Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Friday, 30 November 2007


By Jim Jordal

After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury." And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities."

Revelation 18:1-5 (NKJV)

Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged. Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her, and let us go every one to his own country; for her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies."

Jer. 51:7-9 (NKJV)

Babylon first comes into biblical history as the possible site of the infamous Tower of Babel, symbolic of early human attempts to reach God by purely secular means. Founded by the descendants of Cush (probably the oldest son of Ham) and followers of his son, the mighty warrior Nimrod, ancient Babylon began its rise to prominence some 1800 years before Christ (see Gen. 10:8-10). From then on Babylon was a continuing threat to the developing Israel nation.

Some 1200 years later, Babylon reached the pinnacle of its power under the great Nebuchadnezzar II, (605-562 B. C.). It was Nebuchadnezzar who in the several years surrounding 586 B. C. carried into captivity the apostate tribes of Judah and Benjamin living in and around Jerusalem.

During their captivity the Jews adopted from the Babylonians a particularly oppressive practice under which land was pledged as collateral for debt taken on by the poor in order to pay their taxes. When scarcity of money, continued financial reversals, or inability to meet the often-exorbitant interest rates prevented repayment, creditors seized the pledged land, thus robbing debtors of their ability to earn a living. This constituted a direct negation of the Jubilee principle that land could be owned only by God, and should never be used as an instrument of control or oppression since access to productive land was the major source of family income.

As they returned to Jerusalem over many years following their release from captivity, the Jews brought back with them several odious Babylonian economic practices, among them the elevation of gold and other precious commodities above the bodies and souls of human beings (see Rev. 18:11-13). Confronted with the oppressive effects of these damaging practices, noted civil administrator Nehemiah made a heroic attempt to reform perhaps the most dangerous—the system of mortgaging land for debt.

Nehemiah’s comments and actions are recorded in the fifth chapter of the book named after him. He became motivated to act after hearing this piteous public outcry: "We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards and houses to buy grain because of the famine and to pay the king’s tax…indeed we are forcing our children to be slaves, and it is not within our power to redeem them because other men have our lands and vineyards."

Nehemiah’s angry reaction was to call a public assembly to rebuke the nobles and rulers (notice again who had the power and the will to oppress the people). He demanded that they cease this oppression, urged them to return to the ways of God, and insisted that they restore the lands, vineyards, olive groves, and houses they had seized, along with a small part of the money they had extorted. Thus was Jubilee economic justice restored to Judah.

So the nation came out of physical Babylon, but had difficulty extinguishing damaging social and economic customs they adopted along the way. Today it’s much the same in America. We have physical freedom gained through revolution and war against tyranny, but have yet to confront the ruinous Babylonian curses of a value system that places wealth and possessions ahead of human welfare, endless human oppression in the marketplace for labor, homelessness and inadequate medical care for ever-increasing portions of our population, and endemic poverty. We’re physically free, but economically burdened. There’s still work to do!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1978, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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