This article was originally posted in December 2011. It has been slightly expanded.
The overthrow of tyrannical Babylon is the subject of the 21st chapter of Isaiah. God assured his prophet that the treacherous destroyer of nations and the persecutor of his people was going to be violently thrown down. The fall of ancient Babylon must have shocked the world back then.
How could this incredible event come about? The city of Babylon was considered to be an impregnable fortress. The prophecy continues: ‘“Go, post a lookout that he may tell just what he sees.’ And he saw a war chariot with a span of steeds, a war chariot of asses, a war chariot of camels. And he paid strict attention, with much attentiveness. And he proceeded to call out like a lion: ‘Upon the watchtower, O Jehovah, I am standing constantly by day, and at my guardpost I am stationed all the nights. And here, now, there is coming a war chariot of men, with a span of steeds!”’
History reveals that Babylon fell on one night without much of a fight. King Cyrus had somehow managed to temporarily dry up the Euphrates River, perhaps by opening floodgates upstream to divert the waters into flood detention ponds, sufficiently lowering the water level so that his army could wade across the river in the dead of the night. And because the city was caught up in a drunken festival the sentries did not bother to close and lock the massive gates to the city facing the river. Hence, without a long, bloody siege mighty Babylon fell —just as Jehovah foretold.
The prophet, though, does not see a vast army. From his watchtower vantage point the watchman sees only three war chariots –and ultimately a single war chariot with a span of steeds –reminiscent of the horsemen of the Apocalypse, led by the warrior Christ.
As far as the modern fulfillment of the fall of Babylon the Watchtower teaches that Babylon the Great of Revelation fell back in 1919. Their commentary on Isaiah states: (Paragraph 14)
“What of Babylon the Great? By engineering the oppression of God’s people during World War I, she effectively held them in exile for a time. Their preaching work was virtually brought to a halt. The president and other prominent officers of the Watch Tower Society were imprisoned on false charges. But 1919 saw an astounding reversal. The officers were released from prison, the headquarters office was reopened, and the preaching work was recommenced. Thus, Babylon the Great fell in that her hold over God’s people was broken. In Revelation, this fall is twice heralded by an angel using the words of the announcement at Isaiah 21:9.”
True enough, apparently a few clergymen schemed to use their political influence to bring government pressure to bear against the Watch Tower Society back then. And Rutherford and seven others were railroaded off to prison on trumped-up charges. However, is it not also the case that the confusion and uncertainty that enveloped the International Bible Students back then had more to do with the unexpected passing of their beloved Pastor Russell than anything the clergy may have done to bring down the Society? A sizable number of Bible Students simply refused to accept Joseph Rutherford as their new leader and to this day Bible Student splinter groups continue to follow the dead Pastor. That schism, more than anything else, is what resulted in the preaching work momentarily coming to a standstill.
Not only the falling away of a large percentage of persons associated with the Watch Tower, but the very fact that the Bible Students had been riveted on 1914 and the climatic campaign that came with the release of the Photo Drama of Creation in that year as well, virtually ensured that there would be a great let down in the years following. In other words, the Watchtower stumbled a large number of its own followers. To lay it all off on the clergy as if they had taken the Bible Students captive is not an honest presentation of the facts.
Also, the Watchtower’s reasoning is faulty as regards Babylon’s fall supposedly being evidenced by false religion no longer wielding any hold over true Christians now. Back when Babylon was overthrown it was not just the captive Jews who benefited. The Babylonian Empire ceased persecuting all the nations. Yet, how could it be said that religion has lost its power over the nations since 1919?
And besides, Jehovah’s Witnesses have suffered much persecution from religionists since 1919. For example, the recent banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia was surely brought about by the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Is it really honest to claim that the clergy have no hold over the work of Christians when the facts show that in some parts of the world they still exert a powerful restraint?
Keep in mind the words of the Christian prophet who foretold that God would allow an operation of Satan during the period before the return of Christ. Through the influence of a collective known as the man of lawlessness, the Devil employs “every powerful work and lying signs and wonders and every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing.” According to Paul the purpose of the deception is to create a false return of Christ, which is the very foundation of the Watchtower Society. The fall of Babylon myth is part of the fraud. The fact that the brief incarceration of eight Watchtower officials is the basis for the belief that Babylon has fallen is an aspect of the lying signs Jehovah’s Witnesses accept as authentic.
