Babylon is the name popularly used to speak of the empire that arose from a minor Akkadian city on the Euphrates river. It did not grow to prominence until the time of King Hammurabi in the 18th century BC. Although the city was named Babel, it was only one of several cities in Mesopotamia that went by that name (just as there are multiple cities named Washington in the United States). These were echoes, if you will, of the Babel that Noah's grandchildren started.
In most English Bibles, Babel is rendered Babylon, causing some confusion to those who think of Babylon as the Babylonian Empire of popular history instead of as the infamous city and tower of Genesis 11.
When we talk about Babel in this post, we are talking about the city of the great whore, the religious and economic heart of the secular world. We are NOT at this time talking about the political and military capital of the empire. The Antichrist, who will lead the politico-military arm of Babel, will eventually turn on the woman that rides the beast and destroy her with fire. It is written:
The ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the prostitute, will make her desolate, will strip her naked, will eat her flesh, and will burn her utterly with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to do what he has in mind, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished.
(Rev. 17:16, WEB)
She's Not Yet Consolidated
Rome and Mecca certainly have the lion's share of religious adherents, but we can't discount Varanasi (sacred center of Hinduism) or Istanbul (historical center of Eastern Orthodoxy). Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam, and Hinduism are all rooted in the ancient Mysteries (with Hinduism being the oldest and most authentic). New Age or New Spirit philosophy also falls under the Mystery umbrella, and it is becoming increasingly popular. We are currently witnessing the initial stages of the merging of all these ideologies, but completion of the merger is still years off.
New York is considered the financial capital of the world, but there are several other cities with almost equal prominence, including London, Hong Kong, Zurich, Frankfurt, and Tokyo. Fiscal operations are more entwined than ever, yes, but national borders still exist, and that has caused financial centers to remain somewhat distinct.
Everything isn't going to come together "under one roof" until we witness the ascendancy of the fourth beast kingdom, a.k.a the revived Roman Empire (see Daniel chapters 2 and 7).
Is It Jerusalem?
According the Bible prophecies, Babel will be annihilated but Jerusalem will survive. (Relevant verses include Isaiah 31:4-5; 47:1-5, 9; 51:3-11; 52:1; Joel 2:32; Micah 4:2; Nahum 3:4-7, 15; Zechariah 14:10-12; Jeremiah 31:38-40; 32:37; et al.)
Don't get me wrong, Jerusalem will experience the wrath of God in large measure (Isa. 51:21-22). She has been and will continue to be in the hands of rebels, and her sins are piled high. You don't taint the one city that YHVH calls his own and get away with it forever. YHVH has had foreigners destroy the city more than once before, and he'll do it again before the end of the age. Nevertheless, the offspring of Jacob are always restored to the city eventually, and it rises again. At the end of the age, she will rise to glory and never again be put to shame, for the Messiah himself will dwell there, ruling and reigning over the whole earth.
Babel, on the other hand, will be brought down like Sodom and Gomorrah, never to rise again. Her land will become completely useless and devoid of life, and she will remain desolate forever. (Relevant verses include Revelation 17:16; 18:2-24; Isaiah 13:19-22; Jeremiah 50:2-3, 9-13; 51:24-26; et al.)
These two fates are completely contrary to one another, meaning that the two cities cannot be identical.
Also, Jerusalem isn't near the coast, but the end-time Babel will be, as evidenced by the Rev. 17 description of seafarers standing on their ships and watching the city burn.
Is it New York?
Despite these things, I see New York City as the latest and greatest manifestation of the Babylonian system rather than the end-time Daughter of Babel herself. There are two major reasons:
- America will be destroyed. Read this for an explanation of why. NYC will most likely be nuked in the process, as per many modern prophecies. I myself received a vision of American coastal cities under nuclear attack.
- Bible prophecies repeatedly state that Babel will be destroyed by forces from the north (i.e., the Beast's armies). Remember, it is the ten kings who given their power to the Beast so that he can obliterate Babel. What's north of New York City? A few minor states and Canada, that's all. Surely the revived Roman Empire isn't going to have its headquarters in Canada. Moscow or Istanbul, on the other hand, are distinct possibilities, and are both north of Mesopotamia (and Israel).
Is it Rome?
One of the strongest arguments in favor of Rome is that it sits on seven hills. Revelation 17:9 says that the woman sits on seven mountains. The association is begging to be made...
But there's a problem with that. The angel talking to John is careful to say that the seven mountains on which the whore sits are the same as the seven heads of the beast. And the seven heads, he explains further, are seven kings (v. 10), some of whom have already died. This is all symbolic imagery. The woman is not literally sitting on seven nobles, therefore we cannot imagine that she is literally sitting on seven hills.
Through careful study, I determined that the seven mountains, like the seven kings, are items of importance throughout the history of the Babylonian system. I'll save the full explanation for another time, but the takeaway here is that these mountains are not a geographical feature of Babel's location.
I still find it very likely that the Roman Catholic Church will head up the formation a one-world religion. The RCC definitely displays the characteristics of the religious aspect of the Babylonian system, but it is probably not the ultimate incarnation of it. The creeds of Catholicism are getting broader all the time, and the Church has been systematically embracing other religious groups in both the East and the West.
Back to Her Old Stomping Grounds
The word that Yahweh spoke concerning Babel, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet.
Now that we know the who and the where, we need to figure out the what and the when.
Verses two and three of ch. 50 declare that Babel will be broken to pieces and made desolate by a nation from the north, and neither man nor beast will inhabit her again. Immediately thereafter, in vv. 4-5, we are told that at the time of Babel's destruction, the descendants of Israel and the descendants of Judah will trek to Zion together and seek to enter into perpetual covenant with YHVH. These are undoubtedly the Hebrew slaves who the Antichrist exported to Babel after betraying and invading Israel, because YHVH gives the command in v. 8 to "remove yourselves out of the midst of Babel, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans." This exodus of Hebrews from southern Mesopotamia has never occurred in history, and the two houses (Israel/Ephraim and Judah) remain separate to this day.
The prophecy reiterates that Babel will become a wilderness, dry and deserted, and will remain completely empty. The place will be so lifeless (and toxic?) that those who pass by will "hiss at all her plagues" (50:13). Her state is compared to that of Sodom and Gomorrah, where no man abides (v. 40). No place in Mesopotamia can be described this way at present.
In vv. 18-20 we again have a reference to Israel's state at the end of the age. After YHVH punishes Babel and his land, he will restore Israel to the Promised Land, and at that time no one will be able to find any iniquity in either Israel or Judah. They will be living blameless lives. That certainly is not the case today, nor ever has been.
I could go on with more of these instances of events that have not yet come to pass, but I'll let you study the rest for yourselves.