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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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DIGRESSION 2: The Revival Of Babylon

2-1 Unfulfilled Prophecies About Babylon

The whole prophetic meta narrative of the Bible is in many ways a tale of two cities- Babylon and Jerusalem. There are times when Babylon masquerades as Zion- a false city of God with a false Messiah leading her. Babylon / Babel was a city built to reach unto Heaven, in contrast to the true city of God which comes down from Heaven (Gen. 11:4 cp. Rev. 21:2). And there are times when Zion in her apostacy has appeared as Babylon. But in the final conflict of the last days, these two cities will be literally pitted against each other. Zion will briefly succumb under the might and pride of Babylon, to rise again in eternal glory. It was in Babylon where Nimrod first built the tower of Babel, the first organized rebellion against God; and it was there that God first entered into open judgment of flesh and humanity en masse. And it is here likewise that His purpose with sin and His true people will likewise be fulfilled. Babylon was also called Su-anna, “the holy city”. Yet “the holy city” is Jerusalem, thus making Babylon a fake Zion. Herodotus says the city was square, just as new Jerusalem. We have shown elsewhere that the events of the Babylonian invasion are typical of the last days. That invasion was “the time of [Israel’s] trouble” (Jer. 11:12), clearly typical of Jacob’s latter day “time of trouble”.

“Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians' pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 13:19). And yet Babylon was never suddenly overthrown like Sodom and Gomorrah in their fiery destruction. It was conquered by the Medes and Persians and fell into decline, but it was not violently destroyed. Likewise: “The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and settle them in their own land....They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors.... On the day the Lord gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended! .. . All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing” (Isaiah 14:1-4, 7). When Babylon is ultimately destroyed, Israel will finally be at Peace and will dwell in safety. Israel has been a nation since 1948, but not for one day has the nation of Israel known real peace or ease. It has never been able to claim all the lands God promised the Israelites, and Israel's Arab neighbours have been a constant threat and danger.

There is the assumption by many that all the O.T. prophecies about ‘Babylon’ were fulfilled in the overrunning of Babylon by the Medes. However, there are many details of those prophecies which didn’t have a total fulfilment, and this we must see what the Medes did as but a partial, incipient fulfilment of what is going to come in the last days. This also requires that we understand ‘Babylon’ as literal Babylon- for it was against her that the prophecies were uttered in the first place. And quite clearly, the prophecies of Revelation against ‘Babylon’ are extensions of those of the Old Testament. We therefore are encouraged to see the ‘Babylon’ of Revelation as the Babylon of the prophets- i.e., literal Babylon. Jeremiah 51 predicts the judgment of Babylon, and yet v. 46 says this is a time when ruler will figh ruler. And this is quoted in Mt. 24:6,7 as being specifically applicable to our last days.

Here are some of the unfulfilled details, which require a latter day fulfilment:

-          Literal Babylon decayed due to the ravages of time, whereas Babylon was to fall “suddenly” (Jer. 51:8). And Rev. 18 tells us that the fall of Babylon will be “in one hour”, smiting her down suddenly in her prime. This must be future in its fulfilment. Rev. 18:22 and 14:8 both speak of “Babylon is fallen” as applying to a latter day scenario. And yet these words are lifted straight from Is. 21:9 and Jer, 51:8, prophecies about literal Babylon being destroyed suddenly- a destruction which is clearly future, seeing the city was never so suddenly destroyed in the past. The suddenness of the destruction is a keynote of these prophecies.

-          Jer. 51:42 states that Babylon is to be submerged underwater. Maybe this is yet to come upon a revived Babylon.

-          When Babylon falls, Israel and Judah would repent and unitedly return to Zion with singing and enter into the everlasting covenant (Jer. 50:4,5). This didn’t happen when Babylon ‘fell’ before, even if it had the potential of coming true.

-          The poor and needy would trample down Babylon (Is. 26:6).

-          It is not true that Babylon has been uninhabited “for ever”. “The city of Babylon has never ceased to exist. Although its name was changed on two occasions, it has never been totally unpopulated. Hillah presently has 250,000 citizens and was built almost entirely of bricks from the parts of the old city of Babylon” (Joseph Chambers, A Palace For The Antichrist p. 146). Note too that the Babylonian Talmud was written by Jews living in Babylon in the 6th century AD. 1 Pet. 5:13 may well imply there was even an ecclesia there in the first century.

-          “For the Lord will have mercy upon Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them [the Babylonians], and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors” (Is. 14:1,2) has never been fulfilled yet. It will be in the last days; and at this time, as Is. 14 goes on to detail, Babylon [literal Babylon, in the context] will fall.

Other prophecies about the sudden destruction of literal Babylon- which can only be latter day in their application- are also the basis for the words of Revelation about latter day Babylon. Consider:

“Thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me: I shall not sit a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children” (Is. 47:8)

“How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously…for she hath said in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (Rev. 18:7).

“But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood” (Is. 47:9)

“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning” (Rev. 18:8)

“Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up” (Is. 47:13)

“For by thy sorceries…” (Rev. 18:23)

Therefore we conclude that the Babylon of Revelation is the Babylon of Jeremiah and Isaiah, literal Babylon, which awaits her full punishment. This conclusion is strengthened once it is appreciated how the harlot Babylon of Rev. 17, loud, gaudy, decked with jewellery and painted face, is replete with reference to Semiramis, the goddess / mother of Nimrod, and one of the patron gods of literal Babylon.


