1. We now stand ready to begin our study of Revelation chapters 17 and 18, which deals with the religious, commercial, and political aspects of that entity which in the Bible is referred to as Babylon. Before we begin chapter 17, let me give you some background information which will help you to understand MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH, which is spoken of by John in Revelation 17.5: “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
2. All the way back in the book of Genesis we read of only four men surviving the great Flood with their wives. They were Noah and his sons Ham, Shem, and Japheth. Of the three we know from the Biblical record that Ham was the most wicked, having so little respect or regard for his father Noah that he greatly shamed his father by looking on his nakedness while he lay in a drunken sleep and then telling his brothers what he saw. We find that account in Genesis 9.19-24:
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
3. Genesis 10.6-10 records that this wicked son Ham had a son named Cush, who in turn also had a son named Nimrod. It was Ham’s grandson Nimrod who, in defiance of God’s command to go forth and replenish the earth, chose instead to gather a following around himself and build what came to be known as the Babylonian Empire.
4. Through both Biblical and archaeological sources we can piece together enough to know that Nimrod saw religion as a great force among all men, even those who do not know God and who refused to bow down to the true and living God. So Nimrod established a false system of religious idolatry, the first of its kind ever to exist, which focused on two things:
a) First, that famous tower of Babel, which was the rallying point for the religion of those who opposed God.
b) The second focal point of Nimrod’s false religion was his wife Semiramis, or Astarte, or Ishtar, as she later became known.
5. Folks, remember that it was from this religious system that Abram was called by God, and from which he fled in response to God. That should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that worship of the true and the living God and allegiance to this false religion are diametrically opposed.
6. For your own information, allow me to share with you some of the outstanding characteristics of Babylonian idolatry archaeologists have pieced together:
a) Babylonian idolatry featured a caste of priests to whom confessions were made and from whom indulgences and absolutions from sins were purchased or sought by other means.
b) Nimrod’s religion also had an order of religious virgins, who actually were temple prostitutes. As time went on this false system even developed a kind of temple prostitution requiring every woman to function as a prostitute for at least a portion of her lifetime, in service to the false religion.
c) After Nimrod’s death, Semiramis, the widow of Nimrod, actually claimed that the son she gave birth to was a savior-son, conceived without human father, making him the son of God. Thus, her glory in the religion Nimrod had established came from her “glorious son.”
d) Her son, Tammuz by name, was killed. But he was miraculously brought back to life after being mourned for with fasting and prayers for 40 days. When he was “resurrected” from the dead their false religion incorporated the egg into that system as a symbol of that great miracle of raising Tammuz from the dead. That is how the Easter egg, correctly pronounced “Astarte egg” and named after his mother, came into existence. That is also where Lent came from. In Ezekiel 8.14 we see Jewish women weeping for Tammuz during this 40 day period leading up to the celebration of his resurrection: “Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.” Of course this idolatry was condemned by Ezekiel.
e) Additionally, these idolaters used a small cake or wafer in their worship, Jeremiah 7.18: “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” They also burned incense to Semiramis, who they claimed was the queen of heaven, since she had given birth to the supposed son of God, Jeremiah 44.17, 25: “17But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. . . 25Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows.” By the way, the only queen of heaven in Scripture is Nimrod’s wife, the most prominent personality in Babylonian idolatry.
f) Finally, and this is most important to remember, this false religion was merely a tool, and is merely a tool, that was used by the ungodly to usurp the place of the true God in the lives of men. This was done to strengthen the Babylonian Empire.
7. Years later, when the Persians invaded Babylon, the high priests of this false religion fled to Asia Minor and settled in the city of Pergamum, but not before Babylon had succeeded in spreading various versions of their religion throughout the world, usually featuring the mother-son cult.
a) In Egypt the mother and son cult were worshipped under the names of Isis and Osiris.
b) In India they are still worshipped under the names of Isi and Iswara, her son.
c) In Rome it was Fortuna and her son Jupiter.
d) In Greece the Great Mother was Ceres, with the babe at her breast.
e) Even in China, newly arriving Jesuit missionaries were astonished to find the Madonna and child already being worshipped, and pictures of the Madonna actually had a glory over her head, just as a Roman Catholic painter would have done it.
Babylon succeeded in spreading her heresy the world over. And she did it long before Rome ever came into existence as a city or was recognizable as a religious system.
8. Now remember, there are two sources of information which informs us of the escape of Babylonian priests to Pergamum: There is archaeology, the findings of man as he digs up the ruins of ancient civilizations and pieces together clues that he stumbles across. There is also the Bible. Read Revelation 2.13: “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” Since the word “seat” is the Greek word for throne, qronoV, we can be quite sure that Satan’s seat, or throne, arrived in Pergamum from Babylon.
9. From Pergamum the Babylonian religion with its Madonna cult spread into Italy at the time Pergamum was made an official Roman city. So, by the time of the Lord’s earthly ministry the Caesars had already begun to use the false religion, with its Madonna cult, as a means of enhancing their own power over the people they ruled. It was Julius Caesar who first took upon himself the duel role of both political leader and religious leader of Rome when, as emperor, he had himself elected religious high priest and was conferred with the title of Pontifus Maximus.
10. Yes, even before the Lord Jesus Christ established His church the Pontifus Maximus was in existence. Though he was not at that time called the Pope, as he is today, he was the recognized leader and high priest of the Babylonian-originated religion and its Madonna cult.
11. When the gospel began to spread through the ministries of poor and persecuted churches, great inroads were made against this false religious system wherever it was encountered and whatever it happened to be called in its specific location. But as time went on and the fires of evangelism began to cool, and vigilance was relaxed, unbelievers began to infiltrate these churches, especially when Constantine declared the Roman Empire a “Christian” empire and it became politically advantageous to be a “Christian.”
12. Over the course of about 300 years it reached the point where many churches had more unsaved people as members than saved people, and the cooled off Christians allowed the lost crowd to bring the thoughts and ideas of the Babylonian religion and the Madonna cult into the churches without rebuking them. That is what brought about, especially with the so-called “conversion” of emperor Constantine, the emergence of the Roman Catholic Church as we see it today.
13. In summary, Catholicism is not the offspring of Babylonian idolatry. The Roman Church is the mother of idolatry transplanted from Babylon to the Italian peninsula. Just look at her.
a) Nimrod’s priests are Rome’s priests and fathers.
b) Ishtar’s religious virgins are Rome’s nuns.
c) The 40 days of weeping for Tammuz has become Lent.
d) The Babylonian feast of Tammuz’ resurrection has become Rome’s Easter, which is also observed by liberal Protestantism.
e) Ishtar and Tammuz have become what Rome means when they refer to Mary and Jesus.
f) The little cakes referred to in Ezekiel are now the host of the Catholic mass.
g) The incense offered to the queen of heaven has its counterpart with Rome, too.
h) Babylon’s ceremonial sprinkling for remission of sins matches Rome’s baptism by sprinkling for removal of original sin.
i) And worst of all is the fact that Babylon offered salvation by works apart from the bloody sacrifice demanded by God, while Rome offers what she calls the unbloody sacrifice of the mass.