The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT
- The word
"Babylon" is found 294 times in the Bible. The first time it is found is in II Kings 17:24,
"And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and
from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the
children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities
- Though the nation of Babylon is not mentioned until the
book of II Kings, we see references in the early chapters of the book of
- Genesis 10:8-10
says, "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in
the earth. He was a mighty hunter
before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before
the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and
Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
- Then in the next chapter, Genesis 11, we read about the
Tower of Babel.
- H.A. Ironside refers to Nimrod as "the arch-apostate of
the patriarchal age," and to Babylon as "the fountainhead of idolatry, and the
mother of every heathen and pagan system in the world"
the history of Babylon helps us to properly interpret chapters 17 and 18 of
Revelation, which describe the destruction of Babylon in both its ecclesiastical
and political forms.
- Chapter 17
deals with ecclesiastical or religious Babylon, and chapter 18 deals with
- In these two
chapters, the last stage of counterfeit religion is revealed as it will be in
existence in the period leading up to the second coming of
- The first seven
verses in chapter 17 feature a series of visions, and then in verses 7 through
18 we have the interpretation of these visions (cf. 17:12, 15,
- John is shown a vision of the judgment of Babylon, which
represents God's judgment upon false religion (17:1). He is shown this by one of
the seven angels which had the seven vials (17:1).
- John is invited to behold the judgment of "the great
whore" (17:1). In the Bible, the
true church is called "the bride of Christ" (cf. 19:7-9; Ephesians 5:22-33), but
the false church is pictured as a whore or harlot.
- She is seen sitting on many waters (17:1, 15),
indicating she is world-wide or ecumenical. The word "Catholic" means,
- John Walvoord says, "The interpretation of 'waters' is
that these are the many nations ruled by Babylon" (The Revelation of Jesus
- In both the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation,
there are important prophecies regarding the revival of the Roman Empire. Today this revived Roman Empire would be
in the form of the European Union (EU). Today, all of the leaders of the EU are
Roman Catholic, and their position is anti-Biblical.
- The EU constitution has banned any mention of
Christianity as part of Europe’s cultural heritage, but it includes references
to the pagan civilizations of Greece and Rome. EU government
representatives have defended this revisionist view of history by claiming any
mention of Christian values would upset the Muslim population of the
- The pope is always meddling in the affairs of other
countries. For example, just
recently the pope denounced the American economic embargo against
- And the pope is frequently meddling in the Middle East
-- Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and of course in Israel.
THE WHORE IS VERY POLITICAL
- The woman is
described as having committed fornication with the kings of the earth, and the
inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication
- This is a
picture of a wicked religious system guilty of spiritual adultery -- "portraying
those who outwardly and religiously seem to be joined to the true God but who
are untrue to this relationship" (Walvoord).
- The symbolism
of spiritual adultery is never used for heathens who do not know God. It is always used to describe people who
outwardly carry the name of God while actually worshiping and serving other
- In the Old
Testament, the concept of spiritual adultery is frequently used to describe the
apostasy and idolatry of Israel (cf. Jeremiah 3; Ezekiel 16 and 23;
- In the Old
Testament, Jehovah is described as the husband of Israel (cf. Isa. 54:1-8; Jer.
- In the New
Testament the church is pictured as a virgin prepared to be joined to her
husband in the future (II Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7-9).
- In the
meantime, Christians are warned about the danger of spiritual adultery (James
- The alliance of
the apostate church with the political powers of the world "compromises her
testimony in every way but has the devastating effect of inducing religious
drunkenness on the part of the inhabitants of the earth"
to many people Roman Catholicism and liberal Protestantism and heretical
Pentecostalism represent New Testament Christianity.
- Walvoord says, "False religion is always the worst enemy
of true religion, and the moral wickedness involved in the union of the church
with the world imposes a stupefying drunkenness as far as spiritual things are
concerned. The hardest to win to Christ and the most difficult to instruct in
spiritual truth are those who have previously embraced false religion with its
outward show of a worship of God. The concept here presented, enlarging on the
previous revelation in 14:8, makes plain that the apostate church has eagerly
sought and solicited the adulterous relation with the world political powers and
therefore is primarily to be blamed."
THE WHORE IS CONTROLLED BY THE BEAST
- In verse 3,
John is carried away in the spirit into a place described as the wilderness.
From this vantage point John is able to see the woman referred to in verse 1 as
the great whore.
