In part four of this study I wanted to take a break from the verse by verse format and discuss some of the common objections to the interpretation of Mystery Babylon being the eschatological city of Jerusalem, in other words, the Jerusalem that embraces the Antichrist in the end times.
I was planning on waiting until I got to the relevant verses to discuss the usual objections that come up, but some of these points don’t come up until very late in chapter 18, and I wanted to address these issues before that, and in a comprehensive manner.
Part of my goal here is to prevent anyone from not continuing in this verse by verse study because they think that I haven’t considered the best arguments against this theory .
The arguments I will be covering are as follows:
- How can Mystery Babylon be the eschatological city of Jerusalem if it is said to be “found no more” in Rev 18:21 , and we know that Jerusalem is a big part of the millennial reign and the eternal kingdom.
- When speaking of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem Ezekiel 5:9 states: “And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again” Does this mean that Jerusalem will not be judged again?
- Is there a future judgment of Jerusalem in scripture?
- Is this anti-Semitic somehow?, How does this effect out views toward Israel if any.
One of the best arguments against the theory is rooted in the following verse:
And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. – Rev 18:21
The argument is that Jerusalem can’t be Mystery Babylon because it says that it shall be found “no more at all” and we know that Jerusalem is in the millennial reign. We also see the so called “New Jerusalem” in the eternal kingdom. This is a very good argument, and it requires a very good answer. How can I say on one hand Jerusalem will be destroyed and be found no more and on the other hand say that it will be around forever.
The answer I believe lies in the last 8 chapters of the book of Ezekiel. There you will find one of the most intricate detailed building plans for the Israel of the millennium. It contains chapters and chapters of technical details regarding how Israel will be divided, about the new temple complex, and about Jerusalem and its surrounding areas.
To say it is different than what we currently know is a bit of an understatement.
There are those that have taken all the technical specifications of things like the division of the land in the millennial reign and plotted it all on a map. The twelve tribes of Israel are given parallel rectangular allotments of land, one on top of the other, from the north border of Israel to the south, and each tribe’s allotment extends the entire east / west border of Israel. It really helps to see this all on a map to visualize what I’m saying.
In the middle of these allotments of land is a rectangular portion that Ezekiel calls the “Holy Portion.” The priests and Levites that service the temple, equally divide this land, there is some debate as to where exactly the temple is in this section, some say it is in the middle of this land others say that it is just north of the city, but it doesn’t appear to actually be in the city itself which is very different in and of itself.
The city Jerusalem is also very different in the millennium, including most likely its physical location, which we will talk about in more detail later. For starters it is perfectly square; it is about 9 times larger than the old city of Jerusalem is today. It has twelve gates, 3 on each side, it sits on a high plateau , it has a two rivers that flow from it, the one on its east side flows to the dead sea, the one to its west flows all the way to the Mediterranean sea. It is a different place, in fact, the last words in the book of Ezekiel are used to give this Jerusalem a different name It says:
It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there. – Eze 48:35
This is sometimes transliterated YHWH Shammah which means the Lord is there.
The Temple regardless of where it resides is absolutely huge, and is a study in and of itself that you may find very fascinating, Including things like “No wall of partition to exclude Gentiles., and no veil in the holy of holies” I found it interesting that the Temple Institute, that is the Jewish people in Israel that are seeking to rebuild the temple said the following of this structure on their website templeinstitute.org:
“Many aspects of the Temple described by Ezekiel are difficult to comprehend, since that vision contains elements of prophetic insight which, in our generation, we do not have the spiritual or intellectual capacity to understand. For example, according to the prophecy of Ezekiel, the structure of the Third Temple will necessitate vast topographical changes in the environs of the Jerusalem. This Temple will differ drastically in size from its predecessors. According to Ezekiel’s measurements, the new Temple will be so large that it will occupy the entire area of the city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s prophecy explains that both the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives will be enlarged and expanded in the future”
The city of Jerusalem’s actual location in the millennium is a matter of some debate. You should know that the people that I am about to site have no theological reason for saying that the location of the Jerusalem in the Millennial period is in a different location that the present city of Jerusalem, They do not as far as I know consider Mystery Babylon to be the eschatological city of Jerusalem, they are simply trying to map out some of the details that Ezekiel gives in these 8 chapters.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives two options based on the text, both of them south of Jerusalem, One of them at Bethlehem, the other is a little further north, but still south of Jerusalem, at modern day Ramat Rahel. Another researcher puts forward a good case for the millennial Jerusalem or Yawheh Shammah being located Shiloh.
