Most people do not recognize that everyone in the world is under some form of slavery. We are all slaves to many things in varying degrees. The foundation upon which world culture is based encourages, promotes, and forces us into a life of slavery. Governments thrive on enslaving people. God warned ancient Israel about the suppression of freedom that results from having an all-powerful leader who answers to no one, but still they demanded a king. Notice I Samuel 8:11-20:
"This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day."
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."
The Israelites, then, who were greatly blessed under the judgment of God-appointed judges, rejected their Creator by demanding a human king so they could be like the other, poorer, enslaved nations. Thus, the last true bastion of freedom established by God was rejected. Ever since, all governmental systems have been based on taking freedom from the people and enslaving them to pay for the desires of power and pleasure of their leaders.
A Global System of Slavery
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. (Jeremiah 51:6-7)
Literally, the original Hebrew of the first half of verse 7 means, "A golden cup is Babel in the hand of Yahweh, intoxicating the whole earth." Jeremiah sees the material splendor of Babylon, but the "wine" that she makes the nations of the earth drink will result in God's wrath coming down upon them. As God's hammer, Babylon was strong, and as His cup of gold, she was rich and beautiful—but neither saves her from ruin. Jeremiah therefore admonishes everyone to flee this perverse, world-ruling system.
The global scourge of slavery is the essence of the Babylonian slavery system that the prophet Jeremiah warned about. It exists in its zenith in the last days. Babylon's perversion, audacity, and pride represent the height of direct defiance against almighty God. This humanly devised governmental, religious, educational, and economic system controlling the world today originates from Satan's initial rebellion against God. Satan, the Adversary, has done a tremendous job of enslaving the whole world under his system of slavery.
God reveals Babylon and its influence in 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 the 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 into 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.
This system and the source of its influence is a mystery to the world. Yet, her abominations and spiritual filthiness have kept human beings in a perpetual state of slavery to sin, governments, taxes, war, famine, pestilence, disease, and especially religious confusion.
Beginning in the twentieth century, human trafficking, modern slavery, and forced labor have been on a global rise. Earlier, with the demise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the nineteenth century, the world was told that chattel slavery—outright ownership of slaves—was over in the "civilized" world. However, debt bondage and contract slavery began to take its place with little notice from governments, law enforcement, and international organizations.
In reality, there are more slaves now than at any other time in history. Foremost among the victims of human trafficking are women and girls forced into the commercial sex trade, followed by agricultural slavery and domestic slavery. Individuals and groups at risk are often the result of irregular migration due to extreme poverty, internal conflict, natural disaster, and globalization. Victims are kept enslaved through fear, violence, and fraud.
There are no clear distinctions between different forms of slavery. The same families and groups of people are often the victims of several kinds of modern slavery—for example, bonded labor, forced labor, child labor, or child prostitution—with extreme poverty as a common, linking factor.
The most widespread type of human trafficking is debt bondage. The most common contemporary form of slavery is bonded labor, which accounts for more than 20 million victims. Human slavery statistics from the Giving Children Hope Organization and Anti-Slavery International, a British-based human rights organization, in addition to other sources, tell the grim story of this horrible injustice against human life.
» There are at least 27 million slaves worldwide.
» Worldwide at least 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, and at least 800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year.
» Human slaves are cheap. In 1850, the average slave cost $40,000 in today's dollar. Presently, a slave costs $90 on average.
» At the extreme fringe, children are kidnapped, held in remote camps, and chained at night to prevent their escape. They are put to work on road-building and stone-quarrying. Such child labor, often hard and hazardous, damages health for life, and deprives children of education and the normal enjoyment of their early years.
» Forcible recruitment of children into military service occurs in many parts of the world. The consequences are devastating. Many have died or been disabled in armed conflict, while others have been interrogated, tortured, beaten, or kept as prisoners of war. An estimated 300,000 child-soldiers, some younger than 10 years old, are involved in over 30 areas of conflict worldwide.
» Some children between 7 and 10 years of age work 12 to 14 hours a day and are paid less than one-third of the adult wage. In addition, 126 million children work in the worst forms of child labor—one in every 12 of the world's 5-17 year olds.
