Edited by Susan E. Abbott
The following questions and study are the result of New Testament research. Please ponder these questions before reading the body of this lesson. The correct answers are recorded at the end of this presentation.
1.The Parable of the Vineyard was understood by the chief priests and Pharisees to apply to whom? (a) others (b) themselves (c) Romans.
2. Who were the wicked husbandmen in this parable?
3. Who are the servants who are mistreated and killed?
4. The son in the parable represented whom? (a) Christ (b) Elijah (c) John the Baptist.
5. Jesus applied the prophecy of Psalms 118:22-23 ("the stone that the builders rejected. . .") to whom?
6. If Christ was the stone, who were the builders? (a) Romans (b) Catholics (c) Judæans.
7. Who would forfeit the promised kingdom of God? (a) Wicked Christendom (b) the Roman Empire (c) the European Common Market (d) the planet earth (e) Judæa.
8. All the righteous blood shed upon the earth would be required of whom? (Luke 11:45-51; Revelation 16:5-7 and 18:20-24).
9. Who were the first people covenanted to God and then became unfaithful? (a) the Roman Catholic Church (b) Wicked Christendom (c) Israel.
10. How would the chief priests and Pharisees respond to the messengers sent to them by God?
11. What did our Lord say in Luke 13:33 regarding the death of a prophet?
12. What idea did Jesus convey to the Jews when he said, Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled?
13. What did our Lord inform Peter, James, John and Andrew of regarding the Temple? (Mark 13:1-2 and 13:29-30).
14. What two covenants were in competition according to Paul's allegory in Galatians 4:21-31?
15. What would happen to the children of the bondwoman, according to the text?
16. According to Luke 23:27-30 what would the daughters of Jerusalem and their children begin to say?
17. Persecution of the original Christians is described in several texts is defined as (a) a Jewish persecution confined to Jerusalem (b) a Jewish persecution spread throughout Judæa and the Diaspora (c) a Roman persecution is given prominent attention in the Scriptures.
18. Internal evidence in the Book of Revelation shows the message to revolve around (a) those who claimed to be Jews (b) those who were guilty of shedding the blood of the prophets, apostles and saints (c) a great city where our Lord was crucified (d) all of the above (e) none of the above.
19. Can all institutions hold the title of "Mother of Harlots"?
20. The trail of blood began with (a) Zecharias, the son of Barachias (b) Jeremiah the prophet (c) Abel (Matthew 23:35 cf. Genesis 4:8).
21. The punishment for murdering the righteous would surely come upon (a) our generation today (b) their generation then (c) all generations (d) a future generation.
22. God told Abraham the Israelites would suffer four hundred years in Egypt; those four hundred years are said to be 'four generations.' How many years before the Exodus were the oldest Israelites born?
23. If the generation that came out of Egypt were at most one hundred years old, and the Exodus took another forty years, how old were some of them by the time Joshua and Caleb cross over Jordan into the Promised Land?
24. Forty years from the beginning of Christ's ministry is (a) A.D.70 (b) A.D.606 (c) 1914 (d) 1988 (e) the year 2000.
25. Approximately how many years after the birth of Christ did the Jewish State disappear as a political entity in antiquity? (a) 70 years (b) 116 years (c) 140 years.
26. Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration and spoke of Christ's decease which he would accomplish where? (a) at the United Nations in New York City (b) on earth (c) in Rome (d) in Jerusalem.
27. The Apostle John (the author of the Book of Revelation), being a Jew, would naturally wonder at and greatly admire (a) the pagan and idolatrous city of Rome (b) New York City (d) the great city of Jerusalem.
28. In Luke 11:47-48 Jesus castigated the Pharisees and Lawyers because they ____________the deeds of their fathers against the prophets.
29. In Revelation 18:20 and 19:1-4 why does God judge and destroy Babylon the Great?
30. After King David served his own generation, he died. How long did David reign? (a) 2,000 years (b) 6 years (c) forty years.
31. How long did the ancestors of the first century Judaeans challenge God in the wilderness of Arabia?
Something to consider as you ponder this treatise: How do Matthew 23:29-39 and Revelation 18:20-24 related to the basic thrust of this presentation? A search for answers can be found in God's Word.
Babylon the Great City—According to the Bible
Many people are confused about the proper meaning of the Book of Revelation. Different interpretations abound, each claiming to be the true explanation. But how can a Christian or truth seeker really begin to understand this wonderful book of prophetic visions? The true meaning of Revelation can only be known if men and women allow their conclusions about Babylon the Great to be defined according to the Bible.
