In the Bible, Babel and Babylon therefore represent throughout time a collective symbol for humanity's political and religious rebellion against their Creator, who is the God of the Bible. False religious systems are also included in this evil spirit of humanism. In the end times, the great harlot (illustration 6.2), and the Antichrist's false prophet (illustration 5.7) are reckoned as part of the Babylon system, shortly before they are destroyed forever. (Revelation 17-19)
A notable exception from this rule was the world empire which king Nebuchadnezzar created when he came to power for a short time in 612 B.C. Through extremely rapid and victorious military campaigns, he subjugated not only the Assyrian empire, but more besides. He also took Jerusalem in 587 B.C., and deported the Jews in captivity to Babylon. There, leading Jews such as Daniel and his three friends eventually attained top, influential positions in the government.
Beginning with the Babylonian empire, the coming to power of other world kingdoms is symbolized with various pictures of beasts and humans. Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian empire thus described in Daniel's dream as a lion with eagle's wings, symbolizing quickness. (Illustration 7.3 above) The two wings also indicate that his lion-like kingdom took over power and cultural heritage from the two previous world kingdoms. (Daniel 7) Included in this heritage was the demand for worship of the king himself. It was just this worship of the king's image which Daniel's three friends refused to do, despite the threat of execution. God miraculously saved them unhurt out of the fiery furnace.
The vision depicted the lion being raised up on its back legs, and receiving a human mind, which symbolized the fact that the heathen king Nebuchadnezzar himself would go through a serious period of sickness and eventually come to a strong personal faith in God. Concerning this pivotal event, the king made a royal pronouncement to all people on earth. "Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven; for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to abase." (See Daniel 3,4) Because of this, Nebuchadnezzar's religious quality is described as a head of gold in the dream about the world empire's statue. (Daniel 2, and illustration 7.10)