Editor’s Note: Well, New Yorkers are breathing a sigh of relief…Chris says Mystery Babylon is the eschatological Jerusalem! Where might that be geographically? Where it is today? Or somewhere else? Also, here’s MP3s and more. Check out Voodoo Dolls of the Elite. Also read about IRS Fraud at my new project, Get Out and Stay Out of Jail.
Chris White Even among dedicated Bible scholars and teachers, there is a wide range of views about the identity of Mystery Babylon, ranging from very allegorical to literal.
The angel in Rev 17:18 while interpreting John’s vision mentions that the woman is a city.
“And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” – Rev 17:18
Mystery Babylon is referred to as a city eight times in Revelation, and many of the things that happen to it in the narrative seem to be talking about a literal city. For instance, the city is burned down, the smoke can be seen from the nearby sea, merchants sell items to it, and many other factors which we will soon see cause many to believe that it is in fact talking about a literal city.
There are many candidates proposed for the identity of the Mystery Babylon by Bible scholars including:
- Rome or Vatican City. Many early reformers saw it as Rome. Somewhat ironically, the Catholic church also teaches that it is Rome on the Vatican website, though it is referring to ancient pagan Rome, where the protestant reformers would say that it was the Rome of the Catholic church.
- Some suggest it is the actual city of Babylon in Iraq. In this scenario, they say Babylon will be rebuilt in the future.
- Mecca or some other Arab cities have been proposed. This view has been especially popular very recently.
- Jerusalem is also suggested, this is the oldest recorded view of Christians, and is held by many different groups.
- There is a long list of other less popular candidates, New York being one example.
Some other very popular viewpoints assert that the Bible is metaphorical, and say it’s not referring to an actual city, but is symbolic of something else entirely, possibly, a world pagan religious system, and/or a world financial system.
In counting the characteristics given to Mystery Babylon, I have found over ninety characteristics. In this study, I will show that there are explicit Biblical interpretations of most, if not all, of these ninety characteristics, and that by comparing scripture with scripture, we can come to a more biblical identification of Mystery Babylon.
I believe Mystery Babylon is the eschatological city of Jerusalem. I chose my words very carefully in this description. In other words, I believe it is the Jerusalem of the end times, where, according to Daniel 11:45, the Anti-Christ sets up his end-times world government and end-times world religion headquarters.
The city and its habitants will promote the Anti-Christ as their Messiah, and as the one true God, thereby committing the ultimate abomination, the ultimate harlotry. Not only that, but they will promote him and entice the world to follow them in their worship of the Man of Sin.
We know that the Anti-Christ will choose Jerusalem as the place to declare himself to be god ( 2Thes 2:4, Mat 24:15, Dan 11:31-32 ) We know that the greatest religious killing of all time will happen in the city of Jerusalem according to Matt. 24:15-21.
Too often people look at the “Woman who Rides the Beast” and try to define her in terms of what we have already seen in history, as opposed to what Scripture says we will see in the future. That is the primary reason people miss this. As we will see, it is not because of a lack of Biblical support.
For instance, Rev. 18:24 says: “And in her was found the blood of prophets…”
We don’t even have to speculate as to what city the prophets were killed in, as Jesus says it is impossible for a prophet to be killed anywhere except Jerusalem:
“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, ‘Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.’ And he said unto them, ‘Go ye, and tell that fox, behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!’” Luke 13:31-34
This idea is repeated by the Lord in other places, as well. For instance, He tells them that their fathers killed the prophets and they hypocritically built their tombs. (Luke 11:47) In Matthew 23, He names Zechariah as such an example who He mentions was killed near the temple. He also says that they will be held accountable and judged for this blood on their hands.
If the blood of the prophets is found in the mystery Babylon city, it is strong evidence in favor of it referring to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is specifically called a harlot hundreds of times in Scripture and always in spiritual context – the harlotry of following false gods and killing prophets, etc.
