Case I: Jerusalem
Revelation 17:9-10, "Here is a clue for one who has wisdom. The seven heads represent seven hills upon which the woman sits. They also represent seven kings: five have already fallen, one still lives, and the last has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a short while." The reference to the seven hills could fit in regards to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a large city spreading beyond the walls of the fort and onto the seven hills there during the time of Jesus and the Apostles.It’s seven hills are:
- Mount Gared
- Mount Goath
- Mount Acra
- Mount Bezetha
- Mount Moriah
- Mount Ophel
- Mount Zion
Revelation 17:5-6,"On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, ‘Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth. I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. When I saw her I was greatly amazed."Babylon was a code name, a "mystery". Compare how Jerusalem is referred to similar code names such as Sodom, Gomorrah, and Egypt. All of these, Sodom, Gomorrah, Egypt, and Babylon are all notorious enemies of God's people.Isaiah 1: 1, 9-10,"The vision which Isaiah, son of Amoz, had concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a scanty remnant, We had become as Sodom, we should be like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah."
Moses warns the Jews how God will punish them and destroy their land if they forsake the covenant:Deuteronomy 29:22-24,"all its soil being nothing but sulphur and salt, a burnt-out waste, unsown and unfruitful, without a blade of grass, destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his furious wrath; they and all the nations will ask, "Why has the LORD dealt thus with this land? Why this fierce outburst of wrath?"; And the answer will be, ‘Because they forsake the covenant which the LORD, the God of their fathers, had made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt"Jeremiah 23:14,"But among Jerusalem’s prophets I saw deeds still more shocking: Adultery, living in lies, siding with the wicked, so that no one turns from evil; To me they are all like Sodom, its citizens like Gomorrah."
Romans 9:27-29,"And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, Though the number of the Israelites were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant will be saved; for decisively and quickly will the Lord execute sentence upon the earth.’ And as Isaiah predicted: ‘Unless the Lord of hosts had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom and have been made like Gomorrah.’ " John in his Book of Revelation continues this use of code names for the "great city"; He is using symbolism to refer to people who had betrayed God's people.Revelation 11:8,"Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which has the symbolic names ‘Sodom’ and ‘Egypt,’ where indeed their Lord was crucified."
This passage in Revelation 11: 8 is most important because it clues us in as to where this "great city" is. It is "where indeed their Lord was crucified." It is Jerusalem. "BABYLON" is Called The Great City Revelation 18:10,"They will keep their distance for fear of the torment inflicted on her, and they will say: ‘Alas, alas, great city, Babylon, mighty city. In one hour your judgement has come.’ "
Jerusalem is also called the great cityJeremiah 22:4-8,"If you carry out these commands, kings who succeed to the throne of David will continue to enter the gates of this palace, riding in chariots or mounted on horses, with their ministers, and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, I swear by myself, says the LORD: this palace shall become rubble. For thus says the Lord concerning the palace of the king of Judah: Though you be to me like Gilead, like the peak of Lebanon, I will turn you into a waste, a city uninhabited. Against you I will send destroyers, each with his axe: They shall cut down your choice cedars, and cast them into the fire. Many people will pass by this city and ask one another: Why has the LORD done this to so great a city?."
Babylon: And The Deaths of The ProphetsRevelation 17:5-6,"On her forehead was written a name, which is a mystery, 'Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.', I saw that the woman was drunk on the blood of the holy ones and on the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. When I saw her I was greatly amazed." Revelation 18:24,24,"In her was found the blood of prophets and holy ones and all who have been slain on the earth."
Compare them with these statements about Jerusalem
Luke 11:47-51,"Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, 'I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute'; in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!."
Luke 13:31-34,"At that time some Pharisees came to him and said, Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!."
Matthew 23:29-36,"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets blood.'Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out ! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna ? Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Amen, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.' Matthew 24:3,"Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place."
A City with Fine Clothing and Precious Stones
Revelation 18:16-17,"Alas, alas, great city, wearing fine linen, purple and scarlet, adorned (in) gold, precious stones, and pearls. In one hour this great wealth has been ruined." Exodus 35:30-36:1,"Moses said to the Israelites, See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel… of the tribe of Judah, and has filled him with a divine spirit of skill and understanding and knowledge in every craft: in the production of embroidery, in making things of gold, silver or bronze, in cutting and mounting precious stones, in carving wood, and in every other craft. He has endowed them with skill to execute all types of work: engraving, embroidering, the making of variegated cloth of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen thread, weaving, and all other arts and crafts. Bezalel, therefore, will set to work with Oholiab and with all the experts whom the LORD has endowed with skill and understanding in knowing how to execute all the work for the service of the sanctuary, just as the LORD has commanded." Exodus 39:1-2,8-14,"With violet, purple and scarlet yarn were woven the service cloths for use in the sanctuary, as well as the sacred vestments for Aaron, as the LORD had commanded Moses. The ephod was woven of gold thread and of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and of fine linen twined."
