Israel’s connection with Babylon began long before the nation of Judah was taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:8-11). The people of Babylon were known as the Chaldees or Chaldeans. It’s noted in Acts 7:2-4 that Abraham came out of the land of the Chaldeans and was led by God to dwell in charan (khaw-rawn’) which eventually became the nation of Israel. God’s judgment of Babylon seems to be related to the effect its culture has had on his chosen people. The prophet Ezekiel’s parable of the adulterous sisters (aka Samaria and Jerusalem) indicated that the nations of Israel and Judah had committed whoredoms with Assyria and Egypt (Ezekiel 23:7-8) and lusted after the Chaldeans. Referring to the younger sister Aholibah who represented Jerusalem, Ezekiel prophesied, “Then I saw that she was defiled; both took the same way. But she increased her harlotry; she looked at men portrayed on the wall, images of Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, girded with belts around their waists, flowing turbans on their heads, all of them looking like captains, in the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity. As soon as her eyes saw them, she lusted for them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. ‘Then the Babylonians came to her, into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their immorality; so she was defiled by them, and alienated herself from them'” (Ezekiel 23:13-17, NKJV).
In his revelation of the end times, the Apostle John was shown “the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters: with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:1-2, NKJV). John stated, “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” Revelation 17:4-5, NKJV). The Greek word translated mystery, musterion (moos-tay’-ree-on) means “(to shut the mouth); a secret or mystery (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites)” (G3466). It could be that the actual identity of the harlot that John saw was Jerusalem because John was told, “the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18, NKJV). Earlier, John was told that the dead bodies of the two witnesses would “lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8).
The location of the harlot that John was shown in his vision of the future was the wilderness (Revelation 17:3). It says in Revelation 12:5-6 after the woman “bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron…Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” It could be that the harlot and the woman that bore the male child represent the same entity, Jerusalem. Therefore, the judgment of Babylon and Jerusalem are linked together by their adulterous relationship. When John saw the woman in the wilderness, she was sitting on a scarlet colored beast, “full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:3). John was told, “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. ‘Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition. The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast'” (Revelation 17:8-13, NKJV).
John’s vision of the woman sitting on the scarlet beast may have been intended to represent Jerusalem’s involvement in a political system that is run by Antichrist. It appears that Jerusalem will be betrayed and caused to suffer for her infidelity to God. John was told, “the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled” (Revelation 17:16-17, NKJV). Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s judgment for universal sin indicated that the entire world would be turned upside down (Isaiah 24:1) and the city of confusion broken down (Isaiah 24:10). The term “city of confusion” is probably a composite of all the cities opposed to God — such as Babylon, Tyre, Jerusalem and Rome” (note on Isaiah 24:10). John recorded, “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities…Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her” (Revelation 18:4-5, 8, NKJV).