Sermon No: 42210-Mystery Babylon - Part 2

SERMON TOPIC: Mystery Babylon - Part 2

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 20 February 2019


Sermon synopsis: Is the commercial Babylon necessarily the same as the religious Babylon? Could religious Babylon be centred in one city and commercial Babylon in another?


(PART 2)


Applies to




New York

Religious Babylon

7 hills



Rules 7 continents

Drunk on blood of saints

Before John

- Persecuted disobedient Israel

TRUE (John’s day and Middle Ages)


Seat for ecumenical religion

Before John

Middle ages


Futurists see her as representing the Apostate Church that is left behind, possibly in the form of an ecumenical (representing a number of different Christian Churches) or interfaith (different religions) movement headquartered in Rome.

There are the religious movements that some Futurists have suggested as the apostate religion.

The Catholic Church

The New Age Movement


An ecumenical movement

An interfaith movement



The passage seemingly switches now to a commercial city, of which it says that the “merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries” (Rev 18:3).

Is the commercial Babylon necessarily the same as the religious Babylon? Could religious Babylon be centred in one city and commercial Babylon in another?

Rev 17 Babylon is destroyed by a political power that previously supported her.

Rev 17:16 The beast and the ten horns … will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

Yet Rev 18 Babylon is destroyed by a sudden act of God.

Rev 18:8 … She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.


The world rulers hate and destroy Babylon of Rev 17.

Rev 17:16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

But the world rulers mourn the destruction of Babylon in Rev 18.

Rev 18:9 “When the kings of the earth … see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.

Rev 17 Babylon is guilty of religious abominations, while Rev 18 Babylon is guilty of greed, self-indulgence.

Where is the US in prophecy?

A question which has puzzled modern Bible prophecy scholars is the lack of mention of the United States in prophecy. As the world’s largest superpower, it is indeed conspicuous by its absence. Surely if we are living in the Last Days now, the US should merit a mention in the events of the end-time prophecy. There are different opinions on the matter:

Some believe that as America was once a colony of the British Empire, it may simply be included as part of the extended final Revived Roman Empire—which itself incorporated Britain. This view would also allow for a US president to be the Antichrist.


As the end-time prophecies focus on Israel and the Middle East, maybe the US is not mentioned because of the lack of proximity to the area in which prophetic events take place. But we are increasingly living in a “global village” and the US plays a prominent part in the operation of the United Nations, which could be a precursor to the final world government. The US is the single major supporter of Israel and with the current state of affairs, there is no doubt that she would have some part to play if the Gog / Magog invasion (Ezek 38) takes place before the Tribulation..


There are those who identify the US with “the young lions”, who-along with Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish-seem to make a nominal protest at the Magog attack against Israel but do not actually involve themselves in the conflict. 1

Sheba and Dedan are commonly regarded as modern Yemen and Saudi Arabia respectively. Certain expositors identify Tarshish as an indirect reference to Britain. The “young lions” of Tarshish are seen as Great Britain’s former colonies, of which the US is most prominent today.

1 Ezek 38:13 (KJV) Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods…?


Others believe that the US is not mentioned because it may be reduced to an insignificant player before the events of the Tribulation. It is speculated that the anti-American sentiment we see from militant Islamic terrorists or North Korea may result in an attack using an EMP device 1 or a dirty nuclear bomb that may neutralise the US and reduce her to a shadow of her current prowess.

Then some see New York, or the US in general, as a type—or possibly the actual fulfilment of—the Commercial Babylon of Revelation 18.

1 An EMP is a short burst of electromagnetic energy that can disrupt—if not destroy—electronic devices within an affected area. While EMP radiation can be unleashed by nuclear explosions, weapons have also been developed for the express purpose of delivering high-energy EMP.



If the statements made in Rev 18 apply to the world that John lived in, there is really no debate that they refer to Rome which is why the early Fathers made this singular identification. Everyone knew what “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth” was and despite what modern Preterists say, no one thought it was Jerusalem.

As things stand today, New York is actually a far better fit for a commercial and political Babylon. But it’s not as good a fit for a religious Babylon as Rome. Rome is also more likely to be a centre for ecumenical religion then New York, being the seat of the Catholic Church which will no doubt play some role in this ecumenical or interfaith movement.

Babylon is associated with luxury, riches, splendour, great wealth

Rev 18:11-14 The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more—cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men. They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendour have vanished, never to be recovered.’


New York is one of the greatest commercial cities in the world.

