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Alas, Babylon.
Witnessing Tools
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Wendy Wippel

The ancient city of Babylon casts a long shadow on the Bible.  Once eminently fashionable and incredibly powerful,  Babylon (according to historian Herodotus) ''surpassed in splendor any city in the known world.'' It's not powerful now.  It's a big ant hill.  But those ignorant of history are likely to repeat it.

And a repeat of Babylon, if you're laying odds, would odds on be a bad thing, because Babylon has pretty much been God's (and by association, Jerusalem's) nemesis from the beginning.

Astronomical records seem to place the founding of Babylon at about 2286 BC-- an interesting date, because another source identifies (by comparing Biblical accounts to Egyptian records) that exact same year as the date of Joseph's incarceration, with the baker and the wine steward, in an Egyptian prison.

Nimrod founded Babylon.  Nimrod, whose name means "rebellion" and who Jewish tradition records as the brains behind the tower of Babel.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, carried Daniel (and his three compatriots) into slavery, conquered Israel and eventually destroyed Jerusalem.

Cyrus the Great, King of Persia conquered Babylon and ruled, as a Gentile, over Jerusalem.

Alexander the Great conquered Persia and therefore ruled, as a Gentile, over Israel.

He made Babylon his capital, and then promptly died there.

A recent medical article identified West Nile Virus, contracted from ravens, as the source of his mysterious and oft-debated demise. Plutarch recorded that Alexander met a flock of ravens upon his entry into Babylon, a flock that acted peculiarly and then died at his feet,  Avian deaths are known to be a common harbinger of West Nile pandemics.

Rome conquered Alexander's empire and ruled over Israel. And eventually acted as the Sanhedrin's henchmen in the legally sanctioned assassination of their Messiah.

Which was followed promptly by Babylon's decline. Neglected by Rome, its power broken, its people moved on, and with the Islamic conquest of the Middle East, Babylon has over the centuries been reclaimed by the desert.

Babylon, center of haute culture in the near east.  Babylon, home to the hanging gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the world).  Babylon, whose walls were so strong and so thick that (300 feet high and 75 feet thick, according to Herodotus) that chariots, five abreast, could (and did) race on them.

That Babylon is no more.

The site, at Hilla  (about 60 miles south of Baghdad) now consists of a handful of large mounts in an oblong area a couple square miles in size.  Mounds known, however, to contain historically important temples and ziggurats.  And Nebuchadnezzar's palace. Babylon's ruins lay abandoned and ignored for century after century. And no one really cared.

Enter Saddam Hussein.  He had a vision to restore Babylon to its previous glory. (Ok, in his vision "its former glory" meant "immediate glorification of Saddam Hussein").

Saddam built palaces on top of historically invaluable buried structures.  He did, however, restore the Processional Way, a wide boulevard of ancient stones, and the Lion of Babylon, a black rock sculpture around 2,500 years old.

But we all know what happened.  Saddam is no more.

His baton, however, has been taken up by the world community, particularly the UN.  The US was persuaded to provide labor and funds to restoration efforts in Babylon, in punishment for their role in the Iraqi war.  And the UN is working with Iraqi leaders in restoration efforts.  In fact, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has pumped millions of dollars into protection of the current sight as well as efforts to begin restoration of the ancient ziggurats, temples, and palaces.

Officials (pointing out that that the Hilla area is prosperous and comparatively very safe)  see a bright future, with millions of future inhabitants.  According to one official, "a beacon of civilization, in a land of chaos."

Hilla's mayor, in fact, hopes for, "restaurants, gift shops, and lots of parking lots." "Maybe even a Holiday Inn," he said.  Will Hilla get a Holiday Inn?

Dunno.  What I do know for sure is that Babylon will be rebuilt.

This I know.  For the Bible tells me so.

And what the Bible describes is not the "reclaimed by the desert over several thousand years kind of destruction".  It is the war-to-end-all-wars, nearly instant obliteration kind of destruction.  A destruction, you could say, of Biblical proportions.

That kind of destruction has never happened.  Ancient Babylon dominated history, and then decayed.  This Babylon will dominate future events, but then be destroyed. Completely.

We actually know a whole lot about this event because God spent four whole chapters talking about it, (Isaiah 13, 14 and Jeremiah 50, 51)  Plus some more verses scattered here and there.

And what the Bible describes is really kind of a tale of two cities.  Jerusalem and Babylon.

(This tale of two cities, however, isn't exactly Dickensian.)

Jerusalem, we know, will we be attacked. (In a little battle known as Armageddon.)  Babylon will also be attacked:

"The burden against Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. “Lift up a banner on the high mountain…  I have commanded My sanctified ones; I have also called My mighty ones for My anger…The noise of a multitude in the mountains, Like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together! The Lord of hosts musters The army for battle. They come from a far country, From the end of heaven. The Lord and His weapons of indignation, to destroy the whole land." (Isaiah 13:1-5 NKJV)

Jerusalem, we know, will be spared complete destruction (Zechariah 14:2) . Babylon won’t.

We know Jerusalem will attacked first.

"the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17).

Then Babylon.  God says after he has finished all of his work against Israel, He will destroy Babylon.

"when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.”( Isaiah 10:12)

So Jerusalem first, then Babylon.

Who does the dirty work?  God tells us his sanctified "mighty" men. (vs 3)  What does that mean?  Who knows.

Well, at least who would know if God didn't tell us.  Fortunately He does, in verse 17:

“Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, … and Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited. 

God's henchmen are to be the Medes.  The descendants of the Medes live in Iran.  To be more specific, their ancestors founded Tehran.

It will be Iran, ostensibly,  that destroys Babylon.  Which sets up an interesting prophetic scenario.

The Arab Caliphate that coincided with the final demise of Babylon was eventually conquered by Rome, and as such its land area will be part of the restored Roman Empire of the Antichrist.  The Antichrist, often referred to as "the Assyrian" in Scripture, may in fact prove to be (at least partially) of Arab ethnicity.

And at some point, the Antichrist revered by the world and  Iran's leaders having  in common possibly Islam (but definitely a hatred of Israel), their leaders willingly join in the Antichrist’s destruction of Jerusalem.

It's a common enemy.  Why not?

But they are brothers only by belief system, not by blood.  The Medes (actually the original Aryans) are descended from the tribe of Japheth.  The rest of the Middle East are Arabs, sons of Abraham's illegitmate sons and descended from the tribe of Shem.  So the Arabs and the Aryans are comrades only until Jerusalem is laid waste.

At that point Iran, with its proud Persian heritage, ostensibly decides to take its own stab at world domination.  Iran's leader's, apparently, act on it. 

And Babylon is toast.

Interesting, isn't it, that Daniels vision of the Gentile kingdoms that rule Israel till the end of times see iron mixed with clay? (Daniel 2)  A people combined, but not united?

And isn't it interesting that Revelation 13 describes the beast as having parts like a leopard, parts like a lion, and parts like a bear (i.e., with origin separately in the Persian, Babylonian, and Greek Empires?) All there but again, not united.

And isn't it interesting that it is the UN, that iron mixed with clay agglomeration of nations combined but far from united that is pouring money into making Babylon a foremost city of the world again?

Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.  We live in interesting times!

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: A Divine Dissolution



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