- The great whore
is seen seated on a scarlet-colored beast which is full of the names of
blasphemy and which has seven heads and ten horns. This scarlet beast is the
same one described in 13:1, i.e., the antichrist.
- The fact that
the woman is riding the beast signifies that she represents ecclesiastical power
as distinct from the beast who represents political power.
- It is not clear
if the whore is controlling the beast, or the beast is controlling the whore
(cf. 17:3). Her position is that of riding the beast, indicating on
the one hand that she is supported by the political power of the
- On the other
hand, she is in a dominant role and appears to control and direct the
beast. Interestingly, this harlot riding a beast was used when
Great Britain issued a stamp to commemorate the first EU parliament election in
- This picture of the harlot riding the beast is now the
official picture of the EU, and is painted on the dome of the parliament
building in Brussels. When I
visited Italy a number of years ago I noticed it was also on their
parenthetical section (Revelation 17 & 18) is not in chronological
sequence. It has been pointed
out that the situation described here in chapter 17 is probably prior in time to
the prophecies in Revelation 13, where the beast has already assumed all power
and has demanded that the world should worship him as God (cf.
- The fact that
the whore, "representing the apostate church, is in such close association with
the beast, which is guilty of utter blasphemy, indicates the depth to which
apostasy will ultimately descend. The only form of a world church recognized in
the Bible is this apostate world church destined to come into power after the
true church has been raptured" (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus
- The picture of
the harlot as arrayed in purple and scarlet and decked with gold, precious
stones, and pearls is very familiar to those of us who are acquainted with the
worldly ecclesiastical pomp of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.
- Walvoord says, "Purple and scarlet, symbolically so rich
in their meaning when connected with true spiritual values, are here prostituted
to this false religious system and designed to glorify it with religious garb in
contrast to the simplicity of pious adornment (cf. I Tim. 2:9, 10)" (The
Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- Alford states, “I do not hesitate therefore…to maintain
that interpretation which regards papal and not pagan Rome as pointed out by the
harlot of this vision."
- In verse 4, the whore has a golden cup in her hand
described as “full of abomination and filthiness of her fornication.”
- Again I will quote Dr. Walvoord, "The Word of God does
not spare words in describing the utter filthiness of this adulterous
relationship in the sight of God. Few crimes in Scripture are spoken of in more
unsparing terms than the crime of spiritual adultery of which this woman is the
epitome. As alliance with the world and showy pomp increase, so spiritual truth
and purity decline" (The Revelation of Jesus
THE NAME OF THE WHORE
- Upon the
forehead of the woman was written her name described as “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE
GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH”
- The word "mystery"
distinguishes the whore from literal Babylon or historical Babylon.
- Walvoord says,
"It has been commonly held that the title 'Babylon the Great' assigned to this
woman is not a reference to Babylon as a city or to Babylonia as a nation but a
religious designation, namely, that the woman corresponds religiously to what
Babylon was religiously. The meaning is made clear by her description as 'the
mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.' It has been noted by many
writers that the iniquitous and pagan rites of Babylon crept into the early
church and were largely responsible for the corruptions incorporated in Roman
Catholicism from which Protestantism separated itself in the Middle Ages"
(The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
Protestantism has not completely separated itself from Rome. That is why Protestant ministers often
wear colorful robes, baptize babies, and conduct ritualistic and formal
- Someone said,
"If you would take all of the Roman Catholicism out of a Protestant church,
you'll wind up with a Baptist church."
- As I mentioned
earlier, the subject of Babylon is one of the prominent themes of the Bible
beginning in Genesis 10, and continuing throughout the Scriptures climaxing here
in the book of Revelation.
- By studying
these various passages, we come to realize that in Scripture Babylon is the name
for a great system of religious error.
- Babylon is the
idolatrous counterfeit religion which plagued Israel in the Old Testament as
well as the church in the New Testament.
- In the early
days of the apostolic era, the spirit of Babylon moved the church from Biblical
simplicity to apostate confusion.
