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Mystery Babylon. What and where was it, or is it, or will it be?

In biblical times, of course, it was in what is now Iraq (south of Baghdad). As far as historicity, it's still there (albeit it as a pile of earth). In Genesis it may be what was called Babel (a neighbor of later Babylon). The city itself was founded about 2,300 years before Jesus.

But what, if any, current place fits the description of Mystery Babylon in Revelation -- the "mother of harlots," where was drunk the blood of the saints, the place where the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and lived sensuously with her, partook of the "wine" of her lasciviousness,  a "dwelling place for demons," the "mother of abominations of the earth"? Was that referring to the Roman Empire?

Or do we have a version of it in our own day -- one with potential prophetic importance, as a barometer of morality?

Our eyes turn immediately to New York City -- perhaps the most prominent city on earth, known as a locus for international materialism (banking, Wall Street, corporate offices, fashion), and media; advertising; headquarters for the United Nations; where even Hollywood is financed, a city that has an extraordinary underside (for example, in 2012, 37 percent of all pregnancies there ended with an abortion). In Revelation, Babylon is described as a "strong city" (New York is all steel and cement) sitting "on many waters," as one might describe New York with its location on the Hudson and East rivers, the Bay of New York, Little Neck Bay, Newark Bay, Gravesend Bay, Sandy Hook Bay, and Jamaica Bay, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

"NYC is the world’s only city whose image is so closely linked to Babylonian religion," asserts one exercised evangelical commentator (for discernment). "The Statue of Liberty and NYC are inseparably linked, and such a union is unprecedented in world history. Not even in Rome or Greece could a city boast of such an identification with such a profound or dominant figure as that of 'Liberty.' No other city has had such an imposing statue of a woman with an ideal or philosophy to uphold or to offer to the world. Meanwhile, Revelation 17:5 refers to the woman as “The Mother of Harlots” (practitioners of false religion). Other examples of Babylonian-type symbols used in America include the statue of freedom on the Capitol Dome in Washington D. C., the symbols on the currency, such as the pyramid with the ‘eye’ at its top, the ‘Apollo’ (the Greek name of an ancient Babylonian god) space program, many of the Masonic symbols spread throughout the land, including those at the Denver Airport."

It can head quickly afar.

We assume New York -- but aren't there other cities with the same or an even higher level of immorality. While larger, is New York any worse than elsewhere?

Many are the massive megalopolises in Asia, northern Africa, India, and the Middle East that are notorious for human trafficking and other "abominations."

And though no city has more international influence in so many areas -- commerce, culture -- when it comes to size, New York is not even in the top five any longer, far smaller, for example, than the equally or even more materialistic Tokyo, Japan (which has close to double the population). Here's one list of metropolitan areas (note how many likewise sit on waters):

1.Tokyo, Japan; (37,126,000) 2.Jakarta, Indonesia (26,063,000) 3.Seoul, South Korea (22,547,000) 4.Delhi, India (22,242,000) 5. Shanghai, China (20,860,000) 6. Manila, Philippines (20,767,000) 7. Karachi, 8. New York, USA (20,464,000) Pakistan (20,711,000) 9. Sao Paulo, Brazil (20,186,000) and10. Mexico City, Mexico (19,463,000).

Meanwhile, when it comes to undersides: Have you ever seen the images from the carnivals in cities like Rio?

"Spiritual Babylon rules the earth today," asserts one Christian writer. "Thousands of infants were killed to please the Babylonian goddess Ashtoreth. Child sacrifice is being done on an unprecedented scale today. Over one and a half million abortions are performed in America each year, and twenty-six million the world over."

In places like Russia and China, it's not uncommon for a woman to have had half a dozen or more. Ancient Babylonian religion worshipped the flesh, with nothing spared in the satisfying lusts of the body and near-total indulgence in the best of foods, clothing, shelter, and sex. Promiscuity was rampant. Sexual rites included homosexuality and the public display of sexual organs. There was avarice. There was widespread use of drugs (pharmakeia). Cocaine was invented in Egypt, and probably came to Babylon. There was astrology, sorcery, and witchcraft (which today we have repackaged). There was heterosexual perversion. There was murder and violence (mindful of what we can't help but see on TV). War was a staple. Children were disrespectful and aggressive, he argues. The religious rulers of Babylon were women. 

"The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues," to use a different translation (Revelation 17:15).

Does this imply a city of many nationalities, which could take us back to New York (and the U.N., which sits on the water)?

Or are we all now citizens of a global city that fits the bill as Babylon the Great?

[Note also: Michael Brown retreat: spiritual warfare, afterlife, prophecy, healing; Richmond, Virginia]

[Print article]

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[Evangelical view: "Since Iraq, the site of ancient Babylon, does not fit the Scriptural description of modern Babylon, some attempt to shift its location to Saudi Arabia, stating that Mecca, Islam's main holy city, is the modern city of Babylon, the nobility of Saudi Arabia live in lavish luxury, immorality in Saudi Arabia is rife, the anti-messiah will arise out of Middle Eastern Islam, the oil wealth of Saudi Arabia controls the nations of the world including the USA, and so forth. Indeed, there are many characteristics Saudi Arabia has in common with modern Babylon and may be a precursor to Babylon the Great. But the argument that Saudi Arabia is, in fact, the final modern Babylon the Great is specious, because many of the over 60 identifying characteristics in the Bible of modern Babylon cannot possibly pertain to Saudi Arabia. But, far more than with any other nation on Earth, those characteristics fit the USA perfectly. For example, Babylon is called the 'hammer [oppressor] of the world' (Jeremiah 50:23). That description does not remotely fit Saudi Arabia, but, with its military, political and economic dominance of the other nations of the world, America fulfills the prophecy perfectly. Also, just as ancient Babylon was a very idolatrous nation, adopting the gods of the nations over which it held sway, and modern Babylon is prophesied to be very idolatrous (Jeremiah 50:2, 38), the U.S.A., with its "freedom of religion" mantra, is the melting pot of the religions of the world, just as it is the melting pot of the ethnic groups of the world. However, Saudi Arabia is fanatically monotheistic, tolerating no other gods but Allah. And as to oil wealth, at the present time, Russia is the world's number one oil exporter and Saudi Arabia is second. But, with shale oil deposits that are being developed in North Dakota, Texas and other locations, the USA is projected to be the world's number one oil exporter by 2015.

"Others insist that modern Babylon, the kingdom of Satan (cf. Isaiah 14:4), will be a 'revived Roman empire' -- probably a confederation of European nations - that will rule the religious and secular world as ancient Rome did. Well, that is somewhat confused and limited thinking; ancient Babylon fell long before the Roman Empire was in existence. Also, modern Babylon will be the world-dominating nation/empire at the End of the Age only until she is destroyed, then replaced by the global kingdom of Antimessiah - the ultimate revived Roman Empire which will probably have its headquarters in Turkey - the location of the capital of the Roman Empire under Constantine, a type of the false messiah). So, let us see if we can discern who the latter days Babylon the Great is by correctly interpreting Scripture. And as you will see, it is not difficult once we realize and accept the possibility that the USA is indeed modern, prophetic Babylon. When will this happen? Again, there are differing opinions. As stated above, this commentator believes that the political, economic and military fall of America will be the event that precipitates global chaos at the beginning of the Final Seven Years when the anti-messiah goes forth to conquer the world. regardless of exactly when the annihilation of Babylon-America occurs, the events of world history and current global events, in the light of Bible prophecy, seem to be pointing to the reality that it is very near - right at the door."]  

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