Why it Cannot Be New York City Alone
By R. A. Coombes
There are many Christians in America who are willing to believe that the Biblical Prophecies relating to "Mystery Babylon" are referring to New York City but NOT to the entire United States of America. Part of their reasoning is their attempt to take the term "city" to mean just a city. They hold to a literal view of scripture. The problem is that the prophecies indicate city and also "cities" in the plural. Now before you stop to search the passages in Revelation, please understand that the Biblical Prophecies of Babylon of Revelation chapters 17 and 18 encompass also: Revelation 16:17-21 plus related Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah 13, 14, 18, 47 & 48:20 as well as Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51.
Now some may think these prophecies were already fulfilled. No, they have not yet been fulfilled. Ancient Babylon was never destroyed utterly by fire in one day. Isaiah and Jeremiah both use Messianic Hebrew idioms that are not easily translatable into English versions. Nevertheless, these idioms (like "chevlai shel Meshiach") refer to the "banner of the Messiah" and are abbreviations for Messianic activity. This particular term "banner of the Messiah" refers to the time when the Messiah is spotted approaching the nation. When that was to happen, the lookouts on each of Israel's hills would wave a special "Messianic" signal flag or banner.
The waving of that flag or banner would be a signal to the other flagmen on other hills to wave their Messiah banners also. Thus the message would be "flashed" across Israel quickly and alert the nation to the fact that the Messiah was on His way to claim His title to Jerusalem and the throne of David. Now, as part of the protocol the leaders of each of the 12 tribes of Israel were to quickly assemble at the gate of the Messiah to greet and escort Him through the "gate of the Nobles". Thus, when this idiomatic term is used in a prophetic writing, it was a shorthand abbreviation that alerted the reader to understand that the descriptions afterward were referring to the time of the coming of Messiah. In other words the phrase was meant to be interpreted as "at the coming of Messiah".
Now these Messianic references are discreetly placed in the prophecies of both Isaiah and Jeremiah meaning that the passages dealing with Babylon's destruction in Isaiah 13, 14, 18, 47, and 48 along with Jeremiah 50 and 51 are referring to a future Babylon nation. Elsewhere we find references to the fact that Ishtar; the goddess of Babylon, known as the Mother of Temple Prostitutes (or Harlots) was moved from the territories of Ancient Babylonia/Chaldea/Shinar. See the other related articles for more information on this. Also visit the Hatikva Ministries Website for Joseph Good's documentation by rabbinical sources on this issue. You will find that material in his series on Rosh haShanah. Here is the link:
Now, because we know that the Old Testament Prophecies are linked directly to the Revelation Prophecies concerning a future Babylon we can benefit from their added details. These Old Testament details fill in a lot of missing data from John's account, while John also provides a lot of details missing from the Old Testament accounts. They complement each other. Much of their material harmonizes nicely. Some of it would seemingly conflict. One example is the word usage by John of the word "city" while Jeremiah tells us that it is indeed Babylon, the City. Jeremiah, however, doesn't stop with just the city of Babylon. The Holy Spirit relays to him that the destruction is for all of the cities of the nation of Babylon. Babylon was the capitol of Babylonia, or Chaldea or Shinar, depending upon which Mesopotamian language is being used.
Jeremiah tells us in chapter 50:32b (Quoting the Almighty's own words) "I will kindle a fire in his CITIES and it shall devour all round about him."
Jeremiah tells us in chapter 51:43 of the description of Babylon after the judgment "Her CITIES are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land where no man dwelleth "
Now these 2 verses alone should be sufficient to put an end to the theory that this future "Mystery Babylon" is just New York City. In fact, it puts an end to the theory that it is just Rome or even the archaeological ruins of ancient Babylon. The usage of the plural word "cities" really negates the idea of it being simply a singular city. However, there will be those stubborn hearts that will not wish to accept just this data point. So for their benefit we continue to present further scriptural evidence that negates the notion that "Mystery Babylon" is just a single city like New York City.
Jeremiah 50:12 tells us that Babylon is considered the "Last of the NATIONS". Now here we see a reference to Babylon as being a nation, not just a city. This is but more icing on the cake, which states that Babylon, is not just a city but a nation with prophecies focusing on both the nation and her "chief" city. So, therefore, we have no conflict between John and Jeremiah. What we in the modern era fail to realize is that the idea of a city in John's era included the notion of what we today should call -- a city/state/nation. A nation or empire was given the name of its chief city. Like the usage of Rome for the Roman Empire.
Babylon is referred for her agriculture. Jeremiah 50:16 grains and plants and verse 27 refers to her livestock. Verse 16 speaks of planting the crops and then harvesting the crops. Now we should ask the obvious rhetorical question here: "when was the last time you saw wheat combines or corn pickers or soybean pickers working on farms in downtown Manhattan, or the Queens or the Bronx? Did you ever see them working their crops just off of Wall Street? Oh, how silly. Of course, they grow their crops in Central Park! Here again is another character trait that helps us to realize that it is not a city alone that is being described, but rather of a nation for which New York City may be the chief city being described at times but not at all times.
