Today, we continue to learn what the Bible says about Babylon in the Last Days. We learned that the country mentioned in the Bible more often, except for Israel, is the country of Babylon, and the most mentioned city beside Jerusalem is the city of Babylon.
I want to start today's lesson by reviewing 3 slides from last week's lesson. 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?
Gen 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 Nineveh..
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, has had a long history. It became prominent for awhile under Hammurabi (1728 - 1686 B.C.). But, 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.
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. With what is happening in "Operation Iraqi Freedom," it may not be Saddam Hussein who builds Babylon, but I believe it will be built.
Let me show you what has transpired at Babylon so far. When Nebuchadnezzar ran things around Babylon some 2,600 years ago, he left clear instructions for the future kings of Babylon that are today being carried out. Writing in cuneiform script on tablets of clay, the royal scribes urged their master's successors to repair and rebuild his temples and palaces. President Saddam Hussein has over the past two decades, spared no effort to obey that now-distant command. As recent as 1980, all that existed in and around Babylon were dusty ruins, a couple of small villages and some Bedouins with their goats and sheep. But by February, 1990, 60 million bricks had been laid in the reconstruction of Nebuchadnezzar's fabled city. More than a billion dollars has gone into Babylon. Saddam has ignored the objections of archaeologists who consider it a crime to build over ancient ruins. Saddam has plans to rebuild the hanging hardens. He has offered a $1.5 million prize to any Iraqi who can devise a plan to irrigate the gardens using only the technology available in ancient Babylon.
The Iraqi Director General of Antiquities, Dr. Muayad Said predicts the government will also re-dig and refill the city moat, and close the city to all traffic but pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages. Saddam Hussein is also giving consideration to rebuilding the ancient Ziggurat that we now call the Tower of Babel. Here is his model of that ziggurat.
Archaeological digs show that this Ziggurat was the dominating feature of ancient Babylon. It was a 7-step pyramid and very symmetrical. It was 288 feet high, and each side was 288 feet in length. It was constructed of 58 million fired bricks. Atop the ziggurat stood the Temple of Marduk, with a solid gold statue of this god, which weighed 52,000 pounds.
o o o SHOW SLIDES OF THE RESTORATION OF BABYLON o o o
Saddam Hussein's reconstruction of the city of Babylon began in 1984. Let me begin with an image of Babylon today, taken from a satellite 423 miles above the earth. First, I want you to notice the 3 huge hills around the city. All three of these are massive mounds of dirt and rock and all were constructed in 1988. I will say more about these in a moment. But before leaving this slide, notice the canal on the north, east and south. Saddam Hussein constructed that to signify the ancient borders of the city. It follows the ruins of the ancient city walls.
Now, lets zoom in on the three large mounds. The first one we see will be the one on the east. The next will be the one on the south. Each of these are about 600 to 700 feet across. Looking at the one on the bank of the Euphrates River, we will see that a large building has been constructed atop it. In this picture are 3 structures I want you to notice, and I have given each a number.
Number 1 - This is one of Saddam's many palaces. Here is a picture of it from ground level.
Number 2 - The Palace of Nebuchadnezzar. Here is another picture taken at night, showing the entrance to the reconstructed palace. In addition to having a double wall around the entire city of Ancient Babylon, there was also a wall around Nebuchadnezzar's Palace complex.
Number 3 - Saddam Hussein's guest house. This structure was built prior to Saddam's palace.
The next structure I point out to you is the ancient Greek Theater. Let's zoom in a little closer to the theater. This theater, built originally following the conquest of Alexander the Great, is capable of seating 4,000 people.
The current walls certainly are not as formidable as the ancient walls, they are, however, being built on the original foundation. Notice that many of the original bricks were inscribed with the phrase: "I am Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the world." Archaeologists tell us that 9 out of 10 bricks were thus inscribed.
The next slide shows the walls that rise above "Procession Street", the main entrance into Nebuchadnezzar's palace area of ancient Babylon. According to some Archeologist, this was the most splendid thoroughfare in the ancient world. Here is a picture of the ruins of Procession Street. The street was only 2/3 of a mile in length, and 70 feet wide and was paved with stones. This important street began at the Ishtar Gate, which I will show you in a moment and extended past Nebuchadnezzar's palace on the left and past the Ziggurat on the right.
