Prophecy Article
Expanded Internet Edition - September 1, 2003 

Mystery Babylon the Great

by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1974
Edited by David Sielaff, September 2003

Read the accompanying Newsletter for September 2003

The apostle John was taken forward by the Spirit into the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10). What he saw did not occur simply on a Sabbath or a Sunday, but he was transferred in vision to the great end — a time period known in the Old Testament as the Day of the Lord. This is the period which includes Israel’s redemption, Christ’s second coming and the establishing of God’s Kingdom in the Millennium. The seven churches of Revelation needed a prophetic message of what was going to occur in that period — so, the Book of Revelation was given by God “to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1). The book concerns the evil “things” that will exist at that crucial time in history.

It is within this context that Christ revealed that a great evil city (Revelation 17:18) would exist just before the second coming of Christ

“with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

Some have considered this great city to be Rome because of seven mountains which are associated with it (Revelation 17:10). Modern Rome embraces more than seven hills (even Vatican Hill was not one of the original seven); still, ancient Rome was normally called the City of Seven Hills (Virgil, Aenid, VI, 785). But ancient Babylon also had seven artificial hills within its walls, and even Constantinople (often called the “Second Rome”) had seven hills within its boundaries. The city of Jerusalem might be said to be on seven hills if all of them associated with the city are counted. 1 So, one must be careful and not presume that John is definitely referring to Rome. Especially is this true when one notices that the “seven mountains” of Revelation 17:10 are not literal mountains, but that John identified them as being seven kings.

“And here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. And there are seven kings …”

• Revelation 17:9–10

The word “there” is not in the Greek text. The literal Greek shows the seven mountains ARE, or they represent, seven kings. They are not actual mountains at all.

This city is called “Mystery [Secret] Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the Earth” (Revelation 17:5). It is to be a secret Babylon — not an actual or an obvious Babylon that all could recognize. It is to be a hidden one, but still, in God’s eyes, it will be an evil Babylon.

Paul said the government system ruled by “Babylon” at the end of the age would be headed by a man claiming to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will come,

“… with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a [Greek: the] lie.”

• 2 Thessalonians 2:10–11

The system that will develop will not look like Babylon on the surface. It will look good and righteous. It will look holy. But the people of the earth (and it will include all people on earth) will believe the great lie about this city and the man who governs it. They will actually be giving heed to the secret, or hidden, Babylon, thinking that they are recognizing something far different. Notice the proof of this.

How Extensive the Kingdom of Babylon?

Some want to limit the influence of Secret Babylon to ten nations in Europe. This does not agree with Scripture. This Babylon will be transported by a Beast (Revelation 17:3). This Beast, and the extent of his sway, is described in Revelation chapter 13. His authority will extend out much further than Europe alone. The Bible says all the world wondered after the Beast” (Revelation 13:3). All the world really means the entire world!

“And power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations, and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him.”

• Revelation 13:7–8

This Beast who will head Secret Babylon will be worshipped voluntarily, even joyfully. Paul said the Beast would even proclaim himself God and sit in the Temple which will be in Jerusalem (2 Thessalonians 2:4). And his dominion will be worldwide. That is what Revelation says.

At the time of the Beast and Secret Babylon, only two types of people will then dwell on the earth: (1) those who worship the Beast, and (2) those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life who will not worship him (Revelation 13:8). There will be no middle ground. Those saints mentioned in the Book of Life will not worship him, but ALL others on earth will believe the great lie (about his being God) and they will worship him. The whole world will be caught up in this great delusion.

There is also to be a false prophet associated with this Beast and Secret Babylon (Revelation 13:11). This false prophet will “cause the earth and them that dwell therein [note: it represents all on the earth] to worship the first beast” (Revelation 13:12). Great satanic miracles will accompany this false prophet which will “deceive them that dwell on earth [note again: all on earth will be deceived]” (Revelation 13:13–14). So extensive will be the deceivableness that it truly will affect all.

“He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man [it means all the earth is involved] might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

• Revelation 13:16–17

The only people excepted, as mentioned before, are those people who have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But, of those it is said: “It was given unto him [the beast] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them” (Revelation 13:7).

This Beast and the False Prophet will bring to pass an evil world government just before the second coming of Christ. We know that this evil system will exist just before Christ’s coming because Revelation chapter 19 says these two men will be leading an army to fight Christ at His coming. They will be defeated and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:19–20). Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 calls the chief leader the man “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” Clearly, then, the Beast will emerge on the historical scene just before and up to the coming of Christ. The Beast and the rising up of Secret Babylon with its evil world government are yet to occur in the future.

