The Terrorist Attack and Revelation 18: Overcoming the Spirit of Babylon & Greed
By Betty Miller
[jbox color=”#dba985″]Most of this article was originally written in the days immediately following 9/11/01. For the ten-year anniversary of the terrorist attack against the United States, we have updated it for a fresh look at a portion of Scripture that many feel may be connected to the events of 9/11.[/jbox]
Was This Event A Fulfillment of Revelation 18?
A portion of Scripture that many have been pondering lately is from Revelation 18. There are indeed some striking similarities to be found within the passage of Scripture and the September 11th attack.
Here is just a portion of it:
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For ALL NATIONS have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues….
How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 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. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the SMOKE of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in ONE HOUR is thy judgment come. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more……
The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in ONE HOUR so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! Revelation 18:2-4, 7-11, 15-18
The similarities from this passage of Scripture, and what occurred in the city of New York, are easy to see. I do not believe that 9/11 is a direct fulfillment of this Scripture, but I do believe that the similarities between the two are such that we need to prayerfully examine what the Lord wants to communicate to us; both as individuals and as a nation (the United States) as well as other nations of the world.
Babylon is A Symbol
First of all, we want to make very clear here, that New York City and/or the United States is NOT Babylon. “Babylon,” in this passage of Scripture, is a symbol of the evil system representing the kingdoms of this world that are in opposition to the kingdom of God. According to the scripture, all of the nations have “drunk of her wine.” No one city or nation can alone be responsible for corrupting the earth or martyring all the saints of God; and certainly not the United States. Babylon is a system that has been on the earth throughout all of history. It is empowered through various nations, governments, philosophies, and religions–as well as through individuals.
However, because this chapter of Revelation focuses almost entirely on global trade and commerce, it is hard to ignore the striking parallel of the attack on the World Trade Center, which was certainly a visible and symbolic head of global trade and economics. The attack also occurred WITHIN AN HOUR and a day, and most of the nations of the earth did indeed lament, as they saw the smoke rising from New York City and Washington DC. In fact, over sixty nations are represented among the slain from the World Trade Center. However, 10 years after the attack we do not see an immediate fulfillment of the rest of this portion of Scripture, which prophesies a complete overthrow of Babylon and indicates a global financial depression.
We must remember that Revelation is a book of symbols, and that prophecy in Scripture often has several layers of fulfillment. Therefore, it seems that this event is more of a warning–a prophetic foreshadowing of things still yet to come. I believe that God is trying to get our attention, and giving us a chance to repent from a Babylonian lifestyle.
Come Out of Her My People
Regardless of how much Revelation 18 is directly linked to 9/11, we can be sure of one theme that is very clear in Scripture–and this applies to everyone. The Lord says to, “Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” This is something that we can all apply to ourselves and own nations. In fact, this is something that every Christian should already be doing, regardless of whether the events of September 11 had occurred or not. God is calling His people OUT of Babylon! Why? So that we will not receive of her plagues!
How Do We “Come Out of Her?”
First, we need to repent for our indulgence in what Babylon represents in this portion of Scripture; of which a major theme is greed and self-indulgence. We need to repent for thinking more about what we can buy for ourselves than how we can bless others. We need to ask God to forgive us for often forgetting to thank Him for the multitude of things that He has already given to us.
As Americans, most of us live like royalty in one of the wealthiest nations in the history of the world; and yet, we want more. We are driven to improve our standard of life, obsessed with what we still lack. Our national credit card debt alone testifies against us.
Gods hates the spirit of greed – the “Spirit of Babylon.” In addition to inevitably exploiting others, it also lulls us into complacency. The greedy person’s goals in life become petty and foolish–we waste our precious time on earth accumulating things that we can only enjoy for a few years, making a comfortable cocoon around our existence in which we can forget the pain and poverty of others–and then we too, are gone.
Instead of living in a high spiritual plane we become weakened with the cares and love of the world. This brings spiritual blindness, weakness, dullness. The hunger in our hearts that God is longing to fill with Himself, becomes numbed with the placebos of clothing, cars, knickknacks, vacations, food, homes, interior decorations, beauty products, entertainment centers, and toys of every variety.
None of these things are wrong in and of themselves. God desires us to be blessed, not just with things that we need, but also with things that we want. Yet, when more of our passion is poured into them than God, when these things bring us more joy than God, when we spend more time, money and thought on these things than God, something is wrong. It is called idolatry. And idolatry is always a sure path to ruin and destruction.
How Do We Get Free of the “Spirit of Babylon?”
We must begin by repenting of our sins. Repent, means more than being sorry for one’s actions. It means to turn around and go the other way. We need to counteract the spirit of greed and self-absorption with the opposite qualities. In other words, we need to thoughtfully, specifically, and aggressively begin to do the opposite of what we were once doing.