Since a correct understanding of Revelation begins with the testimony of Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and our Savior, we begin our inquiry in the first book of the New Testament, Matthew. As we progress, you will discover an astonishing unity and harmony in the message of the Scriptures, from one author to another, and from one book to another. The New Testament is one unified message, and it will reveal a consistent train of ideas from beginning to end.
According to the Bible, the chief priests and Pharisees understood the following parable to apply to themselves:
"Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard and hedged it round about, and dug a wine-press in it; and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: and when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him their fruits in their seasons. Jesus said unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parable, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet" (Matthew 21:33-46).
There is no doubt that the chief priests and Pharisees understood exactly what Jesus said and what he meant. And he went on to describe other wrongdoings of the leaders of Judæa.
According to the Bible, the scribes and Pharisees and Lawyers of first century Judaea would be punished for killing the prophets.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, if we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers! Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets and wise-men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, who ye slew between the Temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation' (Matthew 23:29-36).
"Then answered one of the Lawyers and said unto him, Master, thus saying, thou reproachest us also. And [Jesus] said, Woe unto you also, ye Lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye touch not the burdens with one of your fingers! Woes unto you! For ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchers. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, i will sent unto them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, which perished between the altar and the Temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation" (Luke 11:45-51).
"The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee! And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold! I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk today and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen that doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord" (Luke 13:31-35).
The magnitude of guilt and complicity that was being incurred by the Judæan leaders would continue with the betrayal of Jesus.
According to the Bible, the first century Judæans were totally responsible for the death of Jesus Christ and would be judged as a direct result of it.
"And it came to pass about eight days after those sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold! there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:28-31).
"From this time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matthew 16:21).
"But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the king of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them" (Mark 15:9-11).
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matthew 27:24-25).
"And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For, Behold! the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps that never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us! and to the hills, Cover us! For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" (Luke 23:27-31).
The Scriptures we have just read reveal that Christ's death would be accomplished through the successful efforts of the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes. The Bible also shows that the leaders of Judaea had delivered Jesus to Pontius Pilate because of envy, and, as the Lord trod with the burden of the cross on his back, he promised woe would come upon Jerusalem because of these things.
According to the Bible, a generation may be the equivalent of a cycle of time between approximately one hundred and one hundred and forty years. This expression includes the people living within that general time-frame.
"As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and lo, a dread, fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, I know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgment on the nation they will serve, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; and shall be buried in a good old age. AND THEY SHALL COME BACK HERE IN THE FOURTH GENERATION; for the iniquities of the Amorites is not yet complete" (Genesis 15:12-16 RSV).
"Thus David, the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. And the time that he reigned over Israel was forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem" (1 Chronicles 29:26-27).
"For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption . . .'(Acts 13:36).
". . .when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Where I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. But to whom was grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?" (Hebrews 3:9-10, 17).
From Genesis 15:12-16 it is clear that the generation living at the time of the Exodus was born up to one hundred years before crossing the Red Sea, and, all but two of the original escapees lived forty years after their liberation from slavery--a total of one hundred and forty years! Furthermore, since even the generation David reigned over was not born the very year he took the throne in Hebron, but rather were people of varying ages from before his inauguration. Similarly, in the New Testament era, "this generation" of Jesus' ministry cannot be said to have been born in A.D.30, but like Jesus himself and millions of others, were of varying ages, some older and some younger. Therefore, (as we will shortly learn) the expression "this generation" encompasses a period, a cycle of actions, and a deadline date that is up to one hundred and forty years in length. In fact, Jesus, in the Parable of the Wicked Spirit (Matthew 12:43-45) describes the conditions that would obtain when the generation that saw his ministry had reached its "last state."
Now that we have the biblical definition of a generation, we can begin to understand the implications and relevance of our Lord's ministry to the final years of the ancient Jewish State and thereby make some additional observations.
According to the Bible, our Lord's ministry began when he was about thirty (circa A.D.30). In light of this "this generation' of the New Testament means that some of the contemporaries of our Lord would be alive when the State Temple was destroyed (A.D.70) and, when the Jewish State disappeared into oblivion in antiquity (A.D.136).
"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli. . .'(Luke 3:21-23).
"But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating or drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But Wisdom is known of her children" (Matthew 11:16:-19).
"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:38-40).
"The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here" (Matthew 12:41).
"The queen of the South shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here" (Matthew 12:42).
"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out, and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished: then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation" (Matthew 12:43-45).
