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Mystery Babylon The Great: Who Is It?

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication (Revelation 14:8).


Many speculations have been raised over the identity of “Mystery Babylon”. Is it a country, empire or system of some sort? Is it symbolic or literal? Is Babylon religious, commercial or political? What does the Bible have to say about this mysterious Babylon?

During the tribulation period there will be a nation that will rule over the Antichrist and his ten-nation kingdom (Revelation 17:1-18). They will dictate what the Antichrist can and cannot do for the first part of the tribulation period. They will be a formidable dynasty of that time period. Not only will this country have great worldwide political power, it will also be very wealthy and religious in nature. Notice in the description that Babylon is pictured as a harlot riding a beast (Antichrist). The beast has ten horns (revived Roman Empire) representing ten nations, which are subject to the beast. In essence, Mystery Babylon will allow the beast and the ten nations to act as a power of their own, but she will remain very much in control. As stated earlier, this will change toward the middle of the tribulation period.

So what or who is this Mystery Babylon? How should it be interpreted? Dr. Thomas Ice, Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, believes Mystery Babylon will be the literal city of Babylon. He states in his article, Babylon In Bible Prophecy, “Down through church history most Bible interpreters have thought that Babylon was some kind of code word for some other entity, like the Roman Empire, Roman Catholicism, apostate Christianity, or even the United States or Great Britain. However, I believe that just like Israel always refers to Israel in the Bible, so also Babylon always refers to Babylon (Pre-Trib Research Center).”

I would agree with Mr. Ice if the Bible referred to this city/state as Babylon. It does not and I think for good reason. One, I believe it was referred to as Mystery Babylon because it was intended to be a mystery until the time appointed. The Apostle John may not have even known its identity at the time. Second, it may have been called Mystery Babylon due to the fact this city/state or nation had yet to come onto the world scene. Meaning…it was not a city/state or nation known to the world at that time. Nowhere in the Bible is a city/state or nation, yet to be born (Australia, United States, London, New York City, etc.), addressed by its future name. Certainly, there are examples specified of future Biblical dynasty’s (Daniel 2, 7, 8 & 11) to come, but no modern day names are ever given unless that nation was also known of that time.

This leads me to this conclusion. Although many Bible scholars denounce this conclusion, I am convinced Mystery Babylon is the United States. Many believe that in the years to come the economic tide will turn toward the European Union and lead to the decline of America. For years I have heard the cries of world economists predicting the coming stock market crash, the collapse of the dollar (all fueled by an out-of-control deficient), and the impending doom of the American economic structure as we know it.

Some in the prophecy world believe, once the rapture takes place, the US will suffer a great population decline that will reduce them to the status of a third world country. If that is the case, their rapture prediction is a whole lot more liberal than mine. Conservatively, I see between 45 and 75 million people (15-25% of total pop.) being raptured from the US. With a total US population of over 300 million and climbing, that would leave between 225 and 255 million people behind. It hasn’t been that long since the US was at those population figures (1990; 249 mil.). And as far as their superpower status is concerned, all advanced military technology and nuclear weapons will be left behind and fully functional. I can’t see how the rapture of the church will negatively affect or change the US military might that is still on the ground. The US will still remain the sole world superpower before and after the rapture of the church.

Now let’s move onto the economic side. I believe America will continue to be financially strong up until the end. They may have a few bumps in the road, as they are experiencing now, but I don’t see anything major that they will not be able to overcome. According to a fall 2012 Stratfor financial report, of the three major world economies (US, China, and EU), the US was believed to be in the best financial shape.

It’s very possible the Antichrist may rise to global prominence through his economic plan that brings the world markets back in harmony (Daniel 8:25). However, so goes the US economy will determine the strength and stability of the world economy. The Bible is clear wealthy nations will exist during the tribulation period (Revelation 18:10-19).

When the rapture occurs, the Christian influence will be taken out of America, and hedonism and materialism will shift into high gear. Revelation 18:13 proclaims that they will sell or do anything for profit, “… And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.”

Mystery Babylon is described more fully in Revelation 18 and bears a striking resemblance to the US. This chapter not only describes the demise of a country, but the magnitude of its greatness. Speaking about the magnitude of its greatness, the Bible states that after Mystery Babylon was destroyed, from a distance, the kings of the earth and merchants of the sea wept and moaned over her desolation, “And saying, alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, what city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! For in one hour is she made desolate (Revelation 18:16-19).”

Mystery Babylon is described in the Bible as a harlot. The only other nation called a harlot in the Bible was Israel. To be called a harlot by God is to infer that this end-times nation once had a relationship with God. As history attests, the US is a nation that was founded on the principles of the Bible and proudly displays the phrase “In God We Trust” on their currency. They are also Israel’s greatest friend and ally.

Mystery Babylon is further described as a country that is considered the greatest commercial profit center of its time. No other nation can even be compared to its great wealth. All the nations of the world have become rich due to their trade with this country. The merchants of this nation were known as the great men of the world. When it is destroyed world trade will be devastated. This will be a great worldwide lose both financially and politically. The destruction of this country will be so severe that it will be uninhabitable. Not even the light of one lamp will be found in this place. For in one day it will be reduced to rubble.

The reason for this total destruction is found in the above latter verses. “For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” You might say, “The United States has only been around for a little over two hundred years, why would God say that they have slain and shed the blood of the prophets?”

This passage has always been a problem for Bible scholars. However, no nation, other than Israel, has been guilty of shedding the blood of the prophets…not Rome or even ancient Babylon. Also mentioned in this verse is the worldwide shedding of the blood of the Saints. Certainly, that could include the Romans, the Muslims or any number of dynasties that have existed over the centuries. When I did a Greek search on the word “prophets” (G4396) found in Revelation 18:24, I discovered the word was the same throughout the New Testament even when referring to the Old Testament prophets. It could mean someone who had the gift of a prophet (preacher of the Gospel) or someone who foretells the future.

