Babylon is Fallen

The meaning of 'Babylon' in the book of Revelation is not clear. We know it is personified by a lavishly dressed woman who is a prostitute. She is the home of demons and deceives the nations, with whose kings she commits adultery. She persecutes the prophets and apostles. She is described as a great city, and the merchants of the earth do a great trade with her. She rides a horrible beast.

Various explanations have been proffered for Babylon’s identity. The most obvious one is that she represents the Roman empire with its horrific treatment of Christians. This idolatrous, anti-Christ realm was an affront to the God of heaven. On the other hand, the empire of Rome has been gone some centuries; yet Babylon’s fall will herald Christ’s return.

Protestants, particularly sixteenth century reformers and seventeenth century puritans, identified the woman as the Church of Rome. Her ornate ceremonies, vast wealth and vicious popes made this a convincing fulfilment. In opposition to this point, the Catholic Church was not operating at the time of John, and is a significantly weaker organisation now as it was in Luther’s day.

Still others suggest Babylon is the acquisitive and greedy capitalist system to which even China has bowed the knee. The great wealth this arrangement generates has enriched a great many, selling the poorest into wage slavery and alienation. Again, this was happening long before capitalism; neither does it have a religious nature like the woman of Revelation.

I’d suggest that the meaning is greater than these three; the woman represents all man-made religions and their antipathy to the God of heaven. Their great wealth and power often stems from the support of governments whose beasts they ride. Babylon is first recorded in Genesis 11. Wicked men led by Nimrod constructed a tower to seize heaven, or at least demonstrate that our fallen race was as accomplished as any angel. God scattered the builders, altering their languages, so they could neither communicate nor cooperate. The tower was abandoned but the babbling of false religion spread over the planet.

Babylon continues to persecute God’s elect, from communist North Korea to Catholic South America. Open Doors estimates that 200 million believers in the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian experience high levels of persecution because of their faith, with over 3,000 martyred in 2018.

Our entry into 2019 means that Babylon’s days of power continue to shorten; the day of God’s vengeance is dawning. At our New Year Eve service, we sang Babylon is Fallen, possibly a song composed by soldiers in Cromwell’s New Model Army:


Hail the day so long expected, hail the day of full release;

Zion's walls are now erected and the watchmen publish peace.

Throughout Shilo's wide dominions hear the trumpet loudly roar:


Babylon is fallen, is fallen, is fallen

Babylon is fallen to rise no more


All the merchants stand in wonder what is this has come to pass?

Murmuring like a distant thunder crying “Oh alas, alas”;

Spread the news, ye kings and nobles, priests and people rich and poor:

Babylon is fallen, is fallen, is fallen

Babylon is fallen to rise no more


Sound the trumpet on Mount Zion, Christ is come a second time!

Ruling with a rod of iron all who now as foes combine;

Babel's garments we've rejected and our fellowship is sure.

Babylon is fallen, is fallen, is fallen

Babylon is fallen to rise no more.

Image by Zephirx from Pixabay