Babylon, Ancient and Apocalyptic

Babylon was built by Nimrod, the great grandson of Noah. Of Nimrod, Genesis 10:10 says, "And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."

Babel was established in defiance against God, a monument to man's independent greatness. The system of religion developed there, with its mysteries, became the basis of all heathen religions throughout the world.

Early Mesopotamian civilizations such as Akkad, Sumer, and Assyria were originally within the general definition of Babylonia. As the Assyrian empire grew, Babylon proper, or Chaldea, became one of its provinces. Ascendancy ultimately passed to Babylon itself when in 625 B.C. Nabopolassar founded the Chaldean or Neo-Babylonian empire. Under his son, Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon became the largest city in the world. It was situated on the Euphrates River, about 55 miles south of present-day Baghdad. Nebuchadnezzar's empire was the first of the four universal kingdoms described in the book of Daniel.

Daniel's Babylon was ruled by a succession of seven kings before it was overtaken by the Medes and Persians on October 12, 539 B.C. The city remained an important political center under Persian supremacy. In 331 B.C. Babylon fell into the hands of Alexander the Great who intended to make it his imperial capital. After Alexander's death and a power struggle among his generals, Babylon became the capital of the Seleucid dynasty, a position it held from 312 to 275 B.C.

Today the city lies in ruins, uninhabited, fulfilling the words of Isaiah 13:19, 20 and Jeremiah 50:39, 40.

Apocalyptic Babylon

Yet, in the forms of worship it introduced, Babylon lives on. The cultic mysteries of Babel spread to India, China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Britain, Scandinavia and throughout the world. As has been thoroughly documented by the late Alexander Hislop in his eye-opening work, The Two Babylons, all the major pagan deities of the ancient world were merely various manifestations of the original Babylonian trinity!

Thus, when Bible prophecy speaks of "Babylon" in an end-time context, it obviously cannot refer to the ancient city, which long ago ceased to exist. Rather, it refers to the religious element of Babylon, which never died. Babylon, in Bible prophecy, is the term used in reference to Satan's system of false or counterfeit religion. Set up at Babel, that system has been preserved throughout history, always the great competitor of the true worship of God.

Spiritual Babylon comes in three forms, as represented in the religions of the "dragon," the "beast," and the "false prophet" (Revelation 16:13). Chapter 13 of Revelation describes the full progression: the dragon gives his power to the beast; and then another beast (which in the light of Revelation 19:20 is to be identified with the false prophet) exercises all the power of the first beast and actually forms an image of it. So we have three faces of a single system. This might explain the three parts into which Babylon is divided under the seventh plague (Revelation 16:19).

Revelation shows Satan's system of false religion to be in partnership with the kings of the earth, a union described as spiritual "fornication."

To read about Apocalyptic Babylon, see:
Revelation 14:8
Revelation 16:12
Revelation 17:1-5
Revelation 18:2