The Fall of “Babylon the Great”
"After these things I saw another angel descending from heaven, with great authority; and the earth was lighted up from his glory. And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: "She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen, and she has become a dwelling place of demons and a lurking place of every unclean exhalation and a lurking place of every unclean and hated bird! . . . And I heard another voice out of heaven say: "Get out of her, my people, if YOU do not want to share with her in her sins, and if YOU do not want to receive part of her plagues." —Revelation 18:1,2,4 NWT.
Would Jehovah give his people lifesaving instructions in a language they cannot understand? If he did, how could he hold them accountable for not obeying him? When he warned his people, Israel, in the time of Jeremiah his prophet, of the coming destruction upon them and their cities by the king of Babylon, his instruction concerning what they had to do in order to survive the calamity was very clear, in a language they could all understand. Jeremiah's message to their king Zedekiah and the people was simply, "Bring YOUR necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people and keep on living. Why should you yourself and your people die by the sword, by the famine and by the pestilence according to what Jehovah has spoken to the nation that does not serve the king of Babylon?" (Jeremiah 27:12-13) Was there any doubt as to what Jehovah instructed his people to do in order to survive? "Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people and keep on living." Yet most failed to heed the warning and did not act accordingly.
What caused confusion was not that the message was not clear that Jehovah was having proclaimed, but rather there were contrary messages from others, false prophets, who caused the people to ignore God's warning. That is why Jehovah exhorted his people, "And do not listen to the words of the prophets that are saying to YOU men, 'YOU will not serve the king of Babylon,' because falsehood is what they are prophesying to YOU." ‘For I have not sent them,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘but they are prophesying in my name falsely, to the end that I shall disperse YOU, and YOU will have to perish, YOU men and the prophets that are prophesying to YOU.’" (Jeremiah 27:14-15)
The scripture names one such false prophet, Hananiah. His message was that they had nothing to fear, for Jehovah would certainly protect his people and not hand them over to the Babylonians. It was the message the people wanted to hear. (Jeremiah 28:1-11) But Jehovah had his own clear message for this rebel, as he send his prophet Jeremiah to tell him, "'Listen, please, O Hananiah! Jehovah has not sent you, but you yourself have caused this people to trust in a falsehood. Therefore this is what Jehovah has said, ‘Look! I am sending you away from off the surface of the ground. This year you yourself must die, for you have spoken outright revolt against Jehovah.’" So Hananiah the prophet died in that year, in the seventh month." (Jeremiah 28:15-17)
Ignoring God's instructions proved disastrous, both for the false prophets as well as for the people who listened to them, for they either died by the sword, the famine or by the pestilence, as Jehovah had clearly forewarned. Oh, if they had only listened, for those who did and obeyed survived that destruction, although as exiles in Babylon. Eventually, at God's appointed time he released them from their captivity and the call went out to them, "Go forth, YOU people, out of Babylon! Run away from the Chaldeans. Tell forth even with the sound of a joyful cry, cause this to be heard. Make it to go forth to the extremity of the earth. Say: 'Jehovah has repurchased his servant Jacob.'" (Isaiah 48:20) Jehovah had freed his people to return to their promised land to restore true worship.
Today, Jehovah has again a warning for his people that involves Babylon. No, not the Babylon of old, that disappeared off the map a long time ago, just as Jehovah had foretold, but a greater Babylon. (Isaiah 13:19) And the message this time is not to enter into Babylon, as Jeremiah had preached, but rather to get out of her for the sake of true worship and survival. Again, the message for his people is clear and simple, "Get out of [Babylon the Great], my people, if YOU do not want to share with her in her sins, and if YOU do not want to receive part of her plagues." Since Jehovah urges us to take lifesaving action again, why is there so much confusion over the identity of Babylon the Great, her fall, and the call to get out of her?
One reason, of course, is that Satan's intentions are to confuse us. "If the Good News we preach is veiled from anyone, it is a sign that they are perishing. Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe, so they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining upon them." (2 Corinthians 4:3,4; NLT) Yes, Satan does not desire anyone to obey God, especially when it involves true worship and their lives, and so he inspires contrary messages to that of Jehovah's. (2 Peter 2:1)
Another reason is that Jehovah himself keeps things hidden from those whose hearts are unreceptive and unresponsive to his commands. It is as Jesus said, "This is why I speak to them by the use of illustrations, because, looking, they look in vain, and hearing, they hear in vain, neither do they get the sense of it; and toward them the prophecy of Isaiah is having fulfillment, which says, ‘By hearing, YOU will hear but by no means get the sense of it; and, looking, YOU will look but by no means see. For the heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, and they have shut their eyes; that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back, and I heal them.’" (Matthew 13:13-15)
That explains why God has shrouded the identity of Babylon the Great in a mystery, for it involves true worship. (Rev. 17:5) Those, whose hearts are unreceptive and who refuse to respond to what they hear (heart has grown gross [fat and dull]; ears heavy and difficult of hearing; Amplified Bible), will not readily "get the sense" of what Jehovah is telling us about the "mystery" of Babylon the Great. But his people, those who are searching for the true God, will get the sense of it. "The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." —2 Chronicles 16:9, NLT.
Babylon the Great is described as a woman, a harlot, who sits on many waters and with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication (prostitution, idolatry; Amplified Bible). Who is this woman, what is meant by the many waters she sits on, and how do the kings of the earth commit fornication with her? We do not need to be puzzled for Jehovah himself has provided the answers. Enough information on her identity has been given that those who would obey and worship Jehovah can do so by heeding the command to "get out of her." (Revelation 17:1-2)
Let us see how the description of Babylon the Great helps us to identify her. We are told that she “sits on many waters.” These waters “mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” (Rev. 17:1,15) The many worshippers that she controls and influences is what has given her life and made her the rich and glorious queen she has come to be, and that has provided her with the security she has enjoyed over the centuries; just as the ancient city of Babylon sat on the Euphrates River, with its many canals and water filled moats, that made her existence not only possible but also prospered her and provided her with protection.
It also says that the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and “those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Rev. 17:2) The religious element has always exercised control over the rulers of this world, often installing and removing kings, blessing its wars and promising the protection of whichever god they worshipped, often with the result that opposing armies were claiming the same god to be fighting on their side. They certainly have acted as drunk men, crazily and without clear thinking, when under the influence of their religious leaders. Please consider the two world wars of the past century, the many wars since then, and take a look at the world scene today, the carnage that is being done under the delusion that God is with whoever is committing the acts of violence in his name. Too often it is the innocent who are suffering, and even God's servants cannot escape the effect of the drunkenness of her fornication, just as when a family head is a drunkard.
"She has become a place where demons live. She has become a den for every evil spirit." (Rev. 18:2) Her many ceremonies and special days and events, her doctrines, her garb, her mysteries which are steeped in the worship of ancient Babylon, are all demon inspired. None of them are glorifying the true God Jehovah. Even the occasions that are claimed to be rooted in the scriptures have been degraded with teachings of demons, such as the lie of a Santa Claus, the pagan "Christmas tree," and all the other things connected with the supposed celebration of Jesus' birth. And what about the "Easter bunny" and the many other things related to the so-called commemoration of Christ's death? Where is there anything that involves religion, even in so-called Christian countries, where the demons are not involved?
Babylon the Great will fall. Will she be missed? We are told that the kings and traveling merchants weep and mourn because of what they are now missing because of her destruction. (vs. 9-19) No longer will the “sound of singers,” “musicians,” “craftsmen,” “no light of a lamp” or a “bridegroom and bride” be found in her. Also, by her “spiritistic practice all the nations were mislead.” (vs. 22-23) Further, “in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (vs. 24) (Luke 11:49-51)
Is it not clear from the above things listed, the things that will be missing after Babylon the Great is gone, that it had to do with worship, religion? Jehovah acknowledges only two religions, not the thousands we categorize today. Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language defines "religion" as: man's expression of his acknowledgment of the divine ║ a system of beliefs and practices relating to the sacred and uniting its adherents in a community, e.g. Judaism, Christianity.