Even if Yahweh Shammah, the new city sat right on top of the old Jerusalem, We must at least conclude that it is 9 times larger than the current city, so it obviously does not contain the same physical landmarks and boundaries as the previous Jerusalem. And we know from various places in the bible that it will sit on a large raised platform, a long plateau which makes it visible from a very long way off. I have also already mentioned that two rivers flow from it on either side, so we know that its geographically not the same either. So we start to get the idea that God will willingly call this city Jerusalem regardless of it having the same borders, or geography, or physical location.
Take for example the New Jerusalem of the eternal kingdom, It is called Jerusalem as well despite it being a whopping 1500 miles long.
Some, such as Amillinialists try to make The New Jerusalem of the eternal kingdom ( that is the time period after the millennial reign) equal with Ezekiel’s Jerusalem, based on the fact that they both have twelve gates named for the twelve tribes, and a few other issues.
The differences however are far greater than the similarities, for example, consider the size: The New Jerusalem is about 1500 miles wide, which would encompass most of the countries in the Mid East. This is compared to a Ezekiel’s 9 mile square city, and the current 1 mile old city.
Some other notable differences are that the New Jerusalem Comes down from heaven (21:2) While Ezekiel’s Jerusalem is Located in Israel on Earth (40:2) There is no temple in the New Jerusalem, it says God and the Lamb are its Temple (21:22) While the temple in the book of Ezekiel is huge, and is located north of the city (40:2) There is no sin; nothing impure will ever enter the New Jerusalem (21:27) While daily sin offerings are made in the Temple in Ezekiel’s version (45:13-15,17) There is no more death in the New Jerusalem (21:4)While there is still death in the book of Ezekiel (44:25 also Isa 65:20) There are no natural beings in the New Jerusalem, only the perfected (21:27) and there are natural beings in Ezekiel. (46:16)
I mention all this to be able to say the following. God has no problem calling the New Jerusalem “Jerusalem” even though it clearly isn’t tied to the exact place that the current Jerusalem is, and the same is true with the city called Yahweh Shammah It can be the Millennial Jerusalem even though the old location has been apparently destroyed.
In fact I think that the judgment of the old city of Jerusalem described in the following passages actually creates the topographical changes such as the plateau, and the river that will through the land.
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightning’s; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. – Rev 16:18-19
As an interesting side note: This verse actually contrasts the so called “Great City” (Mystery Babylon) with the “cities of the nations”, this is a way to designate “The Great City” as non-gentile city.
An example of this distinction in scripture is found here:
Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her. – Eze 5:5
I also find this quote from Jeremiah about the destruction of Jerusalem from the Babylonians provocative considering this title of “great city”,
And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them. – Jer 22:8-9
We will also see in our next study how this tern “The Great City” referring to Mystery Babylon is used by John to unambiguously describe sinful Jerusalem in another place in the book of Revelation.
I would also make the case that the reason the Lord splits the Mount of Olives, despite much confusion on this issue, is to make an escape route out of the old city of Jerusalem for the faithful remnant of Jews that are alive after the time of Jacobs Trouble. Consider in context, this passage in the Book of Zechariah.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. – Zec 14:4-5
Why is the Lord getting the faithful to flee from Jerusalem with such extravagant measures in this moment of triumph? It is because of the earthquake that is about to split the city in three parts described in Revelation 16.
Essentially the old city of Jerusalem will be judged for its taking for itself the king known as antichrist among other things, it will be found no more, but a much more glorious city of Jerusalem with a different size, location, and topography will continue, at least until the point of the eternal kingdom when once again a different kind of Jerusalem will overshadow the former.
