Babylon WhyProphets.com

 

The whore named Babylon
( and it is NOT the Roman Catholic church! )


All about the Whore

All the details are in Revelation 17 (and a little in 18). Let's start with the symbolism:

What each symbol means

Thankfully, most of it is simple, and Revelation explains all of the complicated stuff in the same chapter:

So, who is the whore?

This web site is devoted to finding the simplest possible explanation. So "the great city that rules the world" must have been the city of Rome. She ruled many peoples and nations, followed false gods, was built on seven hills, had great wealth, loved sin, and killed the saints.

Rome's successors (the horns) ultimately "ate her and burned her" (17:16) - a prophecy fulfilled in the fifth century (when barbarians, allowed into the empire by Byzantium, burned the city), in the sixth century (when Byzantium ruled Rome and allowed it to decline further), in the reformation (when the church of Rome was attacked by her children), and no doubt at the very end as well.


The whore and the beast compared.

The monarchy

To appreciate the difference between the city of Rome (the whore) and the empire of Rome (the beast), we need to take a look at how the Roman empire was organized.

Most people are aware that, in New Testament times and after, the Roman empire was ruled by an emperor. The emperor was dictator for life, and many emperors considered themselves to be gods. The empire was to all intents and purposes a kingdom, a monarchy. It therefore fits very well into Daniel's four kingdoms of Babylon - Persia - Greece - Rome.

The republic

But most people are not aware that the city of Rome itself ran on rather different lines. The city had been a republic for centuries, ever since the laws were written up in 450 BC. When the empire developed into a monarchy, the city remained a republic.

While the empire as a whole was run by a single emperor, the city was run by committees of citizens. While the emperor was chosen by the previous emperor, the city officials were elected by the citizens. The emperor, good or bad, ruled until he died, but the city officials were typically elected for terms of one year at a time. The emperor could be a tyrant and only his death could remove him, but the city structures were designed so that no single person or group could gain absolute power. The organization of the city was very different to the organization of the empire.

The whore and the beast compared The whore The Beast
Identified in scripture as: "that great city" "the fourth kingdom upon earth"
Ruled by: Ordinary people Kings and emperors
Power based on: Money and deals Wars

How this clears up some confusion

Understanding the difference between the whore and the beast helps to explain an otherwise confusing area for LDS readers.

LDS readers may wonder how can the whore be a city, AND ALSO the organization which filters the scriptures after the apostles die (see 1 Nephi 13), AND ALSO "the great and abominable church" - a general term for anyone who does not follow Christ (see 1 Nephi 14)? Simple. The whore (the ungodly city) is the natural way that ungodly people (Revelation 17:15) organize themselves. Wherever there are ungodly people they will build a Rome or a Babylon. The word "church" just means "congregation of people".


Revelation 17, verse by verse

A brief history of Rome

The city of Rome from the time of John is described in Revelation chapter 17:

12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

When the Roman empire broke up in the fourth and fifth centuries, the individual nations lived alongside the empire (based at Byzantium) for a while.

How long is "an hour" in Revelation?

The Greek word is "hora." it is the word for a literal hour of the day, but John seems to use it more flexibly. For example:

Revelation 3:7-11
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."

This passage seems to refer to the New Testament period (referring to the church's relationship with the Jews), then the time of temptation that would last right up until the Second Coming. This appears to be the same period of tribulation described in Daniel and in Matthew 24. It began in New Testament times and will end when Jesus returns. So an "hour" is just "a time," and can be an unspecified length.

For more examples of John using "hour" for an unspecified time, see John 2:4, John 4:21, John 4:23, John 5:25, John 5:28, John 7:30, John 8:20, John 12:23, John 16:32, Revelation 3:3.

Back to Revelaion 17...

13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

They ended up as part of Europe, part of the great Roman system

14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him [are] called, and chosen, and faithful.

They oppose the kingdom of God (persecuting the true disciples, basing their kingdoms on money and false religion) but ultimately Christ will return and the saints will inherit the earth.

15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

The city of Rome (and her successors) rule the world.

16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

The city of Rome hit its lowest point in the year 570 (see the page on desolations). The Germanic nations that had been allowed to settle in the empire betrayed her (see a history of the Gentiles) and Byzantium failed to give her support.

Abominations among professed believers always lead to desolations eventually. The same will be the case just before Christ returns, when it seems highly likely that the global financial system will not be able to cope. Unlike the kingdom of God, the kingdoms of this world have no love for each other and will turn on each other when they see weakness, failure, or disaster.

17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

Just before AD 570, the three most important ex-Roman kingdoms were absorbed back into the empire (as prophesied by Daniel - see the page on Rome and Europe). Then around AD 570 everything changed. In the same way, during the Dark Ages, the nations of Europe chose to be subject to Rome once more - for a while. And again in modern times the European nations have chosen to be subject to a larger empire, the European Union, built on the treaty of Rome.

18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

In each case, the city of Rome is riding, guiding the beast.


Comments from critics

Each criticism is followed by a response.

"The woman is Babylon, not Rome." ?

Babylon in Old Testament prophecy

The key scriptures are Isaiah 13 and 14 - all other references draw on these. If Babylon was the literal city in modern Iraq, then these prophecies were not fulfilled literally, and it seems unlikely that they ever will be:

"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.
" - (Isaiah 13:19-20)

Chapter 14 continues, "The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing" and goes on to compare Babylon to Lucifer, son of the morning. As the Elwell Evangelical Dictionary puts it, "The universal sweep, particularly in Isaiah's prophecy, exceeding the scope of Babylon even in the days of its greatest glory, suggests that many aspects of this prediction have not yet been fulfilled. God did not change the whole earth when Babylon fell; in fact, the city was not destroyed at that time."

