December 9, 2010

America's Doom Prophecied in Bible!

In Part 1, we looked at chapters 13 and 17, showing how they were two, complementary descriptions of world affairs in the closing years of Earth's history. This essay examines chapter 18, which I hope to demonstrate, is an extension of the prophetic views outlined in the previously studied chapters.
Chapter 18 (and bear in mind that the text was segmented into 'chapters' only long after it was written) discusses the 'fall of Babylon.' As we stated before, Revelation is written in symbols, so Babylon is to be taken as a figurative entity. In the OT, Babylon was a great city-state that once ruled a 'golden empire,' as Daniel assures King Nebuchadnezzar in chapter two of his memoir. Over time, it came to be recognized as a place of distasteful pagan practices and finally, symbolic of all that opposes true worship of the one God. Of important note, Peter refers to Babylon in his epistles (see 1 Pet 5:13) long after the destruction of the original city, and most scholars agree that he's obviously referring to Rome, in an emblematic sense.

Now, generally speaking, a woman is understood to represent a church or a religious company, and there are a number of scripture verses to support this view. However, I believe that in Revelation, a woman can also represent a nation. Chapter 18's main protagonist, is called Babylon, and referred to as 'she,' and in feminine terms. My proposition is that this Babylon is a great nation-state, having a number of revealing characteristics. Let's look into them. (As usual, texts are from the NASB unless specified otherwise).

Revelation 18
Text (from NASB)
Comments
1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. After the vision of ch. 17, another, glorious angel comes from heaven, one who speaks with authority. [i.e. This is a new vision, from a new & credible source.]
2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. Babylon is 'great'-- a prominent entity [nation] on the world stage. But, she has fallen to a very disgusting state of immorality. [The 'unclean birds' of scripture are primarily birds of prey, i.e. predators. See Lev 11:13-19]
3 "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality." All nations have gotten involved in the excesses and immorality of this nation, and businessmen (and corporations) have gained great wealth by cooperating with her decadence.
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; A warning for God's people not to participate in the widespread corruption of this system, at risk of receiving the punishments due.
5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. God is mindful of her vast immorality!
6 "Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. The time of karmic retribution has come; she will reap what she sowed, in double amount.
7 "To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, 'I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.' This nation lives as if there was no tomorrow, thinking there would never be an end to the wretched excesses of her lifestyle.
8 "For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. Because of her arrogance, disaster will come on her swiftly; a confluence of various calamities coming all at once.
9 "And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, The rulers of other countries, who had all been corrupted by her, will be upset to see her destruction come so rapidly.
10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.' The other rulers keep their distance from such vast destruction, but marvel how such a powerful nation could come to ruin so quickly.
11 "And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more-- Here's the thing! The businessmen mourn because their prime market for goods has disappeared.
12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, It's not the exact items that are important, but the variety ('every kind') and the value of all these commodities that one should note.
13 and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. As above, but this time, the items have more spiritual significance. Note, too, the inclusion of 'slaves' and 'human lives.'
14 "The fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them. Babylon becomes barren of the splendiferous things that were her hallmark.
15 "The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, The businessmen and traders who grew rich from dealing with Babylon are afraid to get close to her, so great are her disasters.
16 saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; All they can do is marvel at the fate of once-great Babylon, draped in riches and wealth.
17 for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!' And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, More emphasis on the suddenness of Babylon's collapse, and the aloofness of her onlookers. Note reference to international traders (who 'make their living by the sea).
18 and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What city is like the great city?' More stupefaction by the onlooking world.
19 19 "And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!' How much more emphasis do we need to show that this will be an unprecedented fall from wealth to ruin?
20 "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her." Godly people should take heart that God has exercised justice on evil Babylon.
21 Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, "So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer. A graphic demonstration of how this nation will be destroyed, never to rise again.
22 "And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; Babylon's vaunted 'entertainment industry' will be terminated, as will her light and heavy industries.
23 and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. Babylon's 'merchants' (corporate interests) were the de-facto rulers of earth, and she led all nations astray thru lies and elaborate deception.
24 "And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." This nation killed those who spoke truth, and (notably) 'all' people who've been slaughtered on Earth.

Analysis


Whew! That's a difficult passage to read without feeling the immensity of judgement being exercised by God against this evil, corrosive 'city.' Yet, as I read it in light of events and revelations that have emerged in the past seven years or so, I came to a conclusion that seems inescapable-- Babylon, here, is none other than the United States of America! What other entity could possibly match the clues more closely? Some have argued that she is the Roman Catholic Church, but in view of the clear evidence, I think that is to give far too much credit to that organization. We have to consider the emphasis on 'merchants' and international trade ('all who ply their trade on the sea'), and on the list of commodities and luxury goods, including even 'slaves' and human trafficking. And the scriptures refer to her as a 'city'-- a secular term, not something with religious connotation. Most of these clues cannot be easily transposed to religion, and their sheer repetition is a significant indicator of their importance to the prophetic picture.

