Definition of Babylon— The Bible uses the name symbolically to refer covertly to Rome, Jerusalem, or to false religions.
Babylon was a great empire that ruled the known world from 612 BC until it was defeated by the Medo-Persian empire in 539 BC. It is located on the Euphrates River. Its false religions began with Nimrod, described as “a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10:8). It had its own creation myth and multiple gods and idols. Babylon also represents Satan’s capital city in scripture.
The Bible mentions Babylon over three hundred times as either the city itself or its associated religious system. It’s named after the city of Babel, which was one of the first cities established after Noah’s flood. The Tower of Babel was located there, and the name ‘Babel’ means ‘confusion’ “because there (at the Tower of Babel) the Lord confused the language of all the earth (and) scattered them (the people) abroad over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).
The city was founded by Nimrod, and the Bible describes this founder:
“Therefore, it is said,
“Even like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel” (Genesis 10:9-10).
Calling him ‘a mighty hunter’ wasn’t a compliment; instead, it meant this man opposed God’s ways, ways that looked like praiseworthy accomplishments from a purely human perspective. He founded several cities along or near the Euphrates River in what is modern-day Iraq.
Nimrod was born only three generations after Noah. Hence, the earth’s population was still relatively modest but building quickly. God had commanded the people to scatter over the face of the earth, but they rebelled and built a tower instead. They were proud of their great tower (Genesis 11:4), which they thought reached into God’s heaven.
But God wasn’t impressed. With a touch of irony, the Bible tells us that God had to come down to see it (Genesis 11:5)! Pride and rebellion against God are crucial features of religious Babylon (Isaiah 13:19).
Religious Babylon is also characterized by idolatry (Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 51:44), sorceries (Isaiah 47:18), and tyranny (Daniel 1:1-8; 3:1-22).
In Revelation prophecy, Babylon is both a city and a religious, political, and economic system that are all directly opposed to God and designed to persecute God’s saints (Revelation 13:16-17; 17:6). She is described as a great harlot who deceives and seduces earth dwellers (Revelation 17:1-5). She’s also a home for demons and unclean spirits (Revelation 18:2). Demons are the spiritual forces behind her teachings.
She sees herself as a queen:
“In her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, and am no widow, and will see no sorrow” (Revelation 18:7).
But God tells us her fate:
“Therefore, her plagues will come in one day— death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her” (Revelation 18:8).
Babylonianism is the philosophy of our society apart from, and opposed to, the God of the Bible. It provides a system of beliefs and rituals whereby people can get to heaven on their own merits. They think they don’t need a Savior to come to the Father (John 14:6) because, in their eyes, they’re just fine the way they are, and there are many ways to salvation.
It follows the ways of the educated natural man, which agree with the design of the god of this world, Satan:
“The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
The values of this system begin and end with humanity apart from God. This approach leads to disastrous results, as detailed during the time of the judges when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
In contrast to Babylonianism, Biblical Christianity understands that salvation is apart from human works. Jesus came as our only hope and Savior so that we can come to the Father by believing in His Name. And by believing, we simply receive what He has accomplished on our behalf:
“Christ … entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (by His own shed blood on the cross)” (Hebrews 9:11-12).
In contrast to the teachings of Babylonianism, history is leading to the return of Jesus Christ to rule in righteousness forever.[[Credits: Partially based on an article written by Dr. Steven R. Cook and used by permission.]]