Why was it called "Procession Street?" A quote from Nebuchadnezzar himself will help us understand that question. "Aibur-shabu (the name of this street in their language), the street of Babylon, I filled with high fill for the procession of the great Lord Marduk, and with Turminabanda stones and Shadu stones I made this Aibur-shabu from the "Holy Gate" to Ishtar-saki-patebisha, fit for the procession of his godliness"
Here is a slide showing an artist's conception of the archaeological facts. This picture shows Procession Street and the Ishtar Gate. Here is another artist's conception.
The next slide shows the Ishtar Gate. The Ishtar Gate is at the north end of Procession Street. The gate opening is 35 feet high, and its structure is decorated with 557 dragons and bulls, in bright colors against a glazed blue background. Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of love. In Phoenicia, this goddess is called "Astarte." Among the Semitic peoples, the name "Ashtoreth" is given. The word "ashtoroth" is found in the Bible several times and is the plural form of Asthoreth. This goddess is often linked with the male god Baal. And strong similarities existed between Ishtar and Isis, in Egypt, Aphrodite, in Greece, Venus, in Rome.
The next slide shows the Ninmach Temple as seen from the Ishtar Gate.
The next slide shows one of the many labyrinths, that, according to one writer, seem to go on endlessly. The arches shown here are 40 to 50 feet high.
The next slide shows the Euphrates River as it flows by the Babylon reconstruction.
We know there is at least one more structure, which I do not have a picture of. It is the original throne room of Nebuchadnezzar. The throne room was a huge edifice, 171 feet long and 56 feet wide and was where many of the royal celebrations took place. It is believed to be the room where Belshazzar saw the hand that wrote on the wall which predicted his and the country of Babylon's demise. It is the room where his guests drank out of the golden goblets from God's temple.
Hussein really does view himself as a modern-day Nebuchadnezzar. And he is committed to fulfill all that his predecessor set out to do. Nebuchadnezzar was the only Arab ruler ever able to lead Arab armies against the Israelites and defeat them in battle. By rebuilding Babylon, Saddam Hussein was making himself the new Nebuchadnezzar, who also hoped to lead the Arab armies in victory over Israel.
When Mrs. Jaafar, the Babylon Chief Archaeologist, was asked if Iraqis considered Mr. Hussein to be "the new Nebuchadnezzar," she replied: "Yes, of course." Saddam Hussein, when asked if he ever dreamed of filling a role such as that of Nebuchadnezzar, replied: "...I do indeed dream and wish for this. It is an honor for any human being to dream of such a role."
Let me show you the cover to a booklet handed to all guests attending the 1st Annual Babylon Festival. There were guests from all over the world, and, obviously, this is the English version of the booklet. Zoom in on the gold seal at the top of the booklet.
Here is a quote from within this booklet. "When Babylon consisted of small city-states and separate dynasties, Hammurabi waged successive wars to unite these city-states so that Babylon remained as one city, as the bright light of civilization. However, it suffered more and more from repeated attacks until Nebuchadnezzar came to power and reconstructed it. He build temples and high walls as he realized it was the pulpit of the first Iraqi civilization. Today looks exactly like yesterday. After long periods of darkness that enveloped the land of Babylon and concealed its characteristics, Saddam Hussein emerges from Mesopotamia, as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar had emerged, at a timed to shake the century old dust off Babylon's face. Saddam Hussein, the grandson of the Babylonians, the son of this great land, is leaving his fingerprints everywhere."
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.
Now, lets look at the not-so-good news which the Bible has to say about Babylon. There are four major sections of the Bible that speak of Babylon's demise.
o Isaiah 13 & 14
o Jeremiah 50 & 51
o Zechariah 5
o Revelation 17 & 18
Let's look first at what Isaiah had to say.
Isaiah 13:19-20 NIV
19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians' pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; …..
In the Passage we just read, two descriptors of the city of Babylon are given.
o The Jewel of kingdoms.
o The glory of the Babylonians' pride.
