Because you’ve made it this far in this series, you’re too sharp to let us skip to the end without addressing this question: Who, what, or where is the Babylon of Revelation 17 and 18?
We’ll address it briefly here because we’ll write more about this in the future. As you discerned from the last section, the connection between Mystery Babylon and the Amorites is key. Spiritual wickedness, symbolized by the kingdom of Babylon, which was founded by Amorites, connected to an unparalleled maritime trading empire are the two main features of prophetic Babylon.
And then there is a geographic feature that has led to a multitude of theories on the location of end-times Babylon:
This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.Revelation 17: 9–10, ESV
While Rome is the first name most people think of when describing a city on seven hills, it appears to be a status symbol for other cities to claim that they, too, were built on seven hills. Maybe it’s to encourage comparisons to Rome. Other cities ostensibly sitting on seven hills include Mecca, Jerusalem, Brussels, Tehran, Istanbul, Moscow, and dozens of others (including even Nixa, here in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks). That’s not to say that any of them might be Mystery Babylon (especially Nixa), but there are a few that have been put forward.
Rome is second only to Babylon as a byword for spiritual wickedness in the Bible. As mentioned, it certainly meets the seven hills requirement. As the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, prophecy scholars have identified Rome as Mystery Babylon for centuries, especially since the Protestant Reformation. Wealthy? Drunk with the blood of saints? Yes, especially if you consider pagan Rome’s record with the early church.
But on that score, one could make a case for Jerusalem, too. It probably won’t be as popular with evangelical Christians, but you can’t argue that the early church was brutally persecuted by the religious authorities in Jerusalem. And, to be honest, while Christian tourists are warmly welcomed in Israel today, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not.
However, the case for Jerusalem as Mystery Babylon has an issue that is difficult to overcome: Setting aside the matter of making the kings of the earth wealthy with trade, when Babylon the Great is destroyed, it’s obliterated. In fact, the last verse of a chapter from Isaiah that we’ve studied in some detail tells us specifically what’s going to happen.
“I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the LORD. “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts.Isaiah 14:22–23, ESV
While there are other prophecies of doom for Babylon in the Old Testament, especially in chapters 50 and 51 of Jeremiah, those were arguably fulfilled when the Medes and Persians overran the city in 539 BC. At the time Isaiah lived and wrote, Assyria, not Babylon, was the dominant power in the Near East. Babylon was a vassal state that wouldn’t successfully rebel against the Assyrians until nearly seventy-five years after Isaiah’s death. In my view, his prophecy, which delivers the message of Babylon’s destruction in the context of God’s condemnation of the rebel in Eden, Helel ben Shachar/Lucifer (and, apparently, the Watchers and their sons, the Nephilim/Rephaim), is directed at a spiritual Babylon in the far-distant future.
That would rule out Jerusalem. Jesus sets up His millennial kingdom there, and He won’t be ruling from a city that God says will be reduced to a wasteland forever.
Joel Richardson and Walid Shoebat have put forward an interesting theory in recent years that has some appeal. Mecca, as we pointed out, is, also seated on seven hills. It, too, is the home of a major religion that has taken the lives of many saints over the last 1,400 years. (We use the biblical definition of “saint”—anyone who’s accepted Jesus Christ as Lord.) And since the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, there isn’t another nation in the world that compares with the Saudis for the ability to “enrich the kings of the earth.”
In Bad Moon Rising, Derek showed that the religion of Mecca, Islam, is the spiritual equivalent of a corporate merger. We believe the old gods of Mesopotamia banded together in their rebellion against the Creator. But going deeper is beyond our scope here.
Where we disagree with Richardson and Shoebat is on the nature of the Antichrist. He will not be a Muslim. There is no reality in which a Muslim at the head of an army is welcomed into Jerusalem by the people of Israel, whether they believe in end-times prophecy or not. We believe it’s more likely the Antichrist will present himself to the world as a Jew, which is a view held by several early church fathers, such as Irenaeus and Hippolytus.
We’re not saying he’ll be a Jew, just that he will claim to be. Interestingly, since Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of the Apostle John, who wrote the Book of Revelation, it’s possible that the idea was transmitted to Irenaeus through Polycarp from John himself.
Proponents of Rome as end-times Babylon have pointed out that the oil wealth of the Saudis and their Sunni allies around the Persian Gulf may not last much longer. Financial experts cite the exploding debt of the Saudi kingdom after oil prices collapsed in 2015 as a sign that its hold on Western economies isn’t as firm as most of us think. The truth is the United States has enough untapped oil to make dependence on Middle Eastern sources voluntary. So, it’s argued, the Saudis aren’t likely to be Mystery Babylon because their days are numbered.
As odd as it sounds, that may actually support the Mecca-as-Babylon theory. Any nation that has a complete stranglehold on the global economy isn’t likely to be thrown under the bus. The fact that the Antichrist and his minions turn on Mystery Babylon in the greatest double-cross in history means that she’s expendable. As Derek wrote in The Great Inception:
To put it bluntly, the best use the Enemy has for Muslims is cannon fodder. They will be a bloody sacrifice to lure Jews and Christians into worshipping the Beast, whom they will mistakenly see as a literal godsend. The destruction of a Muslim coalition would be the point in the prophetic timeline for the cosmic double-cross of Revelation 17:16–17, when the Beast and the kings of the earth betray the woman and destroy her. That would mark the transfer of the spiritual power of Islam to the Beast, and from Mecca to Jerusalem. Not by suddenly converting the world’s Muslims; under the scenario we envision, the destruction of Mecca as part of a war to save Israel would be the Antichrist’s means of establishing his bona fides as Messiah to the world’s Christians and Jews.
While the scarlet woman of Revelation 17 has “dominion over the kings of the earth,” she’s resented by those kings, or at least by the ten principal kings represented by the ten horns on the beast. They and the beast “hate” her, so they “devour her flesh and burn her up with fire.”
Think about the irony of that for a moment. Regardless of whether the prostitute turns out to be Rome, Mecca, Jerusalem, New York City, or somewhere else, the ultimate end of Mystery Babylon is to be slaughtered and served up as a sacrifice for the Beast from the Abyss—just like the thousands upon thousands of children who were passed through the fire and buried in the tophets of the ancient world.
 Daniel 11:45.
 Gilbert, D. (2017). The Great Inception: Satan’s PSYOPs from Eden to Armageddon (Crane, MO: Defender), pp. 280–281.
 Revelation 17:18.
 Revelation 17:16.