Insecure “Babylon” Doomed to Destruction
1. (a) What does the word “babylon” mean, and who founded the city by that name? (b) What building project did ambitious Nimrod undertake, and with what result?
CONFUSION marks the world today—politically, socially, and religiously. The English translation of the Bible’s Hebrew word for confusion is “babylon.” In Genesis, Babylon is spoken of as Babel, a name that also means “confusion.” The city by that name was founded by Nimrod, a rebel against Jehovah. (Genesis 10:8-10) There, men under the leadership of ambitious Nimrod set about building a tower that would soar heavenward in defiance of Jehovah. Jehovah defeated this God-dishonoring project by confusing the uniform language of the builders, so that they could not understand one another while trying to work together.—Genesis 11:1-9.
2. (a) What happened to the world power Babylon in 539 B.C.E., and did that mark the end of the city by that name? (b) What did the ancient city of Babylon not prove to be?
2 Long afterward, a new city bearing the name Babylon was recorded as existing there at the Euphrates River. (2 Kings 17:24; 1 Chronicles 9:1) In 539 B.C.E. the Babylonian World Power was overthrown by Cyrus the Great, the emperor of Medo-Persia, in fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophecy at Isaiah 45:1-6. Though Babylon had suffered a significant fall, it was permitted to continue its existence as a city. It is reported as existing even in the latter half of the first century of our Common Era. (1 Peter 5:13) That ancient city, however, did not prove to be “Babylon the Great,” which the apostle John wrote about in the book of Revelation chapter 17.
3. What is the true identity of Babylon the Great?
3 The apocalyptic “Babylon the Great,” depicted as an immoral woman who rides “a scarlet-colored wild beast,” stands for the world empire of false religion, including all the religions of so-called Christendom.* (Revelation 17:3-5) According to what the apostle John observed about her, this symbolic organization has committed spiritual fornication with all the political rulers of the earth. The world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great, still wields tremendous influence.
“A Friend of the World”—Not of God
4. During World War I, how did Babylon the Great add to her crimes against the human family?
4 However, the position of Babylon the Great is very insecure, and that has especially been the case since the end of World War I. During that conflict, she added to her crimes against the human family. The clergymen of Christendom, who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, preached the young men onto the battlefields. The late Harry Emerson Fosdick, a prominent Protestant clergyman, supported the war effort but later admitted: “Even in our churches we have put the battle flags . . . With one corner of our mouth we have praised the Prince of Peace and with the other we have glorified war.” The priests and other clergymen of Christendom offered prayers for the fighting forces at religious gatherings, and they served as chaplains for the army, the navy, and the air force.*
5. (a) What words of James 4:4 has Christendom not taken to heart? (b) What must be the divine judgment upon her?
5 Christendom, under the guidance of these religious leaders, has not taken to heart the words of James 4:4: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” Thus Christendom carries on as an enemy of the Most High God down to this very time. Certainly she does not have divine protection, and for this vital reason her very existence remains insecure. Her political friends are not to be trusted, and the tide in the antireligious direction continues to gain strength. It is not in her behalf that God says: “Do not you men touch my anointed ones.”—1 Chronicles 16:22.
“Get Out of Her, My People”
6, 7. (a) What urgent call is sounded at Revelation 18:4, and to whom is it directed? (b) When did an earlier but similar call begin to apply to the Jews languishing in ancient Babylon?
6 To these anointed ones and their associates during this conclusion of the system of things, the divine call rings out urgently: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins.” (Revelation 18:4) Yes, get out of the world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great.
7 This call echoes the words of Jeremiah 50:8 and; Jer 51:6, 45, which were directed to the remnant of Jews whom Jehovah sentenced to spend 70 years of captivity and exile in the land of Babylonia. Those words began to apply to the Jews who were languishing in Babylonia in 537 B.C.E., after the foretold Cyrus the Great marched his Medo-Persian troops down the nearly dried-up bed of the Euphrates River and into the city of Babylon.
