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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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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 and spiritual.

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 attackers.

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" (Jer. 52:12).

-  " 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).

Nebuchadnezzar's success 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 of the

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 also.

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 Remnant

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 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. 14:17).

-  Many prophecies of the restoration from Babylon are described in exodus language, thus equating Babylon with Egypt (e.g. Isa. 48:20,21).

-  " 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.