Are We Babylon?

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In 2007 the former managing editor of Atlantic Monthly, Cullen Murphy, wrote the book, Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America. It was a critically acclaimed entrée into the genre of understanding America and its fate by comparing it to nations of the past (reviews by salon.com and New York Times). This present piece (which shall be but a brief outline) differs in that, first, it is a spiritual exploration of a Biblical theme, although historical background is extremely important, and, second, because it is spiritual it can only be spiritually discerned; it may well seem foolishness to those not in Christ’s kingdom.

On the other hand, it is similar in that America is again being compared to an ancient political entity, this time Babylon. To complicate things somewhat, for the New Testament writers, particularly the apostles Peter and John, Babylon was a code name for the Roman Empire. As commentator G.K. Beale points out,

“Babylon was the ungodly world power under which Israel had to live in captivity. While Israelite saints did not go along with Babylon’s religious practices, they were nevertheless tempted to compromise. When they remained loyal to their God, they underwent trial by their oppressors (see Daniel 1-6). The ungodly social, political, and economic system dominated by the Roman Empire placed believers in the same position as Israel was in under Babylon... Therefore, here in the Apocalypse Rome and all wicked world systems take on the symbolic name ‘Babylon the Great’...” [emphasis added –SMR] (The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, p. 755)​

Some commentators on the Book of Revelation take the view that the mentions of “Babylon” in chapters 14, 16, 17, 18 and 19 refer to an economic, cultural, and religio-philosophical world system generally speaking, while others consider the possibility it may be based in a particular nation, which is not far-fetched as the two primary predecessors / prototypes – Chaldean Babylon and Rome – were empires controlled by specific nations from their capital cities.

This sketch will focus on three aspects of America as a modern-day empire: the cultural, the economic, and the military / political. These aspects will have some overlap, especially the cultural and economic. I started an initial exploration of this theme in a previous Babylon thread. This is a development of that.

Part 1, The Culture of the American Empire

A. Sorceries

I want first to consider a point pretty much overlooked by commentators, although one – Simon Kistemaker – does focus on it, and that is the statement in Revelation 18:23, giving as part of the cause for the horrific judgment meted upon Babylon, “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived” (all scripture quotations will be from the Authorized Version unless otherwise noted; I may on occasion modernize the language).

Kistemaker comments on this phrase,

“. . . Babylon deceived the nations with sorcery. The expression sorcery relates to the practice of magic (9:21). While it allows a person ‘to control the gods, it is at the same time a gift and revelation of the gods to men’ [Colin Brown, “Magic,” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2:556]. This sin is an utter abomination to God (Deut.18:10-12). All those Israelites who practiced sorcery or witchcraft were to be put to death, according to the Law of Moses (Exod. 22:18; Lev. 20:6. 27). . . And John states that those who practice the magic arts will be consigned to the lake of fire and burning sulfur (21:8; 22:15).” [New Testament Commentary: Revelation (Baker 2001), p. 503].​

Merrill F. Unger in his, Unger’s Bible Dictionary, says “Sorcery is . . . the practice of the occult arts under the power of evil spirits or demons and has been common in all ages of the world’s history.” (p. 1039)

Lest anyone think this is but some archaic or esoteric practice unrelated to our 21st century world, I shall proceed in a moment to show its current relevance. Other commentators (who I value greatly) often think of “sorceries” rather loosely as merely deception and deceptive practices, apart from a connection to the magic arts, but I don’t think their view does justice to the Biblical data. As this is a key reason why I see America a strong candidate for being the Babylon spoken of in Revelation, I shall be developing this point. First, for understanding’s sake, some New Testament Greek background; I excerpt from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates,

“Strong’s # 5331, pharmakeia, from pharmakon, a drug, which in the Gr. writers is used both for a curative or medicinal drug, and also as a poisonous one. Pharmakeia means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21; 18:23; Sept.: Ex. 7:22; Is. 47:9, 12). (pp. 1437, 1438)

“Strong’s # 5332, pharmakeus; gen. pharmakeos, from pharmakeuo, to administer a drug. An enchanter with drugs, a sorcerer (Rev. 21:8 [TR]) (Ibid., p. 1438)

“Strong’s #5333, pharmakos, gen. pharmakou. A magician, sorcerer, enchanter (Rev. 21:8 [UBS]; 22:15; Sept.: Ex. 7:11; 9:11; Deut. 18:10; Dan. 2:2). The same as pharmakeus (5332). The noun pharmakeia (5331) means the preparing and giving of medicine, and in the NT, sorcery, enchantment.” (Ibid.)


To show why the use of “sorceries” in the Rev 18:23 passage refers to activities involving certain kinds of drugs rather then mere deceptive practices, consider the classes of transgressors in Rev 21:8 who are consigned to “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death”: “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars”. Sorcerers (from pharmakeus) here specifically means one who administers or uses a certain class of drugs to “enchant”, to cast a psychic spell upon by use of drugs and demonic power. It doesn’t mean a deceiver generally or even figuratively, but specifically one who uses sorcerous potions. Likewise in Rev 22:15 where a similar Greek word, pharmakos, is used for sorcerer, with the same meaning as pharmakeus in 21:8. So here we have real drug-dealing “sorcerers” declared liable for judgment.

Some modern examples of sorcerers as used in Revelation? Timothy Leary, for one, the Harvard psychology professor who became an evangelist for LSD in the 1960s, encouraging an entire generation to partake of the consciousness-altering drugs, of which LSD was perhaps the staple. He wrote books to guide them on their “trips” so as to experience other “wavelengths” of awareness. The world-famous poet Allen Ginsberg was likewise a sorcerer, encouraging multitudes to, in Leary’s words, “turn on [to the drugs], tune in [to the ‘cosmic consciousness’], and drop out [of the ‘straight’ world]”. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, et al, all these promoted the acid consciousness of the sixties, exporting the use of these drugs throughout the entire world. They were indeed a generation of sorcerers. Charles Manson also was in this class, although patently demonic, while the others presented themselves as benign sages – they actually thought they were, but were themselves deceived and deceiving.

