The arguments I will be covering are as follows:
One of the best arguments against the theory is rooted in the following verse:
“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” - Rev 18:21
The argument is that Jerusalem can’t be Mystery Babylon because it says that it shall be found “no more at all,” and we know that Jerusalem is in the millennial reign. We also see the so-called “New Jerusalem” in the eternal kingdom. This is a very good argument, and it requires a very good answer. How can I say on the one hand that Jerusalem will be destroyed and be “found no more” and on the other hand say that it will be around forever?
I believe the answer lies in the last 8 chapters of the book of Ezekiel. There you will find one of the most intricate, detailed building plans for the Israel of the Millennium. It contains chapters and chapters of technical details regarding how Israel will be divided, about the new temple complex, and about Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. To say it is different than what we currently see in Israel is a bit of an understatement.
There are those who have taken all the technical specifications of things like the division of the land in the millennial reign and plotted it all on a map. The twelve tribes of Israel are given parallel rectangular allotments of land, one on top of the other, from the north border of Israel to the south, and each tribe’s allotment extends along the entire east/west border of Israel. It really helps to see this all on a map to visualize what I’m saying.
In the middle of these allotments of land is a rectangular portion that Ezekiel calls the “Holy Portion.” The priests and Levites who service the temple equally divide this land. There is some debate as to where exactly the temple is in this section. Some say it is in the middle of this land and others say that it is just north of the city, but it doesn’t appear to actually be in the city itself, which is very different from Jerusalem now.
In addition to several other things, the city of Jerusalem is most likely also very different in physical location during the millennium. We will talk about this in more detail later. For starters, it is perfectly square, and it is about nine times larger than the old city of Jerusalem is today. It has twelve gates – three on each side and it sits on a high plateau. It has two rivers that flow from it – the one on its east side flows to the Dead Sea and the one to its west flows all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. It is a different place; in fact, the last words in the book of Ezekiel are used to give this Jerusalem a different name. It says:
“It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.” - Eze 48:35
This is sometimes transliterated “YHWH Shammah,” which means, “The Lord is there. “
The temple, regardless of where it resides, is absolutely huge, and is a study that you may find very fascinating in and of itself. It mentions things like: “No wall of partition to exclude Gentiles and “no veil in the holy of holies.” I found it interesting that the Temple Institute, that is the Jewish people in Israel who are seeking to rebuild the temple, said the following of this structure on their website templeinstitute.org:
“Many aspects of the Temple described by Ezekiel are difficult to comprehend, since that vision contains elements of prophetic insight which, in our generation, we do not have the spiritual or intellectual capacity to understand. For example, according to the prophecy of Ezekiel, the structure of the Third Temple will necessitate vast topographical changes in the environs of the Jerusalem. This Temple will differ drastically in size from its predecessors. According to Ezekiel's measurements, the new Temple will be so large that it will occupy the entire area of the city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel's prophecy explains that both the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives will be enlarged and expanded in the future.”
The city of Jerusalem’s actual location in the millennium is a matter of some debate. You should know that the people that I am about to cite have no theological reason for saying that the location of the Jerusalem in the Millennial period is in a different location than the present city of Jerusalem; they do not, as far as I know, consider Mystery Babylon to be the last days city of Jerusalem; they are simply trying to map out some of the details that Ezekiel gives in these 8 chapters.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives two options based on the text, both of them south of Jerusalem. One of the possible locations is at Bethlehem and the other is a little further north, but still south of Jerusalem, at modern day Ramat Rahel.1 Another researcher puts forward a good case for the millennial Jerusalem or “Yawheh Shammah” being located at Shiloh, and another possibility that Cameron in his paper makes a case for is Shechem.2
Even if the new city of Yahweh Shammah sat right on top of the old Jerusalem, we must at least conclude that it is nine times larger than the current city; therefore it obviously does not contain the same physical landmarks and boundaries as the previous Jerusalem. And we know from various places in the Bible that it will sit on a large raised platform – a long plateau that makes it visible from a very long way off. I have already mentioned that two rivers flow from it on either side, so we know that it’s geographically not the same place either. We start to get the idea that God will willingly call this city Jerusalem regardless of its not having the same borders, or geography, or physical location.