God decreed at the time of the rebellion in the Garden of Eden, and as recorded at Genesis 3:15, that there would be two "systems of beliefs and practices" and that the two “communities of adherents” would be at enmity with each other. There would only be God's side and Satan's. One cannot be a worshipper of Jehovah and at the same time have any dealings with Satan and the demons:
“...the things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want YOU to become sharers with the demons. YOU cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; YOU cannot be partaking of “the table of Jehovah” and the table of demons.” –1 Corinthians 10:20-21 (compare James 4:4)
The spiritistic practice of Babylon the Great, by which all the nations were mislead, has to do with worship, sacrificing to the demons. In connection with this she has wielded great influence and authority over the nations throughout history. The Babylon of old became especially renowned for her spiritistic practices. It was there that the "trinity" was first worshipped, when the founder of Babylon, Nimrod, is said to have married his own mother, and thus became his own father. That trinity was made up of "the eternal Father, the Spirit of God incarnate in a human mother, and a Divine Son, the fruit of that incarnation." (Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons, page 19) Interestingly, the son of that trinity was more prominent than the father and was worshipped as "God the Son." The Babylonians believed in the immortality of the soul and thus the founders of cities were worshipped as their guardian gods after their deaths. Nimrod was later identified with the god Marduk, called Merodach in the Bible, meaning "the great Rebel."
It was the priests in Babylon who first mapped the heavens and named the twelve signs of the Zodiak, by which they tried to discern the future. One source says that "they discovered the first five planets and to these they gave the names of their gods. The Romans later translated the Chaldean names into Latin and that explains why today we talk of Jupiter and Venus and Mars and Mercury and Saturn." Ancient Babylon has had a mighty influence on all the religions of the world. A careful study will reveal that the vast majority of teachings that they all hold in common had their origin in the ancient city of Babylon. Religion, in opposition to Jehovah, has been responsible for the countless bloody wars, starting with the rebel Nimrod, who made himself "a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah." (Gen. 10:8-10) "Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth." (Rev. 18:24)
To most people it does not matter what religion one belongs to for they believe that all religions are just different ways of worshipping the same god. They have not realized that their worship is in fact directed to the demons and the god of this world, Satan, who has blinded their minds. (1 John 5:19) If we want to worship the true God and be his sons and daughters, and have him as our father, then he is clearly telling us what action we must take:
Do not be joined together with those who do not belong to Christ. How can that
which is good get along with that which is bad? How can light be in the same
place with darkness?
15 How can Christ get along with the devil? How can one who has put his trust in Christ get along with one who has not put his trust in Christ?
16 How can the house of God get along with false gods? We are the house of the living God. God has said, 'I will live in them and will walk among them. I will be their God and they will be My people.' (Leviticus 26:12)
17 The Lord has said, 'So come out from among them. Do not be joined to them. Touch nothing that is sinful. (see Rev. 18:5) And I will receive you.
18 I will be a Father to you. You will be My sons and daughters, says the All God.' ―2 Corinthians 6:14-18; New Life Version.
This call to "come out from among them. Do not be joined to them. Touch
nothing that is sinful," is a parallel call to the one in Revelation 18:4, where
a voice out of heaven is heard saying, "Get out of her, my people, if YOU do
not want to share with her in her sins, and if YOU do not want to receive part
of her plagues."
Is there any doubt about the identity of Babylon the Great, the one Jehovah is telling us ― who want to belong to him ― to get out of? It is about "a system of beliefs and practices" relating to the worship of demons and being a part of its community of adherents. If we do not separate ourselves from among those whose worship is tainted with the practices that had their origin in ancient Babylon, and which Jehovah refers to today as one religion, Babylon the Great, (for according to Jehovah there are only two religions, true and false worship) then we cannot be “received” or "taken in" (NWT) by Jehovah into his household. We cannot be “sons and daughters” to him as long as we are still in Babylon the Great, for "how can the house of God get along with false gods."
"She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen"
When is it that the call to get out of Babylon the Great is heard? Is it before her fall or after?
The account tells us, starting in chapter 18:
"After these things I saw another
angel descending from heaven, with great authority; and the earth was lighted up
from his glory. 2 And he cried out with a strong voice,
saying: "She has fallen!
Babylon the Great has
fallen, and she
has become a dwelling place of demons and a lurking place of every unclean
exhalation and a lurking place of every unclean and hated bird!
For because of the wine of the anger of her fornication all the nations have
fallen [victim], and the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and
the traveling merchants of the earth became rich due to the power of her
4 And I heard another voice out of heaven say: "Get out of her, my people, if YOU do not want to share with her in her sins, and if YOU do not want to receive part of her plagues. 5 For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind. 6 Render to her even as she herself rendered, and do to her twice as much, yes, twice the number of the things she did; in the cup in which she put a mixture put twice as much of the mixture for her. 7 To the extent that she glorified herself and lived in shameless luxury, to that extent give her torment and mourning. For in her heart she keeps saying, ‘I sit a queen, and I am no widow, and I shall never see mourning.’ 8 That is why in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong." —Revelation 18:1-8
It’s good to remember that the apostle John did not write the Revelation with
chapters and verses, nor any punctuation. That was added much later by others.
It was originally one continuous scroll. What John records in chapter 18, verses
1 and 2, that of an angel descending from heaven, with great authority, crying
out with a strong voice, “She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen,”
was merely a continuation of what John said had already occurred just
prior to this, in chapter 17, verses 16 and 17: “And the ten horns that you saw,
and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated
and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with
fire. For God put [it] into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to
carry out [their] one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until
the words of God will have been accomplished.”
After John sees the destruction of Babylon the Great by the ten horns and the wild beast, which destruction Jehovah had put in their hearts to carry out, the angel now announces the fall of Babylon the Great. Her fall means her sudden total destruction, for she is "completely burned with fire," as 17:16 and 18:8,10 mentions, as "in one day," "in one hour."
Many believe that Babylon the Great merely falls before she is eventually destroyed. After all, does the account not say that Babylon the Great has become “a dwelling place of demons and a lurking place of every unclean exhalation and a lurking place of every unclean and hated bird” after her fall? (NWT) But that is a misleading and dangerous assumption.
The Greek word for “has become,” εγένετο (egéneto), describes what Babylon the Great has become at the time of her fall. That is why the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (also the NIV Interlinear) renders it as “she became.” The word egéneto (pronounced: e∙ye'ne∙to; [e as in met]) appears 17 times in the book of Revelation and is translated in the Kingdom Interlinear variously as "became, came to be, occurred." It is the past tense related to the verb γίνομαι (ginomae, pronounced: yee'no∙may), I become. It is never translated in the sense as happening from hence forth, or in the future. (compare Revelation 2:8; 6:12; 8:1, 7-8, 11; 11:13, 15; 12:7, 10; 16:2, 3, 4, 10, 18, 19; 18:2) * -see footnote.
A relevant question might be: when did the kings of the earth commit fornication with her, and the traveling merchants of the earth become rich due to the power of her shameless luxury? before or after her fall? The New World Translation renders it in the past tense, committed fornication (epórneusan) and became rich (eploútisan), whereas other translations, such as the Amplified Bible, put it in the present tense, “committing fornication” and “have become rich.” This, of course, they must have done before her destruction and right up to it. That is the situation of Babylon the Great at the time Jehovah carries out his judgment upon her.
I have a question for those who teach that Babylon the Great becomes “a dwelling place of demons and a lurking place of every unclean exhalation and a lurking place of every unclean and hated bird” after her fall. Is there any scriptural evidence that she was not a dwelling place of demons and a lurking place of every unclean exhalation, etc., before her fall? How do you explain that Jehovah addressed his own people long ago, in the song of Moses, that even they themselves "made him jealous by serving strange gods. They made him angry by worshiping statues of gods. He hated those gods. The people sacrificed to demons, not to God. The demons were gods they hadn't known anything about." (Deut. 32:16-17; New International Reader's Version)
How can Babylon the Great become, after her fall, something she has always been? The answer is not found in what happened to the city of Babylon of ancient times, being overthrown by the Medes and Persians and then slowly going into decline. There is no parallel fulfillment of prophecy in connection with that. She is not called "Babylon the Great" because of her slow decline but rather because of the influence ancient Babylon has had on the development on all false worship, worship which Jehovah says has been directed to demons; and worship that even his own people have been guilty of at times.