Recall Unger’s previous statement that “Sorcery is . . . the practice of the occult arts under the power of evil spirits or demons and has been common in all ages of the world’s history.” What happened in the Beat, Hippie, and Woodstock generations was no small thing. Although it was prettied up with Eastern spiritual talk and concepts, the drugs (this includes those one takes in by smoking them) were sorcerous potions that – as per their use in India by “holy” men, or shamans in Native American tribes – enabled one to make direct contact with entities in the spirit world, which we know as evil spirits. Sometimes these demons got their human hosts to “channel” them so as to speak directly to the world, and sometimes remained behind the scenes and powerfully affected the consciousness of the humans without making themselves known. Such were our singers, poets, and writers of those days. Off the top of my head I think of poets Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, novelists Ken Kesey and Tom Wolfe, and a multitude of their peers. These all spread the consciousness that was a direct result of demonic activity in the human spirit through hallucinogenic drugs. This is sorcery, and these are sorcerers. Now, in the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, this activity continues, although quietly, under cover, having permeated much of the advertising and cinematic fields, many musicians, actors, writers, and others also having “turned on”. Other nations and cultures, having been leavened from within by these sorceries, became vulnerable to satanic deception in its various forms. They became open to input from the satanic realm mentally and spiritually. The one defense against it, the Christian faith, is being slowly marginalized and even criminalized, and this latter is the purpose and design of the demonic realm. That it is allowed by the High Throne of heaven shows that it is part of His decree and plan.

Anyone who has studied the history of LSD in America knows that its use was not limited to the counter culture, but the CIA and other military agencies used it extensively, both among themselves and experimenting on others, as a prospective weapon of war. Politicians (JFK was reported by the CIA to have taken it), academics, therapists and psychiatrists, artists, men and women from a wide variety of professions all tried this new “wonder drug” – as it was touted – and were transported to another realm of consciousness, what I call “the satanic wavelength”, though others will give it a more euphemistic spin. There is a resurgence now of its supposed “therapeutic” use, per (among other sources) the NY Times of Apr 11, 2010: “Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again”. There is also a widespread campaign for the legalization of “medicinal marijuana”. It is surprising to see even some Christians saying that smoking grass is no big thing, and that the government should keep their hands out of any legislation concerning it. I have seen professing Christians say that they would have no trouble smoking it, especially if it were legalized. It remains sorcery, prohibited – on pain of eternal death – by Scripture, notwithstanding the much gainsaying by some.

Even the purported therapeutic use of LSD and medicinal use of marijuana do not evade their sorcerous properties. Whatever benefits may accrue to users – and there may indeed be some – they are outweighed by the opening of the spirit-world to their consciousness. Spirits may work lying wonders, but the end thereof is death.


The Isaiah 47 connection

To demonstrate this point from another angle: in Rev 18:7 “harlot Babylon” is quoted as saying, “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow”. The retort of the Almighty to that boast is, “Therefore shall her plagues 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 . . . in one hour is thy judgment come” (Rev 18:8, 10).

Scholars acknowledge this image of Babylon and her judgment comes directly out of Isaiah’s chapter 47, who likewise was prophesying against Babylon – Chaldean Babylon of some 2,700 years ago. Listen to the prophet’s words:

Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness [utter obscurity], O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, the lady of kingdoms . . . And thou saidst, I shall be a lady forever: so that thou didst not lay these things to heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it. Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:

But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection [fullness] for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments (Isaiah 47:5, 7-9).​

“Lady” in the phrase “lady of kingdoms” is the feminine of a Hebrew word for lord or master, ghebeer; it could be translated, “mistress of kingdoms”, and is equivalent to Rev 18:7’s “I sit a queen”. The “loss of children” means she shall not retain the vassal nations which make up her wealth and support; “I shall not sit as a widow” means she shall never be desolate and grief-stricken as widows are. In short, nothing shall disturb her peace, luxury, and dominance over the nations. And this ancient Babylon, as her incarnation some 2,700 or more years later will be, was judged for the multitude of her sorceries and abundance of her enchantments, as well as her idolatry, pride, and the cruel persecution of God’s people.

We see that not only did this ancient Babylon oppress the nations, extracting their wealth and goods by virtue of her military conquests and economic dominance, she also was greatly exercised in “sorcery”.

Regarding this word [your] sorceries in Isaiah 47:9, 12, [size=+1]%yIp;êv'K.[/size], it is clear that the classic definition accrues to it. In their respective commentaries on Isaiah,

J.A. Alexander says of it, “occult arts” (Vol 2, p. 202)
H.C. Leupold, “occult arts” (Vol 2, p. 154)
Matthew Poole, “magical practices”, “diabolical artifices” (Vol 2, p. 433)
E.J. Young, “magical practices”, “enchantments” “spells” (Vol 3, p. 238)
Keil & Delitzsch, “witchcrafts”, “magical arts”, “the black art” (Vol 7, pp. 240, 242, 243)
John Calvin, “divinations” (OT commentaries, Vol 8, p. 458)

Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament, (Strong’s #3785) “occult magic”; also translated “witchcrafts” in 2 Kings 9:22, Micah 5:12, Nahum 3:4.

Matthew Henry, “Witchcraft is a sin in its own nature exceedingly heinous; it is giving that honour to the devil which is due to God only, making God’s enemy our guide and the father of lies our oracle. In Babylon it was a national sin . . . Such a bewitching sin this was that when it was once admitted it spread like wildfire, and they never knew the end of it; the deceived and the deceivers both increased strangely. (On Isaiah 47:7-15, IV)

Old Testament Word Studies, by William Wilson, “keshep – sorcery – ‘to practice magic arts, sorcery, charms, with an intent to do mischief to men or beasts; to delude or pervert the mind . . . magical rites’ ” (p. 405)”

With regard to the related word translated “enchantments” in Isaiah 47:7 – from, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, by Harris, Archer, and Waltke:

heber – bind, cast a spell – ‘The usual translation is “enchantments” referring to the means the charmers employed to influence people or the results of their charming efforts (Deut 18:11). All aspects were divinely forbidden to covenant people.’ ” (pp. 259, 260)​

What was true of ancient Babylon – a prototype – is also true of her final manifestation: a world system based in a nation with by far the mightiest military power the world has ever seen, as well as being the most culturally and technologically advanced of the nations, able to attain a political, economic, and cultural hegemony over most of the world.

Please understand that, despite my strong conjectural assertions, I am still in the conjectural stage and not saying America is definitely the Babylon of Scripture. But there are very strong correspondences between the two. Let me wrap up the sorcery connection before I go on.

It seems indisputable to me that the saying in Rev 18:23, “. . . for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived”, does find exclusive fulfillment in the United States, with its exportation of the “psychedelic” drug culture throughout the world. No other nation fits this bill.

The irreversible damage done to the nations is clear to those with eyes to see. The United Kingdom, closely connected in the sixties with American culture, and thoroughly permeated with the counter-culture music, thought, and drug use, is presently in such rapid spiritual decline, due in part to the postmodern juggernaut energized by the evolving thought-forms and ethics of that era, that it is constantly seeking to ratify legislation outlawing the Christian faith. It is on its way to becoming a truly wicked kingdom.

The consciousness of sorcery is inimical to the claims of Christ; hostile to God’s laws; intolerant to the Christian witness to these things. All over the world the church has been weakened, and in the spiritual and moral vacuum Islam has leapt in with a vengeance, flexing its satanic muscles. The only place it cannot spiritually overwhelm is the living precincts of the faithful and witnessing church.