» Child domestic servants not only work long hours for a pittance, but are particularly vulnerable to sexual as well as other physical abuse.
» Worldwide, the multibillion-dollar sex-trade industry involves an estimated two million children—including Cambodia, Thailand, and Costa Rica, where "sex tourism" is big business. The average age of women entering into prostitution is 14. The profits to be made are immense when 12- to 15-year-old children can be purchased for $800 to $2,000—and used for five to ten years before they are cast away.
» The United States is principally a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimates that 50,000 people are trafficked into or transited through the country annually as sex slaves, domestics, and garment and agricultural slaves, of which 80% are women and children.
» Research conducted with Free the Slaves found documented cases of slavery in over 90 U.S. cities. States with the greatest concentration of trafficked persons are New York, California, and Florida. Washington, DC, also has a large trafficked population.
» Between 100,000 and 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for sex trafficking each year. As many as 2.8 million children live on the streets, a third of whom are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. The average age of a person's entry into pornography and prostitution in the U.S. is between 12 and 14.
» Forced marriage is another form of slavery, and at least 200 "matchmaking" organizations operate in the U.S., arranging prospective "brides" for male clients.
These statistics paint a sickening picture of one area of the evil that is prevalent in the last days under the Babylonian system. Most people would deny that they have any involvement or guilt in such slavery, but those who turn a blind eye to the suffering, employers who do not pay employees fair wages, leaders who do nothing to stop the trafficking, those who dabble in pornography, and many others share in the guilt of this slavery and abuse of woman and children.
Because of this serious neglect of responsibility, more of this enslavement will come upon the U.S. and other Israelitish countries for their sins against God. He gave these nations His inspired Word in the form of the Bible, so they are without excuse for their wickedness (see Amos 3:2). Revelation 13:10 gives this condemnation in the form of an immutable principle: "He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity."
Physical slavery will end when Mystery Babylon falls, which occurs when Jesus Christ returns to rule with His righteous rod of iron. Prophecy tells us that the ultimate downfall of this world-dominating system involves merchandizing, and slaves are a major part of the commerce of this system at the end time. Human slaves are included on the list of merchandise sold under the Babylonian system mentioned in Revelation 18:11-13:
And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her [the Babylonian system], for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.
The merchants, who gained wealth and perverse pleasures from this world's system of religion and commerce, cry and lament because it satiated their greed for materialistic acquisition and their lust for self-pleasure. As the Babylonian system incorporates every expression of corrupt government, so its prostitution includes every corrupt economic system and idolatry. Even human beings are reduced to cargo, traded as slaves to drive the engines of production, prosperity, and sinful pleasures.
Sadly, the modern descendants of Israel have promoted and become part of this self-serving, perverse world system. Sin inevitably brings its own punishment, and there are always consequences to disobedience. Thus, when today's Israelites go into captivity in the last days, they will have no excuse for their sin and no freedom whatsoever.
Ezekiel 5:11-13 prophesies that two-thirds of them will be killed and one-third scattered because of their sins: A third part is destroyed in war; a second third will die by pestilence, famine, and disease; and the remaining third is scattered to the winds. Israel's history shows that when her people are scattered, the majority of the men, women, and children go into slavery—into captivity. As we saw earlier, "He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity."
The reality of that penalty for corporate sin is beginning to form now. Long ago, God warned the children of Israel about what would happen if they committed idolatry, mistreated one another, and shunned Him.
And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. And there you will serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days. . . . (Deuteronomy 4:27-30)
He promises the latter-day remnant of the descendants of Israel that, if they genuinely seek to submit to Him, He will save them from their scattered condition and bondage.
We have all been enticed by this anti-God, anti-Christ system of slavery to some degree or another. God urges us to take action:
And [the angel] cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, 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, 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." (Revelation 18:2-5)
God always gives people an opportunity to repent of their ways and forsake the world. His people may live in this world, but they must not live as the world does. So God commands us to flee for our lives from Babylon the Great to avoid being lured into sin by her evil ways and caught in her looming destruction.