One of the portions of the book of Revelation whose meaning is hotly debated is the reference to Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17-18. We’ve established that politically Mystery Babylon will most likely be headquartered in Rome. But, what of Mystery Babylon’s religious attributes?
Dr. David Reagan and I asked these questions on our television program Christ in Prophecy of Bible prophecy expert Bill Salus, the founder and director of Prophecy Depot Ministries based in La Quinta, California. Bill is a prolific writer and conference speaker, best known for his insightful book about Psalm 83 and the war that is depicted in it.
In the first segment, Bill ruled out the arguments for Mystery Babylon being the rebuilt city of Babylon in Iraq. Now he’s going to review the religious aspects of Mystery Babylon.
Death of the Harlot
Dr. Reagan: I believe that God is going to judge the religion of Islam, not only in the Psalm 83 War and the Gog-Magog War, as those only affect the Middle East, but also where the vast majority of Muslims live outside of the Middle East. The largest Muslim country in the world is outside that region — Indonesia. God is going to judge Islam through the wars the Antichrist will wage, because the Bible indicates that the Antichrist is going to launch another world war in order to conquer the entire planet. I think the people who will most obviously rebel against him will be the remaining Muslim nations. God will judge the Muslims through those wars and bring Islam to an end near the beginning of the Tribulation.
If the power of Islam is destroyed and true Christianity is raptured away, that leaves what religion for the False Prophet to promote? I think the Bible indicates there will be two new religions during the Tribulation. The Antichrist starts out with one as he builds his empire, soon destroys it, and then creates another whole new religion. Would you comment on that, Bill?
Bill Salus: The way I look at that scenario is we’ve got a religious double jeopardy in the end times after the Rapture. We’re told in Revelation 17 that a Harlot religion will rise. She is portrayed in Revelation 17:3 as sitting on the Beast, meaning the Antichrist.
Nathan Jones: The Harlot is not the Antichrist then, as you say?
Bill Salus: No, the Harlot is not the Antichrist, for Revelation 17:7 says, “He carries her to her heights.” In the beginning of his rise to global supremacy, the Antichrist plays a little bit of a subservient role. He starts as second fiddle initially as this global governmental system builds itself up. But, at some point, the Harlot over-extends her usefulness and becomes problematic to him. We are told in Revelation 17:16 that the Antichrist, along with the unity of ten kings, will destroy the Harlot world religion that defines the first half of the Tribulation. He utterly desolates her.
After the Harlot world religion is destroyed, all of a sudden Revelation reports that the Ten Kings give their kingdoms and their power over to the Antichrist. The Antichrist finally merges their ten kingdoms together into his one-world kingdom.
Take close attention to Revelation 13, and that’s where you’ll find the Mark of the Beast global financial system finally set up. An assassination attempt inflicts on the Antichrist a mortal head wound, and yet he miraculously survives.
Dr. Reagan: The Antichrist is also joined by his False Prophet. To this man the Antichrist gives power to heads up a new world religion that supplants the Harlot religion. This one worships the miracle that is the Antichrist revived.
Bill Salus: Fast forward to the end of the Tribulation, and we find in Revelation 18 that in just one hour Mystery Babylon will no longer exist anymore. The city, which I believe to be Rome, and the new Antichrist worshiping religion will be thrown down forever.
Nathan Jones: So, Mystery Babylon is both the Antichrist’s political system and his religious system headquartered in Rome?Nathan Jones: #MysteryBabylon is both the Antichrist's political system and his religious system headquartered in Rome. Click To Tweet
Bill Salus: Yes, besides being a political system, Mystery Babylon is also going to include a religious system. Go to Revelation 13 where the Antichrist is at his peak of power enjoying his time in the sun. This new religion demands that no one can buy or sell unless they take a loyalty mark upon their right hand or upon their forehead.
Nathan Jones: The Antichrist sets himself up to be worshiped, which is in truth the worship of Satan who possesses the Antichrist. In essence, the second new religion of the Tribulation is in fact Satanism?
Bill Salus: And God will judge every person who by taking the Mark of the Beast buys into that new false religious system.
