A Pleasure-Loving World About to End!
HISTORY is replete with examples of mighty kingdoms and empires being brought to their end by moral decay, loose living and inordinate love of pleasure. Even within a single nation, dynasties or regimes have toppled when love of pleasure eroded their moral fiber.
For example, in the book Outlines of Roman History, William Morey wrote: “If we were asked what were the symptoms of [Rome’s] moral decay, we should answer: the selfishness of classes; the accumulation of wealth, . . . the love of gold and the passion for luxury . . . These were moral diseases, which could hardly be cured by any government.”
Today, do we not see people becoming wrapped up in a secular, pleasure-oriented way of life? Are we not living in a pleasure-loving world? Yes, indeed, for although many still want some religion, social and recreational activities have taken the first place. People have become like those in Noah’s day—preoccupied with such things as “eating and drinking.” They are too busy fulfilling their desires to give heed to their spiritual needs. Indeed, interest in and support for religion are at a low ebb.—Matthew 24:37-39.
This love of pleasure and the accompanying decline in support for religion take on special meaning when we consider the way another ancient empire, Babylonia, came to its end. In fact, the unusual details of that fall, like other historical accounts, were recorded in the Bible for a specific reason: “They were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.”—1 Corinthians 10:11.
An Ancient Lesson
The river Euphrates played an important role in the livelihood of the great city of Babylon. In his book History of Cyrus the Great (1878), Jacob Abbott wrote: “[Babylon] was the capital of a large and very fertile region, which extended on both sides of the Euphrates toward the Persian Gulf. . . . The River Euphrates was the great source of fertility for the whole region through which it flowed.” Yes, Babylon’s prosperity stemmed from the Euphrates River. It is, therefore, all the more significant that the city’s fall should also be linked to that river.
Abbott gave this interesting account of King Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon:
“Cyrus advanced to the city. He stationed one large detachment of his troops at the opening in the main walls where the river entered into the city, and another one below, where it issued from it. These detachments were ordered to march into the city by the bed of the river as soon as they should observe the water subsiding. He then employed a vast force of laborers to open new channels, and to widen and deepen those which had existed before, for the purpose of drawing off the waters from their usual bed. When these passages were thus prepared, the water was let into them one night, at a time previously designated, and it soon ceased to flow through the city. The detachments of soldiers marched in over the bed of the stream.”
From the moment that the waters of the Euphrates began to subside, Babylon was doomed! And let it be noted that the city fell on a night of pleasure-filled feasting.—Compare Daniel, chapter 5.
History About to Repeat Itself
What happened to ancient Babylon at the hands of Cyrus the Great is not of mere historical interest. Using it as a type, the Bible book of Revelation speaks of a harlot named “Babylon the Great” sitting on “many waters.” And it is foretold that at God’s command an angel “poured out his bowl upon the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the rising of the sun.”—Revelation 17:1, 5; 16:12.
Who or what is “Babylon the Great”? What is pictured by the “many waters” of the “great river Euphrates”? And what is meant by its water ‘drying up’?
Though ancient Babylon is no longer in existence as a political power, its religious influence has extended through the centuries to every corner of the earth. Thus, “Babylon the Great” is the world empire of false religion, including all the churches of Christendom. Revelation 17:15 indicates that the “many waters” this religious harlot sits on are the “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues” upon whom she depends for support, much as ancient Babylon depended on the waters of the Euphrates for its prosperity. So the drying up of the waters means the dwindling of the people’s support for religion.a
“The End” Is Near!
In this context, we realize that the rise of secularism all around the world and the decline in interest and support for religion are of prophetic significance in two ways. First, these developments are in fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s prediction that in “the last days” men would become “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” This is part of the evidence proving that we are living in “the last days” or “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) Secondly, just as ancient Babylon fell on the very night that the waters of the Euphrates receded, the rise of secularism and the dwindling of support for religion are clear indications that destruction is imminent for “Babylon the Great.”
These prophecies undergoing fulfillment show clearly that we are living in “the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:4) Yes, we are nearing the final phase of the last days, the climax of which is the destruction of Satan’s entire wicked system of things. Indeed, this pleasure-loving world is about to end. But in this we can take heart, for it will pave the way for the righteous New Order of God’s promise. (2 Peter 3:13) You can share in its grand blessings if you do not put pleasure in place of God but, rather, put him first in your life during these last days.
a For details, see the article “Execution of the ‘Great Harlot’ Nears” in The Watchtower, October 15, 1980, pages 17-23, and the book “Let Your Kingdom Come,” chapter 17.