The city of Babylon, located about thirty miles southwest of Baghdad, has been called the cradle of civilization. Founded by Nimrod, a grandson of Noah who was the first mighty king, the city came
to symbolize evil and opposition to God. It was here that false religion began. Referred to as the prostitute religion, this false religion will reach it’s height in the first half of the tribulation
period, after God’s people have been raptured. Revelation seventeen describes the final destruction of false religions, which began in Babylon.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations. And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Rev. 17:1-6)
Again, John being carried away in the spirit shows that this vision is symbolic, not literal. Just as God’s church is called His bride, false religion is also referred to as a woman, a prostitute. This false religion isn’t something that will come about during the end times, it’s alive and well and getting stronger today. Followers of Christ have always been persecuted by churches opposing God, including the Roman Catholic Church. During the protestant reformation, hundreds of thousands of protestant reformers were brutally tortured and killed by the Roman Catholic Church. Today, in Muslim and other non Christian countries, Christians are tortured and killed for their faith. False religions have, and are still drinking the blood of the saints and it will get worse during the tribulation. The beast that the woman is riding should sound familiar; it’s the beast, or world government from chapter thirteen. The false church is gong to support and help this government come to power. After explaining the vision to John, the angel tells what happens to the prostitute in verses 15-18.
And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”
During the tribulation, once Antichrist’s government takes power and no longer needs support from the church, world leaders will destroy the church. This most likely will happen midway through, when Satan gets kicked out of heaven and forces people to worship him. In God’s justice, false religion will suffer the same punishment it has given out to God’s people.
After describing the fate of religious Babylon, chapter eighteen describes the final fall of the city.
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. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living”
When Antichrist chooses Babylon as his capital, it will become the largest, wealthiest, most powerful city in the world. It will not only be the center of government but of commerce and transportation too. Some people say that since Babylon is gone, New York City represents modern Babylon. But Babylon means Babylon, the city will be rebuilt. In fact it has already been started. In 1985, Saddam Hussein started rebuilding Babylon, and since his fall, the U.N. has continued the work. (above, aerial view of Saddam’s palace, Babylon, Iraq)
With the help of private donors the UN is hoping to turn Babylon in to a thriving center of tourism and commerce. If everything goes according to plan, Babylon will be a cultural center complete with shopping malls, hotels, and maybe even a theme park. Once there is stability in the region, with world donations along with oil revenue, it won’t take long to rebuild the city. Near the end of the tribulation it will be destroyed in a single day. Verse eight says
For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”
After being rebuilt, after God has called His people out of the city in verse four, God will destroy the city in one day. This will lead up to the final battle when Jesus returns, the end is nearing!