A False Christ Is Prophesied

The majority of people on earth will worship the Beast. He will sit in a Temple which will be in Jerusalem. It is illegal to have a “Temple of God” (as Paul says it will be) in any other location. He will be accompanied by a false prophet with the ability to perform Elijah-like miracles (that is, fire will come down out of heaven). What does all of this mean? Let us recall the words of our Lord,

“Then if any man shall say unto you, ‘Lo, here is Christ, or there’; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.”

• Matthew 24:23–25

Though there will be several false Christs to occur near the end of the age, our Lord focused on one false Christ: “If they shall say unto you, ‘Behold, he is in the desert’; go not forth: ‘behold, he is in the secret chambers’ [probably the Temple]; believe it not” (Matthew 24:26). There is coming a great false Christ who will sit in a Temple in Jerusalem for 3½ years and from there control, as a god-ruler, the whole world.

Since Babylon is called “Secret” or “Hidden” Babylon, it will not be the actual Babylon on the River Euphrates. The Beast will govern his kingdom from the place where he sits in the Temple of God calling himself God — it will be Jerusalem. And what will Jerusalem be called at that time? The great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8). It is also called “that great city [Secret Babylon], which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18).

Mystery, or Secret, Babylon will be Jerusalem just before the end of the age. After all, since a great false Christ is prophesied to come, from what location is that “Christ” prophesied to rule as recorded in the Old Testament? It is only Jerusalem! And while the true Christ is prophesied to have an “Elijah” associated with His second coming, the Beast (the false Christ) has with him the false prophet of Revelation chapter 13 who does Elijah-like miracles.

This is where the great deceivableness will come which Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2:10–11. The people on the earth will be shown so many miracles by the false prophet, that they will believe the lie that the Beast is the Christ to come and that the prophet is the prophesied Elijah to come. There will be only a few whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life who will know differently.

The false Christ and the false prophet will claim to fulfill all the prophecies of the Old Testament in bringing in their world government when both bond and free, rich and poor, small and great, will receive a mark in the right hand or forehead so that people cannot buy or sell unless they obey the false Christ.

Since prophecies show that the Christ will bring into existence the Mosaic legislation once again (Isaiah 66:22–23; Zechariah 14:17–19) — and the true Christ will demand the true spiritual application of that legislation — the false Christ will (and he will use prophecy to support his satanic error) reinstitute Moses in a wrong way. Even the beautiful laws of God which He gave to Moses can be perverted to control men.

This is Satan’s last great deception. He will allow a false Christ to establish a world government emanating from Jerusalem to govern mankind, from a Temple, with laws of God, which Satan will deceptively pervert. The true Christ can, and will, establish God’s true world government with Sabbaths, New Moons and Festival Days within the millennial period, but the false Christ can, and will, use them beforehand to hoodwink men. It will certainly not be Sunday, Easter, or Christmas that the false Christ will force all men to keep. He is out to deceive the world into believing that he is the prophesied Christ of the Old and New Testaments. He will almost deceive the very elect Christians in his subterfuge. It will be satanic deception indeed. He will reinstitute Moses, and it will not be in a true Christian way. Remember that the Jews in the time of Christ kept the Law of Moses, but they did so wrongly; and Paul said “Jerusalem which now is, is in bondage with her children” (Galatians 4:25).

The Two Witnesses, and After

Just before the Beast and the False Prophet set up their 3½ year universal rule from Jerusalem (Revelation 13:5), there will be two witnesses of God who will prophesy with plagues and portents also for a 3½ year period prior to the emergence of Mystery Babylon in all her glory (Revelation 11:3–13). The Beast will kill these two prophets just before he commences his world rule (Revelation 11:7). They will prophesy from the city of Jerusalem and will be killed in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8). Christ said: “For it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33).

The world will rejoice at their deaths (Revelation 11:10). Since their plagues will reach to all parts of the earth (Revelation 11:6), all the world will know of them. The world will be in communication with Jerusalem throughout their ministry and all will know of their deaths.

At the death of these witnesses of God, the Beast and the False Prophet will emerge with a supposed blessing for mankind. Instead of the plagues of the two witnesses, the Beast and False Prophet will bring in a time of “peace and safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). The Beast (calling himself the prophesied “Christ” to come) will cause peace and prosperity to come upon the earth. The merchants and ship owners will rejoice over the new world order (Revelation 18:19). Great riches and progress will accrue to all who heed the ways of the system. The world capital will be the new international city of Jerusalem (but it will be a new Babel). The aim of the system will be the ultimate rejection of the true God. It will be Satan’s world government which he promised to give to the one who would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8).