8. (a) How did Cyrus the Great fulfill Isaiah 45:1-6? (b) Why did the one foreshadowed by Cyrus the Great need to act according to this prophetic pattern of things?
8 In the first year of his rule, Cyrus the Great acted in fulfillment of the prophecy at Isaiah 45:1-6. Similarly, the one foreshadowed by Emperor Cyrus, but who is far mightier, Jesus Christ, acted according to this prophetic pattern of things. This was at the due time after he had entered in upon his royal reign in heaven at the right hand of Jehovah God, when “the appointed times of the nations” expired in October 1914. (Luke 21:24) During the first world war of 1914-18, the remnant of spiritual Israelites experienced a captivity at the hands of Babylon the Great and her political paramours.
9, 10. (a) What action was taken against eight members of the Society’s headquarters staff? (b) What evidence is there that Babylon the Great was behind the movement to stop the work of Jehovah’s people?
9 For example, in the United States the latest book to be published by the Watch Tower Society at that time, The Finished Mystery, was banned as seditious. The two authors of the book were brought into federal court in Brooklyn, New York, and unjustly sentenced to 20 years of confinement in the federal penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia. So were the president of the publishing society, the secretary-treasurer, and three others of the headquarters staff. An associate translator was sentenced to half that amount of time in the federal penitentiary.
10 And so on July 4, 1918, these eight dedicated Christians were put on a train to Atlanta, Georgia, to be deprived of liberty there. Members of the Brooklyn headquarters of the Watch Tower Society then had to take care of matters to the best of their ability. Who was to blame for this situation? The book Preachers Present Arms answers: “An analysis of the whole case leads to the conclusion that the churches and the clergy were originally behind the movement to stamp out the Russellites [Witnesses]. . . . When the news of the twenty-year sentences reached the editors of the religious press, practically every one of these publications, great and small, rejoiced over the event. I have been unable to discover any words of sympathy in any of the orthodox religious journals.”—Ray H. Abrams, pages 183, 184.
A Fall—But Not Into Destruction
11, 12. (a) What had Babylon the Great intended to do? (b) How did she suffer a significant fall, though not into destruction? (c) What was the effect upon Jehovah’s liberated people?
11 But the rejoicing in Babylon the Great was not to last for long. In the spring of 1919, Babylon the Great suffered a significant fall, following which there must come certain religious developments before she is totally destroyed. Babylon the Great thought to keep Jehovah’s people suppressed and in captivity forever. But in March of 1919 the prison doors were forced open to the eight representatives of the Watch Tower Society, and out they came on bail. Later, they were completely exonerated of all charges.
12 Gone now was the rejoicing by Babylon the Great! Says the book Preachers Present Arms concerning the court’s decision to free the Witnesses: “This verdict was greeted with silence in the churches.” But great was the joy of Jehovah’s people. Their worldwide organization was repaired. At their convention in 1919 at Cedar Point, Ohio, the Society’s president roused the thousands in attendance into action by his talk “Announcing the Kingdom.” Jehovah’s Witnesses were again free, courageously proclaiming God’s Kingdom publicly! Babylon the Great had suffered a fall, though not into destruction. The Greater Cyrus, Jesus Christ, had defeated her and had liberated his faithful followers.
13. When the League of Nations appeared on the scene, what did Babylon the Great do?
13 Thus Babylon the Great was permitted to survive into the postwar era. When the League of Nations was proposed as a world peacekeeping body, the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America came out in support of it, publicly announcing that the League of Nations was “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” When the proposed League was finally established, Babylon the Great climbed onto its back and thus began her ride on this symbolic “scarlet-colored wild beast.”—Revelation 17:3.
14. (a) During World War II, what was the course of action of Babylon the Great? (b) When the man-made peacekeeping agency ascended out of the abyss after World War II, what did Babylon the Great do?
