Saturday, January 12, 2013

Spiritual Shift (4) Babylon to Rome

Alexander the Great was the pivot between Babylon and Babylon in Rome.

Babylon was a great military and political empire based in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). It controlled most of the ancient Middle East. When it invaded Israel in the time of Jeremiah, many of the people were carried into exile. The exile ended when the Babylonian empire was defeated and destroyed by the Persian King Cyrus.

Alexander the Great invaded the Persian empire and destroyed its power. For the next few centuries, the entire region came under the influence of Greek culture. This came to an end when the Roman Empire expanded its power into the region.

The history of these empires is simple. Babylon was defeated by Persia. Alexander the Great defeated Persia. The Romans seized control of the Greek empire. The spiritual story is just as important. John described the emergence of the Roman Empire in these words.

The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority (Rev 13:2).
The most important thing to understand is that Rome did not get its power from its armies. The source of its power was the dragon, who is the devil (Rev 12). John traces this influence back to the empires that went before. The leopard is Alexander the Great. The bear is Persia and the lion is Babylon. John was explaining that the spiritual forces and their principalities that controlled the Roman Empire originated in Babylon. These empires all dominated the nations of their world using superior military and economic power.

The principality that dominated Babylon was a violent warring spirit. Isaiah called it a land of terror (Is 21:1). Jeremiah described Babylon as a destroying mountain that destroys the entire earth by the violence of military power (Jer 51:25,35). Ezekiel described Babylon as a polished sword that is sharpened and ready for slaying.
A sword, a sword,
sharpened and polished—
sharpened for the slaughter,
polished to consume
and to flash like lightning! (Ezek 21:9,10,28).
When Babylon was defeated by Persia, this violent warring principality came under the control of the Prince of Persia. This is why John said that the beast had the feet of a bear (Rev 13:2).

When Alexander the Great defeated Persia something different happened. He set up his headquarters and eventually died in the city of Babylon, so the violent principality that had controlled Babylon shifted to him and he passed into its sphere of control. Alexander’s victories and death released the Babylonian spiritual forces into the Greek empire, which allowed it to move west towards Israel and Rome.

When the Persian armies were defeated, the Prince of Persia (spiritual) remained in Persia and did not attempt to gain control of the Greek empire. Daniel explains that this happened so that the Prince of Persia’s spiritual empire would remain intact, ready for a time in the future when it would assert its influence again (Dan 11:2).

When the Romans took over the remnants of the Greek empire, the spiritual forces that had controlled Babylon shifted to Rome. This is why John described the Roman empire as a beast (Rev 13:1-2). This is why it had power to make war and to conquer the people of the world (Rev 13:7).
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword they will be killed (Rev 13:10).
The principality and spiritual forces that controlled Babylon continued its control through the Roman Empire. Alexander the Great was the pivot who allowed spiritual power to shift from Babylon to Rome.

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