Woe Babylon!

“Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!'” -Revelation 18:10

You don’t need to be a prophet to see the writing on the wall- The destruction of Babylon will come with a swift blow. It has stood in arrogant defiance of God, but there will come an hour when God says, “Enough!” Christians debate exactly who the scriptures may be referring to in this verse. I have my own thoughts, but the point of my song goes beyond a specific nation or city. This present world system, as typified by Babylon, stands as a boastful enemy to God. The great truth shown to us concerning Babylon is that we cannot stand in rebellious opposition to God forever- a day of reckoning awaits! One of the most profound truths revealed to us in scripture is that a day is coming when all will be in subjection to God and bow the knee to Him.

“So that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” -Philippians 2:10

The world rejects that notion just as it rejects God Himself. The world hates the things God loves and openly approves and practices the things He hates. The world defies God, ignores Him, and pretends to be able to exist without Him. It’s overarching characteristic is it’s pride and arrogance, but God will not allow the world’s haughty rebellion to go on forever-

“Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one,” Declares the Lord GOD of hosts, “For your day has come, The time when I will punish you.” -Jeremiah 50:31

“Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!'” -Revelation 18:10

When I wrote “Woe Babylon” I drew heavily from the language and descriptions of Babylon found in the bible from Jeremiah and Revelation and other scriptures that talk of this world system and God’s judgment of it. The words of my song might seem strong and graphic to some but these are the words, concepts and illustrations the bible uses.

The world system that Babylon represents is under God’s judgment and will be dealt a fatal blow. In the scriptures we see God dealing with individuals and nations, sometimes quite severely, to wake them up and bring them to their senses and back to Himself.

“Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” -Daniel 4:33

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD.” -Obadiah 1:3-4


The Kindness and Severity of God

“Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.” -Romans 11:22

Though long understood and historically accepted, the truths of God’s wrath and judgment have been barely spoken of in the modern church but recently there have been more and more voices who are beginning to talk about these things. In deciding to write and release the song “Woe Babylon” my thought is not that I know when, or upon who, or precisely how judgment may come, but rather that we are living in perilous times ripe for judgment. Others in the church have the same sense and have been speaking out as well, some more specifically than others. If judgment is near we can only hope that it will be set aside as it was for the people of Nineveh when they repented and received mercy from God. We do not presently see signs of a repentant world, but the warning is in essence going out in our day- “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” We can only hope the warning is heeded.

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.” -Jonah 3:10

As Christians we need to see the world system as God sees it, feel the way He does about it, and understand the terrible end that is in store for it. We cannot do that if we’re in love with it ourselves!

One of the startling things that stands out to me is the response in heaven when God’s judgment falls upon Babylon. Consider the contrast between those in heaven and us who are here on earth-

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,  for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” -Revelation 19:1-3


Heaven celebrates the fall of Babylon

Heaven celebrates the fall of Babylon. It’s response is overwhelming praise to God, but is that my response? If I’m in love with this world, probably not! If I’m residing in a city or nation where judgment is about to fall I’m most likely not thrilled about the prospect. But in heaven they’re so happy about the judgment of Babylon the bible says “a great multitude” let out what sounded like a roar! They’re absolutely ecstatic that this place that has for so long stood in defiance and hatred of God has finally been brought down. But what about me? Is my heart in tune with heaven or do I secretly love this place? Could it be that like Lot’s wife I’m actually quite attached to this present world and longingly looking back at it with fondness? I may understand that it’s ultimate end is judgment by fire, but do I love it still? Could it be that I’m actually committing adultery with this thing God calls “the great prostitute”?

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. -James 4:4

If we as individuals, and collectively the Church- (Ekklesia, which means called out ones) aren’t really coming out of the world system at all, but are instead embracing it, investing in it, and loving it- What does that tell us about ourselves?

“I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities…” -Revelation 18:4

Whole Christian denominations have actually left God to embrace the world and it’s lifestyles. Many of us as individuals have done the same. We have willingly participated in the world’s sin and scripture tells us it’s time to stop it and leave this world behind. Babylon will not go on forever, the party’s about to come to an end.

The attachment we have to Babylon is different for each of us, but we likely know what it is God has been speaking to us about. Whatever it is, these verses speak strongly to me…

“For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do.” -1 Peter 4:1

“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. – Romans 13:12

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” -1 John 2:15


God in His mercy warns us first

It is not without repeated warning that God sends judgment.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” – Matthew 23:37

Because sin blinds us to the truth we often fail to see that the messenger who brings warning does so for our good- God is attempting to gather us to Himself and away from our sin. We fail to understand that Jonah was sent to Nineveh because God wanted to show the great city mercy, not judgment. God does not delight in judgment and takes no pleasure in it. Even in judgment God’s eye is on grace, His intent is on mercy-

“O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.” -Jeremiah 5:3

The warnings start as small shock waves; unheeded they culminate in a massive earthquake. We do not have to have a tsunami of destruction- Let it not be said of us, “they refused to repent!”


Footnote about judgment and mercy:

The most neglected, perhaps purposely avoided, truth about God in the modern church may be His wrath. I have to admit it’s not something I want to talk about either. The wrath of God, the judgment of God, are subjects I’d rather avoid. Thinking about his grace is so much easier and pleasant! Even those who are willing to admit that God may have been angry enough in the past to send judgment often believe all that has changed now that Jesus has come. “God was one way in the Old Testament”, they say, “but now He’s different, now He’s all about grace.”

Well, the truth is, God has always been about grace! From Genesis to Revelation God is revealed to us as the God of grace. His mercy triumphs over judgment and always has, but that does not mean God will not eventually bring judgment to a rebellious world.

One truth that we cannot avoid is that just as God in the past sent a Great Flood that wiped out the world in judgment, a future judgment of fire awaits the world.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” -2 Peter 3:10

So we can see that God is just the same as He’s ever been. From the Old Testament to the New Testament God remains the same. His preference is mercy and forgiveness, but to those who refuse His kindness a terrible judgment is coming.

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” -2 Thessalonians 1:8-9