The first book of the Bible introduces Nimrod and his kingdom – centered in Babel. The last book of the Bible, chapters 17 and 18, describes God’s utter destruction of Babylon in the last days. The prophetic destruction includes the wicked city itself, as well as the rebellious religion it generated. God’s city, Jerusalem—the city of peace and righteousness, is pitted against the wicked city of Satan, Babylon, throughout Biblical Scripture. Satan’s city must ultimately be destroyed, along with its leader. God’s city will forever stand – in the millennial kingdom, as the center of God’s theocratic reign, then ultimately into eternity as the capital of ‘the new heavens and earth.’
‘The mystery religion of Babylon’ was scattered over the entire world by the dispersion of humanity from Babel. The dragon used this opportunity to spread his venom through the generations that subsequently arose. This religion was replete with cultic rituals of prostitution, idol worship, child sacrifice, magic, divination, and animal sacrifice. Priests diviners, magicians, and prostitutes all participated regularly in these cultic rituals. The Bible is filled with examples of mediums, astrologers, diviners, temple prostitutes, and child sacrifice, which were all associated with this religion in various civilizations of the ancient world. These Biblical examples bear testimony of an apostate religion that was detestable to our Holy God.
The ‘mystery religion of Babylon’ ultimately spawned all false religions down through the ages to this present time. It is the ‘MOTHER of HARLOTS’ described in Revelation 17:5. These false religions will all be judged and destroyed at God’s appointed time, along with those who have perpetrated it over the millennia. The tentacles of the ‘mystery religion of Babylon’ are pictured by an image of a prostitute in Revelations Chapter 17: 1-18. I will quote these verses to paint the picture in the reader’s mind before giving the interpretation.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on the many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a cold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.’ And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly. And the angel said to me, ‘Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.’ (vs. 1-7) The beast that you saw was, and is not and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life since the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.’ (vs 8-14) And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled. The woman whom you saw is the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.’ (vs 15-18)
The woman pictured in this prophecy is the mystery religion of Babylon (as the Scripture attests), and she is destined for the fire of God’s wrath. Remarkably, she is a prostitute—like Semiramis, the likely founder of this wicked religion. She sits upon the waters – a word that usually represent gentile nations in the prophetic scriptures. She is also sitting on the back of a beast, who has many blasphemous names. Blasphemous is in relation to a Holy God. A blasphemous name is one that claims a character or a deed God has already performed – one that only He can claim. The gods of the mystery religion (as discussed in an earlier article) are given names that claim the deeds only Jesus Christ has performed in history. Please refer to that article for a fuller discussion. This Scripture portrays woman as committing adulteries with kings and multitudes from various nationalities and languages. She is dressed like a prostitute, cavorting with royalty and intoxicated with wine. She is adorned with precious and enticing things of this world. Likewise, the adulterous mystery religion seduces people from all nations and languages into its far-reaching tentacles. A wicked prostitute, Semiramis, seduced and deceived people of the New World to follow her in a momentous rebellion against the True God of the universe. The world of antiquity deified Semiramis as queen of heaven and goddess of fertility. Goddess worship became wildly popular wherever it was introduced. Its adherents enthusiastically embraced ‘the mystery religion of Babylon.’ Nations truly became intoxicated with worship of this woman. Indeed, she is not the goddess of heaven. Semiramis is the prostitute of hell! She will unfortunately drag countless souls into the fiery cauldron of God’s judgment. She holds a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. Artwork of antiquity also depicts the fertility and queen goddess of heaven (Semiramis) holding a golden cup in her hand. She is pictured in this prophetic scripture as being drunk with the blood of the saints and intoxicated with those who have borne the testimony of Jesus. The Scripture indicates many believers have and will be martyred by those who perpetrate this false mystery religion. History already supports this and will continue to do so until the last days when God destroys the harlot.
Verse 7 describes the beast the woman rides has seven heads and ten horns. He was, and is not and is to come. This suggests the beast will be obvious and in control during history then disappear and later reappear in the last days. The angel interprets for John that the 7 heads of the beast the woman rides represent seven mountains or kings – five have fallen, one is and one is yet to come. Prophetic Scriptures often use mountains to depict kings or kingdoms. Both are likely in view here. These seven kingdoms are inextricably intertwined with the harlot – she rides each of them and greatly influences them. Five of these kings/kingdoms had fallen at the time the prophecy was given to John. One kingdom existed during this prophecy and another kingdom was predicted to arise in the future. This last kingdom would be a reincarnation of one of the first 6 kingdoms. Our understanding of Nimrod, Semiramis and ‘the mystery religion of Babylon’ sheds light on which kingdoms are represented here. After all, many kingdoms have risen and fallen over the history of this world – many more than seven. But God’s prophetic Word generally involves Israel over the course of Biblical history. Israel did not exist prior to the Noahic worldwide flood. In fact, Israel did not exist during the time of Nimrod and the origin of ‘the mystery religion of Babylon.’ Several generations later, however, Abram was called by God to leave Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia and head to the promised land – Canaan. The strongest empire in the world at that time was Egypt and it was heavily suffused with the ‘mystery religion of Babylon.’ It was also intricately involved with the development of Israel as a nation. The Egyptian empire is the first mountain (or head) the harlot rides. The second empire is the Assyrian empire – also heavily influenced by the ‘mystery religion’ and located north of Nimrod’s capital, Babylon – in present day Iraq. Assyria was a horrific enemy of God’s people. It defeated and destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel in the days of the prophet Isaiah – approx 750 BC. The Assyrians used similar methods of warfare and body mutilation that Nimrod had invented over a millennia before. The third head/mountain/kingdom upon whom the harlot sits is the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This empire, led by the King Nebuchadnezzar, invaded Israel and destroyed Judah and its capital Jerusalem in 586 BC. This began the ‘age of the gentiles’ and the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish nation. God gave an image of ‘the age of the gentiles’ in a dream to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 2. This dream was later described and interpreted by the prophet Daniel. The empires depicted in this image comprise the remainder of the heads upon which the harlot sits in the prophecy under current review. The fourth head/mountain upon whom the prostitute rides is the Medo-Persian empire. This empire controlled the destiny of the Jewish nation for several generations. Israel almost perished under the wicked designs of Haman, as the Book of Esther describes. These events occurred during the Medo-Persian Empire. The fifth head/mountain whom the harlot rides is the Greek empire, initially conquered by Alexander the Great and then split into four parts controlled by generals in Alexander’s army. A fearsome and wicked king arose from one of these parts (Selucid empire – in the area of present day Syria), whose ambition was to exterminate the Jewish religion and the Jewish people who were determined to follow their God. His name was Antiochus Theos Epiphanes – the name meaning Antiochus, god in the flesh. The study of Biblical typology reveals he was also a type/picture of the antichrist who is to come. Literally hundreds of thousands and likely millions of Jews perished through his wicked campaign.
The above-mentioned kingdoms arose and ruled Israel in times preceding the revelation given to John. Each of them were completely immersed in the ‘mystery religion of Babylon.’ Polytheism, human sacrifice, astrology, divination, and prostitution were rampant in these empires, and their subjects were required to fully participate in this religion. The sixth kingdom ridden by the harlot also fully embraced ‘the mystery religion of Babylon.’ This Roman kingdom existed concurrent with the life of John the Apostle. It was prophesied to disappear, then arise once again in the future. It would then be the seventh kingdom (head) of the beast. An ‘eighth’ king would arise from this seventh head (described as ‘one of the seven’ – vs. 11). The antichrist, personified as the beast, will later arise from this revived Roman Empire. A horn in prophetic Scripture often represents a king. The ten horns depict ten kings who will arise in the last days and rule under the administration of the antichrist. They will govern ten regions of this empire. These kings and the antichrist ‘will wage war against the Lamb’ (Jesus Christ) in the last days, and He will overcome them. – vs. 14.
Verse 16 of this prophecy explains that these ten kings and the antichrist will ultimately use up the harlot and then utterly destroy her. The Scripture describes this is a common purpose of God (vs. 17) – He wants her utterly destroyed to eliminate the influence of ‘mystery religion of Babylon’ in this world. Never again, will false religions, opposing the purpose of the One True God, exist in this world. All vestiges of them will be annihilated. The antichrist will then command ultimate authority in the world until he is finally defeated by victorious One – Jesus Christ. A new history will then ensue for a millennium, in which Jesus Christ will remake the world and rule it with an ‘iron rod’ – total authority. He will eliminate Satan, the antichrist, and all those who oppose Him for this period.