Lower Manhattan is the third largest central business district in the US and is home to the New York Stock Exchange, on Wall Street, and the NASDAQ, at 165 Broadway, representing the world's largest and second largest stock exchanges, respectively, when measured both by overall average daily trading volume and by total market capitalization of their listed companies in 2013. http:// wiki/ New_York_City

New York City stacked against the GDP of entire countries (2011)

The stock exchanges serves as a barometer of the national economy. Compare the combined USD 26 Trillion total of New York’s stock exchanges in terms of market capitalization value of shares to its closest rivals. The two largest stock exchanges in the world are both located in the famous Wall Street area of Manhattan in New York City.


Largest stock exchanges in the world (2015)

Revelation 18 describes a great commercial city which is also a seaport.

Rev 18:17-19 “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city. They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: ”‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!

Of the cities most commonly identified as Mystery Babylon, four (Babylon, Rome, Jerusalem and Mecca) do not even have a port. In contrast London has ports, while New York, Istanbul and Dubai are all currently featured in the world’s Top 50 container ports


In contrast to Rome, Mecca and Babylon of today, New York is the leading deep-water seaport city in the Western Hemisphere, and it is the marketplace gateway to the US.



New York is #2 and London #5.

Rome sits at an unimpressive #78, with its old rival Constantinople lying at #25.

Babylon, Mecca and Jerusalem don’t figure and Dubai is #162.

With 16 cities in the US alone topping it, while Rome might be the leading candidate by far in terms of the religious Babylon, in our current world it doesn’t feature that prominently enough to make a weighty claim to being commercial Babylon.


US (New York) is #1, equals ¼ of entire world GDP.

UK (London) #5.

Italy (Rome) #8 but the EU is second to the US. This will drop when UK exits the EU.

Turkey (Istanbul) #17, Saudi Arabia (Mecca) #20, UAE (Dubai) #30.

Israel (Jerusalem) #34.

Iraq (Babylon) lowest at #54.


Babylon is not only a major commercial hub but as a leading consumer or importer. International merchants mourn her demise because “no one buys their cargoes anymore” (18:11).

Rev 18:15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn

Which country would be most likely to invoke great sorrow from merchants at their demise?

Who is the world’s largest consumer nation or importer?

Rev 18:23 The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.”

Mystery Babylon is home to the world’s greatest businessmen. 8 of the Top 10 richest businessmen are US citizens (Forbes 2017).


But extending the analogy of Mystery Babylon from New York to the United States as a whole, we note the following. Global financial institutes like the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) are both headquartered in Washington DC in the US. As of 2018, The World Bank has “189 member countries, staff from more than 170 countries, and offices in over 130 locations”. It lends to governments of middle-income and creditworthy low-income countries and provides interest-free loans and grants to governments of the poorest countries. By its own definition, the IMF is an international organization of “189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”


Some, on hearing the name Babylon, immediately invoke imagery involving the infamous Tower of Babel and thus believe that Mystery Babylon may likewise be renowned for its towers. In the early 20th century the US—in particular, New York— was the undisputed leader in sky-scraping towers. In 1930, 99 of the world’s 100 tallest buildings were in the US and 51% of those were in New York. For over a century after the birth of the modern skyscraper, the world’s tallest building would always in the US, with Chicago leading for 30 years and New York for 86 years. New York would come to be known as “The City of Skyscrapers” and “The City of Towers”.


One World Trade Centre in New York

Another OT prophecy some believe applies to Mystery Babylon, is the description of her as a city with many “foreigners in her ranks” (Jer 50:37). But Mecca is a city that is barred to all but Muslims.

In 2007 there were over 300 languages spoken in London. With as many as 800 languages spoken in New York, it is the most linguistically diverse city in the world, rightfully dubbed “The Babylonian Bedlam”.


Cities with the largest foreign-born populations (2006-2016)

Rev 18:9 The kings of the earth committed adultery with her…

Home to the headquarters of the UN, New York is an important centre for international diplomacy and has been described as the cultural and financial capital of the world. (http:// wiki/ New_York_City)

We already noted that the UN sponsored interfaith movement UNAOC (UN Alliance of Civilizations) is based in New York.


“Commercial Babylon” appears to be a meeting place for the nations of the earth.

While the UN has further main offices in Geneva (Switzerland), Vienna (Austria) and Nairobi (Kenya) it is headquartered in Manhattan, New York City. Of the six principal organs of the UN, the International Court of Justice with its seat in The Hague (Netherlands) is the only one not located in New York. The other five - The General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the Economic and Social Council and the UN Trusteeship Council are all based in New York.