Take for example the New Jerusalem of the eternal kingdom: it is called Jerusalem as well, despite it being a whopping 1500 miles long.
Some groups, such as Amillennialists, try to make the New Jerusalem of the eternal kingdom (that is the time period after the millennial reign) equal with Ezekiel’s Jerusalem based on the fact that they both have twelve gates named for the twelve tribes, and a few other attributes.
The differences, however, are far greater than the similarities. For example, consider the size: the New Jerusalem is about 1500 miles wide, which would encompass most of the countries in the Mid East. This is compared to Ezekiel’s 9-mile-square city, and the current one-mile old city.
Some other notable differences are that the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven (21:2) and Ezekiel’s Jerusalem is located in Israel on Earth (40:2). There is no temple in the New Jerusalem. It says that God and the Lamb are its Temple (21:22), while the temple in the book of Ezekiel is huge and is located north of the city (40:2). There is no sin; nothing impure will ever enter the New Jerusalem (21:27), while daily sin offerings are made in the Temple in Ezekiel’s version (45:13-15, 17). There is no more death in the New Jerusalem (21:4), while there is still death in the book of Ezekiel (44:25 and also Isa 65:20). There are no natural beings in the New Jerusalem, only the perfected (21:27), yet there are natural beings in Ezekiel (46:16).
I mention all this to be able to say the following: God has no problem calling the New Jerusalem “Jerusalem” even though it clearly isn’t tied to the exact place that the current Jerusalem is, and the same is true with the city called Yahweh Shammah. It can be the Millennial Jerusalem even though the old location has apparently been destroyed.
In fact, I think that the judgment of the old city of Jerusalem described in the following passages actually creates the topographical changes such as the plateau, and the river that will run through the land.
“And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.”– Rev 16:18-19
As I noted in 17:11, this verse actually contrasts the so-called “Great city” (Mystery Babylon) with the “cities of the nations.” This is a way to designate “The Great city” as a non-Gentile city.
I would also make the case that the reason the Lord splits the Mount of Olives, despite much confusion on this issue, is to make an escape route out of the old city of Jerusalem for the faithful remnant of Jews who are alive after the time of Jacob’s Trouble. Consider in context, this passage in the Book of Zechariah:
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” – Zec 14:4-5
Why is the Lord getting the faithful to flee from Jerusalem with such extravagant measures in this moment of triumph? It is because of the earthquake that is about to split the city in three parts described in Revelation 16.
Essentially, the old city of Jerusalem will be judged for its taking for itself the king known as antichrist. Among other things, it will be found no more. But a much more glorious city of Jerusalem with a different size, location, and topography will continue at least until the point of the eternal kingdom, when once again a different kind of Jerusalem will overshadow the former.
The next biblical objection to this theory is found in Ezekiel 5, verse 9, where it says:
“And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again.” – Eze 5:9
In context, this prophecy was about the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. People will say, “How can Jerusalem be judged again if God said that he would never do the like again to Jerusalem?”
First of all, God does not say that He will never judge Israel or Jerusalem again; He says he will never do it again like He has done with the Babylonians. A similar promise can be seen in the book of Genesis:
“And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” – Gen 9:11
In these passages, God does not say He won’t judge them at all anymore, only that He won’t judge them in that way again. In fact, there are explicit promises to judge both Jerusalem and the world again, as we will see later on, albeit not by means of a flood.
The second point that I would like to make is that this passage in Eze 5:9 is difficult for all commentators regardless of their theological positions because the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians were actually very similar events in the way that they were destroyed.
It is such a close fit that this issue has become synonymous with the idea of a double fulfillment of prophecy. In fact, if you look up dual fulfillment on Wikipedia, you will see that this is one of the three examples that are given for dual prophecies in the Bible. I would submit that there are many more, but I wanted to point out that these destructions are very similar.
This similarity gives Bible scholars a difficult time in light of the passage in question, Eze 5:9, but ironically, it poses no problem to the theory that Mystery Babylon is Jerusalem. In fact, I would submit that the destruction of Jerusalem that I am talking about, the one described in the Mystery Babylon passages, is the only destruction that can be said to be 180 degrees different from the previous destructions of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC and Titus in 70 AD.
