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Particulars of Christianity:
314 End Times Prophecy (Eschatology)

Prophetic Symbols: The Great Prostitute (Part 1)

Prophetic Symbols: The Great Prostitute (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: The Great Prostitute (Part 2)
Prophetic Symbols: The Great Prostitute (Part 3)
Prophetic Symbols: The Great Prostitute (Part 4)
Prophetic Symbols: The Great Prostitute (Part 5)
Prophetic Symbols: The Great Prostitute (Part 6)
Prophetic Symbols: The Great Prostitute (Part 7)

Articles 7-12
Articles 13-18
Articles 19-25
Articles 26-29

Revelation 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 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. 7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns...15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. 18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

Here in Revelation 17 we are presented with the symbol of a woman riding the seven-headed beast. We will first, examine this final symbol from our prophetic symbol study by looking at the various descriptions of this woman that are supplied by Revelation 17 and 18. Second, in order to gain a more complete Biblical and historical context for Mystery Babylon we will compare these descriptions to other Biblical passages and to some non-Biblical historical materials. Third, we will discuss whether or not the city that is Mystery Babylon is specifically identified for us in Revelation 17 and 18. And finally, we will take a look at the relationship between Mystery Babylon and the empire of the False Prophet and the empire of the Antichrist.

We will start by making a list of the descriptions that are given of this woman in Revelation 17 and 18.

1. She is over many ethnic groups, nations, and peoples (sits on many waters, which is a reference to many peoples, nations, and tongues). (Revelation 17:1, 15)

2. She is politically involved.
a. With the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:2, 18:3, 9)
b. She reigns over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:18)

3. She is the great city.
a. With political power - that rules over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:18)
b. A wealthy city,
- An important city of trade. (Revelation 18:3, 11-15)
- Her merchants are the great men of the earth. (Revelation 18:23)
c. An important seaport. (Revelation 18:17,19)

4. She is responsible for the martyrdom of the saints. (Revelation 17:6, 18:20, 24)

5. She will be destroyed.
a. By the 10 kings, who will hate her. (Revelation 17:16)
b. With fire. (Revelation 17:16, 18:9)
c. In one hour. (Revelation 18:10, 18-19)

6. She deceives all the nations through her sorcery. (Revelation 18:23)

7. She is given the title, description, or names: (Revelation 17:5)
a. Mystery.
b. Babylon the Great.
c. Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth.

8. She rides the seven-headed beast, which is a symbol representing the succession of the seven Gentile empires, which would rule the earth before the coming of the Jewish Messianic Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 17:3, 7)

Now that we have a grasp of who Mystery Babylon is we can find her described in both the scripture and in non-Biblical reference books. Remember from our list that we are looking for some entity that is politically powerful, wealthy, which deceives involving the use of sorcery, which is responsible for the death of the saints, and which is connected to a great city, which is the seat of rule over the nations of the earth, and (at least in the end times) is an ethnically diverse city, a city of importance to shipmasters and sailors, and a center of global trade.

In the scripture we will find a group of people who play a significant role throughout the Book of Daniel and who fit the above criterion very closely. These men are referred to collectively in this book as the Chaldeans, a term which reflected their Babylonian heritage. In fact the term Chaldeans is simply another word that denotes Babylonians in general. A survey of the Book of Daniel reveals the following about the Chaldean wise men, showing that this group fits the characteristics that we outlined above regarding Mystery Babylon.

1. They are politically powerful. (Related to No. 2 above)
2. They are present in and hold power in the two empires of the succession of seven empires. (Related to No. 8 above)
3. They attempt to bring about the destruction of God's people. (Related to No. 4 above)
4. They are involved in instigating idol worship. (Related to No. 7c above)
5. They are involved in deception of the king. (Related to No. 6 above)
6. They practice sorcery, astrology, magic. (Related to No. 6 above)
7. They held secret knowledge and were able to reveal hidden mysteries. (Related to No. 7 above)
8. They are related to Babylon. (Relates to No. 8 above)

1. The Chaldeans were politically powerful.

In Daniel 1:17-20 and Daniel 2:12-14, 24, and 27 we see that Daniel and his three associates, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are counted among the wise men of Babylon. In Daniel 2:48-49 we see that after revealing the dream and it's meaning to the king, Daniel is promoted to be the highest ruler over Babylon, the chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. And at Daniel's request his associates are placed over the affairs of the province of Babylon as well. Daniel and his associates were both wise men and civic leaders. Upon the demonstration that Daniel possessed secret knowledge that the other Chaldeans could not reveal, Daniel was made the highest leader over all of them.

In chapter 3 of Daniel, we again see the dual roles of the Babylonian civic leadership. The rulers are involved in making religious decrees binding on peoples, nations, and languages (Daniel 3:4), which had legal weight throughout the kingdom. And in verse 8 we see that the Chaldeans both accused lawbreakers and petitioned the king to enforce the penal code.

Similar to chapters 1 and 2, we see that Daniel, who was the chief political ruler over the entire kingdom of Babylon is referred to as the master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers, showing that the king made little distinction between his political and religious authority. Later in the chapter, in verse 36, we see that the king has counselors and lords, terms, which refer to the kingdom's civic leaders (lords) and the king's advisors (astrologers, sorcerers, etc.).

In Daniel 5:7,16, and 29 king Belshazzar, the third and final king of Babylon, promises that the Chaldean who could reveal the meaning of the words written on the wall would be made the third ruler over the kingdom. This again shows how closely related these Chaldeans were to the political structure over Babylon. Likewise, verse 11 makes no distinction between the civic and religious authorities of Babylon in that it refers to Daniel's appointment in chapter 2 as "master of the astrologers, magicians, soothsayers, and Chaldeans." This is compared to chapter 2 where Daniel is said to be made "ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon."

In Daniel 6, though the Babylonian kingdom has been conquered by the Medes, we find that Darius the Mede, keeps Daniel as the first of three governors over the 120 provinces of the kingdom. And it is likely that Daniel was not the only satrap or governor to retain his position under the new authority.

The reason we say this is that we see that these rulers of the Media-Persian empire do the exact same thing that the Chaldeans did earlier in chapter 3. In Daniel 6:7 we are told that the rulers and counselors consulted together and issued a royal decree, a religious law which was considered to be a law of the Medes and Persians. This law is religious in nature. They then petitioned the king to sign the decree and enact the law.

Just as the Chaldeans did in chapter 3, these men accuse Daniel of breaking this law before the king and demand that Daniel be punished in accordance with it. From the similarities in these events it does not seem unwarranted to suppose that many of these men may have been the same people who first tried this maneuver against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in chapter 3.

In all of these passages of Daniel we see the existence of a prominent group of sorcerers and wise men, known as Chaldeans, who wielded considerable political power in the kingdoms of Babylon and Media-Persia.

2. The Chaldeans are present in and hold power in the two empires of the succession of seven empires. (Related to No. 8 above)

Another thing that is significant to note in Daniel 1-6 is that the Chaldeans served as civic and religious authorities in both the Babylonian and Media-Persian empires. Regardless of whether it was the same individuals in both cases, the sorcerers, magicians, soothsayers, wise men, astrologers, and Chaldeans are present in and hold the same significant role in the administration of both the Babylonian and Media-Persian empires. This is a significant help in explaining what Revelation 17 is indicating when it describes the woman riding the succession of seven empires. We will look more at this later as we examine other scripture passages, which describe similar occurrences.

3. The Chaldeans attempt to bring about the destruction of God's people. (Related to No. 4 above)

As we saw from Daniel 3 and Daniel 6, in both the Babylonian and Media-Persian empires, the Chaldeans worked together to persecute God's people and to bring about their destruction. Two instances of this are recorded in the Book of Daniel. In both instances a law is enacted, which the Jews had to violate in order to obey God. The Chaldeans, rulers, and counselors designed the law deliberately so that when the Jews defied it the punishment would be their destruction. These events bear much resemblance to Revelation 17 and 18's statement that Mystery Babylon is responsible for the blood of the saints. Again, we will look more at this type of activity when we look at other passages in other books, which describe similar events.

4. The Chaldeans are involved in instigating idol worship. (Related to No. 7c above)

As we have just covered, in Daniel 3 and 6 these Chaldeans, rulers, and counselors designed a law in order to entrap God's people into either capitol punishment or disobeying God. In both of these cases, which are recorded in Daniel the law that these men used required the worship of either of the king himself or an idol (a statue of a man). Throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament the worship of idols is stated to be equivalent to spiritual adultery or harlotry against God and considered by God as an abomination. So, again we see a strong connection between the work of these men known as Chaldeans and the woman of Revelation 17. One of the titles for the woman of Revelation 17 is "the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." The connection that must be made then between the Chaldeans and Mystery Babylon is that both entice the people of the earth to worship idols (including kings as representations of political systems) and so to commit spiritual adultery against God. Thus, both are responsible for the abominations of the earth, which has to do with idolatry and idol worship.

5. They are involved in deception of the king. (Related to No. 6 above)

In chapter 2 of Daniel we saw that king Nebuchadnezzar was angered enough with the Chaldeans to order their deaths when they did not tell him his dream or its interpretation. The king's reaction is interesting to note for two reasons. One, he believes that these men are lying to and deceiving him. And two, the king believed that they were doing so in order to stall until his kingdom fell and was succeeded by another.

Daniel 2:8 The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. 9 But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.

From Nebuchadnezzar's statement here we can see that he was suspicious of the wise men. Not only does he accuse them of deceiving him, of stalling, and of having knowledge that they are withholding from him, but the king says that they are waiting "till the time be changed."

It is apparent that the king did not trust these men's loyalty to his kingdom and we can understand why since many of these same men no doubt survived the fall of the Babylonian empire in chapter 5 and went on, like Daniel, to be leaders in the Media-Persian empire. But how is it that Nebuchadnezzar suspected that this is what they were waiting for way back here in chapter 2? The key is the phrase "till the time be changed" found in verse 9.

From Daniel 2:20-22 we know what this curious phrase means.

Daniel 2:20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

The phrase "the changing of the times" refers to the removal and setting up of kings and kingdoms. Therefore, it is apparent that Nebuchadnezzar was accusing the Chaldeans of knowing that the time of his kingdom was passing and of deceiving him and stalling until it passed to his successor.

By this we know that the Chaldeans were known to possess the understanding of when one kingdom would be removed and the next would come to replace it. And Nebuchadnezzar knew that these men not only had knowledge of such secrets, but that they would at times reveal it to him or deceive him according to their own agenda. And this is interesting since Revelation tells us that this woman deceives the world through her sorceries. Likewise, these Chaldeans, the sorcerers, astrologers, magicians, wise men, soothsayers, the keepers and revealers of secrets deceived king Nebuchadnezzar presumably in an attempt to preserve their own power.

We can also see that Nebuchadnezzar's comments confirm our earlier conclusion that these men survived and presided in each of the successive empires of the seven-headed empire system as Revelation 17 describes, and as Daniel 5-6 records with regard to Babylon and Media-Persia.

(Points No. 6-8 continue in next article.)

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