Extending the analogy to the US as a whole, global financial institutes like the World Bank and the IMF are both headquartered in Washington DC in the US.


In modern times New York is undoubtedly “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth”.

The US is responsible for 22% of the UN’s annual operating budget. While the UN has further main offices in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi, it is headquartered in Manhattan, New York City. Of the 6 principal organs of the UN, the International Court of Justice with its seat in The Hague (Netherlands) is the only one not located in New York. The other 5—the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the Economic and Social Council and the UN Trusteeship Council are all based in New York.


While not built on 7 hills, some consider a mountain to be a symbol of political or geographical entities. As the world also has seven continents [(1) Africa, (2) Antarctica, (3) Europe, (4) Asia, (5) Australia, (6) North America and (7) South America] and the UN is head- quartered in New York, they see this as a reference to the UN having political dominion over the seven continents of the world.









New York is in not known as being a city on seven physical hills, except for Staten Island 1 (but this is but only of the five boroughs of the city). But some spiritualise this to see a mountain being a symbol of governments or political entities. As the world also has seven continents (Africa, Antarctica, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America) and the UN is headquartered in New York, they see this as a reference to the political entity of the UN having dominion over the continents of the world.

In any event “the city on seven hills” from Rev 17 is applied to the religious Babylon, not the commercial Babylon of Rev 18.

1 Staten Island is built on 7 hills (Fort Hill, Ward Hill, Fox Hill, Grymes Hill, Emerson Hill, Todt Hill, and Richmond Hill) .


Habakkuk speaks of the Babylonians as a people “whose own strength is their god.” In Rev 18 Babylon is termed a “city of power” (v. 10) and onlookers appear dismayed at the possibility that she could be so swiftly destroyed, crying “In one hour your doom has come!”

Ever since the US was undoubtedly the deciding factor in winning 2 world wars, it has dominated the world in terms of military prowess.


Military strength indicator (Credit Suisse report—Sept 2015)

Hab 1:6-7 “I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honour.”

Which modern nation could best be described as being a “law to themselves” who “promote their own honour”? Jeremiah writes of Babylon, "You are my war club, my weapon for battle—with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms” (Jer 51:20). He also says of her, “How broken and shattered is the hammer of the whole earth!” (Jer 50:23). Which city or country could be considered—the “hammer of the earth” or in modern terms— “the world’s policeman”?


Which single country could the term “world’s policeman” be most consistently applied to today. Here are just five of the front-page returns I retrieved from Google.

The US: world’s policeman or schoolyard bully?

Should America be the world’s policeman?

Yes, We Are the World’s Policeman—US troops around the world are the greatest preservers of liberty and peace in the world.


Obama Says US Will No Longer Be the World’s Policeman.

… Isis and Iraq remind us that we need America to be the world’s policeman…

Babylon is self-confident and feels secure.

Rev 18:7… In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.’

According to Business Insider, in 2010:

The US military had a total of over 700 military bases in 130 countries around the world.

US military spending was greater than the military spending of China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined—somewhere between $1.01 and $1.35 trillion. US military spending made up approximately 44% of all the military spending on the entire globe.

Together, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost more than $150 billion a year.


Babylon is called “you lover of pleasure” (Isa 47:8). Likewise New York City is called “The Entertainment Capital of the World”.

One of the most profitable exports from the US as a whole is entertainment.

New York is by far the most important centre for American mass media, journalism, and publishing. The city is the top media market in the United States, with 7% of the country’s television-viewing households. Three of the Big Four music recording companies have their headquarters in the city. More than 200 newspapers and 350 consumer magazines have an office in the city. The book publishing industry alone employs 25,000 people. For these and other reasons, New York is often called “the media capital of the world”. (https:// wiki/ Economy_of_New_York_City)


While Hollywood in Los Angeles is renowned worldwide for its role in the production and export of entertainment, many are unaware of the major part played by New York.

New York City is the 2nd-largest centre for filmmaking and TV production in the US, producing about 200 feature films annually, employing 130,000 individuals; the filmed entertainment industry has been growing in New York, contributing nearly US$ 9 billion to the city’s economy alone as of 2015, and by volume, New York is the world leader in independent film production—1/ 3 of all American independent films are produced in New York. (Ibid)

The angel says of Babylon “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries… for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.” (Rev 18:3-5).


“He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries” (Rev 19:2).

