In this installment, we’ll take another look at the destruction of Babylon, this time from a spiritual perspective. At issue here is the origin of the pagan religions of the world and Satan’s effort to make himself the object of all worship. Then we’ll watch as Israel is once again made the premier nation on Earth.
Isaiah 47:1-15 The Fall of Babylon
“Go down, sit in the dust, Virgin Daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground without a throne, Daughter of the Babylonians. No more will you be called tender or delicate. Take millstones and grind flour; take off your veil. Lift up your skirts, bare your legs, and wade through the streams. Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered. I will take vengeance; I will spare no one.” (Isaiah 47:1-3)
According to Genesis 10:8-12 Babylon was originally founded by Nimrod. His wife Semiramis, who sometimes personifies Babylon in this prophecy, originally called herself the Virgin of the Sea, and that’s most likely the source of Isaiah’s sarcastic portrayal of Babylon in this passage. His command to “sit on the ground without a throne” is a reference to Babylon’s self proclaimed title of “Queen of Kingdoms”. Following with instructions to act like an ordinary woman of the time is like saying, “You’re no virgin and you’re no queen. You’re no better than anybody else.” As He frequently does, the Lord has His prophet use sexual terminology to symbolize their lack of righteousness.
Our Redeemer—the LORD Almighty is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.
“Sit in silence, go into darkness, Daughter of the Babylonians; no more will you be called queen of kingdoms. I was angry with my people and desecrated my inheritance; I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy. Even on the aged you laid a very heavy yoke. (Isaiah 47:4-6)
Here’s a prophecy that God would order the Babylonian captivity because of Israel’s disobedience. Jeremiah would later say that God was giving Israel to Babylon for 70 years and after that He would judge the Babylonians for their guilt. (Jeremiah 25:8-12) Some have questioned the Lord’s motives in judging Babylon for simply obeying His instructions, and for them Isaiah’s prophecy also contains His answer to their accusation.
You said, ‘I will continue forever— the eternal queen!’ But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen. “Now then, listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells. (Isaiah 47:7-9)
Under Satanic influence, Semiramis declared that she had been impregnated by the Sun god and then gave birth to a son, Tammuz. When he was killed in a hunting accident she went into mourning. After 40 days he supposedly rose from the dead. Semiramis thereupon named herself the eternal Queen of Heaven and established a celibate priesthood with an “infallible” leader to organize the worship of her and her son. She concluded that being the wife of a god and the mother of a “resurrected” son made her a goddess and meant she would never be a widow, nor would she suffer the loss of children.
Of course this was all nonsense, put into her head by Satan, the author of lies. But she became so powerful that her story has lived on in one form or another in every major mythology, and when the pagan religion of Rome was merged with Christianity in the 4th Century, traditions that began with her were continued in the Roman Church. Mistletoe, the Yule log, hot cross buns, the evergreen tree, the 40 days of lent, the elevation of Mary and others all come from the Babylonian mother-child cult started by Semiramis. Even the Bible recognizes her notoriety. The phrase “land of Shinar” is thought by some to have been derived from her name.
But as Rev. 18:4-8 confirms, total destruction would suddenly come upon the kingdom she personifies. By using a portion of Isaiah 47:7-9 John lends support to the view that he was speaking of literal Babylon, not some place else. At the end of the age, the great Babylonian religion will return to its place of origin to die at the location of its birth. Zechariah 5:5-11 explains this:
Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what this is that is appearing.”
I asked, “What is it?”
He replied, “It is a measuring basket.” And he added, “This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.”
Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth.
Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.
“Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.
He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.”
When Babylon was conquered (but not destroyed) the seat of its mother-child cult was first moved to Pergamus, where Satan had his throne (Rev. 2:13), and then to Rome. So far it has never returned to Babylon, but 100 years after the Persians had conquered Babylon, Zechariah wrote that it will. The spirit of Semiramis is the woman in the basket who personifies wickedness. When the time is right she will be returned to her ancestral home. The Hebrew word translated Babylonia above is Shinar. We should remember that while Shinar may or may not be a derivative of Semiramis, it is a physical location in Mesopotamia called Babylon.
After the Rapture, the two largest and most powerful religious systems on Earth will be the Catholic Church and Islam. In Rev. 17, John describes how for a time they’ll appear to be united. A woman, identified as mystery Babylon, the mother of prostitutes, will be riding a beast, which has earlier been described both as the anti-Christ and his kingdom. (Some traditions hold that far from being the Virgin of the Sea, Semiramis was the madam of a brothel when she first met Nimrod. If so, she really was the “mother of prostitutes”.)
The woman and the beast are not the same, but for a time will appear to be in league with each other. The woman, being the rider, will actually be the dominate partner at first and has long been identified with the Catholic Church. But as Rev. 17:16 tells us, the anti-Christ and his kingdom will actually hate the woman, and acting on God’s orders will destroy her.
