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John shows the harlot’s mark of identity in Rev. 17:5,
5 and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
She is Babylon, a spiritual harlot who has given birth to children in her own image and is therefore called also “the mother of harlots.” She is also the mother “of the abominations of the earth.” An abomination is a Hebrew euphemism for an idol, so this harlot seems to be the mother of all idolatry in the earth. Her harlot children, then, seem to be the seductive call to idolatry in all of its forms of expression.
It is obvious that the great harlot is more than a single city like the ancient city of Babylon. Jerusalem, Rome, London, and Washington D.C. do not describe her limits, for idolatry goes beyond all the power centers of the world. John hinted of this earlier in Rev. 11:8, where he even linked “Sodom and Egypt” with the earthly Jerusalem. Any man, any religion, and any nation or city that worships other gods and submits to their laws above the laws of the Creator are idolatrous by nature, having been seduced by one of the great harlot’s daughters.
Isaiah 23:15-17 says,
15 Now it will come about in that day that Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years like the days of one king. At the end of seventy years it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the harlot: 16 Take your harp, walk about the city, O forgotten harlot; pluck the strings skillfully, sing many songs, that you may be remembered. 17 And it will come about at the end of seventy years that the Lord will visit Tyre. Then she will go back to her harlot’s wages, and will play the harlot with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth.
When Tyre was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, she lost her independence and had to pander to the lusts and desires of her conquerors and neighboring cities or nations. This lasted seventy years, after which time, instead of repenting, she was now paid fairly—“harlot’s wages”—while under Persian rule. In fact, the Persians under King Cyrus commanded Tyre and Sidon to contribute toward the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 3:7). Isaiah 23:18 predicts this:
18 And her gain and her harlot’s wages will be set apart to the Lord; it will not be stored up or hoarded [for her own use], but her gain will become sufficient food and choice attire for those who dwell in the presence of the Lord.
The prophecies about Tyre no longer apply to that ancient city, for it has long been deserted, and its ruins cast into the sea. However, the spirit of Tyre lives on as one of the great harlot’s daughters, and the prophecies apply to Mystery Babylon itself. In the end, the assets of Babylon, after being taken over by the kings from the east, will also be used to fund and build the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
Nahum’s prophecy is “the oracle of Nineveh” (Nahum 1:1). In Nahum 3:1 and 4 we read,
1 Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage; her prey never departs… 4 All because of the many harlotries of the harlot, the charming one, the mistress of sorceries, who sells nations by her harlotries and families by her sorceries.
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. The city itself is no longer important, but it is the same spirit of harlotry seen in Babylon and Tyre. In fact, we should equate “the mistress of sorceries” with the great harlot of Rev. 17, 18. John tells us in Rev. 18:23 that the great harlot is judged, “because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.”
Nineveh is also called “the bloody city,” which is Ezekiel’s term for the earthly Jerusalem (Ezekiel 22:2; 24:6, 9). So John says in Rev. 18:24 about the great harlot:
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.
We will say more of this at the appropriate time. For now, it is sufficient to equate Nineveh with the earthly Jerusalem, as both were called prophetically, “the bloody city.”
We have already shown from Hosea’s prophecy that Israel was a harlot. But Ezekiel 16 presents Jerusalem as a harlot as well. Jerusalem is specifically addressed in Ezekiel 16:3, telling how God had brought her forth and had cared for her from birth. Ezekiel 16:15 then says,
15 But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing.
Ezekiel 16:26-29 continues,
26 You also played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and multiplied your harlotry to make Me angry…. 28 Moreover, you played the harlot with the Assyrians because you were not satisfied; you even played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. 29 You also multiplied your harlotry with the land of merchants, Chaldea, yet even with this you were not satisfied.
It is a long chapter, but it all points to the fact that Jerusalem was a harlot city, and for this reason John equates it with Babylon, Sodom, and Egypt as part of the final beast manifestation before the Kingdom of God is established. Tyre, Nineveh, and Jerusalem are best pictured as three daughters of the great Harlot. They all take after their mother.
Why is MYSTERY BABYLON capitalized? The original New Testament Greek language itself was written in all capitalized letters. A later innovation brought upper and lower case letters, along with punctuation marks. I do not know why, from a scholarly point of view, most translations of Rev. 17:5 use all capitalized letters to identify MYSTERY BABYLON. However, from a legal perspective, the use of all capitalized letters indicate that it is a corporation.
The modern system of Babylonian slavery cannot deal with real living people, so it has created corporations for each individual, using their name in all capital letters. (Check your drivers license.) When we sign our names under an all-caps name, we give life to this corporation by affirming that “this is me,” that is to say, “this corporate entity represents me in my dealings with the Babylonian corporation.”
Perhaps the real question is whether or not the Bible translators who first put MYSTERY BABYLON in all capitalized letters understood the legal implications of this. I do not know, but I find it particularly appropriate, for whether this was done inadvertently or not, it seemed to prophesy and reveal the corporate (dead) nature of MYSTERY BABYLON.
Revelation 17:6 says,
6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. And when I saw her, I wondered greatly.
The dead corporation of MYSTERY BABYLON lives by drinking the blood of the saints and martyrs (witnesses). Lev. 17:10, 11 forbids drinking blood, saying,
10 And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and I will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life [nephesh, “soul”] of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life [nephesh] that makes atonement.
God did not create blood to be consumed, but to represent the soul in its work of atonement. This law applied not only to Israelites but to “aliens” as well. So in the first Church Council in Acts 15, the apostles determined in Acts 15:19, 20,
19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.
This is repeated in Acts 15:29. It is strange, then, that the Roman church, which fiercely enforced its Church Councils, failed to enforce the first Council in Jerusalem. They enforced those Councils that established creeds determined by carnal methods, but they ignored the one true Council that established a ban on eating blood. Perhaps they were unwilling to submit to the ban on fornication as well.
We have already quoted Rev. 18:24, which makes the great harlot responsible for “all who have been slain on the earth,” along with the “prophets” and “saints.” This dates the problem before Jerusalem was even built, taking it back to the pattern of all martyrdoms that was set when Cain killed Abel. The bloody cities of Jerusalem and Nineveh were only the daughters of their mother before them. Nineveh killed many people, but Jerusalem killed the prophets (Matt. 23:37). For this reason, the earthly Jerusalem is clearly a daughter of the great harlot who is liable for the death of the prophets.
To drink blood is an earthly sign of a spiritual problem, for Scripture speaks of murder as an act of drinking blood. Hence, when Jerusalem killed the prophets, the city violated the law, which threatened to cut off anyone who drank blood. When the prophets called Jerusalem "the bloody city," they were accusing it of drinking blood, and by extension they were saying that the city would be “cut off from among his people” (Lev. 17:10).
It is for this reason that the New Jerusalem (“Sarah”) is the true mother of the Kingdom, not the earthly Jerusalem (“Hagar”) in Galatians 4, for Sarah is not the persecutor of the saints. It was Ishmael, “he who was born according to the flesh” (Gal. 4:29), who “persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit” (Isaac).
We will study this in greater depth when we study Revelation 18. It is sufficient for now to see that Jerusalem and Babylon are closely tied together and are both held liable in the overthrow of this great harlot.