The United States is generally a very generous nation–and we should be. In many ways, we have been given more than any other nation, and “to whom much is given, much is required.” We should not be overly proud of our generosity, as indeed, it is our duty from Heaven’s perspective. What I am suggesting, is that instead of resting on the fact that we have been generous in the past, let us be even more generous than before. Most of us give out of our excess, and not much out of true sacrifice. Now is the time to cultivate a strong dose of generosity in our hearts to kill the subtle greed that has flourished inside of us. We can begin to overcome internal sin by outwardly changing our ways. This is what it means to repent.
Here are some specific suggestions:
- Look in your closet and around your house and honestly assess what you really need at this time. Ask the Lord to help you. Do you really need several new sweaters this fall or a new entertainment center or a trip to another state? If you decide that you can live without that purchase, take the amount of money that you would have spent on yourself and give it away to someone who really needs it.
- Give a hundred dollars, or a thousand dollars – whatever you can afford – to a single mother you know who is struggling to make ends meet.
- Slip a check into the hand of someone you know at church who needs a little extra cash at this time.
- If you have a good job, consider regularly giving part of your income to someone you know who has recently lost their job.
- Give more money to works of the gospel that are always in need of assistance–whether it is a food bank downtown, a missionary overseas, a ministry that has blessed you, or your local church.
- Send some money to help with the relief effort for the Afghan refugees, or those who are starving in Africa and other parts of the world.
- If you don’t have much money, there are other things that you can give. Ask God to show you how to sacrifice and give of your time and resources to be a blessing to others. Believe me, He will give you lots of ideas if you ask Him! If you are poor, it is important to remember that even in your state of poverty, there is always something that you can give, even in the financial realm. If it is just $5.00, give that. Rich or poor, if you are a child of God, then you are able to be a blessing to others, and it is crucial that you see yourself in this way. We are called to be conduits of blessing to those around us.
- Most of all, call out to God for forgiveness of whatever sin of greed and complacency that He may reveal to you in your own heart. We all need Holy Spirit-empowered grace to honestly assess our own hearts, and change our ways. If you recognize the spirit of greed in your life, begin to deliberately counteract it with giving. Greed cannot survive for long once we begin to discover the great joy in sharing and blessing others.
John Wesley had a very simple approach to money. His instructions were: “Earn as much as you can. Give as much as you can. Save as much as you can.”
No where on his list were the instructions to “buy as much as you can.” He instructed his followers to be content with plain clothing and food and a simple lifestyle so that their resources could be placed into things of eternal value. In this way, they could be a blessing to the world around them in a very real and practical way.
Obviously, there is more to discuss in this portion of Scripture than just greed–and there are still many angles that could be considered even on this topic alone. We hope to address these in other articles. However, I pray that the Holy Spirit speaks something to each person reading this article in regard to the giving and dreaming and scheming that lies in the realm of the pocketbook. We can talk all day long about what we believe, but it is only actions that truly reveal what god we worship. Hearing the word of God profits us nothing, if we do not obey the Word.
When the multitudes went to John the Baptist to repent and be baptized by him in the wilderness, he gave them specific instructions on how to repent. All of his instructions had to do with overcoming greed and covetousness:
‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’ Tax collectors also came to be baptized. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’ Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Don’t exhort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay’. Luke 3:10-14 (NIV)
John the Baptist is a prophetic picture of the generation that will prepare the way for the return of the Lord. We can be sure that one of the great battles at the end of the age will be concerning greed, covetousness, materialism and a lack of care for the needs of those who live in dire poverty. If we want to help prepare the way for the return of the Lord, we must repent of every trace of these things in our lives, so that we can then help others repent, just as John the Baptist did at the first advent of the Messiah.
Babylon is Fallen
In conclusion, we must all be aware that the Spirit of Babylon is something that every Overcoming Christian will have to battle. There is no way around it and even those in less prosperous nations will have to face it. Greed finds a home in the heart of the poor just as much as in the heart of the rich. The condition of our heart is what needs to change. When He has changed the condition of our heart regarding money, He will be able to trust us with much more, as He knows that we will use it wisely for the kingdom of God.
Though there may be other repercussions from this Scripture, as related to the global events that are happening, we do not need to become frightened. Babylon is doomed to come down and be replaced with the Kingdom of God. God’s triumph is inevitable, and His plan, which He purposed from the beginning of the ages, will prevail. This is the good news. If we obey the Holy Spirit now, we have nothing to be afraid of. And His directions are simple–to love the Lord with all of our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Babylon is falling, but praise God, we can come out of her–and help others to do the same.
There is no better moment to be changed and filled with the Holy Spirit than right now. There is no better day than today to flee a system that is coming down anyway.
So, as the Holy spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ Hebrews 3:7-11 (NIV)
If nothing else from Revelation 18 is to be applied to the Terrorist attacks, we know this: That we, as a nation, need to repent for our greed and our pride. We knew this before the attack. We all knew it, deep in our hearts.
Now, Let’s Do Something About It While There Is Yet Time
If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
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Topic: What the Bible says about the Spirit of Babylon
Related Topics: What the Bible Says about Evil in the World; Terrorism of 9/11; End Time Warnings; Forgiveness; Repentance; Healing; Scriptural Prayer for Protection