Into this same vacuum has leapt the homosexual vanguard, flexing its moral relativity and ensuing rights. In the public arena the faithful and witnessing church is shrunken to insignificance in the postmodern lens of society’s vision. We are a hindrance to the development and welfare of a free, just, and modern society unencumbered by “primitive fundamentalist guilt-based and psychologically unhealthy religious views”. The explosive opening of sorcery and its Pandora’s onslaught from the Pit into the common consciousness of humankind has paved the way for a new age, an age where Christ and His people are in the way, are blocking the road of “progress”.

The polyanna eschatologists may pipe up and say that in a few thousand more years this too shall pass and things will get better, but that’s a pipe dream. It was not for nothing the Lord said,

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt 7:13, 14)​

This concludes the first section of Part 1, The Culture of the American Empire, section A. Sorceries. I would next like to look at other aspects of the culture of empire. It may be a while before I post it.

If these – and upcoming – conjectures turn out to be valid, the implications are enormous, at least for those of us who live in America (I’m not home now, but am planning to return).
 
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Turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
I find it interesting that Babylon is repeatedly referred to as a city. That great city, that mighty city, but the other governmental organizations are referred to as kingdoms or nations. Not sure what to make of it.
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Bryan:

One possible lead might be to read the book by Jacques Ellul on The Meaning of the City.
 

Turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
We know Berlin is not Babylon

Some of us are old enough to remember the city of Berlin and the unique arrangements made to have it divided in four sectors, UK, US, France, and Soviets. Berlin wouldn’t qualify as Babylon but the three sectors that made up Western Berlin raise an interesting thought.

The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell (16:19). The great city reigned over the kings of the earth (17:18)

If one could devise a plan to peacefully unify a single city as the seat of the three major world religions, each with a sector, coexisting in peace according to worldly terms, I could not imagine a more powerful city over the whole earth. However in order to establish such a unified city one would require alliances with men who have no scruples (an understatement), men of corruption, deceit, and doctrinal apostasies that would be unimaginable for believers. Perhaps such a city would be like a habitation of devils and a cage with every hateful and unclean bird. The metaphor of fornication would fit. The stench would go very high. For the common resident upon whom such a city was foisted, they would lament that their city had fallen. For the believer, it would probably be more grievous than any city before it.

Though it would be grievous for many, others would prosper greatly. Merchants across the globe would have an explosion of trade on account of the new markets established with new "friends" in countries and regions they had never contracted with before. The people at the top of that city would ride a wave of revenue and think themselves to be on top of the world. No matter how desolate that city was in the past, and no matter how long they may have been called a widow by every other nation, by their own cunning they could call themselves a Queen, no longer a widow.

That would appear to be quite a city. Imagine if the founder of that city, knowing the curse, even still blessed himself in his heart, saying, “I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart to add drunkenness to thirst.” And if the other nations raise the glass to say a toast to him..

A city like that would cast a shadow to Berlin and beyond.
 

Turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
FDR initiated the UN. That is another contribution to ungodly world government.

Certainly WWI and WWII provided an impetus to push the pendulum the other way, so to speak, in order to establish world peace and new trade arrangements via the League of Nations and the UN.

It could be argued that an alliance of the world religions is necessary to really get where the UN founders hoped to go. It sounds counter intuitive, but terrorism may well be a major impetus to accomplish such an alliance. That's another thread.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Bryan (Turtle),

Are you reading any of the amil commentators? If so, which among them are your favorites? Are your thoughts just your own speculations apart from them?

I am trying to stay close to the Biblical data as understood by the just-mentioned commentators, as I have rejected the other schools’ interpretations of Scripture, and now have little interest in them.

It may be asked, why am I going out on a limb like this? Why not just stick to the standard views and not go beyond them? To answer that I’d like to quote something from Stuart Olyott’s great little commentary on Daniel, Dare To Stand Alone. The angel has been telling Daniel the visions of chapter 8:

“ ‘You have heard the truth, Daniel,’ says the angel (26). ‘Now preserve the vision, because the future will need a record of what you have seen.’

“And it did. In those darkest of days, when the people of God were being hounded and killed in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, they needed and they had the comfort of this chapter of Daniel. Throughout that period they were consoled by knowing that this wicked man could not have stepped on to the page of history without divine permission and that everything he did, however awful, was nothing other than what God had predicted centuries earlier. They knew that in God’s time, and in fulfilment of verse 25, he would at last be removed. To know all this was an indescribable comfort to them in horrific times.” (p. 110)​

We shall need the comfort of the knowledge that our time of persecution has been told us beforehand. And that if indeed great calamity is to befall our nation it too has been given us to know before it came to pass. We shall suffer with our countrymen, but spiritually, having been sealed unto God (Rev 7:3), we are as in Goshen, untouched by the plagues, though physically we are vulnerable. We will have the inner security and abundance of love to care for those smitten by plagues, as happened in ancient Rome, and by such caring win many to Christ.

I have perused the web and seen some real nut-cases foretelling doom and destruction for America; or, maybe they’re not genuine nut-cases, but just charismatic would-be prophets spinning visions the Lord did not give them. In any event, I have been surprised to see the plethora of doomsayers around.

My own approach – which I will further demonstrate shortly – is not to go beyond Scripture, yet to look very closely at it, and hold present developments in the world up to its light, if perchance there is a match.

There may be some who think me unpatriotic for my thoughts – after all, how dare I envision such catastrophe for our homeland? Anyone remember Francis Schaeffer’s words, “It must be taught that patriotic loyalty must not be identified with Christianity. . . The establishment may easily become the church’s enemy.” (The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, p. 79).

It is very important that we be, as was said of the children of Issachar who joined themselves to David in the wilderness, “men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron 12:32). When you see the first drop of innocent Christian blood shed by officers of the U.S. government hit the ground, know that a line has been crossed, and a new epoch will have begun.

What ought Israel to do? What I teach is that we be alert to these things, to cultivate a close walk with our God in Christ Jesus, whose presence shall be our strength in whatever comes our way, to be debt-free if possible, to preach and teach the whole counsel of God, to bear gracious witness of the Gospel of Christ to the lost of the world, and to shun the allure of Babylon’s luxurious embrace.
 
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Porter

Puritan Board Freshman
I believe, with humble and wholesome conviction, that Babylon is Jerusalem. It had already been called "Sodom and Egypt", "the great city" (Rev. 11:8), then finally "Babylon" (Rev. 16:19, 17:18, and 18:10). This fits well with the covenantal curse language of the book (application specifically targeted toward the apostate old covenant people), as well as the timing being certainly directed to an audience contemporaneous to John the Apostle (Rev. 1:1-3).
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Cameron, welcome to PB!

