Mystery, Babylon the Great (Part 3)By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, December 13, 2009.
Mystery, Babylon the Great I. The N.T. warns in various places that apostasy would come. A. Paul was concerned about believers being corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2CO 11:3. B. Paul warned about believers forsaking sound doctrine for fables. 2TI 4:3-4. C. Paul warned about believers in the latter times departing from the faith. 1TI 4:1. D. Peter warned about false teachers arising who would draw away many. 2PE 2:1-2. E. Paul warned about a falling away (Gr. apostasia) that would precede the coming of Christ. 2TH 2:1-3. F. Paul warned about an increase of deceivers and deceived. 2TI 3:13. G. John warned that many antichrists had already abandoned the faith and many false prophets had already gone out into the world. 1JO 2:18-19; 4:1. H. The mystery of iniquity was already working in apostolic days. 2TH 2:7. I. Jesus implied that faith would be scarcely found at His return. LUK 18:8. II. There is one element which Scripture shows to be a major player in apostasy. John was shown a grandly adorned whore on a scarlet beast. REV 17:1-4. A. The woman had on her forehead a name written, “...MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (REV 17:5). 1. Her name is on her forehead---boldly, brazenly. c/w JER 3:3. 2. She is plainly identified so that there is no reasonable excuse for not perceiving her for what she is. B. Mystery: “A religious truth known only from divine revelation; usually (cf. sense 5), a doctrine of the faith involving difficulties which human reason is incapable of solving. 5. a. A hidden or secret thing; a matter unexplained or inexplicable; something beyond human knowledge or comprehension; a riddle or enigma.” 1. That her name is MYSTERY implies a religious character. 2. That her name is MYSTERY indicates that she deems herself a channel of divine revelation. 3. That her name is MYSTERY indicates that she is a vessel of riddles and enigmas. C. The woman “...is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (REV 17:18), which in John's time was Rome. 1. Babylon of old had long ago fallen and would not recover. ISA 13:19-20. 2. This woman/city is spiritually called Babylon because she bears the characteristics of Babylon. c/w REV 11:8. a. Babylon sat upon many waters --- she was a multi-national power. JER 51:13 c/w REV 17:1, 15. b. Babylon considered herself “...The lady of kingdoms” (ISA 47:5) --- there was none like her. c/w REV 18:7. c. Babylon oppressed the saints of God. ISA 47:6 c/w REV 17:6. d. Babylon considered herself indestructible. ISA 47:7-8 c/w REV 18:7. e. Babylon was noted for her idols and images. JER 50:2. f. Babylon was noted for her sorceries, enchantments, etc. ISA 47:12-13 c/w REV 18:23. g. Babylon was noted for her intercourse with the merchants of the world. Mystery, Babylon the Great 11-8-09 Page 1 ISA 47:15 c/w REV 18:3. h. Babylon was noted for her instrumental music in worship. DAN 3:5 c/w REV 18:22. i. Babylon mingled the elements of the true God's religion with pagan superstitions. DAN 5:1-4. j. God had His people in Babylon who were commanded to come out of her. JER 51:45 c/w REV 18:4. k. Babylon's destruction was sudden, quick, violent and permanent. ISA 47:9 c/w REV 18:8, 21. III. The woman is a whore who rides to power on a “scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy...” (REV 17:3). A. What is envisioned is a system represented by the combination of the whore and the beast. They have a common color scheme: scarlet (REV 17:3-4), the color of blood and of sin. ISA 1:18. 1. Partaking of false religion is described as whoredom and abomination. EXO 34:14-17; 1KI 11:5; ISA 57:3-8. 2. The beast represents ruthless civil/political/economic power which blasphemes God in its control over men. REV 13:1-7. 3. The woman has committed fornication with the kings of the earth (REV 17:2) and is seen as reigning over them. REV 17:18. 4. Here then is a system of false religion attaining great power by its intercourse with civil power and which has an appeal to the non-elect, the carnal-minded, the materialistic. REV 13:8; 17:8; 18:3, 9-19. 