Are we influenced or impacted by what we see and hear in the mass media? Absolutely! The mass media is in the business of affecting how people think in order to increase viewer ratings and sell more advertising space. So, America’s exported entertainment influences the entire world but generally not in a positive way.

“The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again… By your magic spell all the nations were led astray” (Rev 18:22-23).

And the prophet Jeremiah writes that Babylon “made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad.” (Jer 51:7).


Rev 18:7 Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself…

Rev 18:9 “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury

Commercial Babylon is noted for her affluence, “such great wealth” (Rev 18:17), “excessive luxuries” (18:3), “the glory and luxury she gave herself” (18:7) and her “riches and splendour” (18:14). The merchants address her as “O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! (18:16).

A 2011 study of global affluence indicated that 80% of world's wealthy are still in the West. The US ranked as the world’s most prosperous country, with 31 million affluent households. ( press-release/ biggest-ever-study-global-affluence-shows-80-worlds-wealthy-are-still-west)


The US represents 4.5% of global population but has a quarter of its total GDP. While it is true that the wealth is not evenly distributed, even those at the bottom end of the financial spectrum are doing far better than most of the world. Amazingly “the bottom 10% of the US income distribution falls in the upper 30% of the global income distribution”. 1

Because of its commercial wealth, the US is also renowned for extravagant excesses and wastage.

As a nation, Americans generate more waste than any other nation in the world. 2

1 https:// articles/ 2636/ compared-to-the-rest-of-the-world-americans-are-all-the-1# 2 http:// wiki/ Waste_by_country


Noted for its elegant, luxurious, refined and rich lifestyles. Isa 47:1-8; Rev 17:4-5; 18:2-24. This does not match up with Iraq, as it is not capable of reaching such levels of wealthy living standards in our lifetime.

Extremely wealthy. Jer 51:13…… Rev 18: 2-19

Sensual, materialistic lifestyle. Isa 47: 8; Rev 18:14

The highest living standards. Isa 47:1 Rev 18: 14

Intoxicating high-society lifestyle as a world example to emulate. Rev 17:2; 18:3, 14, 23.

Apply the above characteristics to New York and the US in general and there is quite a different picture.


Rev 18:4 … “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues…”

While today there are only 38 Jews in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq (where Babylon is located), there are more Jews in the US than in any other place in the world, besides Israel.


Her destruction will be sudden and by means of fire.

Rev 18:10 Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’

Rev 19:3 And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

Rev 18:8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire…

The prostitute is judged. As Lot fled Sodom before its judgment, God warns his people to flee.

I don’t believe the next slide was the fulfilment of this Scripture, but note the fit.


Rev 18:17-18 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, “Was there ever a city like this great city?”

How much did the Sept 11 terrorist attack cost America?

Counting the value of lives lost as well as property damage and lost production of goods and services, losses already exceed $100 billion. Including the loss in stock market wealth -- the market's own estimate arising from expectations of lower corporate profits and higher discount rates for economic volatility -- the price tag approaches $2 trillion. ( costof911.html)

Now I consider the Book of Revelation to be generally laid out in a chronological sequence. From a Futurist perspective, the destruction of Babylon at the end of Revelation would not fit any linking with a 9/ 11 scenario, other than being a type. Also the city was not completely destroyed as is the case in Revelation 18. But might it be a prelude of a future terrorist attack?



Applies to




New York

Political Babylon

Rules the world

Before John

In John’s day


Sits on many waters (nations)

Before John

In John’s day

& today : prominent in EU

Today -prominent in UN


Applies to




New York

Commercial Babylon

Port city




Come out of her

No Jews & Christians there

Christians in Middle Ages

Jews second only to Israel

Leading commercial city

Before John

In John’s day



Before John

In John’s day and Middle Ages

Today: by Muslims & communists

Target for attack

US-led invasion of Iraq

Possibly by Muslims

Today: by Muslims & communists


I think it’s unlikely that the literal Babylon in Iraq is being referred to, as it’s termed a ‘mystery’ and Babylon doesn’t feature in any meaningful form today.

If the prophecy refers to the modern equivalent of a city of John’s today, it is unequivocally a reference to Rome.

If it refers to a single city today, the strongest overall strongest candidate is Rome.

If it refers to two cities, Rome is no doubt the religious Babylon while New York (or the US in general) is the strongest candidate for the commercial Babylon.

Being termed a ‘mystery’ it may in fact be a reference to the apostate church in general and the worldly commercial / economic system.


Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (