Is America Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of whores and of the abominations of the earth? Since Mystery Babylon will be destroyed in one hour (Rev 18:8, 10, 17, 20, 21), and since YHVH warns his people (all the saints, not just the Jewish people) to “Come out of her…” (Rev 18:4) it’s important to know who she is. Is Mystery Babylon a city or an entire country or what? It’s important to know the answer, so YHVH’s people will know how to prepare for the end time judgments against Mystery Babylon.
Understanding Bible Prophecy
To properly understand biblical prophecy, we must understand some fundamental concepts relating to properly interpreting biblical prophecy.
Let’s look at the various types of prophecies in the Bible. First, there are long range, short range and mid-range prophecies. Second, there are prophecies that have been fulfilled, one’s that haven’t been fulfilled, and ones that have dual or even multiple fulfillments.
There are several standard viewpoints people hold when interpreting Bible prophecy. Some believe that all Bible prophecy has been fulfilled (the preterist view). Some believe that all prophecy is yet to be fulfilled (the futurist view). Some believe that some prophecy has been fulfilled, and some is yet to be fulfilled (the partial preterest view). I hold to the latter view.
To know whether a prophecy has been fulfilled already, one must have an understanding of historical events. If the prophecy has already been fulfilled, it may or may not have any future prophetic fulfillments.
- How do we know whether it has any future fulfillments?
- If the prophecy contains end times prophetic language, it probably has a future fulfillment.
- If the prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled yet historically, it’s still a future one.
- Some prophecies contain language relating to events that have already been fulfilled historically, and also contain language involving future events that haven’t been fulfilled yet.
- We know the prophecy has future or multiple fulfillments when other biblical authors make references to a past prophecy having future or multiple fulfillments.
Some people assume that just because a prophetic event has been fulfilled in the past to one people-group it will automatically happen again to another people group in the future simply because “history repeats itself” or because “what has been will be again.” To make these assumptions and apply them to any prophecy runs the risk of succumbing to faulty and illogical reasoning. To read something into a prophecy that is not there is called eisegesis (a subjective view of Scripture) rather than exegesis (an objective view of Scripture). An eisegetical interpretation of Scripture can lead people astray spiritually. It’s called cramming it to fit and painting it to match.
Prophetic Bible Passages Pertaining to Babylon the Great
Some prophecy teachers point to several prophecies in the Tanakh (Old Testament) to prove that America is Babylon the Great. Let’s look at these prophecies.
- Ezekiel 28 is a prophecy against the ancient city of Tyre. Some Bible teachers believe this applies to America. The first part of this prophecy was fulfilled long ago as the historical record confirms. The second half of this prophecy seems to be an allusion to Satan the devil and his fall from glory. This happened prehistorically and is no longer prophetic. Nothing in this prophecy speaks of end time events, or anything that is yet to happen. Nothing in this prophecy even alludes to the fall of America or any other nation besides Tyre. To apply this prophecy to the end times or to any other nation is assumption and is reading something into the text that is not there.
- Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51 is a prophecy about the fall of the nation of Babylon and its empire known as Babylonia. As the biblical record attests to and any reputable Bible commentary will show you, this prophecy was fulfilled historically with the destruction of Babylon and its empire. There are, however, several verses that indicate that this verse could still have a future, end times fulfillment, although there is nothing in this passage to link it specifically to America. Jeremiah 50:4–8 speaks of YHVH’s people — the children of Israel and Judah together — seeking YHVH and the way to Zion. This prophecy hasn’t occurred ye and wasn’t fulfilled when the Jews returned to the land of Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah, since those returning exiles were from the Israel’s Southern Kingdom only. This prophecy deals with an end times revival among all of YHVH’s people involving the descendants of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the ten northern tribes) and the Southern Kingdom (the Jews) and their coming together and desiring to return to the land of Israel. In verse six, YHVH likens his people to lost sheep and then he urges them to come out Babylon (verse 8). This is reminiscent of YHVH’s warning to his end times people to come out of Babylon the Great before his judgments fall on that system (Rev 18:4). Presently, YHVH’s people, both Jews and Christians are scattered throughout the world, and Babylon the Great is a global system that isn’t limited to just one nation, as we shall discuss in more detail below.
- Isaiah 13 and 14 speak about the fall and destruction of historic Babylon at the hands of the Medes (Isa 14:17). Isaiah calls this divine judgment against ancient Babylon “the day of YHVH” (Isa 13:6, 9). There is nothing in these passages to indicate that this prophecy has future, end time implications. To suggest this is to read into this passage something that is not there.
- Some Bible teachers use Isaiah 18 as a prophecy about end times Babylon and relate it to America. In Isaiah 18:2, we read about a nation beyond the rivers of Ethiopia. Some think this refers to Babylon. However, from Isaiah’s perspective prophesying in the land of Israel, this unnamed land has to be west of Ethiopia, not east of it. If he had meant Babylon, then why would he make Ethiopia which is in Africa and west of Israel be the reference point when Babylon is east of Israel?
