[* From Is Babylon to be Rebuilt? 39 Chambers Lane, Willesden Green, London, N.W, 10.]



In the words of Augustine: "Babylon is a former Rome, and Rome a, later Babylon; Rome is a daughter of Babylon."  The two Babylons are contrasted in chapters seventeen and eighteen of the Revelation.  The Babylon of chapter seventeen is symbolical of Rome; it is mystic Babylon.  Cardinal Bellarmine writes : "St. John in the Apocalypse calls Rome Babylon, for no other city besides Rome reigned in his age over the kings of the earth, and it is well known that Rome was seated on seven hills."


The Babylon of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation is literal Babylon, which is seen in pride and power after the destruction of Rome, the mystic Babylon.  The fate of the two cities is different; mystic Babylon (Rome) is destroyed by the kingdom of the Antichrist; but literal Babylon perishes instantaneously by the judgment of God (Rev. 18: 17-19).  To quote a well-known expositor: "The Babylon of chapter 17. is a ‘mystery’ ; not so that of chapter 18.  Again, the destruction of the one is different from that of the other.  The first will be destroyed by the ten kings and their emperor (17: 16) the second by the direct judgment of God (18: 5, 8, 20) the first as the result of human antagonism, the second by famine, fire, and earthquakes" (W. E. Vine, M.A.).  In the prophecy of Daniel we have an inspired symbol of the four great world-empires which fill up the times of the Gentiles; and it is remarkable that Babylon was the capital of the first of these three empires, while Rome was the capital of the fourth empire.


The rebuilt city Babylon will be distinguished as the commercial capital of the last world-state and the metropolis of Antichrist’s kingdom.  No student of the Revelation can miss the characteristic features in the description of Babylon in chapter 18; they are merchandise, merchants, ships, and great wealth: "Thy merchants were the great men of the earth." Again and again it is stated that "the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more" (Rev. 18: 11).


The judgment of Revelation 18. is a double woe for a double iniquity, for the reason that literal Babylon at the last absorbs mystic Babylon.  We see this as we compare the prophecy of Zechariah and the book of Revelation, and especially as we study the fifth chapter of Zechariah, the Vision of the Ephah.  The meaning of the Vision is quite clear, if we remember the regular symbolism of the Scripture: anything out of place is symbolical, not literal.  The chief figure in the Vision is the woman seated in an ephah and being borne along in it to Shinar or Babylon.  "Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah?  And he said unto me, To build her an house in the land of Shinar: and when it is prepared, she shall be set there in her own place." That is, Shinar or Babylon is the woman’s original home; she is seen fleeing to her place of origin. The ephah and talent of lead are symbols of commerce.  A woman in Scripture symbolism represents a city.  Thus we have a city, enthroned upon commerce and being transported by the help of two other cities ("the two women" of Zech. 5: 9) to Babylon, its original home.  Rome came out of Babylon; she is mystic Babylon.


Turning to Rev. 17: 18, we have a picture of the same woman: "And the woman whom thou sawest is the great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth."  Rome, mystic Babylon, having risen to vast power by the help of the princes of this world, is seen at the last being destroyed by the Antichrist and the ten kings of the revived Roman empire who are in alliance with him.  The Papacy, thus attacked in the Vatican State, escapes to Babylon, its spiritual home, probably with the help of two friendly Romanist powers with their fleets of aeroplanes: "The wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork" (Zech. 5; 9).  How significant the symbolism of the stork in this connection!  The stork is native to Asia, and visits Europe only in summer.  It is well known that storks assist smaller birds in their migrations by carrying them on their backs; how apposite a symbol of an aeroplane!  Moreover, the Hebrew name for stork is chasidah, which means pious, and so the bird was known as the pious bird, although reckoned unclean by God (Lev. 11: 19).  How many Popes have fulfilled this analogy in the title Pius!


The system of commerce thus established in Babylon will be an evil monopoly; it is thus described in Rev. 18: 12-13: "Merchandise of gold and silver, and precious stone, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thynne wood, and every vessel of ivory and every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and spice, and incense, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and cattle, and sheep, and merchandise of horses and chariots and slaves; and souls of men."  Already we see the small trader "squeezed out" by the huge combines and monopolies of our day.  Such a system will be a prepared instrument for the use of Antichrist at the end.  "The remnant escaping from Rome will embrace the faith of Antichrist, for none may buy or sell except those that have stamped themselves with his mark; and therefore, the cup of false doctrine being stricken out of her hand, she becomes simply commercial: the world is caught at last in its Sodom state of godless wealth" (R. Govett, M.A.).


One of the three places mentioned in Scripture as a source of gold is in the region of Babylon, and an American writer, Dr. W. D. Herrstrom, makes this interesting suggestion (American Sunday School Times, 8th January, 1933): "After a careful examination of some five hundred Scripture passages that speak of gold, I notice that much of the gold came from the region mentioned above (i.e. the vicinity of the Persian Gulf), and eventually most of it seemed to return to the same region, especially to Babylon itself.  Of the twenty-eight items of commerce in rebuilt Babylon (Rev. 18: 12), gold heads the list.  Surely this gold will be discovered some day-probably very soon.  If that should occur there would be a great gold rush to the vicinity of ancient Babylon; a city of great wealth would spring up over night."  It is exceedingly remarkable that since these words were written, a gold mine has been discovered near Mount Ararat, some hundreds of miles north of Babylon, the value of which is put at sixty million pounds by the Turkish Minister of Economy.  Thou art the head of gold’ may yet be addressed in a new and sinister sense to the Chaldean Head of an Image once more dominating the world.


This rapidly-approaching Babylonian autocracy will show no mercy to the individual, nor will it have any respect for the Christian Church.  The State will be all in all.  The leaders of the rising despotisms of our time are either Marxians, or else have been Marxians - as was Mussolini.  These are the words of Karl Marx: "The idea of God is the keystone of a perverted civilization.  It must be destroyed.  The true root of liberty, of equality, of culture, is Atheism."


Beyond doubt, a period of intense persecution of the Christian Church is approaching, heading up in the Kingdom of the Antichrist, which will be a dreadful caricature of the Kingdom of God.  One thing prevents the full manifestation of Antichrist in our time; it is the Holy Spirit in the Church (2 Thess. 2: 6-8).  When the watchful believers are caught away by Rapture into the heavenlies, Satan will be cast down to the earth, where he will be worshipped as a god.  Even now there are Devilworshippers in Babylon, concerning whom a full column was written in The Times of 7th October, 1932. The Times estimates the number of Yezidis, or Devil Worshippers, to be about 36,000 in Iraq.  The most prominent feature of their religion is the worship of the Peacock Angel, which represents none other than the Devil.  In the words of Sir George Adam Smith: "Babylon represents civilization; she is the brow of the world’s pride and enmity to God.  Babylon is the Atheist of the Old Testament, as she is the Antichrist of the New."


Our Lord has bidden us to observe the signs of the times, and we who are His disciples should remember that a perfect escape from the coming calamities is promised to the watchful believer.  "But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21: 36).  And "Seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in His sight" (2 Peter 3: 14).*