that Babylon was founded in depravity—right from the very beginning. In Genesis 10 it gives the ancestry of the families of the people on earth descended from Noah through Shem.
Genesis 10:21 And children were born also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder.
Genesis 10:25 To Eber were born two sons, the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided and his brother's name was Joktan.
Genesis 10:31-32 These were the sons of Shem, according to their families according to their languages, in their lands, according to their nations. These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations, and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.
I am only going to go into this briefly but on the other hand it is fairly important to understand because it shows God's hand directly moving people about on earth and choosing families for His purposes. It was God who directly divided the descendants of Shem through Eber. Eber is the great grandson of Shem, and the father of the Hebrew people and because of what God is doing here is why He named these people so clearly.
Eber had two sons, one named Peleg and the other Joktan. Now God continued the Hebrew line through both Peleg and Joktan, but spiritually the line through Peleg became the more important and this is because it was to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to whom God revealed Himself and they descended from Eber through Peleg.
Regarding the ancestry of Joktan, this is something interesting to pick up and to know. They continued on as Hebrews, the descendants of Joktan were Hebrews because they were born in to the Eber line, but like the Gentiles they were denied the blessings for the time being, the blessing meaning God's revelation of Himself. He just set them aside for the time being. The issue as to why is one of these mysteries for which there is no answer. The situation regarding Peleg and Joktan, is similar to why did God choose Jacob and not Esau. We just do not know. He just chose to go in that direction.
I want you to note the word “divided”, because it appears both in verse 25 and verse 32. Divided does not mean that the continents were forced apart, but rather is a reference to God dividing families to those portions of the earth that He wanted them to live in.
There is one place where God says that He placed all the other nations of the earth in relation to the population of the children of Israel. So God is moving things about, that is part of His job as creator. He created the earth and He wants certain people to live in certain areas and that is part of His business.
Genesis 11:10 This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood.
Shem gave birth to Arphaxad then in verse 16, Arphaxad's line gave birth to Eber, then six generations later, Abraham was born. Of course he became the one that God called out of the land of the Chaldees and he is the one who became the father of the faithful.
I will turn to a verse in the book of Hebrews, and I think that since we are going into Babylonia, it is very interesting that God should make this little remark about Abraham. We will see this to be important later on.
Hebrew 11:8-10 By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called out to go the place that he would receive an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going. [Abraham was living by faith. God specifically called him out. This has something to do with Babylon. Where did he come from? The land of the Chaldees. That is where Babylon was located.] By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
We are going to contrast with what happened with Babylon, because it is entirely different. We see God dividing things. He does one thing through Abraham. He does something else, or does not do anything else with another.
Everything is in place regarding the ancestry and who is going to do what. So we will turn to Genesis 11.
Genesis 11:1-9 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, come let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar, and they said, “Come let us build ourselves a city [Think about Abraham and what it says about him. H waited for God to build it.], and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have on language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and the ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth, and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
This chapter contains the story of the initial founding and building of Babylon, when its foundations were laid. It is significant that it is in this chapter that the foundation that tilted the entire spiritual and moral history was laid! This is where everything in Babylon started.
God felt so strongly about what was going on, that He directly intervened to slow down its development. Remember this is only the second generation after the Flood. Ham came through the Flood, along with his father Noah. Once they were through the Flood, Ham's wife gave birth to Cush. So he was the first generation after the Flood. Nimrod was Cush's son. Nimrod was Ham's grandson, and Nimrod was the major founder of Babylon.
Nimrod, after Babylon got going a bit, also became the founder of Assyria. It was Assyria that defeated the northern part of Israel and it was Babylon that defeated Judah. In other words, the children, descendants of the two areas that Nimrod and Semiramis founded were the ones who destroyed and scattered the Israelites into captivity. Something to keep track of.
Nimrod was a very bad man. The first thing it says about him in the Bible is that he was mighty against the Lord. This is the man who founded Babylon. Are you beginning to see right from the beginning things were tilted in a bad direction? His wife was Semiramis and she seems to be just about as bad as he was! She is probably the picture of the great whore in Revelation 17 and 18.
We are talking about the spirit of these people that came all the way through the generations of time right down to our time. It is that spirit that God is picturing by this woman here in Revelation 17 and 18. In other words, she is still impacting on us, to some degree. It is a good thing God did what He did or we would have never made it out of that century. What He did in intervening and slowing things down, for generations, millennia of time gave us the opportunity to be born, in fact to be called and be part of the work that He is working out here and now.