14 When this ineffective peacekeeping agency went into the abyss of inactivity at the outbreak of World War II, Babylon the Great was left without a mount. (Revelation 17:8) But she was right out there with the 57 nations that got embroiled in World War II. Her having to divide her loyalties between the warring factions did not bother her, even as her being divided up into many hundreds of confusing religious sects and denominations has never disturbed her. When the man-made peacekeeping agency, in the form of the United Nations, ascended out of the abyss of inactivity at the close of World War II, Babylon the Great immediately climbed upon its back and started exercising her influence over it.
Political Powers to Turn Against Babylon
15, 16. (a) Mankind is now face to face with what awe-inspiring spectacle? (b) What has Almighty God determined, in harmony with Revelation 17:15-18?
15 The whole world of mankind is now about to face an awe-inspiring spectacle. This will be the turning of the political powers against Babylon the Great, with the aim of wiping her out of existence. This may sound heart paralyzing to people who sincerely believe that all religions are good. But the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God, has determined that Babylon the Great has no place in all the universe and that she has befouled the realm of creation long enough. She must be violently brought down to utter destruction.
16 There are already on hand powerful agencies that God can allow to effect her destruction, namely, the political elements of the world. The God-inspired book of Revelation foretells that Jehovah will turn her lovers against her, and they will strip her naked, exposing her for what she really is—a demonized fraud! And then they will, so to speak, burn her with fire and reduce her to a pile of ashes. They will give her a treatment similar to what she gave to the uncompromising worshipers of the true God.—Revelation 17:15-18; 18:24.
17. Do the anti-Babylon exploits of the political powers turn them to the worship of Jehovah God, and how do we know?
17 This violent antireligious action on the part of the political powers does not mean that they will thereafter turn to the worship of Jehovah God. Their fierce anti-Babylon action does not mean that they will now become the friends of God. Otherwise they would not take the later action that the book of Revelation shows that they will take. (Revelation 17:12-14) They may rejoice immensely at the antireligious exploits that Jehovah God has permitted them to accomplish, but they will still continue to be misled by “the god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil, the all-out, relentless opposer of Jehovah God.—2 Corinthians 4:4.
18, 19. (a) Who will not survive to see the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty by means of the “Prince of Peace”? (b) But who will be ever-living witnesses to Jehovah’s vindication over Babylon the Great?
18 Babylon the Great will not survive to see the grand climax, the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty by means of the “Prince of Peace,” who is now the “Mighty God” at the right hand of the One Almighty and Supreme Deity, Jehovah.—Isaiah 9:6.
19 On the sidelines, under impenetrable divine protection, will be the witnesses of Jehovah. (Isaiah 43:10, 12) Under command from the righteous heavens, they will obediently have got out of Babylon the Great. (Revelation 18:4) Their righteous pleasure will be unbounded at what they witness. They will thereafter forever be witnesses of Jehovah and eternally be able to testify with regard to his vindication of himself over Babylon the Great.—Revelation 19:1-3.
For a detailed identification, see the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, pages 468-500, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
A detailed discussion of the clergy’s support for World War I is given in the book Preachers Present Arms, by Ray H. Abrams (New York, 1933). The book states: “The clerics gave the war its passionate spiritual significance and drive. . . . The war itself was a holy war to promote the Kingdom of God upon earth. To give one’s life for his country was to give it for God and His Kingdom. God and country became synonymous. . . . The Germans and the Allies were alike in this respect. Each side believed it had the monopoly on God . . . Most of the theologians had no difficulty whatsoever in placing Jesus in the very forefront of the thickest fighting leading his troops on to victory. . . . The church thereby became part and parcel of the war system. . . . The [church] leaders lost no time in getting thoroughly organized on a war-time basis. Within twenty-four hours after the declaration of war, the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America laid plans for the fullest cooperation. . . . Many of the churches went much further than they were asked. They became recruiting stations for the enlistment of troops.”—Pages 53, 57, 59, 63, 74, 80, 82.