The book of Revelation portrays a great conflict between truth and error. It graphically describes two systems of worship in collision. Truth, opposed by error, triumphs.
A pure, chaste woman represents the true church, while a harlot represents the fallen church. The bride of Christ, the true church, radiates the glory of God, revealing His truth to the world. The apostate church, pictured as a harlot, offers her wine of false doctrines, confusing the mind and leading multitudes to destruction.
In this study we will notice especially the characteristics of this false system of worship so we can flee from it. At the same time we will discover the characteristics of true worship so we can embrace it.
1. How does God describe the true church? Revelation 12:1.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars."
In each of the following texts God describes His people as His bride: Isaiah 54:5,6; Hosea 2:19;11 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-26. The woman in white represents the bride of Christ.
2. What does the Lord call His church? 1 Timothy 3:15.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
3. How is the false church pictured? Revelation 17:1 - 5.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "Come, I will show you . . . the great harlot . . . the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication . . . And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy . . . The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet . . . having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations . . . And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
Wine affects the forebrain where conscience, reason, and judgment are situated. As such, it signifies the confusion of false doctrines. Psalm 116:13 speaks of the "cup of salvation." The wine cup of Babylon full of lies may be called the cup of death.
Revelation's Babylon represents a false religious system which carries over the principles of Old Testament Babylon into religious worship in the Christian era. An understanding of Old Testament Babylon enables us to positively identify New Testament Babylon and flee its errors.
4. Who is the author of all false doctrine? John 8:44.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "You are of your father the devil, . . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him . . . he is a liar and the father of it."
Satan, the father of lies, counterfeits truth. He attempts to deceive us. Through religious deceit he desires to capture the minds of thousands.
Characteristic # 1 —Rebellion
5. What is the origin of Old Testament Babylon? Genesis 11:5-9.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, 'they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language.; So the Lord scattered them abroad . . . Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language . . . and scattered them abroad . . ."
6. Was the Old Testament Babylon centered in God's way or man's way? Daniel 4:30.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "The king spoke, saying, `Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?"'
Old Testament Babylon was established in direct opposition to the plain commands of God. It was a human system of religion based on the traditions and authority of men rather than God. It was man-centered rather than God-centered.
7. How was Babylon's rebellion against the true God revealed? Ezekiel 6:4.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "Then your altars shall be desolate, your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain men before your idols."
Dr. Alexander Hislop stated it clearly when he said, "Babylon is the prime source through which all idolatry flowed."
Modern Babylon is a system of religion which uses idols in its worship. Its statues, images and religious icons revive the idolatry of Ancient Babylon.
8. What clear, obvious command had God given His people? Exodus 20.4,5.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "You shall not make for yourself any carved image, . . . you shall not bow down to them nor serve them."
Characteristic #3-Immortality/ Ancestor Worship
9. What was the ancient Babylonian concept of death? In Ezekiel 8:14 who were the Jewish women weeping for?
MY BIBLE SAYS: "So He brought me to the door . . . and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz."
Tammuz, the god of vegetation, was one of the many deities of Babylon. The Babylonians believed that in the hot weather with no rain, Tammuz died, but in the season of fertile crops, he was revived again. This is just a sample of the Babylonian thought pattern that the dead do not die but live on.
The concept of the immortal soul was at the heart of Babylonian worship. The thought that the soul leaves the body at death comes directly from paganism.
10. What does the Bible teach regarding death? Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalm 115:17; Psalms 146:4.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "But the dead know nothing, . ." "The dead do not praise the Lord, . . . " "In that very day his plans perish.,"
Characteristic #4—Pagan Sun Worship
11. What Babylonian worship practice mingled with the worship of Israel for a time? Ezekiel 8:16.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "So He brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house; and there, . . . about twenty-five men . . . were worshiping the sun toward the east."
12. What sign had God given His people? Ezekiel 20:12,20.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. . ." "Hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, . . ."
The following historical quotations enable us to discover how the pagan day of worship gradually slipped into the Christian church:
Dr. Alexander Hislop in his book The Two Babylon says: "To conciliate the pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and pagan festivals amalgamated."
The History of the Christian Church by Arthur B. Stanley: "His, [Constantine's] coins bore on one side the letters of the name of Christ, on the other the figure of the sun god, as if he could not bear to relinquish the patronage of the bright luminary. . . . Absolutely amazing. On Constantine's coins, on one side, Christ and on the other side, the sun god. A wedding took place, a wedding between Christianity and paganism. A wedding between the church of Rome and the pagan emperors of Rome."
In The History of the Eastern Church, Arthur B. Stanley says this (page 184): "The retention of the old pagan name of Deis Solis, or sun day, it is in great measure owing to the union of pagan and Christian sentiment with which the first day of the week was recommended by Constantine to his subjects, pagans and Christians alike, as the venerable day of the sun."
13. How did many religious leaders relate to this union of true and false religion in Bible times? Ezekiel 22:26.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, . . ."
14. Does the false religion of Babylon sense the significance that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Daniel 5:4.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone."
This drunken feast is a typical example of Babylon's desire to gratify the physical senses.
15. What earnest appeal does the Apostle Paul give? Romans 12:1.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."
Spiritual Babylon's principles run through many religious organizations today. They include:
• Looking to a visible, earthly head rather than Christ.
• Any form of idol/image worship.
• A misunderstanding of what happens to a person when he dies; prayers to saints, veneration of dead loved ones, etc.
• Worship on Sunday.
• A misunderstanding of the body as God's temple; use of alcohol, tobacco, and unclean foods.
16. What appeal does God give to those still in Babylon? Revelation 18.4.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues."
God's call is not to stay in Babylon and reform it, but to come out of Babylon. Soon the plagues will fall on all inhabitants of Babylon. In love God has sent you a message to come completely out. Will you respond?