While the purpose of this thread is not to contend against other millennial views, but to explore the possibilities of amil interpretation as regards the identity of Babylon and her demise, I will briefly answer your remarks, though do not want here to enter into debate about it. Thanks for understanding.

Indeed we believe that Jerusalem, by persecuting the people of God (and executing their Messiah, Rome cooperating), has joined those symbolic entities – Sodom, Egypt, and the great city, Babylon – but is not exclusively them itself. As Beale remarks,

“The great city” is “spiritually called Sodom and Egypt.” That is, the ungodly world is likened not only to infamous Babylon but also to other well-known wicked nations of the OT. They were “spiritually” like Babylon, since they were also places where the saints lived as aliens under persecution. (Op Cit, p. 593)​

When John wrote (in Rev 11:8) that Jerusalem is “spiritually” called not only Sodom and Egypt, but “the great city”, this shows that earthly Jerusalem had become as those other wicked nations of the world and was of their spirit, those names symbolic appellations of evil places ripe for judgment.

Commenting on the identification of Babylon in Rev 17:18, Beale says,

“The woman” is interpreted to be “the great city, which has sovereignty over the kings of the earth.” She includes the entire evil economic system of the world throughout history. She receives power from the devil himself. Her economic-religious influence formerly even extended over the political realm (“the kings of the earth”). But their loyalty will shift toward the beast and they will become antagonistic toward her in the end time. That the “woman” has sovereignty over the world demonstrates that she must be identified more broadly than merely with unbelieving Jerusalem or the apostate church. Likewise, 18:23 reveals her universal nature by describing her as one who has “deceived the nations”. . .

. . . It is also fatal to the preterist view that the influence of Jerusalem was at its lowest ebb in the two centuries preceding A.D. 70, whereas Babylon’s demise in Revelation 17-18 is an immediate fall from great power and prosperity. (Ibid, pp. 888, 889)​

In Rev 17 Babylon reigns over the kings of the earth, and all its peoples, and then is destroyed in one hour by the beast and his ally kings; in Rev 18 she deceives all nations by her sorceries, which matter I seek to elucidate here.

If you wish to pursue the preterist postmil view please feel free to start a new thread on that topic, though there are already some extant. Thanks.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Some thoughts before I proceed.

It is in the recent news that California will hold a referendum in November over the issue of legalizing marijuana; if it passes in favor of the weed we shall likely see other states follow suit – “As California goes, so goes the nation”. Grass is not what it was in the old days, it is much more powerful, genetically developed to contain more THC, its “active ingredient”. It is a very strong sorcerous potion. Its legalization would make it an issue in the churches, for not all are aware of the prohibitions that apply to it in Scripture.

It has been fairly easy to make a case such as in the opening post on the use and meaning of “sorceries” in the Scripture, and apply it to contemporary phenomena, there being clear and precise correspondences between the Bible and current history in this instance.

But when dealing with other aspects of “the American Empire”, the “cultural, the economic, and the military / political” it is far more difficult for me, as the disciplines involved in making these assessments are not Biblical but secular. So I will not develop these to the extent I have in the first section, instead giving – as I said initially – only a brief outline of my thoughts.

I have undergone a radical change in my thinking concerning my homeland, America. It’s similar to something that Frank said in the Black Confederacy thread about aspects of our history, “I'm taking a long, hard look at what I've been taught . . . I just do not trust that the stuff I learned in school was honest.” For me it goes beyond my schooling to everything I get from my culture – through various educational and media sources – about what America is and does.

I’ve surely never been anti-American. Joined the Boy Scouts as a youth, volunteered for the USMC at 17 (1959), later was part of the 60’s counter-culture, arrested by Christ when I was 26 and on a path to destruction, and brought into His care and direction. While in the counter-culture I never was part of any radical group, just a poet and seeker.

As a Christian I eventually left the Republican Party because of its corruption and misuse of power, but never went left. Rather I identified myself as “conservative” and voted for conservatives. I have no problem with authority; valued the police (NYPD) while I drove a taxi during my days as a writer and single parent. Sort of a typical Christian, slowly moving from generic evangelicalism (“the thinnest of soups”) to the Reformed faith.

Coming out of the counter-culture, and evangelizing those still in it (and living in Woodstock for 19 years), I realized that the drugs of our era constituted Biblical sorcery, and that made me wonder about what connection Babylon had with my country, the source of the counter-culture drug scene that was being spread throughout the world.

But it wasn’t until this past year (at ages 67/68) when I preached through Revelation, really digging into it, using the amil commentaries I’ve mentioned in the earlier Babylon thread, that I began in earnest seeking to understand the dynamics of Babylon and the hatred it engenders in the beast and the 10 kings which lead them to destroy it. As I wrote in that previous thread, I wondered what that could look like – and what was Babylon, and how could the kings destroy her in one hour by fire, and why did they come to hate this powerful figure that dominated the entire earth? I really pondered this, and asked the Lord about it, being thoroughly ignorant, and seeking His wisdom.

While in a second-hand bookstore I saw a raggedy (well-worn) book, Why Do People Hate America?, and picked it up for a pittance, as it seemed to speak to the burning questions I had. I read it with an open mind, even though the authors, Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies (S&D), UK citizens, were postmodernists, and Sardar a cultural (nominal) Muslim. Some of their historical / intellectual / philosophical views of Europe (as the ground of American thought) I took with a grain of salt, and yet their analyses of American culture, economics, militarism, internal history, and politics were astonishingly astute and eye-opening to me. I was prepared to listen to such a critique because of my suspicion that there may be more to America than how I had perceived her.

And this – sort of in a nutshell – is what I picked up from this book, and its sequel, American Dream, Global Nightmare (There is third book in the series, but I haven’t started it yet: Will America Change?):

We have been subjected to a powerful mythologizing influence concerning our nation, to a very great extent through the ubiquitous film industry (TV and movies), which promotes the idea that, in the midst of enemies, we must heroically prevail through force of arms and intelligence and establish our pure and ideal democratic form of government; this prototype began with the American Indian “savages” who opposed our “divine right” to establish God’s “new Israel” here in the promised land we fled to from the oppressions of Europe. As the nation grew we developed this idea and adapted it to our place among the nations, again, we the pure, innocent, and ideal people with a superior form of governance and a divine mandate, still surrounded by hostile and primitive peoples, who we must either severely subdue, and / or paternally help attain to our understanding of being civilized. Our presidents, and the government along with industry, developed the idea of the American Empire, and we the purveyors of enlightenment and true democracy around the world. Our vision of democracy included the right of free trade among all the nations, but the benefits were mostly one-way, and we enriched ourselves at the expense of the poorer nations, leveraging great power over them, if not militarily, then through the IMF, World Bank, and World Trade Organization, all of which have been pretty much in our pocket, and could put the economic screws to any who resist our “economically developing” their countries.

Are the views of S&D thoroughly accurate and reliable? I can’t defend them as I am able to defend my Biblical positions, but I am convinced that in the main they are right on target.

What this has been a lesson in is seeing ourselves through the eyes of others; as Robert Burns put it, “O would some power the giftie gie us / To see ourselves as others see us!” It is so strange that I, a thinking man with insight into things, and a strong critical faculty, had bought into the vision of America that I had picked up from my youth, from the Westerns on TV, all reinforcing the American myth, to the detective stories, to Rambo, Alias, Van Dam – all touting American ingenuity, valor, technological and physical prowess, and moral rectitude. But the way our military and government, with its black and covert ops subvert countries we want to control, and the way we have supported dictatorial regimes when it was to our economic or political advantage, leaves the world wondering at the sheer hypocrisy of our stated ideals in light of our violent and self serving actions.

The way we supported the State of Israel and enabled it to oppress the Palestinians, many of whom are brother Christians, has gained us many enemies. Our leaders have bought into the Dispensationalist schema that the State of Israel is the prophetic fulfilment of Scripture and we do God’s will to arm, finance, and enable them to attain regional hegemony, aided by the unspoken but very real threat of nuclear attack (some background here). (I am not against the Jews, or the State of Israel – I am a Jew – but I can hardly divinize a state and support actions that are against God’s law. Just solutions can be found to alleviate the much of the conflicts, though there are passions in the region which may not be amenable to reason; and this may be in the Lord’s decree as well.)

With the collapse of the Soviet Union we are now the world’s sole superpower (though China is growing), with military bases, missile sites, and forces all over the world. We think of ourselves as the righteous policeman – the myth of “the reluctant hero” S&D talk of in American Dream... – keeping the world safe for democracy and free trade, and we actually are ignorant (most of us, anyway) of the horrors our government and our big corporations (tied to government) have perpetrated around the world, impoverishing peoples, intimidating them, and yet alluring them with the promise of economic prosperity and security if they cooperate with us. Far more oil has been spilled in Nigeria by our corporations than the Exxon Valdez and the current Gulf of Mexico spills, yet barely nothing has been done there, and multitudes have been ruined by the devastation of the land.

The disconnect between what we do in the world and how as a result we are perceived by all the nations – 3rd world, East and West Europeans, Muslims, Canadians, Asians, Africans, Latin Americans – and what we think of ourselves, as well as our ignorance of the other nations, frightens the world, makes them think of us as a rogue state, too big to stand up to, and thoroughly deluded as to what kind of nation we actually are.

“ . . . statistics that we come across routinely in the UNDP’s Human Development Reports: that Americans consume over half of all the goods and services of the world; that its people spend over $10 billion annually on pet food alone – $4 billion more than the estimated total needed to provide basic health and nutrition for everyone in the world; that their expenditure on cosmetics – $8 billion – is $2 billion more than the annual total needed to provide basic education worldwide. . . The three richest Americans have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries. Having cornered most of the world’s resources, America now has its eyes firmly set on the last remaining resource of developing countries: the flora, fauna, biodiversity and the very DNA of the indigenous people of the world”. (Why Do People Hate…, p. 82)​

And the authors go on to give examples of American corporations – with government help – garnering patents on indigenous peoples’ unique plants and foodstuffs so that they lose control of their own produce if they should ever want to market it.

I am no longer an innocent American. My ignorance, my buying into the myths of America, my believing that we are a good, and noble nation, worthy to be emulated by the world, has been taken from me. I suppose that my conscious first loyalty to the Kingdom of Christ – the place of my primary citizenship – has allowed me to detach and gain perspective on my nation in the world.

I will continue to gather information, facts and figures, so as to make a clearer and more succinct brief on these things. For over 4 decades I’ve been studying the Bible and related writings, so I’m familiar with much of that material. But an assessment of the economic, political, military, and cultural history of the United States is a large undertaking!

If there is substance to my supposition that the American Empire is the Biblical Babylon – or rather to become fully transformed into such in the years soon to come – the implications for us are huge.

And certain markers as telltale signs would confirm this, such as the widespread legalization of drugs (although we have already done the damage in that area), the increasing criminalization of Christian free speech, and the outright official persecuting and outlawing of the Christian faith.

Of course the postmils are inoculated against envisioning such things – except it be as a catastrophic prelude to their “Jewish dreams” of conquering the world – and this itself is a powerful debilitating factor in our attaining spiritual preparedness for severe suffering. But that’s another thread.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Steve, I totally agree that the way America has gone is utterly wrong and Godless. We really ought to be sticking up for Christians around the world, whether it be to end the persecution in Israel or to protect the Iraqi and Afghan Christians who have been decimated by our interventions.

However, I'm going to disagree by saying that Babylon is no more America than it was Rome in the 1st Century.

In Revelation and indeed throughout the Scriptures, Babylon is contrasted with Zion, the City of God. Where Zion is the body of all those whom God has called, Babylon is the body of all those who are opposed to God. When we talk about Babylon and Zion, we are talking about the two cities of Biblical history: the City of God and the City of Darkness (I would have said Augustine's two cities, except that Augustine's "City of Man" may have alliance with the City of God at times).

Now, is America a modern-day manifestation of Babylon? Maybe, maybe not---but it isn't the only one. What I will say is this: wherever the people of God praise His name, even in the midst of Babylon, there is Zion.
 

Brandon1

Puritan Board Freshman
Mr. Rafalsky

I'm not sure I see your connection between sorcery and drug use. You cited words that had similar lexemes and then concluded that all of the times that word is used it imports that meaning of drug use. That is called illegitimate totality transfer (or transferring the total range of meaning of a word into every use of the word).

You have to prove that it means this in the context of this text and John's corpus. I for one, am not convinced that the connection you make is sound. The way to prove me wrong though is to consult lexicons and see if they agree with you, and to argue contextually that John is referencing drug use. I'm open to the evidence, but have skepticism. Consult BDAG and even perhaps Louw and Nida to see what they say. If they agree, it certainly adds strength to your case!
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
No matter how bad things appear to look at a given moment or how many apparent correspondences appear between visible reality and the biblical text, one thing must be kept in mind. God has turned around entire cultures from amazing levels of degradation (18th century England to give but one example) and he is stillable to do so.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
We are part of the Visible Church and the modern Visible Church in large measure is a Babylon - Romanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, rampant Pentecostalism, Liberalism, neo-Evangelicalism with Liberal stances. We should come out of denominations in which we will be contaminaed by error as the Book of Revelation tells us to.

