Let me begin our lesson today by asking you a series of questions.
1. Where was Abraham born, and from what country was he called out of?
2. Where was the probable location of the Garden of Eden?
3. Where was the Tower of Babel?
4. The wife of both Isaac and Jacob came from what country?
5. What country captured Jerusalem in 606 B.C.?
6. Where was the location of the city that responded to Jonah's message?
7. In what country was Daniel living when he was put into the Lions' Den?
8. In what country were the three Hebrew children when they were placed into the fiery furnace?
9. The Euphrates River, which is to be dried up in the end times, is in which country?
10. What is the second most mentioned nation in the Bible after Israel?
If you look into the Bible, the answer to each of the questions may not be the same if you use Biblical names. However, if you were to check your Bible maps and find the modern country that is associated with each of these questions, you will find the answer to all of these question to be modern day Iraq. As the last question says, the most common name of a country mentioned in the Bible, other than Israel, is the country of Babylon. Additionally, the most mentioned city beside Jerusalem is the city of Babylon. Today, we are going to investigate what the Bible says about Babylon in the end times.
Back in 1990, the world's eyes were riveted for 8 months on the events in the Persian Gulf. Millions came home from work and settled in front of their television sets to watch the worlds first "prime-time" war. The technical sophistication of billion-dollar weapon systems created the illusion that the war was merely a high-priced video game. Then the guns went silent, the war "officially ended, and the world shifted its attention to other places of unrest --- like Bosnia and Somalia.
But many who are fascinated with Bible prophecy were caused to take a closer look at the events in the Persian Gulf, trying to see how they fit into the larger puzzle of God's plan for this present world. During the Persian Gulf War (Desert Storm), many were predicting the downfall of Saddam Hussein. But he has outlasted the tenure of presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton and now we are into the first term of George W. Bush. With what we see happening in "Operation Iraqi Freedom," Saddam's reign seems to be coming to an end. However, the predictions of his early and certain end were too optimistic.
Shortly after the Gulf War, the Los Angeles Times polled eight Middle East experts and asked them to predict Saddam Hussein's chances of surviving politically. Rami Khouri, a Palestinian political columnist and author offered this insight. "Although Hussein's military astuteness is poor, his political survival is probably…..He articulated and personified a new Arab-Islamic spirit of defiance and fearlessness in the face of clear enemy superiority."
Little has changed in the Middle East since Desert Storm. No countries changed leaders. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are still ruled by royal families who have no strong desire to establish a democracy. Syria and Iraq are still ruled by Ba'ath party dictators with ambitions of extending their national borders whenever the time is right. The West still remains heavily dependent on oil and over half the world oil reserves still rests under the sands of the Middle East. As we are now seeing, in March of 2003, the relative calm of the last 12 years has only been preparing for the next storm.
When one studies end-time prophecy and what the Bible has to say about events that are to take place, we must proceed with caution. While it is appropriate to examine current events in light of Bible prophecy, we must be careful of reading and forcing Bible prophecy into current events. On the other hand, as a firm believer in Bible prophecy, I am convinced that God does have a plan for this world that includes both Babylon and the nation of Israel. However, the starting place for any comparison must be the Bible, not current events.
Let's look at the map and solidify the connection between ancient Babylon and modern Iraq. The ancient name for Iraq is Babylonia. For a time, from about 1200 B.C. to 650 B.C., this area was ruled by the Assyrians.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT CITY WAS THE CAPITAL OF ASSYRIA?
WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE CITY THAT RESPONDED TO JONAH'S MESSAGE?
The answer to both questions is "Nineveh." Today, the ruins of Nineveh are directly across the Tigris River from the modern city of Mosul.
What we are talking about is the land that surrounds the two great rivers of that area.
WHAT IS ANOTHER ANCIENT NAME FOR THIS AREA OF THE WORLD?
Mesopotamia - the cradle of civilization. Mesopotamia is not the ancient name for a group of people, who ruled this area. The word "Mesopotamia" means "land between the rivers." So the word "Mesopotamia" is a name given to this area. I mention this name because it will come up later in our lesson.
Another name for this area, as well as a group of people, is Chaldea. It's area is primarily the southern half of Mesopotamia.
WHO IS PROBABLY THE MOST FAMOUS BIBLE CHARACTER FROM CHALDEA?
