There is a new teaching gaining momentum through the internet that claims Babylon in the book of Revelation is the USA. This is just another example of giving prophecy a private interpretation in disobedience to the word of God (2 Pet. 1:20-21). We are not to interpret the scripture for the scripture interprets itself to the Bible believer who follows God’s rule of Bible study (2 Tim. 2:15).
In studying the book of Revelation it is vital to understand that the WHOLE book is a prophecy and therefore cannot be interpreted in light of current events in this mystery age that was hid from the prophets. John was in the future day of the Lord when he received this book (Rev. 1:10). Those who claim that Babylon is the USA arrive at that wrong conclusion because they start with the wrong premise that the prophecy of Revelation is being, and will be, fulfilled in this present age.
An angel showed the apostle John the judgment of the great whore (Rev. 17:1-2). He was carried away in the spirit into the wilderness to see the whore sitting upon a scarlet colored beast with seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 17:3-6). This stands in stark contrast with the angel carrying John away in the spirit to a great and high mountain to see the bride, the Lamb’s wife, which is the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). The bride will be the inhabitants of a LITERAL city that is described in detail (Rev. 21:11-22:5). The great whore is also a LITERAL city that is decked out with gold, precious stones, and pearls. The name upon her forehead is “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” She is seen to be drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. Most preachers and teachers call her “MYSTERY BABYLON” (without the comma) and claim that she is something besides literal Babylon. Please notice the comma after “MYSTERY.” She is called a MYSTERY and her name is BABYLON. She is the fountainhead of the "mystery of iniquity" (2 Thess. 2:7).
We do not have to come up with an interpretation as to what John saw, for the angel explained it to him (Rev. 17:7-18). He explains the beast in vs.8-17 and identifies the woman in v.18. She is “that great city” which is Babylon (Rev. 14:8). The beast is the antichrist and the woman is the city of Babylon. I heard one of the preachers who claims that Babylon is the USA say in the same message that the sixth head of the beast is the USA and that the woman is the USA. How can that be? The seven heads are seven mountains (not hills, as commonly taught) that represent seven kingdoms (v.10) out of which the Son of Perdition will establish his kingdom (the eighth, v.11). The ten horns (the horn signifies authority) represent ten kings that will have power with the beast for a very short time (v.12). They will try to make war with the Lamb, but He will overcome them. The ten kings of the beast will turn on the whore to destroy her. The beast is not the whore, and the whore is not the beast. All of this is future and has nothing to do with what is going on in current events today.
That the woman is seen sitting upon many waters signifies that she reigns over the kings of the earth (v.15, 18) which means she has a global influence. The first great one world government and religion was established by Nimrod in Babel (Gen. 10-11). Babylon is the fountainhead of all idolatry and has many harlot daughters (such as the Roman Catholic Church). Babylon flourished under Nebuchadnezzar but was judged by God after he used her to chasten His people. Babylon will be rebuilt greater than ever in the land of Shinar (Zech. 5:5-11). The battle of Armageddon is not going to take place in the USA, but in the area of Babylon (Rev. 16:12-16). The woman is drunken with the blood of the prophets, saints, and martyrs of Jesus (Rev. 17:6; 18:24). How could that be said of the USA? It can’t. If the city is not literal Babylon, then interpretation of the symbol is also a symbol, which is nonsense.
Some may ridicule the idea that Babylon in Revelation is the literal city of Babylon because it is not presently the great city that is described in Rev. 18. God’s prophecies may seem unlikely, but they always come to pass. The biggest argument against saying that Babylon is literal Babylon is that it was destroyed in the past and God said it wouldn’t be rebuilt. There are prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah about the destruction of Babylon that look ahead to what is fulfilled in Rev. 18. The Babylon of history was not suddenly destroyed as described in Rev. 18 and there have been inhabitants in the area of historical Babylon since it fell (e.g. Isa. 13:19-22; Jer. 51:8, 37).
So, what role does the USA have in prophecy? The Bible doesn't say specifically. It will probably be part of the one world government headed up under the antichrist, but it will not be Babylon.