One of the most intriguing mysteries of Revelation has to do with the identity of the symbolic Babylon the Great. There are various interpretations of what "Babylon the Great" represents. For example, one of the latest interpretations is that "Babylon the Great" is America. Others think that it is the old Roman Empire or the Vatican. In fact, back in the 1850's Alexander Hislop, in his book The Two Babylons, made a compelling case that the Catholic Church is the symbolic harlot. The Catholic Church, though, says that they are not the great harlot, but that apostate Jerusalem and pagan Rome fit the profile of the whore of Babylon.
How can anyone know for sure what "Babylon the Great" represents? According to the angel that presented the Revelation to John, it is by using our intelligence with wisdom. After saying to John that he would tell him the mystery of the woman riding the seven-headed beast, the angel went on to say: "Here is where intelligence that has wisdom comes in: The seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top. And there are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while." (Revelation 17:9)
Interestingly, the angel said very little about the harlotrous woman herself; instead, he described in detail the origin and nature of her beastly mount. According to the angel, the seven heads of the wild beast represent seven kings that rule in succession. The angel plainly said: "The seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top." Five of those kings had already fallen from power by the first century when the Revelation was given. Which kings were they? According to Bible history and prophecy, those five "fallen" kings were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. Of course, Rome was the existing king in the 1st century, which the angel was referring to as the one that "is." And the king that "has not yet arrived" has proven to be the Anglo-American dual world power.
According to the angel, then, "the seven heads mean seven mountains." That is in keeping with the facts that in many places in prophecy mountains symbolize governments. For instance, Jeremiah 51:25 likens the fallen Babylonian kingdom to a "ruinous mountain" and a "burnt-out mountain."
Of course, Babylon itself was situated on a river plain and was not a mountain city. So, clearly, Jehovah uses mountains to symbolize mountain-like political institutions. Elsewhere in scripture, God's own royal kingdom is called MountZion. Therefore, Babylon the Great cannot represent the Roman Catholic Church, America, or any other nation or single religion. The reason is because the five fallen kings that were dominated by the harlot existed before Christ, and long before the Vatican or the United States ever came on the scene.
Likewise, some would-be-interpreters insist that the seven mountains are actually the seven hills that the literal city of Rome was supposedly built upon. But, as anyone with intelligence can read for themselves, the seven mountains merely symbolize the seven heads of the beast and are not literal hills at all, and the seven heads are themselves seven consecutive kingdoms that have ruled the world and impacted Jehovah's worshippers.
So what does Babylon the Great really represent? It represents what the Watchtower has said all along. Babylon the Great symbolizes the world empire of false religion. That is – all organized religion with the exception of the true faith of Jesus Christ. How may we be sure?
"FOR THE ABUNDANCE OF YOUR SORCERIES"
In order to understand the mysteries of Revelation, it is helpful to have some knowledge of the Hebrew prophets from whom much of the symbolism of Revelation is drawn. By examining the Hebrew Scriptures we may gain some insight into the historical foundation for the modern entity called Babylon the Great.
For example, in the 47th chapter of Isaiah, Jehovah speaks to the original Babylon using phrases that centuries later were used in Revelation to describe Babylon the Great. Isaiah 47:8 ascribes these words to ancient Babylon: "Now hear this, you pleasure-seeking woman, the one sitting in security, the one saying in her heart: ‘I am, and there is no one else. I shall not sit as a widow, and I shall not know the loss of children.’" Revelation 18:7 describes Babylon the Great the same way, saying: "For in her heart she keeps saying, 'I sit a queen, and I am no widow, and I shall never see mourning.'"
Another similarity between the two Babylons is that they are described as using sorcery and spiritism. For instance, Isaiah 47:9 foretells that Jehovah's judgment will come upon Babylon, "for the abundance of your sorceries, for the full might of your spells – exceedingly." Likewise, Revelation 18:23 says of Babylon the Great: "For by your spiritistic practice all the nations were misled."
Spiritism and sorcery obviously has to do with the black arts associated with demon religion. How is it that Babylon misled the nations of the world using demonism? At this point we ought to make a distinction between imperial Babylon and religious Babylon, although the two were inseparably linked. Whereas the Babylonian Empire terrorized and subjugated a large portion of the world with the edge of the sword, priest-craft and mysticism were employed to not only justify war, but to conquer and control the minds of the individual subjects in order to make them subservient to the Empire. Thus, demon religion has always been a tool of the empire and each has used the other to further their own ends. That is why Babylon the great is symbolized as a great harlot and queen mother that commits fornication with the kings of the earth.
History verifies that each empire has had a religious consort. Pharaoh had his magic-practicing priests. Assyria and Babylon had a hierarchy of priests that attended to their multiplicity of deities and steered the empire by astrology and divination.
The Persian Empire adopted the religion known as Zoroastrianism. The Greeks were polytheistic and built numerous shrines and temples to their gods and goddesses. The Romans inherited a hodgepodge of mythology from the Chaldeans, Persians and Greeks and formalized it into the state religion known as Mithras. Later, of course, Rome adopted apostate Christianity as the official state religion.
In modern history, the Anglican Church has been the official consort of the British Empire. While the United States' official policy is that there must be no state religion, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant religions exert a very powerful influence over the American political system.
Appropriately, the official religion of the United Nations, is the new age religion for the New Order, which, in reality, is merely a conglomeration of all of the previous religions of the empire---and then some.
Much has been written about the occult publishing company of Lucis Trust, formerly Lucifer Trust, which apparently has a powerful, spellbinding influence over the United Nations bureaucracy. Such an unseemly connection exemplifies the occultish, satanic influence that Babylon the Great is capable of exerting over powerful men and political institutions. So it follows that modern babylonish adepts still use sorcery and spiritism to mislead mankind.
One notable aspect of Babylon's religion was that it featured triads of gods and demons. Most prominent among the Babylonian pantheon was the trinity composed of Anu, Bel and Ea. Another triad consisted of Shamash, Sin and Ishtar. From Babel the trinity was taken into Egypt in the form of the gods, Osiris, Isis and Horus. To this day, the ages-old Hindu religion has retained the babylonish triad. Christendom's nonsensical and unbiblical doctrine of the Trinity gives evidence that Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism are also the immoral offspring of their babylonish mother, which is why Babylon the Great is called "the mother of the harlots."
Astrology also played an important role in babylonish religion. At Isaiah 47:12-13, Jehovah taunts and challenges the stargazers and soothsayers to divine the future. It reads: "Stand still, now, with your spells and with the abundance of your sorceries, in which you have toiled from your youth; that perhaps you might be able to benefit, that perhaps you might strike people with awe. You have grown weary with the multitude of your counselors. Let them stand up now, and save you, the worshippers of the heavens, the lookers at the stars, those giving out knowledge at the new moons concerning the things that will come upon you."
By making reference to Babylon's youth, Jehovah was apparently referring to the post-Deluge beginnings of Babel and its ignominious founder –Nimrod. It seems that an entire mythology was built around the relationship of Nimrod with Semiramis his mother, so that after his death Nimrod was deified as the Sun god and his mother became the Queen of the heavens. Thus, from the very beginning, before Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian Empire, the Chaldeans 'toiled from youth' to create a system of worship based upon myth, divination, astrology, superstition and magic.
Another aspect of the religion of Babylon the Great is that according to Revelation 18:7, she has "glorified herself and lived in shameless luxury."
Living in "shameless luxury" certainly describes the phony religious system of modern Babylon the Great. The Catholic Church, being one of the most powerful and prominent segments of modern false religion, is conspicuous in this respect and certainly fits the description of living in shameless luxury. As one of the wealthiest institutions in the world, the Church stands in stark contrast to the hopeless poverty of so many of the peoples of the world that she has exploited.
Not much needs to be said concerning the well-known and highly publicized shameless begging and opulent lifestyles of numerous televangelists, who have exploited gullible minds with a so-called prosperity doctrine. Also, in recent years the media has also thrown light on the fabulously wealthy Mormon Church. Many of Babylon the Great's traveling merchants of religion, whether popes, gurus, swamis, rabbis, Protestant clergy, or Islam's mullahs, have been the "top-ranking men of earth," as Revelation 18:23 describes, and as such, they are often richly rewarded for their services to the great harlot.
"THE BLOOD OF ALL THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN SLAUGHTERED"
Another similarity between ancient and modern Babylon is that the religious leaders are agents for fomenting war. According to Revelation 18:24, Jehovah God holds false religion directly responsible for all of the deaths that have occurred in warfare. And true to Jehovah's judgment, history verifies that religious fanaticism and cleric political involvement is often used to manipulate men into killing one another. The Crusades, horrific Inquisitions, Hundred Years war, plus the World Wars of the 20th Century, which were fought in the heart of what is known as Christendom, proves beyond any denial that the denominations claiming to be Christian are really part of Babylon the Great.
And when religion is not directly involved in warfare, it often gives tacit approval by abdicating its moral authority. For example, it is charged that had the Pope of Rome used his authority to speak out against Hitler and the Holocaust, many lives could have been saved and perhaps the entire course of history could have been changed for the better. (Pope wants to erase Nazi ties to Church)
But Jehovah's judgments against Babylon the Great have not taken place yet, so apparently her sins have not yet amassed clear up to heaven, as Revelation describes. That being the case, evidently Babylon is not through promoting the slaughter of mankind. Indeed, the world is presently careening towards the so-called Clash of Civilizations that global seers have envisioned, which has the potential of being the greatest slaughter that has ever occurred in mankind's bloody history. Not uncharacteristically, the world's major religions are situated at ground zero.
It should be of more than passing interest to us that fundamentalist Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians are all deeply involved in the world's present Middle East and India-Pakistan crisis. While, in the West, Islam is typically portrayed as the chief warmongering culprit, others rightly charge the Christian Fundamentalists sects as being every bit as culpable and dangerous as the Islamist associated with terrorism. In the wake of 9-11, Christian fundamentalists have shamelessly fanned the flames of anti-Islamic hatred, thereby setting the stage for the coming slaughter of innocents in the name of Jesus.
Unquestionably, Zionism is the root cause of contention that has pitted Islam against Christendom and Israel and which has now brought the entire global civilization to the brink of World War Three. In the recent destruction of Iraq, whereby some estimate the Iraqi death toll now exceeds 1,000,000, far more than were killed by the deposed Iraqi dictator, in America the ignorant masses of evangelicals were the political foot soldiers that made the war possible.
Because Zionism is itself a product of 19th Century British geo-political intrigue and the occult, it is apparent that Christendom is a compliant Mistress in allowing herself to be used to give biblical credence to such modern mythology as Zionism.
True to prophecy, it is evident that by her spiritistic practice all nations are being misled into becoming bloodguilty before God.
But, besides lending support to general and religious warfare, Babylon the Great is specifically charged with persecuting and murdering Jehovah's prophets and holy ones. Revelation 18:24 says in full: "Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth."
The term "holy ones" applies specifically to anointed Christians. In the first century many of the holy ones were killed by fanatical Jews and Roman pagans. Later the Catholic Church persecuted, tortured and executed many thousands of Christians deemed to be heretics. No doubt some of those victims were genuine holy ones, such as the Waldenses of Southern France.
In the 20th Century, Christendom has taken the lead in outrightly persecuting Jehovah's Witnesses and has used her considerable political influence to cause the governments and politicians to enact regulations aimed at suppressing our work. The Holocaust Museum, in Washington D.C., documents the trials and tribulations of Jehovah's Witnesses during the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.
But, Jehovah's Witnesses have suffered religious persecution in other nations as well. For example, during the 1950's, in the Canadian province of Quebec, Jehovah's Witnesses were bitterly persecuted by the Catholic Premier and the Catholic Church.
More recently, the Russian Orthodox Church has sponsored the banning and persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in the former Soviet nations and Russia.
Religious intolerance and fanaticism has resulted in persecutions in Armenia, Turkmenistan, and Georgia. The Greek Orthodox Church has been behind decades of rabid persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Greece. Catholic influence in France is evident in the present situation, whereby Jehovah's Witnesses are being punitively taxed. In fact, some French legislators apparently want to make any sort of preaching a crime.
Unbiased observers recognize that even in a bastion of democracy like the United States, that Jehovah's Witnesses have had to go to extraordinary lengths to secure their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.
The above-cited examples of religiously motivated persecution, reveals the underlying hostility and animosity that Babylon the Great harbors against Jehovah God and those who bear his name. The question naturally arises: Where will such enmity lead in the future? According to the Watchtower's interpretation, Jehovah's Witnesses have been released from any influence that Babylon the Great may have exerted over true Christians.