Thursday, October 21, 2010

Babylon the Great

Revelation 18:2 And he called out with a mighty voice, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.

2 καὶ ἔκραξεν ἐν ἰσχυρᾷ φωνῇ λέγων· ἔπεσεν ἔπεσεν Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη, καὶ ἐγένετο κατοικητήριον δαιμονίων καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς πνεύματος ἀκαθάρτου καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς ὀρνέου ἀκαθάρτου [καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς θηρίου ἀκαθάρτου] καὶ μεμισημένου,

I don't want to comment on this verse too specifically other than to use it as an example of the troubles I've had with Revelation over the years.  For the most part, my churches and other teachings I've been exposed to have had a Dispensational bent to them.  This is supposed to mean that we champion a literal interpretation of Scripture.

However, that seems to go out the window when we get to the apocalyptic genre.  We see all kinds of things that aren't there.  Some folks see the plague of locusts as huey helicopters.  They read the passages about swords being beaten into plowshares and they figure those passages must refer to weapons in general being used for peace.  Of course, not everyone is guilty of that, but both have been done.

When I read through Revelation and I read about the fall of Babylon I can't help but think of New York City.  There are plenty of parallels.  But if I am committed to an authorial-intent hermeneutic I really can't go there.  I can't apply Jeremiah directly to the USA, even though there are parallels there too.

I still don't claim to have everything sorted out, but I do know that Babylon has indeed fallen.  I understand that Saddam Hussein wanted to rebuild it, but we got in his way.  So as I read this passage I have two choices if I refuse to engage in speculation:

  1. Babylon will be rebuilt and fall again
  2. This refers to something that already happened
Otherwise, I am as guilty of speculation as those who see the cross in every reference to wood in the OT, baptism in every reference to water, etc.  I don't think I'm ready to go there.  I've set foot in that land, but am not comfortable pitching my tent there.  What does a faithful futurist do with this passage?

No comments: