Joel Richardson on Mystery Babylon, Mecca, and the United States

Burgkmair’s 1523 portrayal of Mystery Babylon


Protestant prophecy writer Joel Richardson has various comments about the USA, Mecca, and ‘Mystery Babylon’:

Filth on television. The federal government promoting homosexuality around the world. Materialism, wealth and consumerism beyond measure.

Sometimes, it seems like America is less a “city on a hill” than a septic tank for sin. And some Christians have even gone so far as to claim it is America itself which represents the “Babylon” of the end times.

Joel Richardson, New York Times bestselling author of “The Islamic Antichrist,” believes he has identified the city of the Antichrist in his newest book, “Mystery Babylon.” And though he concedes America has serious problems, the prophecy simply doesn’t fit the United States.

“I understand the United States has profound influence around the world,” he said. “On the other hand, the United States does not represent the greatest system of false religion that mankind has ever known. The United States is not the great false religion. It is not the great false system of idolatry.”

America is sometimes accused of being the exemplar of a new “false religion” of selfishness or materialism, but as Richardson observes, it is not particularly unique in that regard.

“We can look to different things like consumerism, materialism or narcissism… but there are other nations around the world that are incredibly perverse,” Richardson observed. “And they are not that way because of the influence of the United States.”

Similarly, Richardson rejects the idea New York City, seat of Wall Street, the United Nations and the world financial elite, could be Babylon. But, he admits, he understands why some people could believe this.

“For clarity, there are some elements to New York City where I can look and say, I can see how people get this,” Richardson acknowledged. “It says that Babylon is this city that sits on many waters. You say, well, New York City sits on many waters, just look at it, Manhattan, Long Island, etc, etc. It’s surrounded by waters. Of course, the angel goes on to explain the waters that you saw are metaphors for peoples, tongues, tribes, that the woman exerts control over, that she has influence over… Wall Street has tremendous influence and sway over the Earth, of course it’s not the only economic powerhouse in the world, but it’s significant.” …

Richardson argues there are specific scriptural criteria “Mystery Babylon” must meet, which New York City and America simply doesn’t. The city of the Antichrist must serve as the seat of a great system of idolatry. It must persecute the body of Christ. And Richardson believes there are also references to it being located in a desert, as he argues at length in “Mystery Babylon.”

Richardson believes the city which best meets these and other criteria is Mecca, center of the Islamic faith and what he calls the locus of “Satanic power” in the world today.

First, let me state that I agree that there is much evil in the USA (see, for example, Is the USA now an Evil Empire?). Secondly, I agree with Joel Richardson that the USA is not the final end time Mystery Babylon the Great of Revelation 17 and 18.

But, Joel Richardson and others who believe that it is Mecca are totally wrong for many reasons.

What about the supposed prophecies that Mystery Babylon is in the desert?

Well, this is basically an erroneous interpretation of scriptures. The most commonly misinterpreted one for this is in Isaiah 21:

1 The burden against the Wilderness of the Sea.

As whirlwinds in the South pass through,
So it comes from the desert, from a terrible land.
2 A distressing vision is declared to me;
The treacherous dealer deals treacherously,
And the plunderer plunders.
Go up, O Elam!
Besiege, O Media!
All its sighing I have made to cease.

3 Therefore my loins are filled with pain;
Pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor.
I was distressed when I heard it;
I was dismayed when I saw it.
4 My heart wavered, fearfulness frightened me;
The night for which I longed He turned into fear for me.
5 Prepare the table,
Set a watchman in the tower,
Eat and drink.
Arise, you princes,
Anoint the shield!

6 For thus has the Lord said to me:
“Go, set a watchman,
Let him declare what he sees.”
7 And he saw a chariot with a pair of horsemen,
A chariot of donkeys, and a chariot of camels,
And he listened earnestly with great care.
8 Then he cried, “A lion, my Lord!
I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime;
I have sat at my post every night.
9 And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen!”
Then he answered and said,
“Babylon is fallen, is fallen!
And all the carved images of her gods
He has broken to the ground.”

10 Oh, my threshing and the grain of my floor!
That which I have heard from the Lord of hosts,
The God of Israel,
I have declared to you. (Isaiah 21:1-10)

What the misinterpreters tend to do here is to try to tie this in with passages that follow, which are warnings to other locations.

If you actually look at Isaiah 21, you will notice that it is a prophesy to the Wilderness of the Sea.

The Bible describes the Beast as being the Beast of the Sea:

1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:1-4)

What sea? The Great Sea:

2 Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.   5 “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’   6 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.  7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.  (Daniel 7:2-8)

The “Great Sea” that bordered the ancient lands of Israel (Numbers 34:6-7; Joshua 1:4; 9:1; 23:4; Ezekiel 47:13-16) is the Mediterranean Sea–and that is the sea that Daniel was referring to.  Despite some false claims by some, the Beast power is not a nation like Russia, which does not border the Mediterranean Sea, but Europe which does (Russia, however, will be a factor in eliminating the European beast power, see also The Eurasian Union, the Kings of the East, and Bible Prophecy).  A comparison of the beasts in Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 shows that they share many of the same characteristics (for some details, you may wish to watch the YouTube video Can You Prove that the Beast to Come is European?).

