In the last blog I said I would shed light on the identity of the Harlot, the Scarlet Woman of Revelation, who is identified as the great city. Her identity has been wrapped up in a mystery, hence the name: “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5). She isn’t a mother in the sense of producing offspring. This is simply a figurative way of saying she is the ultimate harlot.
There is a mystery about this great city, which is why scholars cannot agree on which city she represents. Her story is primarily told in Revelation 17, but the story really spans the entire Book, God’s Word. To identify the Harlot, we have to understand the mystery. We can’t tell it all in one blog or one video, so be sure to stay tuned to hear the whole truthful tale.
I’m going to break the rules concerning a mystery by telling you up front the city’s identity. In doing so, I hope you stay with us on this mystifying mystery so you get all the scriptural back-up and the full revelation. Her identity may surprise you, because it isn’t what is commonly taught. As always, we’re going to use the Spirit-inspired terminology throughout the whole Bible to make the connections.
So here goes. The mystery is that we’re dealing with three cities that all share the same name, yet are not the same. You could say that each element of the mystery shares a different aspect of the named city. But actually, they are three very different cities that exist independently, even though they share a common lineage. The name of the city: Jerusalem.
The first of the three cities is the physical or natural city of Jerusalem that existed in the Old Testament, into the New Testament, and even into our own time once the nation of Israel was recognized in 1948. The primary aspect or trait of this natural city is its apostate nature. We know from Luke 19:44 that the nation missed its time of visitation from God when it rejected Jesus as the Messiah. We also know from Romans 11 that God is not done with the Jewish nation. They still have a part to play in the restoration of all things.
Israel and its major city of Jerusalem missed its calling of being a light to the world and a praise in all the earth (Is 49:6 and 62:7). That is, as the city stands now. In fact, when the temple is rebuilt shortly, it will be an abomination to God according to Heb. 10:29. “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”
As further confirmation of this, we offer 1 John 2:22-23 (emphasis added). It defines the spirit of Antichrist that has come and gone throughout history, is running rampant in our own time, and still characterizes modern-day Jerusalem. “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
This is not the end of the story for Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the apostate temple will actually set in motion the end of the vicious cycle of apostasy: a time of peace, complacency, compromising with the nations around them, seeking to establish their own righteousness, being judged accordingly such that God uses the nations as His weapon of indignation, sometimes allowing them to go into captivity. Then repentance comes, He extends His mercy, and brings them back to Him.
That is what we will see unfolding one last time in Revelation. More on that in the rest of the series. For now, we need to briefly identify the other two cities, with details to come. The second is the Heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God. It’s population will soon sky-rocket at Christ’s second coming at the rapture. He will return to the earth, along with the dead in Christ, gather the believers who are still alive then, and take all of His completed Body back to God’s throne as the immortal, glorified government of Heaven.
We will rule from the heavenly Jerusalem throughout the millennial reign. When God creates the new heavens and new earth, the City—described as the Bride of Christ—will descend to the new earth.
Which brings us to the third city. Scripture tells us that the current city of Jerusalem will be destroyed due to the 3½-year war and the 7 trumpet and bowl judgments. The many earthquakes that occur will literally change the physical landscape. Jerusalem will be rebuilt as prophesied by Zechariah and Isaiah. This is when the temple described by Ezekiel will be built, for it could not fit on the site of the current location.
This overview may shock some, but we will bring the scriptural connections and confirmations in the days ahead.