Mystery Babylon, found in Revelation 17:5, is “that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth,” (Revelation 17:18).
Mystery Babylon is the sixth in a series of seven studies that we are doing on the mysteries of the Bible. This city will be the headquarters of the Antichrist during the tribulation. It is a mystery because ever since the ascension of Christ into heaven, this “city” has been active in opposing the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the earth. It is also a mystery because literal Babylon was destroyed and yet this “city” has been actively involved in international affairs.
One of the greatest ways to unravel this mystery is to check the cross references on Babylon in the Bible to see what the kings of this city have been up to throughout history. Then we will look at the religious practices of Babylon. Then, we should look for another city with similar characteristics to those found in Revelation 17 and 18 that has ties to Babylon. By this means, we can locate Mystery Babylon. However, do not rule out the possibility that God will use literal Babylon during the tribulation. As you may be aware, Babylon is being rebuilt. It is in Iraq. Have you been hearing about Iraq in the news lately?
Here are some of the things that we can find about Babylon from a study of the Bible:
1. Its original founder was Nimrod, who is the 13th from Adam (Genesis 10: 8-10). You might recall that 13 is the number of rebellion. Revelation 13 is the chapter that contains the mark of the beast and shows us the Satanic trinity of the Devil (the Dragon, 13:2), the Antichrist (the beast out of the sea, 13:1-10), and the false prophet (the beast out of the earth, 13:11-15). Nimrod’s kingdom was Babel (Genesis 10: 10, 11: 1-9). Babel (Babylon) was in the land of Shinar (Genesis 10: 10), which is modern-day Iraq.
2. The next king of Babylon that we see is Berodachbaladan, found in 2 Kings 20:12. He is the king that sent men and a present to Hezekiah after Hezekiah recovered from his sickness. Isaiah told Hezekiah that because he let these men see the kingdom, they would return to destroy Jerusalem and take the men of Judah captive. The king of Babylon that actually destroyed Jerusalem was Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24: 1). A study of Nebuchadnezzar from 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah and Daniel reveals that Nebuchadnezzar is a perfect type of the Antichrist.
3. According to Alexander Hislop, in his book, The Two Babylons, we find historical evidence in Babylon for the following religious practices:
- The worship of the Mother and Child;
- The celebration of December 25th;
- The celebration of a spring fertility day;
- Baptismal regeneration;
- Justification by works;
- Idol worship; and
- Prayer beads, candles, the sign of the cross, priests, monks and nuns.
4. These religious practices are associated with the Roman Catholic Church today, where we find:
- The worship of Mary and the infant Jesus;
- The celebration of Christmas and Easter;
- Baptismal regeneration and justification by works;
- Purgatory and idol worship;
- and the rosary, candles, the sign of the cross, priests, monks and nuns.
Hislop’s premise is that the Roman Catholic Church has its roots in Babylon. Therefore, he concludes that Rome is Mystery Babylon.
5. Indeed, we find the work of the Devil connected with Rome:
- Jesus Christ was crucified under the Roman governor, Pilate;
- The Roman soldiers scourged him;
- The Roman soldiers took his garments;
- The Roman soldier pierced his side with a spear;
- Paul was tried in Rome and imprisoned in Rome;
- The Roman king, Herod, beheaded James (Acts 12);
- The Roman king, Herod, imprisoned Peter (Acts 12);
- The Roman king, Nero, killed Peter;
- The apostle John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos by Rome; and
- Throughout history, the Roman Catholic Church was responsible for the martyrdom of at least 5 million Christians in such things as the Inquisition.
6. By examining the characteristics of Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18, we find many similarities to the Roman Catholic Church:
- Her vestments: purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones and pearls (17:4, 18:16);
- Her golden cup (chalice, 17:4, 18:6);
- Her martyrdom of Christians (17:6, 18:24);
- Her seven mountains (17:9);
- Her worldwide religious influence (17:15);
- Her worldwide political influence (17:18, 18:9);
- Her wealth (18:3, 12-13, 17-19);
- Her veneration of the Queen of heaven (18:7, Jeremiah 44: 17-19); and
- Her might (18:10).
7. So, part of the mystery has been unraveled. There is definitely a connection between Rome and Babylon here. The part of the mystery that has not been unraveled is whether or not God will use literal Babylon in the next few years to accomplish some of the work of the Antichrist. With the current attention on Iraq, there is a good possibility that Babylon will once again be involved in the persecution of Israel.
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder