The counterpart to Zion is Babylon, identified in the scriptures as the world.1 “It is described just as fully, clearly and vividly in the scriptures as Zion is, and usually in direct relationship to it…. Just as surely as Zion is to be established, Babylon is to be destroyed…. Babylon is not to be converted, she’s to be destroyed…. Today’s world is the substance…of an idol which waxes old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great which shall fall (T&C 54:3). For after today comes the burning…and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon (T&C 51:7). Babylon is nothing but the inverse image of Zion. Babylon is a state of mind, as Zion is, with its appropriate environment…. Babylon is described fully in Revelation chapter 7: She is rich, luxurious, immoral, full of fornications, merchants, riches, delicacies, sins, merchandise, gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linens, purples, silks, scarlets, thyine wood, all manner of vessels, ivory, precious wood, brass, iron, marble, and so on. She is a giant delicatessen, full of wine, oil, fine flour, wheat; a perfume counter with cinnamon, odors, ointments, and frankincense; a market with beasts and sheep. It reads like…a guide to a modern supermarket or department store…and it is all for sale. In her power and affluence she is unchallenged…. Babylon is number one. She dominates the world. Her king is equated to Lucifer, who says, I will be like the Most High (Isaiah 6:6)…. And when Babylon falls, all the world is involved.”2
Nephi used similar typology when he described the two churches — Babylon is a type. It is the world and worldly power, where everyone and everything has a price. The Lord has called his people to go out from Babylon (T&C 58:1), and go out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon (T&C 58:2). Out of Zion and out of Jerusalem will go the law and the teachings that will constitute the effort, the government, the society, and the culture that’s going to finally free itself from the toxic influences and the corrupt traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation, being influenced all the way back to Babylon. “That’s why the prophecies of John talk about the fall of Babylon the great. Because the head of gold is still with us. The Babylonian influence remains with us still in our banking, in our profit motives, in our culture, in our education, in our false ideas about what’s important and what’s not, in our desire for power, and wealth, and influence. All of those things remain with us still today. And they corrupt everything. They corrupt business; they corrupt governments; they corrupt churches. They corrupt society. Everyone is vying with one another to gain influence, power, and in turn, wealth and the acclamation of this world. And it all goes back to Babylon. Which is why John prophesies the fall, not of every one of these components of the great image that Nebuchadnezzar saw, but he goes right to the head. Because as soon as you destroy the head, everything else is going to unravel. And he prophesies about the destruction of Babylon, the head of gold that holds sway over all else.”3
1 “King Benjamin’s Self Reliance,” Jan. 23, 2014, blog post.
2 Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, 14–16.
3 500th Year Reformation Talk Five, 3–4, Sandy, UT, Sept. 7, 2018, transcript of recording.