The Babylonian System
Isaiah 14:12-17 - How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. 16 Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, 17 the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?”
Matthew 4:9 - “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Revelation 14:8 - A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”
Revelation 18:2 - With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
Revelation 18:10 - Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!’
Revelation 18:21 - Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.
The Biblical story in the New Living Translation (NLT) tells us that the final end of earth's problems comes with God's judgment on Babylon and its final fall.
Then another angel followed him through the skies, shouting, "Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen." (Revelation 14:8).
He gave a mighty shout, "Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen!" (18:2).
They will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will cry out, "How terrible, how terrible for Babylon, that great city! In one single moment God's judgment came on her" (v. 10).
Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder as large as a great millstone. He threw it into the ocean and shouted, "Babylon, the great city, will be thrown down as violently as I have thrown away this stone, and she will disappear forever" (18:21).
Babylon reappears repeatedly in the Bible story as an enemy of God. At creation, God initiated His master plan to build what was later identified as the kingdom of God. Babylon represents the capital of an antichrist system committed to destroying God's works. The Biblical account tells of warfare between these two kingdoms.
Is the problem we have with the enemy kingdom individual or systemic? Protestant theology reflects Western concerns about the individual, but the problem of evil is more than just personal. The total cultural system contains evil that must be continually overcome. The present emphasis on spiritual warfare recognizes the significance of this systemic problem.
the babylonian kingdom
Nimrod, a mighty hunter, became a heroic warrior (Genesis 10). His name was proverbial, and people measured good hunters by him. When he turned his skills from hunting to military use, he began building an empire that became Babylonia (vv. 8-10).
Nimrod's Hebrew name, gibbon, describes warriors. Today's translations call him "a mighty one" (NKJV), "a mighty warrior" (NIV), "heroic warrior" (NLT), or "the world's first great conqueror" (GNT). The first kingdom on earth was founded when the existing nations lost their freedom through conquest. Nimrod was the first warrior in the Bible, and Babylon introduced warfare into our world.
We don't have much insight into culture before the Flood; but after the Deluge, God established a covenant with guidelines for the rule of law and order. The new structure began with three families, all sons of Noah. As these families grew, they became clans, then tribes. Ultimately the tribal groups became large enough to be called nations.
authority for kingship
The basic foundation for nations is the family structure. In the beginning, leadership of nations followed tribal patterns of patriarchal authority. Later, Israel was established as a nation, under the patriarch, Abraham. Nimrod introduced another system. He established an army, conquered other nations, took their lands, and placed the people under his authority. God's original political and civic structure, an extension of family authority, was destroyed when existing tribal groups or nations lost their ability to govern themselves according to God's plan.
The Bible permitted a monarchy or kingship, but it was not God's choice for an acceptable authority system. Kingship is based on destroying an existing system and reducing the conquered peoples to slaves. Babylon's evil system was based on oppression under an evil king.
In Genesis 10, Nimrod set up the Babylonian kingdom. In chapter 11, the system was institutionalized. In Babel, the capital, the people built a tower significant enough to merit God's judgment.
idolatry and a temple
The "tower" was a ziggurat -- a temple tower used for idol worship. Babylon was the first kingdom on earth to establish an idolatrous religious system supporting a political system that was established to conquer other nations and enslave their people.
Satan wants to control religion. The primary objective of the Babylonian system was obtain worship for Satan. This truth was clear in the temptation of Jesus. Satan asked Jesus to fall down and worship him (Matthew 4:9). Clearly, Satan's purpose was to exalt himself over God and receive the worship that belongs to God alone.
The Babylonian system provided Satan that Worship. When God looked down on the city of Babylon, He said that they would be able to fulfill whatever purpose they had in mind. Their purpose was to divert all authority and worship away from God and give it to Satan.
satan as king of babylon
How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, "I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God's stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High." But instead, you will be brought down. . . . Everyone . . . will stare at you and ask, "Can this be the one who shook the earth and the kingdoms of the world? Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wilderness? Is this the king who demolished the world's greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?" (Isaiah 14:12-17, NLT).
This "shining star, son of the morning," who was thrown down to earth after he decided to ascend into heaven is Lucifer. He is identified here, however, as the king of Babylon. This passage makes it clear that kingship in Babylon was under the authority and rule of Satan himself. The temple built in Babylon was clearly designed for the worship of Satan. It was the religious and political authority for the Babylonian system.
God recognized the strength of that kingdom structure: "Nothing will be impossible for them" (Genesis 11:6). He broke up the single kingdom unity by confounding their language, but the scepter of the king of Babylon will not be broken until the final judgment. The Revelation passages tell of the ultimate downfall of Satan's Kingdom.
1. How did nations evolve from a tribal structure based on kinship ties and family authority?
2. Describe Nimrod and the kingdom he established?
3. What was the Tower of Babel, and what was its purpose?
4. Why would God not permit a kingdom committed to the worship of Satan to continue without being judged?
5. Since we are concerned about sin in the individual, should the problem of sin in our cultural system also concern us?
6. In Isaiah 14, is the prophet talking about a king on earth or one in heaven?
7. When will God's final judgment fall on Babylon?
8. What does this lesson have to do with spiritual warfare between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan?