The mystery has the following identifying characteristics (see Rev 17 and 18):
Protestant reformers such as Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, and Knox identified the ecclesiastical Babylon as the Roman Catholic Church. Compare the historic and future 'Babylons'. After it's conquest of Judah and Jerusalem, historic, idolatrous, wicked, proud Babylon boasted:
"I am, and there is no one else besides me." (Isa 47.10)
Today, the Roman Catholic Church boasts there is no one but herself:
"The Catholic Church is the one, holy, apostolic Church of Christ" [Vatican doctrinal congregation]
Catholics are taught to regard the Virgin Mary as "Queen", and this Catholic image shows her "Coronation". She is elevated to the position of a goddess and Mother of God or Queen of Heaven. This pagan concept can be traced back to the Chaldean Mysteries, where Semiramis, a Chaldean queen, was worshipped as Rhea, the great 'Mother' of the gods. It is a Babylonish concept.
Catholicism also teaches that Mary was born without sin (the Immaculate Conception) and that she was raised and taken to heaven (the Assumption). There she accepts prayers of adoration and is entreated to intercede on behalf of sinners (see the adjacent image of the 'Miraculous Medal').
The above Catholic image denotes the Eucharist or 'thanksgiving'. Catholicism holds that this is both sacrament and sacrifice (the Mass), when the elements of bread and wine turn into the actual body and blood of Christ (referred to as transubstantiation). Mass is celebrated at the altar (note the altar in the image) since it is held that Christ continues to offer himself as an on-going sacrifice on the altar. The round wafer used in the Eucharist is of pagan origin. It symbolises the sun as found in Baal (idol) worship and in pagan worship in Egypt.
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Middle East War
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Roman Catholicism - Babylon?
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Age of the Earth
Biblical Dating of Earth
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God's Amazing Design
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Evolution - the Truth
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A Hurting World - Suffering
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The Bible speaks of a mystery upon the earth:
"... a name was written, a mystery, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (Rev 17.5)
The word 'Babylon' means "confusion", and the Bible refers to it as a 'mystery' or something that is hidden, secret and obscure. Let's examine the origin and meaning of the word 'Babylon'.
Offical EU poster:
Europe: Many Tongues
According to the Bible the sons of Noah started to re-populate the earth after the flood. Noah had a great grandson called Nimrod, a great hunter and leader. He built some of the first cities and one was 'Babel' or Babylon in the land of Shinar (ancient Babylonia or modern day Iraq) (Gen 10.10). But Nimrod was anti-God; even his name (Hebrew root marad) means 'rebel', link. According to historian Josephus, Nimrod persuaded men not to ascribe to God and to build a tower too high for any further flood waters to reach! So, on a plain in the land of Shinar they started building a tower to heaven in order to make a name for themselves (Gen 11.1-9). This is highly significant in that Babylon came to denote man's defiance against God; it symbolised the glorification of man rather than God.
This tower is mirrored in the European Union today. An official EU poster (now banned due to protests) promoting the EU Parliament clearly showed the Tower of Babel and the words 'Many Tongues One Voice'. These words are in direct defiance of God's condemnation of man's arrogance in Genesis 11. Secular history and Chaldean legend fills in more of the picture.
Babylonian statue of
Semiramis and her
Image: Mother and Child
It is claimed that after Nimrod's death his evil wife Semiramis soon became pregnant, link. She told the people that a ray of the sun had come to her and impregnated her with a child and that it was actually Nimrod coming back in a reincarnation of the sun god. The child was called Tammuz. Moreover, in the Chaldean Mysteries Semiramis was worshipped as Rhea, the great 'Mother' of the gods, link and this led to the peculiar worship of 'Mother and Son', link. This mother/son idolatry is found in many ancient cultures, link. For instance, the historian Durant claims that the adoration of Mother and Child was found in pagan Egypt, where the Babylonian mother was known as Isis and her child as Horus.
So it was that through her actions Babylon became associated with idolatry and prostitution [Hislop, The Two Babylons, 1858] and the historian Herodotus wrote of how Babylon was the prime evil source from which all systems of idolatry flowed. As we shall see, it seems that a satanic hand, the current 'ruler of the world' (Jn 14.30) has used this Babylonian root to grow a counterfeit Christianity.
After his ascension to the Roman throne, Constantine set up the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. There he invited Christian bishops to work out their theological differences. So started the path to state interference in the Christian faith, link, although Constantine continued to support both Christianity and paganism. For example, he retained the title Pontifex Maximus (greatest Pontiff and High Priest of the state cults). The term pontiff comes from Roman pagan times where the highest priest was considered a 'bridge builder' between men and gods, link. It was a distinctly religious office under the early Roman Republic, but gradually it became politicized and eventually subsumed into the Imperial office, link. So the title Pontifex Maximus gave Constantine authority over both spiritual and civil affairs, link. Constantine also presided as Summus Pontifex (Highest Pontiff, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Bishops, link). The veritable meaning of Summus Pontifex and Pontifex Maximus is simply 'high priest', link.
