MYSTERY BABYLON - A RELIGIOUS SYSTEM (THE GREAT WHORE OF Revelation 17)
By W. G. Guy
Revelation 17:5 - "And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATION OF THE EARTH".
Who or what is this "Mystery Babylon"? Scripture identifies it very clearly by its history of influence, practices and accomplishments as being a religious system. This religion, whose roots originate in ancient Babylonian mysticism, is still a great influence in the world right up the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Playing the whore is symbolic language that always refers to religious fornication and idolatry, or simply, a system of worship of something other than, or a perversion of worship of the true and living God, our Heavenly Father. The great whore has been causing nations to commit fornication with her and proves that idolatrous religious practices are being referred to. She is not a political power since she is not classified as one of "the kings of the earth". She only causes the kings and inhabitants of the earth to be drunk with the wine of her fornication, idolatry, false worship and religious practices. Therefore, since fornication here refers to religious harlotry then her influence over the nations is through religion.
The attire of the great whore also identifies her as a religious system, a whore committing spiritual fornication, duping political powers by her false doctrines and idolatries. The purple, scarlet, precious stones, pearls, and golden vessels indicate the great wealth of this world-wide religious system. And, the golden cup in her hand, full of her uncleanness, spiritual fornication, and abominations by which she dupes political powers again proves her to be a wealthy and powerful religious system imposing its influence.
Her name, Mystery Babylon, indicates that this is not literal Babylon. The word "mystery" identifies her with the religious and mystical rites, rituals and mysteries stemming from ancient Babylon. All implications point to the Roman Catholic Church as being the great whore; but let's look further into this.
According to Hislop's, The Two Babylons, which quotes 260 sources, the ancient Babylonian cult, started by Nimrod and his queen, Semiramis, spread among all nations. The objects of worship were the Supreme Father, the Incarnate Female, or Queen of Heaven, and her Son. The cult claimed the highest wisdom and the most divine (dark - mystical) secrets. The origin of this cult date back to the time of Genesis Chapter 10 and 11.
The name, Mother of Harlots (in verse 5), identifies the great whore as a religious system that has spawned numerous offspring, or harlot daughters. The term "harlots" refer to many branches which have sprung from her and have become as much apostate as the great whore herself. These offspring are not part of the great whore, they are different entities altogether; nevertheless, they carry within them some of the very same genes of Babylonian beliefs, festivals, observances and practices.
These daughters of the whore (the Roman Catholic Church) are obviously the Protestant church denominations that have left Romanism with the beginning of the Reformation. Martin Luther saw the errors of Rome and led a separation away from its idolatrous ways. The Protestant Reformation eliminated the Pope as Vicar of Christ, Mary worship, prayers to the saints along with idolatry and superstition. Many of the Christians that joined the Reformation still clung to some of Rome's festivities and practices. Still other of Rome's influences were adopted decades and even centuries later. The problem is that much of Rome's influence is still observed in the protestant church making them the daughters of the whore. It appears that they attempted to get out of Babylon, but could not get Babylon out of them.
Since the Reformation began, God has always had a remnant of faithful followers who desired to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth (John 4:6). Such are the ones who see their church become dried up of truth and Spirit and desire to move on, as did Martin Luther; and this has been an ongoing occurrence in Protestant churches ever since they began. A good example is with the Puritan movement in England. These believers had to leave the country to in order to worship God in Spirit and in truth. So they came to America and were known as the Pilgrims that settled New England. What remains of the Puritan church can't even be seen anymore as compromise and the ways of Rome and Babylon eventually infiltrated that movement. Now New England is the seat of liberalism and the Unitarian Church with its humanistic doctrines.
Every Protestant denomination that arose, and every one that followed after the previous one dried up spiritually, has had the same problem of being infiltrated with the practices, observances and festivals of Rome and Babylon. They dry up spiritually because they cease using God's Word as the rule of life; they cease to pray effectually; and they reject the leading of the Holy Spirit in their church services and in their individual lives, preferring to be led of man instead. The most universal problem that each succeeding movement had was the centrality of the church itself instead of the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each church seeks to make converts unto itself instead of making disciples unto Christ. So it appears that whenever a new move of God, by His Spirit, begins to settle down, it becomes controlled and organized by man, then compromise begins to fill it and it goes the way of its predecessors as another of the great whore's harlot daughters.
