Is the Destruction of the World Trade Center
The Fulfillment of Revelation 17 & 18?
William Arnold III
I have heard some people identify the "Babylon" of Revelation 17 & 18 as America. Is it possible that the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York is the fulfillment of this prophecy in Revelation 17 & 18 where a mysterious "Babylon" is said to be destroyed?
I do not believe so. Although this is a most tragic event which has taken place in America, I do not believe that it fulfills the prophecy given in these chapters nor do I believe that America is the "Babylon" of the book of Revelation for the following reasons:
1. The destruction of Babylon is to take place at the very end of the Great Tribulation, at the seventh bowl. It is caused by a great earthquake and is either part of, or leads to, the battle of Armageddon. This is recorded in Rev. 16:16-20 and then the actual destruction of the city itself is elaborated upon in chapters 17 and 18. This takes place after the world-wide mark of the beast is in effect where no one can buy or sell without this mark (13:15-18). Since this has not taken place, the destruction of Babylon has not yet taken place.
2. Babylon is called "The Great City" seven times in these three chapters. It is never identified as a country or nation (USA) nor is it identified as a building within a city (World Trade Center). It is a particular city and the entire city is destroyed. The event we have just witnessed was the destruction of two buildings in New York and a partial destruction of the Pentagon. It would be very difficult to make this fit with the prophecy in Revelation.
3. This city is said to "reign over the kings of the earth" (17:18). America may be a powerful country, but it does not dominate the leaders of the world.
So what then is the identity of this city which is mysteriously called "Babylon?" Various places have been suggested through the years. Rome seems to have been the most popular identification, especially since it "sits on seven hills" (17:9) and during John's time it did dominate the world. Perhaps this did have an immediate application during John's lifetime, just as the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25, Mark 13 & Luke 21) was a prophecy about the Great Tribulation at the end of the age yet some of it still had application to the apostles' lifetime (the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD). This phenomenon often takes place with prophecy. It has been identified as partial fulfillment, double fulfillment, pre-fillment and other things but this definitely takes place. I believe the best candidate for the 'endtime' or 'ultimate' Babylon is the city of Jerusalem for these following reasons:
1. The first mention of the "Great City" is found in chapter 11. It is where the two witnesses are killed who are said to prophesy in the "Holy City" where the temple is located (11:1-3, 7-8). It is also the city "where also their Lord was crucified" (verse 8). This is obviously Jerusalem.
2. Jerusalem is 'spiritually' called Sodom and Egypt (11:8, see also Isa. 1:1, 9-10). So it is not a far cry to 'mysteriously' call it Babylon (17:5).1
3. The "Great City" of Jerusalem as well as the "Great City" of Babylon both suffer a "great earthquake" (11:13; 16:18-19).
4. The woman is pictured riding the Beast or the 'antichrist' (17:3). He will reign from the temple of God (2 Thess. 2:3-4) which will be rebuilt in Jerusalem.
5. Babylon is said to be guilty of the blood of the 'witnesses' (17:6) and of the 'prophets' (18:24). As already mentioned, the witnesses appear to be killed in Jerusalem (#1) and Jesus called Jerusalem "the city that kills the prophets" (Luke 13:33-34, see also Matt. 23:34-35; Luke 11:50-51; Acts 7:52).
6. Seeing this city pictured as a prostitute caused John to marvel greatly (17:6). His amazement would be understandable if this was a picture of the future of the 'Holy City' but not if it was simply a city which was already known to be wicked.
7. The antichrist (who will reign from Jerusalem, #3) will indeed "reign over the kings of the earth" (17:18).
8. The antichrist's 'girlfriend' is a prostitute. The real Christ's bride is a pure virgin. Christ's bride is pictured as the "New Jerusalem" (21:2, 9-10). It would make sense that the antichrist's counterpart is earthly Jerusalem (Heavenly and earthly Jerusalem are also compared in Gal. 4:24-31 and Heb. 12:18-24).
9. Many times in the Old Testament, Israel (of which Jerusalem is the capital) is said to have "played the harlot" (Isa. 1:21; Jer. 3; Hosea, etc.). Now she would be called the "Mother of Harlots" (17:5) since she has committed the worst type of adultery possible and 'shacked up' with God's worst enemy.
1. The King James and the NIV have "mystery" as part of the name--"Mystery Babylon." But the more natural reading of the Greek is that "a name was written, a mystery: Babylon The Great, The Mother of Harlots and of The Abominations of The Earth" (so NASB, NRSV, NLT and NET). For a discussion, see the footnote in the NET Bible. <back>
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