In other passages of the Bible, Babylon is given several other descriptors.
o Babylon the great (Daniel 4:30)
o The golden city (Isaiah 14:4)
o The lady of the kingdoms (Isaiah 47:5)
o The praise of the whole earth (Jeremiah 51:41)
o The city abundant in treasures (Jeremiah 51:13)
Babylon hasn't fallen yet.
Some scholars believe that Babylon's fall to Cyrus and the Medo-Persians in 538 B.C. fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah. But if you closely examine the words of these two prophets, we find a number of verses which indicate that Isaiah's and Jeremiah's prophecies have not been fully realized. I want to give you 7 reasons why I believe the foretold destruction of Babylon has not yet happened. I will also try to link as many of these reasons to Revelation 17 & 18, which we all know has not happened yet.
Those 7 reasons are:
1. Babylon will be destroyed liked Sodom and Gomorrah
2. Her destruction will be very sudden.
3. After her destruction, wild animals will inhabit the area
4. Babylon's water will dry up.
5. The ruins of Babylon will not be used to build other cities or structures
6. Babylon will never be inhabited again
7. God's people must flee from Babylon before it is destroyed.
Now, let's look at each of these in the Scriptures.
1. Babylon will be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah
A moment ago we read Isaiah 13: 19-20. Let's read it again.
Isaiah 13:19-20 NIV
19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians' pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations;...
Isaiah lived about 740 - 680 B.C. This was about the time Babylon began to rise in power, during the reign of Marodach-Baladan II, whom Isaiah mentions in Isaiah 39:1. About 100 to 150 years later, Jeremiah echoes the thought given in Isaiah's prophecy. He lived during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. His prophetic ministry overlapped that of Daniel, who was taken to Babylon, during the 70-year captivity, from 606 B.C. to 536 B.BC.
Unlike Jeremiah, Daniel lived to see the reign of Belshazzar, and the end of the Babylonian dynasty, when Cyrus conquered Babylon.
Jeremiah 50:40 (NIV), speaking of Babylon, says:
40 "As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah along with their neighboring towns," declares the LORD, "so no one will live there; no man will dwell in it."
These words are very similar to those in Isaiah 13. This passage, however, adds one new piece of information. Not only Babylon, but its neighboring towns, will be destroyed. The prophecies here in Isaiah and Jeremiah say that Babylon would be overthrown so completely and so suddenly that its destruction would only be compared to that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Those two former Canaanite cities were demolished by God during the life of Abraham with such absolute destruction that every vestige of them has been obliterated from the face of the earth. In like manner, Babylon will be destroyed, according to these two prophets.
In Revelation 18:8 (NIV), we see the apostle John saying:
8 ……..She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
This is as it was like when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. So, the first point I would make as to why I believe the prophecies concerning Babylon's destruction have not been fulfilled is that nothing close to what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah has happened yet to the city of Babylon. Both Jeremiah and Isaiah say it would be.
Before continuing to the next point, I want to say something about why I am trying to link the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah to those in Revelation 18. I don't think there is any doubt that the prophecies by Isaiah and Jeremiah are talking about Babylon on the Tigris River. Where I can, I will like the Old Testament prophecies about the demise of Babylon with those in Revelation 18 because I believe Revelation is speaking of literal Babylon.
2. Babylon will be destroyed suddenly.
Babylon, the city that declared she was invincible and would stand forever, will collapse quickly under the harsh hand of God's judgment. With regard to the destruction of Babylon, God compares himself to a lion pouncing suddenly on an unsuspecting foe.
Jeremiah 50:44 NIV
44 Like a lion coming up from Jordan's thickets to a rich pastureland, I will chase Babylon from its land in an instant.
Jeremiah also compares Babylon's collapse to someone suffering a sudden illness.
Jeremiah 51:8-9 NIV
8 Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed.
But the prophet answers his own question in the next verse:
9 …….but she cannot be healed;
No! Babylon's sudden illness will be fatal.
This is also in agreement with the destruction of Babylon mentioned in Revelation 18. A moment ago, on point #1, I read only the last half of Revelation 18:8, where we are told that Babylon will be destroyed by fire. Now, let's read the entire verse.
