Third Rome, Last Babylon

Have you noticed how many royal houses and nations employ the eagle as their symbol? Like the English who opted for the lion, it is a creature known for its strength and virility. Yet sometimes we see a double-headed eagle, looking both ways. This was a symbol employed by Austria, Germany, Russia, the Seljuk Empire, Serbia and Albania. Interestingly, all of these countries aspired to be a fresh incarnation of the long-gone Roman empire. Germany helped constitute the medieval Holy Roman Empire, its emperor taking the title Kaiser (Caesar) in 1871, much like his Russian counterpart the Tsar or Czar. The Muslim Mehmed II declared himself Kayser-i Rum, Caesar of Rome. The double-headed eagle was also the symbol of the great Byzantine empire, the ‘eastern’ Roman empire based in Constantinople (now Istanbul).

It seems that many nations have adopted the eagle because of its ancient Roman appeal, expressing their own ambition for greatness. Byzantium, which is rightly deemed the second Rome, had its eagle looking both east and west; no place was safe from the gaze of those imperial eyes. In later years, Fascist Italy, Napoleonic France, the Ottoman Empire, Catholic Spain and Hitler’s Germany (Drittes Reich, third empire) all claimed to be the heirs of ancient Rome.

In some respects, each one of them had a valid claim. Rome was a cruel persecutor of God’s elect, and each of those nations was ungodly and hostile to evangelical Christianity, inheriting that cruel spirit. Similarly, ancient Babylon was on version #2 by the time we get the book of Daniel. The book of Revelation speaks of a third great Babylon, a woman riding a beast. This reborn Babylon and Rome might be one and the same. It cannot be the same actual city, of course- there are many miles between them. But the religious confusion and idolatry of Babylon combined with the aggressive persecutions of Rome would make a most effective final world empire. It will be short-lived, thankfully. It will look further than east and west as the two-headed eagle has done; this seven-headed monster will look in every direction and every space as it seeks glory belonging to God alone. This fourth beast, those feet of clay and iron, will be smashed to smithereens when Christ returns. He is the rock that will break the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

Many have sought to resurrect ancient Rome and breathe life into long-gone Babylon. They shall return- but not for long.

Image by Igor Schubin from Pixabay