You may have noticed the three-chapter gap in Revelation between the armies assembling at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16) and the gruesome sacrificial feast after Armageddon (Revelation 19:17–21) that connects back to Ezekiel 39. The intervening chapters are significant. The fall of Babylon the Great is more evidence that Ezekiel and John had the same supernatural enemies in mind.
One of the great puzzles of Bible prophecy is the identity of Mystery Babylon, the Great Harlot of Revelation 17. The great church of the last days is called “Babylon the great,” but Mystery Babylon is the name that’s stuck. Almost two thousand years after John was shown this prophecy, learned students of Bible prophecy still don’t agree on who, what, or where the Babylon of the last days will be.
The imagery is fascinating. Trying to identify the seven heads and ten horns on the Beast has likewise inspired two millennia of diligent study and educated guesses, but at the end of the day, we still don’t know exactly what they represent. And I’m going to cop out in this book and set that mystery aside for future study, because it’s a two thousand-year-old rabbit trail we can save for another day.
John told us this about the harlot: The Babylon of his vision is a religion and a city. Two of our friends, authors and prophecy experts Joel Richardson and Bill Salus, recently debated the identity of Babylon. Bill named Rome and the Roman Catholic Church, a popular choice since the Protestant Reformation, and Joel made a case for Mecca and Islam. Another Bible scholar we respect, Chris White, argued in his books Mystery Babylon and False Christ that the early church father Irenaeus was on the right track, pointing to Jerusalem and an Antichrist who presents himself to the world as a Jew. Others, including our friends S. Douglas Woodward, Douglas W. Krieger, and Dene McGriff, in their book, Final Babylon, believe the United States will fill the role of the prophesied Babylon of the Book of Revelation. After the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, some, such as the late Chuck Missler, suggested that Mystery Babylon would be a rebuilt Babylon, a reconstruction project begun under Saddam Hussein.
Let us suggest a different analysis.
It is our view that Ezekiel gave us important clues that modern prophecy scholars have missed because they haven’t considered the historical and religious context of the world in which the prophet lived. Further, they may not fully grasp the divine council paradigm and its implications for end-times prophecy. Put another way, if we understand what the Old Testament prophets knew about the gods of the nations around ancient Israel, and that those gods were (and still are) real, we might understand better the sections of the New Testament that draw on the writings of the prophets.
For example, Ezekiel’s lament over Tyre has a clear parallel in Revelation, and it cements the connection between the visions of Ezekiel and John. And that, of course, ties together the rebellious small-G gods who play a key role in their prophecies. Let’s turn to chapter 27 of Ezekiel, which was his lament over the Phoenician city of Tyre.
The word of the LORD came to me: “Now you, son of man, raise a lamentation over Tyre, and say to Tyre, who dwells at the entrances to the sea, merchant of the peoples to many coastlands, thus says the Lord GOD:
O Tyre, you have said,
“I am perfect in beauty.’
Your borders are in the heart of the seas;
your builders made perfect your beauty.
They made all your planks
of fir trees from Senir;
they took a cedar from Lebanon
to make a mast for you.
Of oaks of Bashan
they made your oars;
they made your deck of pinesEzekiel 27:1–6, ESV (emphasis added)
from the coasts of Cyprus,
inlaid with ivory.”
Tyre was the preeminent commercial empire in the Mediterranean for centuries. Even after the city’s influence began to fade, its colony in north Africa, Carthage, grew so powerful that it waged a long war with Rome between 218 and 201 BC, and nearly won. But roughly three hundred fifty years earlier, in the early sixth century BC, Ezekiel tied the strength of Tyre—the source of its wealth, its cargo ships—to Mount Hermon and Bashan.
Senir was the Amorite name for Mount Hermon. Why did Ezekiel choose to call it Senir instead of Hermon? That’s a good question. The Amorites were ancient history by Ezekiel’s day. They faded from the scene after the conquest of Canaan, at least under the name “Amorites,” and that was more than eight hundred years before Ezekiel. (How many places in the U.S. have the same names they did in 1200 AD?) The Arameans and Phoenicians were probably the physical and spiritual descendants of the Amorites, and it’s possible that the Chaldeans who restored Babylon to power in the seventh century BC were likewise descended from Amorites.
It’s possible that Ezekiel identified Hermon and Bashan as the source of the lumber for the merchant ships of Tyre simply because that’s where the closest and best trees were located. The cedar forests of Lebanon were famous throughout the ancient Near East. However, we think the prophet’s intention was to link the city to the spiritual heritage of the region. Ezekiel’s reference to Senir is the last time that name is used in the Bible, roughly four hundred years after the previous reference (Song of Solomon 4:8). Not only was Senir/Hermon the abode of El, where the Rephaim came to feast, it towered over Bashan, the entrance to the netherworld.
In short, by choosing to call the mountain Senir instead of Hermon, Ezekiel deliberately linked it to people whose wickedness was legendary among Jews. The Amorites were a spiritual yardstick to measure the evil of the two most wicked kings in Jewish history, Ahab of Israel and Manasseh of Judah. Manasseh was so bad, he did “things more evil than all that the Amorites did”!
As noted in a previous article, the Amorites founded Babylon. They were responsible for the decadent, occult religious system so notorious that it became the symbol of the Antichrist’s religious system of the last days. Babylon’s greatest king was an Amorite named Hammurabi, whose name meant “My fathers are Rephaim.” That name was so popular it was shared by at least five other Amorite kings down to the time of the judges in Israel, more than five hundred years after Hammurabi the Great.
But so far, we’ve only dealt with the link between the pagan Amorites and the city of Tyre. The link to Revelation comes in the lament over its destruction.
Your rowers have brought you out
into the high seas.
The east wind has wrecked you
in the heart of the seas.
Your riches, your wares, your merchandise,
your mariners and your pilots,
your caulkers, your dealers in merchandise,
and all your men of war who are in you,
with all your crew
that is in your midst,
sink into the heart of the seas
on the day of your fall.
At the sound of the cry of your pilots
the countryside shakes,
and down from their ships
come all who handle the oar.
The mariners and all the pilots of the sea
stand on the land
and shout aloud over you
and cry out bitterly.
They cast dust on their heads
and wallow in ashes;
they make themselves bald for you
and put sackcloth on their waist,
and they weep over you in bitterness of soul,
with bitter mourning.
In their wailing they raise a lamentation for you
and lament over you:
“Who is like Tyre,
like one destroyed in the midst of the sea?
When your wares came from the seas,
you satisfied many peoples;
with your abundant wealth and merchandise
you enriched the kings of the earth.
Now you are wrecked by the seas,
in the depths of the waters;
your merchandise and all your crew in your midst
have sunk with you.
All the inhabitants of the coastlands
are appalled at you,
and the hair of their kings bristles with horror;
their faces are convulsed.
The merchants among the peoples hiss at you;Ezekiel 27:26–36, ESV (emphasis added)
you have come to a dreadful end
and shall be no more forever.”
Compare that section of Ezekiel’s lament over Tyre to John’s prophecy of the destruction of Babylon the Great in Revelation 18:
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
‘Alas! Alas! You great city,
you mighty city, Babylon!
For in a single hour your judgment has come.’
The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,
‘Alas, alas, for the great city
that was clothed in fine linen,
in purple and scarlet,
adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!
For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.’
And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,
‘What city was like the great city?’
And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,
‘Alas, alas, for the great city
where all who had ships at sea
grew rich by her wealth!
For in a single hour she has been laid waste.’”Revelation 18:1–2, 9, 15–19, ESV (emphasis added)
Let’s compare some key phrases from these chapters.
|Tyre (Ezekiel 27)||Babylon (Revelation 18)|
|“enriched the kings of the earth” (Eze. 27:33)||“kings of the earth…lived in luxury with her” (Rev. 18:9)|
|Lamented by mariners, pilots of the sea, merchants, and kings (Eze. 27:28–36)||Lamented by kings, merchants, shipmasters, and seafaring men (Rev. 18:9–19)|
|“‘Who is like Tyre, like one destroyed in the midst of the sea? …with your abundant wealth and merchandise you enriched the kings of the earth.’” (Eze. 27:32–33)||“‘What city was like the great city…where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth!’” (Rev. 18:18–19)|
As with the similarities between Ezekiel 39 and Revelation 19, the parallels here have been noted by Bible scholars for generations. What we haven’t seen is anyone who’s connected these chapters to identify the spiritual source of this global religion—the gods of the Amorites.
When God made His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15, He told the patriarch that his descendants would spend about four hundred years in a land that wasn’t theirs because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Wondering about the meaning of that phrase drove us to the research that’s resulted in several books (so far). There’s a lot more meaning in that one line that we’ve been taught.
In this series, we’ve focused on a few members of the Amorite pantheon, specifically El, Baal, and the Rephaim/Nephilim, and their Greek equivalents Kronos, Zeus, and the demigods/heroes like Herakles. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but yes, this does mean that the Greek heros like Herakles and Perseus were Nephilim.) We’ve done this to show the influence of the pagan gods on the ancient world and the role they’ll play in the future. The apostles and prophets knew it, but we’ve lost their perspective because we’ve been taught that those pagan gods don’t exist.
When reading the Bible, we need to remember that it didn’t emerge from an isolation chamber, untouched by the cultures and religious beliefs of the people who lived around ancient Israel and Judah. The prophets called by God lived in a society that was part of a greater whole. When they wrote, the cultural, political, and spiritual influences of the greater Near East were reflected in their work. That doesn’t mean they turned to the gods of Mesopotamia for spiritual truth; just the opposite. What we’ve forgotten over the last two millennia is that those gods are real and much of what’s in the Bible was written in direct response to their rebellion.
In other words, to repeat a point we made earlier, we need to check our naturalistic bias and twenty-first-century worldview at the door. The focus of end-times prophecy shouldn’t be on which human political figure will lead the charge against Zion, but on a supernatural enemy with the audacity to challenge Yahweh for His throne.
Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Moses gave us the clues. They point to Mount Hermon, Bashan, and the neighbors of ancient Israel who worshiped the gods who called that region home. When we compare the surviving writings from the ancient Near East and classical Greece and Rome, we discover that the Hebrew prophets were pretty well informed.
When we compare what we know about the gods the Amorites venerated and worshiped, especially Baal, El, and the Rephaim, we discover that the gods and demigods of Greek myth were the same entities, but called Zeus, Kronos, and the heroes of the Golden Age.
And that’s who’s coming back to fight the Battle of Armageddon.
 2 Kings 21:11.
 Genesis 15:16.
 Since Herakles was the Greek name for the Phoenician demigod Melqart, patron deity of the city of Tyre, it’s likely that he was the baal (“lord”) worshiped by Ahab’s evil wife, Jezebel.
 And the Greeks knew that their heros were the Rephaim venerated by the Canaanites. See Amar Annus, “Are There Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes.” Ugarit-Forschungen 31 (1999): 13-30.