Could "Babylon the Great," described in Revelation, be the United States?

Email Received:

Many believe that the United States, or even specifically New York City, is the end-time "Babylon the Great" described in the Book of Revelation. What do you think?

Ted's Response:

There are several reasons why I do not believe that Babylon the Great is the United States. To begin with, it is not until the seventh bowl judgment (Revelation 16:19) that Babylon the Great is destroyed (which is expounded upon, in detail, in Revelation 18:1-24). This will be in conjunction with the Battle of Armageddon, which will take place after the kings of the earth, led by the beast (Antichrist), have gathered to come against Jesus, the Lamb (16:16, 17:12-14)—the Rider on a white horse.

The harlot woman (which, I believe, most likely is Islam, as explained in the woman and the beast section of my Chronology of Revelation commentary) will be "sitting on the beast [Antichrist]" (Revelation 17:3)—thus seeming to dominate, or at least strongly influence, the beast. The European Union (EU) has made several agreements with Middle Eastern nations, which predominately are Islamic. The EU itself is becoming increasingly influenced—many are saying "taken over"—by Islam (see a 16¾-minute video, Fitna, and a 7½-minute video, Appeasing Islam). Presumably, the Antichrist will emerge from the EU (or, some feel, from the Middle East).

Although Islam is making inroads in cultures around the world, the United States, as a whole, remains predominately Christian. Although I believe that the influence of Islam on this country will increase, I feel it is unlikely that the law of Islam (Sharia Law), based on the Qur'an, will control our government before Jesus returns to earth to rule and reign, although it certainly is possible.

Some of those who believe that the USA is Babylon the Great point out how the harlot woman "was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls" (Revelation 17:4) and how "the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries" (18:3). They feel that this richness and luxuriousness can be representative of only the USA.

However, I contend that many oil-rich Middle Eastern nations, which are Islamic, drench themselves in extravagance and luxury at least as much as, if not more than, America. (As one colossal example of this, look at the lavish Dubai of the United Arab Emirates.) They do this with the excessive, exorbitant profits they collect from oil revenues. What commodity, more than any other, has caused the merchants of the earth to grow rich more than oil which, by no means is, a primary export of the USA?

Prior to King Nebuchadnezzar and his reign over Babylon, there were two other world-dominating kingdoms or empires:

  1. Egypt and
  2. Assyria.
In Daniel's interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream (see Nebuchadnezzar's statue), he indicated that there would be a series of kingdoms or empires, in chronological sequence all the way to the end of the age, which would have control over much of the known world (Daniel 2:31-45). These included
  1. Babylon (head of gold),
  2. Medo-Persia (chest and arms of silver),
  3. Greece (belly and thighs of bronze),
  4. Rome (legs of iron), and
  5. an end-time revival/resurgence of Rome, presumably the EU (feet and toes partly of iron and partly of clay).
The first six of these had several things in common, but one of them was that they all had clear rule, control, and generally brutal domination over Israel. The EU has gained substantial authority and influence over Israel, for instance by forging agreements such as the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument: Israel. I think it is reasonable to think that, by the midpoint of the 70th Week, the EU will have gained harsh, if not ruthless, domination over Israel. Yet, the USA never has had rule, control, nor dominion over Israel, nor do I expect this ever to happen.

There may be sections of the USA (like in some large cities, such as New York) which, ultimately, will give their allegiance to Islam and to the world-wide system of Babylon the Great. Perhaps these will be some of the cities of the world that will collapse when Babylon the Great is judged (Revelation 16:19). But I do not believe that the USA as a whole, nor any major city within the USA by itself, qualifies to be Babylon the Great.

Also, Daniel pointed out that at the time of the end, this would happen:

Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. (Revelation 2:35)
Notice that all of the world empires in Nebuchadnezzar's dream will be "broken to pieces at the same time." This means that the influence of all of these kingdoms continues in the world, even now. That entire worldly system, which always has been antagonistic and hostile to the one true God, and to His chosen people Israel, will be destroyed when the Messiah, Jesus (the “rock cut out of a mountain”), returns and smashes it to pieces (2:44,45).

On the other hand, the USA never has been a part of that system. Traditionally, the USA has adhered to Judeo-Christian values and principles. There certainly has been some divergence from this over the past few decades, and I suspect that the USA will pay a high price for that soon. But I certainly do not equate the USA with Babylon the Great, and thus I do not believe that it will be completely and utterly destroyed at the end of the age (Revelation 16:19).

However, I do feel that it very likely will experience severe famines, plagues, earthquakes, storms, fires, and probably socio-economic collapse, along with the rest of the world. In particulat, this will take place during much of the last half of the final seven-year period, prior to Jesus' second advent (bodily descent) back to earth. My "take" on the identity of Babylon the Great can be read here: Mystery Babylon the Great.

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