I was having coffee at Starbucks with a friend and she asked me, “So do you think the USA is Babylon?”
Whew, how do you answer a question like that? I did know what she meant. She was referring to the book of Revelation chapters 17 and 18, two of the most controversial, nitty-gritty chapters in the entire Bible.
I could make a big explanation about those two chapters for the many of you who don’t know the background but I’ll do that in another post. Here I’ll just tell you what answer I gave my friend and why. My answer was, “Yes and no”.
Revelation 17 &18 are mainly about a very unpleasant picture, a seven headed beast which had riding on it a woman who is called “the Great Whore”. Needless to say, this is all deeply allegorical and symbolic. Theologians and mystics for centuries have put forward ideas as to what it all means. During the beginning of the Reformation in Europe a few hundred years ago, it was universally agreed by the Reformation leaders that this “Great Whore”, “Babylon” was none other than the Catholic Church, which the Reformation movement was being fought by at that time. They even had what they thought was a very good reason to believe this. It says in Revelations 17: 9, “The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits.” So they said, “It’s clear that this means the Seven Hills of Rome, the center of the Catholic Church! So therefore this woman must be the Catholic Church!”
But if you read Revelations 17:18, it tells you right there what the whore of Babylon is. It says, “And the woman that you saw is that great city, which rules over the kings of the earth.”
“What city?” you ask. Well, that’s just it. In God’s eyes, He sees the big picture. He doesn’t necessarily look at national boundaries or humanly defined territories. God sees one gigantic city or network of intertwined metropolises throughout the earth. Whether it’s New York, Dubai or Shanghai, they’re all really very much the same.
The worldwide city system of our day is basically what rules over the earth. It says in Revelation 17:2 that the kings (read politicians) “have committed fornication” with this Whore. Spiritual fornication, in the same way that James said to the early Christians, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God?” (James 4:4) So instead of loving God as His bride and wife, it says the rulers of the world have committed fornication with this Whore. And in Revelation 18:3 it says “the merchants of the earth have grown rich through her delicacies”. It goes on to say “her merchants were the great men of the earth, and by her sorceries were all nations deceived.” (Revelation 18:23) So what is that? Some would say, “It couldn’t be talking about our merchants. It couldn’t be talking about our politicians.”
If you look closely at the chapter, the Whore is riding on the seven headed beast. That beast represents the 7 world empires, stretching all the way back to Egypt. It says of this beast, “five are fallen, one is and one is not yet come”. (Revelation 17:10) The five that were fallen were the world empires that had been before that time, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. It says “one is”. That was the Roman Empire, the one that was active and ruling at the time of John’s revelation in 90 A.D. And “one is not yet come.” That is the one that is still yet to come, the worldwide Antichrist Empire that will exist just before the return of Jesus.
An “eternity to eternity” picture
But Babylon the Great, the Great Whore, rides on the beast with all seven heads, not just the beast that is spoken of in Revelations 13. So this in a sense is an “eternity to eternity” picture, just as a number of things are in Revelations. In our times “Babylon the Great” has been brought to almost a perfection, if you can call it that. But still this “Great Whore” is something that has existed throughout history, like this vision shows, all the way back for 1000’s of years.
But it’s not a nation; it’s an entity, one worldwide commercial behemoth that God sees as a prostitute , receiving the adoration and worship of the peoples of the earth. And sadly, if any one nation today epitomizes Babylon the Great, you’d have to say it is the USA. “All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” (Revelation 18:3) No matter where you go on earth, American “entertainment” and commercial/material values are hailed above all others. But in God’s eyes, it’s fornication with Mammon and the lusts of this world, brought to its highest perfection by the merchants of this country.
At least there’s something of a happy ending to all this. In Revelation 18:4, a voice from heaven says, “Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins and that you receive not of her plagues.” It’s clear that God sees His people within Babylon the Great and He calls them out of her , before the judgments of God fall. So you don’t have to live in America to be affected or touched by Babylon. It’s there every time you turn on the television or go on line, wherever you live in the world.
The wonderful thing is, there’s a solution. There’s freedom from Babylon the curse of materialism and earthly values. The Bible says that in the future, ultimately “the cities of the nations fell, and Great Babylon came in remembrance before God.” (Revelation 16:19) Then and only then, after the ultimate defeat of worldwide Babylon, will the people of God rule this world with liberty and justice for all, under the leadership of Jesus Christ, the risen Savior and coming King.
[What do you think? I’d be glad to hear your comments. You can use the reply box at the bottom of this page.]