Under Constantine, pagans were now allowed to bring in idols of Semiramis, the 'Queen of Heaven', and of Nimrod, the 'Sun god' into the church. Despite his accommodation of Christianity, historian Johnson claims that Constantine never abandoned sun worship. The significant point here is that the term 'pontifex' later became a term used for Christian bishops, and the title of Pontifex Maximus was applied within the Roman Catholic Church to the Pope as its chief bishop! Also, Summus Pontifex (Highest Pontiff) is sometimes used as a Papal title, link. Today, noteworthy titles of the pope are Papa, Summus Pontifex, Pontifex Maximus and Servus servorum Dei link, implying that the pope has both spiritual and civil authority over men. Not suprisingly, many claim that Constantine and not Peter was in fact the first pope, link, link, link.
Pope Francis holding the Monstrance
Image: End Times Prophecy
A modern example of sun worship is seen in the Roman Catholic monstrance. This displays a round wafer of bread (called the Eucharistic Host) which is used in the Catholic Mass. In post-medieval times the monstrance took the form of a sunburst on a stand, usually topped by a cross, link. The monstrance is also used in some Anglican and Lutheran Churches, link.
From about 400 AD we find images (idols) of saints and martyrs appearing in churches, together with the adoration of the Mother and Child (the Virgin Mary) and the evolution of the 'priest' from the early church elder. In accordance with the title Pontifex Maximus, we find the medieval western church under the papacy becoming a powerful political machine, far removed from the church of the gospels. In fact, with much historical documentation, Hislop maintains that the Roman Catholic Church is a continuation of the ancient Babylonish mystery system, with most of its practices drawn from the Babylonian religion and its priesthood.
We can list some of the idolatrous practices and pagan doctrines of today's Catholic Church:
Of course, Wycliffe, Huss, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Whitefield, the Wesley's, and others recognised many of these doctrines and practices as being opposed to biblical teaching and so they opposed the Catholic Church. Even so, today's free churches are only partially reformed from Rome in that they still retain pagan concepts. For example, December 25th was originally the heathen date used to honour the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven [Hislop]. And the Christian Sunday arose when Constantine replaced the Jewish Sabbath since he decreed no work was to be done on 'the venerable day of the sun' (Sunday). Perhaps in this sense we can understand the term 'MOTHER OF HARLOTS' in Rev 17.5.
Ancient Babylon was destroyed by the Medo-Persian Empire around 539 BC. This destruction was foretold in Isa 47, where Babylon is described as "daughter of the Chaldeans" ... queen of kingdoms". She was powerful and proud, but her destruction was coming. Isaiah 47 describes history, but the chapter also looks forward to an end time Babylon. The parallels between what happened to ancient Babylon and what will happen to the future ecclesiastical Babylon (headed by the Roman Catholic Church) are striking. Regarding ancient Babylon we read:
"Yet you said, 'I will be a queen for ever ... I am, and there is no one besides me. I will not sit as a widow ...'" (Isa 47.7,8)
Compare this with the prophecy of the end time Babylon:
"... for she says in her heart; 'I sit as a queen and I am not a widow ...'" (Rev 18.7)
Regarding ancient Babylon we read:
"But these two things will come on you suddenly in one day: loss of children and widowhood ... they have become like stubble, fire burns them ..." (Isa 47.9,14)
Compare this with prophecy for the end time Babylon:
"For this reason in one day her plagues will come,... and she will be burned up with fire ..." (Rev 18.8)
The prophetic picture is one of an end time apostate church suffering sudden and catastrophic destruction. How? Destruction comes from the other end time Babylon - the powerful ten-horned beast of Rev 13.1, the final commercial, political and humanistic world government (see World Government) :
"And the ten horns ... and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, ... and will burn her up with fire" (Rev 17.16)
Why does this happen? A plausible explanation is that the political beast of Rev 13.1-10 is godless and its leader demands that the world worship him alone (2 Thes 2.4)(Rev 13.8). The end time church, although corrupt and 'Babylonish', will probably still acknowledge God as supreme above all creation, and so stands in the way of the aspirations of the end time world ruler. In fact, many see the other beast of Rev 13 (v 11-18) as the Antichrist - represented by the papacy - and this beast is notably absent in Rev 17.16.
Nimrod's Babylon was originally humanistic, political and commercial, but with the influence of his wife this soon developed into idolatry, pagan worship and moral corruption (the 'Chaldean Mysteries'). These pagan mysteries subsequently developed into an ecclesiastical Babylon which many believe is characterised by Roman Catholicism today. Here we readily see the idolatry of 'mother and child' worship and 'sun god' worship, and sadly, elements of these mysteries are still retained by today's Protestant Church. Both Babylons, political and religious, can be seen in Rev 17 and 18 (whilst Rev 17.14-18 is specifically the political Babylon), and prophecy indicates that the end-time apostate world church headed by Rome will be destroyed by the political Babylon. Many claim both Babylons can be seen within the EU, see Europe in Bible Prophecy.