CHAPTER 9: THE BABYLONIAN
9-1 The Babylonian Invasion Of Judah
As with the Assyrian
invasions, there were several waves of Babylonian attacks against Israel,
culminating in the capture and sacking of Jerusalem. We have
earlier explained how Assyria and Babylon typify the same Arab aggressor
of the last days, although the details of their invasions and judgment
in the past serve to highlight different features of the same last days
scenario. The Babylonian invasion led eventually to a spiritual revival
among Israel , the production of the good figs of Jer. 24:5 (Jehoiachin
would be a personal example of this, 2 Kings 25:27-30; he repented after
38 years in Babylon, cp. the period of time Israel were in the wilderness).
And so too in the future: " I will also leave in the midst of thee
(as a result of the Babylonian invasion) an afflicted and poor people,
and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel
shall not do iniquity..." (Zeph.3:12,13). As the Babylonian tribulation
made the spiritually weak get weaker and the potentially strong get stronger
(Jer. 24:3), so the final Babylon-led holocaust of Israel,
natural and spiritual, will have the same effect.
The Assyrian typology
points forward to the destruction of the Arab invaders in the Jerusalem
area, as a result of God's direct intervention through the second coming.
Their destruction will be associated with severe in-fighting among themselves.
The information given concerning Babylon fills in what the Assyrian typology
omits - the actual capture of Jerusalem, the means by which the latter-day
'Assyria/Babylon' is destroyed by the smaller Arab powers who are confederate
with them in their invasion of Israel, and especially details concerning
the destruction of Babylon/Assyria in their homeland, as opposed to their
military destruction which the Sennacherib typology explains.
As a prelude to the
Babylonian taking of Jerusalem, there was a three-year period of servitude
to Nebuchadnezzar, during which " the Lord sent against him (Jehoiakim)
bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites,
and bands of the children of Ammon...against Judah to destroy it"
(2 Kings 24:1,2). This corresponds exactly with all the other
indications that there will be an extended period of Arab raiding and
desolation of Israel (for 3.5 years?), culminating in the final, organized
invasion of the land by 'Babylon' and her smaller Arab allies in order
to take Jerusalem.
The Hebrew for "
bands" here is elsewhere translated " troops of robbers"
, showing the lack of large scale organization during the desolation period,
and the big motivation of taking the spoil of a once prosperous Israel.
It should be noted that historical evidence indicates that Babylon was
greatly increasing in power at this time; as the future Arab invasions
will be associated with a revival of 'Babylon' too. Jer. 48:47 NIV speaks
of the revival of Moab's fortunes
in the lkast days. And Jer. 6:22 speaks more specifically of Babylon's
revival: " A great people shall be raised from the sides of
the earth" . " The sides of the earth" (land) may speak
of Arab troops and weaponry being amassed on the borders of Israel, or
perhaps along the original boundaries of the land promised to Abraham,
just prior to the final invasions. It is not difficult to see this happening
today. The nations round about Israel
are those which are the primary concern of Bible prophecy: “The Lord hath
commanded concerning Jacob, that they that are round about him shall be
his adversaries” (Lam. 1:17 RV).
The raids led to a concentration
of the population in Jerusalem (Jer. 35:11), as it may do in the last
days. The continual emphasis on Jerusalem being besieged would
have a latter-day relevance if the Israelis create some form of defence
barrage around Jerusalem - possibly in the form of 'walls' built from
some hi-tech defensive material. The language of 'gathering'
of all nations against Jerusalem in particular in the last days (Zech.
14:2) would then slot into place.
Jehoiakim had "
filled Jerusalem with innocent blood" (2 Kings 24:4), which, in addition
to human sacrifices, may also refer to the result of some kind of civil
war or ruthless 'purging' of the population, especially the righteous
remnant, as occurred within besieged Jerusalem during the lead up to its
A.D. 70 destruction. There are plenty of similar indications
that a spirit of partisanship will plague latter-day Israel, both natural
and spiritual, in their greatest time of need for united supplication
towards their God. Judah was also plagued by false prophets at the time:
Jeremiah and the true prophets had to work in competition with Hananiah
and the false prophets, who replicated his signs and just slightly changed
God's word, teaching that there was peace and safety in the ecclesia,
and that God was actually pleased with His people (Jer. 28:3). This fis
in to the scenario presented in Section 2, whereby in the last days there
are true and false prophets in competition with each other within the
ecclesia, at the time of Babylon's final persecution of Israel, natural
The records stress how
extremely wicked the last few kings of Judah were before the final sacking
of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:19; 2 Chron. 36:8). This verdict
appears to have been on account of their zealous dedication to the idols
of Babylon and the surrounding nations (Eze. 16:29; 23:15-17).
The only explanation for this (bearing in mind that these were the very
nations who were oppressing them) would seem to be that they hoped they
could placate their enemies by religious association with them.
Likewise the grievous sin of faithless Israel in their very last days
may be in their willingness to accept the Islamic beliefs of their Arab
We are pointedly reminded
that just prior to this final invasion of Jerusalem, Babylon had been
at war with Egypt (2 Kings 24:7; Jer. 46:2,13). There
are many prophecies in Jeremiah and Ezekiel of Babylon being at war with
the Arab nations who supported her in the attack on Jerusalem, e.g. concerning
Ammon (Eze. 21:20) and Tyre (Eze. 26:7). Ammon is mentioned
as escaping out of the hand of the king of the North during his
invasion of Israel and Jerusalem (Dan. 11:41). This again shows
that there will be much inter-Arab conflict both before and during Israel's
prolonged desolation period. " The sea and the waves roaring"
at the time of Israel's final suffering (Lk. 21:25) is a figure taken
from Jer. 49:23 concerning the Arab nations around Israel being like the
troubled sea in their fighting with each other. However, the outstanding
inter-Arab conflicts will be temporarily forgotten in the last days to
concentrate on a combined push against Jerusalem. But once
this is captured, the old rivalries will suddenly violently surface, which
is how God will destroy the invaders and save the righteous remnant who
are still barely alive in the sewers and basements of Jerusalem.
Israel are described
as doing " that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord" (Jer.
52:2), alluding to the language of the book of Judges concerning Israel
doing just that, and which led to Arab invasions.
The actual invasion
is described in terms which are so reminiscent of the Sennacherib scenario
that it is just possible that Nebuchadnezzar consciously modelled his
campaign upon this, with the implication, 'And this time we'll succeed
in taking Jerusalem!' The various points of contact which we have highlighted
between those previous invasions, which typify the extended period of
victorious Arab harassment of Israel and those which underlie the final
attack on Jerusalem, serve to suggest that this may be an attitude seen
in the latter-day Arab onslaught, too. The following are a
selection of similarities between Nebuchadnezzar's attack and Sennacherib's:-
- " The servants
(military commanders) of Nebuchadnezzar...came up against Jerusalem, and
the city was besieged" (2 Kings 24:10). " The king
of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh...with a great host
against Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17).
- Rabshakeh being
Sennacherib's right-hand man in the field is perhaps echoed by the relationship
between Nebuchadnezzar and " Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard"
- " Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem" (2
Kings 25:1) shows the tremendous personality cult which he enjoyed.
The personal rage of Sennacherib against Jerusalem is also spotlighted
(2 Kings 19:27,28). This clear distinction between the king
of Babylon/Assyria and their people leads us to look for a single, charismatic
Arab leader who will lead latter-day Babylon. The mass charisma
of leaders like Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam Hussein (the latter actually
claimed to be the embodiment of Nebuchadnezzar) indicates that even in
human political terms the uprise of such a leader is quite likely.
The " king of fierce countenance" (Dan. 8:23), " the king
of the north" (Dan. 11:40), 'the chief prince' (Eze. 38:2 R.V. mg.),
all speak of one specific personal leader who will lead the Arab powers
against Israel. This enables more sense to be made of the
New Testament references to a personal anti-Christ who will arise in the
last days, a " man of sin" (2 Thess. 2:3) based upon Goliath,
whom we have shown to be a personal embodiment of Israel's latter-day
Arab enemies. Another prototype of this person is the Arab
Tobiah, who intermarried with God's people (Neh. 3:1), and dwelt within
the temple of God, putting Israel to financial tribute (Neh. 13:4,5).
against Jerusalem was primarily due to the severe famine which crippled
the city (2 Kings 25:3). The phrasing of this shows how people
from the whole land of Israel had crowded into Jerusalem, thus exacerbating
the problem: " The famine prevailed in the city, and
there was no bread for the people of the land" . The typology
of the invasions recorded in Judges teaches that the Arab incursions during
the period of prolonged downtreading will have consciously aimed to destroy
the agriculture and even the physical structure of the land of Israel.
Deut. 28 and Lev. 26, which we have earlier shown to have an application
to the latter-day curses upon Israel, emphasize this curse of famine and
its related problems of disease and death. This is exactly the language
seal, trumpet and vial
judgments of Rev. 6,9 and 16, largely falling upon the earth/land of Israel.
Our Lord's prophecy
of famines at the time of the end had its primary fulfilment in the land
of Israel around A.D. 70 - and its secondary reference is fundamentally
to the land of Israel too (Luke 21:11), although this does not rule out
this prophecy's partial reference to famines in the surrounding world
The invasion of Babylon
was and will be " against this land, and against the inhabitants
thereof" (Jer. 25:9), implying that there is a specific destruction
of the land physically as well as of the people. The
great emphasis upon the physical desolation of Babylon and its barrenness
which came as the punishment for the invasion, must stand directly related
to how Babylon received and will receive judgment in the same form which
it gave Israel (Jer. 25:12 etc.). We have previously shown
this to be a very consistent principle. Rev. 18:8 is specific
that latter-day Babylon will be punished with famine. The
Philistines, clearly typical of Israel's present Arab neighbours, will
also die from severe famine in the last days (Isa. 14:30).
This may well be due to the weaponry used to inflict this upon Israel
being used by the Arabs against themselves. Babylon's famine
coming " in one day" (Rev. 18:8) would suggest something along
these lines - how else can a famine be suddenly created in a day?
It should be noted that
famines brought the prodigal son back to the father in repentance (Luke
15:14). Closer study of this parable reveals its relevance
to the return of apostate Israel in the last days.
" The city was
broken up" (2 Kings 25:4) uses a word which literally means 'to tear
into two'. The mind flies to Zech. 14:2, " The
city shall be taken...and half of the city shall go forth into captivity"
in the last days. This could mean that the city will be physically
divided during the house-to-house fighting, e.g. along the present Jew/Arab
divide. The present Arab population within Israel will obviously
play a part in the period of domination and final invasion.
It could be speculated that the Arab tribes which Israel failed to drive
out remained in the land, and rose up against Israel during the Babylonian
and Assyrian invasions.
" And they slew
the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah,
and bound him with fetters... and carried him to Babylon" , along
with his ministers (2 Kings 25:7,18-20). Given the present
Arab desire to replicate Nebuchadnezzar, it is quite possible that they
may subject the Israeli Prime Minister and his Cabinet to a like public
humiliation. The removal of all the instruments of Yahweh-worship
to Babylon (2 Kings 25:13-17) may find its echo in the tokenistic removal
of Judaica from looted synagogues by the latter-day Arab invaders.
Despite all this tribulation,
Jeremiah chapters 40 and 41 make it clear that there were significant
numbers of Jewish forces still at large throughout the land, operating
a guerilla warfare against the Babylonians whilst also engaging in vicious
civil war with their own people. This corroborates the earlier
evidence we have seen for believing that faithless Israel will, in the
latter days, be engaged in bitter feuding right until their destruction,
after the pattern of A.D. 70.
We have also seen that
a spirit of unity develops amongst the righteous remnant due to their
application to God's word spoken by the Elijah ministry (Mal. 4:6), their
united repentance, and combined yearning for God's salvation through the
second coming. Spiritual Israel may go through a like process.
There is considerable
emphasis in the record upon the use of fire in Jerusalem's destruction
- e.g. 2 Kings 25:9: " He burnt the house of the Lord, and
the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem...burnt he with fire"
(cp. Lam. 2:3,4; 4:11). Thus Eze. 24:3 likens the Babylonian
invasion to a fire around the boiling pot of Jerusalem.
Unlike at that time,
the fire of the future invasion will be one of spiritual purging as well
as of destruction (Zech. 13:9), again showing how the future 'Babylon'
invasion will lead to a true faith in the remnant of Israel, whilst 'burning
up' all who refuse to have faith. Again we see a picture of
the Arabs killing the Jews until the only ones left alive are the righteous
remnant. It is then that God intervenes.
Joel also emphasizes
the use of fire, both in the prolonged desolation period of the land (Joel
1:19,20) and in the final push against Jerusalem (Joel 2:3,5).
There is good reason to think that Joel has primary reference to both
the Babylonian and Assyrian invasions. Joel's description of the invaders
as locusts is similar to Jer.10:22 speaking of the Babylonians as "
a great commotion (the Hebrew root means 'to spring as a locust') out
of the north country" . The use of fire mentioned by Joel to physically
destroy the land and parts of Jerusalem, is markedly suggestive of the
use of incendiary bombing and/or local scale nuclear weapons.
Lam. 4:19 likens Israel during the Babylonian invasion to small animals
being attacked from the air by huge birds of prey ( cp. helicopter gunships
and aircraft-launched bombs and missiles?): " Our persecutors
are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon
the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness" .
The first Babylonian
attack on Jerusalem resulted in only " the poor" being left,
most of the others being taken captive to Babylon. After its
final sacking, only the very poor were left behind (2 Kings 24:15 cp.
25:11,12). These poor of the poor who remained were symbolic
of the righteous remnant who will remain in Jerusalem after the latter-day
Arab invasion. It may be that they are drawn largely from
the ranks of the present Israeli working-class. The digression
concerning the Rechabites in Jer. 35 may also serve to show that there
was a righteous remnant in Israel in Nebuchadnezzar's time, as there was
in Sennacherib's. In the run up to the final fall of Jerusalem,
Jeremiah was present within the city, speaking forth God's word to Israel.
This matches Isaiah's ministry during the Assyrian invasion; they
both typify the future work of 'Elijah' and his helpers.
There is ample evidence
that Jeremiah had to work amid considerable opposition from false prophets
who mocked his prophecies of impending Arab victory and the need to repent;
they will have their counterparts among the ranks of modern Judaism in
the last days (Lam. 2:14; Jer. 20:6; 28:1-9; 29:24-26; Zech.
13:2-5). It is these false prophets within Israel which our
Lord spoke of in Matt. 24:24. In the A.D.70 fulfilment, these
people operated under the umbrella of fundamentalist Judaism, as they
will in the last days. Their false bearing of the Lord's name
(Matt. 24:5) alludes back to the pseudo-prophets of Jeremiah's time doing
the same (Jer. 14:14). Zedekiah's trauma of being torn between
wanting to accept the words of the false prophets whilst inwardly knowing
the truth of Jeremiah's words, will perhaps be repeated in the leadership
of latter-day Israel, to whom the Elijah ministry will teach the true
word of God. The apparent mimicry of Jeremiah's style by the
false prophets will perhaps be seen in the last days too.
The appeal of these
people to national and religious pride during the period of Arab domination
of the land before the final attack on Jerusalem is easy to imagine as
occurring in the last days. The bold, absolutist statements
of men like Passhur match the spirit of the far right in present Israel's
religious/political circles: 'O.K., these Arabs have had a bit of
success, but with God on our side we'll smash them for good in the next
few years! Don't let anyone tell you we won't!' (cp. Jer.
28:1-11). In view of this, it is understandable that when
Israel was totally and utterly smashed by the final Babylonian invasion,
Judaism broke down: " The law is no more" , Jeremiah lamented
(Lam. 2:9). The whole of Lamentations contains many other
passages concerning Jeremiah's regret at how the whole system associated
with the law had ended. As a priest, he would have felt the
pathos of this so keenly.
This same break-up of
the law could also be brought about by a nominal Jewish acceptance of
Islam being sanctioned by the Rabbis. However, in the same
way as Israel in Babylonian times worshipped their gods as well as Yahweh,
so it will probably be in the last days. The opposition to
Jeremiah was so intense that it appears some of those who truly believed
his word were killed as several times the false prophet brigade attempted
to take him out of the way. " The sins of the (false)
prophets and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of
the just in the midst" of Jerusalem (Lam. 4:13) would indicate that
it will be the orthodox Rabbis who raise this persecution against the
Elijah ministry and those who respond to it. Note how the
two witnesses of the last days are killed while doing this work of witness
(Rev. 11:8, and see comments on this in Section 3).
Whilst we have shown
that there was a righteous remnant among Israel before the Babylonian
sacking of Jerusalem, and that the remnant of population left in Jerusalem
after this can be seen as vaguely typifying the latter-day remnant, the
Jews who were carried captive to Babylon also typify this remnant, they
are styled " the remainder" (remnant) Jer. 51:35 (A.V. mg.).
The parable of the figs in Jer. 24 shows that those who were taken to
Babylon spiritually revived as a result of their experiences there (Jer.
24:5). God pleaded there with His people (Eze. 17:20), both
through their experiences of captivity and by the words of prophets like
Haggai, Ezekiel, Daniel and Jeremiah (Jer. 51:59,60). Thus
Isa. 41:15, cp. v 7,describes how repentant Israel in Babylon encouraged
each other to destroy their idols.
A literal captivity
of Israel to 'Babylon' after the early Arab invasions in the last days
now appears likely in the light of this typology. Their spiritual
revival will be due to the ministry of God's word by the Elijah prophets.
Spiritual Israel's getting a grip on themselves in their parallel experience
will be through a similar devotion to study of the Word. More on this
in Section 2. The prophecies of Babylon's judgment normally speak at the
same time of Israel's revival. Jer. 50:18,19 does so in Elijah
language, encouraging us to see this revival as the work of the Elijah
ministry: " I will punish the king of Babylon...and I will
bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel (where
Elijah persuaded Israel to repent [1 Kings 18:39])...his soul shall be
satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead" , where Elijah was from
(1 Kings 17:1).
Jeremiah spoke of Israel's
being taken captive by Babylon and returning from it in language which
recalls Jonah being swallowed and ejected by the sea monster (cp.
Babylon): " I will bring forth out of his (Babylon's) mouth that
which he hath swallowed up" (Jer. 51:44). Jonah's experience
being typical of the death and resurrection of Jesus, it follows that
by their experience of Arab captivity, Israel will be brought to fellowship
the sufferings of Christ. Several times in Section 2 it is
pointed out that the description of spiritual Israel's latter-day sufferings
is also couched in the language of our Lord's passion. In
like manner it has been shown that the description of Jeremiah's and Jerusalem's
sufferings at the time of Nebuchadnezzar in Lam. 3 is shot through with
allusions to the mental and physical agonies of the cross.
Thus through their experiences at the hands of their Arab captors, Israel
will be brought to truly appreciate and fellowship the sufferings they
inflicted on Messiah (cp. Zech. 12:10; 13:6).
The command to "
remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the
Chaldeans...be not cut off in (the judgment of) her iniquity" (Jer.
50:8; 51:6) may be an appeal to the Arabs, especially those smaller
states roped in with 'Babylon', to repent and dissociate from her.
However, it must have fuller reference to the righteous remnant in captivity
there, who are asked to rise up in rebellion and make their way back to
Jerusalem. Israel's making its way to Zion will immediately
precede Babylon's judgment, and will indicate their repentance (Jer. 50:4,5
cp. 8,9), showing the spiritual effect of their Arab sufferings.
The clear echoes of their being called to leave Egypt demonstrate that
they will be undergoing major persecution at this time:-
- " The children
of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together (i.e. Jews
taken out of the land of Israel plus others from the diaspora alike taken
to concentration camps in Arab lands?): and all that took them captives
held them fast; they refused to let them go" (Jer. 50:33) -
the language of Pharaoh (Ex. 4:23).
- Similarly Babylon
is described as not opening " the house of the prisoners" (Isa.
- Many prophecies
of the restoration from Babylon are described in exodus language, thus
equating Babylon with Egypt (e.g. Isa. 48:20,21).
- " ...in
the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy
fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve (all terms
alluding to Israel in Egypt), that thou shalt take up this proverb ('victory
song', Hebrew) against the king of Babylon" (Isa. 14:3,4).
- " I will
break in pieces the horse...the chariot and his rider" concerning
Babylon (Jer. 51:21) is quoting Ex. 15:1 about Egypt's destruction.