Who is Mystery, Babylon the Great?
The book of Daniel, more than any other book in the Old Testament revealed very specific prophecies concerning the future. The book of Daniel is not only important as a key to understanding the past in God's supreme control of both Gentile and Jewish history, but also gives insight concerning the future, and helps to understand the symbolisms in the book of Revelation. Daniel gives the most comprehensive and detailed picture concerning the time of the Gentiles of any book of the Bible as well as the future history of Israel from Daniel's time to, if I may use the words, the second coming of Christ.
Beginning in Dan. 2-36-45, Daniel explains to the king the meaning of the dream concerning the statue. He tells Nebuchadnezzar that he was a great king and that God had given him a great dominion (verses 37-38). He declared to the king "You are that head of gold" (v.38). Daniel explains that the upper part of the body represented another kingdom but inferior to the kingdom of Babylon (v. 39), and that it would be followed by "a third kingdom", one of bronze, who will rule over the whole earth" (v.39). We see later in Daniel that these kingdoms are named Med o-Persia and Greece (Dan. 8-20-21). Daniel then gave the meaning of the fourth kingdom in verse 40. Here he declares "Finally there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron-for iron breaks and smashes everything-and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others" ( Dan. 2-40). Then in verses 41 to 43, Daniel gives a separate explanation of the feet and toes of partly iron and clay, which Daniel explained as being "the divided kingdom" (v. 41).Why a separate explanation of the feet and ten toes on this statue? The logical answer when following the text is because it is to be a fifth kingdom. There are not four kingdoms but five kingdoms that make up this statue. Daniel speaks of a fourth kingdom “strong as iron—so it will crush all the others. This fourth kingdom is Rome, the legs of iron of the statue. The feet, the divided kingdom, being the fifth kingdom, would have the strength of iron, i.e. Rome in it, but the weakness of clay (v.42). Daniel explains this mixture of people “mingling themselves with the seed of men,” thus they represent a "divided kingdom" (v. 43); but a kingdom nonetheless. Daniel then explains the vision of the rock that destroyed the image and then grew to be a mountain. "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands-a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and gold to pieces ( verses 44-45). The kingdom represented by the rock is the kingdom of Christ that God "set up in the time of those kings," at Christ's first coming. The "kingdom that will endure forever" represented here as the rock is what Christ will bring in at his, second coming when he destroys all kingdoms.
Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C., but the beginning of Belshazzar's service as co-regent with Nabonidus in 553 B.C. became important because it was in that year that Daniel had the first of his four visions in Daniel chapter 7. Actually Daniel chapters 7 and 8 both occur in the time period between Daniel chapter 4 and chapter 5, and are out of chronological order for whatever reasons Daniel had for doing so. The fact is that Daniel had received the revelation of chapters 7 and 8 before he came to Belshazzar's feast, where at that time Babylon fell ( see chapter 5). Beginning in chapter 7, Daniel is shown visions of future world history. In Dan.7-1-7, the vision of this chapter occurred, as told to us by Daniel. "In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon" (v.1), probably the year 553 B.C. or 14 years before the Med es and the Persians conquered Jerusalem. As was noted, this vision already was past when Belshazzar held his feast in chapter 5. In seeing this vision Daniel records he saw "the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea" (Dan.7-2). The four beasts described later that came up out of this sea (verses 2-3).
The first beast was compared to a lion having the wings of an eagle (v.4). As Daniel watched the wings were torn off and the eagle was lifted off the ground, and "the heart of a man was given to it" (v.4). Daniel describes the second beast as "like a bear." Raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth, and it was told, "Get up and eat your fill of flesh" (v.5). The third beast resembled a leopard with four wings such as a bird would have and four heads. This beast also "was given authority to rule" (v.6). The fourth beast, Daniel sees as the most frightening. "It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the other beasts, and it had ten horns."
In Dan. 7-8-10, Daniel continues recording the vision. He saw a small horn coming out from the 10 horns on this fourth beast; "a little one,” which came up among them, where in which three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully" (v.8). It is at this time in the vision, when the little horn comes forth from the ten horns, that we see the vision changes to a scene in heaven. Daniel sees one as "the ancient of days" (v.9). A countless number stood before him and worshiped him. "The court was seated, and the books were opened." This scene is parallel to what is seen in chapters 5 and 6 of Revelation, of Christ approaching God and opening the seals, which represent God's judgment. This is the time of God's judgment and coming wrath on the beast, i.e., the “little horn.” Rev. 6-17, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Dan. 7-11-14 continues recording the vision, where there he sees that "the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire" (v.11).
