The Olivet Discourse| United or Divided #18- Babylon and Jerusalem
We have covered a good bit of territory in our investigation of the unity of the Olivet Discourse. We have focused on the Wedding motif and shown that from Hosea onward, the Bible is focused on the end times “remarriage” of God to Israel, the whole house of Israel. In this installment focused on this theme, I want to show that Revelation, as suggested earlier, is telling the story of the divorcement and “death” of the harlot, unfaithful, Old Covenant wife, so that the marriage of the “whole house of Israel” could be married to the Lord, transformed into the body of Christ.
This will be somewhat brief, but, let me take note of the fact that Babylon in Revelation is none other than Old Covenant Jerusalem, portrayed as an unfaithful wife, about to be stoned and put to death – divorced – for her unfaithfulness. I will establish the first point first.
The Olivet Discourse, Revelation and the Sins of Babylon
In Revelation, Babylon is described as the city guilty of a three-fold internecine sin:
She had killed the Old Covenant prophets (Revelation 16:6f). It is important to note that in the NT, when the word “prophet” or the term the prophets” is used without a contextual qualifier (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12 / Ephesians 4:8f, etc.) it is invariably referent to the Old Covenant prophets. This accusation against Babylon serves as prima facie proof that Babylon of Revelation could not be literal Babylon in Iraq, America (as claimed by Jonathan Cahn of “The Mystery of the Shemitah” infamy. See my Exposing the Mystery of the Shemitah-#1 YouTube videos, in which I expose the error of Cahn), or the Roman Catholic Church (as I personally once believed).
The indisputable reality is that Rome never killed an Old Covenant prophet- therefore, Babylon of Revelation could not be Babylon.
The indisputable reality is that literal Babylon in Iraq never killed an Old Covenant prophet- therefore, Babylon of Revelation could not be literal Babylon in Iraq.
The indisputable reality is that America never killed an Old Covenant prophet- therefore, Babylon of Revelation could not be America.
The indisputable reality is that the Roman Catholic church never killed an Old Covenant prophet- therefore, Babylon of Revelation could not be the Roman Catholic Church.
Second, Babylon in Revelation is “where the Lord was slain” (Revelation 11:8). This statement is the interpretive phrase, explaining who the city spiritually designated as “Sodom and Egypt” really was. Dispensationalist seek to deflect the power of this by admitting that during the Tribulation period (which they posit as future of course) Jerusalem is in fact destroyed. But of course, they then have her rebuilt almost miraculously in an incredibly short period of time! But, the Dispensational view flounders and fails in the face of the imminence of the events of Revelation.
It is worth noting, as I explain and document in my book Who Is This Babylon? that the only city in the Bible that is ever spiritually called Sodom, or Egypt, was Old Covenant Jerusalem!
Third, Babylon in Revelation is the city guilty of killing the apostles (and prophets) of Jesus (Revelation 18:20-24). This is truly definitive proof that Babylon was none other than Old Covenant Jerusalem. Take note of what Jesus himself said in Luke 11:49-51:
“Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.”
It is highly important that the only city that Jesus ever accused of killing his apostles and prophets was in fact Old Covenant Jerusalem. In fact, he said:
“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:28-33).
So, Jesus said that he would send his own apostles and prophets to Old Covenant Jerusalem. He said it was not possible that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem. A cautionary note here. His words should not be taken in a woodenly literalistic manner. What he clearly meant was that Jerusalem was the source of the coming persecution against his apostles and prophets, and we see this in the early days of Acts, when Saul, with authority from the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, persecuted the church far outside of Judea.
So, we have a three-fold identification of Babylon in Revelation. It was the city that killed the Old Covenant prophets. It is the city where Jesus was slain. It is the city to whom the apostles and prophets of Jesus were sent. This evidence alone should be enough to convince that Babylon of Revelation was indeed Old Covenant Jerusalem, but, there is a wealth of additional information and evidence to support this.
In Matthew, and even from the lips of Jesus, we find the precise same pattern of bloody guilt as found in Revelation. In Matthew 21 and 22 in two parables, Jesus told of how Jerusalem had slain the prophets sent to her. He likewise foretold his own death at the leaders of the “Vineyard” of the Lord (Matthew 21). He also said that he was going to send his apostles and prophets to Jerusalem. That city would kill them. In doing so, her cup of sin would be filled up, and judgment would fall on them in that generation (Matthew 23:29-37).
So, here is the exact pattern we find in Revelation: the killing of the prophets, of Jesus, of Jesus’ apostles and prophets. The filling the measure of sin (Revelation 17:6f), and the threat of imminent judgment (Revelation 22:6-20).
The question needs to be asked: Upon what hermeneutical principle would we – can we – argue that John was writing about a different city, even though he describes her bloody guilt in the very words used by Jesus to describe Jerusalem – “all the blood shed on the earth” cf. Matthew 23 / Revelation 18). What is the justification for delineating between these two (supposedly) different cities? But, that is not all.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, Paul points the accusing finger at the “Judeans” from Jerusalem and accuses them in words clearly echoing Matthew 23. He says of the Jews, that they “killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.”
So, here once again is the precise pattern from Jesus: Jerusalem had slain the prophets. They would, and now had when Paul wrote, kill him. They would – and now were – killing Jesus’ apostles and prophets. In doing so, they were filling the measure of their sin, and judgment was hanging over them.
So, we have a definite, precise pattern found in Jesus, Paul and John. I am unaware of any commentator who questions the identity of the city that Jesus spoke of in Matthew, or of the identity of the persecutors in 1 Thessalonians 2. All agree it was Old Covenant Jerusalem. The question then is, to repeat, what is the hermeneutical principle that suggests, that justifies, that even hints in any way that John had a different city in mind from that which both Jesus and Paul wrote? I have been pointing out this pattern for years now, in both formal public debates and in countless private discussions. I have yet to hear or read a single response that honored the text.
When we see the correlation between the Olivet Discourse and Revelation, in light of this pattern, it suggests that there is no way to divide Matthew 24-25 into two topics. It is a united discourse, focused on the end of the Old Covenant age– the divorcement of Judah and the establishment of the New Marriage Covenant.
With the identity of Babylon established then, we need only to establish that John was anticipating not only the impending destruction and judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem, but that he intended for his audience, and us, to see that he was writing about the long foretold divorcement of Judah, as an unfaithful wife, so that the wedding of “whole house of Israel” transformed into the New Covenant body of Christ could take place.
It should be plain by now that the Olivet Discourse is not divided into two topics.