THE FALL OF BABYLON
Of the two women spoken of in Revelation 17:1-3 and 21:9-10, one is called the great harlot, and the other is called the bride. Revelation 17:1 says, "And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits upon the many waters." Revelation 21:9 says, "And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." Revelation 17:3 says, "And he carried me away in spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman." Revelation 21:10 says, "And he carried me away in spirit onto a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God." When the Holy Spirit inspired man to write the Scriptures, He purposely used a parallel structure in pointing to these two women so that we would have a clear impression.
Let us first consider the things relating to the harlot. The harlot spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18 is Babylon, whose deeds are extremely displeasing to God. Why is her conduct such an offense to God? What does Babylon represent and what is the principle of Babylon? Why does God deal with Babylon and why is it necessary to wait until Babylon is judged before the wife of the Lamb appears? May God open our eyes so that we would really see Babylon according to the Scriptures.
The name Babylon originates from "Babel." We remember the story of the tower of Babel in the Bible. The principle of the tower of Babel involves the attempt to build up something from earth to reach unto heaven. When men built this tower, they used bricks. There is a basic difference between brick and stone. Stone is made by God, and bricks are made by man. Bricks are a human invention, a human product. The meaning of Babylon relates to man’s own efforts to build a tower to reach unto heaven. Babylon represents man’s ability. It represents a false Christianity, a Christianity which does not allow the Holy Spirit to have authority. It does not seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance; it does all things by human effort. Everything consists of bricks baked by man; everything depends upon man’s action. Those who are according to this principle do not see that they are limited; rather, they attempt to do the Lord’s work by their own natural ability. They do not stand in a position where they are truly able to say, "Lord, if You do not give us grace, we cannot do anything." They think that man’s ability can suffice for spiritual things. Their intention is to establish something upon the earth that will reach to heaven.
God, however, can never accept this. One man has some talent and thinks that he can preach after he has studied a little theology. What is this? Bricks! Another man who is very clever receives some help and possesses some knowledge and then becomes a Christian worker. Again, what is this? Bricks! A certain man is capable of doing things, so he is asked to come and manage the affairs of the church. What is this? Bricks! All of these things are man’s endeavors to build something from earth to heaven by human ability, by bricks.
Again we must emphasize that there is no place for man in the church. Heavenly things can only come from heaven; the things of this earth can never go to heaven. Man’s difficulty is that he does not see that he is under judgment, nor does he see that he is just dust and clay. Man may build high, but heaven is higher than man’s highest height. No matter how high men may build their tower, they still cannot touch heaven. Heaven is always above man. Though man may climb and build and though he may not fall, he still will not be able to touch heaven. God destroyed man’s plan to build the tower of Babel in order to show man that he is useless in spiritual matters. Man cannot do anything.
(The Glorious Church, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)