"The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. And he answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It shall be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It shall be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; be ye cannot discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. And he left them and departed" (Matthew 16:1-4).
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the Temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation" (Matthew 23:29-36).
"So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:33-34).
Notice how Jesus placed great emphasis upon the fulfillment of specific and highly detailed prophecies to be fulfilled within "this generation"--the generation of the those who piped and danced; the generation of those who sought a sign; the generation of those who refused to repent; the generation of those to whom Christ's resurrection from the dead would first be known; the generation who failed to heed the wisdom of one greater than Solomon; the generation that would find itself purified and then at the very last become seven times worse in the final end; the generation that could read the sky and the weather but could not tell the signs of the times, and, finally; the generation that would see the destruction of the Second Temple.
Now let us examine the actions of the Judæans and see how what they did ultimately led to the disappearance of the Jewish State in antiquity.
According to the Bible, persecution of the early Christians by Jerusalem and her son is depicted as an allegorical struggle between Hagar and Ishmael versus Sarah and Isaac. This conflict would end with the bondwoman and her son being cast out.
"And as they spake unto the people, the priest and the captain of the Temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was eventide" (Acts 4:1-3).
"And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did we not straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold! Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us" (Acts 5:27-28).
"Then there came certain of the synagogue, which is called The Synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned me, which said,
"We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.'
And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, which said,
'This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words
against this Holy Place and the Law: for we have heard
him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this Place,
and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.'
And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on [Stephen], saw his face as it had been the face of an angel" (Acts 6:9-15).
"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the Law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and the gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, behold! I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he knelled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he feel asleep' (Acts 7:51-60).
"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the Law, do ye not hear the Law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free-woman. But he who was of the bond-woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free-woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia , and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband; now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise.
But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son: for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free" (Galatians 4:21-31).
"For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judæa are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sin alway; for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).
In the above Scriptures, the New Testament vividly shows the gravity, nature and scope of the contention, acrimony and persecutions which was a grim and daily reality among the first Christians.
This was a unique period in Jewish salvation history: it was the last one hundred years of the existence of the Hebrew state that had begun on Mount Sinai, and, yet a inaugural days leading into the Roman Empire's most successful years--the so-called Pax Romana---"the Peace of Rome." Hence, the situation between Jerusalem and the Christians was very different from the circumstances and the relationship between Rome and the believers: the New Testament identifies and frames the conflict, not as as Imperial or Papal Rome against the Church, but Jerusalem of the Moses, the Law and the traditions of the elders, versus Jerusalem of Christ, the Cross and the Gospel of the kingdom of God.
These distinctions are a critical difference that lead to a foundation upon which the Book of Revelation can be understood, or a misunderstanding of the Gospel and Acts and Epistles that militate and undermine and obscure that quest.
According to the Bible, the original Christians were not at first beset by problems or persecutions from Roman sources. instead, the difficulties were from the Jewish State authorities--not just in Jerusalem and not just in Judæa, but internationally--throughout the vast and teeming world of the Diaspora. It did not matter is the Christians' opponents were fellow Semites, or proselyte, or God-fearing Gentile sympathizers. Asia Minor was one particular hot-bet of virulent opposition. Concerning opposition there, we read:
"Unto the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: and know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that say they are apostles, and are not,and hast found them to be liars:" (Revelation 2:1-2 cf. 2 Corinthians 11:12-13).
"Unto the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the First and the Last, which was dead and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold! The devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:8-10).
"And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write: These things saith he that hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells" (Revelation 2:12-13).
"And to the angel to the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that opens, and no man shuts: and shuts, and no man opens; I know thy works: behold! I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast not denied my name. Behold! I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold! I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Revelation 3:7-10).
The above Scriptures clearly evince fierce rivalry from Judæan loyalists against Christians in Asia Minor. In terms of distance, this region was thousands of miles away from Jerusalem, but the cause and strength of the Jewish boast was due to their misguided Bible prophecy belief that God would soon intervene in history on their behalf to make Jerusalem and the Temple, the Law and the Jewish people victorious over the Roman Empire. This belief was based upon assumptions of Divine entitlement to the promises of the prophets and a presumption that the Torah and Jewish Nationalism, a belief completely contrary to the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. This is where the true identity of Babylon the Great and the biblical meaning of her downfall become relevant to this study.
According to the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, Babylon the Great City has all the traits, crimes and suffers the same trials, judgment and fate to directly infer that this city was none other than first century Jerusalem--not a one world church, not pagan or Papal Rome or a present amalgam of banks or religious alliances or commercial enterprises. Jerusalem was THE metropolis that killed the prophets, apostles and saints; she was the city in whom all the righteous blood shed upon the earth could be found.
"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them: it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Revelation 6:9-11 cf. Luke 18:1-9).
"And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken by a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:12-17 cf. Luke 23:27-31).
"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified" (Revelation 11:7-8 cf. Luke 9:30-31).
"And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done! And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath" (Revelation 16:17-19).
"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
And upon her forehead was a name written:
BABYLON THE GREAT
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
OF THE EARTH.
And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration" (Revelation 17:1-6).
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart,
'I sit a queen,
and am no widow,
and shall see
Therefore shall her plague come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying,
'Alas, Alas that great city Babylon,
that mighty city!
for in one hour is
thy judgment come.'
(Revelation 18:4-10 cf. Matthew 24:20, 36, 42).
"The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying,
'Alas, alas, that great city,
that was clothed in fine linen,
and purple and scarlet,
and decked with gold,
and precious stones and pearls!
For in one hour is so great riches
come to naught.'
And every ship-master, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying,
'What city is like unto this great city!'
And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying,
'Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships
in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in
one hour is she made desolate.'
Rejoice over her thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth" (Revelation 18:15-24).
"And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever" (Revelation 19:1-4).
This litany of Scriptures show the dramatic run up to the Destruction of Jerusalem, one of the wealthiest cities in antiquity. A general deterioration between the relations between the Jews and their Roman occupiers began in the Fall of A.D.62, at which time Christ dispatched Seven Seals (Revelation 6:1ff).
Jerusalem's destruction came about after an exceptionally violent national coup d'état in the Spring of A.D.66. The doomed efforts of the Jews finally ended in the Fall of A.D.70 after a five month siege in which the Seventh Plague saw the city bombarded and disabled with one hundred pound missiles, shot from Roman catapults.
Afterward, fledgling Jewish armies were tracked down, captured and destroyed in hot spots in various parts of the country. The last of these was a sizable group led by Eleazar Ben-Yair, a grand-son of Judas of Galilee. Nine-hundred and sixty in number, they held out atop Herod's mountain fortress of Masada for another three years, meeting their deaths in a spectacular mass suicide in A.D.73.
Revelation 18:9-19 shows the former beneficiaries of Jerusalem's commerce, trafficking and riches mourning bitterly her sudden destruction, but Revelation 19:1-4 shows the Great Multitude in heaven glorifying God for his just judgment of that guilty city.
According to the Bible, after the Destruction of Jerusalem, the marriage of Christ to his Church and the Supper of the Great God and the death by sword of the hold-outs, Satan was then captured, chained, cast into the bottomless, shut up and sealed for what is termed "a thousand years." Meanwhile, the saints who lost their lives for their refusal to receive the Mark of the Beast during the rebellion were exalted to thrones to reign with Christ and shatter the nations to shivers with a rod of iron.
This new period corresponds with what is known historically as 'Judæa Capta' and it would end in a final dangerous attempt of the desolate to take, by immense numbers, unity and force the kingdom of God which had eluded them in the previous century. This mad attempt was predestined to fail. It led directly into a Universal Destruction causing the Jewish State to disappear from existence for the first time since it was founded on Mount Sinai almost 1, 580 years prior. This signal event is called variously 'the Bar Kokhba Revolt,' the 'Second Great War,' or 'the Final Jewish Rebellion.' Begun in A.D.132 it ended in A.D.136 with untold multitudes killed, peace restored and Jerusalem plowed as predicted by the prophet Micah in Micah 3:12.
*Marriage of Christ to his Church:
"And a voice came out of the throne, saying,
'Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him,: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:5-10 cf. Matthew 22:1-8).
*the Supper of the Great God, War with beast and False prophet and slaying of the Remnant:
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness doth he judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called the Word of God.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven,
'Come and gather yourselves together
unto the supper of the Great God;
that ye may eat the flesh of kings,
and the flesh of captains,
and the flesh of mighty men, and
the flesh of horses, and of them
that sit on them, and
the flesh of all men, both free and bond,
both small and great.'
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh"(Revelation 19:11-21).
*Satan cast down, chained, bound, shut up and sealed:
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season' (Revelation 20:1-3).
*Saints exalted to thrones:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4-6).
"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison" (Revelation 20:7 cf. Matthew 12:43-45).
*The Final Messianic Revolt:
"And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them." (Revelation 20:8-9 cf. Ezekiel chapters 38-39).