5. The beast (the symbology of which represents ruthless civil/political/economic power) is apparently OK with having the whore riding it (the kings of the earth commit fornication with her, v. 2), at least for a season. 6. But this strange “marriage” does not last forever: the beast has a mind of its own and eventually turns on the woman. REV 17:16. B. The woman is noted for her opulent outward appearance. REV 17:4. C. She is “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (REV 17:5); she births false religious systems and practices. D. She is particularly held accountable for the shed blood of the true saints. REV 17:6; 18:24. E. She is “...that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (REV 17:18). 1. At the time of John's writing, Rome was that great imperial city. 2. Rome is known as the city that sits on seven hills or mountains. c/w REV 17:9. 3. Pagan Rome crucified Christ and persecuted the apostles and the early church. 4. Ecclesiastical/Papal Rome which was the wedding of ecclesiastical power (in the form of apostate Christianity) and civil power took up where Pagan Rome left off. IV. It is almost superfluous to observe how much the Roman Catholic system and its intercourse with political power satisfies this vision of the whorish woman riding on a beast with seven heads and ten horns. A. It should be noted that a creature with seven heads and ten horns was in play BEFORE the Roman Catholic church came into being. REV 12:1-5. Mystery, Babylon the Great 11-8-09 Page 2 B. God's promised kingdom in this world is the gospel church, the one institution that answers to the prophecy of DAN 2:44. 1. It was at hand in the days of the kings of the fourth division of Nebuchadnezzar's dream colossus. LUK 3:1-3 c/w MAT 3:1-2 c/w LUK 16:16; MAT 21:31-32. 2. It was an enduring kingdom. MAT 16:18-19; HEB 13:28. 3. It upset the political apple cart of world order. ACT 17:6. C. Jesus Christ made it clear that the nature of this kingdom was spiritual, not carnal or political. MAT 22:21; LUK 17:20-21; JOH 6:15; 18:36; 2CO 10:3-5. 1. Christ's church is meant to only have one Sovereign: Himself. He is the Head and King of the church. EPH 5:23; HEB 2:9; HEB 6:20-7:2. 2. For His church which was meant to be distinct from civil power to engage itself with civil power would be the introduction of another sovereign into its affairs and would indeed be a case of committing fornication with the kings of the earth. 3. This is what happened in the church at Rome. a. In addition to the belligerence that the early church met with from the general pagan populace, Rome had been persecuting Christians (and sometimes horribly so) since the breaking out of the gospel after Christ's resurrection. b. With Constantine's victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge (312 A.D.) after allegedly having a vision of a cross and the words, “In this sign conquer” this Caesar allegedly converted from paganism to Christianity and began reforms of the previous official brutal policies against Christianity. History records that his “conversion” was extremely questionable (he was still eliminating problem people, even family members, by putting them to death many years later) and was more for political reasons than spiritual reasons. Nevertheless, the favor that he showed Christianity made quite an impression on many churches in the empire. (1) “Was his conversion sincere---was it an act of religious belief, or a consummate stroke of political wisdom? Probably the latter...He seldom conformed to the ceremonial requirements of Christian worship. His letters to Christian bishops make it clear that he cared little for the theological differences that agitated Christendom---though he was willing to suppress dissent in the interests of imperial unity. Throughout his reign he treated the bishops as his political aides; he summoned them, presided over their councils, and agreed to enforce whatever opinion their majority should formulate.” (Durant, The Story of Civilization: Caesar and Christ, pp. 655, 656) (2) “Some bishops, blinded by the splendor of the court, even went so far as to laud the emperor as an angel of God, as a sacred being, and to prophesy that he would, like the Son of God, reign in heaven.