- Walvoord says, "In keeping with the satanic principle of
offering a poor substitute for God’s perfect plan, Babylon is the source of
counterfeit religion sometimes in the form of pseudo Christianity, sometimes in
the form of pagan religion. Its most confusing form, however, is found in
Romanism" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- In addition to what we learn from Scripture, ancient
historical accounts tell us that the wife of Nimrod, who founded the city of
Babylon, became the head of the so-called Babylonian mysteries which consisted
of secret religious rites which were developed as a part of the worship of idols
- "She was known by the name of Semiramis and was a high
priestess of the idol worship. According to extrabiblical records which have
been preserved, Semiramis gave birth to a son who she claimed was conceived
miraculously. This son, given the name of Tammuz, was considered a savior of his
people and was, in effect, a false messiah, purported to be the fulfillment of
the promise given to Eve. The legend of the mother and child was incorporated
into the religious rites and is repeated in various pagan religions"
- "Idols picturing the mother as the queen of heaven with
the babe in her arms are found throughout the ancient world, and countless
religious rites were introduced supposedly promising cleansing from sin. Though
the rites which were observed in the Babylonian false religion differed greatly
in various localities, there usually was a priestly order which furthered the
worship of the mother and child, practiced the sprinkling of holy water, and
established an order of virgins dedicated to religious prostitution. Tammuz, the
son, was said to have been killed by a wild beast and afterward brought back to
life, obviously a satanic anticipation of the resurrection of Christ"
- In his excellent commentary on the book of Revelation,
John Walvoord notes that "there are a number of allusions to the conflict of the
true faith with this pseudo religion.
Ezekiel protests against the ceremony of weeping for Tammuz in Ezekiel
8:14. Jeremiah mentions the heathen
practices of making cakes for the queen of heaven (Jer. 7:18) and offering
incense to the queen of heaven (Jer. 44:17-19, 25)...Babylon as an evil woman is
portrayed in the prophecy of Zechariah 5:1-11 where the woman of verse 7 is
described as personifying wickedness in verse 8" (The Revelation of Jesus
- "The worship of Baal, characteristic of pagan religion
in Canaan, was another form of this same mystery religion originating in
Babylon. Baal is considered identical to Tammuz"
- "The doctrines of the mystery religions of Babylon seem
to have permeated the ancient world, giving rise to countless mystery religions,
each with its cult and individual beliefs offering a counterfeit religion and a
counterfeit god in opposition to the true God revealed in the Scriptures"
- "The Babylonian cult eventually made its way to other
cities including Pergamos, the site of one of the seven churches of Asia. The
chief priests of the Babylonian cult wore crowns in the form of the head of a
fish, in recognition of Dagon the fish god, with the title 'Keeper of the
Bridge,' that is, the 'bridge' between man and Satan, imprinted on the crowns"
- The Roman equivalent of the title, Pontifex Maximus, was
used by the Caesars and later Roman emperors, and was also adopted as the title
for the bishop of Rome. To
this day, Biblically illiterate worldlings refer to the pope of Rome as "the
- In the early centuries of the church in Rome, incredible
confusion arose; and attempts were made to combine some of the features of the
mystery religion of Babylon with the Christian faith, a confusion which has
continued down to the present day.
- Walvoord says, "It is a sad commentary on contemporary
Christendom that it shows an overweening desire to return to Rome in spite of
Rome’s evident apostasy from true biblical Christianity. In fact, modern
liberalism has far outdone Rome in its departure from the theology of the early
church, thus has little to lose by a return to Romanism. Apostasy, which is seen
in its latent form today, will flower in its ultimate form in this future
superchurch which will apparently engulf all Christendom in the period after the
rapture of the church."
- According to their catechism and according to statements
made over the years by their popes, the Roman Catholic Church professes to be
the "only true Church of Christ."
- They quote the Nicene Creed, which refers to "the one,
holy, catholic, and apostolic church."
- The Nicene Creed was adopted in 325 AD at the First
Council of Nicaea. One of the purposes for this
Council was to formulate a creed, a declaration and summary of the Christian
faith, in order to refute the Arians (followers of Arius) and other heretics who
denied the deity of Christ.
- These various creeds are helpful, but they are not
authoritative. Only the Bible is
authoritative, and the Bible does not say there is "one holy, catholic, and apostolic
- The emphasis in the New Testament is the local
- Furthermore, if
any church claims to be the one true or apostolic church, then their teachings should line up
- But the
teachings of the RCC contradict Scripture.
- Here in this
great NYC area we know many, many Roman Catholics. Many of them think of themselves as
- We must show
them what the Bible says.
Jesus said in John 3:7, "Ye
must be born again."
- And I
heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be
not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev.