Today’s Reading: Revelation 17-8.
(Context: A great, wealthy, and deprived city is described in chapter 17, called here the “great prostitute”. Then, in chapter 18, the people wail: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!” as God destroys the city in a single hour.)
An interesting, yet very mysterious piece of the End Times puzzle is built around the capital city of Antichrist. The details of it’s rise, prominence, seduction (in the sense of greed), and later cataclysmic fall are found in Revelation 17-8, two full chapters. It’s importance goes hand-in-hand with Antichrist, and the details about it have led many to speculate: what modern city is this?
Let’s attempt to discover 1. it’s true reality, and then 2. look at the big picture: God’s warning against the love of money.
1. Where is this “Babylon”?
The options in my mind that make-up the best candidates to host the future dictatorial government of the Antichrist are the literal Babylon, Rome, and Istanbul.
The city would need these following defining characteristics:
1. Be one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world (Rev. 18:19).
2. Many martyrs, apostles, and prophets (perhaps referring to the two prophets in the End Times) were killed here (Rev. 18:24).
3. Be surrounded by 7 hills/mountains (Rev. 17:9).
4. Be built on “many waters” (Rev. 17:1; 18:17) , in a literal sense, and also be filled with a diverse world-population (Rev. 17:15).
Also, this city, under Antichrist, will be immensely rich and also be a mass-murdering machine (Rev. 17:4, 6).
Babylon, Iraq: [Population: 0] Historically, this city was the capital to the great Babylonian Empire, the first to gain “worldwide” domination (all the world they knew of at the time, not including the Chinese, Mayan, and Incan Dynasties.), spearheaded by King Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned in the city of Babylon, Babylonia.
-Pros: The Bible literally says “Babylon”. Perhaps the name should be taken literally in this passage, even though most of the chapter is full of many other mysteries.
-Cons: It is non-existent today, even though Saddam Hussein did work extensively to rebuild it. Doesn’t fit any of the 4 defining characteristics detailed above.
Rome, Italy: [Population: Under 3 million] This has been a favorite option for centuries, heightening when Martin Luther took the liberty of calling various Pope’s by the name “Antichrist”.
-Pros: The Roman Catholic Church has certainly done its part to look more like a Satanic than Christ-like Church, especially during the Crusades and the “Holy” Inquisition (spanning from the 1200’s to mid-1800’s). Rome is also surrounded by 7 hills.
-Cons: It is not the “world trade center” it once was, and this city has been largely relegated to a tourist city that houses the decrepit Catholic See on the verge of extinction. Don’t get me wrong, there are 1.5 billion Catholics in the world, the problem is that it’s teachings are antiquated, anti-Biblical, and the vast majority are disinterested nominal Catholics only (to his credit, Ratzinger, the current Pope Benedict XVI is surprisingly turning the Church to the Bible). Lastly, the city is not surrounded by “many waters”, not being a world-renown port.
Istanbul, Turkey: [Population: 13.5 million and growing rapidly] This is the ancient capital of the Muslim Caliphate, which was in it’s height under the Ottoman Empire, which fell during WWI. This detail has been highly undermined by many historians who centered more on Europe and America, than on the Middle East. Actually, the Ottoman Empire first rose to prominence by defeating the Roman Christian Empire in the 1200’s, when it defeated, over and over, the assault of the Crusaders. Their capital quickly became Istanbul, previously called Constantinople, then Byzantium.
–Pros: This city is surrounded by 7 hills, having a famous Islamic College in the city named after this. Is literally surrounded by water, like few cities are. It is built on two peninsulas, that are divided by the Mediterranean Sea (locally the Marmara Sea) on the South and the Black Sea to the Northeast. This city is also the historic home to the soon-to-be largest religion in the world. Islam. Their prophecies also include the coming of a “Mahdi”, which coincides near-perfectly as a mirror-image of the Biblical Antichrist. It is also worth noting that Istanbul’s current population is:
–Cons: Has yet to rise to world-wide prominence in the modern times. But Turkey’s economy is very strong and they are seeking to form and spearhead a one-world coalition between all the Muslim countries around the globe, from Indonesia to Morocco (East to West), and from the “stans” (such as Uzbekistan) down to the middle of Africa (such as Nigeria).
Istanbul is the clearest candidate, in my mind.
2. Why will “Babylon” fall?
One last detail that stood out to me, is the why. “Babylon”, the future See and Government home of Antichrist will be destroyed in an hour by God’s wrath. Chapter 18 details the world-wide weeping caused by it’s sudden and surprising destruction. Are they weeping for the people dead? No. They are weeping because of a lost economy.
At the heart of the majority of evils, Paul warned us, is the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10). It is only fitting that the most evil dictator, of the most evil religion, in the most evil of times have a world filled with a love of money. Greed is at the heart of man’s evil, and it is the greatest indicator of where a person’s heart is. The love of money proves a hatred of God. Antichrist will make the world rich and full of plenty, that they may forget God. Beware of the love of money. Beware of those who teach that “God wants you to be rich”. That is Satan’s voice. God wants you to be holy, a lover of the future world of God.