The next biblical objection to this theory is found in Ezekiel 5 verse 9, where it says:
And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again. – Eze 5:9
In context this prophecy was about Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. People will say: “How can Jerusalem be judged again if God said that he would never do the like again to Jerusalem?”
First of all, God does not say that He will never judge Israel or Jerusalem ever again, He says he will never do it again like he has done with the Babylonians.
A similar promise can be seen in the book of Genesis
And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. – Gen 9:11
God in these passages does not say he won’t judge them at all anymore, only that He won’t judge them in that way again. In fact there are explicit promises to judge both Jerusalem and the world again, as we will see later on, albeit not by means of a flood.
The second point that I would like to make is that this passage in Eze 5:9 is difficult for all commentators regardless of their theological positions, because the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians were actually very similar events in the way that they were destroyed.
- They both were besieged by their enemies which created terrible conditions of famine and disease inside the city before the enemies ever got in.
- In both cases those that didn’t die from disease or famine died from the sword, just as prophesized in Ezekiel 5:12
- And in both cases a remnant that was not killed was scattered, creating a diaspora just as prophesized in Ezekiel 5:9
It is such a close fit that this issue has become synonymous with the idea of a double fulfillment of prophecy. In fact if you look up dual fulfillment on Wikipedia you will see that this is one of the three examples that are given for dual prophecies in the bible, I would submit there are many more, but I wanted to point out that these destructions are very similar.
This similarity gives bible scholars a difficult time in light of the passage in question Eze 5:9, but ironically it poses no problem to the theory that Mystery Babylon is Jerusalem, In fact, I would submit that the destruction of Jerusalem that I am talking about, the one described in the Mystery Babylon passages, is the only destruction that can be said to be 180 degrees different from the previous destructions of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC and Titus in 70 AD.
For instance four times in Revelation 18 it mentions the destruction of Mystery Babylon occurs in “one day” or “one hour” Rev 18:8, 18:10, 18:17, Rev 18:19, This is in sharp contrast to the previous long and drawn out sieges of Jerusalem.
This destruction of Mystery Babylon is accomplished by a combination of
- The biggest earthquake of all time
- Great hail from heaven Rev 16:21
- The kings of the earth, who burn her with fire, in fact fire in various forms is mentioned another 3 times.
And while fire is also mentioned as part of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and in a lesser way during 70 AD destruction the fires in those cases were set after the conquest was over, and no mention of death by fire was recorded, this in contrast to the text mentioning four times fires as the primary agent of destruction of Mystery Babylon. In addition Ezekiel makes it clear that the method God used for the previous destructions were sword, famine and, pestilence, and there can be no doubt that that is where the destruction came from in the previous cases.
This “one day” or “one hour” destruction of Mystery Babylon, and its close proximity to the millennium in Revelation 18 also has no room for the scattering to the winds of the remnant Jews as was the case in 597 BC and 70 AD, which is also an expressly stated as part of the judgment of the previous destructions Eze 5:10, So the future judgment of Jerusalem will be nothing like the previous destructions of Jerusalem and I see no conflict with Ezekiel 5:9 and the future judgment of Jerusalem whatsoever.
Before I start on the next objection I would like to appeal to those of you who have read the Old Testament extensively and remind you that all throughout Israel’s biblical history they have desired a king that would look the part, and basically give them what they wanted, that is the conquering Messiah that would deliver them from their current enemies. A good looking “Son of David” King who would fulfill the prophecies of putting Jerusalem in the top spot of the cites of the earth. Now of course this will actually happen in the millennial reign, Jerusalem will be the city that rules the nations of the earth, we know this for the same reason that the Jews are expecting this, because the scriptures like Ezekiel say it will happen.
But we must understand that one of the main reasons that many Jewish leaders rejected Jesus at the time was because He didn’t seem to be fulfilling that conquering part of the Messianic prophecies at His first coming but prophecies of the suffering Messiah of Isa 53 which we are so thankful for.
