And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (Revelation 17:5, ESV)
The Bible uses Babylon both literally and figuratively. Babylon was a real city in Mesopotamia and was the fascinating city of ancient times. The most important historical aspect for us is that it was the city that destroyed Jerusalem and took the Israelites captive. Its ruins are still present today in the suburbs of Bagdad in Iraq. The scriptures focus on the symbolic significance to us.
In Revelations 17:5, we are told “ Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations”. What is this symbolic Babylon?
This figurative Babylon is NOT referring to a city or country, such as end time Rome or Jerusalem. Historical Babylon was a city, but the figurative one is not. It is portrayed in Revelations 17 above as a prostitute, which connotes its alluring and seductive influences to draw people away from Christ. Figurative Babylon is the world’s system —political, economic, religious and others, that is hostile against Christ, seeks to destroy God’s people, turns people away from God and is against the plans and purposes of God.
The world’s system systematically pulls people away from God. It is an enticement in the affairs of the world that conquers a person’s dedication to God. For example, someone might want a position of political power and his desire for power will cause him to do anything, including disobeying God, to get what he desires. A very practical example today that affects us all is an unhealthy desire in many to be famous or celebrities, either online or on stage. Some men and women will even sell their souls to Satan to be famous. Others will agree to get engage in sexual affairs just to “move forward in their acting career.” You see, the desire to be famous entices them as it promises them fame which makes them reject the Word of God to satisfy this desire. These are only a few examples.
One of the most dramatic examples was Satan telling Jesus to bow down and worship him during the temptation in the wilderness in Matt 4: 9 — “And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me”” (ESV). This is the epitome of Babylon. It demands your allegiance from God and promises to give you the world. It is what makes our young people turn away from God in search for the pleasures of the world ( world = Babylon) because Babylon promises to give them the best enjoyments and pleasures of life while dragging them into the pit.
When scripture says “love not the world” ( 1 John 2:15), Babylon is what it is referring to. It is not saying you should hate life, but that the allures and enticements of Babylon should not seduce you. The times are challenging, but the Spirit of God will keep you spotless from the world as you yield to His leading.
What is the difference between historical Babylon and figurative Babylon in scripture?
APPLY THE WORD
Babylon desires to destroy everything Christ in our lives. Remember, though Babylon is powered by Satanic influences, it is not necessarily some occult sect or outwardly demonic activity. It is the world’s influences, enticements, and persecutions of God’s people that we deal with daily. Keep yourself unspotted by the world. Do not allow the enticements and allures of this life to destroy your relationship with God.
Ask the Father to keep you from the enticements, temptations, and allures of Babylon.