Later on she (the Church) gets cleansed and purified and becomes the New Jerusalem.

The Book of Revelation focusses on the Church from the Destruction of Jerusalem to the return of Christ.

Pressure is put on the Church to become a Babylon by the First Beast (Pagan and Statist persecution) and the Second Beast (the Antichrist Papacy and other antichrists, e.g. Liberal Christianity).

In Revelation the Church is sometimes described from one perspective as a city and from another as a woman, sometimes a bad woman and a bad city i.e. Babylon.

The Church is the central institution in any society in which she has been established, and in history. She is the apple of God's eye. But she often behaves like a prostitute vis a vis Christ.

And often we forget that she is the most important institution that there is.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I find it interesting that Babylon is repeatedly referred to as a city. That great city, that mighty city, but the other governmental organizations are referred to as kingdoms or nations. Not sure what to make of it.

Vatican City perhaps.

Check out Patrick Fairbairn's examination of "Babylon" in his "sane" book, "The Interpretation of Scripture". He's realistic enough to see that the message about the Church becoming Babylon extends beyond the Church of Rome, but includes that major, even central (?) apostasy.

All his books are "sane", by the way.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Philip (P. F. Pugh), you said,

“I'm going to disagree by saying that Babylon is no more America than it was Rome in the 1st Century.”

I suppose it depends on how we are talking, for a little later in your post you say,

“Now, is America a modern-day manifestation of Babylon? Maybe, maybe not---but it isn't the only one.”

And when you say,

“Babylon is the body of all those who are opposed to God . . . the City of Darkness”

I wouldn’t disagree with that. I went to some lengths seeking to define precisely what the identity of Babylon was / is in a previous Babylon thread, quoting a number of amil commentators to show where there is a consensus in this identification. G.K. Beale is representative when he says,

Babylon was the ungodly world power under which Israel had to live in captivity. While Israelite saints did not go along with Babylon’s religious practices, they were nevertheless tempted to compromise. When they remained loyal to their God, they underwent trial by their oppressors (see Daniel 1-6). The ungodly social, political, and economic system dominated by the Roman Empire placed believers in the same position as Israel was in under Babylon . . . Therefore, here in the Apocalypse Rome and all wicked world systems take on the symbolic name ‘Babylon the Great’. [emphasis added –SMR] G.K. Beale, (The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, p. 755)​

Simon Kistemaker, in his commentary on Peter and Jude (the New Testament Commentary series), remarking on 1 Pet 5:13, “the church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you...”, says,

“Babylon” is a cryptic name for Rome. In times of persecution, writers exercised unusual care not to endanger Christians to whom they wrote letters. For instance, when John was banished to Patmos during the persecution instituted by the emperor Domitian, he called Rome “Babylon” (Rev. 14:8; 16:9; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21). (Pp. 208, 209)​

That Kistemaker does not restrict the name Babylon to Rome is clear from his commentary on Revelation in chapter 17,

The woman called Babylon, sitting on many waters, which the angel interprets as the peoples, crowds, nations, and languages (v. 15), symbolizes the population of the entire world. The name Babylon the Great is a figurative description of all the godless inhabitants in the world. In the second half of the first century, the city of Rome was a cesspool of iniquity and thus became a symbol of worldly pleasure, enticement, and lust. But as I have pointed out above, to focus attention only on Rome of apostolic times is too restrictive. The name Babylon applies to the lasting conflict between Satan’s henchmen and the people of God . . .

Does John have in mind the destruction of Rome whereby subordinate vassals rise up against her? Hardly, for the imperial city never entirely fulfilled the words in this verse. The splendor of Rome diminished in the course of due time, and the empire came to an end in 476, but the city itself remained intact. On a broader scale, the text applies to nations pursuing economic and political goals to the detriment of others. When wealth and riches accumulate, a sudden downturn causes these nations to collapse . . .

These kings together with the beast are determined to destroy the woman who has dominated them.” [emphases added –SMR], Simon J Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Revelation, Pp. 466, 478.​

Getting back to your remark, Philip, “Babylon is no more America than it was Rome in the 1st Century”; I would say that Rome indeed was a manifestation of the Babylonian spirit – and called on that account, Babylon, by the Biblical writers – even as America may possibly be a contemporary manifestation of Babylon. I think you agree with this in your saying, “is America a modern-day manifestation of Babylon? Maybe, maybe not---but it isn't the only one”.

Now I think this is the issue at hand: If Rome could be called Babylon because of its similarity to Chaldean Babylon, being itself a great military, economic, and cultural world power, why may not America likewise be called by this symbolic name – if the shoe does fit! – in other words, if she fulfills the Biblical criteria?

In the 1st century the symbolic name was applied to a nation, as the Babylonian-type empire was centered in a nation. Thus it could be applied to a nation in the end time, even though Babylon is also seen as the culture of the world in opposition to the God of Heaven and earth. The name can be used in both senses. I think this was also established in the previous thread referred to above.

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Brandon (Brandon1),

You said,

“I'm not sure I see your connection between sorcery and drug use . . . You have to prove that it means this in the context of this text and John's corpus.”

Before offering some proofs per your request, let me ask, have you taken even a cursory look at the Greek usage? In both Biblical (as well classical) and modern Greek, the semantic range of these words with “similar lexemes” is pretty clear. There are three primary uses of the basic word, pharmakon, drug: 1) medicinal / curative, 2) poison, and 3) magic potion. That’s the extent of the semantic range. In the Biblical and the modern Greek (I’m currently living in a Greek-speaking country) the meaning depends mostly on the context the words are used in. More on that in a moment.

I trust you’ll bear with me if I refer to the BDAG (or BAGD) 2nd Edition, as I just don’t have the bucks (or a seminary library) to go for the newer 3rd edition.

With regard to pharmakeia – BAGD says, that in Rev 18:23 the meaning is “sorcery, magic”, and in Rev 9:21, “magic arts”. It also gives usages in many other classical and LXX readings, but for brevity I’ll limit it to the NT usage, and will in the following citations also.

Concerning pharmakon – drug – in classical use (it’s not used in the NT) there are 3 meanings: 1) “poison”, 2) “magic potion, charm”, and 3) “medicine, remedy”. These are all on page 854a of the BAGD 2nd Edition.

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In the Liddell and Scott New Edition (Oxford 1940) of their, A Greek-English Lexicon:

Pharmakeia – “the use of any kind of drugs, potions, or spells”, “use enchantments, practice sorcery”.

Pharmakon – “enchanted potion, philter: hence, charm, spell”

Pharmakos – “poisoner, sorcerer, magician”. These entries were all found on page 1917 of Liddell and Scott.

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And this is from Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4th Edition:

Pharmakeia, “the use or administering of drugs . . . poisoning . . . sorcery, magical arts”.

