Note: While I am not committed to the interpretation of Revelation 17-18 expressed below, I do consider it worth investigating. This post is not intended to offend Muslims, merely to present an alternative theory on the identity of Babylon the Great in Revelation.
Those who have read Rob’s recent post on the Second Coming and the comments below it will be familiar with the old Lutheran chestnut of Catholicism (possibly + other religions) as the fulfillment of Revelation 17 and 18. (See Dave Hunt’s A Woman Rides the Beast – book or YouTube video – for a more recent presentation of this theory). What many here may not be familiar with is the theory that (Saudi) Arabia fulfills this prophecy. I’m not certain who first proposed this theory, but it has been brought to my attention by Walid Shoebat – he and Joel Richardson seem to be almost the only people who favour it. I would recommend his book God’s War on Terror, specifically chapters 84-89, where the discussion of this Babylon theory may be found. I do not intend to present all his arguments in full here, but rather a list of pros and cons. Some of these points are Shoebat’s arguments/observations; some are my own – again I refer the reader to his book or talks he has given. I look forward to discussion of this minority-opinion theory. This theory of course would only fit in with both a historical and futurist interpretation of Revelation 17 and 18.
- Blood of the Saints in the Woman’s Cup fits Islam’s persecution of Christians
- Mecca is a city that serves as a spiritual/religious capital
- Saudi Arabia influences the Kings of the Earth by oil (perhaps the Wine in the Woman’s Cup) and by acting as a mediator between the West and Muslim countries
- Beast destroying Mecca and Saudi Arabia is conceivable, especially as part of the King of the North’s campaign against the King of the South (Egypt) – Saudi Arabia provided financial backing to the military when Muhammad Morsi was deposed. Saudi Arabia is seen as compromised, in bed with the West, by hard-line Islamists, and is in rivalry with Iran (Shia Crescent).
- Arabia is a desert, like John saw
- Mecca as the Islamic heartland gives Saudi Arabia the religious power to ride the Beast until it destroys her
- Merchants of the Earth could mourn the destruction of Arabia – oil is essential to the global economy and Saudi Arabia imports luxury goods
- Arabia sits on many waters literally and metaphorically: literal – Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf; metaphorical – Islam has followers among many ethnic groups
- Mecca conceivable as capital/important city in a revived Caliphate
- Destruction of Arabia would be visible from the sea as it is presented in Revelation 18
- The Woman seems Apostate – does Islam count as an apostate form of Judeo-Christianity, or is something closer to Christianity intended?
- Somewhat hard to believe that Muslims would destroy Saudi Arabia – but not inconceivable (see Shoebat’s book for historical occasions when Mecca was assaulted)
There are of course numerous other interpretations of these chapters in Revelation as well as their related counterparts in Jeremiah and Isaiah. The different schools of eschatology each have their different approach to the problem (Preterist, Historicist, Futurist, Idealist). Other suggested identities include: a literal Babylon (rebuilt) in Iraq; New York or some other wealthy Western city; Jerusalem; Rome (Catholic or pagan or neo-pagan). Rob has said he intends to do a post on the subject, so I’ll leave the details to him 😛
Joseph Richardson said:
This is the conundrum Futurism gets you into. 😉
Agreed – though I wouldn’t eliminate it as a tool for understanding some portions of Scripture. Revelation 17 and 18 are particularly difficult chapters, though – the word ‘Mystery’ is the clue there 😛
joseph elon lillie said:
The true fulfillment will probably startle us all and make perfect sense all at once.
Yes – I also think that’s true for some other prophecies. We can glean the general outline, but some specifics we’ll just have to wait for.
Carl D'Agostino said:
I would have omitted Rev from canon had I been at that big honcho meeting some centuries ago in favor of including others. Little too hallucinatory for me to have much meaning. Book of Thecla, for instance, was revered and used by a great many early Christians. Suppose early church did not feel women worthy of giving testimony to Jesus.
You raise an interesting point about the contributors to the Bible. We often talk about big names like Paul and Isaiah; perhaps we should mention a little more often that part of Daniel is written by Nebuchadnezzar – a believer’s testimony, if you will.
Well, there were always those in the Eastern Church who took that view, and there are relatively few OC commentaries.
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