Satan cast into the lake of fire. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimestone, where the beast and false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10).
*The Great White Throne Judgment:
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which are written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. this is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire' (Revelation 20:11-15).
*The Eternal State ensues:
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and their was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:1-2).
This city is for all those who overcome (then, now, and in the future, and to the age of ages).
"And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.' And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Revelation 21:5-7).
The city has a river and a tree that bears an amazing variety of fruits:
"And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bear twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:1-2).
There the People of God see God's face and there is no night there:
"And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 22:4-5).
The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the testimony of Jesus and the spirit of prophecy. This aspect of Christianity is not less precious or less important than the Deity and death and burial and resurrection of he that is called Faithful, he that is called True and he that is called Life.
"And he said unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand" (Revelation 22:10).
"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
For without are dogs, sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:12-16).
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly: Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:18-20).
The above promises, testimonies and injunctions come from the Lord Jesus himself and are intended to be contemplated and heeded by all, not that any should be judged by others but that each might examine and judge himself. This principle is found elsewhere in God's word (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:27-31; 2 Corinthians 13:5-6; 1 John 4:6). This is not a new revelation or legalism. The Bible teaches that if we sin willfully after realizing the truth there is no more sacrifice for sin - Hebrews 10:26.
We have demonstrated with Jesus' Parable of the Vineyard and prophecies and indictments that the chief priests and Pharisees and Sadducees of ancient Second Temple Judaism understood Jesus to have foretold their doom along with the Temple and the city. Many Scriptures in the Gospels and Acts and the epistles make it perfectly clear that the punishment for the untimely deaths of the prophets, apostles and saints would be required of Judæa's leaders. The Bible further shows that at Jesus' trial the Judaeans took total responsibility for his death and would receive a just and severe recompense for their perfidy.
Time-wise the Scriptures indicate that the context and meaning of the expression "this generation" must be singularly understood to refer collectively to Jesus' civilization, those who were alive at the time of his mission and preaching and their children who would live to see Judæa disappear as a political entity in the following century. The Bible's own definition of a generation, as a rule, is that it can mean as little as forty years or as much as one hundred and forty years, as we have shown.
Furthermore, we saw that a contentious relationship between the early Christians and the Romans is not highlighted anywhere in the New Testament. It is the disagreement, competition, and conflict between the Jerusalem Aristocracy, the Synagogue, Godfearers and the Church that is reported and emphasized. The acrimony, persecution and bloodshed inflicted by then dominant Jewish world is shown to have been prevalent far beyond the borders of Judæa. It included the entire habitable earth of the Diaspora. It was the infamy of Jerusalem's denial and betrayal of her Redeemer and Savior which ultimately caused that beautiful and illustrious metropolis of antiquity to be condemned to universal destruction and this is the consistent message of Jesus, the Apostles and the scribes of the New Testament Scriptures. See the companion study to this treatise here.
Answers to Quiz :
1. (b) themselves.
2. The leaders of Jerusalem.
3. The prophets of God.
4. (a) Christ.
5. To the chief priests (Sadducees), Pharisees and Judæans who were forfeiting the kingdom of God (Matthew 21:43 cf. Matthew 8:12 and Galatians 4:21-31.
6. (c) The Judæans (Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:7-8).
7. (e) Judæa (John 8:33-44 cf. Matthew 3:7-10).
9. Israel, God's covenant people (Acts 7:53; Hebrews 8:9).
10. Some they would kill and crucify, scourge in their synagogues and persecute from city to city (Matthew 10:17 and 23).
11. "It is impossible for a prophet to perish out of Jerusalem."
12. They could expect to see the destruction of Jerusalem, its Second Temple, the judgment and coming of the kingdom of God in their lifetime.
13. One stone would not be left upon another. All would be thrown down within their lifetime.
14. The Law ratified at Mount Sinai vs. the New Testament ratified in Jerusalem.
15. They would be cast out in order to prevent them from becoming co-heirs to the promise (Romans 4:13-14 cf. Galatians 4:21-31).
16. To the mountains they would say, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"
17. Jewish persecution of believers was widespread throughout Judæa and the vast Diaspora.
18. (d) all of the above.
19. No, only one could.
20. (c) Abel (Genesis 4:8).
21. (b) their generation at that time.
22. (a) A.D.70.
23. (d) at Jerusalem.
24. (c) the great city Jerusalem.
25. (c) 140 years.
26. (d) in Jerusalem.
27. (d) the great city of Jerusalem.
29. Jerusalem killed his saints.
30. Forty years.
31. Forty years.
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