This verse shows that those of the preterist camp who see the beast in chapter 13 of Revelation as being Rome in the first century, concerning the fulfillment of the prophecy are in error. For this verse which agrees with the texts in Revelation tell us that the beast, Rome, was slain and its body, representing its kingdom, was destroyed at that time; yet history records, contrary to the preterist view, Rome continued into the late fourth century! So this beast that was slain seen here in Daniel could not be Rome. At this point of the beast's destruction, we are told : “As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time” (v.12). It is here we see that the beast to come was destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. This is seen in Rev. 19-20, “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him,---these both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Again, this certainly did not happen to Rome, nor the false prophet, whomever it is claimed he be. Then Daniel saw "One like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed" (verses 13-14). This is the time of the fulfillment of God's kingdom bringing in the eternal state. Note in the passage the words worshiped him, this is past tense, and goes far beyond the time of 70 A.D. It is the time for Christ's coming and fulfillment of all prophecy.
Like the image in chapter 2, these four beasts represent four kingdoms. The first which was like a lion and an eagle represented Babylon. The second kingdom represented the Med o-Persian Empire which conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. ( Dan. chap. 5). Like a bear it had great power, but not like Babylon. The third kingdom represented Greece (Dan. 8-21), the rapid conquests of Alexander the Great who conquered all of western Asia was the fulfillment of the Leopard. The Leopard is a beast capable of great speed like Alexander's conquests. When Alexander died in Babylon in 323 B.C., the Empire was divided among his four generals, represented by the four heads and four wings. They were Lysimachus who was given Thrace and Bithynia; Cassander who was given Macedonia and Greece; Seleucus who was given Syria, Babylonia, and land to the east; and Ptolemy who was given Egypt, Palestine and Arabia Petrea.
The fourth kingdom, the legs of iron was not named, but most scholars see it was historically fulfilled by the Roman Empire. The ten horns we can symbolically represent here as being past empires including Rome, and a future empire, i.e., the little horn, the 10 toes of iron and clay, the feet of the statue, which would appear in the end time. The little horn represents the kingdom and its ruler who would come up in this final kingdom. As noted, scripture only speaks specifically of "kingdoms and their kings" that in one way or another concerned Israel. And here in Daniel it begins with the kingdom of Babylon and its king. It is important at this time, for a better understanding, to bring the kings i.e. kingdoms mentioned in scripture forward here. 1. Egypt-king Pharaoh, 2. Assyria-king Shalmaneser V, 3. Babylon-king Nebuchadnezzar, 4. Medo-Persia-king Darius, 5. Greece-king Alexander the Great. The divided Greek kingdom, 6. Thrace and Bithynia-king Lysimachus, 7. Macedonia and Greece-king Cassander, 8. Syria and Babylon-king Seleucus, 9. Egypt, Palestine, Arabia Petrea-king Ptolemy, 10. The Roman Empire-king Julius Caesar. So we have here including the Roman Empire, 10 horns. With each horn representing not only a king but a kingdom also, as the texts in Daniel show us, seen in Dan. 7-7,8,11,17,20,21. Not only here but throughout Daniel chapter 8. Dan. 8-3,5,8,20,21, and 22. And these Kingdoms and kings are used interchangeably in Daniel, with the exception of Dan. 7-24. There it speaks of ten horns representing kings coming out from that one kingdom. This is why Daniel saw the fourth beast having ten horns on its body in Dan. 7-7; this fourth beast many see as being Rome. To that time the ten horns represented ten kingdoms, including Rome, for this “fourth beast” represented a kingdom as well. So also would the “little horn” be seen and represent a king and kingdom. So we see here in the book of Daniel that the horns are to represent kingdoms and their kings as well. Then we read in verse 8: “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn,---.” This horn, we now can see as being the fifth kingdom, i.e. The ten toes of iron and clay of the statue in Daniel chapter 2, the future and final prophetic kingdom to come. This kingdom is seen in Rev. 13-1.
In Dan. 7-15-22, he did not understand the image, and he asked one who was standing by the meaning of the vision (verses 15-16). Daniel was told "The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever, yes, forever and ever" (verses 17-18). Daniel then declares, "Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws--the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell; the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully" (verses 19-20). He continues, "As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them (Rev. 13-7), until the Ancient of days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints and the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom” (verses 21-22). Dan. 7-23-28, here Daniel is given this explanation; "The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on the earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time" (verses 23-25).
