Many have speculated as to the identity of Mystery Babylon described in Revelation. The word "Babylon" comes from the Hebrew word "babel," meaning "confusion."1 As in the days of Nimrod, when the tower of Babel was built, so it is in these last days. Even after the Great Flood, self-exaltation emerged once again with Noah's great-grandson Nimrod. Genesis 10:10 tells us that the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, in the land of Shinar. The people had become as one, with one language, and together began to build a tower to "reach unto heaven." God was not pleased with their attempt to reach Heaven by their own devices so He brought confusion and scattered the people over the whole earth.2 We need to consider this: How will God deal with the opposition from apostate man in the last days?
In John's visitations by angels, he was shown every aspect of the last days and the end that awaits all who have opposed God. The words of God are clear as to the role this great harlot will play: "[And] Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath . . . And there came one of the seven angels that had the seven bowls, and spake with me, saying Come hither; I will shew thee the judgment of the great harlot [idolater]3 that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication [idolatry]4, and they that dwell in the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication [idolatry]." (Revelation 16:19 & 17:1-2). In Revelation 17:15, the angel identified the "many waters" as "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."
Keeping in mind that words like "harlot" and "fornication" indicate unfaithfulness to God, it becomes easier to understand the depth of evil in Mystery Babylon. This is not a rebuilt Babylon of ancient times, but a Mystery Babylon having a spiritual impact on the nations of the world. The great harlot has sold her adulterous gods of materialism and her anti-God "gospel" to the kings of the earth. Riches and all of the things that please the senses have become the gods of the people of Mystery Babylon.
Written on the forehead of the great harlot were the words, "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." (Revelation 17:5). This Mystery Babylon has given birth to the apostate church, with its idolaters and disgusting idolatries (abominations) that have spread around the world. John saw the great harlot "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." (Verse 6). Being already drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs, she had enticed many into apostasy. But God, being God and knowing all things, has put in the hearts of the nations to join with the beast in his hatred for the harlot to destroy her in one day.5 The beast wants no competition in his bid to rule the nations of the world.
John heard a voice from Heaven, calling the people to come out of the great harlot and to avoid being subjected to the plagues which will come upon her. "God has remembered her iniquities," and the voice calls for the harlot to be repaid doubly according to her sinful deeds. John heard the words, "To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, 'I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.'" In one day, bringing pestilence, mourning and famine, the judgment of God will burn her with fire.6
As John was shown, the greatness of the materialistic harlot had become well known and had great power in the world. It is little wonder the beast hated this self-exalting city! Her destruction had a profound effect that rippled around the globe. The people "were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What city is like the great city?' And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth [magnificence]7, for in one hour she has been laid waste!'" (Revelation 18:18-19 NAS). The great harlot had become puffed up and arrogant as she spread her prosperity "gospel" to many nations. But worst of all, she is the "Mother of Harlots," causing many to worship another god. Before Jesus returns, the true God will leave no error hidden--all will be exposed. John was instructed to say, "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her." (Revelation 18:20 NAS).
After writing of the total destruction which will befall the great harlot, John wrote, "[F]or your merchants [tradesmen]8 were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived [caused to roam from truth]9 by your sorcery [poison]10. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." (Revelation 18:23b-24 NAS). She was guilty of the blood of those who had given their lives for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. "After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, 'Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication [idolatries]11; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.'" (Revelation 19:1-2 NKJV).
With the definitions of some Greek words added, the bible presents a chilling profile as to the identity of the "great harlot" who has caused so many to be unfaithful to Jesus. We must always go back to the beginning of time and the fall of man when attempting to understand the strong language used in the bible. Of even greater importance is the relationship that God desires with mankind. So THAT must be the standard by which we gauge the vital messages of His written word. It has always been about the relationship of God and His "wife" Israel, and ultimately Jesus and His Bride, the TRUE Ekklesia.
1. Hebrew #894
2. Genesis 11:1-9
3. Greek #4204
4. Greek #4202
5. Revelation 17:17
6. Revelation 18:4-8 NAS
7. Greek #5094
8. Greek #1713
9. Greek #4105
10. Greek #5331 & #5332
11. Greek #4202