Babylon

The Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged. (Isaiah 13:19-22)

Babylon appears 294 times in the King James Bible. The first reference can be found in Second Kings. “And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof” (2 Kings 17:24). This citation refers to the time when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Babylon had not yet ascended to power. However, the history of Babylon goes all the way back to Genesis after the flood when the people rebelled against God by refusing to “fill the earth” as God had commanded. Instead, they congregated in one place and built a tower to worship the heavens. God overruled their plans, confused their language, and scattered them all over the earth as He willed.[1] “So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:8-9).

“Babylon was initially a minor city-state, and controlled little surrounding territory; its first four Amorite rulers did not assume the title of king. The older and more powerful states of Assyria, Elam, Isin, and Larsa overshadowed Babylon until it became the capital of Hammurabi’s short-lived empire about a century later … After the reign of Hammurabi, the whole of southern Mesopotamia came to be known as Babylonia, whereas the north had already coalesced centuries before into Assyria.”[2] After this, Babylon diminished into a weak city-state until Nebopolassar came into power. “Under Nabopolassar, a previously Chaldean King, Babylon escaped Assyrian rule, and in an alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes who was his son in law together with Cimmerians, finally destroyed the Assyrian Empire between 612 BC and 605 BC. Babylon thus became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes called the Chaldean) Empire. With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, particularly during the reign of his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC).”[3]

As students of the Bible, this last name rings a bell. We are familiar with the biblical accounts of the conquest of Judah and Jerusalem and the demise of the Babylonian Empire by the Medes and the Persians. Prophecies concerning Babylon call for its utter destruction as in our passage above (Isaiah 13:19-22). Consider the following verses from the Prophet Jeremiah.

Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues. (Jeremiah 50:13)

As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. (Jeremiah 50:40)

And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD. Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 51:24-26)

And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. (Jeremiah 51:37)

How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations! The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof. Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby. (Jeremiah 51:41-43)

And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 51:64)

The book of Revelation also speaks of the complete destruction of Babylon. “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Revelation 16:19). “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Revelation 18:1-2).

Babylon exists today, albeit not as a city of great significance. The rebuilding of the Ishtar Gate and the archeology taking place there make it more of a destination for curiosity seekers. “By 1905, there were several villages in Babylon, one of which was Qwaresh with about 200 households located within the boundaries of the ancient inner city walls. The village grew due to the need for laborers during the German Oriental Society excavations (1899-1917) … On 5 July 2019, the site of Babylon was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of people reside in Babylon within the perimeter of the ancient outer city walls, and communities in and around them are ‘rapidly developing from compact, dense settlements to sprawling suburbia despite laws restricting constructions’.”[4]

Obviously, the prophecies of the total destruction of Babylon have not come to pass. Since God cannot lie,[5] these prophecies must yet be future. However, there are some end-times prophecy teachers that teach that the Babylon referred to in Revelation is symbolic of false religion that has its roots in Babylon. They also teach that John employed coded language to refer to the Roman Empire as Peter did in his letters. “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son” (1 Peter 5:13). However, there are many that take deference to that saying that Peter was referring to an actual church in literal Babylon.

It’s hard to say. It may be that John was referring to Rome when he referred to Babylon. Christians experienced much persecution under Rome and perhaps this was John’s way of obscuring the meaning in case the letter was intercepted by Roman authorities. That is not beyond possibility. However, there is still the fact that the real, physical Babylon still exists, and it has not been made “a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby” (Jeremiah 51:43). It is also not beyond the realm of possibility that Antichrist could indeed set up his headquarters there. There is a population there. There is infrastructure. It does not need to be a “show place” for him to operate from there. For that reason, I lean toward the actual Babylon being the center of Antichrist’s government. That is where false religion started, and that is where it will end when Christ returns. Then all the prophecies of its total destruction will be fulfilled.

Jesus is coming soon, and His reward is with Him. The signs for His appearing are increasing in intensity and frequency. Are you prepared to meet Him? If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 11:1-9

[2]  “Babylon” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon

[3]  Ibid.

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2

1 Comment

Filed under Apologetics, End Times, Eschatology, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

One response to “Babylon

  1. Yes I have read the debates of what Babylon refers to. There is a good case for Rome too. Thanks for this study.

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