The name "MOTHER OF ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH (verse 5) also identifies her to be a religious system responsible for fostering the abominations that go with idolatry and spiritual fornication. The word abomination is used many times of idolatry and the whoredom associated with pagan worship.
Her drunkenness, which refers to being drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, proves beyond doubt that she is a religious institution. Only religion has killed the martyrs of Jesus in all ages. Governments have carried out the dictates of religious leaders that influence and even dominate kings, rulers and governing bodies, often getting them to do the actual killing of the saints because of religion. The murder of over 200,000,000 people since the time of Christ has already filled the cup of the great whore, the Church of Rome, with the blood of the saints. Foxes Book of Martyrs reveals the type of atrocities committed by the Church of Rome, and unfortunately there is more to come according to the prophecy of the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Daniel provides more insight into the formation, or rather the transformation of Roman Empire into the great whore - (see Daniel 2:36-45 and read about Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great image). The dream is of a man-like statue whose composition changes from the head down to the feet. Daniel's interpretation starts by identifying the image as consisting of every empire that has an effect on Israel and Jerusalem beginning from that time on to the return of Christ. He starts at the top by identifying the head of gold as being Babylon. The chest or upper torso represents the empire of the Medes and Persians who conquered Babylon. Continuing down he identifies the hips and loin area as the Greek empire that defeated the Persians. Finally comes the Roman Empire which defeated the Greeks, and Rome eventually splits into two parts and has changes in its own composition into ten more parts.
Many Bible scholars, such as Jack Van Impe and Hal Lindsey, teach that the Roman Empire will be revived and will dominate the earth at the time of the end. Then Jesus, "the stone", will crush it as he establishes His Kingdom on the earth. However, since the Roman Empire was never defeated or conquered, there is no need for the Roman Empire to be revived; it has never ceased to exist! It merely changed form and composition. Rome transformed itself as it fell apart as a political entity and resumed its dominate influence in the world over kings and rulers as a religious entity.
A study of Roman history, and particularly the role of the Caesars, reveals some interesting facts. The Caesar, or supreme ruler of Rome, of whom there were several, had a dual function. He was not only the political head of state but he was also the religious head of state or cult; sometimes he was even referred to as a god. When functioning as the political head of state, he was Rome's "Caesar". When he was functioning as the religious head he was referred to as pontiff; he was pontificating his religious duties - that's right, he was the pope or papal head of Rome.
Julius Caesar became head of the Roman branch of the religious Babylonian cult in 63 B.C. Other emperors held the office until 376 A.D. when the emperor Gracian, for Christian reasons, refused it because he saw that its Babylonian practices were idolatrous. Demasus, Bishop of the Christian Church of Rome at that time, apparently lusting for power, was elected to this position of religious headship in 378 A.D. and from that time on Babylonianism and Christianity began to merge.
Many of the rites, beliefs and mystical practices of Babylon were thus introduced into the Christian church. Then later under Emperor Constantine heathen type temples were restored, beautified, and their rituals encouraged. Worship and veneration of images (idols), saints, relics, private confessions, penances, scourging, pilgrimages, the sign of the cross, Christmas, Lady Day, Good Friday, Easter, Lent and other pagan rites and festivals, little by little, became a part of Christian worship. Over the years of the third and fourth centuries pagan Babylonianism merged with Christianity and formed the Roman Catholic Church - identified in scripture as Mystery Babylon of the last days.
As political Rome declined, religious Rome was rising to power. Finally in the fourth century (376 A.D.) the power shifted as the Bishop of the Church of Rome offered himself to serve as pontiff in the place of Caesar. It was then that the mantle of Caesar transferred to the Bishop of Rome and the die was cast. The Roman Empire died politically but resumed and even increased its power and control over kings and nations as the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope of Rome, called the "Holy Father" by the Church of Rome, (which term in itself is an abomination to God), has been the Caesar since the fourth century and still is today.
Perhaps now you can understand why the Roman Catholic Church has its own nation/city - the Vatican; has its own army; has its own postal system; has its own spy network- the Jesuits; has its own emissaries to other nations, and why other nations have ambassadors to the Vatican.
History shows clearly the Pope's influence and control over kings and rulers; and how the Pope has meddled in the affairs of state of most European nations and even America. The Popes of the past have even used their influence to raise up kings and counsels in other nations; those who would do the bidding of the Pope and carry out the wishes and dictates of the church; even imposing its religion on the peoples of many nations. Rulers who refuse to submit to the will of the Pope have been eliminated by various means of treachery, the task of the Order of the Jesuits, the Roman church's assassins, spies and covert operatives.
Now back to the image of Daniel 2: Note that all the empires are connected and form one body. The head is connected to the chest, etc. right down to the feet. This illustrates that the influence of Babylon, the head, permeates the entire body and each subsequent empire. It shows that what qualities that are in the head are carried right down to the feet. When Christ, the stone, strikes the feet he is actually crushing the entire image and all that comes from Babylon, the head.
Consider just some of the perversions that the Roman church has either created or carried on from ancient Babylon: it changed the time of worship from the Sabbath (Saturday - the last day of the week) to Sunday - the first day of the week. It changed holy days (now called holidays) with seasons and festivals to coincide with pagan festival days such as Christmas and Easter. Christians need to know that Christ was not born on December 25th which is an ancient pagan worship day of the sun god called Saternalia. Jesus was born during God's holy days of the Feast of Tabernacles in late September or early October. (This is shown in the Bible if people will just study the facts and ignore tradition.) Likewise, the celebration of Easter is a pagan tradition. The word "Easter" comes from the old Saxon (ancient English) word Eastre that is the name of the Saxon Goddess of sex and fertility. Easter is not about the resurrection of Jesus; it's about the worship of the new life, the rites of spring; thus eggs and bunny rabbits. It is most unfortunate that the word Easter even appears in the Book of Acts; that's because the King James translators were already under the influence of Rome's traditions and practices which were already evident in the Church of England (Anglican) at that time; thus they unknowingly used Easter to refer to the Resurrection.
When should the resurrection really be celebrated? Just look at the Jewish calendar to find out. Look for the celebration of Passover and you will know on what day to commemorate the crucifixion and then the resurrection. Passover is the annual Jewish high holy Sabbath; so Jesus had to be off the cross before sunset on the day of preparation - the day the Jews killed the Passover lamb. Jesus became our Passover lamb and so he died before Passover began which was at sunset that day. The Church of Rome gave us Good Friday as the day of the crucifixion, but this is a lie that is aimed to deny that Jesus was in the grave three days and three nights. How do you get three days and three nights from Friday sunset to Sunday sunrise - you don't!
The Catholic Church also gave us the abomination of All Souls/Saints day called Halloween, which is Satan's high holy day celebrated by his servants, witches, etc. The Catholic Church also introduced such abominations as prayers for the dead; penance where you have to pay for your sins instead of Jesus; indulgences - buying your forgiveness; the institution of professional clergy being over the laity, (which was actually set up by Emperor Constantine); the veneration of Mary and worshipping her as the intercessor between God and man instead of Jesus; infant baptism, a false salvation instead of faith in Christ; purgatory - a holding ground for the dead while someone prays and pays money to get a loved one out of it; forgiveness of sins that only a priest can provide through confession to him; praying to idols/statues called saints; along with a host of other superstitious beliefs, rituals and practices that are blasphemous. Most of these abominations have their seed and roots in the religion of ancient Babylon and other pagan forms of worship.
Back to image of the statue in Daniel 2; Rome is the last empire at the time of the end. Many teach that Rome has to be revived. This is an error because Rome never ceased to be in power; it simply transformed itself from a political entity to a religious entity. Rome continues on dominating kings and nations, only it now does it in the form and the name of a religion. Even to this day there is a covert group identified as “The Club of Rome” that uses its influence in the political affairs of many nations – including America. Now you can see why this religious system, whose capital is the "City on Seven Hills" - (Revelation 17:9 & 18); Rome is called "Mystery Babylon" and "the Great Whore" - (Revelation 17:1). Does the old phrase, "All roads lead to Rome" mean anything now?
It appears that the great whore will absorb even more power and influence in the future. This means there is likely to be some changes made to gain more acceptance or enforce more influence and control. The way we see this religious system now is probably going to change and become more powerful as it aligns with political and ruling powers yet to arise, and is likely going to absorb other Christian denominations and religions, maybe even merging with Islam - Revelation 17:16-17.
Did you know that Babylon means "confusion"; the religion of Mystery Babylon confuses true Christian and Bible doctrines with pagan doctrines and practices and the end result is confusion - thus Babylon! Is it any wonder that the angel of the Lord cries out for those who truly know and love the Lord to come out that religious system whose capital is the City of Rome:
Revelation 18:4 - "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities".