The breastpiece was embroidered like the ephod, with gold thread and violet, purple and scarlet yarn on cloth of fine linen twined. Four rows of precious stones were mounted on it: in the first row a carnelian, a topaz and an emerald; in the second row, a garnet, a sapphire and a beryl; in the third row a jacinth, an a gate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. They were mounted in gold filigree work. These stones were twelve, to match the names of the sons of Israel, and each stone was engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
Destroyed with Fire
God had promised blessings to the Jews if they obeyed, Deut 28:8 and seven curses if they disobeyed, verses 15 -20. God's Covenant is effected by His Oath. The word "oath" is based on the word "seven." And so the number "seven" represents the Covenant. In Leviticus he threatens to punish the Jews with fire if they break the Covenant. Leviticus 26:15-16,27- 28"if you reject my precepts and spurn my decrees, refusing to obey all my commandments and breaking my covenant, then I… If, despite all this, you still persist in disobeying and defying me, I, also, will meet you with fiery defiance and will chastise you with sevenfold fiercer punishment for your sins…"(emphasis added)
It also had been prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed by fire in the following passages. Ezekiel 16:2-3,35,38,41,"Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations. Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem … Therefore, harlot, hear the word of the LORD! … I will inflict on you the sentence of adulteresses and murderesses; I will wreak fury and jealousy upon you. &hellip. They shall burn your apartments with fire and inflict punishments on you while many women look on. Thus I will put an end to your harlotry, and you shall never again give payment." Ezekiel 23:2-4,17-19,22-25,44-47,"Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother, who even as young girls played the harlot in Egypt. … (As for their names: Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.) … 22 Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: … 25 … They shall take away your sons and daughters, and what is left of you shall be devoured by fire. … 44 And indeed they did come to her as men come to a harlot. Thus they came to Oholah and Oholibah, the lewd women. 45 But just men shall punish them with the sentence meted out to adulteresses and murderesses, for they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. … 47 The assembly shall stone them and hack them to pieces with their swords. They shall slay their sons and daughters, and burn their houses with fire."
Also see Lamentations 2:4, and 4:11. Ezekiel 19:12, 21:2-3, 22:19-21 In John's prophetic vision "Babylon" is also to be destroyed by fire.
Revelation 18:8,17,"Therefore, her plagues will come in one day, pestilence, grief, and famine, she will be consumed by fire. For mighty is the Lord God who judges her… .In one hour this great wealth has been ruined." Every captain of a ship, every traveler at sea, sailors, and seafaring merchants stood at a distance…"
Jerusalem had been a center for commercial trade. Jewish maps even depict it as the center of the world, but true to prophecy it had been completely destroyed by fire in 70 AD, whereas, Rome was only partially burned by Nero. The burning of Jerusalem by fire also had theological significance. The City of Jerusalem is often referred to as a daughter. Lamentations 2:15-18,"They hiss and wag their heads over daughter Jerusalem: ‘Is this the all-beautiful city, the joy of the whole earth?’ …The LORD has done as he decreed: he has fulfilled the threat He set forth from days of old; he has destroyed and had no pity, …Cry out to the Lord; moan, O daughter Zion!"
Unfaithfulness to God is frequently compared to sexual immorality. The penalty for fornication by the daughter of the priest called for a special punishment. It was to be burned to death. Leviticus 21:9,"A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death."" So, when Jerusalem was offered the grace to accept Christ, but instead rejected Him, she is referred to as the"Whore of Babylon" who is subsequently burn to death.
Just as "Babylon" is referred to as a whore, a harlot. Jerusalem is also called a harlot. Revelation 17:1,"Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot"
Ezekiel 16:1-3,26,"Thus the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations. Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: By origin and birth you are of the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite". You played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, so many times that I was provoked to anger." Jeremiah 2:1-2,17-20,"This word of the LORD came to me:Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear!. Has not the forsaking of the LORD, your God, done this to you? And now, why go to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Nile? Why go to Assyria, to drink the waters of the Euphrates? Your own wickedness chastises you, your own infidelities punish you. Know then, and see, how evil and bitter is your forsaking the LORD, your God, And showing no fear of me, says the Lord, the GOD of hosts. Long ago you broke your yoke, you tore off your bonds. I will not serve, you said.On every high hill, under every green tree, you gave yourself to harlotry."
Isaiah 1:1,21,"The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. How the faithful city has become a harlot, she that was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers." Jeremiah 3:1-2,6-8,"If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the harlot with many lovers; and would you return to me? says the Lord. Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been lain with? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile harlotry…’
The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the harlot? And I thought, "After she has done all this she will return to me;" but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the harlot.’ " Jeremiah 5:1,5-7,"Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth; that I may pardon her&hellip. I will go to the great, and will speak to them; for they know the way of the Lord, the law of their God. But they all alike had broken the yoke, they had burst the bonds. Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf from the desert shall destroy them. A leopard is watching against their cities, every one who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces; because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are great. How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me, and have sworn by those who are no gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of harlots."
Ezekiel 23:1-5, 11, 17-19,"The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother… Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem. Oholah played the harlot while she was mine; and she doted on her lovers the Assyrians&hellip. Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet she was more corrupt than she in her doting and in her harlotry, which was worse than that of her sister&hellip. And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their lust; and after she was polluted by them, she turned from them in disgust. When she carried on her harlotry so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned from her sister. Yet she increased her harlotry, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the harlot in the land of Egypt."
Associated with the Scarlet Beast
Compare the following verses. King Herod the Edomite, had falsely claimed to be King David’s successor. "Edom" means red, [ it referred to Esau’s successors. ]And not so coincidentally the beast in Revelation 17 is scarlet. Revelation 17:1-3,"Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot. Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns."
We see an evil relationship between the harlot, apostate Jerusalem, and the scarlet beast, King Herod, on whom she is seated. This evil alliance is confirmed in the Book of Acts. Acts 4:26-28,"The kings of the earth took their stand and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed. Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do what your hand and (your) will had long ago planned to take place."
Acts 12:1-3, 19, 21-23,"About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (It was (the) feast of Unleavened Bread.) …Herod, after instituting a search but not finding him, ordered the guards tried and executed. Then he left Judea to spend some time in Caesarea&hellip. On an appointed day, Herod, attired in royal robes, (and) seated on the rostrum, addressed them publicly. The assembled crowd cried out, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ At once the angel of the Lord struck him down because he did not ascribe the honor to God, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last." A reading of the Book of Acts will show many examples of the particular Jewish leaders of that time attacking the Christians. For example, Acts 7: 54-60,14:4-6,19 and 17:5-7. Jesus had prophesied in John 16:2 that His followers would be kicked out of the synagogue.
Lived near the many waters
The harlot is said to live near the many waters.Revelation 17:1-3,"Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me,Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot who lives near the many waters. The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her, and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry. Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns."
First Figurative Meaning
Revelation 17:15,"And he said to me, The waters that you saw, where the harlot is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues."Jesus had been crucified just outside the city of Jerusalem. When His side was pierced with the sword out flowed water and blood. The water represents the waters of Baptism, through which God gives us saving grace and eternal life. The blood which flowed from His side is a reference to the Blood that He offered at the Last Supper,the Eucharist.John 6:54 John 7:37-38, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him."
Some individuals try to associate the phrase, "lives near the many waters" in Revelation 17 with the city of Rome by pointing out that Jerusalem was not on the coast. However, neither is the city of Rome on the coast. The "lives near the many waters"; could also have a literal reference to the fact that within Palestine, and not to far from Jerusalem, Herod had built the man made port of Caesarea and dedicated it to the Caesar.
Babylon has sovereignty over the nations
Revelation 17:18,"The woman whom you saw represents the great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth." Jerusalem, who had the role to bring God's law to the rest of the nations, had a spiritual sovereignty over all the nations. Psalm 2:6-9,"I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’ I will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, "You are my son; today I am your father. Only ask it of me, and I will make your inheritance the nations, your possession the ends of the earth. With an iron rod you shall shepherd them, like a clay pot you will shatter them."
MY PEOPLE And a very important verse is Revelation 18:4 "Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues ...’ " God said, "Come out of her, my people …" Who does "my people" refer to and where are they at ? These are the important questions. The term "my people" is the key. Jeremiah 31:31-33 The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah....... I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
The term "my people" is covenant language. It is a reference of people who were in a covenant relationship with God. This becomes even more evident when we examine just what it means to be in a covenant. A covenant is very different than a contract. A covenant is as different from a contract as marriage is different from prostitution. In a contract two people exchanges goods and services, "This becomes yours and that becomes mine," or "I will do this for you and you will do that for me", however, contracts can be broken. A covenant is an exchange of persons, "I will become yours and you will become mine." Ezekiel 37:26-27,"I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
The important question here is, where were many of God's people when John wrote this Book? They were still in the Old Covenant, in old worldly Jerusalem and God wanted them to leave that and come into the New Covenant. God could refer to them as "my people" because they were in His Old Covenant. The good becomes the enemy of the best if it causes you to reject the best. Hebrews 13:12-14,"Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come."
The descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob [Israel] are God's chosen people. He has chosen to reveal Himself through them and through the Jewish Messiah that was born to Mary, Jesus. By the covenants that God has made with this chosen race He has made them His "firstborn"; and through them God's plan for salvation is made known.(Psalm 89:28, John 4:22)They illustrate the two paths that mankind can choose, good and evil. There are many examples in this chosen race of holy faith and virtuous living made possible by the grace of God that are revealed for us to emulate. And there are examples of mankind at his worst that are also revealed to us as a warning. One such example is the Jewish leaders of 33 - 70 AD who rejected Truth, Beauty, Love, that is, God Himself. And so, the Whore of Babylon is a code name for the corrupt Jerusalem of the 33 - 70 AD time period, upon whom God's judgment fell.