1 – Introduction
2 – Symbolism: Whoremonger and Warmonger
3 – Startling Vision Confronts the Apostle (17:1-6)
4A – Angel Explains the Mystery (17:7-11)
4B – Angel Explains the Mystery (17:12-18)
Appendix 1 – Ancient Babylon, Forerunner to Modern Babylon
Appendix 2 – Harlot/Beast History
Appendix 3 – Cataloguing the Harlot’s Crimes: News Excerpts
APPENDIX 1: Ancient Babylon, Forerunner to Modern Babylon
Following are some of the points of resemblance between Babylon of old and its modern counterpart:
1) There is the warning to “come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4; Jeremiah 50:8, 51:6,9,45) As in ancient Babylon, there are many God-fearing folks in America whom the Lord would like to see escape from the destruction that is to come.
2) God allows an enemy to rise up and destroy. (Revelation 17:16-17; Jeremiah 51:1-4,11)
3) Ancient Babylon made all nations “drunk” and “deranged” with “her wine” – symbolic of materialism and its counterfeit contentment, opposing the real contentment of God’s Spirit. In modern Babylon, “the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Jeremiah 51:7, Revelation 14:8, 17:2, 18:3)
4) Both Babylons fall suddenly. (Jeremiah 51:8; Revelation 18:8,10,17,19) It is a recorded fact that the city of ancient Babylon fell in one night, as reported in Daniel chapter 5 and in secular history.
5) It was prophesied about ancient Babylon that people would “wail for her!” The same is said of modern Babylon, with the additional point that the kings and merchants “will stand at a distance for fear of her torment.” (Jeremiah 50:46; Revelation 18:9-10,15,19)
6) Jeremiah 51:55 states that God is “silencing her loud voice”. This could apply well to modern America whose “loud voice” can be heard through the channels of modern media and in the various platforms of international assemblies and conferences. Whenever international agreements are made to do something about nuclear weapons proliferation, peace treaties, climate change, and other pressing problems in the world, America voices disagreement and ends up sabotaging the conscientious efforts of the rest of the world to address these issues. The reason? She seems more interested in furthering her own interests and prosperity than in the common welfare of the world at large.
7) One thing about ancient Babylon that grieved the heart of God was the violence and destruction that she caused. Babylon was called “the hammer of the whole earth… who destroys all the earth” (Jeremiah 50:23, 51:24) Regarding Babylon of the End Time, Revelation 18:24 states, “In her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all that were slain on the earth.”
How much unnecessary death and destruction can be traced to America: the pointless carpet bombing of Hamburg and Dresden in World War II, the Vietnam War, the Iraq wars and subsequent sanctions that destroyed countless civilian lives, the Afghan war, the Libya intervention fiasco, and numerous other smaller conflicts throughout the world. (Various news articles in Appendix 3 catalogue these all too numerous war crimes and financial injustices that have taken place over the last few decades.)
8) It was said of ancient Babylon, “You have been… caught, because you have contended against the LORD… she has been proud against the LORD.” (Jeremiah 50:24,29) Regarding modern Babylon, we read “that she glorified herself”, and “she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen’ .”
And then we read, “Strong is the Lord God who judges her”, implying that she, like ancient Babylon, fought ”against the Lord.” (Revelation 18:7,8) Although America claims to be the bastion of Christianity, in reality, the forces of Darkness have gained control of her resources, using her military might and economic influence to bring untold destruction and misery into the modern world.
9) The above passages remind us of the very ancient city of Babel, whose builders said, “Let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves.” This brought on God’s judgment to put a stop to the endeavor. Similarly, Jeremiah’s prophecy (51:9) states, “Her judgment reaches to heaven.” And in Revelation 18:5 we read, “Her sins have reached to heaven.”
10) Regarding ancient Babylon and the destruction she caused in the earth, Jeremiah 50:29 states that “God… will surely repay” and in 51:56, “Repay her according to her work; according to all she has done, do to her” A similar phrase appears in Revelation 18:6 – “Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works.”
11) It was said of ancient Babylon that she would be “utterly broken, and… burned with fire.” (Jeremiah 51:58) Similarly, for modern Babylon, even more so: “she will be utterly burned with fire.” (Revelation 17:16, 18:8)
12) In Jeremiah’s prophecy, there are several references to the fact that ancient Babylon would be “desolate forever”. (50:3,13,39-40; 51:26,29,37,41,43) End of the Age Babylon will suffer a similar fate according to Revelation 18:2,22-23.
13) The destruction of the ancient and modern empires are both viewed as God’s “vengeance”. (Jeremiah 50:28, Revelation 18:20, 19:2) Why is this, we may wonder? Here, it will help if we switch to how the Harlot symbolism was applied at times to ancient Israel.
In the ancient world, Israel was supposed to be an example of a nation that worshiped the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Because of Israel’s apostasy, she was instead driving nations away from the Creator. To show the world that Israel was not following God’s way, she had to undergo discipline (and chastisement); this action also brought about repentance and for a time restored Israel to be the kind of example God wanted His people to be.
America, which is viewed by the modern world as the bastion of Christianity, is also projecting the wrong message of what the Creator is like – not only on the cultural/economic level, but also in her warmongering and violence against other nations. Like ancient Israel, she also will have to suffer the rod of chastisement.
It is important to understand that God’s “vengeance” is not the unreasonable act of a capricious God; it has a purpose – first of all, to oust those who are bringing desolation to the earth, and secondly, to purify and restore the world’s people and thus enable human society to rule itself responsibly and justly.
14) To illustrate his message, Jeremiah concluded by sending his associate Seraiah to Babylon to give a public “reading” of the prophetic message, then “tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates [river].” Then Seraiah was to proclaim, “Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her.” (Jeremiah 51:63-64)
A similar proclamation happens at the End of the Age in the celestial realm – on a much grander scale for a much bigger Babylon: “a mighty angel took up a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore’.” (Revelation 18:21)
15) The fall of ancient Babylon caused great rejoicing in the heavenly and earthly realms: “Then the heavens and the earth and all that is in them shall sing joyously over Babylon.” (Jeremiah 51:48) For modern Babylon we read, “I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her’.” With the modern Babylon, there seems to be a difference: the rejoicing happens mainly in the Heavenly Realm; in the Earth, however, it’s mostly “weeping and wailing”. (Revelation 19:1-2, 18:15)