Abraham was from the Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:28)
o o o INSERT MAP OF MODERN IRAQ OVER THE MIDDLE EAST MAP o o o
Notice the land of Iraq occupies much the same land as Babylonia. Notice where the modern day city of Babylon is located. It is located some 50 miles south of modern day Baghdad. Baghdad is located on the Tigris River, while Babylon is location on the Euphrates River.
I think we have established that when the Bible speaks about the nation of Babylon in prophecy; it is talking about what is now known as Iraq. I also believe that we can establish that when Bible prophecy speaks of Babylon the city, that it is talking about Babylon the city in our time. We will establish that by looking at the prophecies made in both the Old and New Testaments about the city of Babylon.
God's Word has much to say about Babylon and its role in the final act on the stage of history. Anyone who wants to know what will happen in the world needs to study both current events and Bible prophecy, because the two are drawing closer every day. From Genesis to Revelation, Babylon occupies a very prominent place in God's Word. As stated in our questions at the beginning of this lesson, the Bible refers to Babylon second only to Jerusalem and Israel in the number of mentions about cities and nations.
DO YOU KNOW WHO WAS THE FOUNDER OF BABYLON?
Genesis 10:8-10 NIV
8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth.
9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, "Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD."
10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar.
11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Ninevey,…..
Babylon's roots reach back almost to the dawn of civilization. Nimrod, the mighty hunter, is the founder of the city of Babylon. Its original name was Babel. The name Babel (Babylon) comes from the description of the tower around which the city was first built.
o Bab means "gate"
o el means "god"
Babel was humanity's self-appointed gateway to God --- a place where they hoped to reach God by their own efforts apart from His intended plan. The city, later named Babylon, had a long history. It became prominent for awhile under Hammurabi (1728 - 1686 B.C.).
Babylon's greatest glory was achieved under Nebuchadnezzar, who lived about 600 years before Christ. Daniel wrote the book with his name during this time.
The historian, Herodotus, claimed the city was laid out in a exact square surrounded by a moat 260 feet wide. Beside the moat, the city was surrounded by huge walls, 75 feet thick and 300 feet high.
During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, one of the prominent features of this city was the Hanging Gardens, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
Today, the once almost dead city is being revived by Saddam Hussein who openly seeks to establish a nation paralleling the glory of ancient Babylon. Hussein has held absolute power in Iraq since 1979, and he does not hesitate to execute those who pose even a remote threat to his leadership. People have been arrested and imprisoned for the simple crime of not revering his image. This is not only a fair description of Saddam Hussein, but also accurately describes King Nebuchadnezzar.
Shafqa Mohammed Jaafar - Babylon's chief archaeologist:
"Because Babylon was built in ancient times, and was a great city, it must be a great city again in the time of our new great leader, Saddam Hussein."
With what is happening in "Operation Iraqi Freedom," it may not be Saddam Hussein who builds it, but I believe it will be built.
As mentioned earlier, Babylon is spoken of often in the Bible. It mentions Babylon 287 times and many of those references address the future city of Babylon.
HOW MANY OF YOU ARE AWARE THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT MENTIONS A CHRISTIAN CHURCH AT BABYLON?
1 Peter 5:13 KJV
13 The church that is in Babylon, elect together with you, salute you, and so does my son Mark.
DO YOU KNOW WHERE THESE CHRISTIANS COME FROM?
HOW DID THIS CHURCH COME INTO EXISTENCE?
/p>Acts 2:7-11 (NIV) speaks of those who heard the 120 speaking in other tongues on the day of Pentecost.
7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?
8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"
In this list of foreigners, we have:
o Parthians Northwest Persia (250 - 200 B.C.)
o Elamites Near the Persian Gulf
o Mesopotamia Ancient Babylon - modern Iraq
o Persians Modern Day Iran
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached a great message.
HOW MANY WERE SAVED ON THAT VERY FIRST DAY OF THE CHURCH?
3,000, according to Acts 2:41.
Many of those who were converted to Christianity that day were foreigners. I think it quite possible that a number of those were from Mesopotamia and Persia. After receiving instructions from the Apostles, they took the gospel back to their own countries, and established churches there. And it looks like Peter either visited this church at Babylon, or received a letter from them. That is seen in the fact that in his first epistle, he was passing on their specific greetings to the people to whom he addresses his first letter (1 Peter 1:1). If you look at 1 Peter 1:1, and see the list of people to whom he addresses this letter, you will see that some are the same people mentioned in Acts 2.
These people no doubt had made friends with these other Jewish converts from the Persian Gulf region. Some theologians believe Peter actually wrote his first epistle (letter) at Babylon.