Bible Prophecy, Circa 1911
(Daniel 5:26-28, 30-31)
|Rembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast (1635)|
During the drunken feast, Belshazzar uses the holy golden and silver vessels, from Solomon's Temple, to praise "the gods of gold and silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone". Soon afterwards, disembodied fingers appear and write on the wall of the royal palace the words:
מנא, מנא, תקל, ופרסין
Mene, Mene, Teqel, Upharsin
The advisers attempt to interpret the meaning. However, their natural denotations of weights and measures were superficially meaningless: "two minas, a shekel and two parts". Therefore, the King sends for Daniel, an exiled Israelite taken from Jerusalem, who had served in high office under Nebuchadnezzar. Rejecting offers of reward, Daniel warns the king of the folly of his arrogant blasphemy before reading the text. The meaning that Daniel decrypts from these words is based on passive verbs corresponding to the measure names, "numbered, weighed, divided." (Source)
God's Word had been fulfilled, and that night Babylon fell, never to rise again. In that destruction... we may see prefigured the overthrow of all Gentile power and dominion in the time of the end. It particularly pictures the end of that evil system designated in the book of Revelation as "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth" (17:5). This is the world-religious system that will be destroyed just prior to the return of the Lord from Heaven.
There are those who teach that some time in the future literal Babylon is going to be restored, to be destroyed again; but a careful reading of Jeremiah 50-51 will make it clear that her destruction is to be perpetual. The city is never to be revived for the Most High has visited His judgment on it. But mystical Babylon will reach its climax after the church as been caught away to be with the Lord; the papacy and all her daughters will form one great apostate organization--the refuge of all the various portions of Bible-rejecting Christendom. The Babylon of history was a picture of this mystical Babylon.
Ancient Babylon... was the city of idolatry and the expression of the pride of man's heart, combining religion with self-seeking. Idolatry, properly speaking, began there. That was the place where the great tower was made, where men said, "Let us make us a name" (Genesis 11:4). They were not building a tower to escape another possible flood. They wished to create a center around which to rally, that they might make a great name for themselves on the earth. God had told them to scatter abroad, but they were determined not to obey Him. Willfully, they turned from Him to the worship of demons.That was the beginning of heathenism; there they commenced to worship and serve the creature more than the Creator. Every idolatrous system in the world is simply an offshoot of that first parent stem.
And so we find in the mystic Babylon of the last days, the union of all human churches, only to be superseded by the worship of the antichrist. After the body of Christ has been caught away to Heaven the professing world church will enjoy glory for a brief season during which the ten-kingdomed empire will be formed. Then the kings and nations of the earth will sicken of the contemptible sham and become utterly atheist. They will burn the harlot's flesh with fire, destroying forever the great world-church who says in her heart, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow" (Revelation 18:7).
Some may be asking, "Do you not think that Babylon the great is already in existence? Yes: Babylon's description in Revelation 17 coincides too exactly with history's record of the papal church to warrant any denial of her identity. What other church has sat upon the seven hills of that great city which ruleth over the kings of the earth? What other church has been for long centuries "drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus?" What other church possessed the power and wealth ascribed to her? And where else will we find a religious organization so delighting in names of blasphemy as she?
But the Roman communion does not alone constitute great Babylon. The harlot has daughters who, like herself, profess to be pledged to the heavenly Bridegroom while committing fornication with the world that rejected Him. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" (James 4:4) Spiritual fornication is, at large, the union of the church and the state. In a more personal sense spiritual fornication is the union of the individual Christian with the world. It is an unholy alliance, opposed to the whole teaching of the New Testament. So if Rome be emphatically the great harlot, the state churches are her offspring; and "As is the mother, so is her daughter" (Ezekiel 16:44).
Soon the daughters will be wending their way homeward, back to the arms of their evil mother. We hear much in our times of "the reunion of Christendom" and we need not think of it as the dream of impractical religious enthusiasts. Christendom undoubtedly will be reunited. Everything points to such an issue, and no serious student of the prophetic scriptures can question it for a moment. But when the union comes to pass, it will be a Christless reunion for it will not take place until the body of Christ has been translated. All who are left will have thrown off allegiance to the Word and Spirit of God and to the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostasy must take place first. Then the man of sin will be revealed.
Christendom's sin is the rejection of the Holy Spirit. With that necessarily comes the rejection of the Scriptures given by the Spirit's moving on the hearts and minds of "holy men of God." Couples with the denial of the truth of God's Word, the world church will desire recognition as a power in the world, lording its authority over men's consciences. So when the true church is caught away, all the professing systems will doubtless come together in one and proudly explain, "Is not this great Babylon that we have built?" Its members will rejoice in a united Christendom--united in rejecting Christ, despising the Holy Spirit, and dishonoring the Word of God! The system will be established on a carnal and Satanic basis. It will last only for a brief season before being overthrown with indignation by the nations; they will resent any religious obligations when the Spirit of life has departed.
This is where we see everything drifting....
Source: H.A. Ironside, Daniel, 1911. Excerpted from Loizeaux Brothers, Revised Edition, 1996, pp. 70-72.
Note to reader: This excerpt from H.A. Ironside is an example of what evangelical prophecy leaders and organizations used to teach 20-40 years ago. Not so long ago, before the postmodern prophecy paradigm era, this sort of article was commonplace. Writings such as this served as an encouragement to the reader to 1) expect the Lord's imminent return and 2) be ready to meet the Lord "here, there or in the air." Believers exhorted one another that He could return at any time because all events on earth were coinciding to fulfill Bible prophecy, and that before the end the Gospel of salvation should be shared far and wide, especially to family and friends. As yet another sign of the times we note that publishing such an article today, especially with this eschatology, is likely to be met with scoffings (2 Pet. 3:2), even open disbelief (2 Pet. 3:4). For some of you, this may be the first time you have ever encountered this (now) old-fashioned Bible prophecy teaching. Read and consider: what if it is true? See also: A Recurrence of the Times of Noah and Lot