Daniel is told that this final kingdom described as the fourth beast will "devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it." Note that the angel tells Daniel that the fourth beast is not The Fourth Kingdom,Rome, chronologically speaking, but A fourth kingdom that would appear on earth. The fourth kingdom Daniel saw in his vision and inquired about. Unlike the other texts where the horns represented kingdoms as well as kings, here the text speaks differently. In this context we are told that the ten horns represent ten kings coming out of this final kingdom. This is seen in Rev. 13-1, 17-12,16 and 17. We see in verse 12 they are kings who have not received a kingdom, but (rather) receive power/authority as kings one hour along with the beast. So this indicates that the kingdom they received was the beast/kingdom, as kings but only for one hour. The title kings indicates a person having and ruling a kingdom. And these ten would receive a kingdom,i.e., the beast/kingdom, but for one hour. Verse 17 goes on to explain the meaning of this passage. “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree (be of one mind) and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” So we see these ten kings as having no kingdom of their own, for they have given their power, authority and allegiance to the beast kingdom.
The image in Daniel chapter 2 is clearly marked as consisting of five parts: gold, silver, brass, iron, and iron and clay. This is clear enough, only we have been so accustomed to hear the fifth spoken of as part of the fourth, or the fourth revived, that we read the scripture in the light of our tradition. To say that Daniel chapter 2 mentions only four Gentile kingdoms is not any answer, nor the answer. Daniel 2 says nothing of the kind. It mentions the fourth, that is not four. The original Hebrew word is not “arbag”--four; but it is “rebegahe”--fourth. It nowhere says there were only four. The five are not only mentioned separately, as to their material, but diversely as to their order; so as to distinguish the clay as being one of five, and not as part of the iron, the fourth kingdom, as is usually done.
Most agree that the first three kingdoms have come and gone in history, they being Babylon, Med o-Persia and Greece. The fourth Empire, when viewing the beasts in succession, though not named here, is seen by most scholars as being the Roman Empire. But the fifth kingdom seen in chapter 2 of Daniel as being the feet and toes of the image, called "the divided kingdom", was never fulfilled. Nothing in history shows that fulfillment, neither by Rome or other kingdoms. Dan. 7-26-27, tells us the conclusion of these events after their fulfillment. "But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him." We see that this interpretation runs parallel to chapter 2 where the prophecy of the destruction of the feet of the image and the whole image itself is destroyed, bringing in God's Kingdom forever. If it were not future prophecy, but prophecy fulfilled in history, then also would Dan. 7-26-27 here, be past fulfillment. It is clear from scripture that it was future prophecy to be fulfilled in the end time.
This ruler is described by Daniel in Dan. 11-36-45, "The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard of things against the God of gods" (v.36). Some interpretors have attempted to relate this king to Antiochus, however, the evidence of history is that Antiochus died shortly after fulfilling the preceding verses in the year 164 B.C. He did not fulfill any of the events described in this last part of the chapter, beginning in verse 36. Daniel goes on, "He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place" (Dan. 11-36). This is seen in Dan. 7-27-28 and the destruction of this final ruler/ kingdom is seen in Rev. 19-20. He fulfills the prophecy of speaking "against the God of gods" (v.36) and Rev. 13-5-7. This ruler is described in an unusual way, "He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all." ( Dan. 11-37). Daniel goes on to describe him, "Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses, a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts" (v. 38). He will place material things above all else, which will enable him to increase his power militarily and politically. "He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price" (v.39). He will be successful as is seen in Rev. 13-8, "All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." The final verses of Daniel chapter 11, beginning with verse 40, describes the final war or battle which occurs in the period just before Christ's second coming.
The Middle East, Israel and Jerusalem will be the catalyst that brings about this final war and battle prophesied for the end time. The battle called Harmageddon i.e. the Day of the Lord. Daniel describes this, "At the time of the end the king of the south will engage him in battle, and the king of the north will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships" (v.40). "He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood." Daniel goes on, "He will also invade the Beautiful Land" Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him" (Dan. 11-41-45). Daniel is given further information in chapter 12 concerning this vision of events given him of this final battle to come in the end time. He records that "at that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the Book--will be delivered" (v.1). This brings us to Rev. 7-1-8 where we see 12,000 Jews from each of the 12 tribes would be sealed (protected) in this tribulation, because their names were found written in the book "of deliverance." Dan. 12-2 clearly speaks of a resurrection, not only of Jews but Gentiles as well. "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth (worldwide) will awake; some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." This prophecy clearly gives the fact of a great resurrection at the prophecy's fulfillment. This passage confirms the fact that those who believe that Antiochus Epiphanes IV completed the prophecy seen in verses 11-36-45 are in error. The scripture here is given to us clearly and is not in any way to be speaking figuratively. It concerns the end time as is seen and told to us in Dan. 12-4. "But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.”
Most agree that the iron legs of the statue represented Rome as being the fourth Empire. But there is a difference of opinion concerning the identification of the feet and toes of the statue. The key to understanding the passage rests on the interpretation of the rock that fills the earth. This rock that symbolizes the Kingdom of God and is declared in Dan. 2-44-45. So it follows that if the dominion described in verse 44 refers to Christ's second coming, then the last part of the statue, the feet of ten toes made up of iron and clay, must represent an earthly empire existing prior to Christ's return. In this case, it could not be ancient Rome. It must also be noted, that since Rome is part of western Europe, when the empire of Rome dominated and the activities of the empire was centered there, it is reasonable to assume the prophecy's fulfillment to be stating that this area of the world would play an important role in this future kingdom to come. That kingdom being the feet and the ten toes that would come and extend from the kingdom of ancient Rome who dominated from western Europe, just as Christianity did.
When the birth of Christianity came through our Lord Jesus Christ, Christianity spread quickly throughout the Roman Empire in spite of persecution. In the first several centuries it had spread as far as Spain in western Europe. For Christianity a major turning point came when the Roman Emperor Constantine, in A.D. 312, granted the Christians the freedom to worship. By 392 A.D., he had Christianity become the state religion of the entire Roman Empire, from England to Asia. All other religions were either banned or suppressed, and Christianity became an organized church with a hierarchy closely identified with the Roman Empire. The organized church gained great power in governmental and civil matters. From the 11th century on, there was a single church for the whole of Christendom ruled from Rome, later extending over the entire continent. From Iceland to Italy and from Sweden to Spain. By the time of the 17th century, most rulers were convinced that the key to stable government was the sovereign's exclusive control of both religion and politics. By this time much of western Europe had become monarchies. From the early days of the Reformation (the 1550's) monarchs found that extending their authority over the church greatly enhanced their power over the state. But this only caused chaos and wars throughout Europe. By the 18th century, it became the age of absolute monarchy in Europe. That time brought about the "Age of Revolutions" (1776-1848). The age of Revolution that brought about the birth of the United States.
The four beasts given in Daniel represent kingdoms and kings who would be ruling when these prophecies would come to fulfillment. Though certainly many kings can come in an on-going kingdom. The 1st kingdom which was like a lion and an eagle represented Babylon, its king at that time being Nebuchadnezzar. The 2nd kingdom represented the Medo-Persian Empire seen in Dan. 8-20; its ruler, king Darius (Dan. 5-31) which conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. (Daniel chapter 5). The 3rd kingdom represented Greece, its king Alexander (Dan. 8-21). When Alexander died in 323 B.C. the Empire was divided up among his 4 generals, represented by the "4 heads and 4 wings" seen on the beast leopard. Its kings and kingdoms divided into smaller kingdoms was; Lysimachus given Thrace and Bithynia. Cassander its king, was given Macedonia and Greece. Seleucus its king, was given Syria, Babylon and land to the east. And Ptolemy its king, was given Egypt, Palestine and Arabia Petrea. The 4th beast kingdom seen in Daniel's vision was not named, but most scholars and many today see it as being the Roman Empire. Officially its first sole ruler/king at the time was Julius Caesar, 100-44 B.C.
As noted, scripture only speaks specifically of "kingdoms and their kings" that in one way or another concerned Israel. And here in Daniel it begins with the kingdom of Babylon and its king. Now taking the others not mentioned in Daniel into account, these would be: 1. Egypt, in the time of their captivity and Exodus. Since the king ruling at the time is unsure, he will be called "king Pharaoh" of the kingdom of Egypt. 2. The kingdom of Assyria, with its king at the time being king Shalmaneser V. And as noted, thus far in Daniel as the vision of the beasts and horns are mentioned, we see that the "horns" not only represent "kings" but also "kingdoms" when these prophecies would come to fulfillment. Therefore, the term "horns" spoken of in Daniel represent not only "kings" but "kingdoms,” unless the texts speak otherwise.
This is why Daniel when given the vision of the fourth beast, its body consisted of having on it 10 horns. Not only representing ten kings but also representing all the past kingdoms and their kings, including Rome and its king when it would come into existence. And why Daniel was given the vision in Dan. 7-8 of another little horn coming from out of the ten horns representing kingdoms. For this horn, besides Rome, would also be a future kingdom to come that would come in contact with Israel, as the others did in the past, but in a different manner. “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise; and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings” (Dan. 7-24). We see in this final kingdom, which Revelation chapter 13 and 17-16-17 confirms, is there are to be ten kings, not kingdoms, to come out of this final kingdom to fulfill the prophecy.
When we speak of Babylon the Great, what is the intended meaning of the words great city used of mystery Babylon in Rev. 17-18? “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” Is the “great city” here literally intended to mean a city, or is it intended to mean a great nation? In scripture the word great, Greek “megas,” can be used to describe those of superior rank. An example of this is Christ being described as a “great priest” in Hebrews 10-21. The plural “great ones” signify those who hold positions of authority in Gentile nations; as seen in Matt. 20-25 and Mark 10-42.
The Greek word for city is “polis” and means “a town enclosed with a wall.” Originally to the Greeks, polis meant a fortified settlement. But in time, with political development, “polis” began to signify a state or ruling center and the area ruled by it. In essence, polis is a protectively fortified dwelling place. This word is not limited in meaning to our contemporary concept of a city.
In scripture the words country and city are used interchangeably depending on the context. For example when reading Hebrews 11-10-16, both city polis and country patris, one's own native land, are used to describe the heavenly Jerusalem. Rev. 17-15 describes the whore, the woman or great city, as being composed of a global collective body of inhabitants. “And he saith unto me, the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Rev. 17-18 also speaks of this woman or great city “which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” In summary, based upon the contextual analysis of the text, Rev. 17-18, there is no reason to limit the meaning of the word city to the modern sense of the word for the following reasons: Historically, its been countries, not cities that have been the wealthy, militarily strong ruling centers of the world. Its nations and not cities that have kings.
A question arises in determining who Babylon the Great is concerns the timing of John's vision. Was the angel showing John a vision of the great Roman Empire that ruled over the world at the time of the vision? Or was the angel showing John a vision of a future great city or superpower? John is told in Rev. 17-12-17 that the ten horns, i.e. kings “have received no kingdom as yet,---.” If the woman or great city was Rome of John's day, the 10 kings would have been described as having already received kingdom authority. Instead, they are described as 10 kings which have received no kingdom as yet---.
There are preterists and others that believe that the book of Revelation was written prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. That Revelation was written about 66-69 A.D., and hold that the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was the fulfillment of Revelation and other prophecies of scripture. Some, if not most also hold that the woman i.e. the city was Jerusalem which was destroyed by Rome in 70 A.D., as just noted. But Jerusalem could not be the woman or city seen in chapter 17 because the text says that the woman, that great city, reigneth over the kings of the earth. The Jews and its city Jerusalem were certainly not reigning over the kings of the earth at that time, nor did they have a Jewish king reigning over them. Rome and its kings of the earth were not subject to the Jews nor the city of Jerusalem. Rather quite the contrary, the Jews and the city Jerusalem was subject to Rome and its Emperor kings of the earth.
Rev. 17-18, “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” The verb is used is “estin” the present tense, from the root verbeimi meaning “to be,” or in other words is reigning. It could be accurately paraphrased; “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which is reigning over the kings of the earth.” The whole vision is in the context of the future. Verse 18 is part of that future vision. You have to violate grammatical rules and remove verse 18 from its future context in order to say that the verse is speaking about first century Rome at the present time of the vision.
We read in Rev. 17-9, “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” Can Rome be considered the woman or great city because Rev. 17-3 and 9 tell us that the seven heads of the beast are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth, and Rome is known as the city on seven hills? The word mountain, Greek “oros” is used here for the Hebrew word “Har” for mountain. The Greeks and Romans used the word hill, Greek “bounos,” not “oros,” mountain, when referring to the seven hills Rome was built upon.
Rev. 13-1 and other scriptures tell us that the horns and heads symbolize crowned kings. If the vision John was seeing was Rome of his day, the ten kings would have already been crowned and the seven heads or mountains on which the woman sitteth would not be named “blasphemy.” The name of blasphemy attached to the seven heads or kings, as this is what they represent in 17-10; symbolizes their overall personality, as being arrogantly opposed to God. These seven heads that represent kings are not seen crowned in Rev. 17-3. The seven heads cannot refer to seven Emperors of the Roman Empire because there has been more than seven Emperors of Rome historically. (Source: World News and Bible Prophecy, Charles H. Dyer, pages 151-152). The seven heads are clearly identified in Rev. 17-9-10 as seven kings, not hills. We read, “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings; five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short time.”
The words there are in Rev. 17-10, translated from the Greek “eisen” which is from the root verb “eimi” meaning “to be.” Eimi is present tense third person plural meaning “they are.” This verifies to us that the seven heads represent seven kings. In the Old Testament the word mountain, Hebrew “Har,” was used symbolically to describe a national kingdom. In Dan. 2-35 it describes the rock that smote the feet of the image as growing into a huge mountain. This huge mountain we know to be the Kingdom of Christ. In Jer. 51-25, Har is used figuratively to describe Babylon as a “destroying mountain.” Mountain symbolizes Babylon's destructive military power. “Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain saith the Lord, which destroyest all the earth;---.” The seven heads spoken of in Rev. 17-9-10 are described as being both seven mountains and seven kings. They are also to represent kingdoms as we see in Jer. 51-25.
From the Old Testament usage of the word mountain, we can conclude that the seven heads refer to seven kingdoms and their kings. Also the use of the word mountain represents that on which the kingdom rests. And it is much larger in area than a hill or mount that many make the word out to be.
Rev. 17-1 describes this superpower as “the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.” Rev. 17-15 tell us that the waters where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. Peoples “laos” describes people of the same stock and language gathered together. Multitudes, “ochlos” is referring to casual groups of common people. Nations, “ethnos” refers to non-Jewish foreign immigrants. Tongues, “glossa” refers to distinct languages used by the various nationality groups. In other words, water symbolizes a melting pot of various nationalities having settled within the borders of this superpower nation. Is this superpower beginning to sound familiar yet?
In Matt. 16-18 Jesus describes how the church will be built when he said, “Upon this rock I will build my church;---.” The same word “upon” is used to describe the great whore, the woman in Rev. 17-1: “---the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.” The word “epi” is a primary preposition properly meaning superimposition of time, place, order etc. Superimposition refers to the act of laying or the state of being placed on something else. For example, Jesus would begin building his church by adding people to himself. Likewise, the great whore was settled over time by many different nationality groups through immigration. This then fits in with the idea of distribution of the participle sitteth where we have mixed groups of people migrating or being distributed from other nations to the superpower. Does this not fit the description of the U.S.?
In Rev. 17-18, the Greek “echo” and “basileia is translated “reigneth” echousa, from the root “echo” means to have or to hold something. Here that something is the word “basileian.” It means to rule or have predominance over the kings of the earth. From the context however, the woman is not the sovereign world ruler. She does not have absolute control over the kings of the earth. Rev. 17-7 teaches us that the beast carrieth the woman. This word carrieth is in the genitive case signifying possession. It means to support, sustain, carry, uphold or bear what is burdensome. In other words, the relationship of the woman to the beast is one of bondage. The woman is in some form of bondage to the beast in spite of the fact that she is the world's preeminent superpower nation. In the broader sense, carrieth indicates the spiritual bondage of the superpower to evil demonic powers. Rev. 18-2 teaches that the superpower nation lives under the attack of evil, demonic spiritual powers of wickedness. Her golden cup once filled with God's blessings and opportunities is now overflowing with his curses and the evil fruit resulting from her covetousness and idolatry.
Although she is being carried in a position of power as the world's number one superpower because of her combined economic and military strength, she is in financial and spiritual bondage to the Satanic power of the beast kingdom. This is why we hear the cry recorded in Rev. 18-2-4 concerning this superpower nation: “---is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”
Most doubt that Babylon the Great could be the U.S. because of the large number of professing believers within the nation and its lead role in world evangelization. Yet the cry to come out of Babylon the Great in Rev. 18-4 is written to God's people, the followers of Jesus Christ. Would it not make sense that this cry to come out of Babylon the Great would be written to a nation filled with God's people like America is?