In Revelation the 14th chapter we are introduced to the term “Babylon” representing a key target of the wrathful judgement of God.
“又有一位天使说，巴比伦倾倒了，那座大城倾倒了，因为她使万国喝了她淫乱之怒的酒。” ~ 启示录 14:8
Why has God chosen the name Babylon as the principal identity of spiritual evil and harlotry within Revelation?
There are many ancient kingdoms in the scriptures that were evil and antagonistic towards God’s people. But to identify the ultimate evil that people could become, he chose the name “Babylon”. It is very important that a minister that claims to be true, understands why God distinguishes “Babylon”.
The fact is that every minister of the gospel is potentially in danger of being taken by the deception of Babylon! Because in Revelation Babylon represents especially the spirit of a backslidden ministry. A spiritual leadership that in times past was faithful.
“忠信之城怎么变成妓女了！它充满了判断力；公义存于其中；但现在是凶手。” ~ 以赛亚书 1:21
So if there is an unfaithful condition that is subsequent to a faithful one, how and where does it start so I can avoid it?
Where does spiritual harlotry start?
To anyone honest, they can see the stark corruption in modern day “Christianity”. True Christianity is described in scripture as a pure and faithful bride of Jesus Christ. True Christians are delivered completely from sin to live holy sin-free lives. On the other hand Babylon represents Christian hypocrisy or spiritual harlotry: where people claim to love Christ, but they still like the pleasures that Satan can give them. So they still lie, cheat, lust, hate, hold on to bad attitudes, etc. They conduct themselves like spiritual harlots. They have a sinful pleasure price for which they are willing to disobey God, and Satan is willing to pay that price so that he can have a relationship with them.
Where did this Babylon condition first start if it was born out of those who were once true and faithful?
The first mention in scripture of the original people becoming part of Babel (the city to eventually become Babylon) is in Genesis. After Noah’s flood, it is the first account of a collective group of people offending God. And yet their intention seemed natural and humanly typical.
If we are honest with ourselves, many of us may find that we have acted in a similar fashion as them without even considering it. Let us closely read the account in scripture:
“And the whole earth was of one language, and of 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. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” ~ Genesis 11:1-4
Marten van Valckenborch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Prior to them trying to build the tower and to establish their own separate identity:
- After the earth being destroyed there was only one family left. So the people already had a common identity with everyone by birth as one family of God from Noah, and having one language.
- Previously God had told this family to go and be fruitful and multiply to replenish the Earth.
- God promised by the rainbow he would never destroy the Earth with a food.
So this was their mission to carry out the will of God. They had been called as one family to carry out the purpose of God.
Has the Christian revival in China been impacted by Babylon?
In a spiritual context, did not the great revival in China start out new after a great flood of persecution? By Communism first wiping out all religion, they wiped out the many divisions of Protestantism and Catholicism also. So when the revival broke out in the 1970s with only the knowledge of the Bible, and no external influence, the Chinese Christians only knew themselves collectively as one family of Christians by a spiritual birth. They were refined by the gospel and the severe persecution they suffered. And they obeyed God and began to replenish the Earth with Christians, and millions since have been converted.
But later the Western denominations within Protestantism and Catholicism would bring back their influence to offer them a separate identity and way to “be closer to heaven”. Today they are working to divide them up again by a false promise of their individual church methods “to preserve their revival.”
Has a focus on methods actually destroyed revivals of the past?
In the 1700s there was a revival that worked through ministers loosely associated with John Wesley. The Spirit of God worked through certain methods of operation in home meetings and street preaching to bring people to a new spiritual birth. But later others would try to further preserve the revival by focusing on always using the same methods, instead of keeping their focus on God. Eventually the focus on the methods became so prevalent they actually created an identity around them and called themselves “Methodists”. So the methods which God originally blessed them with to prosper the work, later became their identity, and became how they identified their members – regardless of any new spiritual birth.
So like early Babylon, God has confused the Methodist movement and it is scattered into many different denomination identities across the earth today. And so has also happened to many other movements. Just like God did to Babylon in Genesis.
But the methods God chooses to work through at any time or place are what the scriptures identifies as: gifts, administration, and operations. And these things can be different in different places and across time:
“恩赐原有分别，圣灵却是一位。并且有不同的行政，但同一位主。并且有各种各样的操作，但它是同一位上帝在万有中运行。但圣灵的显现却赐给每个人以从中受益。” ~ 1 哥林多前书 12:4-7
In the late 1800s a special movement of the Holy Spirit began in the USA. Because of the confusion of denominations, a message was preached to bring back a focus on the new birth. This message identified the one family of God based only on the new spiritual birth. Consequently it placed the identity of the church only with the heavenly Father and his Son.