And what a sorry picture it is: a nation that corrupts all other nations of the world, using deception and 'sorcery,' and uses its power to kill all who dare to oppose her. This is a nation that spends huge treasure to develop technologies for more efficient ways to kill and destroy (i.e. it's 'sorcery'). It is becoming common knowledge how the USA uses the CIA and other agencies to infiltrate and overthrow 'uncooperative' regimes, using American trained 'death squads' where felt necessary to achieve their desired ends. Even Hollywood, center of the entertainment industry, has released movies based on these very tricks of international manipulation. US based multinational corporations often have larger revenues than the GDP of all but the top handful of nations, making their owners 'the great men of the earth.' And America has become so arrogant that she is blind to any suggestion that all empires have always failed, and especially when hubris reigned unchecked by either reality or morality. America considers herself a queenly kingdom that will never be without consorts and will never have to face hardships like the 'lesser' nations.

I think the fact that Peter referred obliquely to Rome of his day as Babylon provides telling legitimacy to my assertion that the USA of today is Babylon of Revelation 18. First century Rome, while technically a big city, was also a city-state, and really, the capital of a nation-state that became an empire. Likewise, the USA is a highly urbanized nation, like a collection of cities, where New York and Washington DC represent the very essence of Babylonian traits. Remember that chapter 17 ended with the statement that "(18) The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth." In part one I said that it wasn't clear whether the woman is a religious system or else a nation or political-economic system. With our analysis of chapter 18, in the light of recent and current historical events, I believe the ambiguity is resolved. First, in chapter 17, Babylon could represent failed, corrupt religion, and this part of the vision was fulfilled in a primary sense during the terrible centuries of the Dark Ages of religious ignorance and persecution. But towards the close of ch. 17, the vision shifts to a political-religious perspective, and Babylon now represents a national, perhaps even a corporatist system that dominates the geo-political sphere.

It is quite significant to observe the behavior of the other nations, those that grew wealthy thru trade and cooperation. They stand afar, and are afraid to approach Babylon in her punishment, for fear of sharing in it. That's very interesting, isn't it? In view of the utter destruction depicted in the prophecy, and the repeated mention of the reluctance of onlookers to get close to Babylon, a modern reader would immediately think of atomic bombs and the fear of radiation poisoning. Perhaps the words are not meant to be taken so literally, yet the emphasis on keeping at a distance certainly echoes the warning to Lot and his family when they fled Sodom and Gomorrah, not to even look back, lest they be affected.

To anyone who has studied the monstrous behavior of successive American administrations in the last 50 (even 100) years, it is no shock that this country is overdue for a massive karmic pay-back. The lives that have been brutally terminated as a result of US foreign misadventures; the lies that keep pouring from the White House to cover and justify their remorseless predation, all cry out to the God of justice for divine intervention. Whole countries have been ruined (think Vietnam and Agent Orange; think Iraq and depleted uranium), innocent civilians cruelly murdered (recall 'dirty wars' in Central America and elsewhere), small countries devastated (e.g. Lebanon, Rwanda, Haiti, etc.), natural resources plundered (e.g. the oil-producing nations), all to satisfy the infinite appetite for wealth and opulence of the masters of American corporate interests. It's a travesty how the mighty USA, while boasting of its huge wealth and power on the one hand, still whines about being a victim of this or that miniscule nation or group of designated 'terrorists.' Every policy promulgated by the administration is, in some degree, a self-serving attempt to accumulate more wealth, more power, regardless of consequences for anyone else. 

This is not to tar all Americans with a black brush; it is the rulers, the 'great men,' the 'beast powers' who are responsible. Yet, the whole populace is at risk because of their thoughtless complicity in the American lifestyle-- sustainable only by the egregious consumption of a hugely disproportionate share of Earth's resources. God warns 'his people' to get out of Babylon so that they will not receive the punishments that are to be visited upon her. In practical terms this may mean that a true believer should minimize involvement with the excesses of the modern American way of life, and perhaps more than that, should leave the big cities and live in more remote locations. One is reminded of Jesus' warning (in Matthew 24) to his disciples to leave Jerusalem when they see the 'abomination that makes desolate.' Let us hope that the picture will be (made) clear when the time is at hand.
With the study of chapters 13, 17, and 18 of Revelation, I think the broad, bold outlines of the rapidly unfolding future are defined. Furthermore, as we get closer to the end, the Bible prophecies becomes clearer, and already it is possible to make practical sense of them. All Americans would be wise to take heed!

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