So, either the use of "Babylon" is symbolic of something bigger, or we are still waiting for Iraq to rule the world. Most commentators agree that the great prophecies are being fulfilled, yet Iraq is a long way from ever controlling this world. So it seems like"Babylon" symbolizes something bigger.

If you think about it, the simplest view of prophecy demands this kind of mixing specific details about today with general details about the end of the world. The prophet has two audiences: those who are alive at the time (such as the ancient Jews), and those who may read the words later (e.g. everyone). So to have maximum relevance (and to keep his people's attention), he must cover both local events and events of universal importance (such as the coming of Christ and the end of the world).

It makes no sense to single out the fall of a particular city when discussing the end of the world, since every similar city will share the same fate. However, it is very useful as a concrete example that helps people visualise what will happen.

Babylon elsewhere in the New Testament

Apart from references to the Old Testament captivity, the only reference to Babylon in the New Testament (apart from in Revelation) is in 1 Peter 5:13: "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.". It is fairly certain that Peter never visited the city of Babylon (it was just ruins at that time). So "Babylon" here probably referred to Rome.

What the early saints believed

"What is the meaning of Babylon in [the book of Revelation]? The older commentators tended to make it a prophecy of the evil world. . . . Others have identified Babylon with the city of Rome, basing the identification largely on the mention of seven hills (Rev. 17:9). The fundamental objection to this interpretation is that the persecution of the Christians by the Roman Empire stopped at the advent of Constantine, whereas Rome was taken by the barbarians only a century later." - from the Elwell Evangelical Dictionary

Revelation 17:9 seems pretty clear. But if there is any doubt, in the absence of clear prophecy, I always prefer the older commentators to the modern ones. Note that, in New Testament times, "the evil world" was synonymous with Rome.

Let us look at the two objections to Babylon meaning Rome: First, Rome became Christian under Constantine. Exactly! Babylon had won! This was a false and apostate corruption of Christianity. It was more like Babylon than ever. Second, Rome was destroyed by the barbarians. But by this time, the capital of the empire was "The New Rome", Byzantium, which was also built on seven hills. Later the capital of the world moved back to the literal city of Rome, although later (in our day) it has moved again (see below).

So in conclusion, there is every reason to believe that "Babylon" in prophecy refers to worldly cities in general, and Rome in particular.

"In the last days [there will be a] a 'one world system', or a 'one world governmental body'.   It certainly seems as though we are heading in that direction economically, religiously, and politically."

We are already there! Western civilisation has dominated the world for centuries and with the fall of Russia (and the westernisation of China) it is virtually unopposed. If we insist on waiting for a human individual, we will miss the prophecies already being fulfilled all around us.

In contrast, Babylon - the ancient capital of Iraq - is still no nearer to being the center of the world. Clearly, the term "Babylon", as used in Revelation, symbolises Babylon and cities like her.


The Whore as "the city" in general.

The city the center of the world economy

I live in Britain. when the news speaks about "the city", it means specifically the city of London, or generally the financial institutions. I don't know if the phrase "the city" has the same meaning in America or elsewhere. But here "the city" today means exactly what it meant when the book of Revelation was written: the city that rules the world, with an emphasis on trade and not on religion.

The whore is "the city that rules the world". At the time of John's writing it was Rome. Later it was Byzantium (also built on seven hills). Later it was Rome again. Later it was London. Today it is Washington. However, things have changed a little since ancient times. Today the wealth of the world's greatest cities depends on international finance. It does not depend entirely on the country where it sits. In addition, all the great cities are linked. So stocks are traded in London until "close of trading" each day, when trading continues, uninterrupted, in Washington. When Washington goes to sleep (does it?), trading continues in Tokyo. And so back to London. So the great financial system exists separately from individual nation states.

Today, more than ever, "the great city" has its own independent existence and does indeed "rule the world". When the financial markets decide to do something (such as devalue a currency), there is nothing that individual nations can do about it.

"Babylon" in Revelation 18 was probably not limited to Italy's Rome

It is possible that "Babylon" in Revelation 18 refers only to the literal city of Rome, just like Revelation 17. But that interpretation makes things too complicated:


How to be Babylon

Throughout scripture, the prophets makes it clear that it is the behaviour that matters, and not the name of the city. To illustrate in Revelation 11:8, Jerusalem is not even named, but is called Sodom and Egypt.

Compare Jeremiah 51 with Revelation 18. They use very similar language (city based on the waters, nations drunk with her wine, saints warned to get out of her, destruction like a stone being tossed in the sea, etc.). Yet both are prompted by talking about different cities - Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar's city) and Rome (based on seven hills). The two cities, because they had the same behaviour they had the same final destruction. The name does not matter. If it acts like Babylon, it is Babylon.

This means you!

Think of what this means to you - yes, you! If your city loves money more than God, if it mocks and persecutes those who try to follow God, if it is filled with all kinds of sin, it is Babylon. Revelation 18 is talking about your city!

The final stock market crash?

Note: what follows is pure guesswork, not gospel. I am simply looking for the simplest interpretations of Revelation 18.

If we can take "Babylon" in a general sense, including but not limited to the literal city of Rome, things get even more interesting. Let us assume that Babylon represents whichever city holds world power. In the modern world, the city that runs the world is not a city, but the city. "The city" is the common term (at least in Britain) for the financial system that runs the modern world. Revelation 18 could describe a huge stock market crash:

Of course I could be entirely wrong. A stock market crash interpretation just seems an obvious result of the events of the opening of the seventh seal. Either way - stock market crash or literal city of Rome - it doesn't matter. The meaning is the same. God is in charge!



the bottom line

Do you rely on the sophistication and amorality of the city for security, glamour, and fast living? Then watch out.

 

home Bible proofs 1830 foretold easy stuff beasts and horns world history the holy grail the church