Question: Is the woman called “mystery Babylon” in Revelation 17 the city of Babylon that is being rebuilt in Iraq?
Answer: As far as I know, ancient Babylon, partially rebuilt by Saddam Hussein, is no longer being rebuilt. Of course, the forces occupying Iraq are using some of Babylon’s structures for housing the military command. Last September the U.S. Commander, Lieutenant General Richard Sanchez, presided over a ceremony in Babylon where the U.S. Marines handed over control of central Iraq to Polish forces—but that is a far cry from Babylon becoming what is portrayed as “Mystery Babylon” in Revelation 17-18. Some evangelical leaders have referred to such recent events there as though of great prophetic significance, but I see none.
Ancient Babylon, though somewhat restored through the efforts of Saddam prior to the American-led invasion, was in ruins for about 2,300 years, during which time it did not meet any of the criteria identifying “Mystery Babylon” in Revelation 17-18: a city on seven hills that rules over the kings of the earth; a spiritual entity that has committed fornication (i.e., spiritual harlotry) with earth’s rulers; that is drunk with the blood of the saints martyred for Christ; whose colors are purple and scarlet; the smoke of her destruction can be seen by sailors in the sea; a city whose commerce has made merchants rich, etc. On the other hand, during these 2,300 years while Babylon was in ruins, Vatican City and Rome as headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church (also for some centuries secular Rome at the head of the Roman Empire) have fulfilled all of these identifying criteria. It would take many years for a rebuilt Babylon in the Iraqi desert to catch up to Rome in these respects—highly unlikely in my opinion.
Rebuilt Babylon is being touted as the eventual headquarters of Antichrist. That seems rather remote. Furthermore, the beast upon which the woman (Mystery Babylon) rides will “hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (Rv 17:16). How can Babylon be the world headquarters of the Antichrist, yet he will destroy it? That hardly makes sense—but it does make sense that the Antichrist, who will at first need a partnership with the Pope and his church because of its worldwide structures, popularity, and power, will eventually turn against and destroy the whore when he no longer needs her and he sets himself up as “God” to be worshiped by all mankind.