Babylon is referred to as a land of many waters, used of a broad river running down its middle and with many rivers running through it. See Jeremiah 50:13, 36, & 42. See also Isaiah 18:2. This is just a bit too much for referring to a single city.
Babylon is also known for its trading of many commodities. We see a massive list of commodities for which Mystery Babylon is famous for its trade and for being the World Leader in this trading. Among those traits are:
Wood or Lumber -- Revelation 18:12
Grains -- Revelation 18:13
Livestock -- Revelation 18:13
Transportation -- Revelation 18:13
Now, Wood and Lumber are traded in commodities futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. So too are cattle and hogs. The CME provides the world with benchmark pricing in these items. The Chicago Board of Trade provides the world benchmarks for most of the world's grains. The world's prices for those products are linked to the pricing that is established daily at these Chicago exchanges. Chicago's 2 exchanges also set the benchmark pricing for the world's currencies as well as most of the significant US Treasury debt instruments. The Chicago Board of Trade also provides special investment vehicles that provide further stability to the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and the NASDQ exchange. Conclusion: Revelation 18:11-13 is describing New York City for many of those items but not necessarily all of them. Some of those items relate to other cities.
Now we have not mentioned the "transportation" aspect. This is found in the term "chariots and horses". This was the most advanced form of ground transportation for that time. Automobiles were incomprehensible in those times. Therefore we would not expect to see references to vehicles operated by machines mentioned in the prophecies. There was no adequate vocabulary available. The prophet used the best terms available. So we are then faced with what area provides the basis for trade in vehicles? That could be Detroit. But there are now other cities that make cars. New York however is a terrific market place for vehicles.
Another character trait for Mystery Babylon is that of being the "engine of world's economy". Now the scriptural texts do not specifically use those exact terms but those terms match to the description of the activities described about Mystery Babylon. Revelation 18:15-19 indicates that the world's economy can't function without "Mystery Babylon". When she is destroyed the lament goes up from the merchants of the earth that "no man buyeth their merchandise any more." So, the world can't function without the economic buying power of this nation. The whole world needs her in order to be able to sell their merchandise. The descriptions here tell us that it is a nation being described. It is a nation that fuels the entire economy of the world. When Babylon's destroyed, so is the world's economy.
Babylon is also referred to for its glory or natural beauty. See Isaiah 13:19
It is referred to as kingdom. Again, a primary reference not to just a city but a nation. We see another similar trait in Isaiah 47:5 with the phrase "Queen of the Kingdoms". Again, the word "kingdoms" refers not to a city alone but to a nation.
Jeremiah 50:12 underscores the notion of a land when Babylon is described also as becoming a wilderness, a parched land, and a desert. These descriptions are of areas too big to be referring to just a city.
Another reference to land meaning a nation is found in Jeremiah 50:3 in which we see the reference to Chaldea. Chaldea is a specific reference to the entire land of Babylonia, which encompassed many cities. It comprised the whole empire of Babylonia hence it was referred to as Chaldea. (Other dialects refer to it as Shinar). So, here again we see a trait that rules out any notion that it might just be a city.
If the Jer. 50:3 passage was unconvincing how about Jeremiah 51:24 which says, "I will render to Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea" So we see that it's not just the city of Babylon but her whole nation or empire.
Now, perhaps in today's modern cities it is hard to find swamps and fords among the concrete lands, bridges and buildings. Jeremiah 51:32 describes Babylon's fords and swamps. This is uncharacteristic of a cosmopolitan community like Manhattan, the Queens, and The Bronx, etc. It does fit the notion of rural areas.
And we would be remiss if we failed to mention that the scripture refers to her military power. Her armies are discussed in some detail in Jeremiah 50 and 51. Isaiah 18:1-2 refers to her navy using obscure Hebrew idioms that are poorly translated in every single English translation. They fail to understand the idiom "that sendeth ambassadors by the sea". That is a reference to a Hebrew idiom for which these English idioms come close to matching. "Gunboat diplomacy", or "showing the flag". This Hebrew idiom was used for a nation, which sent warships to reassure a friendly nation that it would receive naval support if threatened or attacked. The idiom was also used in instances where a nation might send warships to intimidate or threaten a nation that was considering hostile activities. The "whirring wings" term is metaphorical alliteration to a buzzing sound that involved aerial travel. This connected to the naval aspect leads us to conclude that the scripture here is providing a subtle indication of naval air power, or naval aircraft carriers. Carriers are the main ingredients in America's policy of gunboat diplomacy. If you want to intimidate a nation like Libya or Iraq you send in an Aircraft Carrier Battle group to "show the flag" and implement "gunboat diplomacy."
It should now be quite clear and easy to realize that the above 16 character traits combine to completely eliminate the theoretical idea that "Mystery Babylon" is just a city, especially just New York City. Instead, this author contends that while New York City is being described in minute detail at times, still there are other critical character traits that just don't match up to New York City. They do match up to the entire nation of America of which New York is the chief city, just like ancient Babylon was the chief city of Babylonia or Chaldea. Therefore we conclude that "Mystery Babylon" is "America, The Babylon"