We have our charge before us that we have got to come out of the impression that this woman, and her husband of course, pictured by the beast, have put into our minds. Note right in the beginning in verse 2 of Genesis 11 that God gives us a clue as to what is going to be the fruit of the development of populating the entire earth.
Genesis 11:2 And it came to pass as they traveled from the east,
I will not go any further than that because that is what I want to expound upon here. That phrase “from the east” is not correctly translated in either the King James Version or the New King James Version. It should read “they journeyed eastward.” That is the correct translation.
Recall what I taught you during that Eden series that I gave at the Feast of Tabernacles a number of years ago ["Eden, the Garden, and the Two Trees"]. In the aftermath of Adam's and Eve’s sin they moved eastward. When Cain began wandering, he moved eastward. When Lot separated from Abraham, he moved eastward. Giving the direction they moved is intentional instruction for all who follow what God is saying here. It is intended to lead us to understand that these people were moving away from the blessings of God. Away from Eden, away from the Promised Land, and the fruit of this move eastward was not going to be good! They had turned their back on God and were walking away. That is the picture.
Abraham did not do anything like that. When God called, he came! I looked at a map this morning just for fun. They did not have automobiles, airplanes, trains, or anything like that. When God called him, he was in Ur of the Chaldees; he had to walk from Ur of the Chaldees at least five hundred miles north to get to the jumping off place from which they then left and came into what is today Palestine. I think that is so interesting. He made Abraham walk. Good lesson there, but we might think that God is cruel making him do this. No, Abraham was a good follower.
That direction they moved is intentional instruction for all of us to follow. So, right in the second verse he is showing us we already know that Nimrod is going to play a part, and we know from history that his wife was Semiramis, and we know now the major founder and also the direction that they were moving in. We are putting the pieces together here so that we can understand: Babylon was bad right from the beginning.
It was begun by these people with the purpose of finding good—by efforts apart from God. Remember the things from Ecclesiastes, “under the sun”, it means directing your life without being a part of what God is doing. You are just living under Him, that is all. So "eastward" was the first of several key words intended that we might glean the best and the most from the story.
Genesis 11:3 Then they said to one another, Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar,
This is also interesting, and it gives a little more insight as to where they were headed with their plan. Notice it says they were specifically building with brick and asphalt, not stones. That is interesting because if you look in other places God has specific instruction for altars. No implement was supposed to touch any stone on that altar; they picked the rocks up and made the altar without touching it with any kind of instrumentation at all. It had to be built with raw stone.
This is not an altar but it still gives us the idea of God's thinking. Both brick and asphalt are products that involve some degree of manufacturing. What were these people doing? They were determined to show off their technology. That was the beginning. It may seem like to you and me like low tech, but it was getting a start.
Interestingly, God pointedly states that He had to go down to see the city. There is kind of a put down there: Puny man was thus shown that he is beneath God and His technology. Verse 4 gives us more foundational material.
Genesis 11:4 And they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.
They decided to build a city. What did God tell them in the beginning? He did not tell them to build a city, He did not tell them not to build a city either. But He did say scatter over the face of the earth. But they decided to build a city. What is there about a city that is very interesting? First of all a city concentrates population, and its population is much easier to control by those in authority than a scattered population that it is all over the place.
Recall that in those times, cities usually were built with a wall surrounding them. What this does is it effectively established that a city’s population is locked in as well as the invader is locked out. When you begin to understand about Nimrod, you begin to understand why he might want them locked in. It is a matter of control.
This situation effectively establishes that a city’s population is locked in as well as the invaders are locked out, a city thus symbolizes a fortified position. A city also concentrates technology and that too helps to describe what they were seeking.
To the leadership, a city was an ideal objective for concentrating power and glorifying their accomplishments, their manufactured things, before others. According to the scriptures, their reason for doing this was to make a name for themselves (that is in verse 4) so that they would not be scattered abroad. You begin to see, “we don’t want to be scattered, we want to lock the people in as well as lock the people out.”
What does the name do? It gives indications. It is used in order to create distinctiveness and preeminence. “Oh, he’s the great one. He is Nimrod!” I do not know if anyone else had the name Nimrod, but he certainly did. My name is John, my son’s name is Richard, and we are distinct from one another. The name helps to make us distinctive from each other. If everybody had the same name, nobody would be distinct. That is what a name does. They wanted to make a name, they wanted to be known, and they wanted praise for their area to be scattered over the earth.