Pharmakeus, “one who prepares or uses magical remedies”

Pharmakos, “pertaining to magical arts”.

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I might have another lexicon or two around the house (a little dated though they may be), but I think this should suffice to show that the semantic range is designated as I have said.

John was not talking of poisoners (murderers!) in Rev 21:8 and 22:15 as he had already listed “murderers” separately; neither was he talking of murders in Rev 9:21, as there also he had listed “murders” separately. He was talking of sorcerers and sorceries in the classic sense, that having to do with magic potions, sorcerous drugs. In Rev 18:23, John was not talking about deceiving the nations through poisoning them or by giving them medicines, but by altering their consciousness through the promoting and administering of hallucinogenic drugs, those pharmaceuticals manufactured (or in the case of some, processed) to the end of making the psychedelic consciousness both desirable and available world-wide. Anyone remember the Beatles’ film, Yellow Submarine? That was about this very thing, changing the mental / psychic state of the whole world through enchanted music, energized by what was purported by some as the “sacrament” LSD. It was a counterfeit, though, to bring souls into communion with the devil.

As noted in the OP, Chaldean Babylon of Isaiah 47 used sorceries in the same sense as the Babylon of Revelation is said to use them, and the latter designation of Babylon is thus most appropriate.

At any rate, Brandon, I hope this makes my case – at least about the Greek usage – a little more substantial in your eyes.

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Richard,

Are not those who comprise the true church – those born-of-the-Spirit of Christ worldwide – already members of the New Jerusalem? I am not of the Babylonish church, even if I were in one which was greatly mixed. In fact, back in the early 90’s I was in a Reformed church (3FU) that was slowly going apostate after the regular pastor took a call in another state and an interim came in with a liberal agenda. I fought long and hard against the incoming tide, and finally when this pastor attended and interrupted my adult Sunday School class – I had just begun teaching the First Head of Doctrine of the Canons of Dort, On Divine Predestination – raising his voice with indignation and saying, “We don’t believe this old stuff any more! This is a new age, and we are more enlightened than to teach these things!”, I say, when this happened I knew it was over, for although there might have been some hope in the consistory, in the classis were some die-hard liberals who would have sided with him, despite the church constitution requiring adherence to the Confession.

I wasn’t part of Babylon, though I was in what was slowly becoming her while lifting up the standard of sound doctrine, hoping to turn the ill tide, till the Lord showed me it was time leave. Now there’s a full-time woman pastor in that church.

As I indicated in posts here and here the true church is distinct from Babylon, though I will agree she is being seduced to some degree, and it is a very dangerous time for her. I have some friends dear to me in grave danger. And what you say about leaving denominations / churches that are apostatizing – leaving Babylon – is most apt.

I’ve gained a new appreciation of and respect for your views, Richard, from watching you interact with some “Theonomists” / Christian Reconstructionists.

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Tim, would you were right at this time about the Lord “turning around” our degraded cultures! It would be wonderful to have more time. Though it appears to me the time of the devil’s “little season” (Rev 20:3) is near to hand. Yet, one should certainly not be dogmatic about such things, for, as you say, it has looked bad in the past, and there was change for the better.
 
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Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
In the 1st century the symbolic name was applied to a nation, as the Babylonian-type empire was centered in a nation.

And justly so. However, I am quite sure that Christians outside the Roman Empire in the Sassanid Persian Empire, whose persecution of the Church made Rome look feeble and half-hearted, made the same identification of Persia with Babylon.

I hesitate to use the term "Babylon" with regard to geopolitical superpowers. Instead, just as Zion is wherever Christ is exalted and His name praised, Babylon is wherever that name is persecuted, blasphemed, and derided. Imperialism alone does not Babylon make.
 

ReformedChristian

Puritan Board Freshman
When it comes to Babylon and other endtime views I hold to the Historicist view of Babylon being Rome though I must admit America has become like the Roman Empire of old times.
 

Elizabeth

Puritan Board Sophomore
This whole thread has been very intriguing to my husband and myself. I wanted to thank you, Mr Rafalsky, for the time and effort you've taken here and for sharing your thoughts with us.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
As I indicated in posts here and here the true church is distinct from Babylon, though I will agree she is being seduced to some degree, and it is a very dangerous time for her. I have some friends dear to me in grave danger. And what you say about leaving denominations / churches that are apostatizing – leaving Babylon – is most apt.

I’ve gained a new appreciation of and respect for your views, Richard, from watching you interact with some “Theonomists” / Christian Reconstructionists.

Well the Old Testament Church was often described as a prostitute when she turned from the Lord. See the many references in the OT

In the New Testament period the Church has often become like a prostitute vis-a-vis Christ. Part of the message of Revelation is that the Prostitute, Babylon, who was also the Woman that went into the Desert (Wilderness), will be cleansed of every "wrinkle and spot" (Ephesians 5:22-33) and become the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ.

Rev.12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

John leaves the Woman - the Church, the Bride of Christ - in the Wilderness.

Rev 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

The next time John goes into the Wilderness, something has happened to the Woman. No doubt because of presuure brought to bear by the First Beast (Statist, Pagan, Worldly Persecution) and by the Second Beast (Ecclesiatical Antichrist and antichrists with their evil compromises with the world that lies in the Wicked One and with the unsanctified and often apostate State).

Notice, also, that both eschatalogical personalities are described as

(a) Women.

(b) Cities.

The Church is the Bride of Christ and the City of God.

Babylon is the Bride of Christ gone bad and - which is the same thing from a different angle - the City of God gone bad.:2cents:
 

Brandon1

Puritan Board Freshman
Mr. Rafalsky

I'm not saying that your sources would not see a connection to the lexemes. I'm not even saying that there is the potential that sorcery involved use of potions.

My criticism is that you are unloading all the potential meaning of the word into that particular passage. From what you've said (I don't have BDAG around right now) it seems to militate against your case. If BDAG sees the meaning in this instances as being sorcery, then it rules out the other 4 possible meanings. Let me explain why.

For example, I make the statement, "That guy is sick." What do I mean? I could mean that he is actually ill. I could mean that I think he is gross. It could mean that I actually think he is cool. I could even be referring to a movie quote that the person I'm talking to would understand, which would totally change the meaning as well (though this is not so in the case we're looking at). Your response would be akin to saying, that statement means that the man is ill, and gross, but also means that the person making the statement thinks he is cool.

This is not how language works of course. Either it is sorcery or use of magical potions, it is not the two conflated. You may think the lexeme should be broader than that, but then you are arguing against all of the lexicons you've cited (who have distinguished the ranges of meaning). Obviously I think the point you're trying to prove is correct, but I think the methodology you're using to get there is flawed.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Well, Richard, I have to limit my “new appreciation of and respect for your views” to your refutations of “Theonomy”, but certainly not to your exposition of the two women, the Harlot and the Bride!