Just a small sampling of this is in Isaiah 1:21:
“How is the faithful city become an harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.” – Isaiah 1:21
Ezekiel 16 is entirely about this subject, and it starts out by saying:
“Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations…” – Eze 16:1-2
He spends the whole chapter saying things like:
“But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.” – Eze 16:15-16
Jerusalem is constantly warned in Scripture that if they do not turn from their “harlotries” they will be judged. As we go through Revelation 17-18, we will find that the specific judgments Mystery Babylon gets are the exact same as the ones promised to Jerusalem because of her spiritual harlotry.
Here is one example:
“They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more. Therefore, I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations. Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.” – Eze 16:40-43
This idea that Jerusalem is as a harlot, and also has children or inhabitants that are harlots, is what is meant when Revelation says that the “Woman” is the mother of harlots – the harlots are the inhabitants and Jerusalem is the mother.
I think that much of the confusion comes from the fact commentators want to put in the word ALL – “the mother of ALL harlots,” as if it was the source of all bad things from the history of the world. But that’s not what the texts says Mystery Babylon is – it simply says that the city is the mother of harlots, those harlots are simply the inhabitants of the city. Jesus uses the same analogy in the following passage:
“But Jesus, turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.’ Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us; and to the hills, cover us.’” – Luke 23:28-30
This view of a futuristic Jerusalem (when the Anti-christ reigns there) being Mystery Babylon is not mine alone. I am standing firmly on the shoulders of giants. I first heard of this view from a great Bible scholar named Charles Cooper. I was then pleasantly surprised to find that this view is the earliest recorded view of the church fathers that I know of.
There was a writer name Hippolytus who produced the earliest known commentary on the Book of Revelation. He was probably the most important theologians of the 200′s. This was an important time because Revelation was written so late that it took a long time to be circulated. As a result, we don’t find many commentaries on it until about his time. However, around this same era, the hermeneutic (the way people interpreted the Bible) of the early church was about to change.
Around the time that the Catholic Church began in the 300’s, people began interpreting the Bible more allegorically as opposed to looking at it literally or with a face value approach. As a result, there is a very short window of time during which we can hear the views of a premillennial and futurist church father on the book of Revelation. But here is what Hippolytus said about Mystery Babylon:
“By the unrighteous judge, who fears not God, neither regards man, he means without doubt Anti-Christ, as he is a son of the devil and a vessel of Satan. For when he has the power, he will begin to exalt himself against God, neither in truth fearing God, nor regarding the Son of God, who is the Judge of all. And in saying that there was a widow in the city, he refers to Jerusalem itself, which is a widow indeed, forsaken of her perfect, heavenly spouse, God. She calls Him her adversary, and not her Saviour; for she does not understand that which was said by the prophet Jeremiah: “Because they obeyed not the truth, a spirit of error shall speak then to this people and to Jerusalem.” – TREATISE ON CHRIST AND ANTI-CHRIST.
It is also worth noting that Hippolytus was a student of Irenaus who was a student of Polycarp who was a student of John, the original author of the Book of Revelation.
I myself used to think the “Woman” was Rome or the Vatican, but when we get to the verses about the seven mountains you will see why I see this interpretation, held by so many, is grammatically and contextually impossible.
I also used to believe that it was referring to an allegorical kind of amalgamation of the world’s occult religions or financial evil. You will see that that view requires a deliberate departure from the plain and simple meaning of the text. It also goes against the angel’s own interpretation of this “Woman”.
This imaginary “ALL” we discussed earlier makes people think that they have to have Mystery Babylon account for all the evil in the world, past, present, and future. So, they go looking, in the past or in the present, for the most evil thing they can think of. And that’s pretty much how they come up with their interpretation – whatever the most evil thing is in their paradigm, is what she will be to them. It’s not a coincidence therefore that all the books about Mystery Babylon being some aspect of Islam showed up after 911.
The strength of going verse by verse through this difficult section of scripture is its thoroughness. I hope you will get as much out of reading it as I have researching it. This study will give me an opportunity to teach some of the most complicated aspects of the Anti-Christ, as well as the city in which he chooses to set up shop.