Now think about this. If the anti-Christ will come from the Catholic Church, as some believe, would he destroy the very system he heads up? I don’t think so. But today the countries that made up the Eastern leg of the Old Roman Empire are Islamic, and the anti-Christ could just as easily come from there as from the West. One of the central tenets of Islam is to make peace with your enemies until you’re powerful enough to conquer them. To me, it’s perfectly logical to see Islam’s messianic figure, who some call al Mahdi, teaming up with the Pope after the rapture until he becomes powerful enough to consolidate the whole world under Islam and eliminate the Catholic religion. Both John’s and Zechariah’s prophecies could be fulfilled that way with the one world religion headquartered in Babylon. If so, the location of its birth will become the location of its death, just like Isaiah foretold.
You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’ Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you. (Isaiah 47:10-11)
The Babylonian religion has always assumed that there is no one greater, no power to hold it accountable. But when the day of its destruction comes, neither great wealth nor supernatural power will be sufficient to rescue it.
“Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror. All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by. That is all they can do for you—these you have labored with and trafficked with since childhood. Each of them goes on in his error; there is not one that can save you.” (Isaiah 47:12-15)
Today, some unbelievers dismiss Christianity as a corruption of the Legend of Semiramis, just another mother-child cult with Mary in the role of the Queen of Heaven and Jesus as the resurrected son, Tammuz. But here Isaiah shows that even though the myth preceded the truth in fulfillment, it was the prior knowledge of the truth that spawned the myth. Long before the prophets wrote of a coming Messiah, God had the gospel written the stars. It was called the Mazzaroth and was based on 12 constellations with a total of 48 stars traditionally named by Adam, Seth, and Enoch. Called by their Hebrew names, the stars in these 12 constellations tell of a coming redeemer who would be born of a virgin, die for the people, and be resurrected to life. But, still acting under Satan’s influence, Semiramis and her priests corrupted the Mazzaroth into the 12 signs of the zodiac, giving birth to the blasphemy we call astrology today. Evidence of this has been confirmed in the ruins of the tower of Babel, one purpose of which was the study of astrology. That’s why in Biblical times the practice of astrology was a crime punishable by death (Deut.18:10). (You who follow your horoscope should take heed)
No matter how astute their knowledge nor how comprehensive their experience, no astrologer will be able to save him or her self from God’s judgment, let alone their mentor and their goddess, Semiramis.
Isaiah 49:8-26. Restoration of Israel
This is what the LORD says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
“They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up. See, they will come from afar—some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan.” (Isaiah 49:8-12)
The Lord has always kept a faithful remnant of Israel. In each generation some have been called to simply keep the dream alive in their hearts, while others moved the Lord’s agenda forward, one small painful step at a time. But soon the time of waiting will be over. Imagine the joy in the hearts of those who hear the Lord’s call to reassign the tribal inheritances, as prophesied in Ezekiel 48. When that happens, they’ll know it’s forever, that their times of hardship and unmet expectations are over.
Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” (Isaiah 49:13-14)
After so many centuries of disappointment and heartbreak, many will be unable to believe it’s actually happening. Over time they’ve spiritualized the promises and allegorized the prophecies until it no longer seems possible that the Lord will actually return for them. His response is poignant to the point of tears.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.
Lift up your eyes and look around; all your sons gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.
“Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste, now you will be too small for your people, and those who devoured you will be far away. The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.’
Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who brought these up? I was left all alone, but these—where have they come from?’ ” (Isaiah 49:15-21)
As the people return in a seemingly endless stream, they’ll be surprised at their own numbers. After 2000 years of relentless persecution the size of their population will far surpass their expectations. The true extent of the Lord’s providence will be seen in their preservation. And though for 70 years now they’ve heard the world constantly demanding that they get smaller, they’ll realize that instead, they’ll need to get bigger. Ezekiel’s prophecy says that Israel in the Kingdom Age will extend from 100 miles north of Damascus to 100 miles south of Jerusalem, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, so it’ll will be more than sufficient to their needs.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:22-23)
Having labored to keep their Jewish populations subjugated and contained, gentile leaders will offer them every kind of assistance when the Lord returns in victory. It will be their last chance to get back into His good graces, and there’s no limit to what they’ll do avoid being seen as opposed to His wishes. Sadly, it’ll be too late.
Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce? But this is what the LORD says: “Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.
I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine. Then all mankind will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Isaiah 49:24-26)
Israel’s wealth will be restored, all their captives set free. The Lord will personally see to it. The ill gotten gains of their enemies will be taken to the point of leaving them completely destitute, and they’ll finally realize that the Lord sees fighting against Israel as fighting against Him.