It is entirely possible that this verse 4 was almost like a slogan. It reminded them of what they wanted to accomplish. I am pretty sure that you have seen marches on television news or places where large numbers of people are challenging this system or whatever, and they chanting, they are saying a series of words and they are chanting. What does that do? It unifies, it helps to bring them all to a oneness so that the whole group of people are saying basically the same thing.
It is entirely possible that they were doing something like that. It was an exhortative slogan that would tend to unify and provide some stimulation for the troops, persuaded that they were going somewhere by following their leadership.
Genesis 9:1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them. Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.
There was the order to spread from where they were. They were to fill the earth, not concentrate themselves in cities, although a city of and by itself was not wrong, but when we put all these parts together especially who is doing it, Nimrod, Semiramis, and so forth, then we can see that the purpose for them doing it there was not good.
Genesis 11:4 And they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower, [an important term] . . .
A tower, biblically, is normally, in actual practice, a fortification. Just like a city is a much larger fortification, but a tower would be within a city and in corners and they too were fortifications, but symbolically it indicates a place of safety and security, a stronghold. A tower biblically represents what we put our trust in for our well being. Put our money in the bank type of thing. That is what a tower does; it represents a place that we trust. Or a thing or an institution that we trust, a place of safety and security.
When we begin to expand out on this idea, it takes on stronger pictures within it. What are the towers for the great nations that have passed through history? The Pharaoh built huge tombs to preserve records of their accomplishments, but where is Egypt? Greece's towers, what they trusted in, were knowledge and beauty, but where is Greece? Assyria, Persia, and Rome built huge military machines, but where are they today?
Today we also have towers. Immense material resources, scientific inventiveness, theses are the towers of the United States of America. Great wealth and inventiveness, we are an economic powerhouse, and our military might is unmatched in the entire world. Germany was building a one thousand year Reich, and there will always be an England, the Brits said. America: God's country.
It is all blind pride, that is all it is. It gives little eye, ear, or thought to the great God of heaven and His purposes and powers. That was what was being done here, they were turning their back on God, doing their own thing in rebellion against what He said. And they were building their tower to be a place of safety and security and manufacturing and other accomplishments were what they were trusting in.
The original Babylon stands as a monument to this truth. Whatever man trusts in for his towers, if it is not the great God of heaven, it is going to collapse. Mankind has to stop trusting in these towers, because there are eternal principles which cannot be defied, and these eternal principles will live on while generation after generation of men who ignore the great God are going to crumble into dust.
Genesis 11:5-9 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come let Us go down and there confuse their language that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them [as He intended to do] abroad from there over the face of all the earth; and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
From these four verses we can see that these people were quite unified; they had one purpose, they understood each other’s minds, they all seemed to have basically the same vision. When you get a lot of people together, they can really accomplish a great deal, good or bad. These people were accomplishing something bad, but they were accomplishing. That is why God stepped in as He did. When you get entire nations working in one direction, or even one city working in one direction, as in this case, it could quickly become incredibly evil.
God stepped in while it was yet very small in order to forestall what He was seeing, or foreseeing, take place. First He was seeing what was happening. He was foreseeing that they would get to the end long before we were ever born. What God did by stepping in was to give us an opportunity to give God a chance to work out the rest of His purpose, and to give us an opportunity to be called within His Family Kingdom.
In Genesis 11, we covered only nine verses, but they tell an eternal story—all of history when understood in the light of biblical revelation testifies that man must answer to God. God is sovereign, and His purpose will stand, and all nations will figuratively crumble into the dust before Him if they do not take heed.
I think that God is clearly showing us what a disastrous foundation was laid for Babylon. It eventually recovered in order to become fairly prosperous and militarily powerful. But its spirituality and its morality never improved. It was a bad influence on everybody it came into contact with.
Today its system lives on, and with the element of communication being the way it is, there is so much communicative technology, it is now reaching the peak of its evil influence, because it can be spread everywhere electronically.
We will take another jump in time, forward to the time of the end, in order to take a closer look at what God says about its character and the evil enslaving influence it has on the nations that it guides in our time.
Revelation 17:1-5 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” So he carried me away in the Spirit in to the wilderness. 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.
