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Babylon The Great - The Whore and the Beast
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MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. This statement comes from verse 5 of Revelation 17. John is telling us about something that we need to recognize. Many have theorized, speculated and debated this passage over the past 2000 years and there are many interpretations regarding it. Who is right? Is this a true mystery that we will never know until the time comes? It very well may be. Some theologians and scholars believe this Harlot (or mother of harlots) is referring to an economic system, other interpret it to be a religious system whereas others simply think it is just a great city and nothing more.
Personally, I don’t believe that the Harlot is an economic system because scripture never supports this interpretation. Never do the writers of the Old Testament refer to the economy as a harlot, nor do they call the people who conduct business adulterers. Something more significant is being alluded to here. I believe that the Harlot Babylon is a religious system. I believe it is separate, yet somehow interwoven with the great city of Babylon mentioned in Jeremiah 50-51 and later in Revelation 17-18.
Scripture supports the interpretation that the Harlot is a false religion so many theologians and scholars speculate that the Catholic Church is the harlot and Vatican City is the great city mention in Revelation 17. That is the mainstream thought, but many others believe that the harlot is the New Age movement (paganism and/or Earth worship), while others believe that the religion of Islam is the harlot.
Even at it’s worst, during the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic church did not execute people by beheading them. Most people agree that the philosophy behind the Spanish Inquisition was faulty and even the Catholic church knows this, (although they never openly apologized for their mistake). The Catholic Church today is more open to many Protestant philosophies than it ever was before. Although many Protestants will not agree with many of the Catholic doctrines, most of its members ultimately understand the Gospel of Christ and that it is the most important part. In either church, Catholic or Protestant, there are those who are saved and those who haven’t got a clue. Both churches have problems with some of their pastoral/clergy staff falling away, but their main doctrines about believing in Christ as Lord and Savior and repenting are similar.
The harlot of Revelation will condone the murdering and beheading of the saints. During the Spanish Inquisition, the people that the Catholic church was torturing or putting to death, were not "the Saints". The may have be Christian only by culture and name, but they were likely the unsaved. I'm sure there were many innocent people sufferring in the name of Righteousness, but I don't believe that the church was murdering people simply because they belived in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. There's no question that Catholic Church went too far and acted inappropriately, but was she truly martyring saints or just murdering in general?
There are, however, many denominations within the Protestant church that have “fallen away” from doctrines which are extremely important to maintaining the faith, doctrines such as: preaching that Hell is not real when the Bible speaks frequently about Hell. Jesus Himself spoke more about Hell than He did about Heaven. Preaching that there is no Hell, would be calling Jesus a liar. Below are just 4 of the many scriptures spoken about Hell. These are just four of the 28 times Jesus alone mentions Hell.
"But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22
"And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 8-11-12
"Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, "and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:40-42
"But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. Luke 13:27-28
For more scriptures on Hell (Sheol, Gehenna, Outer Darkness, Lake of Fire), also see: Deuteronomy 32:22; 2 Samuel 22:6; Job 11:18, 17:16, 26:6; Psalm 9:17, 16:10, 18;5, 55:15, 86:13, 139:8; Proverbs 5:5, 7:27, 9:18, 15:11, 15:24, 23:14, 27:20; Isaiah 5:14, 14:11, 14:15, 14:19, 28:15, 28:18, 38:10, 57:9; Ezekiel 31:15, 31:16, 32:21, 32:27; Jonah 2:2; Amos 9:2; Habakkuk 2:5; Matthew 5:29, 5:30, 10:28, 18:19, 13:50, 22:13, 23:15, 24:51, 25:30; Mark 9:43, 9:45, 9:47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 19:20, 20:10, 20:14, 20:15
Another current damnable heresy is allowing openly gay pastoral staff to lead a church or even or denomination in Christianity. Paul tells us what a church leader should be like:
This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; I Timothy 3:1-14
Within some of the Protestant denomination there are many heretical doctrines being taught. Allowing unrepentant sinners to be leaders in the church, preaching that there is no Hell or that all men/women go to Heaven, or that all religions are paths to God (the New Age Coexist belief), as well as many other unorthodox teaching/practices are far worse than anything the Catholic church is currently practicing. This is not just a matter of different interpretations; this is an open refusal to repent. Paul speaks specifically about all of the above:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; I Timothy 4:1-2
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.; II Timothy 4:3-4
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; II Thessalonians 1-3
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
II Peter 2:1-2
The above scriptures tell us that in the end times, some shall depart from the Truth of the Gospel and preach doctrines of demons. The word used in II Thessalonians for, “falling away” in Greek is “Apostosia”, which means “apostasy, defection or falling away”. Many people interpret this to mean that people will walk away from the church or the church will shrink in the “End Times”. Although this may be true apostosia also means that there will be a defection from the faith. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines defections as: conscious abandonment of allegiance or duty (as to a person, cause, or doctrine).
In this case, Paul is referring to religion, and since religion isn’t really a cause, Paul must be referring to a defection from doctrine. If we look at I & II Timothy, Paul is reiterating what he wrote to the Thessalonians about “falling away” He uses the phrases, “departing from the faith” and “they will not endure sound doctrine”. I & II Timothy, ultimately enforce the fact that it is doctrine that he is talking about and not a decrease in believers as many theologians speculate.
Many people fail to realize that doctrines of demons are most likely subtleties. The best lie is one that is closest to the truth. A doctrine of demons will not likely be some doctrine straight from the church of Satan, it will more likely be a lie that will use the Bible, but twist the scripture to allow sin to prevail in the church with no threat of punishment. The Unitarian Universalists preach that everyone makes it to Heaven and that it is okay to live in sin without repentance because God loves everyone and will not allow any to perish. There is some Truth in this idea because the Bible tells us that God loves us and wishes that no one should perish.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. II Peter 3:9
Peter tells us that in the scripture above, but what these false teachers do is to twist this scripture by dropping the rest of the sentence that follows “that any should perish”. The second part of the sentence is important because Peter tells us that God wants all to come to repentance. It is not only good enough to believe in Christ. You must repent of your sin as well. Sin produces bad fruit; Repentance leads to good fruit. Believing is simply not enough, one must repent and bear good fruit. Look at what St. James tells us:
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:17-20
And it’s not just the Unitarian Universalists. As I mentioned before, there are many Protestant denominations that are accepting openly unrepentant sinners to lead their churches. These are the false teacher that will teach doctrines of demons, preaching scripture, but by quoting the scripture out of context or changing a word or two to make it sound different in order that these preachers tell the people what their itching ears want to hear. Jesus warned us of them. He called them wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Matthew 7:13-20
So that brings us back to the original question, who is, “Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots”? What are her characteristics?
1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
If we take this apart, line by line, we can easily recognize a few characteristics about the Harlot:
- “1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:” In this first verse we learn that the woman sits on many waters. We are later told by John in Revelation 17:15 that the waters upon which the woman sits represents many peoples, tongues and nations. So we need to recognize that this false religion will encompass many languages and nations.
- “2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” John then explains that the Kings (leaders, president, kings, etc…) of the Earth will take part in this false religion. The Greek word here used for drunk, is “Methuo”. This can mean drunk, but it is often used as a metaphor for someone who has shed blood or murdered profusely. So if we are using the metaphor here we would assume that many of the leaders and inhabitants of the Earth who follow this false religion will take part in the shedding of blood.
- “3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” John explains that the angel carries him into the wilderness where John sees thewoman sitting on a scarlet colored beast. First we need to be aware that the woman is found in the wilderness. The Greek word used for wilderness is, “Eremos”, which means a desolate place, an uncultivated region, unfit for pasture, essentially a desert. Neither New York City nor Rome are located in or near the wilderness or any desert. There is certainly plenty of wilderness in the Middle East.
- “4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:” Now John tells us hear what the woman is wearing. Why would this be important? The color purple represent leadership. Kings usually wore purple robes. The Roman soldiers, when they took turns beating Jesus put a purple robe on him mocking calling him the king of the Jews: “And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.” (Mark15:17-20). Evidence of this can also be found in Judges 8:26, Song of Solomon 7:5, Daniel 5:7, 5:16, 5:29, Luke 16:19 and John 19:20. Since purple represents leadership, it is likely that this false religion will have a stronghold in world politics. John goes onto to explain that she holds a cup of abominations and filthiness. The Greek word for abominations is, “Bdelugma” which usually pertains to Idolatry of some form. The Greek word, “Akathartos” is translated as filthiness. It usually refers to something unclean in a ceremonial sense: according to Levitical law. This false religion will have to adhere to some form of idolatry and practice things which would be considered unclean. Remember, John is speaking to Christians, not Jews; so what may be considered unclean to a Jew may not be considered unclean to a Christian. This filthiness in the cup of the woman would have to be something unclean to Christians such as sexual immorality, not abstaining from foods sacrificed to other gods, etc… I don’t believe John is talking about certain acts of paganism or immorality, I believe the rejection of Christ is the filthiness that John is referring to because if your sins are not washed away by the blood of Christ, you are considered filthy, unholy and unable to stand before a Holy God . Before Christ became the ultimate sacrifice for all humanity, the blood sacrifice of an animal was necessary to hide the sins of unholy man, making him presentable to a Holy God. In order for the High Priest to enter the Holy of Holies (where they would be in the presence of God), he had to be ceremonially clean otherwise the presence of God would kill him on the spot. This required a blood sacrifice. Evidence for this can be found over and over again in the in Pentateuch (the 1st 5 books of the Bible) as well as in II Samuel 6:6&7 “And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.” Uzzah was ceremonially unclean and he touch the Ark of the Covenant and was struck dead. That is how it is with someone who reject Christ; he is ceremonially unclean to a Holy God.
- “5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” We are told that the woman has a name on her forehead. Notice that it is in all bold. Obviously this must be important. We are being told that she is a mystery, but the answer is that out of her came all the false religions of the world. So Babylon the Great gave birth to all false religions on the planet? According to the Bible, the earliest post-flood civilization mentioned was in the land of Shinar (Genesis 10:10 & Genesis 11:1-6), which is essentially the same area of Babylon during the era of the Kings of Judah. We know that after God confounded the languages (which is why the area became known as Babel), the people had to disperse into different regions. It is very likely that when they left Babel, they brought with them many of the building technologies and religious practices of the original society. This may very well be why the ancient stone Pyramids are a common structures found throughout the world. This may also account for the similarities in pagan religions throughout the ancient world (ie: Greek, Babylonian, Egyptian, Roman, Mayan, Aztec, Toltec, Inca, etc…). Because the people of Babel all spoke the same language, it was easy for them to share a common purpose and attempt to glorify themselves by building a tower that reached the heavens. Being able to communicate with everyone on the Earth produces like-mindedness. In the case of Babel, that like-mindedness produced an evil product, pride, arrogance and rebellion against God. So, God confounds their speech and destroys their tower and their city. People often misunderstand why God destroyed the Tower and confounded their ability to communicate because the scripture does not really mention the intention of their hearts, but it should be obvious to recognize that their hearts were thinking evil thoughts. They were trying to make themselves equal to God by the works of their hands. If you look at this passage of the Old Testament with respect to the New Testament you can see a foreshadowing of Jesus. In Babel, mankind was attempting to build a tower to heaven. By the works of their hands, they intended to reach God. This is the basis of all religions on the Earth with one exception, Christianity. The parallel here is that man is attempting to work his way to God. If you look at all the non-Christian religions in the world, they all have something in common. They all attempt to reach God by works (doing good deeds). But, God sees our works as filthy rags. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6) We can never reach God by our good deeds because they will be burned up in the fire that refines and without Jesus there will be nothing that survives the fire. In the end, false religion is like the tower of Babel. It is mankind’s futile attempt to reach Heaven and it will fail. Revelation 17:5 answers the mystery itself. John puts it in bold for us so that we all recognize how important it is understand this verse. Later in verse 18, John reveals to us that woman is the great city which reigns over the kings of the Earth. This woman has a dualistic nature about her. She is a religious system and a great city that is like the capital of the Earth. The city may not be what you think right now as it may not even be built as of yet. There is a rumor currently circulating that the United Nation is looking to possibly move to Iraq, to a 600 room palace built by Saddam Hussein over the site of ancient Babylon. My research brings me to an article written by Prof. Cynthia E. Ayers and COL (R) David W. Cammons in the Washington Post/Post Global on August 3, 2009, that suggests that Babylon would be a great location for the UN to maintain stability in the region. If it was to happen that the answer would be obvious.
- 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. Again, drunkeness has been translated from the Greek word “Methuo” which is often used as a metaphor for someone who has shed blood or murdered profusely (Strongs Number Reference 3184). The woman is drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. The woman (the final world religious system) is responsible for murdering professing Christians who are put to death because they will not swear allegiance to another god or religion.
So after review these six verses of Revelation 17, does Babylon the Great appear to be a familiar city? She controls many peoples, tongues and nations. The leaders of the Earth follow after her. She is located somewhere in the desert (wilderness) in the geographic location of the ancient Babylonian empire, which must be somewhere in either, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait. Some speculate that this may also include the Untied Arab Emirates. She has significant political and religious power, which she uses to try to gain control the world. From her, all false religions have their root. She will glorify herself through the works of her hands, likely by some crowning achievement that she will use to exalt herself above any god. And finally, she will have the blood of innumerable Christians on her hands.
Personally, I don’t believe that the woman is the Catholic religion or Rome for that matter, because I just can’t imagine Catholics being coerced in beheading Christians. I also do not believe that the Great city is NYC because NYC is nowhere near a wilderness. When reviewing the chapter verse by verse, the facts really speak for themselves. I believe that the Great city of Babylon is Babylon in Iraq or at least some city in the area of ancient Babylonia.
I think that the harlot (false religious system) could be Islam since it is the current religious system that controls all of the geographic area of the ancient Babylonian Empire. It is also the only religion on the planet that promotes the beheading of anyone who does not accept Allah as the only god and Mohammad as his prophet. Most of their land is wilderness. Islam is supposed to be controlled by a Caliphate system, where their political system is 100% determined by a religious system called Sharia law. Islam is a certainly a common denominator when we compare it to characteristics of “Babylon the Great”.
Finally, the “End Times” world religion may be a combination of all the false religions on the Earth, somehow being blended into one, whereby accepting that all religions are paths to God (except Christianity, and also Judaism because the beast hunts them down and tries to kill them off) Remember, the Tower of Babel? By the works of man’s hands they attempted to reach God. All the religions except Christianity (and Judaism because John reveals to us in Revelation that before the day of Judgment, many remaining Jews will accept Christ as Messiah. See Revelation 7). believe that they can get to Heaven by doing works. Therefore, they work in vain because they don’t want a God who loves them and forgives them; they would rather be proud and rebellious and boast that they can get to God on their own Merit just like they did when they tried to build a tower to reach Heaven. It was futile and could never be done, but the people chose to rebel and make their own way.
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