Europe is the power that will control the “Great Sea.” And while the southern border of the Mediterranean Sea is currently under Arab control, the Bible shows that the King of the North will take over the Arab powers (Daniel 11:40-43; Ezekiel 30:1-9).

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:


6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

7 But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. (Revelation 17:1-10)

15 Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:15-18)

The above does NOT apply to Mecca as it is not the city of seven hills/mountains nor has it historically reigned over the kings of the earth.


Mecca is in a small valley:

Five hills used to form a rim around central Mecca … In early 2002, a few hundred feet from the Abdul Aziz gate, King Fahd demolished an ochre-colored Ottoman fortress that had been built in 1781 on Mt. Bulbul, one of the five hills that overlooked the Kaaba, to guard Mecca from tribal raids. …

T. R. Hamzah & Yeang, the Kuala Lumpur-based architectural firm … had calculated that the average height of the five hills that once circled the Grand Mosque area was almost fifteen hundred feet; the architects fixed that height as the limit for their high-rises.(Peer B. Modern Mecca. The New Yorker, April 16, 2012)

Joel Richardson has apparently overlooked the idea of the city of Mystery Babylon being on seven hills/mountains as he has falsely claimed that the seven mountains are only symbolic.

Yet, there certainly is a church in a city of seven hills that has ruled over many waters. It ruled over kings and governors in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres of the world.

St. John’s Lateran church, which is  its premier cathedral (as it supposedly holds the ‘cathedra’ of the Church of Rome) and which my wife and I have visited, has the following outside of it in many places:

(Photo by Joyce Thiel)

The inscription from Latin above translated into English means, “Sacred Lateran Church Mother and Head of All Churches of the City and the World.”

Islam is not in the same league–though a power in predominantly Islamic nations called the King of the South will rise up, but will be defeated by the European King of the North, according to the Bible.

Let me also add that, although I do not agree with the religion of Islam, it is not the center of physical idolatry in the world today. Nor has it been the great city that rules over the nations. Perhaps I should add that I have not seen much in the way of idols in Islamic nations, but have seen many in Italy, Greece, and others influenced religiously by them.

Mystery Babylon the Great has to do with a European power that will cooperate with Rome–the famed city of seven hills.

Those who believe this is Mecca are grossly misunderstanding biblical prophecy.

UPDATE 03/20/17: We just produced a video related to this:

Mystery Babylon USA, Mecca, or Rome? The Bible tells of an end-time Mystery Babylon the Great that sits on seven hills. While Catholic and Church of God scholars have identified this as Rome, others point to other cities. Some who profess Christ have pointed to the USA. Some Protestants, like Joel Richardson, have pointed to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Which of these places meets the biblical criteria for ‘Mystery Babylon’? Is there any item of religious importance near the Caelian Hill (Cælius, Celio)? Dr. Thiel answers these questions from the Bible as well as certain historical information.

For additional information, please also check out the following:

Can the Final Antichrist be Islamic? Is Joel Richardson correct that the final Antichrist will be Islamic and not European? Find out. A related sermon is titled: Is the Final Antichrist Islamic or European?
Protestant and Church of God views of the United States in Bible Prophecy Is the USA mentioned in Bible prophecy? Some Protestants say yes, while others say no. What does the Bible really teach? Learn the truth about this. There is also a video available: Is The United States Mentioned In Bible Prophecy?
Dangerous Protestant Prophetic Errors What are some errors that various Protestants hold to that will tend to prevent them from knowing when the Great Tribulation will begin? A related video is titled Ten Dangerous Protestant Prophetic Errors.
The Dangerous Rise of Preterists Has the Great Tribulation finished? What was the view of early Christians? Why is the preterist view dangerous? A related sermon video is titled Preterism: You’ve Gotta Be Kidding…Right?
Is the USA now an Evil Empire? Dr. Thiel gives many reasons to consider. A related video is also available: Is the USA an Evil Empire?
USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
Who is the King of the West? Why is there no Final End-Time King of the West in Bible Prophecy? Is the United States the King of the West? Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Quién es el Rey del Occidente? ¿Por qué no hay un Rey del Occidente en la profecía del tiempo del fin?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2017, 2018, or 2019? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is:Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017?
Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? Was a 6000 year time allowed for humans to rule followed by a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth taught by the early Christians? Does God have 7,000 year plan? What year may the six thousand years of human rule end? When will Jesus return? 2023 or 20xx? There is also a video titled The 6000 Year Plan: Is the end of humanity’s reign almost up? Here is a link to the article in Spanish: ¿Tiene Dios un plan de 6,000 años?
Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?
Is this the King of the North, the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1-11, or the two-horned Beast of Revelation 13:12-16? Some rely on traditions, but what does the Bible teach? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2? Here is a version in Mandarin: 主编: 谁是’大罪人’?Here is a link to a related YouTube video, in English, titled Who is the Man of Sin?
Some Doctrines of Antichrist Are there any doctrines taught outside the Churches of God which can be considered as doctrines of antichrist? This article suggests at least three. It also provides information on 666 and the identity of “the false prophet.” Plus it shows that several Catholic writers seem to warn about an ecumenical antipope that will support heresy. You can also watch a video titled What Does the Bible teach about the Antichrist?
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future? Here are links to a two-part sermon series: What are Some of the Parts of Satan’s Plan? and Satan’s Plan is More Dramatic than Many Realize.

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