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 4, p. 300, art. “Constantine”) (3) Constantine, like other emperors before him, held the official Roman title of the head of the mysteries, “Pontifex Maximus,” a title which was soon owned by the bishop of Rome as the supreme Mystery, Babylon the Great 11-8-09 Page 3 spiritual father-figure (pope) of pagans AND Christians in the empire. The synthesizing of paganism and Christianity was then a necessary outgrowth which in the development of the Roman Catholic church provided the political powers a spiritually “unified” populace. The beast had gained a whorish rider! D. This hybrid religion of pagan mysteries (and O.T. Judaism) mingled with Christianity is from the beginning in violation of the commandments of God in the Bible which forbid the uniting of civil and spiritual power and also the admixture of other religions and their practices with the religion of the true God. DEU 12:29-32; JER 10:2-4; MAT 6:7; 1CO 10:20-22; 2CO 6:14-18. E. Consider some Biblically identified abominations of false (pagan) religion which happen to find their counterparts in the Roman Catholic system. 1. Decking images with gold, silver, jewels and clothes. DEU 7:25 c/w EZE 16:17-18. 2. Pictures. NUM 33:52. 3. Baldness, cuttings. LEV 21:5; 1KI 18:28. 4. Elevated places, green trees, pillars. DEU 12:2-3. 5. Astronomical objects. DEU 4:15-19. 6. Enchantments. DEU 18:10-14. 7. Giving for the dead. DEU 26:14. a. The practice of giving for the dead is tied to the doctrine of Purgatory, an invented “half-way house” for purification for the less-than-faithful (a notion shared in tenets of Mormonism, Judaism and Islam). b. Jesus excluded any such intermediate hope for sinners. MAT 23:33. c. Scripture contrarily teaches a certain destination of heaven or hell after death with no transfers. HEB 9:27; LUK 16:19-31. 8. Priest called “father.” JDG 17:5, 7-10; 18:19 c/w MAT 23:9. a. Catholicism has historically required of its adherents a full confession of sins to one of its priests for forgiveness of sins. b. Scripture plainly teaches the priesthood of believers in which individuals may go directly to God for forgiveness. 1PE 2:5; 1JO 1:9; LUK 18:13-14. c. Scripture teaches that the only mediator between God and sinners is Jesus Christ. 1TI 2:5; 1JO 2:1. 9. Kissing images. 1KI 19:18 c/w HOS 13:2. 10. Burning incense to statues. 2KI 18:4. 11. Drink offerings of blood. PSA 16:4. a. The communion service of the Catholic mass is purported to be a bloodless re-offering of Jesus Christ. b. It is held that the wafer and the wine are transformed by the priest's ministration into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. c. But after Jesus blessed the cup, He still referred to it as the “...fruit of the vine” (MAT 26:29) and to drink blood would have been a violation of the law He came to uphold and fulfil. DEU 12:16. d. The bread and wine of communion are patently meant to be figures for memorial. 1CO 11:24-26. e. Catholicism tends to reject the notion of a figure of speech in Jesus' words Mystery, Babylon the Great 11-8-09 Page 4 but they don't actually drink a CUP. 1CO 11:25. f. JOH 6:51-56 occurred long before the Lord's Supper was initiated and has no more to do with literally partaking of Jesus' body and blood than the Israelites partaking of Christ in the wilderness. 1CO 10:3-4. g. Traditionally, the Catholic wafer is placed on a monstrance before which the communicants bow in worship. (1) But Scripture forbids bowing before any image. EXO 20:4-5. (2) “In the absence of Scriptural proof, the Church finds a warrant for, and a propriety in, rendering Divine worship to the Blessed Sacrament in the most ancient and constant tradition...” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 5, p. 581, art. “Eucharist.”) 12. Communing with the dead. ISA 8:19. 13. Carrying images. ISA 46:5-7. 14. Burning incense, pouring out drink offerings and making cakes unto the queen of heaven. JER 44:15-19. a. “Cakes” = sacrificial wafers according to Strong's Hebrew Dictionary. b. Incense, drink offerings, sacrificial wafers, queen of heaven: the essential parts of a Catholic mass which venerates Mary at least as much as Jesus. c. Jesus did not give Mary any particular preeminence whatsoever and even discouraged such a notion. JOH 2:4; MAT 12:46-50; LUK 11:27-28. d. Mary recognized that she was a sinner in need of a Savior (LUK 1:47) and brought a sin-offering to the temple. LUK 2:24 c/w LEV 12:8. e. Mary did NOT remain a virgin. MAT 1:18, 25; 13:54-56 c/w PSA 69:8-9; GAL 1:19. 