The Role of Catholicism
Dr. Reagan: Let’s step back to the beginning of the Tribulation. Since the Mystery Babylon religion that the Antichrist uses in order to build his empire will likely be centered in Rome, and since Rome has the blood of the martyrs on its hands as indicated in the Scriptures, it seems to me that Catholicism in some form has to be involved with Mystery Babylon. Could the Antichrist use some post-Rapture form of Catholicism to encompass all the religions of the world into one great Mystery Babylon world religion?
Bill Salus: I absolutely do believe Mystery Babylon will start with Catholicism and morph into some kind of ecumenical super-church. But, how do the Ten Kings desolate Wicca, and Judaism, and Hinduism? You know that the Catholic Church is Amillennial in their interpretation. They are not waiting for the Pre-Trib Rapture. Many Catholics who aren’t truly saved, as well as the Roman Catholic institution, are going to be left behind. There’s biblical prophecies about that. Catholics say they are the one true Church, and they are going to continue to argue that fact even after the Rapture and still claim, “We are the one true church.”
Nathan Jones: Described in Timothy 3:5 as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
Bill Salus: The Catholic Church this day even seeks to ecumenically unite all the religions of the world, embracing them, even though they will not change their own doctrine. The Pope believes Catholicism manifests the one true Church and that salvation comes through the Catholic Church, not just salvation by grace alone.
Dr. Reagan: I got a sense of Catholicism’s drive towards ecumenicalism a few years ago when Pope Paul was in top position. He called for all of the religious leaders of the world to come to Assisi in Italy. He beckoned, “Let’s come together and each one of you pray to your own god.” I thought, “What?!” The Pope even invited an American Indian chief who performed a pow-wow dance. In fact, he stole the attention of everyone. The Dalai Lama was there, and his followers believe him to be a god. They are praying to whatever god, not the one true God. I thought, “Boy! Isn’t this a snapshot of what it is going to be like in the end times under this Mystery Babylon umbrella religion.”
Bill Salus: Catholicism will provide the canopy over all other religions, but the reality it will provide the dominate characteristics.
Dr. Reagan: As the Harlot religion grows more dominant, that’s the reason the Antichrist is going to rebel against it and have it destroyed.
Bill Salus: That’s right. Hal Lindsey brought up a good point in one of his commentaries. He said it would be easy to take out the Pope, and the bishops, and the cardinals, and even take out the institution and confiscate all of its wealth. Catholicism as an institution can easily be morphed into Mystery Babylon, as the Antichrist scenario reveals.
The Rise of Satan Worship
Nathan Jones: Once the Mystery Babylon religion is destroyed by the Antichrist, what replacement religion do you believe he will set up under the same name?
Bill Salus: I believe that the Antichrist will be probably putting together a New Age-type of religion. That is my favorite choice. We realize it won’t be Islam as that religion will have been destroyed in those Muslim wars that lie at the beginning of the Tribulation timeline. It will no longer be Catholicism because that choice would became problematic as the center of the Harlot religion. It won’t be Judaism because the Antichrist is going to attempt to commit another genocide of the Jews.
The major religious players in the second half of the Tribulation are going to boil down to true Christianity made up of the Tribulation Saints versus the false religion of Antichrist worship. The latter, I believe, will be filled with supernatural deception and lies. It will be a time when the paranormal is the new normal.
Nathan Jones: It will be a time of Satan worship via the Antichrist.
Bill Salus: It will be. That’s what it sounds like, yes. Satan told Adam and Eve, “You can become like God.” This Antichrist will come along and promise the people of the world, “And now I am going to show you how.”
Dr. Reagan: Yes, Mystery Babylon as a religious system is going to be Humanism carried to its extreme, to its ultimate degree, with Satan as the promiser of divinity to man. Quite a New Age teaching!David Reagan: #MysteryBabylon as a religious system is going to be #Humanism carried to its extreme, to its ultimate degree, with #Satan as the promiser of divinity to man. Click To Tweet
Bill Salus: Yes, absolutely. Whatever this final form of religious Mystery Babylon is going to be, it’ll be really, really bad. That’s why we don’t want people to go through it, rather we want them to know Jesus Christ before the Rapture happens.