Now what follows is a theory that is likely to inflame may Christians. God's call for His people to "Come out of Babylon" indicates that God will soon be finished with the current form of church, including Catholic, Protestant and independent. The current form of church won't change to conform to the kind of church Jesus is coming back for; it simply does not reflect his glory but is full of spots, wrinkles and blemishes.
Ephesians 5:27 - "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but it should be holy and without blemish."
First consider that His church, (His called out people) are to compose a "glorious" assembly of His people. The gloriousness, or glory of this church, comes from the Greek word doxa which refers to ones dignity, or better understood as a persons character and nature. His glorious church refers to a people who reflect His character and nature, also known as the Fruit of the Spirit - the character and nature of God.
2 Peter 1:3 & 4 - "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called is to glory and virtue (or to be glorious and virtuous like him): Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
Does the current form of church reflect God's character and nature? ... or man's character and nature?
Next consider "spots" which refers to dirt or filth on what are supposed to be clean and white garments of righteousness. These spots are sinful and disgusting practices, false doctrines and defiled worship that continue in much of the church even to this date.
Next consider "wrinkles" which implies old age. Old age in this instance refers to that which is ancient; and what is ancient that God considers corrupt that is still in the church? It is that which comes from ancient Babylon; it is the religious perversity that is still found in the church today - thus "wrinkles".
Next consider, "Or any such thing", which implies anything that even has the slightest resemblance of impropriety as to doctrine, practice or observance found in the church that is not ordained of God.
Next consider "holy and without blemish" as meaning completely separated from all that defiles and is corrupt. This refers to any defect in character and nature. This simply means that the church that Christ is returning for is totally and absolutely His; looks like Him, acts like Him and is composed of the true, holy (separated) Sons of God:
1 John 3:2 - "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be (or, what we have now isn't what it will be like at his return): but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is".
The conclusion of this theory is that the next move of God is to bring about a whole new form of church; not organized and institutionalised denominations headed by men; boards and pastors; incorporated (franchised) by the state; under the control of the federal government by means of 501.c3 status; meeting in multimillion dollar buildings and campuses that are used only a couple hours a week at the most; draining the money of the believers to pay for these man made monuments, whereas their money is to go help the poor and spread the gospel; and not filled with doctrines of men and devils and observing wrong holy days, etc.
Jesus addressed a similar problem among the Jews of his day:
Matthew 15:6 to 9 - "...Thus have ye made the commandments of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophecy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their
mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
The call of the Lord to "come out of her my people" means exactly that; get out of that system. This means that there is coming a time when this old order is no longer going to be used and honored by God. His church is people, not a fraternal type of organization as we have today that’s called church. He wants his people out of the organizations of man (and devils). What is coming is something new and many have already been sensing it, even if they don’t quite understand what it will be like because their traditional view of church stands in the way. Author and revival preacher Andrew Strom, is calling it "the Street Church" because he sees the new move producing something other than a traditional church system: (email@example.com).
God will soon be done with the current form of church and call his people out of it and into the true and pure church which is the Body of Christ that is free of all of man's and Satan's doctrines, rituals, practices and trappings.
This is exactly what happened in the time of Jesus. Although Jesus operated within the realm of the Old Testament Law of Moses and the way of worship of the Jews, (with the exception of where they went beyond what the Law required), he was at the same time bringing in the New Testament and setting up the new order of doctrines and worship - Christianity replaced Judaism. (Note: this is not “replacement theology” as Christians do not replace Israel as God’s people – it’s the mode of relationship to God, through Christ , not the Law.)
The old order had its place and time up until it was no longer useful and valid. So this theory is that the same type of thing may be soon coming concerning the church. The old order, because of the traditions and doctrines of man (from ancient Babylon) will be done away with as the Lord, by His Spirit, moves on his people to leave the old order, (Babylon) to move on with Him to be prepared as the church He is coming back for; a church free of four walls and of all the other confinements of man and Babylon.
Unfortunately, just as has happened in the past, many will refuse to leave the old to move on into the new. Then again, some will make the move, but try to bring the old with them. The apostle Paul had to deal with this in the early church as Jewish believers tried to bring old covenant conditions into the new. However, the old will not be tolerated because of traditions, doctrines and practices that represent Mystery Babylon, the Great Whore religious system. This religious system will be judged and destroyed; just as illustrated in Daniel 2 when Christ the Rock will crush the image from its feet up to its head - Babylon.
You don't want to be in this religious system when he returns!
1 John 3:3 - "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."