Literal Babylon vs. Mystery Babylon
The physical city of Babylon was originally built by Nimrod after the flood. It was located on the Euphrates River, about 55 miles south of where Baghdad, Iraq stands today. The name Babylon came from the Tower of Babel that was constructed there.
Babylon became a large city of global prominence around 1728 BC during the reign of Hammurabi. The glory years of Babylon were achieved under Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC). The city declined during the reign of Belshazzar, and came to ruin when Xerxes, the Persian king, destroyed it in 478 BC.
Thus, Jeremiah’s prophesied destruction of Babylon was accomplished, and, just as the prophecy said, it has never been inhabited to this day. Saddam Hussein launched a project to rebuild Babylon in the late 1980’s, but the effort was halted by Gulf War I and has yet to be resumed.
But if Babylon is never to be rebuilt, why are two entire chapters of the Book of Revelation devoted to the destruction of Babylon? And why is the destruction of Babylon clearly described as occurring at the time of Armageddon?
The Babylon described in Revelation is called “Mystery Babylon.” The prophecy of Mystery Babylon is found in Revelation 17:3-5.
“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
Who is Mystery Babylon?
A mystery is something secret or hidden — a thing that some understand while others do not. In Revelation 17, there are several clues given to the identity of Mystery Babylon. We will discuss four of them here.
Clue #1. Mystery Babylon is a city
Notice in the above prophecy that a woman is used to symbolize Mystery Babylon. Verse 18 of the chapter tells us that the woman is a city.
“And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”
Clue #2. Mystery Babylon presides over a vast international system
In verse 1, we are told that the woman sits on many waters. Verse 15 explains the meaning of the waters.
“And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
Not only is this woman a city, but the city is apparently the headquarters over a vast international system.
Clue #3. The city sits on 7 hills
In verse 3, we are told that the woman rides on a beast with 7 heads. Verse 9 reveals the meaning of the heads.
“And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.”
Remember, we’ve already learned that the woman is a city. This passage tells us that the city sits on seven mountains. There is a city on earth that is known as “The City of Seven Hills.” It’s the city of Rome.
But is Rome the headquarters for an international power that rules over “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues?”
The Vatican claims to rule over one billion Roman Catholics worldwide. Remember, this prophecy was written long before the Catholic Church existed and long before Rome became her headquarters.
Clue #4. She is clothed in purple and red
Revelation 17:4 “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:”
There are two ruling bodies in the Roman Catholic Church: The College of Cardinals and the College of Bishops and Archbishops. These two bodies are somewhat like the Senate and the House of Representatives here in the US.
An article appeared in The Criterion, a Roman Catholic publication, July 1, 1988. The article was entitled, “More than You Want to Know About Cardinals.” It stated, “Cardinals wear red, while non-Cardinal Bishops and Archbishops wear purple.”
So let’s review. Mystery Babylon is a city that sits on seven hills. Rome is known worldwide as “The City of Seven Hills.”
Mystery Babylon is to “sit” on peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues.” Rome is headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church, claiming one billion members worldwide.
Mystery Babylon is described as being clothed in purple and red. The official colors of the two ruling bodies of the Roman Church are purple and red.
One other factor should be understood. In Revelation 17, God chose to use a woman — a whore — to symbolize the Roman Catholic Church. Why?
It’s really very simple. In scripture, God always used a woman to symbolize a church. He used a virgin to represent His true church (II Corinthians 11:2), and He used a harlot to represent a false church — as he did in Revelation 17-19.
There can be only one conclusion: The Vatican is the Mystery Babylon of Revelation. And it is this false religious system that has deceived the people of the world that will be destroyed at the time of Armageddon.
By Irvin Baxter