Babel to Babylon
C. T. Hussey, Cardiff, Wales
Included in the intimate heartbreathings of the Son to the Father recorded in John 17 is the desire for the unity both of His disciples and of those who would believe on Him through their word. At the same time, the Lord expressed His further desire that through that unity the world would believe and know that the Father had sent the Son, and through the Son had expressed His love. It is clear that the standing of the Church is ‘one in Christ’ if viewed as ‘the body’, 1 Cor. 12. 12-13, but the world cannot see the Church in its standing, but only in its divided state.
In recent times, in a vain attempt to rectify this state of affairs and to appeal to the world, many religious conferences have been held with a view to unifying the various churches of Christendom. The spirit of compromise, with its consequent sacrifice of truth, has prevailed and will continue until every vestige of truth has been forsaken in the interests of a manmade unity. This is advocated on the ground of ‘presenting a united front’ to the enemy. The fact is, however, that it is the enemy’s fifth column inside Christendom which is undermining the power of the Church to attack or defend by robbing it, bit by bit, of an essential weapon, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
In Genesis 10, we find that God divided the descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth by their families, tongues, nations and countries, but in chapter 11, we read that the whole earth was of one language. Men considered this to be a great asset in consolidating themselves without God. Today, men vainly imagine that they have only to mix with other nations, to exchange visits of adults and children with a view to understanding one another and broadening their minds, and all will be well. Many believe that the ‘millennium’ will be expedited by the adoption of a universal language. At Babel, when the whole earth was of one language, men said, ‘let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven’. Thus in the plain of Shinar was commenced the building of a commercial and religious centre without God.
It is noticeable that the materials used were brick for stone and slime for mortar. Herein lies a warning for all who would build anything for God. God uses stones, living stones, to build His house, but bricks are man-made. Those who are children of God are born, but not manufactured, born ‘not of blood’ (good religious descent), ‘nor of the will of the flesh’ (selfeffort), ‘nor of the will of man’ (the preacher’s converts), ‘but of God', John 1.13. When living stones are added to the church they are not held together with slime or any other substitute for the real thing. The unity of the Spirit of God through the Word of God is all-sufficient, and no amount of organisation or appeals to the flesh or schemes devised by natural intelligence can maintain the unity of the Spirit.
At Babel, after man had said ‘let us’, God said ‘let us’. God acted governmentally, confounding their language and scattering them abroad; ‘therefore is the name of it called Babel’, or confusion.
About 1,600 years later, another city bearing the name of Babylon was built in the plain of Shinar. It was a wonderful achievement of man, with buildings that would delight the heart of many a modern architect. Nebuchadnezzar said of it ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built?’, Dan. 4. 30.
At this time, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of an image, its significance being subsequently revealed through Daniel. It foretold the course of the ‘times of the Gentiles’, ch. 2. The king, being greatly impressed by the image, proceeded to set up an image of his own manufacture and demanded universal worship of it, ch. 3. Once more in the plain of Shinar man endeavoured to establish a universal false religion. The ‘times of the Gentiles’ commenced, and will end with an image before which man is commanded to worship, Rev. 13. 15. We cannot pass from this without noticing that the image of the king’s dream was destroyed by a stone cut out without hands, striking the feet of the image and filling the whole earth. All man’s attempts to rule this world will be destroyed when ‘He whose right it is’ shall ‘Reign where’er the sun doth his successive journeys run’.
Babylon the Great
Let us take a final look at Babylon. In Revelation 14. 8 we read ‘Babylon is fallen’. Then the great men of this world will weep and lament at the fall of Babylon, Rev. 18. 9-19, but in verse 20 all heaven rejoices. What is this Babylon? Chapter 14. 8 describes it as a great city which had made all nations drink of the wine of her fornication. In the spiritual sense, fornication, adultery and harlotry metaphorically present idolatry mixed with the worship of God. Chapter 17 brings before us the ten-kingdom confederacy of Daniel’s prophecy in the symbol of a scarlet-coloured beast with seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads are seven mountains and the ten horns are ten kings, v. 9. The seven mountains refer to the seven hills of Rome, and the ten horns to the ten-kingdom confederacy, or revived and extended Roman Empire, that was, is not, but shall ascend with Satanic power, 17. 8. The beast, however, is being ridden by a woman described as Babylon the Great, v. 5. John saw her drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs and her merchandise was not only precious stones and metals but souls of men. What religious system other than Rome has turned more saints into martyrs, or claimed to forgive and control souls before and after death, or controlled more nations? The woman is arrayed gorgeously and is fabulously rich. Rome too has untold wealth all over the world, and has always appealed to the lust of the eyes with her ornate buildings, wonderful architecture, colourful robes and so on, which would tax the descriptive ability and vocabulary of men. Rome too fulfils the description of harlotry in her worship of Mary, saints, buildings, sacred places and crucifixes; Revelation 2. 20-23 presents Rome as Jezebel, judged together with her children and those that traffic with her. What a warning to those in high places, political and religious, constantly and increasingly trafficking with the Papacy today.
To understand correctly the divine picture of this united but apostate Christendom, we need to be like John. He was in the spirit in the wilderness, 17. 3. About fifty years ago, the late W. E. Vine wrote, ‘Indications are not wanting of a tendency towards a re-union of Christendom which would be facilitated by a willingness on the part of the Papacy to adapt itself to the impulse of the time’. It is interesting to notice the development of that ‘tendency’ today. This false system will, however, be destroyed by the confederacy of nations, for ‘God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will’, 17. 17. Finally, after the fall of Babylon, when that which man considers glorious has been destroyed, we read ‘After these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God’, 19. 1.
Co-operation or Separation
To obey the voice from heaven ‘Come out of her, my people’, 18. 4, necessitates separation from any organisation, amalgamation or union of men, even though Christian in name, which demands silence or compromise on certain truths clearly taught in God’s Word. The only unity which we should seek grace to keep is the unity of the Spirit ‘with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love’, without compromise of divine truth, Eph. 4. 2, 3.