Perhaps the most inconvenient facts are the contradictions inherent in the Watchtower’s convoluted interpretation of Revelation. According to the Society, the scarlet beast that ascends from the abyss with the harlot as its mount did so in 1945 when the United Nations came into existence. That being the case, that means that Babylon the Great fell from power more then two decades before it rides the beast out of the abyss! But according to the context of the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation, it is after the eighth king comes to power that the angel declares that Babylon the great has fallen and commands God’s people to “get out of her my people.”
Concurrent with the fall of Babylon the Great and the announcement to “get out of her,” the angel says that her sins have amassed clear up to heaven and that Jehovah has called her many sins to mind. The angel further relates that her judgment comes in one hour. But if the world empire of false religion fell in 1919 because her sins had massed clear up to heaven, why has her hour of judgment not followed? Why the delay of more than a century?
Returning to the prophecy of Isaiah, by its very name the Watchtower implies it is the only source of reliable interpretation of prophecy and that all anointed Christians make up a so-called “watchman class.” However, as regards the biblical watchman, he is used by God to keep watch for what is coming. That stands in stark contrast to the Watchtower’s watchmen who do not really announce what is coming, but rather, the Watchtower Society perverts prophecy to focus attention on what has supposedly already been fulfilled.
If the Watchtower was really fulfilling the pattern set by Isaiah in calling out what it sees as regards the fall of Babylon, shouldn’t we expect that Watchtower to have foreseen beforehand what was going to happen during World War One and its aftermath? True, over the course of the decades since then the Watchtower has skillfully patched together a credible explanation that has convinced millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses that virtually all prophecy has been fulfilled already, but is that really the work of a watchman?
O MY PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN THRESHED
In truth, the prophecy of Isaiah is foretelling the coming fall of both the eighth king and his religious consort. That is in keeping with the fact that the original Babylon was both God’s imperial executioner and the promoter of false religion and idolatry. It is this last kingdom that is destined to thresh Jehovah’s people, for which God will then require an accounting from them.
“O my people who have been threshed, the product of my threshing floor, I have reported to you what I have heard from Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel.” — Isaiah 21:10
Originally the Watchtower explained that God was displeased with the Bible Students for some trifling errors and compromises and that is why he allowed Babylon the Great to dominant the organization for a brief period during the closing months of the First World War. That notion, although absurd, at least bore some resemblance to the truth contained in the Bible. God threshed the Jews for their unfaithfulness and the threshing served as a correction in order to restore them to God’s favor. However, all that was scrapped in 2018 with the publication of True Worship — Restored at Last!
Incredibly, now the Watchtower claims that God had been punishing all Christians for hundreds of years, almost since the beginning of the Christian era. Then in 1919, the threshed ones finally emerged and true worship was restored at last.
The emergence of Christendom was not a punishment from God. It served no purpose. The reason God punishes his people is to correct them. Here is what Jehovah stated in Jeremiah: “For I am with you,” declares Jehovah, “to save you. But I will make an extermination among all the nations to which I scattered you; however, you I will not exterminate. I will discipline you to the proper degree, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.” — Jeremiah 30:11
Please take note of the fact that the punishment to the proper degree comes in the form of the scattering that takes place immediately prior to the extermination, which is Armageddon. Jesus spoke of the desolation of Jerusalem during the conclusion. Then Christians will be scattered: “Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, let those in the midst of her leave, and let those in the countryside not enter into her, because these are days for meting out justice in order that all the things written may be fulfilled.” — Luke 21:21-22
“All the things written” is considerable and has been the focus of my research. Furthermore, contrary to what the Watchtower teaches, none of these things have been fulfilled. Consider one important point: If Jerusalem symbolizes Christendom —as the prophets of Bethel have asserted —why would it be necessary for true Christians to flee out of the midst of her?
That the threshing is coming is even verified by Jesus when he foretold that both the faithful and evil slaves would both be flogged when the master unexpectedly comes to inspect God’s house. The only difference is that Christ will discipline to the proper degree. The erring but ignorant slave will be thrashed with a few strokes; whereas, the willfully disobedient slave with be beaten with many lashes and thrown out into the darkness. Days for meting out justice, indeed!