Back in ancient times during Israel’s wanderings in the desert, both Israel and the wicked nations moved in wilderness area, but they were separate and distinct, notwithstanding Israel’s fickleness and unfaithfulness.

To the holy woman of Rev 12 (who is later shown to us as the Bride), the “wilderness” is a place of nourishment and protection (verses 14-16) from the devouring dragon, who would also seek to drown her with venomous stuff from his mouth (false teachings). The spiritual wilderness is a place of protection from spiritual danger given to the woman for the 3½ “times” (aka 1,260 days, 42 months) of the entire period of tribulation during the church age. Being in this wilderness is being removed from “the world”, the area where Satan prowls (albeit restrained) uncontested by idolatrous humanity.

In Rev 17 it is not clear that the harlot woman is herself actually in the wilderness – she is just said to be sitting “upon many waters” (v. 1) – and it is John who is “carried away in the spirit into the wilderness” and from there sees the whore on the beast (who is the tool and image of Satan). Beale remarks,

Possibly John is carried into the desert also because that is the place of spiritual security and detachment from the world’s dangers (see on 12:6, 13-17). Safety from the evils of the “great city” can be found in the desert, and only there can one get a good view of the Babylonian city, so that deception by her can be avoided. Only in the desert could John perceive the true spiritual colors of the whore and the beast, since there one lives in solidarity with the messianic community and evaluates all things from the perspective of that community. (Op. Cit., p. 852)​

After her judgment the whore becomes as a desert place, inhabited by demons. This is not the woman, the mother, of Rev 12, nor the bride she is later shown to be, for this woman and “the remnant of her seed . . . which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (12:17), are spiritually sealed (Rev 7:3:ff; cf. 9:4) and protected from spiritual harm. They never become the whore per your scenario! They are the sealed (Cf. Eph 1:13, 14). Though it is true that the elect may be temporarily seduced or overcome, but they are regathered by the mighty Husband – through severe chastenting if need be – but they never become the whore.

On top of that, “the great whore that sits upon many waters” – the waters being the nations and multitudes and peoples of the world (17:15) – “reigns over the kings of the earth” (17:18). Your purported “Bride of Christ gone bad”, an apostate church, has never reigned over the peoples and kings of the earth.

Richard, please, I don’t want to get into a ping pong match between the amil and pmil views. I respond just to answer your sayings which cloud the picture I draw.

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Brandon,

You said,

“This is not how language works . . . Either it is sorcery or use of magical potions, it is not the two conflated.”

Having excluded normal medicines and poisons, we are left with magic potions, which substances and use thereof constitute sorcery. Sorcery is a synonym for such drugs and their use. To use them synonymously is not to conflate them at all, for they are one and the same. I’m sorry if I have not made this clear.

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I'll have to hold responding any further till later Sunday, as I must give myself to sermon prep.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Richard, please, I don’t want to get into a ping pong match between the amil and pmil views. I respond just to answer your sayings which cloud the picture I draw.

Discussing who Babylon is isn't really to do with amil/postmil, because an amil could conceivably believe that Babylon was the apostate Church. I'm postmil, but there are postmils who believe that Babylon was first century Jerusalem, the City of Rome, and maybe what you believe Babylon is.

Who you believe Babylon is, is more related to whether you're a preterist, historicist, idealist or futurist, rather than whether you're amil, postmil or premil.
 

Brandon1

Puritan Board Freshman
You say, "Sorcery is a synonym for such drugs and their use." I'm challenging this because I think it is an (unfounded) assertion.

The lexicons show the possible range of meaning and often give their interpretation. BDAG (as far as you've listed it), claims that the range of meaning in the passages in Revelation is magic or sorcery. Now it is up to you to determine historically what that means. If that meant sorcery involved drug use, then you'd have a case. But it is not a linguistic argument per se. Instead, the argument needs to be rooted in what sorcery consisted of in the 1st century. It is impossible for the similarities in the lexemes to tell us what sorcery consisted of.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Richard, actually you’re right – Herman Hoeksema is amil and in his commentary, Behold, He Cometh!, takes the position Babylon is the apostate church, or rather “the false church”, which in his view never repents but is destroyed at the end of the age.

How do you understand the distinctions between amil and idealist?

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Brandon, I don’t really understand what your objection is. I think I have abundantly and adequately shown that pharmakon, the root of all the “sorcery” words, refers only – strictly – to drugs. The derivative words pharmakeia and pharmakeus / pharmakos – sorceries and sorcerers respectively likewise refer to activities or persons using drugs.

The lexical data says of these words that in classical, New Testament, and early Christian literature they referred to “drugs”, “potions”, and “remedies” involved in the occult arts. It’s almost a no-brainer that the root word from which we get our English “pharmaceuticals” and “pharmacies” pertains to drugs.

I noted earlier that some modern exegetes take “sorceries” to be used in a figurative sense connoting deception, and I have presented arguments against that view.

At this point I think you’ll just have to present some evidence to refute my findings besides sheer skepticism.

Do you have a reason apart from lexical considerations for taking exception to my view? Lexically – exegetically – your position is without basis. Mere skepticism is not a sufficient ground for refutation.

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As I noted earlier, there are multitudes of wackos prophesying doom and destruction, and obviously “Babylon” gets included by them because of its presence in Revelation. I try to take a reasoned and scholarly approach because, first, that’s the way I operate, and second, because I want thinking people to at least consider these things. I don’t see it as far-fetched to consider if there is a spiritual aspect to the military-industrial-cultural-political entity we know as the United States in its relation to the rest of the world. Plenty of secular analysts, cultural researchers and critics reveal profoundly disturbing things about this nation, but one thing they all note is that the “American Mythos” is such we its denizens are impervious to taking hard looks at ourselves or listening to our critics and the way they see us.

This is not as much about prophecy as it is honest appraisal. I have learned to study the arguments of my opponents, and of those who make strong critiques of things I unthinkingly take for granted.

We live in a world where things are not as they seem. The safest thing is to seek how God may see things – by the light of His word. And to gather what pertinent information we can that bears on the subject.
 

The Mexican Puritan

Puritan Board Freshman
All this is to be expected, is it not? Is the church prepared? In my denomination we have folks who believe that God did NOT create the universe in six literal days. So if we have professing Christians who get Scripture twisted up, what can we expect of the world? The Gospel needs to be preached soundly--the day will come when Christians will be seen with contempt and scorn. Drugs and homosexuality are Satan's devices to destroy men. I sat outside work and saw young gays celebrating the overturning of Proposition 8. Didn't they understand the eternal consequences of this? What Scripture says is happening right in front of me.
 
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