The traditional interpretation among the Protestant Christian theology in the book of Revelation is that “Mystery Babylon” or the “Great Harlot” of chapter 17 refers to the Roman Catholic Church, but that might just be more of Reformation Movement bias than critical exegesis. While it cannot be denied from an Ecclesiastical and secular historical standpoint that Christians were martyred in the Roman coliseums and elsewhere, was this European city portrayed in the Revelation of John’s narrative?
Now it could very well be that it is of importance and included as a crucial piece in the unfolding Eschatological events, but one cannot forget Jerusalem, either. In fact, it seems that the ‘holy city’ is a better fit to the puzzle than Rome. As far as the color purple is concerned, it was just a sign of wealth and used in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Cp. Luke 16: 17-31). The golden cup that is mentioned in Revelation 17 can be found in Jeremiah 51 where Babylon was a golden cup in the hand of the LORD, instead of the cup used by the Pope during the “Eucharist” or holy communion. Also, as far as harlotry or prostitution is concerned, the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel strongly and graphically (in some instances) condemn the practices and infidelity of Samaria (Israel) and Jerusalem.
Revelation 11: 8
Their bodies will lie in the street of that great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also our LORD was crucified.
Luke 13: 33b
For surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem.
NOTE: Was Jesus crucified in Vatican City, Rome or outside Jerusalem?
Isaiah 3: 8a, 9
Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it.
Jeremiah 23: 14b
They are all like Sodom to Me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.
Revelation 14: 6-7
I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her I was greatly amazed (astonished).
NOTE: It is doubtful that the author would have been amazed about the city of Rome but Jerusalem, on the other hand, now that would have been quite a shock.
Revelation 18: 10, 20, 22, 22b, 23a, 24
“Woe! Woe, O great city. O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!” Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she has treated you. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters will never be heard in you again. The sound of a millstone (Cp. Matthew 24: 41; Luke 17: 35) will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride (Cp. John 3: 29) will never be heard in you again. In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who had been killed on the earth.
NOTE: Jeremiah 25: 3-11 refers to Jerusalem being led into Babylonian captivity and about the voices of the bride and bridegroom, light of the lamp, and the sound of millstones.
Matthew 23: 35, 37a
And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berechiah (Cp. Zechariah 1: 1), whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you. . .”
Luke 11: 47-51a
“Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in His wisdom said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary.”
Jeremiah 22: 8
People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, “Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?”
Lamentations 2: 15
All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads at the Daughter of Jerusalem. Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?”
CONCLUSION: Outside of the ‘great city’ of Nineveh mentioned several times in the book of Jonah (Cp. Jonah 1: 2; 3: 2; and 4: 11). Jerusalem seems to be the best candidate and not papal Rome. Although these examples may be far from conclusive in the minds of some, yet the information seems to strongly suggest that John was in shock and awe that the beloved city of the great King and that has the name of God recorded in it could be portrayed so horribly. Be that as it may, this is not a condemnation of those religious Jews who faithfully serve their God but rather the secular, militaristic and political Israelis (“Edomites”) whose interests are not spiritual, but rather to be an integral part of a global consortium (government or council) that wants to rule the world.
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Well written,- good presentation. Have always believed that 'Mystery Babylon/The Great Harlot' is not Rome, (nor any other nation or people), but is in fact Jerusalem/Israel, except of-course for the Jewish Remnant who will go into the Millennial Kingdom with Christ at His return at the end of the tribulation period.