Mystery Babylon - Part I
By Dave Hunt
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets,...how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Luke 13:34
I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore...With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication....I saw a woman...And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT....[She was] drunken with the blood of the saints, and...of the martyrs of Jesus....[She] is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth [and is built on] seven hills [i.e., Rome]. Revelation 17:1-6,18
Jerusalem and Rome! How different and yet how similar are these ancient (and current) rivals for worldwide spiritual leadership! Both figured so largely in Christ's crucifixion and the persecution of the early church. Both are destined by God also to play dominant roles in the final events prophesied in Scripture. Antichrist will rule the world from Rome's fabled throne of the Caesars, revived as the seat of the new world order. This "Wicked [one]" (2 Thes 2:8) will be embraced by Israel as her Messiah (Jn 5:43) when he brings peace to the Middle East and allows the temple to be rebuilt. That the stage for these coming events is already set seemed apparent to the participants in last month's videomaking tour of Israel and Rome.
The fate of Jerusalem has been inextricably intertwined with that of Rome ever since they joined in unholy alliance to reject and crucify the Lord of glory (Acts 2:23; 1 Cor 2:8). That uneasy partnership was shattered with Jerusalem's destruction by Rome's legions in A.D. 70, foretold both by Daniel (9:26) and Jesus (Mat 24:2). The Roman Empire must be revived, for one day its armies will belong to Daniel's "prince that shall come"—i.e., Antichrist––and will seek to destroy Jerusalem again.
The woman in Revelation 17 can only be Rome/Vatican City. No other city built on seven hills wields such authority, exchanging ambassadors with nations. Nor does any other city claim to represent Christ, and thus no other could stand accused of spiritual fornication due to unholy alliances with earth's rulers. Neither can any other city rival the blood of both Jews and Christians which pagan Rome and later the Vatican have shed. Thomas Hobbes perceptively said, "The Papacy is...the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof."
"In the midst of the [70th] week [seven-year tribulation]" (Dan 9:27), Antichrist will forbid further sacrifices, place his image in the temple and demand to be worshiped as God. Israel will object, bringing the armies of the entire world, under Antichrist, against her to effect a "final solution" to the Jewish problem. Accompanied by the saints of all ages in their resurrected and/or glorified bodies, Christ will intervene. Destroying Antichrist and his armies, Israel's Messiah, at last recognized and accepted by her, will rule the world from David's throne in Jerusalem.
Such prophecies remain hidden from Israel. The spiritual blindness of the vast majority in that land was both apparent and incomprehensible to those on our recent tour. How true is Christ's sorrowful pronouncement: "this [rebellious (Ps 78:8), faithless and perverse (Mat 17:17), evil and adulterous (12:39, 16:4), etc.] generation [of vipers (12:34)] shall not pass, till all these things [i.e., all the prophesied signs] be fulfilled" (24:34). Only after all prophesied events have occurred (which must precede and foreshadow the Second Coming), and Christ comes visibly in power and glory to rescue her in the midst of Armageddon, will Israel at last believe (Zec 12:10). Then shall be fulfilled Christ's words: "he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Mat 10:22); and Paul's: "all Israel [that have survived to the end] shall be saved" (Rom 11:26).
How astonishing it is that stubborn unbelief should persistently characterize the descendants of Abraham, the father of the faithful (Rom 4:11-16)! "[B]lindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles..." (Rom 11:25). More than 30 percent of Israel's Jews are atheists. Although that figure is high compared with many other countries (10 percent in the USA and Ireland, 20 percent in Italy), it is even higher among kibbutz dwellers. This communal lifestyle of Marxist origins breeds atheism. We were told by our host on a visit to a kibbutz in Galilee that out of 300 kibbutzim throughout Israel only about 15 were "religious," atheism being the faith of all of the others, including his own.
Politely but pointedly, I asked how Israel could assert any better claim to that land than the Arabs, if God did not give it to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for "an everlasting possession" (Gen 17:8; 48:4; Ex 6:8; Joel 3:2). He had no answer. I then reminded him that Israel's children study their history from the Bible, and asked how that Book could be 100 percent accurate when it comes to ancient names, places and events and yet 100 percent wrong about the God who its authors claim inspired their writings. Again no answer.
Interviews in the streets for the videos we shot revealed that most Israelis (including even some atheists) do expect the Messiah. Yet they have no biblical understanding of who He might be––or that the prophets said Messiah would be "cut off [killed]" (Isa 53:8; Dan 9:26, etc.) and thereafter Jerusalem and the temple destroyed (9:26)! When asked how they would recognize the Messiah, nearly all responded, "He will bring peace." What a setup for Antichrist, of whom it is said, "By peace shall [he] destroy many" (Dan 8:25)! Sadly, the worst destruction in Israel's history, "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer 30:7), lies ahead.
Evidence of the conquering Roman presence from Christ's day and from Crusader times is found everywhere. Ancient ruins, neglected and even destroyed when the Arabs were in control, are being expertly restored by the Jews. A Roman presence of another nature continues in Israel to this day: the Catholicized "holy" places, where events in Jesus' life and death allegedly took place. Rome's presence is seen and felt also in the throngs of Catholic pilgrims who come for the indulgences and special favors from God which they've been taught attach to physical places and relics. One has the impression that this land is still theirs. After all, didn't the Crusaders conquer it for Holy Mother Church?
Each holy place is marked (and marred) by the inevitable church constructed upon it. In these shrines, candles (purchase price depending upon size) burn continuously. Robed priests appear periodically at altars to repeat incantations unknown to Christ and the apostles. Reverently the faithful cross themselves and join in ceremonies believed to convey special grace because performed at a sacred site. Israel needs the money the pilgrims bring. Yet one senses an uneasy truce between Jews, who disown their own who believe in Him, and Catholics, who come to see where Jesus was crucified by Jews, forgetting the Vatican's long persecution and slaughter of Jesus' Jewish brethren.
The Christian church, after being granted recognition and freedom by Constantine, soon became the persecutor of all those who did not submit to its doctrines. Like Islam a few centuries later, Christianity was imposed upon the entire populace of Europe under the threat of torture and death. Christ told His disciples that whosoever would be the greatest must be the servant of all. Instead, the popes aspired to be masters of the world. Church and state joined in adulterous partnership to expand the "Holy Roman Empire" by enforcing conversion with the sword.
Persecution of Jews commenced in earnest after the popes, taking advantage of the power vacuum left when the empire fell to the barbarians, began to rule not just as ecclesiastical leaders of the church but as secular kings. Papal armies fought to expand "the Kingdom of God." The Jews' plight––in the name of Jesus the Jew––soon became far more grievous under the alleged Christian church than it had ever been at the hands of pagan rulers. In Vicars of Christ, Jesuit historian Peter de Rosa writes of those early days:
[Catholicism] will become the most persecuting faith the world has ever seen. They will persecute the race from which Peter––and Jesus––sprang...[and] order in Christ's name all those who disagree with them to be tortured, and sometimes crucified over fire. They will make an alliance between throne and altar; they will insist that...the throne (the state) impose the Christian [Roman Catholic] religion on all its subjects.
A major target of conquest became "the Holy Land," which had already been claimed by "Saint" Helena. Constantine was the father of the new Church and Helena was honored as its mother. Even before it was conferred upon Mary, the title "Mother of God" was given to Helena as the Emperor's mother. (Every Roman emperor was worshiped as God.) This "mother of the church" journeyed to the Holy Land to buy relics and to build churches upon alleged sites of key events involving our Lord.
The Roman Catholic Church began to believe it had replaced Israel as God's chosen people. That land, promised by God to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, now belonged, for new and holier reasons, to "Christian" Rome, the new Zion. The pagan empire had become the Holy Roman Empire, the "Kingdom of God" on earth. The hope of its revival was the dream of all Europe during the Middle Ages––a goal which will be accomplished at last by Antichrist. The revived Roman Empire over which he will rule, with enthusiastic Vatican support as in the past, will encompass the entire world.
Without rancor we must face the facts concerning the Holy Roman Empire to understand what its revival will mean. Pagans had blamed every disaster upon Christians. Now the Church blamed all on the Jews. Accused of causing the Black Death, Jews were rounded up and hanged, burned and drowned by the thousands in revenge. Although now and then a pope sought to ameliorate their condition, there was no place for "Christ crucifiers" in God's Holy Kingdom. More than 100 anti-Semitic documents were published by the Roman Catholic Church between the sixth and twentieth centuries. Anti-Semitism had become official Church doctrine. To this day, the Vatican has never conceded Israel's right to exist and wants Jerusalem to be, not in Jewish hands, but under international control.
To raise an army for the First Crusade, Pope Urban II promised instant entrance into heaven without purgatory for all who fell in that great cause. The knights and knaves who responded with enthusiasm to that deceitful promise left a trail of plunder, mayhem, and murder on their way to Jerusalem, where they slaughtered all Arabs and Jews. One of their first acts after their triumphal entry into Jerusalem was to herd the Jews into the synagogue and set it ablaze. On their way to the Holy Land, the Crusaders gave the Jews the choice of baptism or death. De Rosa recounts:
In the year 1096 half of the Jews of Worms were slaughtered as the Crusaders passed through the town. The rest fled to the bishop's residence for protection. He agreed to save them, on condition that they asked to be baptized. The Jews retired to consider their decision. When the doors of the audience chamber were opened, all 800 Jews inside were dead. Some were decapitated; fathers had killed their babes before turning their knives on their wives and themselves; a groom had slain his bride. The first century tragedy of Masada was repeated everywhere in Germany and, later, throughout France.
Sincere followers of Christ, too, were slain by the hundreds of thousands for attempting to follow the Bible instead of Rome. What these victims suffered from Holy Mother Church is a story sad beyond belief for both persecuted and persecutors. The Inquisitors were caught in a web from which there was no escape, for the papacy did indeed "reign over the kings of the earth." No doubt many of the zealots who carried out papal decrees were sincere. The civil authorities, moreover, feared excommunication should they fail to fulfill the Inquisitors' demands. The facts speak volumes.
Heretics (those who felt bound by conscience to follow God's Word) were committed to the flames because the popes believed that the Bible forbade Christians to shed blood. Victims of the Inquisition exceeded by hundreds of thousands the number of Christians (and Jews) who had been martyred under pagan Roman emperors. Catholic apologists try in vain to absolve their Church of responsibility, arguing that the sentence of death was carried out by civil authorities. Yet this transference to the "secular arm" was required by the Church's canon law, and at the tribunal where heretics were condemned the Inquisitor's throne was higher than that of the magistrate. The prisoner was allowed to know neither the charge against him nor the identity of his accusers. No one was ever acquitted. Torture often made the pitiful victims willing to confess to anything. Will Durant reminds us of Pope Clement V's rebuke of King Edward II's leniency:
We hear that you forbid torture as contrary to the laws of your land. But no state law can override [the Church's] canon law, our law. Therefore I command you at once to submit those men to torture.
The medieval Inquisition had flourished for centuries when, in 1542, Pope Paul III gave it permanent status as the first of Rome's Sacred Congregations, the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Inquisition. Known more recently as the Holy Office, its name was changed in 1967 to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith––quite appropriate, inasmuch as public burnings were known as autos-da-fé, or acts of faith. The Office operates today from the Palace of the Inquisition adjacent to St. Peter's. The Grand Inquisitor is Cardinal Ratzinger, who reports to Pope John Paul II.
Before he became Pope Paul IV in 1555, Inquisitor-General John Peter Carafa had converted a house at his own expense into a fully equipped torture chamber for eliciting confessions from the accused. He denounced any who tolerated heretics and declared, "If my own father were a heretic, I would personally gather the wood to burn him." During his brief pontificate the population of Rome was decimated almost by half, with Jews the main victims. Under Paul IV, marriage between a Christian and a Jew was punishable by death. Hitler claimed only to be carrying out what the popes and Church councils had already decreed.
Paul IV forced Jews to sell their properties, confined them to ghettos, treated them as slaves and reduced them to the status of ragpickers. Pope Gregory XIII declared that the guilt of Jews in rejecting and crucifying Christ "only grows deeper with successive generations, entailing perpetual slavery." Later popes, such as Benedict XIV, Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, et al., continued the persecution of Jews. Pope Pius XII knew very well that the Nazis were systematically exterminating Jews. Yet he never spoke a public word against the Holocaust, because to do so would have condemned his own Church. This silence, historians agree, encouraged Hitler and added to the unspeakable genocide.
Jerusalem has its Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) to keep ever before the world's conscience the 6 million Jews killed by Hitler. By contrast, there is no memorial to the untold multitudes of both Jews and Christians murdered by Holy Mother Church and now forgotten. De Rosa reminds us that Pope John Paul II "knows the church was responsible for persecuting Jews, for the Inquisition, for slaughtering heretics by the thousands, for reintroducing torture into Europe as part of the judicial process. But he has to be careful [not to apologize]. The doctrines responsible for those terrible things still underpin his position." (Emphasis added) The Vatican has never repented of these crimes against humanity and God. Of these indisputable facts many of today's evangelical leaders seem willingly ignorant. TBC