In fact even his disciples didn’t quite get this at the time. They seemed to think that at some point he would start conquering the enemies of Israel and establish Jerusalem as the world capital. Even after he raised from the dead , and just before he ascended into heaven it says in Acts 1: 6-7:
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. – Act 1:6-7
What I am saying is that Satan knows all this too, He knows that they are waiting on a messiah king that makes Jerusalem the capital city of the world in fulfillment of the messianic prophecies. The reason why we see the antichrist being so tied to Jerusalem in the last days is because He plans on making use of this thirst for a conquering messiah king who will make them the center of all the worlds religion and economy. And he will in fact seem to deliver on this promise, for a time.
The next argument against this theory is a more general one, It is a kind of belief that Jerusalem is not going to be judged anymore, and that Jerusalem is a kind of city that will forever be free from judgment since the Jews are back in the land.
But there are many passages that speak of a future eschatological judgment of Israel, that contains elements that are beyond the scope of any previous judgment.
When a prophecy fits this description, it almost always speaks of it in the same way, using similar vocabulary and themes. It speaks of a fiery trial, a purification of Israel that immediately precedes their ultimate redemption and their final atonement for past sins, this final reconciliation for sins is typified in the completion of the 70 weeks of Daniel.
A good example of this fiery judgment, just before reconciliation is found in Isa 4, just before passages which are widely considered to be talking of the millennial reign. The Millenial period seems to have the prerequisite of purifying judgment by fire for the Jews.
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. – Isa 4:4-6
We see similar language in the post exilic prophets, the reason why their being post Babylonian exile is important is that one can not say that the following were prophecies of Babylon’s destruction of Jerusalem.
For example a post exilic prophecy that wasn’t fulfilled completely by 70AD is found in Zechariah 13 8-9
In the whole land,” declares the LORD “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people, and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” – Zechariah 13 8-9
This fiery refining just before their redemption is the time spoken of as the time of Jacob’s trouble which begins with the eschatological Day of the Lord and ends with the end of the 70th week. It is often missed that the one who troubles Jacob in this time, is God himself even though He may do this through various agents. He will refine one third of national Israel during this time of judgment, This one third of national Israel will come to know Jesus as messiah possibly through the ministry of the two witnesses, but either way they will help to populate the millennial kingdom that we saw earlier in the charts.
So yes, Israel will be judged for its sins, particularly their embracing of the antichrist. They are not going to be exempt, and the teaching that they are, is simply not biblical, or logical.
Finally, some people wonder if the interpretation that the eschatological city of Jerusalem is Mystery Babylon is in some way anti-Semitic. Or they will wonder exactly how we should view modern day Israel and Jerusalem in light of this information.
The short answer is no, this is not anti-Semitic. Reading about Israel’s falling short in the OT is not an anti-Semitic activity and neither is this. But more to the point, this is not a theory about current Jerusalem but a future one that we have not seen yet. And when it comes their future sin of worshiping and promoting the antichrist, it is really no different than the rest of the world’s sin which do the exact same thing. Their future sin is compounded by their fierce promotion of the antichrist as messiah and their having known the True God previously. But this embracing of the antichrist is not unique to them. It is a sin that the entire unsaved world will share in.
As far as how we should view Israel in light of this information, I think anyone that knows me or my previous work knows that I tend to default or err in support of Israel. But that does not mean that I think they can do no wrong or are on the right side of every political issue. I think we are instructed to pray for them, and preach to them and love them.
I recognize there Is all kinds of hate toward Israel in the unsaved world, I personally have a theory that the primary reason for this is that Satan believes that if he can eliminate a certain amount of Jewish people he can prevent Christ from returning to take His throne because the Jews petitioning their messiah is one of the last things he can try to stop to prevent Christ’s return.
That is why certain efforts have been made at genocide by governments that have been particularly given over to demonic powers such as Hitler, Satan is just being strategic in his attempt to protect his power, This attempt to prevent Christ taking his throne culminates ultimately in Revelation 19 with Satan literally trying to prevent the decent of Christ with some type of weaponry presumably.
I hope that this has been helpful in clearing up some of the objections you may have had stay tuned as next week we get right back to the verse by verse study of Mystery Babylon.