It is true that there is much language referring to ancient Babylon that John borrows from the Tanach (especially from Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51) in his prophecies about Babylon the Great in the Book of Revelation. John draws analogies between ancient Babylon that controlled the known world of its day and end times Babylon the Great that will control all or most of the world in its day. But how do we logically arrive at the place that because John is quoting verbiage pertaining to Babylon the Great from the prophecies pertaining to ancient Babylon that this means that America is Babylon the Great? This is adding two and two and getting five. This is not logical. It may be reasoned that because America is presently the most powerful and influential nation on earth as ancient Babylon was in its day, this means that America is Babylon the Great. But the Book of Revelation reveals that Babylon the Great is a worldwide system, not just one nation. Mystery Babylon of Revelation 17 is a city that has worldwide spiritual influence, while commercial Babylon the Great of Revelation 18 is worldwide commercial or political-economic system that has worldwide control as we will discuss below.
The Bible teachers who make America into Mystery Babylon the Great are guilty of haphazardly cobbling together many scriptures passages pertaining to the historic Babylon of the past (and even Tyre) and then conflating them with the passages in Revelation about end times Babylon the Great. This approach is to interpreting Bible prophecy is what I call “pounding a square peg into and round hole” or c”ramming it to fit and painting it to match.” This is a subjective or eisegetical view of Scripture. This is adding two and two and getting five. By employing this kind of biblical interpretive approach, one can just about make the Bible say anything one wants. This is a misguided, illogical and dangerous approach to biblical interpretation. This is not rightly dividing the Scriptures (2 Tim 2:15)!
Attributes of Mystery Babylon the Great
End times Babylon is worldwide system comprised of three components according to Revelation 13. It is political (Rev 17:3, 7), economic (Rev 17:6–8) and religious (Rev 17:4, 11, 15). This scripture likens this system to a beast and reveals that it’s empowered by Satan himself (Rev 17:1–3). The majority of the world worshipped this beast system and marvelled at it (Rev 17:4). No one could make war with it and succeed; therefore, it has a military component as well that enforces its dictates (Rev 17:4).
Two chapters in Revelation mention end times Babylon by name and describe it. Revelation 17 describes religious or Mystery Babylon, while Revelation 18 describes a commercial (and political) system and calls it simply Babylon the Great. These two systems are related and work together, but are separate though intertwined. Each likely has its own agendas, which is why the commercial side of Babylon the Great will eventually destroy the religious side.
Religious or Mystery Babylon is described as a whore or harlot. It rides a beast (which is commercial Babylon the Great), which will eventually hate and attack this whore and make her desolate (or lay her waste, ruin her, or strip her of her treasures, Rev 17:16).
Revelation 18, which describes commercial Babylon the Great, starts out in verse one by stating, “After these things…” which seems to indicate that either what follows describe subsequent events that will occur or, at least, a change of players and actors or both.
What are the attributes of religious or Mystery Babylon the Great?
- The Scriptures liken her to a whore. A whore in the Bible is a metaphor for a false religious system or apostate church that is opposed to YHVH’s truth and the saints of Elohim (Prov 5:3–20; 7:5–23; Jer 3:1–25; Ezek 16:15–30; 23:1–49; Rev 2:20). On the other hand, a virgin or a woman dressed in pure white represents the true church or saints of Elohim (e.g. Isa 54:5–6; Ezek 16:1–14; Matt 25:1–11; 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:31–32; Rev 12:1, 14, 16; 19:7–8)
- Mystery Babylon is whore that sits on many waters (Rev 17:1), which are peoples, nations, multitudes and tongues (Rev 17:15). The whore woman is a great city (again, not a country) who rules over the kings of the earth (Rev 17:18). She’s a worldwide religious system.
- The woman who is a city also sits on a seven headed beast which are seven mountains (not hills as is the case with the city of Rome; Rev 17:9). A mountain is a biblical metaphor for seats of power or nations or governments. This may refer to the earth being divided into seven regional governments or perhaps the seven continents.
- All the leaders of the earth have committed spiritual fornication with this harlot (Rev 17:2).
- This woman rides on a beast (Rev 17:7) that is a global economic and political system and which is empowered by Satan himself (Rev 13).
- This religious system will be destroyed by the kings of the earth as part of YHVH’s judgment against her (Rev 17:16).
- The colors of the whore are purple and scarlet (Rev 17:4). These are the colors of the Roman Catholic Church’s cardinals and bishops. The Roman Catholic Church claims to the mother of all the Christian churches of the world, although some of the Eastern Orthodox churches may dispute this assertion.
- Apparently, the Catholic Church is the largest or one of the landowner/s in New York City (http://entertainment.omgfacts.com/lists/7123/Columbia-University-is-the-second-largest-landowner-in-New-York-City and http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20131126/REAL_ESTATE/131129909/citys-most-valuable-vacant-lots). This links Mystery Babylon the Great or religious Babylon the Great with commercial Babylon the Great in a curious way.
Attributes of Commercial Babylon the Great
What are the attributes of commercial Babylon the Great?
- According to the Bible, commercial Babylon is also great city (Rev 18:10, 18), and not specifically a country. This doesn’t mean this city can’t represent a county. Usually a city is attached to a country.