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Fater of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” ~ Ephesians 3:14-15
To give glory and identity to no other, the movement focused on the simple name used in the Bible epistles of: “the church of God”. This is actually not a typical church “label” name because it actually has a deeper meaning in the original Greek scriptures being: “those who have answered the call of God” – to completely consecrate their lives to God by obedience to only the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
What has happened to the church of God revival movement since the early 1900s?
Many again have begun to focus on protecting the uniqueness of their identity by how God has worked among them individually in the past. They often have focused on a common fail-safe plan for protecting themselves from compromise. Consequently divisions of groups have started again. And many are focused on “protecting and preserving” themselves rather than on “replenishing the earth” with more new births and in new places.
But the movement of God’s Spirit is not something you can package up and preserve like you do fruits and vegetables.
You cannot create an idol image to a movement of God in the past, because you will neglect to respond to the Holy Spirit’s movement in the present. God knows “what” and “where” and “how” for the needs of today. You must sacrifice your self-protective control to keep God in control.
But what is it in man that causes this tendency towards establishing their own unique identity and wanting to gather people to themselves rather than gathering them to God?
Fear, and a lack of consecration and self-sacrifice to the original purpose that God has called us to. Consequently a subtle change happens to the message against the Babylonian spiritual condition. Instead of the message to “come out and be gathered to the Lord”:
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” ~ 2 Cor 6:17-18
The message becomes: “come out and be gathered to us.” The end result identity changes from “God” to “us”, or from “God’s” to “ours”.
If you don’t believe me, let us look way back at the very first beginnings of Babylon.
How did Babylon start?
As the descendants of the family of Noah replenished the earth with themselves, they started out as they had been instructed by God. But as they entered into the huge Mesopotamian plain they began no doubt to feel vulnerable. Especially if it should start to rain hard again in spring.
The rivers of the Mesopotamian valley tended to overflow their banks. It was necessary for them to learn to create materials that could withstand a flood: fire hardened brick and slime which is better known in that area as bitumen.
Note: Bitumen is a mineral pitch, which, when hardened, forms a strong cement, commonly used in Assyria to this day, and forming the mortar found on the burnt brick remains of antiquity.
To deal with the physical floods in the plain is why they needed to build and protect their dwellings from the flood with bricks and slime. But as they got good at it, their thinking expanded. The farther the walls went up, the farther they could see. In addition, the farther the walls went up, they themselves were more visible to others at a distance and so their labor was noticed and more highly regarded by others.
In addition, fear is often a very effective motivation used to keep people focused on a project effort. Perhaps they leveraged the memories of the the past world-wide flood to inspire the people of their need to keep building higher. They began to trust in themselves more than trusting in the promise of God to never flood the entire earth again.
So they reasoned: if what we have done is good and a true blessing, let us keep doing the same thing: and even higher. But how do you keep the people focused on the same building project over a long time? They will eventually be inclined to get “burned out” and think it is enough and move on to other territory.
We actually know the answer to this, because it is how we “keep things going” for any human institution on earth. We create a unique identity around a specific noble objective that will attract people to us and keep them with us. We do this to keep anything human together that is growing because we want to preserve the good that has started, whether it is:
- a large family
- a school
- a non-profit
- a business
- a town or city
- a country
- and yes, to a certain degree, even for a certain local congregational work or effort
But in the Kingdom of God this kind of thing must be subject to the constraints and direction of the Lord, because most human institutions, though necessary, have not willingly nor carefully subjected themselves to God’s purpose.
So as these people of the plain set out to build this “flood-safe” tower, they began to have a vision of their own identity that set them apart from the rest. They created an identity beyond the family identity they already had by birth. Now people would place their attention on building a tower that brought them closer to heaven (another noble purpose to keep the people focused), rather than spreading abroad and replenishing the Earth.
Prior to all this building they were both settlers and pioneers, spreading abroad by settling and then launching out again and again. They would establish a “missionary outpost” to provide the ability to launch out further, and then go on further to replenish the rest of the earth. But now they focused only on settling and establishing and preserving their own special identity. After all they were building something big, and attracting many to themselves.
I’m convinced that most things in life don’t happen without warning. No doubt there were some among them that tried to express a concern that they were abandoning their pioneering efforts. But they were overruled by those with stronger opinions and abilities to dissuade.
So eventually they completely lost the original vision.
Isn’t focusing on building the church to be closer to God always a noble thing?
If we think in typical human terms, none of these things that the beginnings of Babylon did, seem so “evil”. No doubt if we saw this tower we would be impressed and want to go see it closer. It would draw our focus and attention to them.
But there is a pride that goes along with establishing and protecting a separate identity surrounding anything. And most important: this new identity was not the one the Lord originally gave them.
