Revelation 17:3-6 (KJV)
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
5 And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.
6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
Ask yourself, who is the woman on the beast? For the past 40 years, we have been taught that this is most likely the Roman Catholic Church. A strong case can be built to support this, especially historically. However, there are several other views that are held in regards to "Mystery Babylon" including Mecca, America, and Babylon (city in Iraq).
The following are views expressed from Walid Shoebot, who is a Palestinian American. Walid was born in the West Bank to an American mother. He converted from Islam to Christianity and claims to be a former PLO terrorist. He brings a Middle East perspective on these scriptures. He answers the question "where is mount Babel", by stating that it is in Mecca. "The Towers of the House" (largest tower in the world in terms of area, consisting of 7 towers) overlooking the Ka'ba - Islam's holiest place. Mount Babel holds a massive clock tower that sits on 7 towers, three on each side, and is considered holy to roughly 1.5 billion people. Walid points out that most Protestant Theologians liken Mystery Babylon to Rome because it is considered to be the city of 7 hills (Rev.17:9). However Vatican City is not built on these 7 hills. The 7 hills are located on east side of the Tiber river while Vatican hill is on the right side of the river. Mecca is one of the city's that is actually built on 7 hills.
The "Mother of Harlots" is considered to be the worship of Ishtar and originated from Arabia and not Rome. The black stone used to construct the Ka'ba was originally dedicated to Aphrodite, the prostitute goddess, adorned in purple. "Arrayed in purple and scarlet colored, decked with gold and precious stones and pearls" - the Ka'ba is compared to a virgin. The Kiswa (black tarp), is considered to be like a woman's dress with pearls, jewels, gold, silver and blasphemies etched in silver threads with golden inlays across her attire. It also has a scarlet inner garment, and Its doors are constructed with 300kg of gold. According to the Hadith, "The Ka'ba is the house of God and it's sanctuary is Bab-illah (the gate to God), so when they went there, they stood by the door in supplication... Bab-illah and Babel are identical in meaning and also depicted as a woman.
Now regarding her judgement:
Revelation 18:8-10 (KJV)
8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come..
Walid points out that Iran (Elam) must destroy Arabia - The burden against Dumah, against Arabia, and the glory of Kedar (Mecca) will fail. These are all in Arabia, and are destroyed by Elam (Iran) - Isaiah ch. 21. It is impossible to consider that Isaiah 21 was referring to a historic battle between Persia and ancient Babylon since the multiple references to Kedar, Tema, Dedan, and Dumah are all in Saudi Arabia, near Medina. Walid also quotes Isaiah 14:22-23:
Isaiah 14:22-23 (KJV)
22 For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord.
23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts.
This "broom of destruction" may be the result of a nuclear explosion.
Isaiah 13:20 (KJV)
20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.
Arabs pitch tents in Arabia, not Rome. Then we have the Red Sea which is referenced in the book of Jeremiah 49:18-21. Mecca sits next to the Red Sea. Some say the these scriptures are are referring to Edom, however Edom stretches from Yemen to Saudi Arabia. It's destruction is described (Is. 13:19 & Jer. 49:18) as Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown. Isaiah 34:8-10 has similar language to Revelation "smoke ascending forever" and also "streams turned into pitch and it's dust into brimstone". Pitch and bitumen is technically crude oil. Revelation says "When the Kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning.
Babylon, the ancient city, that is still located in Iraq, is also a candidate for Mystery Babylon. Some believe that to arrive at the conclusion that Mystery Babylon is a place other than Babylon, you must spiritualize the scriptures rather than take them contextually and literally at face value. At this very moment, there is a project led by the World Monuments Fund, and partially funded by the US Department of State, called "The Future of Babylon". They are working with the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage towards preservation and perhaps more at the actual ancient site. In 2003, the actual site of Babylon was placed on the tentative list as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. TIME magazine referred to this title as an "Oscar of the environment". If accepted, any attack or plunder, or damage to the site would be prohibited on the world stage, and the member state that has the site would of course get funding. While this site wold remain technical property of Iraq, if nominated and signed, UNESCO would manage and oversee the conservation.
Then there are those who consider America as Babylon, though not physically but rather spiritually. One of the main reasons this view is held is due to the fact that we can't seem to find America in End Times prophecies, and certainly there is criteria that fits. With it's promotion of false religions, it's Masonic foundations, it's occult symbols on it's currency (one dollar bill), and to it's beacon of hope, the Statue of Liberty, which is a resemblance of the ancient statue of the Greek Titan-god (Colossus of Rhodes), we can see how this is in consideration.
The Statue of Liberty Poem, which is engraved on the pedestal that the statue stands upon, is titled "The New Colossus". The similarities between the two statues are striking. From America's instigation of it's foreign wars, it's internal strife, racial tensions, civil unrest, open border concerns, and a daily infringement on it's Constitutional Rights, it looks like the "love of many has waxed cold". It's moral compass appears to be broken beyond repair, short of a third Great Revival. There have been a slaughter of it's children while in their wombs to the tune of 53,923,070 since 1970. America is also home to the "porn capital of the world". We are also the leader in the betrayal of family values, and the destruction of the institution of marriage as God ordained in the Bible as being between a man and a woman. Our churches are steeped in political correctness and compromise where tolerance is the word of the day, and If you even mention the fact that homosexuality is a sin, or any sin for that matter, you are met with anger, violence, and/or slander. You are labeled a bigot, and in the case of homosexuality, could even be accused of a hate crime. Remember those verses, from 2 Timothy 3:16-17, where we are told that the Word of God is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness? So that man can be perfected and equipped for all good works? Across our country, in our churches, there is a famine for the truth (which is the Word of God) and a great apathy and indifference. Is America ripe for judgement? Quoting noted evangelist, Reverend Billy Graham - "If God doesn't judge America, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!" More importantly, will the Son of Man (Jesus) find faith when He returns?
Regardless of where Babylon is, or whether it is physical or spiritual, the message to us as believers is clear - seek His face, turn from our wicked ways, REPENT and come out of (spiritual) Babylon. We are strangers and pilgrims on this earth desiring a better country, that is heavenly: where God is not ashamed to be called our God. We need to be of a heavenly persuasion and not of an earthly perversion. We must allow His word to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. By the renewing of our minds, and the washing by His blood, we must forsake our youthful lusts and the works of our flesh and walk according to His word, being filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we may be lead into all truth. Once we realize and accept and embrace this, then perhaps we can be the witnesses that our Lord intends us to be.
Your thoughts and opinions are welcome.