A Mystery in Four Parts

 The EIGHT mysteries of babylon “…on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”

MYSTERY NO. 1 WHERE IS BABYLON TODAY?

Pity that great and powerful city! In a single hour her judgment has come.”   (Rev.  18:10)     

We will show what Babylon is, to be much more crucial than where she is. But let’s consider her location. Rome, New York and Jerusalem are cities many interpreters have identified as “Babylon the Great”. Yet John saw one who “sits on many waters” (Rev 17:1) meaning she wields vast influence over “peoples, nations and languages  (Rev. 17:15) … and “over rulers of the world.” (17:16)  Is there a single city today that can make such an extraordinary claim? Whatever this Biblical figure  symbolizes, she clearly possesses global clout of the first magnitude.

MYSTERY NO. 2: IS BABYLON THE APOSTATE CHURCH?

Every ruler on earth who shared in her luxury will weep for her. Every merchant will mourn, since  there is no one to buy their goods  (Rev. 18: 9,11)   

Since the Reformation, interpreters have described Babylon as the apostate Roman Church. Why just Catholics?   I have known many leaders of major main-line Protestant groups who no longer believe in the  resurrection of Christ. What can be more apostate than that? But let’s say we got all apostates together as one. Would they even come close to matching the wide-spread influence ascribed to this global super-power?

Who Grieves Her Destruction? If all apostates suffered Babylon’s destruction, who would mourn? Surely not rulers and great merchants.  Yet we see merchants weeping for her. Why? They have lost buyers for their goods, i.e. markets. Rulers grieve their loss of her luxuries. These are financial and material losses, not religious. Many Interpreters believe “a woman” always symbolizes the true or apostate church. Yet we fail to find anything remotely religious about her in Revelation 17 and 18. All references to Babylon are secular, dealing with material wealth, not church or religious matters.

MYSTERY NO. 3: WHAT DOES PROSTITUTION SYMBOLIZE?

“with all your abominable idols you played the whore…took your colorful garments and beautiful jewels and gold and silver and made idols for yourself. Ezek.16                           

Babylon Loves Her Idols: The angel describes how Babylon’s gold cup  is filled with pornea, the Greek word for sexual immorality. Ezekiel 16 tells a similar story. This woman is Israel, who  is guilty of zanah (Hebrew for porneia, used 17 times here). Most translate it prostitution, a metaphor in the Bible for  idolatry. God judged Israel for her shameless idol worship, then restored her. But there is no redemption for this prostitute of Revelation. Like old Babylon, she is destroyed, never to be rebuilt. Their sins both represent idolatry. “Babylon is fallen,is fallen; and all the idols of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.” (Isaiah 21.9)   

Babylon is in Business. Why  does prostitution exist. Her patrons are guilty of fornication, but prostitutes sell their bodies for one thing—not sexual pleasure, but cash money. Those who mourn her grieve the loss of material things, not sexual favors. This single fact is vital to solving Babylon’s mystery.

Some Clues to Help us Solve the Mystery:

  1. Babylon possesses vast global influence and power, which shows she cannot be a single city
  2. Her strong political and economic connections indicate she is a secular entity, not a religious one.
  3. She has a cozy relationship with rulers and captains of commerce (merchants)
  4. Their “affair” isn’t so much sexual as financial.
  5. She is obsessed with luxurious living and conspicuous consumption.

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