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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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8-1 The Assyrian and Babylonian Invasions: Introduction

Assyria and Babylon were empires based on the fertile crescent, formed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.   Assur, the early capital of Assyria, was only 200 miles away from Babylon.  In many ways Babylon was a reformation and continuation of the Assyrian empire:   " The land of the Chaldeans;  this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it" (Is. 23:13).   The many similarities between them have been catalogued elsewhere, along with conclusive evidence of the way in which 'Assyria' and 'Babylon' are used interchangeably in Scripture.   Both of them fall broadly within the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham (Tigris is to the east of Assyria, Gen. 2:14), making them " kings of the earth (land)" which we have identified with the present Arab nations. As the major aggressors towards Israel in Bible times, they must have much to teach us concerning the latter-day Arab invasion. We have explained in an appendix how ‘Babylon’ may well be revived in the last days. Assyria trode down Judah (Is. 10:6), and thus became the prototype for the latter day power which will tread down Jerusalem for a short period.

Geographically, those areas comprise modern Iran and Iraq, although in reality they coerced, or operated in tandem with, a number of the other smaller Arab powers around Israel (Is. 29:7,8;  30:28;  33:3;  34:1,2;  2 Chron. 22:22; Ps. 83).   Herodotus called Sennacharib " king of the Arabians and the Assyrians" .   It seems reasonable to assume a literal geographical echo of this in the last days.   To avoid repetition,  a number of points which might appear obvious have been omitted from the analysis which follows.

The judgments to come upon Assyria are often described in terms which connect with those to come upon Babylon.   Jer. 50:18 is explicit on this:  " I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria" .   Zeph. 2:13-15 provides a good example: " He (God) will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria...flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations:  both the cormorant and the bittern (the language of Is. 13:21,22 about Babylon)...This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me:  how is she become a desolation" (cp. Is. 47:8 and Rev. 18:7 concerning Babylon).   Indeed, the entire prophecy of Nahum, which is primarily concerning the destruction of Assyria, is shot through with Babylon language (e.g. Nah. 3:13 = Jer. 50:37;  Nah. 3:1 = Rev. 18:24;  Nah. 3:4 = Rev. 17:5;  Nah. 3:11 = Rev. 17:6);  both were to be made desolate (Zeph. 2:13 cp. Jer. 50:3).   The similarity of their judgments would indicate that they both represent the latter-day enemies of Israel, who are to be destroyed at the second coming.

It is also significant that the language used of the judgment of the Arabs in the last days, notably Babylon and Assyria, is also used concerning the punishments of apostate Israel (see Appendix 3 for a discussion of this).   This is further proof that the wicked amongst God's people will perish with, and perhaps during, the punishment upon the world around them.   The following are a few examples:-

 Judgments upon Israel 

 Judgments upon Babylon/Assyria

Hos. 9:10

Nah. 3:12

Joel 1:4

Nah. 3:15

Dt. 28:37

Jer. 51:37

Is. 8:7,8

Jer. 51:42

Ez.  19:12

Jer. 12:14

Jer. 4:6; 6:1

Jer. 50:3

Jer. 19:8; 1 Kings 9:8

Jer. 50:13

Jer. 17:27

Jer. 50:32

Lam. 2:9

Jer. 51:30

Zech. 13:8

2 Sam. 8:8 (Moab)

Zech. 14:2

Is. 13:16

Judgment from " the north"

Judgment from " the north" , Jer. 50:3

" As Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth" (Jer. 51:49).


The Assyrian confederacy which came against Jerusalem is described as being the foes of Israel who will be swept away as chaff (Is. 29:5 RV). This was fulfilled in Sennacherib’s destruction outside Jerusalem. And yet the language of being swept away as chaff refers without doubt to the image of Dan. 2 being swept away as chaff. The conclusion surely is that the Assyrian attack against Jerusalem, comprised as it was of a confederacy of local Arab nations, is typical of the final destruction of a similar confederacy by the Lord’s return.

The first mention of the Assyrian invasions is in 2 Kings 15:19,20: " Pul (Tiglath-Pilneser?) the king of Assyria came against the land:  and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver...Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth."    This in itself would indicate a reasonable level of prosperity within Israel, and a willingness to buy off the invader rather than fight.   It would seem that this was the position of Israel during some periods of the Judges in relation to the Philistines.   There are several hints in the record of Samson of Israel's willingness to placate the Philistines rather than provoke them to direct conflict (Jud. 14:4 [Hebrew];  15:11,12).   Both the Philistines and Assyrians became more excessive in their demands, until they began to use direct military force to plunder Israel. The background of 2 Kings 15 gives the picture of the Israelites as plagued by infighting and assasinations; there is good reason to think that latter day Jewry will also be plagued by this perennial problem. This would explain the otherwise pointless association of the Assyrian invasion with " the day that Ephraim departed from Judah" in Is.7:17. The new Israel, the NT hints, will be in a similar position.

The beginning of the holocaust to come upon Israel may well be in a similar way to which the first Assyrian attacks were carried out against Israel.   They could slip into this position through a period of over-confidence after a dramatic success against the Arabs, or by being duped into thinking that the Arabs really want peace; alternatively, Israel may become so evidently inferior militarily to the Arabs (due to their trading oil for military hardware) that Israel resort to the use of commercial concessions to keep the enemy at bay.   We must therefore look for Israel's present nuclear and missile capacity to be either taken out or far surpassed by the Arabs.

The first Assyrian invasion was confined to the Northern part of Israel (2 Kings 15:29), commented upon in Is. 9:1 as a 'light affliction' compared to the fury of the main invasion.   The previous study of 'Gideon and Midian' has shown how this has an application to the initial prolonged period of overrunning the land in the future, which will lead up to the great final invasion.

The people of those Northern areas were " carried captive to Assyria" , raising the question of whether Jews will be literally transported out of Israel during the future Arab domination.   Modern Arab leaders being so eager to replicate the actions of their historical heroes like Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, it is within the bounds of probability that this will literally happen.   Hitler's manic concentrationn on railroading Jews around Europe in huge numbers shows that 'carrying into captivity' is not just a thing of the past.

The prophecies of Israel's regathering from the lands of their persecution have only had a very small fulfilment so far.    Their major realization must be in the future, which may possibly imply a future scattering of Jews from Israel before this happens.   Passages which speak of Israel's latter-day regathering in terms of their restoration from Babylon under Ezra and Nehemiah would take on great significance if Jews are literally  carried captive to 'Babylon' and her Arab satellites in the last days.   Two passages in particular seem to call for a literal captivity in the last days:-

" In that day"

" It shall come to pass in that day (the period of the second coming), that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt (cp. Deut. 28:68), and from Pathros...Cush...Elam...Shinar (Babylon)...Hamath...and there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria;  like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt" (Is. 11:11,16).

" It shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown (cp. Matt. 24:31; Rev. 11:15), and they shall come which were ready to perish (from captivity) in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Jerusalem" (Is. 27:13).

However, the Hebrew for 'carrying away captive' means strictly 'to make naked', applicable to captivity because this is how captives were led away.   This idea of nakedness is associated with public shame, and it may be that Israel's 'carrying away captive' in the last days may just refer to this rather than to a literal captivity.   Thus 2 Chron. 28:19 speaks of Israel being made naked to the nations as a result of their sin.   " He that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day" of punishment at Arab hands (Amos 2:16).

Carrying captive

Speaking with some reference to Israel's final Arab 'captivity', Ezekiel wrote:  " I will deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest (her Arab neighbours), into the hand of them from whom thy mind is alienated (clear reference to the mutual abhorrence  of Jew and Arab!):  and they shall...leave thee naked and bare:  and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered" (Eze. 23:28,29 cp. Hos. 2:2,3).   This is consciously referring to Israel being " naked and bare" in the innocent days of her national babyhood (Eze. 16:7,22).   Thus Israel's 'making naked' or 'carrying into captivity' by the latter-day Assyrian will result in her returning to her spiritual youth, and once again entering into covenant with God.

It can be demonstrated that Adam walking naked and shameful after the fall is a figure of sinful Israel (Gen. 3:7-10).   The fig tree symbolizing the law, with its initial glossyness in covering sin that soon faded due to man's weakness, it follows that only when Israel throw this down will they be fully 'naked'.  Their 'making naked' by the Assyrian 'captivity' can therefore be expected to finally teach them the inability of the law to save.

The Hebrew for 'carry away captive' is translated 'uncover' in Is. 47:2,3 with reference to Babylon, again showing that what the Arabs do to Israel will be visited upon them:  " O virgin daughter of Babylon...uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh...thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen."    There is reasonable emphasis on this making naked of Babylon and Assyria in the last days - Rev. 17:16;  Nah. 3:4,5;  Hab. 2:15,16.

At this time of the initial Assyrian invasion there was large scale bickering going on within Israel (2 Kings 15:30).   We can therefore expect there to be feuding in natural Israel in the very last days, a tragic mirror image of that which is prophesied to afflict spiritual Israel at the same time (Matt. 24:49).

" In those days the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria" (2 Kings 15:37) indicating that before the major 'Assyrian' invasion of the last days, we can expect Israel to be raided by the smaller, neighbouring Arab powers, as typified by " Syria" here.    The record later summarizes what happened:  " The Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them ('to browbeat/depress' - this mental suffering of Israel is also mentioned in Lev. 26:16), and delivered them into the hand of spoilers" (2 Kings 17:20).   These " spoilers" , or plunderers, probably refer to these early Syrian raids.   The same word is used in Jud. 2:14 to describe other Arab marauders which typify those of the last days (see the previous study of the Judges period).   The ultimate 'spoiler' was, of course, the Assyrian (Is. 10:13).