In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here is this week’s question: “Dear Dave and TA, The focus right now on the war with Iraq has brought my attention to Babylon. Is ancient—or now, the modern rebuilt Babylon—the Babylon that is referred to in 1 Peter:5:13 and in the Book of Revelation?”
Tom: Dave, you wrote a book addressing this—A Woman Rides the Beast, for those who are interested.
Dave: Right. Tom, it’s very appealing. Some best-selling books have been written that Babylon is being revived. Saddam Hussein has been building it.
Tom: He’s got his name imprinted on every brick, doesn’t he?
Dave: Yes, he has coins out, and stamps with a silhouette of him and Nebuchadnezzar. He fancies himself to be Nebuchadnezzer reincarnated, and—Nebuchadnezzar being the one who destroyed Jerusalem—he thinks he’s going to do that as well. He’s obviously on his way out now. I don’t think President Bush is going to make any compromise. We’ve tried that before, and it doesn’t work.
So the question is—for example, in Revelation 17, “Mystery Babylon”—that’s the name on her forehead. In chapter 18, “Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen,” and so forth. Well, I do not believe, from Scripture or from common sense, that the Babylon that is being rebuilt in the Iraqi desert is what Revelation 17 and 18 are talking about. The last verse in chapter 17: “This is that great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” Babylon has been in ruins for 2,300 years, approximately. It certainly has not been ruling over the kings of the earth!
There are 14 identifying characteristics, at least, in Revelation 17, and they point the finger squarely at the Vatican. Not just the Vatican, of course, this is the false world church, but it’s obviously headquartered in the Vatican, and every identifying characteristic points in that direction.
She’s drunk, this woman is drunk with the blood of the saints. When was Babylon drunk with the blood of the saints? Babylon, again, has been in ruins for 2300 years. Now, how long is it going to take? People say, “Well yeah, but this is it and Antichrist is going to put his headquarters there, and he’s going to rule the world.” You have a great economic power that’s portrayed. How long is it going to take before this rebuilt city out there in the Iraqi Desert—well, it would be along the Euphrates River—becomes the world center of commerce and so wealthy and can qualify all those 14 characteristics?
No, that would put the Rapture way off in the distance. It doesn’t make any sense. Now, someone says, “Well, but Babylon was never destroyed.” Well, it was destroyed—it’s been nothing, as I said, it has been in ruins for 2,300 years. There have been a few houses and some people living there, and so forth. But if need be, it will be totally destroyed, and, as you said, Saddam Hussein has his name on every brick—they might just bulldoze that thing to get rid of his memory. He’s such an evil man and so hated by so many of his people.
Tom: Dave, the other scripture that they mention is 1 Peter:5:13: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth Marcus my son.” Is this a reference?
Well, before you answer, Dave, let me bring a thought that I had about Babylon and about the New Testament. It seems the direction in which the letters were sent and the thrust, whether it be Ephesus or Corinth or even Galatia—that would probably be, in terms of east, west, that would be the farthest east that you would go, but it’s all toward the west—the writings of all the scriptures. I can’t think of any place east of Jerusalem that letters are directed to. We have Paul having gone into Arabia, but short of that, is there anything else?
Dave: Well, he went into Arabia—well, the Lord was dealing with him. It was a desert place and far away from the Jews, and so forth, and he was isolated there. As far as I know, and I would have to go back and recheck my history, Tom—this is one time when it might have been well for me to know the question ahead of time, but anyway, I don’t think there ever was a church, certainly not of any substance, in Babylon.
Now interestingly, you know I’ve had some debates with some Catholics, Karl Keating among them, and I remember in one of our debates we were talking about whether Peter was ever in Rome or not, and he pointed to this scripture, and he said Babylon was a code name for Rome! Now Eusebius seems to mention that as well. I don’t know, but I doubt that Peter was way off in the desert there in Iraq and that there was a thriving church there. We don’t read of this historically.
Tom: Right. Certainly there is no reference to it in the Bible, unless this is a reference.
Dave: Right. But the point is, go to Revelation 17 and read what it says. This is a woman who has committed fornication with the kings of the earth. She is a city—a city that has committed fornication with the kings of the earth. What city is that? You’ve got Vatican City, You have ambassadors from every nation come to Vatican City. The Vatican that claims to represent God, claims to be the vicar of Christ, has been in bed with ungodly kings, governments, in ungodly pursuits. This is fornication! When did Babylon ever do that—this city that has been in ruins? And you can go right down the list, and you will find that only the Vatican qualifies—not this other city. It’s a very appealing idea—suddenly it’s going to arise, and Antichrist will put his headquarters there; it will become a world leader, a great city, reigning over the kings of the earth, and so forth. I don’t think it’s rational, and I don’t believe that it is biblical. And why do I look there, when the Vatican so clearly qualifies?