So this is how the beginnings of Babylon started, and it is identified by God as the beginning of even more evil – without any boundaries as to how far it potentially could go.
“And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” ~ Genesis 11:5-6
“This they begin to do…” And how far has this type of focus brought us today. Read Revelation 17 about the whore of spiritual Babylon.
God stopped the first efforts of the beginnings of Babylon and their self preservation identity agenda, by confounding their common language. So they left off building further, and they actually scattered from one another.
Exactly the opposite of what they originally intended.
So they went on doing what God originally intended: to spread abroad and replenish the earth. But dividing that way is always painful. It would have been so much better had they continued to spread abroad willingly, and still maintained the one family identity and language that God originally gave them by birth.
How many times has God scattered his people through uncomfortable circumstances so that they might spread abroad and refocus on replenishing the Earth with souls saved? If we were to honestly research and investigate this throughout history and we’re able to know the details, you will be surprised to realize how little God actually values the particulars of our collective individuality and our special understanding.
Think with me: is this not what has happened over time to many Christian revivals of the past? People want to preserve the work by protecting and establishing a separate identity for it. But every time, their own efforts to preserve and set themselves apart, actually brings the revival to an end. And eventually they divide.
So what do we learn from the beginnings of Babylon?
1. First, if God promises that he will not allow an overflowing flood to destroy us, believe him! Don’t spend your time and resources in building nothing but your own self protections against the floods of hypocrisy. If we are truly serving him, Jesus promised to always be with us to help us overcome hypocrisy. Believe him!
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” ~ Matthew 28:18-20
It would have been reasonable for the descendants of Noah to build a bank wall around their dwellings to protect from seasonal flooding. But a tower to reach to heaven was totally unnecessary. Only do the “necessary things” (Acts 15:28) to establish a local work and maintain the integrity the true Christian life and connection with God and his Holy Spirit. Don’t give into fear and add more.
2. Second, if you are part of the family of God by the new birth that delivers you from sin: don’t try to add anything else to uniquely identify yourself as a Christian individual, nor as a local congregation of Christians. When you do, you exclude others who don’t fit your identity scheme, and you start building an identity pride to glory in.
The apostle Paul warned us against this, and that we should rather identify with the sacrificial love that was shown us through the cross of Christ; and the cross he wants us to bear for him.
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” ~ Galatians 6:14
As a minister, if you don’t pay attention to avoiding these simple beginnings of Babylon: you will start creating your own Christian identity. Hence you will start the formation of yet another beginning of the Babylonian spirit.
The command from God is for Christians to go out and multiply and replenish the earth.
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” ~ Mark 16:15
But today, among those claiming to be “standing separate from Babylon” what is going on? When is the last time you sent anyone out to establish a new work, especially in a place that has never heard the gospel?
Twice the Revelation message commands that the judgement message against Babylon must be taken into all the world.
- “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” ~ Revelation 10:11
- “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” ~ Revelation 14:6-8
So where is this company of ministers that are busy about the Lord’s command? Are they marching into new territory, tearing down the walls of division and rooting out hypocrisy? Or are they self protecting and creating their own unique group identity separating the saved from the saved? So has God already confused their language and divided up those claiming to be the church: because of the beginnings of Babylon?
God’s command to people who are spiritually part of Babylon is to separate from just being religious and to come fully to God. Don’t fellowship a fallen church where the people are nothing more than religious people who meet to feel good while still being bound by sin in some way. Get delivered and find true holiness in your heart and mind through Jesus Christ’s full plan of salvation (identified in the scriptures).
- “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 (see also Revelation 18:4)
- “…The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:19
But unfortunately today, many have switched the “come to God” part to be “come to us and our special identity that we have created, so we will not be scattered.” (Similar to the beginnings of Babylon.)
So how many times has God confounded the “come to us” people by further splintering them up into smaller groups?
So how can we avoid building Babylon again?
The “come to us” people need to first learn from Acts 15 and allow the Holy Ghost to identify his people by salvation and practice the common song they all know: “we reach our hands in fellowship to every blood washed one.” They must only be concerned about the necessary things (see Acts 15:28), and allow God to take care of the rest! Get back to “come out of her my people, and separate yourselves from falseness – and I will receive you – come to God.”
When we call people to us, we create groups. When we sacrifice “us” to become like others (see 1 Corinthians 9:18-27), we start calling people to God, and so we start to build the church of God. Because in the original that is what the words “church of God” mean: “called out to God”.
May every minister stop the overemphasis of self protections, only require the necessary things, reach again their hands to every blood washed one, and get back to “go ye into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature!” Let God’s identity be sufficient, and leave it alone! Allow Jesus Christ to be King of kings and Lord of lords in everything and to everyone.