Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Head of Gold
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Daniel 2:37-38

The Bible gives us the interpretation of the head of gold in these verses. Babylon had existed for centuries before this time, but only under Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BC) had she reached her height. In a flurry of activity, he had conquered from Persia to Egypt, picking up the reins of power left unheld by the decline of Assyria. During this time he conquered Judah, taking its citizens into captivity to Babylon.

Not only did he rise quickly to world supremacy, but he also played a major role in beautifying and strengthening the city of Babylon. Covering 200 square miles, the city boasted 250 watchtowers and walls 87 feet thick. He laid out the city in rectangular blocks. Built of brick and faced with enameled tiles of blue, yellow, and white, houses rose up to four stories and lined broad avenues, interspersed with parks and gardens. One 30-foot wide bridge over the Euphrates ran 660 feet. According to Diodorus Siculus, a 15-foot wide and 12-foot high tunnel under the river also connected its two banks. It was the largest and most magnificent city of the ancient world.

But Babylon was also a city of rank paganism. Within its walls stood 53 temples and 1,327 shrines to various deities. Dominating the skyline in every direction, Babylon's famous ziggurat rose in seven stages to 650 feet, crowned with a shrine. Some think this structure, taller than the Great Pyramid of Egypt, is the Tower of Babel.

The city streets were named after the gods of Babylon. Cults to dozens of different deities flourished. In all, the Babylonian priests worshiped 4,000 separate gods, each with a specialized function. In the ninth century BC, an official census of the gods tallied 65,000. Even taxation was done in the name of their gods. Also a center of astrology and the occult, Babylon was the seat and prime example of this world's religious confusion (Revelation 17:5).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part One): 'Head of Gold'

Revelation 17:1-6

As the head of gold, Babylon's alluring qualities are manifest in the world, and we must avoid these to keep from being ensnared. These traits are clearly delineated in Revelation 17 and 18, and they are these broad areas of possible temptation or trial for us: idolatry, prostitution, self-sufficiency, self-glorification, pride, complacency, reliance on luxury and wealth, avoidance of suffering, and violence against life.

Especially emphasized in these chapters is pride ("she glorified herself"), and the second is satiety, to seek the fullness of everything. It is especially used in regard to seeking food—to become full and then go beyond that. It is to become over-full in everything. However, satiety can apply to other things as well. Some people lose themselves in entertainment: A little bit of entertainment is not enough—their whole lives must consist of entertainment, practically from morning to night. Revelation 18:7 says that the great harlot lived luxuriously. Then there is the avoidance of suffering, seen where she says in the same verse, "I shall see no sorrow."

These three are interrelated, and when combined with the other attitudinal factors, they become the perfect matrix for producing Laodiceanism in the careless Christian. The world is already largely caught up in these things, but they are a temptation to us.

A matrix is described in the dictionary as "the environment in which something is developed." In some cases, it is synonymous with another better known and more frequently used word, "womb." The womb is the perfect matrix for the development of a baby. We in this society are living right in the midst of the perfect environment for developing Laodiceanism, which is why it is so important that we understand the origin, nature, and fruit of the Israelitish culture that has become the very epitome of the Babylonish system.

John W. Ritenbaugh


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