If Babylon the Great merely fell in the sense of losing some of her power and influence, then when does the account show that she actually gets destroyed? Does she glorify herself and live in shameless luxury, and keep saying in her heart, "I sit a queen, and I am no widow, and I shall never see mourning," before or after her fall? Please note that the account in Revelation says in connection with this, "That is why in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong." (Rev. 18:7-8) Clearly, her fall means her sudden, total end, while she is still sitting pretty.
Since the angel just announced the fall, or destruction, of Babylon the Great, any who want to worship Jehovah are admonished, yes warned, to get out of her before Jehovah executes his judgment upon her, in order not to share in her sins and her fate. As I have already mentioned, this call to get out of her is nothing new. This is a parallel call to what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his second letter, “‘Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’”; “‘and I will take YOU in.’” “‘And I shall be a father to YOU, and YOU will be sons and daughters to me,’ says Jehovah the Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:17-18)
Are any of God's people now in Babylon the Great? As Paul writes, we cannot belong to Jehovah as long as we are still "among them" and are "touching the unclean thing," contaminated by Babylon the Great. Jehovah calls those his people who desire to worship him, all those who are "rightly disposed for everlasting life." (Acts 13:48; see Rev. 21:7) But before they can be his people they must first separate themselves from Babylon the Great by getting out of her. Since her destruction is near, he is urging all who would want to belong to him, to get out of her, yes, to flee without delay. Only after they obey this command can they be his people. Once Babylon the Great has fallen it will be too late to act. It will be too late to turn to Jehovah in worship. If any of his people are still in Babylon the Great let them take immediate action and get out of her, for her fall will come suddenly and unexpected. Let them now come into God's household and become his sons and daughters, and he their father.
Strangely, there are some who preach that God’s people (Jehovah’s witnesses) will be, in the near future, taken into captivity by Babylon the Great, and that after her fall they will hear the invitation to “get out of her my people.” They believe that her fall is separate and earlier in time to her destruction. Thus, there is no urgency in their call to get out of her. (2 Timothy 4:3-4) But the scripture clearly shows that the fall of Babylon the Great means her utter destruction, that she will be completely burned with fire, and anyone who failed to act on the call to get out of her before then will share in her fate. And so will the false prophets who lulled their followers into complacency with their counterfeit words, just as it happened in Jeremiah's day.
The destruction of Babylon the Great will not be the beginning of the great tribulation. The great tribulation, mentioned by Jesus, refers only to Jehovah’s day of Armageddon. (Matt. 24:21-22; Rev. 7:14; 16:14,16; see Zephaniah 1:14-18) The great tribulation will not happen in two phases, as some believe, but will follow soon after the fall of Babylon the Great. The world already experienced a time when religion was banned in communist countries, where it was illegal to worship anything but the state. For decades almost one third of the world's population was affected. That was perhaps a tribulation for the religious people but not for the atheists.
The time is fast approaching when religion will disappear everywhere, this time from Jehovah, when he will act against all false worship by destroying Babylon the Great. It may be a time of tribulation for those who practice a religion, when they lose their places of worship, and realize that their god(s) had failed to save them, but it won't be a tribulation for everyone. But the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again,” will be the greatest of all tribulations for all mankind, without exception. "In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short." (Matthew 24:21-22)
The great tribulation will start when Jehovah wars against the nations, to annihilate them, just as he had already destroyed false worship. The once beautiful covering cherub, whom Jehovah had entrusted with the responsibility of being a guardian for mankind, but who developed the desire to be like God, and craved the worship of mankind, will see the system that he had set up over the thousands of years, for the purpose of being worshipped, totally destroyed. Satan the Devil will helplessly watch his entire corrupt world, that he was the god of, disappear, his religious empire, his governments and organizations; and then he himself and his demon angels will also disappear into the abyss, where they will no longer be able to mislead the nations, nor cause any harm to those who desire to worship the only true God, Jehovah. Then Jehovah will bless his people and be with them. "He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things (under Satan's rule) have passed away." (Rev. 21:3-4)
But, to be among those who survive and come out of the great tribulation, and enjoy the blessings that God's kingdom will bring, one must first have heeded the call, "Get out of her, my people, if YOU do not want to share with her in her sins, and if YOU do not want to receive part of her plagues." (Rev. 18:4; 7:14; 2 Cor. 6:17-18)