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Exploring Revelation
“Revelation 17:18”
by Art Sadlier   
July 18th, 2010

 “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” Revelation 17:18

The woman is the harlot church and the great city is Rome, both are referred to as Babylon.

The first Babylon was on the Euphrates River in Iraq.  The second Babylon is the city of Rome.  Babylon is not just a city, but a system; a religious political system, government and religion united to make:

  1. An earthly Utopia (without God) by human effort,
  2. A religion to reach heaven by human effort.    Its goal is to unite the world in this effort.

The destruction of the city of Babylon – (not the system) by the Medo-Persians (539 BC) Jeremiah 51:11.  This was prophesied for the immediate future, not 2500 years later.  “And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant," Jeremiah 51:35-37.

J. Vernon McGhee: “Note that this utter desolation is to follow not some future overthrow, but the sack of the city resulting from the turning aside of the waters of the river. The Euphrates which flowed directly through Babylon was diverted from its course, which left an entryway at each end for warriors of the enemy to enter under the walls in the dry riverbed, by this maneuver they were able to appear suddenly in the streets and take the city by surprise.

The destruction was to be complete – Jeremiah 51:29, 37, 43. “Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses; cast her up in heaps, and destroy her utterly: Let nothing be left of her,” Jeremiah 50:26.

J. Vernon McGhee: “You can look at Babylon today; it is a heap of ruins. It was utterly destroyed!"

Smith’s Bible Dictionary (page 31): “Babel, Babylon (Gate of God). Capital on the plain of Shinar, Gen10:10. Built, 2600 B.C., on both sides of the River Euphrates, a vast square, 56 miles in circuit. About 5 miles above Hillah, on the east bank of the river, are a great many artificial mounds of enormous size in three groups. Scarcely a trace of these walls can be found now, except it may be a few mounds which are supposed to mark some of the gates.” (page 219) “330 B.C. Alexander found the great temple of Belus in so ruined a condition that it would have required the labour of 10,000 men for two months even to clear away the rubbish with which it was encumbered. His designs for the restoration of the temple and general embellishment of the city were frustrated by his untimely death, and the removal of the seat of the empire to Antioch under the Seleucide gave the finishing blow to the prosperity of the place.”

Since then, Babylon has been a quarry from which all the tribes in the vicinity have perpetually derived the bricks with which they have built their cities. The “great city,” “the beauty of the Chaldee’s excellency”, has thus emphatically “become heaps” (Jer.51:37) She is truly “an astonishment and a hissing, without inhabitant.” Her walls have altogether disappeared – they have “fallen”, (Jer. 51:44) been ”thrown down”, (50:15) been ”broken utterly”, (51:58) A “drought has been upon her waters” (50:38), for the system of irrigation, on which Babylonia fertility altogether depends has long been laid aside; ”her cities” are everywhere “a desolation” (51:43) her “land a wilderness;” wild beasts of the desert: (jackals) “lie there”, and the “owls dwell there”. The natives regard the whole site as haunted, and neither will the “Arab pitch tent, nor the shepherd fold sheep there.” (Isaiah 13:20).

The destruction was to be final (never to be restored again – Jer. 50:39, 51:44, 62, 64,   Isaiah 13:20,21   Isaiah 13: 19  The reference to the overthrow of Sodom & Gomorrah may be a prophetic reference to Rev. 17:16, which refers to the yet future destruction of the second (Eschatological) Babylon. This is not an uncommon device in the prophetic scriptures.   For example Isaiah 9:6,7 is a prophetic reference to two separate events at least 2000 years apart with no explanation given.  Also Isaiah 61:2 is a prophetic reference to two separate events at least 2000 years apart with no explanation.

The Second (Eschatological) BABYLON is not literal historical Babylon - Excerpts from Feinberg (page 329) ”The reason is that the Apostle John is not speaking of literal, historical Babylon. First - he uses the word “mystery” with reference to Babylon. This conveys the force of a mystical Babylon. Second – The book of Revelation uses proper nouns figuratively: 1- Jezebel (2:20); 2- The key of David (3:7); 3- Jerusalem (The new) comes down out of heaven (21:2, 10); 4- Sodom and Egypt (11:8); 5- Gog and Magog (20:8); not the same geographical areas of Ezek. 38 and 39.  6- Babylon in chapters  Rev.17-18 is not the city of Mesopotamia, which was situated on a plain, (see 17:9,18)”

The chief references to Babylon are in Genesis, the Prophetic Books and Revelation. The references indicate that the city of old signified spiritual confusion (Gen. 11). The apostle John states that the idolatry of ancient times will come to a head in an ecclesiastical and political colossus with many commercial ramifications (Rev. 17-18). It will encompass all anti-God systems (cults and religions) concentrated in a vast ecclesiastical system. “Rome alone answers to the description given," H.A. Ironside.

Excerpts from Ironsides- (page 297)”The federation of the future will be utterly godless and God-defiant. When that league is formed it will be but natural that a confederacy of all religious systems will be wrought out, and this too will be satanic in character. It will be a union of Christless professors, inheriting all the human and demonical mysteries of Babylon. In other words all sects will be swallowed up in one distinctively Babylonian system that has ever maintained the cult of the mother and the child. This system will for the first part of the tribulation period dominate the civil power. Thus the woman will be in the saddle again and ride the beast. He who has eyes to see and a heart to understand can readily discern the preparations now in progress, with this very end in view.

Identification of Eschatological Religious Babylon - We see six identifying marks:

Fornication with the kings of the earth, (Rev.17:2, 18:3). There is no other city in the world which can claim a special relationship with global, political leaders, yet being in nature itself strictly religious. Over many centuries the Roman Catholic Church has committed spiritual fornication because it claims to be the church of Christ and yet it has entered into union with Anti-God political entities.

Wealth and splendour of the Church of Rome - (Rev. 17:4). The Roman Catholic Church is the wealthiest organization in the world. Much of that wealth came from the sale of salvation (indulgences).  

  • “arrayed in purple and scarlet color and clothed and decked with gold and precious stones”. If you have seen Roman Catholic ritual, you will recognize this verse.
  • “having a golden cup in her hand”. There are many thousands of gold chalices in Catholic Churches around the world.

The immorality of the Church of Rome - (Rev.17:4), “Full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” The unnatural vow of celibacy has filled the Catholic Priesthood with sexual fornication for a thousand years.

Mystery Babylon - Rome’s new catechism explains that liturgy aims “to initiate souls into the mystery of Christ." Mystery is at the very heart of Catholicism.

The Martyrs of Jesus – (Rev. 17:5)  There is no city in the world where the blood of the martyrs of Jesus was shed more than in Rome. Only Rome qualifies, not historical Babylon.

The Seven Hills – (Rev. 17:9) from verse 18, we learn that the woman was a city or identified with a city on seven hills. Rome is the city that sits on seven hills.

Is there not cause for judgment?  With whom does God have a controversy? Ancient Babylon which has not existed for 2300 years, or Religious Babylon who has martyred millions of God’s dear children over the last 1500 years, and who will martyr multiplied millions more, in the tribulation period.

With whom does God have a controversy? The ancient city of Babylon which has not been populated for 2300 years, and did not even exist to reign over the kings of the earth. Or with Religious Babylon who has committed spiritual fornication with the kings of earth for 1500 years and will do so with Antichrist and his kingdom in the future.

How does this apply today?  The last days apostasy of the Laodicean/Evangelical church are now upon us. A part of that apostasy is a widespread ecumenical movement among evangelicals. It has swept through the Evangelical Church bringing evangelicals and Catholics together. I believe the future of the ecumenical movement is in a union with the Harlot Church which Antichrist will use. The infrastructure for the World Church and the World Government has now been laid and awaits the signal to take over the world. The trumpet is soon to sound! 

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