Bible Studies
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Thursday, 18 August 2005


By Jim Jordal

The noise of battle is in the land, and great destruction. How the hammer of the whole earth has been cut off and broken! How Babylon has become an object of horror among the nations! I set a snare for you, and you were also caught, O Babylon, while you yourself were not aware; you have been found and also seized because you have engaged in conflict with the Lord.

Jeremiah 50:23-24 (NASB)

Flee from the midst of Babylon, and each of you save his life! Do not be destroyed in her punishment, for this is the Lord's time of vengeance; He is going to render recompense to her. Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are going mad. Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail over her! Bring balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. We applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed; forsake her and let us each go to his own country, for her judgment has reached to heaven and towers up to the very skies.

Jeremiah 51:6-9 (NASB)

It seems these days that money drives society. Everything--morality, ethics, decency, justice, human life—has been monetized, or given a money value, and all become lost in the endless craze for wealth and possessions. Sleaze pours forth from the entertainment industry, but is excused as vital to gaining ever-higher ratings, hence more money. Advertising exceeds the bounds of both decency and necessity, but continues because it sells more goods and services. Political campaigning has, as we all know, been utterly corrupted by money and the influence it purchases. Even our eating habits become the means of our deaths, all because of advertising and the need for profits by the food industry.

Is there no end to this insanity? Must greed and financial exploitation in the search for profits destroy the earth and its people? "Must mankind," as Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan said over a century ago, "be sacrificed upon a cross of gold?"

That’s exactly what Jeremiah was talking about in his prophecy, parts of which are quoted above. He called Babylon the "hammer of the whole earth," that had enraged and deranged the nations. His immediate problem was that the political and economic systems of Israel's enemy the Babylonian empire had spread over most of his world, driving nations into madness, war, civil unrest, social disintegration, and other ills almost too numerous to mention.

The prophet Isaiah joined the fray when he labeled Babylon the "staff of the wicked," and the "scepter of the rulers." He complained that wicked oppressors gained support from their economic manipulations, and that rulers derived much of their power in the same way. A few verses later Isaiah indicated that when Babylon finally fell, the entire earth would be at rest and would break into singing (see Isa. 14:3-8).

So what is Babylon, and what has it done that has caused so much damage? Historically, Babylon was an ancient enemy of Israel allowed by God to gain power over them when they deviated from their covenant with Him. Much of Jeremiah's prophecy details how God becomes disgusted with Judah's idolatry and economic injustice, and in punishment turns them over to Babylonian conquest and a 70-year captivity in that country. It was in Babylon that Daniel rose to prominence and made his great prophetic dream revelations. Later, Judah returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel after being freed by Persian king Darius’ proclamation. Unfortunately, elements of the Babylonian economic system still adhered to some Jews upon their return, necessitating governor Nehemiah’s tirade against usury (Neh. 5).

The Babylonian financial system brought back by Judah from Babylon was--and still is--the direct antithesis of the economic and financial system given by God to Israel at Mount Sinai. The Law of God promotes prosperity, freedom, personal financial independence, egalitarianism, family values, and economic justice in general; while Babylon delivers scarcity, poverty, financial dependence, an economic class system, destruction of families, and economic and financial injustice. If you don't believe it, please consider what has already happened to the poor, and now afflicts the middle class: exploitative labor practices, oppression of debtors, unconscionable advertising and marketing efforts, corrupt governments supporting such efforts, rampant globalism, business corruption, and impending poverty.

And it’s all interlocked, making efforts to reduce the evil of one part of the system of questionable effectiveness. It’s like a "hydra of corruption," as Andrew Jackson once labeled his mortal enemy, the Bank of the United States. When one arm is amputated, the others take its place. When one avenue of profit comes under control, others arise to replace it. And it never ends. Those of us who fight against poverty need to consider the many-headed monster that is our real enemy.

It's fine to criticize Walmart or Northwest Airlines for unfair labor practices, but we need to understand that they are victims along with the rest of us. We will not achieve any great measure of world economic justice until mighty Babylon comes in remembrance before God. And that's rapidly approaching!

Last Updated ( Saturday, 19 November 2005 )