Babylon Then and Now

The story of Ancient Babylon’s demise is reflected in the “sixth trumpet” and the “sixth bowl of wrath” in Revelation

Roman ruins - Photo by Nicole Reyes on Unsplash
In Daniel, on the eve of the city’s conquest by the “Medes and Persians,” King Belshazzar gave
a feast “for a thousand of his lords” and “tasted wine” from the sacred vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had looted from the Jerusalem Temple, disrespecting the God of Israel while also praising the false gods of Babylon - [Photo by Nicole Reyes on Unsplash].

In Revelation, this incident lies behind the portrayal of the “inhabitants of the earth” who refused to repent of their sins, despite enduring the “plagues” unleashed by the first six of the “seven trumpets.” And the overthrow of ancient Babylon by the “Medes and Persians” is echoed in the “sixth bowl of wrath” when the “kings of the east” were released from the Euphrates River for the final battle on the “great day of God the Almighty.”

Belshazzar’s celebration was interrupted when a mysterious hand wrote unknown letters on the wall, letters that none of the Chaldean “wise men” could interpret. Only Daniel was able to do so, and in the process, he issued a stern rebuke to the Babylonian potentate for his blasphemy:
  • (Daniel 5:20-23) – “But against the Lord of the heavens have you uplifted yourself, and the vessels of his house have they brought before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine therein, and GODS OF SILVER AND GOLD, OF BRONZE, IRON, WOOD AND STONE, WHICH SEE NOT NOR HEAR NOR KNOW HAST THOU PRAISED, whereas, God in whose hand your breath is and whose are all your ways, HIM HAVE YOU NOT GLORIFIED.
In contrast to his noble ancestor, King Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar failed to humble his heart, and instead, he profaned the Lord’s sacred vessels. Rather than honor the “Most-High” as Nebuchadnezzar had done, he praised false gods and idols.

The same hardness of the heart is reflected in Revelation. After the sounding of the “sixth trumpet,” four angels were loosed from the Euphrates who roused a massive army that slew a “third of mankind.” This was the latest and worst of the series of “plagues” inflicted on the earth by the “seven trumpets.”

But the men who survived all “these plagues” continued to refuse to repent. Rather than acknowledge the God of heaven, they paid homage to “the IDOLS OF GOLD AND OF SILVER AND OF COPPER and of stone and of wood, WHICH CAN NEITHER SEE NOR HEAR NOR WALK.” And their stubborn refusal more than justified God’s “wrath” on them when the “seventh trumpet” sounded and ushered in the “Day of the Lord” - (Revelation 9:13-20, 11:15-19).

Verbally, the “sixth trumpet” is linked to the “sixth bowl of wrath” by the references to the “Euphrates River.” Just as the “four angels” were “loosed” from the river to attack men, so when the “sixth bowl” was emptied, the Euphrates was dried up, preparing the way for the invasion by the “kings of the east” that culminated in the battle at the “place called Armageddon,” which resulted in the destruction of end-time “Babylon” when the “seventh bowl of wrath” was emptied - (Revelation 16:12-21).

Likewise, on the night when the army of the “Medes and Persians” captured Ancient Babylon, it first dammed the Euphrates, then its troops entered the massively walled city along the dry riverbed. In this way, the “great city” was conquered in one night, and Belshazzar, the last ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, was slain – (Daniel 5:24-31, Isaiah 44:27-45:1, Jeremiah 50:38-42).

Thus, in Revelation, key events from the book of Daniel become patterns for the final cosmic conflict between the “Lamb” and the “Dragon.” And in this case, the overthrow of Ancient Babylon foreshadows the destruction of end-time “Babylon, the Great Harlot” in whom was found “all the abominations of the earth.”



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