I believe it’s very possible God could be referring to the killing of the Saints and prophets of that day. You can bet, when the tribulation period commences, and the great slaughter of the Saints begins (Revelation 7:14-17), the US will commit its share of atrocities. I fully believe God’s two witnesses and the 144,000 witnesses will be considered prophets of that day as well (Acts 2:17-21). During the tribulation period, there will be a great slaughter of Christians around the world including in the US (Revelation 7:9-17). This truly will be a Godless time for mankind.

The Religious Side of Mystery Babylon

There is also a religious side to Mystery Babylon. Some believe, after the rapture occurs, that many of the religions of the world will band together and form a one-world religion to worship God in any way he/she may desire. It will not be a Christ centered religion but a one God under many different names religion…a type of freedom religion. After all, God is everywhere and goes by many names in different parts of the world. This will be their rationale.

The United Religions will probably place its headquarters at the Vatican and the Pope (possibly the false prophet) will be appointed to lead it. Although Rome will probably be the world headquarters, the United States will be its powerful ally. Charles C. Ryrie describes religious Babylon as follows:

Babylon will likely build on the remnants of the professing Christian church that existed before the Rapture. Professing Christians who will not be raptured will remain to form the base of this “church”. Tribulation saints, of course, will oppose this false church. The harlotry of this system will extend to “many waters,” which means to many people and will include alliances with leaders of the earth. In other words, the power of this church will be enhanced by political alliances (Ryrie, Charles, C., Revelation, Religious Babylon, p. 117).

God looks at this religious system as a harlot because it has become interwoven with the world. They have a form of God, but in reality, are no more than a religious order. They saw themselves as the church of Christ, but allowed themselves to be polluted with worldly lusts and the pleasures therein.

Religious Babylon is not a physical country with a standing army, but a literal system that will have worldwide influence in many powerful countries. Both the Antichrist and the religious system will use each other to gain position and power. But in the end, the false prophet, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, will betray religious Babylon and promote the Antichrist as God.

Scenario: Mystery Babylon Destroyed

This is the scenario that I see for religious and political Babylon. Future political Mystery Babylon is the United States. The United Religions (possibly World Council of Churches) is the religious side of the empire. Both will rule together as a wealthy and politically powerful partnership. The United Religions will rule from Rome and the United States will rule the world through the United Nations as it does today. At the beginning of the tribulation period, I believe the Antichrist will become the head of European Union. He and his ten kings will be global partners with the United States. For the first 3½ years the United States (Mystery Babylon) will control the Antichrist and his ten-nation confederacy.

At around the middle of the tribulation period, after Satan is defeated and removed from heaven, he will enter the Antichrist. This will start the beginning of the end for the US and the UR. For Satan would not be ruled over by God, and will not tolerate being ruled over by man either. God, at this time, will use the Antichrist and his kingdom to exact judgment upon this wicked nation.

And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled (Revelation 17:16- 17).

The Antichrist and his kingdom will turn on the United States, and whatever allies it may have, and launch an all-out nuclear attack. The destruction from the U.S. counter attack is not mentioned, but I’m sure there will be casualties. Not only are the United States and its allies (if any) defeated, the destruction is so dreadful that the land is no longer fit for use or to live on. This destruction would be consistent with what would happen during a nuclear attack.

The defeat is so swift and decisive it will leave the rest of the world terrified and shocked. For this was the greatest nation on the face of the earth and in one hour they have been completely destroyed. Kings, dignitaries, and businessmen are all left wondering what will happen next as they scramble to recoup losses and position themselves for what may happen with this dramatic change of power.

I also believe this will make way for (or make necessary) the Antichrist’s one world economic system and government. From this point on, no earthly power will be able to fight against him or stand in his way (Revelation 13).

Mystery Babylon: New York City Or Rome 

I’m certain many who will read this article will believe that it is not the entire US that will be Mystery Babylon since it is described many times in the Bible as a city (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18-19, 21). Most will in fact state that this great city is none other than New York City the financial capital of the world. Many believe it is this city alone that will be destroyed by the ten kingdoms of the Antichrist…never to be inhabited again.

If indeed, we are to believe Mystery Babylon is no larger than a single city, located within the boundaries of the most powerful nation of that day (Revelation 17:18), wouldn’t you think there would be a massive retaliation from the rest of that surviving nation? Destroying one major city (even the world financial center) of any great country would not prevent the rest of that nation from going forward and striking back militarily. It also would not prevent the purchase and distribution of goods from the merchants (Revelation 18:9-19) of the world. In the case of the US, there are many massive seaports along both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In my opinion, these key points create significant problems in the identifying of Mystery Babylon as a single city.

I suspect that many will discount my speculations right off the bat. However, if we are indeed living in the last of the last days as most Bible prophecy scholars believe, a city, state or country with the military and financial power of the United States better begin to rise up soon. Stratfor estimates it would take more than 20 years for a nation to eclipse the stature of the US. China has been rising for more than 20 years and has still fallen short. Frankly, I see no other nation for which the Bible says will reign over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:18) on the horizon. And if you’re honest with yourself, neither do you.

The preceding article on Mystery Babylon was taken from my book Rapture, Tribulation  Period, And Beyond! This is one example of many unique outlooks I have for the last days. If you are interested in learning about what will happen after the rapture, during the tribulation, the millennium, and on into the eternal state, in order, I would encourage you to pick up a copy. To purchase a copy click here.

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Terry Malone

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