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Babylon: the city that was, is not and will be!

09 April 2013, 09:00

The Bible is not like any other book. As the Hebrews (4:12) writer explains: ‘For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of heart.’

See it was inspired by God Who resides outside of time and Who has already been to the future. Makes sense hey? It is for this reason then that one will come across prophecies about events that still need to happen, but written as if it already happened.

Babylon is a good case study for us to explore this fascinating side of the Bible. The word ‘Babylon’ appears in the Bible at least 300 times. Only Israel, Jerusalem and Egypt as names of places appear more than Babylon. So clearly it is a significant place as far as the word of God is concerned.

We first read about the city of Babylon (Babel) as early as the Book of Genesis where a rebellion was staged by Nimrod and co against Almighty God. We see in Gen 11:4 they said: ‘Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens, let us make a name for ourselves lest we be scattered abroad the face of the whole earth.’ This event by itself is worth discussing in more detail, but we will not pursue it at this stage.

There was once an ancient Mesopotamian city on the Euphrates River. The location made it ideal an important city of trade. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonders in ancient world and must have been something to behold!  For over 2000 years this once powerful city lay in ruins which can be found in present-day Hillah, Babylon Province in Iraq and situated about 85km south of Baghdad. The once powerful and impressive Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the Persians under Cyrus the Great in 539 BC in what was known as the Battle of Opis.  

The Book of the Revelation was written more than 500 years after the destruction of the city. In chapter 18 we read that this non-existent city will be destroyed. One has to keep in mind that Revelation as a book is a chronological flow of future events. It records this prophecy about the city’s future destruction as follows:

‘The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour her judgment has come.’

As there was no literal city of Babylon anymore, some scholars began to see it as symbolic of another city, perhaps Rome. However, the stunning reality is that the city of Babylon is being rebuilt!

Joel Kontinen (2009) writes: ‘Saddam Hussein began rebuilding Babylon before the first Gulf War of 1991. He saw himself as a new Nebuchadnezzar who needed a new capital. The Iraqis carried on the reconstruction project even after Saddam's death. Recently the Obama Admin pledged to contribute $ 700 000 towards "The Future of Babylon Project" to help realise Saddam's dream of building a lucrative tourist attraction and a mighty Iraqi city. It is a mystery why U.S. taxpayers should help rebuild Nebuchadnezzar's capital at a time of financial instability.’

But that’s not all! In June 2012 Iraq was rated by as ‘the hottest economy in the world.’ There are huge plans for Babylon and the reconstruction of the city has made significant progress.

 The Bible tells us about a world leader that will come, the antichrist. It would appear that the city of Babylon will be of great importance to this individual.

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