In chapters 46, 47, and 48 the prophet paints a picture of Babylon after it has been conquered by the Medo-Persian Empire. These chapters go together with chapters 13, 14 and 21. As you read these passages describing the fall of Babylon, it becomes apparent that they do not describe one single event. They describe both the fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persian empire, as well as the fall of the final one-world government, led by MYSTERY BABYLON (Rev 17, 18).
Give us understanding, Father, as we read thy word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.
These two were the gods of Babylon. Bel is a shortened form of Baal (lit Lord). He was also known as Marduk (lit calf of the sun). Nebo was Bel’s son. The Roman counterparts of Bel and Nebo were Jupiter and Mercury. These two names appear together in Acts 14 when the people of Lystra tried to Deify Paul and Barnabas. Nebuchadnezzar’s name in Aramic is Nabu-kudurri-usur (lit Nebo, Protect Your Servant).
2 They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.
They say what goes around comes around. The Babylonians, the proud conquerors who took the subjects of their conquests into captivity, would eventually go into captivity themselves. Bel and Nebo could not save the Babylonians from their Medo-Persian adversaries. As the Babylonians were leaving their city and going into captivity, the beasts that had to carry their graven images stooped down beneath their heavy burdens.
3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:
4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar [white] hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
The gods of the Babylonians were a burden for them to carry (v 1), but we can cast our burdens upon the LORD. (Ps 55:22) Our God carries us when we need Him to.
5 To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?
This question shows one of the main problems with idolatry. Whatever representation one chooses to fashion his idol after, it is an insult to God. If you tried to paint a picture of your wife she would probably not be impressed. Unless you are a gifted artist, you would not do her justice. Most women are very careful about which photographs of themselves they allow people to see, even though photographs are perfect facsimiles. No matter how good an idol looks, compared to God it is hideous. God’s glory is unspeakable (2 Cor 12:4), meaning it cannot be described. For one thing, the Godhead is a trinity. Notice the word ‘we’ in verse 5. It says me three times, then says ‘we’.
6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.
7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.
Verses 6 and 7 get to the heart of the issue with idolatry. The idol is a fake god. God made man in his own image in order to have people worship Him, then man made gods in his own image in order to worship them. An idol cannot do anything a god is supposed to do because it is fake, like a wooden sword. It is a representation of sorts, but when the battle begins it is of no use. And remember, behind every idol is a devil waiting to be worshiped. (1 Cor 10:20)
8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
This is why I study Bible prophecy. God’s word has proven itself over and over. Much of Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled, with pinpoint accuracy I might add. Therefore, the rest is a foregone conclusion. What’s more, it looks like the best part is just around the corner. Isaiah tells of a utopia that will follow the second coming of Christ where children will lead lions around like pet kitty-cats. (Isa 11:6)
11 Calling a ravenous bird [Heb ayit] from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
Cyrus is described as a bird of prey. According to Xenophon, Persian troops carried the eagle (Gk aetos) on their standards in much the same way that the Romans did.
12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:
13 I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.
As I said in the introduction, the fall of Babylon was not an isolated event. It foreshadowed the fall of an entire world system, commonly referred to as the New World Order. The city described in Revelation 17 and 18 is commonly believed to be Rome, but the more I have thought about it over the years the more I have come to believe that while Rome is the primary meaning, there are allusions to other places as well. Dr Noah Hutchings of Southwest Radio Church and Dr Frank Logsdon of Moody Bible Church in Chicago have both made the case that MYSTERY BABYLON is America. Their arguments can be seen in the book The U.S. in Prophecy. (Bible Belt Publishing, 2000) Dr David Hocking and others have said that MYSTERY BABYLON is Jerusalem. Another recent view that is gaining popularity is that MYSTERY BABYLON is Mecca. I believe that every verse in the Bible is pregnant with meaning and allows for more than one interpretation. The New World Order is made up of a network of various players who belong to what is sometimes called the Big Club. Again, I believe the most prominent city is Rome as this is the city that best fits the description in Revelation 17, but other cities are major players as well. According to Zechariah 5, literal Babylon will be rebuilt and become a major power base once more. I believe this will happen during the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy. (Dan 9) Therefore, to sum up, the woman in Revelation 17 who is riding the beast is in control of the beast, since she is riding it. She is the principle administrator. (Rev 17:18) She considers herself to be a queen. (Rev 18:7) She is called the great whore. (Rev 17:1) However, the beast she rides has ten horns which are ten kings, or kingdoms. (Rev 17:12) These ten are networked together as part of the same system, one beast. At one point the beast hates the whore, and destroys her. (Rev 17:16) This worldwide system described in Revelation 17 is yet future, but I believe we are witnessing the rise of it in our day.
Do you sigh or cry when you read the headlines? Does it grieve you that millions of mothers are now addicted to opiates? Does it grieve you that basic common sense and civility are dying? Does it grieve you to see evil being called good and good being called evil? Do you wonder where it will all end? The Bible says evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. If you do not want to be part of the New World Order when it finally hatches in its fully developed form; if you do not want to bow down to the image of the beast and take his mark in your right hand or forehead, say this prayer with me: Father in heaven, I am a sinner. Please forgive me for my sins. I repent of my sins and trust in your Son to save me. I believe He died for me. I believe He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures. I believe He is coming back again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and take control of my life. Help me to learn your word and to hide it in my heart. Direct my path. Thank You for the precious blood You shed for me on Calvary. I pray this in your holy and precious name. Amen