The Wretched Reprobate of Revelation
Questions Raised by the Imagery
An angel in Revelation 17 introduces us to one of the most bizarre characters in all the Bible. He approaches the Apostle John and bids, “Come, I will show you…the Great Prostitute.”
As to her physical appearance, the Great Prostitute is described as having a tattoo across her forehead that reads: “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth.” The woman is draped in purple and riches. She holds a golden cup in her hand filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.
As for her actions, she commits adultery with the kings of the earth while the inhabitants are intoxicated by the wine of her adulteries. She rides upon a seven–headed, ten–horned, scarlet beast covered with blasphemous names and which sits on many waters. She gets drunk on the blood of the Saints of Christ.
Questions Raised by the Imagery
In Revelation 18 another Babylon is introduced, called “Babylon the Great.” Is this the same Babylon as the one pictured in Revelation 17?
If so, her demise is violently assured. God will not allow her to thrive for long, “For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (v. 5). “Therefore her plagues will come in one day — death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire…” (v. 8). This sudden fall of Babylon is met by the wailing of the nations who have become rich on her excesses.
Three questions come to mind after encountering this wretched reprobate of Revelation:
- Is she representative of the United States?
- If not, then who or what exactly is this “Mystery Babylon” of Revelation 17?
- And, is she different than the “Babylon the Great” described in Revelation 18?
A Political System
Because Revelation 17:18 defines Babylon as, “that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth,” we’ll first approach Babylon as a political entity.
United States — The United States today is the world’s richest nation, the foremost military power, a major importer of fine goods and services, and a major exporter of debauchery. The modern–day Tower of Babel — the United Nations — is headquartered in New York City.
But, is the United States actively killing Christians? Is it truly the most demonic nation in existence? Does the U.S. rule over the “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” of the world? In all these cases, the answer is no.
In context, the book of Revelation places the era of Babylon in the future seven–year Tribulation. The kingdom that will rule the world at that time is under the Antichrist, not the President. The Bible says it will be a global kingdom based in Europe, and that all the nations of the world, including the United States, will be merely vassals. Even now, America’s might and influence are waning. Therefore, the United States could not be Babylon.
Rome — If not the United States, some look to the European Union as Babylon. Daniel 9:26–27 reveals that the Antichrist will rise from a Revived Roman Empire.
Revelation 17 explains that while the Antichrist and his ten kings will severely persecute the Saints (v14), they will hate the Great Prostitute which rides them, and they will participate in her destruction (vv16–17). The European Union which births the Antichrist’s political system cannot also be the Great Prostitute because he kills her.
Babylon — Some point to Babylon as the seat of the Antichrist’s kingdom located in a newly constructed city of Babylon in Iraq. The city, though, was cursed by God, never to be rebuilt (Isaiah 13:20). In fulfillment of this prophecy, Babylon was conquered by the Medes and then became nothing but “mounds and stones and ruins.” Even Saddam Hussein was unable to rebuild it into more than a paltry tourist spot.
A Religious System
Because women are often used in the Scriptures to symbolize religious systems, let’s approach Mystery Babylon as a religious system.
Islam — Islam is a religious system that has caused the bloody martyrdom of countless Christians over its 1,400 years. It dominates the daily news stories. But, by the time of the Tribulation, Islam will most assuredly be wiped out. Islamic wars against Israel as foretold in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38–39 will bring about the demise of Islam as a power by the onset of the Tribulation.
Apostate Church — Rome is more than just a political entity that births the Antichrist, for it also houses the seat of Roman Catholic papal authority reaching across the world. In its history, the apostate Roman Catholic Church has the blood of countless Protestant believers and the victims of crusaders and inquisitors on its hands.
After the Rapture, the remaining heretical structure will continue to exist along with other apostate Christian denominations. The Catholic Church after the Rapture is the best candidate for Mystery Babylon, uniting all faiths under the banner of a one–world, ecumenical religion.
The Apostate Church, with the Pope possibly at its head, will lead the world at the onset of the Tribulation into a humanistic, one–world religion. For 3½ years the religions of the world will hold hands and preach Universalism. This is Mystery Babylon, the source of the world’s cultic spiritual evil which will hold a dominant presence during the first half of the Tribulation.
Once Satan possesses the Antichrist by the midpoint of the Tribulation, whatever flavor of humanistic self–worship the people adhere to will be silenced. The Antichrist and False Prophet will murder the Great Prostitute of human–willed spiritual harlotry and the institution in which she is enshrouded (Revelation 17:16). Only one religion will be allowed by the Antichrist’s demonic master to exist during the remaining 3½ years of the Tribulation, and that will be the worship of Satan through the Antichrist.
Mystery Babylon of Revelation 17, the one–world apostate church, will be destroyed to make way for Babylon the Great of Revelation 18, the one–world empire of the Antichrist. At that point, the Antichrist’s empire will finally encompass both religious and political Babylon.