- This religious-economic-political system has killed so many followers of Yeshua that she has become drunk on their blood (Rev 17:6; 18:24). In fact, on her YHVH lays all the blood of all who were slain on the earth (Rev 18:24). This is an extensive and vast-reaching religious-political-economic system and is more than just one city or one nation. In fact, this murderous system seems to be the end times culmination of an anti-Elohim system that has existed going a long way back in human history (cp. Matt 23:29–35). This system is much larger and older than any single country or city, although an end times city may be representative of that evil system. For example, New York City houses the headquarters of the United Nation thus making it the de facto head of the world politically. The City of London, on the other hand, is the largest banking center in the world (with New York City number two). Similarly, Rome where the Vatican is located, is the head of the largest church in the world, which is the Roman Catholic Church with approximately 1.2 billion members.
- The chief city of commercial Babylon is a deep water port (Rev 18:17–19). Both London and New York City are deep water ports. However, neither of these cities is on the top twenty lists of worldwide container shipping ports. New York is 27th and London isn’t even on the top fifty (http://www.geohive.com/charts/ec_ports.aspx and http://www.worldshipping.org/about-the-industry/global-trade/top-50-world-container-ports). Neither of these cities is on the top ten list of the world’s largest ports. Most of them are in Asia (http://www.marineinsight.com/marine/top-10-biggest-ports-in-the-world-in-2011/). They’re not even on the top ten list for the world’s busiest port regions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world%27s_busiest_port_regions). However, Revelation doesn’t say that Babylon has to be the largest seaport in the world, just that she’s a seaport, so New York and London should still be considered as possibilities as headquarters for commercial Babylon.
- The beast is a key international commercial center (Rev 17:2; 18:9–23).
- The Babylon the Great city is a major international center for commodities trading (Rev 18:11–16).
- Throughout these passages, Babylon is called a city, not nation. True, a city can be a symbol of a nation, but Revelation 18 speaks continually of nations, not a single nation, and of a city that rules over those nations, not a nation that rules over nations.
- Revelation 17 describes religious Babylon the Great as a religious system that has worldwide influence, and who is characterized by the colors purple and scarlet and who rides atop a beast, which is a worldwide political and economic system that has war-making capabilities and against which no one can stand. The beast (the nations of the world or the New World Order) that the woman rides will attack her and destroy her (Rev 17:15–18).
YHVH instructs his people to come out of commercial Babylon the Great. One can come out of a city, or a religious system, but it’s a lot harder to come out of an entire country when there are legal obstacles to doing this. For his people to come out of a nation, it must be possible to do so. If America is Babylon the Great, and YHVH’s people are to leave this nation, then where are they to go? To Mexico or Canada? To Israel or Jordan, as people biblical prophecy teachers are suggesting? Good luck! Can can visit some of these places, but it’s difficult if not impossible to live there legally unless you have connections or have a steady outside source of income.
By the time YHVH admonishes his people to exit commercial Babylon, the kings of the earth have destroyed Mystery Babylon the Great, assuming that Revelation 17 and 18 occur chronologically (based on the “after these things” phrase of Rev 18:1).
Commercial Babylon the Great will be destroyed by Yeshua at his second coming (Rev 19).
Though in this discussion we may not have answered the question of who exactly is religious and commercial Babylon the Great, we can see that they are separate but co-dependent entities that have a tenuous relationship.
We have a couple of candidates that we can definitely consider as leaders of Babylon the Great, if nothing else. As of this writing, no other city in the world can claim more religious influence than the Vatican, and no other city can claim more political (and by extension, economic influence) than New York City, which houses the United Nations. To this writer’s thinking, just because these two cities are located in two countries doesn’t mean that Italy and America are Babylon the Great. History shows us that ancient Babylon was a city, and was the capital of an empire called Babylonia. When the city was destroyed, so was the empire. Even though typically, the fate of a country’s major city ends up being the fate, more or less, of the nation that houses that city, this author thinks that it is playing fast and loose with the facts to call America Babylon the Great, and then be urging people to leave the nation just because it has some of the attributes of ancient Babylon. This is spiritual recklessness! Other nations and empires over the millennia have come and gone that could just as easily have fit under the moniker of Babylon the Great according to the criteria that some prophecy teachers have used to label America as Babylon the Great. Such examples include the Roman Empire, the British Empire and maybe even in a certain sense Nazi Germany during the height of its power.
In conclusion, we urge the reader to be careful about getting caught up in the hysteria where prophetic pronouncements are being made by so-called biblical prophecy experts, who are whipping the people up through fear. There is a great tendency among some well known prophecy teachers in the mainstream church and in the Hebrew roots movement to take the day’s news headlines and cram them to fit and paint them to match with the prophecies of the Bible. Over the decades, many of us have watched countless prophecy teachers fail at this activity. So be careful, and don’t believe everything you see or hear. In the mean time, as Yeshua admonished his disciples, watch and pray (Matt 26:41; Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36 cp. Matt 24:42; 25:13; Mark 13:35–37; 14:38).