For instance, four times in Revelation 18 it mentions that the destruction of Mystery Babylon occurs in "one day" or “one hour” (Rev 18:8, 18:10, 18:17, Rev 18:19). This is in sharp contrast to the previous long and drawn out sieges of Jerusalem.
This destruction of Mystery Babylon is accomplished by a combination of things:
In fact, fire in various forms is mentioned another three times. And while fire is also mentioned as part of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and in a lesser way during the 70 AD destruction, the fires in those cases were set after the conquest was over, and no mention of death by fire was recorded. This is in contrast to the text mentioning fires four times as the primary agent of destruction of Mystery Babylon. In addition, Ezekiel makes it clear that the methods God used for the previous destructions were sword, famine, and pestilence, and there can be no doubt that that is where the destruction came from in the previous cases.
This “one day” or “one hour” destruction of Mystery Babylon and its close proximity to the millennium in Revelation 18 also has no room for the scattering to the winds of the remnant of the Jews as was the case in 597 BC and 70 AD, which is also an expressly stated part of the judgment of the previous destructions in Eze 5:10. So the future judgment of Jerusalem will be nothing like the previous destructions of Jerusalem, and I see no conflict with Ezekiel 5:9 and the future judgment of Jerusalem whatsoever.
Before I start on the next objection, I would like to appeal to those of you who have read the Old Testament extensively and remind you that all throughout Israel’s biblical history they have desired a king who would look the part and who would basically give them what they wanted – that is the conquering Messiah who would deliver them from their current enemies, a king who would fulfill the prophecies of putting Jerusalem in the top spot of the cities of the earth. Now, of course, this will actually happen in the millennial reign. Jerusalem will be the city that rules the nations of the earth. We know this for the same reason that the Jews are expecting this because the Scriptures, like Ezekiel, say it will happen.
We must understand that one of the main reasons that many Jewish leaders rejected Jesus at the time was because He didn’t seem to be fulfilling that conquering part of the Messianic prophecies at His first coming. He fulfilled the prophecies of the suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53, which we are so thankful for.
In fact, even His disciples didn’t quite get this at the time. They seemed to think that at some point He would start conquering the enemies of Israel and establish Jerusalem as the world capital. Even after He rose from the dead, and just before He ascended into heaven, it says in Acts 1: 6-7:
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, ‘Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ And he said unto them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.’” – Act 1:6-7
What I am saying is that Satan knows all of this as well. He knows that they are waiting on a messiah- king who makes Jerusalem the capital city of the world in fulfillment of the messianic prophecies. The reason we see the antichrist being so tied to Jerusalem in the last days is because he plans on making use of this thirst for a conquering messiah-king who will make them the center of all the world’s religion and economy. And he will in fact seem to deliver on this promise for a time.
The next argument against this theory is a more general one. It is a kind of belief that Jerusalem is not going to be judged any more and that Jerusalem is a kind of city that will forever be free from judgment since the Jews are back in the land.
However, there are many passages that speak of a future eschatological judgment of Israel that contains elements that are beyond the scope of any previous judgment.
When a prophecy fits this description, it almost always speaks of it in the same way, using similar vocabulary and themes. It speaks of a fiery trial, a purification of Israel that immediately precedes its ultimate redemption, and its final atonement for past sins. This final reconciliation for sins is typified in the completion of the 70 weeks of Daniel.
A good example of this fiery judgment just before reconciliation is found in Isaiah 4 just before passages that are widely considered to be talking of the millennial reign. The Millennial period seems to have the prerequisite of purifying judgment by fire for the Jews.
“When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” – Isa 4:4-6
We see similar language in the post-exilic prophets. The reason why their being post-Babylonian exile is important is that one cannot say that the following were prophecies of Babylon’s destruction of Jerusalem.