Revelation 18:1-3 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
I John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
God leaves no doubt that this system is powerfully, carnally attractive. In fact it is virtually irresistible. Much power lies in its attractiveness to the senses, and its appeal to ambition. Is God against power, greatness, attractiveness, or wealth? Of course not. He is against impurity, how it is obtained, and how it is used. Babylon has already shown by its fruit that the drive for these things is completely self-centered and not within God's purpose for mankind. In Genesis 11, we saw its beginning, now we see its end, and more of why God urges us to escape it.
Notice in verse 2, the mention of wine. There is good reason why God uses wine as a symbol in relation to the woman. I will just refer you to the scripture Proverbs 20:1, wine is a drugging intoxicant. That is the way this system is. It is a drugging intoxicant. Every one of these symbols means something meaningful. By chemical means, wine derisively taunts one, luring the person into deeper subjugation to its influence, and every one takes you deeper to sleep, and we do not want to go to sleep on the switch.
That is what spiritually and morally happens to one in contact with the Babylonian cultural system. It drugs us to sleep spiritually. It gradually, if it is imbibed steadily, takes away a person’s spiritual reasoning powers and puts one to sleep, thus rendering them helpless to the woman's influence. That is spirituality what happens within the system. It deadens one’s spiritual perspective, rendering them incapable of proper judgment and all the while it is molding, shaping conduct by means of one’s ugly fascination with its allure.
Did you ever read Proverbs 7 about the stupid guy who went to the whore? That is basically the way God describes it right there—the poor guy does not know what he is doing.
The woman is symbolized as a prostitute, rapaciously committing fornication with the kings, political leadership, and the commercial leadership. That is where she is concentrating her attention. The leaders will lead the people to her. In this instance the Greek term used for fornication is porneia. This term indicates repeated illicit acts, sexual acts, including premarital sex, adultery, incest, bestiality, masturbation, and homosexuality. Are we on that track today?
This is far more serious than those who have imbibed the whore's influence because they get deadened. This level of attention to sexuality that we are giving it in the United States of America is destroying people’s individual faithfulness; they cannot be faithful to one another.
It begins sexually committing fornication, but it spreads out from there and the first thing you know it is in the government and they are not being unfaithful sexually, they are being unfaithful to the people that they are suppose to be serving.
The government becomes so corrupted it cannot do anything right, and who is pushing them right along the way? The corporations. “Well, if you will just play with me, I’ll give you the money to get elected.” “Good because you have gotten the money for me to be elected, I’ll now make laws that favor you.”
Did you hear the latest piece of dope that came out of Washington, DC? They created the Monsanto bill law, so that Monsanto cannot be sued if some farmer’s crop is ruined because the farmer next door is using GMO products. You cannot touch them in a court of law!
This is what is happening. Taking away people's liberties because the beast is forcing things in that direction because they will receive money from the corporations.
The whole system is falling apart and a lot of it is because of faithlessness and it began with sex. Illicit sex teaches you to be unfaithful and eventually it spreads out into everything. Horrible things are occurring.
I want to go to one more scripture for today, because this faithlessness tragically goes much further than just faithlessness in regard to marriage, because God uses it to express to us spiritual idolatry. Israel, including the leadership, are leading the people away from God. They are not only doing evil things personally in their lives, they are actually leading people away from God.
We have examples of this. Look at what they have done through the Supreme Court, kicking God out of our schools, etc. Not allowed to mention God in public celebrations. Please turn to Ezekiel, because it is so often misapplied.
Ezekiel 34:1-3 [This is something that Ezekiel ran into.] And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.”
One of the things that get me upset here is so many in the ministry see the word shepherd and they immediately think of the preachers. Now the preachers maybe involved in this, but they are not directly involved in this. He is talking about the people who govern us. You cannot tell that until you get a pretty fair amount through the context and get finally to verses 23 and 24, then it becomes very clear. It is the same subject.
Ezekiel 34:23-24 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. [David was a king, he governed, he was not a preacher] He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.
The shepherds that God is talking about are our president, our vice president, our senators, our representatives, our justices in the courts, and He said they are the ones who are really leading you away from Me.
The ministry does their own evil things, but this chapter is pointing out what the political leaders are doing. They should be setting the example every bit as high as the ministry. But they are leading the nation in sinfulness and it is becoming very, very bold and open.
If we had good leadership, the sheep in the United States of America would follow them, but they are resisting now. They do not want to follow. They know enough that is more truthful than those people do.