A Proposal for (Future) Apostate Jerusalem’s Role in a Progressive Dispensational Eschatology: Another Look at Revelation 17–18
by J. Paul Tanner
Among the interpretative problems pertaining to the book of Revelation, the identification of the harlot, Babylon the great, in Revelation 17–18 stands as one of the most significant. Suggestions range from preterist views identifying Babylon as either first-century Jerusalem or Rome, the historicist view of Babylon as the Roman Catholic Church, idealist views, and numerous futurist views fulfilled in the Great Tribulation. The latter would include both symbolic views (e.g., ungodly civilization in opposition to God’s people) and literal views of a future city related to the Antichrist. Dispensational interpreters have upheld the futurist view, usually of a literal rebuilt city of Babylon or a combination of a religious system and a literal city (so Walvoord). In this paper, I hope to show that Babylon the great is apostate Jerusalem (and Judaism) in the time of the Great Tribulation, and that such a position is consistent with a progressive dispensational eschatology. In our Lord’s Olivet Discourse, Luke includes God’s judgment on apostate Jerusalem in A.D.70 (Lk 21:20-24), seemingly to prefigure a greater end-times judgment on Jerusalem inaugurated with the abomination of desolation. Jerusalem as the harlot, then, looks at that unsaved part of Israel that is duped into entering into league with the Antichrist, only to find herself betrayed in the final analysis and a victim of the Antichrist’s effort to annihilate Jerusalem. This paper has two objectives. The first is to present the evidence in support of the theory of Babylon the great as apostate Judaism in the Great Tribulation with its focal point being the city of Jerusalem. The second is to show how this interpretation sheds valuable light on other prophetic portions of Scripture, such as Dan9:27, the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24), and the man of lawlessness in 2 Thess 2.
h.t. Chris White