As Troops Rush Through Iraq, Questions Are Raised
About Symbolisms Of Babylon
By Michael H. Brown
We have spoken of Israel and how it is a center of mystery: a "power spot" and the reason for much of what transpires in the Middle East. Whether or not President Bush bears prophetic beliefs, many of his fellow evangelical-style Christians do, and there is no doubt that Israel in some ways will figure into future events, perhaps even the "end times."
But what about Iraq? What might its role be?
We asked this question the other day and would like to explore it now in the context of a great city that was once located there -- Babylon, located just 30 miles south of Baghdad, in the path of rushing U.S. troops (they are there as we speak). Babylon was the center of ancient commerce as well as occultism. This was where the Israelis were held in captivity, and where Daniel had his major vision, which many believe will tie to the end times. There were the astrologers and the merchants, the Southern Palace of Nebuchadnezzar and the Ishtar gate, which Saddam Hussein wanted to rebuild. It is perhaps informative that temples dedicated to Ishtar had prostitutes of both genders and that she was the goddess of both love (read: lustful sensuality) and war.
This was the spirit of Babylon, which the Bible describes as "a dwelling place for demons," a cage for immorality, and a place from which all the nations drank the wine of lewdness. "The kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the world's merchants grew rich from her wealth and wantonness," says Revelation 18:3 while another passage describes a woman seated on a beast with the words "Babylon, the great, mother of harlots, and all the world's abominations" written on her head. The woman is described as "the great city which has sovereignty over the kings of the earth."
Scripture adds that the beast had seven heads and ten horns and no longer existed at the time Revelation was written but would rise once more before its final ruin. The ten horns represent kings who would bestow their power and authority upon the beast and fight against the Lamb -- which sounds like an Armageddon. As prophecy buffs point out, the power of political Babylon is decimated by the return of the Lord in glory. But they also point out that the notion of a literal "Babylon" to be rebuilt on the site of ancient Babylon is in conflict with Isaiah 13:18-22. Obviously, Babylon, which lay waste in the desert, has not qualified as a great city -- as a place of wealth and influence -- for millennia.
But after the current war, which many believe is only a catalyst for future events, will it once more assume a strategic role, and at the least, does it not represent a spirit that still lives and has pervaded many major parts -- many urban areas -- of the world?
This seems to be the truth of Revelation if that passage pertains to current events. Babylon is more a spirit than a place, and as we know by our current culture -- which brings back images of the lustful temples -- "Babylonia" is rising all over and is now centered in cities like Los Angeles, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York (where the United Nations, and its many kings, are located). Babylon itself, the ancient site, is located inland. Does not Revelation refer to a city "by the waters of the deep" (which implies a city next to the ocean)?
What is occurring in Iraq -- the rebuilding of temples, the Hanging Gardens -- is thus a symbol and possibly also a portent. While the current war itself hardly qualifies as Armageddon, its long-term implications -- the stage it sets, and the light it casts on the notion of Babylon -- are a different story. For according to Scripture, Babylon (wherever it is, whatever it is) will be cast down, destroyed with fire, wracked by plagues, punished for leading the world astray. Will the current war galvanize the rest of the world into formation of a huge superpower of ten kings that will come against the rest of the world -- possibly including that nation, the U.S., which is currently dismantling the neighborhood of ancient Babylon?
"Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left," says the Lord in 2 Kings 20:17.
"Because of the indignation of the Lord she will not be inhabited, but she will be completely desolate," adds Jeremiah 50:13. "Everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified and will hiss because of all her wounds."
Do such passages refer to the future, or past events?
Will there be a repeat of the confusion caused at the Tower of Babel?
Will there be the type of commotion implied by Jeremiah -- where it says that "at the shout, 'Babylon has been seized!' the earth is shaken, and an outcry is heard among the nations"?
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