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1.3.5. Babylon is Babylon!

It is our view that Babylon simply means . . . Babylon! The only problem with taking Babylon in its literal sense is one of timing and faith. Because the modern site of Babylon in no way resembles what is described in the book of Revelation, there is opportunity for doubt concerning what God has said. This is nothing new: “Has God indeed said . . ?” (Gen. Gen. 3:1).

What is the explanation for this reluctance to believe that John meant Babylon when he wrote “Babylon”? Even at the time John was writing, Babylon was still a viable city, with a substantial colony of Jews (the famous Babylonian Talmud originated in or near there, about 500 years after the time of Christ) and there was a significant Christian church there as well (1 Peter. 1Pe. 5:13). At the very least, it would be confusing to John’s first century readers, as well as to later generations, for him to write so much about Babylon when he really meant Rome . . . or “the false church.”1

The current situation in regard to the literal city of Babylon reminds us of the position of many earlier interpreters concerning the predictions of the OT in regard to Israel. Prior to her reestablishment in 1948, it was difficult for many to believe that unfulfilled passages concerning a people who had been dispersed for nearly 2,000 years could ever be taken in a literal fashion as pertaining to a physical nation yet future. Today, we thrill to read those interpreters who held to a literal understanding of Israel over the many years when Israel seemed but a dusty recollection of history. May we be found among a similar cadre of interpreters in our own time concerning the city of Babylon!

Notes

1 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), 323.