For example, a post-exilic prophecy that wasn’t fulfilled completely by 70AD is found in Zechariah 13:8- 9:
“’In the whole land,” declares the LORD ‘two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people, and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”
"At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.” – Daniel 12:1
This fiery refining just before their redemption is the time spoken of as the time of Jacob’s trouble, which begins with the eschatological Day of the Lord and ends with the end of the 70th week. It is often missed that the one who troubles Jacob in this time, is God himself, even though He may do this through various agents. He will refine one third of national Israel during this time of judgment. This one third of national Israel will come to know Jesus as Messiah, possibly through the ministry of the two witnesses, but either way they will help to populate the millennial kingdom that we saw earlier in the charts.
So yes, Israel will be judged for its sins, particularly their embracing of the antichrist. They are not going to be exempt, and the teaching that they are is simply not biblical or logical.
Some people wonder if the interpretation that the last days city of Jerusalem is Mystery Babylon is in some way anti-Semitic. Or they will wonder exactly how we should view modern day Israel and Jerusalem in light of this information.
The short answer is that this is not anti-Semitic. Reading about Israel’s falling short in the OT is not an anti-Semitic activity and neither is this. But more to the point, this is not a theory about current Jerusalem but a future one that we have not seen yet. And when it comes, their future sin of worshiping and promoting the antichrist is really no different than the rest of the world’s sin which is the exact same thing. Their future sin is compounded by their fierce promotion of the antichrist as messiah and their having known the true God previously, but this embracing of the antichrist is not unique to them. It is a sin that the entire unsaved world will share in.
As far as how we should view Israel in light of this information, I think anyone who knows me or my previous work, knows that I tend to default or err in support of Israel. But that does not mean that I think they can do no wrong or are on the right side of every political issue. I think we are instructed to pray for them and preach to them and love them.
See (Rev 17:9-10)
Because I spent a lot of time in verse 8 making the case that the antichrist coming out of the abyss was a reference to his apparent resurrection, I need to address another reference to the Abyss in the book of Revelation in order to avoid confusion.
It is my conviction that the antichrist is not being referred to in Revelation 9 during the fifth trumpet even though the “bottomless pit” or “Abyss” is mentioned there as well. In this case I think it is referring to the place that certain demonic sprits are being imprisoned.
“And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” – Rev 9:11
First, it should be noted that this angel is nowhere said to be, itself, from the bottomless pit, or having come out of the bottomless pit. It is simply ruling over and directing the beings that do come out of it and making sure that they do what they are supposed to do.
In fact Revelationcommentary.org notes:
“The angel of the abyss is identified as king over the horrible locust-like-creatures. The exact identity of this angel is not certain. The particular grammatical construction (Genitive of subordination) here indicates that this angel is over the bottomless pit. It does not say that the angel is from the bottomless pit.”
There are many reasons that I don’t see these two figures, the angel called “Abaddon” and the beast we know as antichrist, as being the same.
A few reasons would be that this passage in Revelation 9 would constitute the only time in Scripture that the antichrist is referred to as an angel, and not a man; it would also be the only verse in Scripture that connects the antichrist with things like the fifth trumpet, or ruling over a five month long physical torment of only wicked people, or his name being Destroyer (the translation of the titles). It seems much more likely that this passage should simply be taken at face value.
The fifth trumpet here, about the locusts being let out to torment those who do not have the seal of God for five months seems to be no different than the other trumpet and bowl judgments in the sense that they have mostly godly angels overseeing the destruction of the wicked.
I see no reason that this should be taken out of the context of the simplicity and limited nature of the fifth trumpet. All that happens in the fifth trumpet is that the destroying angel (this is what Abaddon and Apollyon mean) oversees the entities that torment the earth in an event that lasts for five months and five months alone. That’s it. There is no other mention of this angel having any further purpose in the end-times scenario.
It may very well be that the entities that are let out of the abyss are demonic spirits, but the angel who rules over those spirits seems to make sure that they only target the ungodly, and only for five months.
The function of this angel is like the “destroying angel” of Exodus in the sense that the godly are passed over to kill the ungodly, and almost no one disagrees that in Exodus it was an angel of God, if not God himself, designated as “the destroyer.”
Or consider 1 Chronicles 21:15, where we see an unambiguous case of a godly angel designated as a “destroying” angel. This is where David had sinned in the taking of the census.
“And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem.” – 1Ch 21:15-16