Traditionally Babylon was the great enemy of God’s people. She attacked Israel repeatedly, and eventually destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, hauled off their national wealth and took the people into captivity.
The ancient city of Babylon was destroyed by Alexander the Great when he defeated the Persians in 330 BC. He intended to rebuild it as his capital, but he died prematurely before he could accomplish his plans, and Babylon slowly sank into obscurity and was abandoned.
However, the mystery religion of Babylon did not disappear, but transferred its headquarters first to Pergamos and later to Rome (see section 17: Babylon’s New Home in The Book). Peter, sending greetings from the Christian Church in Rome, wrote “She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you” (1 Peter 5:13). By Peter’s time pagan Rome had become the continuation and center of the Babylonian system of idolatry.
The Roman Empire fell, but again the mystery religion of Babylon did not disappear—it took over the Christian Church! The Roman Emperors had held the Babylonian office of “Pontifex Maximus”, even after Constantine made the Roman Empire “Christian“, but in 378 AD this title was transferred to the Pope. Pagan ceremonies, customs and doctrines quickly invaded the Church and became a permanent part of the Roman Catholic Tradition (see section 17: Babylon Invades the Church in The Book).
The name “Babylon” is not mentioned in Revelation until the context of the end of time (Revelation 14:8). But end-time Babylon is very similar to the Medieval Catholic religion of the papacy, which is symbolized by the seven-headed Beast from the Sea, which John wrote about in Revelation 13. Later (chapter 17) John saw a harlot seated on a Scarlet Beast with the title, “Mystery, Babylon the Great”. The Scarlet Beast had seven heads and 10 horns, just like the Beast from the Sea, and they also shared other characteristics that make the relationship between the two very clear:
|BEAST OF REV. 13 (THE MEDIEVAL
|HARLOT AND BEAST OF REV. 17|
|“A beast…having seven heads and ten horns…and on
his heads a blasphemous name” (v. 1).
|“A scarlet beast which was full of names of
blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (v. 3).
|“It was granted to him to make war with the
saints and to overcome them” (v. 7).
|“Drunk with the blood of the saints and with the
blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (v. 6).
|“Authority was given him over every tribe,
tongue, and nation” (v. 7).
|“The waters…where the harlot sits, are peoples,
multitudes, nations, and tongues” (v. 15).
The main difference is that the Beast from the Sea was a unified entity of religious, political and military power, whereas end-time Babylon has separate religious (the harlot), political (the scarlet beast) and military (the ten horns) components. The reason these are shown separately is because the final fate of Babylon is that she will split and be destroyed:
“Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath” (Revelation 16:19).
“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast… these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:12,13,17).
The “woman” or religious component of end-time Babylon is apparently the Roman Catholic Church— “The woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth… seven mountains on which the woman sits” (Rome from antiquity has been the “great city” that sits on seven hills).
Revelation 13 reveals that the political and military component of Babylon is the Beast from the Earth, which symbolizes the United States of America (see What is the Beast from the Earth?). The U.S has as allies the “ten horns“. In Daniel 7 the ten horns symbolize the countries of Europe that were under the authority of the Papacy (see section 13:1,2 The Beast from the Sea and following sections). So apparently there will be an American and European alliance that will probably have other allies from other parts of the world as well.
During the Time of Trouble Babylon will have two leaders: the Beast from the Bottomless Pit (the antichrist, who is a man fully possessed by Satan) and the False Prophet (who is a miracle-working leader of the American apostate church). The goal of Babylon is to destroy God’s followers (she is “drunk with the blood of the saints” Revelation 17:6).
The Seven Last Plagues impede her plans, so she organizes the Battle of Armageddon as a last effort against God’s followers. But she will turn on herself (her self-destruction is described in Revelation 18) and will be fully destroyed at the Second Coming of Christ.