We have shown elsewhere that the antichrist is a mimic of the true Christ; his kingdom is a parody of God’s Kingdom. And the King of Babylon claiming “I am and none else beside me” are the very words of Yahweh- the King of Babylon is clearly to be identified with the man of sin, who sits as God in God’s temple (2 Thess. 2). But the similarities run deeper. The Babylonian epic of creation is a parody of the Genesis account; the flood has its’ counterpart in the epic of Gilgamesh; and the Code of Hammurabi, an early ruler of Babylon, was clearly an anti-law of Moses. And Saddam Hussein’s supporters used to greet him as the Messiah of the Arab world (Chambers, p. 45). Now Saddam has passed off the scene, but the point is that a similar charismatic leader could arise and be the antichrist.

The accounts of the latter day invasion of Israel all feature a single charismatic individual, who will be destroyed personally by the Lord Jesus at His coming. This is Paul’s “man of sin”, Daniel’s aggressive king of fierce countenance, Ezekiel’s Gog, the chief prince. It is also the person referred to by Micah: “And this man [Messiah] shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land” (Mic. 5:1,2). The Lord Jesus will save His people in the latter days from an “Assyrian”. It has been shown that Assyria and Babylon are used almost interchangeably in Scripture (H.A. Whittaker, ). Gog was a Jew who apostatized and went to live in Assyria / Babylonia, according to 1 Chron. 5. This is why he has the appearance of spirituality; and he may even be an Arab Christian. I say this because 2 Thess. 2 describes him as “the son of perdition”, exactly the phrase used about Judas, the false disciple of Jesus. Notice how Tariq Aziz [Iraqi foreign minister at the time of writing] and other leading members of the Iraqi cabinet are in fact Arab Christians, not Moslems.

Historical Evidence That Literal Babylon Has Yet To Fall

Summing up, the following prophecies were given against Babylon by Isaiah and Jeremiah:

1. Babylon to be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

2. Never to be inhabited.

3. Never to be built from generation to generation.

4. Never an Arabian to pitch his tent there.

5. Never shepherds to make their folds there.

6. To be destroyed suddenly.

7. To be made a desolation.

8. Not a stone from ancient Babylon to be used in building.

9. To be a desolation, wilderness; no man to dwell or pass there.

Yet in 1900 it could be said of Hilprecht, an archaeologist: “Before Professor Hilprecht left Babylonia, he accepted a cordial invitation from the German expedition working at Kuwairesh, a small Arab village on the Euphrates, beautifully situated between the palm groves at the foot of the ruins which cover Nebuchadnezzar’s palace in ancient Babylon” . This contradicts prophecies 1–5 above.

Again, “The expectations that interesting treasures of art would be discovered in the interior of the palace have not yet been realized, the history of Babylon’s gradual decay being unfavorable to such expectations” - contradicts 6–7 above.

Again, “The expectations that interesting treasures of art centuries has served as the almost inexhaustible quarry for public and private buildings, from the embankments of the Tigris opposite Bagdad to the modern structures of the Hindiya canal and in the town of Hillah”- contradicts 8–9 above. [These quotes are taken from an article in Bibliotheca Sacra, July 1950].

The prophecy of Isaiah 13:5–13 seems to be a picture of the final “day of the Lord,” and not necessarily of Babylon’s fall in 538 B.C. Never did anything like this destruction occur when Babylon fell. She fell quietly. In fact one part of the city did not know that the Medes and Persians had entered the city until sometime later. The invaders dried up the Euphrates’ river-bed and marched in beneath the city gates. The Babylonians were taken completely by surprise. Pember says, “After Cyrus entered Babylon with joy and gladness, he enlarged the royal palace, the seat of royalty; and Merodach, whom the Babylonians had grieved, daily rejoiced the heart of his followers. His wide-spreading forces were distributed over the land peacefully; and he repaired the cities, and made the children of Babylon joyful”. Babylon has never been without an inhabitant. No violence was done in 538 B.C., as already seen. In 516 Darius made a siege to quell a revolt. Only 3,000 were killed. The rest of Babylon he allowed to remain. In 478 Xerxes plundered, but did not destroy the city. In 331 Babylon received Alexander with open arms. Strabo says that Seleucia, a city named after the Seleucidae, was situated near Babylon. It drew many people from Babylon, so that Babylon became almost, but not quite, deserted. In 450 A.D. Theodoret said that Babylon was inhabited by only a few Jews- so there was clearly some habitation there. However other sources say that three universities flourished there. At this time the Babylon Talmud became widely known. In 917 Babylon was still in existence, though now a small village. In 1100 Babylon’s name was changed to Hillah (“rest”). It had two Arab mosques, therefore had grown a bit. The name Hillah has designated Babylon to the present day. In 1585 the bishop of Freisingen said that half of the old city of Babylon was desolate, but the other half was flourishing. He obtained this information from travellers. In 1888, Pember’s time, Babylon had grown to about ten thousand in population. In 1920 Hillah had about twenty thousand people, mostly Arabs. It boasted wool and cotton textile manufacturing, but its chief occupation was cultivating the date palm. In 1936 the population had grown to 30,000. The city lies on the Bagdad to Basra rail-line. Pember also mentions the stone taken from Babylon for building purposes which, according to Jeremiah, was never to be done after it fell. He claims that many villages and towns have been built from Babylonian stone. Such cities as Seleucia, Ctesiphon, Al Modain, and Kufa are some of these.1. The destruction of the city is a sudden thing. The phrase “in one hour” occurs several times in Rev. 18. This destruction is like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Literal Babylon was not destroyed “in one hour” in 536 BC. The predicted fall of Babylon must therefore be in our last days.