15. Worship towards the east. EZE 8:16. 16. Vermilion. EZE 23:14-15. a. Vermilion: “Cinnabar or red crystalline mercuric sulphide, esp. in later use that obtained artificially, much valued on account of its brilliant scarlet colour....” b. Remember the color of the harlot and the beast: scarlet. c. Consider the vermilion vestments of the Cardinals. 17. Chemarims. ZEP 1:4. a. Chemarims: “an ascetic, an idolatrous priest; from kamar – to intertwine or contract, to shrivel, fig. to be deeply affected with passion--- be black.” (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary) b. Consider the traditional long black apparel of the Catholic priests. c. Jesus denounced the use of religious garments for show, particularly long clothing. MAT 23:5; MAR 12:38. d. And what about the funky hats (beanies [zuccheti], mitres, etc.)? 18. Repetitive prayers. MAT 6:7 c/w 1KI 18:26; ACT 19:28, 34. a. The rosary in which stringed beads are used to count prayers includes repetitions of the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the Mysteries, Meditations on the Mysteries, the Glory Be's and the Apostles' Creed. b. Prayer-counting beads were/are common to paganism: “In almost all countries, then, we meet with something in the nature of prayer-counters or rosary-beads.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 13, p. 185, art. “Rosary.”) Mystery, Babylon the Great 11-8-09 Page 5 19. Celibacy, dietary law. 1TI 4:1-3. a. Mark the curious wording of the Catholic Encylopedia (emphasis mine): (1) A canon from the Council of Neo-Caesarea (315 A.D.) “...absolutely forbids a priest to contract a new marriage under the pain of deposition...” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 3, p. 484, art. “Celibacy of the Clergy.”) (2) “...the Council of Trullo, in 692, finally adopted a somewhat stricter view. Celibacy in a bishop became a matter of precept. If he were previously married, he had at once to separate from his wife upon his consecration. On the other hand, this council, while forbidding priests, deacons, and subdeacons to take a wife after ordination...” (Ibid.) (3) “At a Roman council held by Pope Siricius in 386 an edict was passed forbidding priests and deacons to have conjugal intercourse with their wives...” (Ibid.) b. Scripture teaches against the idea of a celibate ministry. 1TI 3:2. c. Peter and other apostles had wives. MAT 8:14; 1CO 9:5. d. Catholicism has historically commanded abstinence from meat on Fridays, holy days and during Lent (with regional variance). (1) Fish is somehow selectively distinguished from flesh meat for such periods of abstinence. (2) Scripture makes no such distinction. JOH 21:5-6. (3) Flesh is flesh. 1CO 15:39. (4) Except for times of true fasting (which is a matter of personal sacrifice, not an ecclesiastical decree), eating meats (flesh or otherwise) is fine. 1TI 4:3-5. 19. Obelisks and columns. a. Catholic architecture is noted for its prolific use of upright images, as witness the obelisk and 248 Doric columns in front of St. Peter's Basilica. b. One of the Hebrew words translated as (condemned) “images” is matstsebah (SRN # H4676) which means “...a column....(standing) image, pillar.” (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary) 1KI 14:23; JER 43:13; MIC 5:13. c. Another is chamman (SRN # H2553) which means “sun pillar, idol...” (Ibid) ISA 17:8. d. These shafts were phallic symbols corresponding to the sun whose fecundating rays gave life to all. Bethshemesh (JER 43:13) means “house of the sun.” (Ibid) e. God casts down such abominations. ISA 27:9. 20. Holy days. a. Catholicism has virtually always made much of holy days, icing pagan practices and the pagan calendar with Christian themes. This is flatly contrary to the commands of Scripture. DEU 12:29-32; JER 10:1-4; 1CO 10:20-22; 2CO 6:14-17. b. Consider the winter festival of Christmas. (1) “Christ's mass.” The name itself drips of abomination, given that the Roman Catholic mass purports to repeat the once, never-to-be- repeated sacrifice of Jesus Christ for sinners. HEB 9:25-10:14. Mystery, Babylon the Great 11-8-09 Page 6 (2) “The well-known solar feast, however, of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 3, p. 727, art. “Christmas”) (3) A review of the information about Christmas in the online version of the Catholic Encylopedia only confirms that it was conceived and exists as a sensual hybridization of paganism and Christianity, in spite of the article's attempts to avoid the obvious. See: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm (4) Bible-believers understand that the birth of Jesus Christ should not be honored by a holiday or ritual, but by believing the gospel and repenting of sin, the victory of which personally assures one that he has a part in the very reason for Christ's incarnation: saving us from our sins. MAT 1:21; 1JO 3:5, 8. (5) Bible-believers set aside a time to commemorate the death of Christ, not His birth. 1CO 11:23-26. c. Consider the spring festival of Easter. (1) “Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table of Easter Day, colored red to symbolize the Easter joy....The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 5, p. 227, art. “Easter” [emphasis mine]) (2) “The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires (Conc. Germanicum, a. 742, c.v.; Council of Lestines, a. 743, n. 15), but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ...” (Ibid. [emphasis mine]) (3) Easter also corrupts the period of Christ's own declared entombment (three days and three nights, MAT 12:39-40) to satisfy its own calendar. (4) Christians are to commemorate the resurrection of Christ by the figure of baptism (1PE 3:21), not the figure of a chicken egg or an invented festival. d. Halloween is so patently nothing more than a white-washing of old pagan superstitions about the dead and the spirit world that it needs not be mentioned. e. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc. are all nothing more than spiritual pornography and spiritual adultery. (1) God is a Jealous God (EXO 34:14), jealous for the unsoiled attention and adoration of His bride, the church, which is to be to Him as a chaste virgin. EPH 5:25 c/w REV 21:2; 2CO 11:2. Mystery, Babylon the Great 11-8-09 Page 7 (2) Adultery in a natural sense is a horrible, wicked sin. JOB 31:9-12; PRO 6:32-35; GAL 5:19-21. (3) It is no less wicked in a spiritual sense. God considers all association with false religion to be adultery and whoredom. EXO 34:10-17; LEV 20:1-8; NUM 15:37-41; PSA 106:34-43; JER 3:9; 7:9. (4) Using the tokens, pictures and customs of other gods to love and honor the true God is the spiritual equivalent of a wife who expresses her “love” for her husband with stimulating pictures and techniques of other men. (5) Keeping old pagan high-days unto the Lord is the spiritual equivalent of a wife showing her “love” for her husband by celebrating the birthdays of her former lovers. (6) “Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?...” (1CO 10:22) Paul asks when censuring the idea of mingling paganism with Christ. f. Holydays (holidays) are a relic of the abolished O.T. law which was only a shadow of Christ, not the substance. COL 2:16-17. g. Paul upbraided the Galatian churches for the keeping of such days. GAL 4:8-10. (1) The Galatians were once superstitious pagan Gentiles that had been converted to Christ but had gone astray. (2) As Christians they were turning again to their former ways, mingling together their Christianity with their former pagan “days.” (3) They had also adopted the heresy of justification by works. (4) They were essentially proto-Roman Catholics! F. Assimilating, adopting, adapting pagan themes and customs for Christian purposes is almost the defining characteristic of Roman Catholicism. 1. “We need not shrink from admitting that candles, like incense and lustral water, were commonly employed in pagan worship and in the rites paid to the dead. But the Church from a very early period took them into her service, just as she adopted many other things indifferent in themselves, which seemed proper to enhance the splendour of religious ceremonial. We must not forget that most of these adjuncts to worship, like music, lights, perfumes, ablutions, floral decorations, canopies, fans, screens, bells, vestments, etc. were not identified with any idolatrous cult in particular; they were common to almost all cults...” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 3, p. 246, art. “Candles.” [emphasis mine]) 2. “Water, oil, light, incense, singing, procession, prostration, decoration of altars, vestments of priests, are naturally at the service of universal religious instinct. Little enough, however, was directly borrowed by the Church — nothing, without being "baptized", as was the Pantheon. In all these things, the spirit is the essential: the Church assimilates to herself what she takes, or, if she cannot adapt, she rejects it (cf. Augustine, Epp., xlvii, 3, in P.L., XXXIII, 185; Reply to Faustus XX.23; Jerome, "Epp.", cix, ibid., XXII, 907). Even pagan feasts may be "baptized": certainly our processions of 25 April are the Robigalia; the Rogation days may replace the Ambarualia; the date of Christmas Day may be due to the same instinct which placed on 25 Dec., the Natalis Invicti of the solar Mystery, Babylon the Great 11-8-09 Page 8 cult.” (Ibid., vol. 11, p. 90, art. “Paganism” [emphasis mine]) 3. “The etiquette of the Byzantine court gradually evolved elaborate forms of respect, not only for the person of Ceesar but even for his statues and symbols. Philostorgius (who was an Iconoclast long before the eighth century) says that in the fourth century the Christian Roman citizens in the East offered gifts, incense, and even prayers, to the statues of the emperor (Hist. eccl., II, 17). It would be natural that people who bowed to, kissed, incensed the imperial eagles and images of Caesar (with no suspicion of anything like idolatry), who paid elaborate reverence to an empty throne as his symbol, should give the same signs to the cross, the images of Christ, and the altar....The first Christians were accustomed to see statues of emperors, of pagan gods and heroes, as well as pagan wall-paintings. So they made paintings of their religion, and, as soon as they could afford them, statues of their Lord and of their heroes, without the remotest fear or suspicion of idolatry.” (Ibid., vol. 7, pp. 666-668, art. “Veneration of Images.”) 4. “But the type of the Good Shepherd carrying the sheep on his shoulders occurs frequently, and this preference may well be due to its resemblance to the pagan figures of Hermes Kriophorus or Aristæus, which at this period were much in vogue....Even the fable of Orpheus was borrowed pictorially and referred to Christ. Similarly the story of Eros and Psyche was revived and Christianized, serving to remind the believer of the resurrection of the body and the eternal beatitude of heaven. The group of the Twelve Apostles probably attracted the less attention because the twelve Dii Majores were often also grouped together. Again the figure of the Orans, the woman with arms uplifted in prayer, was quite familiar to classical antiquity....Similarly the fish symbol (see SYMBOLISM OF THE FISH) representing Christ, the anchor of hope, the palm of victory, were all sufficiently familiar as emblems among pagans to excite no particular attention.” (Ibid., vol. 14, p. 374, art. “Symbolism.”) 5. The problem with all of this is that the Scripture plainly proscribes against any adaptation of heathen customs or attempts to be conformed to the world, not even to pacify, accommodate or otherwise segue the unconverted into the faith of Christ. ACT 17:29-30; ROM 12:2. F. The union of Christ and His church is a mystery now revealed. EPH 5:29-32. 1. The church conforming to the world and becoming a harlot is a counter-mystery revealed here in symbol. 2. That children of God in the light of such revelation should think that such a system is truly Christian or that there is no compelling need to identify it for what it is and flee it----this is somewhat of a mystery also. 3. “...Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (REV 18:4). 4. Protestants who historically have identified Roman Catholicism with Mystery, Babylon the Great), should soberly consider their spiritual identities in view of the fact that they therefore admit that their systems are the children of this “...MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (REV 17:5).