Revelation 19 begins with the fall of Babylon. Babylon has rich, symbolic significance throughout scripture. It is the first kingdom mentioned in the Bible (Gen. 10:10). Babylon was the site where human government, culture, and religion united in their own way, apart from God (Gen. 11:1-9). In Revelation, John sees Babylon as a “notorious prostitute” riding on a beast (Rev. 17:1-5). She is drunk on the blood of the saints and sleeps around with all the governments on earth for profit. She is, as it were, Queen of kings and Whore of lords (Rev. 17:2, 6, 18).
Babylon means “confusion.” This is another aspect of Babylon’s spiritual meaning. The Lord’s people spent decades as captives of Babylon. During this time, the Israelites were forcibly removed from the land God promised them, the temple was destroyed, and the priesthood was unable to minister. The testimony of God in the earth all but ceased. Without that testimony, God’s people were truly captive to Babylon or “confusion.” After 70 years, they came out of Babylon, rebuilt the temple, reinstituted the priesthood, and restored the testimony of God to the earth.
In Revelation 18, John hears an urgent voice plead, “Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins or receive any of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). This is a plea to come out of Babylon, the “confusion” which destroys God’s testimony in the earth. In one of his letters, John says God’s testimony is of His Son (1 John 5:9-11). He is our Temple, Promised Land, and Priesthood; the fullness of God’s message (John 2:19-22; Heb. 1:1-3, 4:3, 6:20). But we lust after many subjects and messages in the church (2 Cor. 11:1-4; Heb. 1:1, 2:1). Our theological promiscuity causes us to fall captive to “confusion.”
After the fall of Babylon, John sees heaven opened and One leading heaven’s armies on a white horse (Rev. 19:11-14). The One on the white horse is named the Word of God. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The opening of heaven to reveal Christ is in stark contrast to the confusion of Babylon. Here is the Word, God’s full and clear testimony in the person of Christ. No confusion. No captivity.
John’s vision has several layers of meaning. It certainly pictures Christ’s return, also known as “the day the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:30). This day will see Christ revealed in all creation as the All in all (Rom. 8:19; Col. 3:11). But this vision also portrays the action of the Spirit in our hearts now. The Holy Spirit is causing the fall of Babylon or “confusion” within; He is “opening heaven” to reveal the Word of God—Jesus Christ. Jesus is the testimony of God. When Christ is revealed in our hearts, God’s testimony has expression in the earth as it did through the temple of old.
John’s vision calls us to come out of pet doctrines and emphases that diminish Christ; out of subjects into Sonship; out of Christian religion into Christ’s revelation. If we continue in the Word, we are truly His disciples. We will know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free. And if the Son sets us free, we will really be free (John 8:31-36).