But all this evil will come to naught. After 3½ years with the world worshipping the false Christ, abetted by the false prophet, all will come to an end (Revelation 18:8–10). The ten kings who govern the world in cooperation with the Beast will destroy the very system that they created (Revelation 17:16). They will not do it on their own accord, but God will cause their minds to want to accomplish His purpose (Revelation 17:17). When this happens, the world-ruling international city of Jerusalem will become a smoldering ruin. Then will appear the true Christ from heaven. He will come to the Mount of Olives and to the ruins of Jerusalem ready to set up His own true government. The Beast, the False Prophet, and the armies of the Ten Kings will amass to destroy the true Christ. But they, in turn, will be dealt with. Christ then establishes the Millennium on earth with the real government of God predominating. Satan’s world kingdom will be replaced by that of the true Christ.


There will be a false Christ, reigning from a Temple, in Jerusalem at the end of the age, who will bring the world back into a spiritual bondage just like Jerusalem was in during the time of Paul. In fact, it will be much worse. This false system will so deceive people that Christ said, “insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). The very elect would not remotely be deceived if the Beast and the False Prophet claimed Buddhism or Islam as their religious system. But the Beast will claim to be the Christ who is prophesied to set up the Kingdom of God as the Old Testament prophets said would happen at the end of the age. There will be great miracles occurring to support the deception. When this happens, even the very elect might be tempted to believe the satanic lie.

Since the world can read the Book of Revelation as well as any Christian saint (to understand it is another matter), there is little doubt that the world will be taught erroneously by the Beast and False Prophet that the two witnesses (who plagued the world for 3½ years) were the Beast and False Prophet prophesied to come. If the two witnesses can be palmed off as the prophesied Beast and False Prophet, then the two evil men of Revelation chapter 13 (the actual Beast and False Prophet) could then be proclaimed as the Christ and Elijah to rescue the world. Truly, only the very elect will be able to know the difference. This is why there will be a great deceivableness in relationship with the realm of the Beast. People will think the Millennium of God has begun when the Beast says he is “God” in the Temple at Jerusalem. They will think him to be Christ returned from heaven. The Beast will restore (along with the false “Elijah”) the Old Testament worship at Jerusalem (but without sacrifices). They will pervert the beautiful laws of God by reconvening the Old Testament system in a wrong way. Some religious leaders would like these laws in force now.

Let us be very careful to weigh all these prophecies. Mystery Babylon is clearly the Jerusalem just before the second coming of Christ. It will be the center of world empire and the capital of the false Christ with the false Elijah. Pay heed to the truth of God regarding these matters. “Behold, I have told you before.”

Prophetic Trends to Watch: 2

  1. Watch for any plan to internationalize Jerusalem (Revelation 17:2).
    [This is slowly taking place as nations begin to insist Jerusalem be internationalized. DWS]

  2. Watch for economic power to be centered in the Middle East (Daniel 8:25).
    [This is slowing taking place as Iraq and other nations of the Middle East achieve greater economic stability. DWS]

  3. Watch for the breakdown of democratic governments and the establishment of monarchial or hierarchical systems (Revelation 17:10).
    [It now appears that kings will arise within democratic structures. DWS]

  4. Watch for any move to make Jerusalem the center of religion, culture, or government (Revelation 18:22).
    [This is taking place as Jerusalem becomes the center of world news. DWS]

  5. Watch for the construction of a Temple in Jerusalem (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
    [There is much planning already behind the scenes by devoted Jewish organizations, aided by well-meaning Christians and Christian groups. DWS]

  6. Watch attempts by political and religious leaders to bring peace and harmony among all nations (Matthew 10:34).
    [The United Nations and other intergovernmental bodies have grown in influence since 1974. An increase in power will follow. DWS]

  7. Watch for an increase in miracles by men claiming to be God’s representatives (Matthew 7:22–23).
    [This is just beginning to occur. DWS]

Ernest L. Martin, 1974
Edited by David Sielaff, September 2003

1 Dr. Martin found other sources that confirmed this. See his article “The Seven Hills of Jerusalem” on the ASK Website at

2 These trends have yet to take place, in full, even 29 years later. This indicates that there is still some time before they do take place. The immediate future will be interesting and exciting.  DWS

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