The fall of Babylon, very simply, is the destruction by God of the Antichrist and his domain of evil in the world. It will be a display of God’s authority and dominion. It will be the toppling of an evil kingdom so that a new righteous kingdom can be put it its place.
In tackling this great subject, we will first deal with the fact that there are two Babylon’s: a religious Babylon and a commercial Babylon. In this section we will look at religious Babylon, from Revelation 17; then, in a second blog we will look at commercial Babylon, from chapter 18. Also, along the way, we will show how the two are linked and how we really can’t speak of either of them without there being a connection to the other.
I think there is no better way to study this subject than to work our way through chapter 17, one verse at a time. So, from the first two verses we see that there is a “great harlot who sits on many waters,” and the kings of the earth are allied with her in her evil doings, and all who dwell on the earth are “made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” The great harlot symbolizes the false religious system of this religious Babylon; and it is termed a harlot because of its deceptive, sinful nature—as a prostitute. The term “sits on many waters” is explained in verse fifteen—that she has a ruling power over all the nations of the world; and it seems that they are glad allies with her; moreover, all the worlds people are intoxicated with her teaching.
In verses three and four we read that the woman (the harlot) is sitting on a scarlet beast. This is the first place we see that the woman (religious Babylon) is linked to the beast. And we also read that she is scarlet (v. 4). I have two observations. First, the riding of the beast indicates that she has some control over him. Second, the fact that they both are dressed in scarlet shows us that they both are of royalty and powerful, and they also are tied to the Roman Catholic church (more on that later).
In verse four we are given a picture of this harlot: she is clothed in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold and precious stones, and has in her hand a gold cup full of abominations; then also, in verse five we see that on her forehead is a name written, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIOINS OF THE EARTH.” So, what can we make of this?
First of all, her clothing and expensive jewelry tell us of her great wealth, and also that she is of the Catholic Church. We see this in the colors of purple and scarlet, and also in the precious stores that are worn by priests. The gold cup full of abominations is, I think, the wine of immorality and sin that she partakes of and also offers to all others in the world (v. 2). Then in verse five, the name on her forehead tells us that she (this false religious system out of the Catholic Church) does not hide its abominations, rather, she parades them to the world as something she is proud of.
What we see in verse six, that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus, is a further proof that this religious Babylon is of the Catholic Church of Rome; for it has a long history of persecuting and killing Christians in the most barbaric way. And when Rome is established in power, we will see the same practice and with the hearty approval of the Antichrist.
Now there are two more things in this seventeenth chapter that we will mention, which pertains to this harlot—the religious Babylon. First, from verse nine, where John says, “Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads [of the beast] are seven mountains on which the woman sits…” Besides the seven great world empires (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Antichrist kingdom), the seven mountains (or hills) also means Rome—which sits on seven hills. I may be wrong, but I can’t help feeling that God wants us to know that the woman sits on and rules from Rome.
Also, from verse sixteen, we should know that at the midpoint of the Tribulation, the Antichrist, with his ten kings, will destroy the harlot (or make her desolate)—and they will do it by the inspiration of God (He will put it in their hearts to do it).
It is also important to know that from this point on, her wealth and the power of her control will be transferred to the beast. Hence, he will now hold all worship for himself. Thus, looking ahead, we must realize that when God destroys Babylon, it destroys not only commercial Babylon but also religious Babylon; for during the last half of the Tribulation, until the end, Babylon is not completely secular but is full of idolatry in its nature—just as it was earlier with the harlot. Hence, at the end all evil is destroyed.