Revelation 18:8 NIV
8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
Suddenly, in one day, calamity will come upon her. Also look at the next two verse
Revelation 18:9-10 NIV
9 "When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.
10 Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: "`Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!'
This is emphasized a third time in verse 17. Revelation 18:17 NIV
17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin! ...
Yes, Babylon's final destruction, which has not yet happened, will be sudden and complete. In short order - in one day - she will be brought to nothing.
3. Wild Animals will inhabit Babylon after its destruction
Isaiah also goes on to says that wild beasts of the desert, jackals, wild goats, hyenas, owls, and snakes will inhabit Babylon. (Isa. 13:21-22) Today, very few wild animals inhabit this area. There are, however, many domesticated animals, like water buffalo, chickens, sheep and tame goats.
4. Babylon's waters will be dried up
Jeremiah said that Babylon, after its destruction, will have a "drought upon her waters; and they shall be dried up" (Jeremiah 50:38). And in Jeremiah 51:36, he said, "I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry."
However, the Babylon of today, like the city of old, has an abundance of water. In fact, one of the main hindrances to archaeological excavation in Babylon is the high water table. I quote from Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopaedia of the Bible, vol. 1, p.440:
"Remains of earlier occupation in the Old Babylonian period were uncovered only in a limited area owing to the high water table."
Now look at Revelation, this time looking at Chapters 16 & 18. Revelation 16:12 NIV
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
We usually look at this Passage when talking about the kings of the east, coming to participate in the Battle of Armageddon. God will miraculously dry up the Euphrates river, like He has done before with the Red Sea and the Jordan River. But could this not also have a drastic affect on Babylon, since this river runs through the middle of this city? Could the ceasing of water flowing in the channel, eventually also lower the water table that exists today around Babylon? We actually have some corroborating information two chapters later.
Rev 18:16-18 NIV
16 ..Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin! (now notice who is bewailing Babylon's demise) Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off.
18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, `Was there ever a city like this great city?'
Who is making this lament? It is all those who do their commerce by way of the sea and rivers. Could it not be that they can no longer get their ships and boats up river to Babylon because the Euphrates River is dry?
5. The ruins of Babylon will not be used to build other cities
Jeremiah 51:26 NKJV
26 They shall not take from you a stone for a corner Nor a stone for a foundation, But you shall be desolate forever, says the LORD.
In this verse, the destruction of Babylon that Jeremiah predicts shows that none of the bricks or stones would ever be reused again in building other structures. And yet, it is a known fact that the ancient Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar has been a reservoir of countless stones and bricks used in the building of many new towns up and down the Euphrates. In fact, many of the buildings in Hillah, a city of 250,000, located 6 miles south of Babylon have been built from re-used material from ancient Babylon. I got that last statement from a Christian web-site, in an article called: "The Rebirth of Babylon." I started looking on the internet to see if I could find any corroboration of this statement. I didn't have to look very far. Here is a quote from Microsoft's Encarta Encyclopedia:
"Hillah is a road junction and trade center on the Baghdad to Basrah- railway. It is situated in the center of a large irrigated area in which dates, barley, rice, wheat, millet, sesame, and beans are grown. The city was built in 1101, partly with bricks taken from the nearby ruins of Babylon."
And yet, Jeremiah says that when the destruction of Babylon that he is talking about occurs, it will be so total in its demise, that none of its bricks or stones will be used for any other construction.
Revelation 18:22 says "…no craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore….."
The stone mason or the brick layer will not come into Babylon anymore to either rebuild or to take stones and bricks for building other locations. After the destruction of Babylon, foretold by Jeremiah, this city will not even survive as part of another city. Not one brick will ever be used again.
6. After its destruction, Babylon will never again be inhabited
Both Isaiah and Jeremiah tell us that after its destruction, no one will live there at all. Here's the way Isaiah puts it.
Isaiah 13:20 NKJV
20 It will never be inhabited, Nor will it be settled from generation to generation; Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there.
Virtually all cities throughout history which have been laid waste by their enemies, become inhabited again after the danger had passed. But once Babylon falls, it will never be inhabited again - by anyone.
Jeremiah 51:43 adds:
Her towns will be desolate, a dry and desert land, a land where no one lives, through which no man travels.
