Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls.She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
babylon the great
the mother of prostitutes
and of the abominations of the earth.
6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. (Revelation 17:3-6 NIV)
As we continue to study the great harlot who is the representation of all rebellion against God, we now need to ask ourselves, why is she referred to as “Babylon the great?” Part of the answer could be that the physical city of Babylon will be rebuilt and will serve as a center for this blasphemous religion during the tribulation period. I believe that this is true, but there are many good Bible teachers on both sides of this debate. However, even if Babylon is physically rebuilt, this prophecy has a greater scope. “Babylon” is not only representative of the last and final stage of the world’s “harlotry” against God, but it is the source of it. Note the phrase “mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the Earth.” Clearly Babylon is seen here as a source of false religion.
In order to make sense of this, we must go back to the first book of the Bible. Genesis chapter 11 explains that the first corporate rebellion against God after Noah’s flood took place at the tower of “Babel” at which site the city of Babylon was later built. So Babylon was the first country, and as such it was the first to blaspheme against the one true God. Therefore Babylon represents the beginning of corruption as well as the culmination of it.
There is an important prophecy in the Old Testament Book of Zechariah that backs this up:
Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is appearing.”
6 I asked, “What is it?”
He replied, “It is a basket.” And he added, “This is the iniquity[b] of the people throughout the land.”
7 Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! 8 He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.
9 Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.
10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.
11 He replied, “To the country of Babylonia[c] to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place. (Zechariah 5:6-11)
We see here that a woman personifying wickedness is brought to Babylonia, where a house will be built for it. So we see that the city of Babylon is especially associated with wickedness, just as Jerusalem is especially associated with holiness. This “house” that is being built in Babylon could be a temple that the Antichrist will build there for his false religion.