I have provided my thoughts about whether New York City and Babylon (in Iraq) could potentially represent Babylon the Great City mentioned in Revelation 17 and Revelation 18. In this article, I will my thoughts on whether Jerusalem has potential to represent Babylon the Great City.
Like my articles assessing whether New York City and whether Babylon in Iraq have potential, I offer items to consider in favor of Jerusalem and items to consider against Jerusalem.
In Favor of Jerusalem
A “Great City”
Babylon the Great is identified as a “great city” in Revelation 17:18. Jerusalem is identified as a “great city” in Revelation 11:8:
“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” (Revelation 11:8)
“And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18)
Babylon the Great is a harlot. Jerusalem has been referred to as a “harlot” in Bible prophecy.
“(20) But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (21) How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.” (Isaiah 1:20-21)
Jerusalem Will Receive Punishment During the End Times
Jerusalem is not exempt from receiving some sort of judgment during the end times. For instance, Jeremiah 25:15-18, a passage that I believe refers to the future, mentions that Jerusalem will drink from the cup of the Lord’s hand (wrath):
“(15) For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. (16) And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. (17) Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me: (18) To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day;” (Jeremiah 25:15-18)
In addition, Isaiah 1:27 and Isaiah 4:4 suggest that Jerusalem will be redeemed through judgment:
“Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.” (Isaiah 1:27)
“When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” (Isaiah 4:4)
Supporting the Antichrist’s Religious Agenda
Some scholars have noticed a parallel between what the harlot wears and what a Jewish high priest in Old Testament times wore. According to Gregory K. Beale, Exodus 28’s description of a Jewish high priest’s garments and Revelation 17:4’s description of the harlot’s adornment is identical in the Greek language.
Beale and others argue that this connection suggests that the harlot will play a religious role for the beast (Antichrist).
Scholars who favor the Jerusalem represents Babylon the Great theory argue that Jerusalem will be a city that will promote the beast’s (Antichrist’s) religious agenda since the Antichrist will sit in the Lord’s temple and proclaim himself to be God:
“(3) Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (4) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
Persecution of the Saints
Revelation 18:24 notes that the blood of prophets and of saints is found in Babylon the Great City.
“And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” (Revelation 18:24)
Christ noted that Jerusalem was responsible for killing prophets and stoning those “sent” to the city.
“(35) That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. (36) Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. (37) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:35-37)
Revelation 16:19 distinguishes the “great city” from the cities of the nations and Babylon the Great:
“And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” (Revelation 16:19)
A skeptic could argue that Revelation 16:19 is evidence that Jerusalem is not Babylon the Great because the text seems to distinguish between the great city and Babylon the Great.
The argument that Jerusalem represents Babylon the Great City implies that the interpretation of the word “Babylon” should be spiritual. The problem with this is that Revelation 11:8 only characterized Jerusalem as spiritual Sodom and spiritual Egypt-not spiritual Babylon:
“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” (Revelation 11:8)”
Babylon Won’t Be Rebuilt
Revelation 18:21 is a difficult verse for Jerusalem proponents to reconcile. Revelation 18:21 says that Babylon the Great City “shall be found no more at all”:
“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” (Revelation 18:21)
The reason Revelation 18:21 is difficult for Jerusalem proponents to reconcile is that many Bible prophecy passages suggest that Jerusalem will be inhabited again and that the Lord will defend its inhabitants. For instance, check out Zechariah 12:6-8:
“(6) In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. (7) The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. (8) In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.” (Zechariah 12:6-8)
Similarly, many Bible prophecy passages suggest that the Lord will dwell in Zion/Jerusalem in the future, including the following passages:
“(2) And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. (3) And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:2-3, also see Micah 4:1-2)
“(17) So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. (18) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.” (Joel 3:17-18)
I believe Jeremiah 51:24 and Jeremiah 51:35 are part of a prophecy describing the fall of Babylon the Great. Both these verses mention that what “Babylon” has done to Zion/Jerusalem is part of the reason why it will be punished:
“And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 51:24)
“The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say.” (Jeremiah 51:35)
If Jeremiah 51 indeed concerns the destruction of Babylon the Great then Jerusalem cannot be Babylon the Great since “Babylon” is being punished for what it has done to Jerusalem/Zion.
My View on Jerusalem Representing Babylon the Great
I do not believe that Jerusalem will represent Babylon the Great. The biggest factor for me is that the Lord will intervene to defend Jerusalem and its inhabitants. It does not seem to make much sense for the Lord to intervene to protect Jerusalem if He will later allow the annihilation of the city. Furthermore, the ruins of Jerusalem will be rebuilt while Babylon the Great’s demise will be like the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah.
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- Beale, Gregory K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary, ed. I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), Pg 886, citing Exod 25:3-7; 28:5-9, 28:15–20, 35:6; 36:9–12; 36:15–21 LXX. ↩