This country will become dry and barren land because the Euphrates River will have dried up. The land will become totally uninhabitable. Again, this destruction could not have occurred when the Medes and Persians overthrew Babylon for several reason.
1. In 478 B.C., Xerxes ravages the city and its population.
2. In about 64 A.D., Peter mentions that there is a Christian congregation located there.
3. In 460 A.D., Theodoret mentions that Babylon is still habited by some Jews.
4. In 1811 A.D., one author wrote that the city was inhabited by some 6 - 7000 people.
5. In 1833, Major Skinner says it has a population of 12,000.
All of this shows that the destruction of Babylon spoken by Isaiah and Jeremiah has not yet happened. The city did not fall suddenly, and the houses were not burned like Sodom and Gomorrah. No great slaughter of its inhabitants took place. Babylon was conquered without a battle by a coalition of Medes and Persians, but the city was not destroyed. In fact, it became a major capital for the Persian Empire, and 200 years later, it became a regional capital city for Alexander the Great. So, for the last 2600 years, there has been no time in which the city of Babylon has been totally without inhabitants.
Although Revelation 18 does not come out directly and say there are no inhabitants, it is certainly implied in several verses.
Revelation 18:22-23 NIV
22 The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again.
23 The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again.
The things that are mentioned here are the things of everyday life wherever people are found. But they won't be found in Babylon.
7. God's people must flee from Babylon before it is destroyed.
WHERE WAS DANIEL LIVING WHEN BABYLON WAS CONQUERED BY CYRUS AND HIS MEDO-PERSIAN ALLIANCE?
Daniel was a residence of Babylon. When Belshazzar was having his royal feast in the city of Babylon, Daniel was there to interpret the handwriting on the wall.
WHAT OTHER BOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT DOES DANIEL MENTION IN HIS OWN BOOK?
Daniel 9:1-3 NIV
1 In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom-
2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.
3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
Daniel had a copy of what we today call the Book of Jeremiah. It wasn't until the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, that he realized that God had given Jeremiah the length of time Israel would be in Babylon. He now realized that it would last 70 years. He also knew that at that moment, in the first year of the reign of Darius, they were in their 68th year of captivity. Although Daniel doesn't state it, he also was probably aware of other things that were in the Book of Jeremiah. And that would include what is written in Jeremiah 50 & 51. Notice these words from chapter 51.
Jeremiah 51:5-6 NIV
5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the LORD Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.
6 "Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD's vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves.
These words describing the complete destruction of Babylon instructs the people of God to flea the city before it is destroyed. Daniel didn't flee the city when Cyrus defeated Babylon. Because he didn't, it seems likely that he understood that this was not the night of Babylon's total and bloody eradication.
But, when the time comes for Babylon's final destruction, all who can read and understand God's Word should flee from the city and from Iraq as quickly as possible. In Jeremiah 51, the people of God were pleaded with to leave Babylon before her destruction. We do, again, find similar words in Revelation 18.
Revelation 18:4-5 NIV
4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5 for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.
We have looked at seven reason that indicate the destruction of Babylon mentioned by Isaiah and Jeremiah has not yet happened. If we take the description of Isaiah's and Jeremiah's prophecies at face value, then Cyrus's capture of the city in 538 B.C. did not fulfill these predictions. But if these declaration of doom to Babylon have not yet been fulfilled, when will this city be destroyed?
When will Babylon be destroyed?
Isaiah 13:1, 6 (NIV) might help us.
1 An oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
In the Old Testament, "the day of the Lord" originally referred to any time God entered history to settle accounts with humankind. However, the phrase soon came to refer to a special day of judgment and blessing that would come on the entire earth.
Joel 2:1 (NIV) reads:
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand.
The prophet Joel goes on to described the day of the Lord as a time when "the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine." (Joel 2:10)
The prophet Malachi closed the Old Testament by promising that God would "send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes." (Malachi 4:5)
Over time the used of the phrase "the day of the Lord" came to refer to the unique period of judgment coming on all the world, but especially upon the nation of Israel. The phrase "The day of the Lord," described by Isaiah, as well as other, almost always is referring to a period just prior to the coming of the Lord. It is a common phrase for that "endtimes" era, and quite often refers to the last 7 years known as the "Tribulation." Therefore, it is very possible that this verse is telling us that Babylon's destruction will occur in a short period of time just prior to, or at, the second coming of Christ.
A moment ago, we read two verses out of Isaiah 13. Let's see how the next chapter, Isaiah 14, begins.
Isaiah 14:1-7 NIV
1 The LORD will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Aliens will join them and unite with the house of Jacob.
2 ……They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors.
3 On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage,
4 You will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!
7 All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing.
When Babylon is ultimately destroyed, Israel will finally be at peace and will dwell in safety. There will be great joy filled with singing. Israel has been a nation since 1948, but not for one day has the nation known real peace and ease.
Throughout the Bible, Babylon retained its essential nature. Babylon always signified an evil way of living. This was a city filled with worship of idols and money. God has never been happy with this city or nation. Babylon was always the epitome of arrogance. She boasted that no one would be able to conquer her powerful citadel. The Babylonians felt absolutely secure within their fortress and believed that the capital city would never be vanquished. Babylon, in her exalted arrogance, said:
Isaiah 47:7-8 NIV
7 ….. `I will continue forever -- the eternal queen!' But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen.
8 "Now then, listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, `I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.'
The height of Babylon's opposition to God came during the reign of its king, Nebuchadnezzar. He is quoted in Daniel 4:30, as saying: "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?"
Nebuchadnezzar was a very prideful king. Here is another quote of his describing one of his dwelling places. "Because my heart did not wish the dwelling place of my Majesty to be in another place because I did not build a royal dwelling in any other place, and because I did not consign the kingly property to all lands, my dwelling place in Babylon grew insufficient for the dignity of my Majesty."
In 606 B.C., the Babylonians captured Jerusalem. 20 years later, under the direction of Nebuchadnezzar, they destroyed Jerusalem. They deposed the king from the line of David and dragged him off in chains. Then they burned the temple of Solomon and carried off thousands of the people of Judah. Let's look at a fairly lengthy passage in Jeremiah 50. This will help us understand one of the main reason why God will wipe Babylon from the face of the earth.
Jeremiah 50:18-20, 23-28 NIV
18 Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "I will punish the king of Babylon and his land as I punished the king of Assyria.
19 But I will bring Israel back to his own pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan; his appetite will be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.
20 In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "search will be made for Israel's guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare.
23 ……How desolate is Babylon among the nations!
24 I set a trap for you, O Babylon, and you were caught before you knew it; you were found and captured because you opposed the LORD.
25 The LORD has opened his arsenal and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Sovereign LORD Almighty has work to do in the land of the Babylonians.
26 Come against her from afar. Break open her granaries; pile her up like heaps of grain. Completely destroy her and leave her no remnant.
27 Kill all her young bulls; let them go down to the slaughter! Woe to them! For their day has come, the time for them to be punished.
28 Listen to the fugitives and refugees from Babylon declaring in Zion how the LORD our God has taken vengeance, vengeance for his temple.
Take note of three phrases in these last three verses.
1. "From afar (vs. 16)" Like it is in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2. "Fugitives and refugees." WHO ARE THESE? This is in keeping with the 7th and last reason why we know Babylon has not yet be destroyed. These are God's people who left Babylon before her destruction.
3. "Vengeance for His temple. God has never forgiven Babylon for the destruction of the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.
Notice also that these prophecies will occur fully at a time when Israel and Judah will be back in their land.
The prophet Zechariah was a product of the Babylonian captivity. He was born in Babylon and lived there during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. In 538, the year that Belshazzar was defeated by the Medes and Persians, Zechariah was one of those who returns to Jerusalem. He watched his people begin to rebuild the temple. The work of rebuilding the temple languished, however, and God spoke to Zechariah and Haggai, calling them to deliver his message to the people. His message: "Rebuild the Temple!"
While this was God's immediate message, He also gave them, through Zechariah, a glimpse of his future plans for the nation of Israel. And this future for Israel included some thoughts and predictions about Babylon. Zechariah had this vision about Babylon in 519 B.C. He saw a measuring basket (an ephah = about 1 bushel + 3 pints), with a cover made of lead. The ephah was a measure of dry good, like barley, wheat and corn, and was the largest such measurement used by ancient Israel.
The woman in the Ephah obviously is not a real women, because the ephah is not large enough to hold a woman. This symbolism is interpreted for us, in that the basket was said to contain "the iniquity of the people throughout the land." The woman Zechariah saw in the basket was the personification of wickedness (vs. 8), as though all the evil deeds and actions done by mankind were represented by this one character. The heavy lead cover was designed to keep the woman, or wickedness, from escaping.
When the angel pushed the woman back into the basket and closed the top made of lead, it should not be construed that God had removed all wickedness from the world. Rather, he had confined and limited it. God was restraining wickedness and keeping it in check so that it would not run free in the world. This reminds me of what it says in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. In that passage we are told that the spirit of Antichrist is being restrained until the proper time. It goes on to say that when the restrainer is taken out of the way, then the wickedness of the antichrist will run its full course.
The basket was carried away to the land where man first rebelled against God, to build a house for her in the place where Nimrod led mankind to build a tower whose top would reach unto God.
Babylon came to be used figuratively as the symbol of worldliness, and all opposition to God. Notice that the woman in the basket is helped by two other women with storks' wings. According to Leviticus, storks are "unclean" animals, and the woman is unclean. So the ceremonial consistency of evil is maintained through the vision.
You might say she is the Old Testament version of the Great Harlot of Revelation. Some Bible scholars believe the woman in Zechariah 5 and Revelation are the same person, where she is described as "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. (Rev. 17:5) Prophetically, the vision sees sin being returned to the place from which it originally spread to contaminate the whole earth. Symbolically, sin is sent back to Babylon to eventually be judged. Babylon will again become the sin capital of the world and its judgment is the theme of Revelation 18.
The question for us today: "Could Babylon rise again?" Zechariah was living in Babylon when it fell to the Medes and Persian, so, nearly twenty years later, he is certainly not writing about that overthrow of Babylon. Zechariah's vision shows that the "house" of Babylon will indeed rise again. But the last verse we just read says it will rise again "WHEN IT IS READY."
The time and place has not been right for thousands of years, but when God's prophetic plan is ready, Babylon will be rebuilt. And wickedness will again reign from the plains of Babylon.
I am convinced that you can trace the threads of two cities from the beginning to the end of the Bible. Jerusalem and Babylon. Both cities start in Genesis. In the conflict between God and Satan, good and evil, righteousness and rebellion, then Jerusalem and Babylon are like opposite poles of a magnet. Jerusalem represents the positive pole of God's plan for His creation. It is the city selected by God as His dwelling place. It is the capital of God's kingdom on earth. It is the city where God's Son died for the sins of the world.
Babylon represent the negative pole of humanity's attempts to usurp God's authority. It is the city of rebellion where humanity first reared up its tower in defiance of God. It is the city that eventually destroyed Jerusalem, and began what is known as "the time of the gentiles."
It is impossible to fully understand the history of one city, without considering its relationship to the other. The city of man is built on the principle of independence from God. By building the tower, it was mankind's first attempt to get to heaven, on their own, without the aid of God. The city of God, by contrast, is built on the principle of dependence of God and obedience to His will.
If these two cities represent Man's city and God's city, it would appear that Man's city is winning. They succeeded in tearing the line of David from the throne, and the city of God was burned to the ground.
But God has other plans for both Babylon and Jerusalem. The prophets come along and have a message from God. He is going to restore His people and His city, Jerusalem, but He is going to destroy Babylon.
This is also a story of two women. One is harlot - One is a Bride. One is connected with the Beast, the Antichrist, while the other is connected with Jesus, the real Christ. One is going to be destroyed - one is going to be established forever. And the harlot's name is Babylon.
Babylon has been dressed in purple and scarlet, glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls (Revelation 18:16) In Revelation 21, the New Jerusalem shines with the glory of God, and her brilliance is "like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, as clear as crystal. (Revelation. 21:11) When God's final curtain falls on the world stage, only one of these cities will remain and she will remain forever.