Pastor T. J. de
In this article I attempt to give a survey of the most important historical events and the prophetical statements concerning the city of Babel in Iraq. I am convinced that the present dramatic situation in Iraq should be studied in the light of biblical prophecy.
Brief review of the history of Babel
Some of the oldest civilizations were in the region of Iraq, Iran and Syria. The area that was known in history as Mesopotamia, which means 'Land between two rivers,' the Euphrates and the Tigris, is now a part of Iraq. It was around 3000 years before Christ when in this area people began to write down the spoken word. With this development ended what is called the pre-historic period of humanity. Many point therefore to this area as the birthplace of one of the most important human civilizations. Great empires developed here, such as the Assyrian and Babylonian, that conquered most of the Middle East.
We find the first biblical references to Babel in Genesis 10:10 and 11:9, but it is very difficult to attach dates to these references. A great civilisation developed in this region of the Euphrates and the Tigris and mighty kings ruled over the people. In the second millennium before Christ there developed a kingdom that is referred to as the 'Old Babylonian Empire.' The 'New Babylonian Empire' started with Nabopolassar in 626 B.C. and came to its greatest power and splendour in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, who captured and completely destroyed Jerusalem in 587 B.C. The Medes and the Persians however conquered Babel (The Greek variant is Babylon) in 539 B.C. and took the capital, the city of Babel as recorded in the book of Daniel, chapter 5:30.
The 'Land between the two rivers' was in antiquity one of the richest agricultural areas of the planet; the harvests were abundant. By means of an ingenious system of irrigation great areas were kept very fertile. After the Arabic tribes had embraced the Islam they entered this region of the two rivers in 634 A.D. Baghdad was founded in 759 A.D. by the Khalifat of the Abassides. The Mongol Khan Hoelagoe destroyed Baghdad however in 1258 A.D. The Mongolians destroyed also the irrigation-system completely by which the land was kept fertile. Great areas were gradually depopulated as the once so fruitful soil changed slowly into a desert.
The land came in 1534 A.D. under the control of the Osmanian Turks. During the First World-War (1914-1918) conquered the British Iraq. Gradually however there grew resistance against the British rule. A coup of military leaders ended the pro-British monarchy.
In 1968 members of the Ba'ath party formed a coup in which Saddam Hussein played an important role. Not surprising that he became the president of Iraq that year. But his rule ended when the Americans invaded Iraq; they captured him in 2003. Saddam Hussein was an ambitious and proud man.
It is not widely known that Sassam Hussein developed a plan to rebuilt Babel on its historical location and erect a great world trade centre there. Several rebuilts of historical objects there can be visited today. The man dreamed apparently of a world-function for himself and his country. However, the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah concerning the perpetual destruction of Babel blocked his plans.
Babel is destroyed as prophesied
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied in Israel that Babel would be destroyed. Jeremiah prophesied its destruction just in the time when the Babylonian Empire was at the summit of its strength and splendour - the time of king Nebuchadnezzar. It took a few centuries to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah; please read Isaiah 13:19,20 and Jeremiah, 50:12,13; 51:54-64. In 275 B.C. ended the historic importance of Babel and in 141 B.C. the city of completely destroyed and the site was a desolation. The remains of the great city of Babel can be found about seventy km's south of Baghdad, the present capital of Iraq.
Historic reports indicate that from time to time attempts on a small scale were made to inhabit this vast and desolate area, where once this great city stood so proudly. Some biblical commentators think that there was a Christian church in the time of the first apostles in a small city in that area and point to 1 Peter 5:13 where the 'elect living in Babylon' are addressed. But other interpreters think that the apostle Peter used 'Babylon' as a pseudonym for Rome to address the church there. Christians saw in the city of Rome the revival of the proud and powerful spirit that once resided in Babel.
Many archeologists and other scientists have visited and examined the location of the destroyed city of Babel. Some, well acquainted with the biblical prophecies about it, such as those in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, wrote that as for now these prophecies may be regarded as being fulfilled. They saw owls in the ruins and there were hyenas heard. Jackals were seen walking between the remains of houses. They neither saw (permanent) tents of Arabs (read Isaiah 13:20-22). The expression that the site of Babel will be 'like Sodom and Gomorrah,' (Isaiah 13:19) does not necessarily to be taken literal as the other verses show that there will be animals seen and heard between the ruins of houses. The prophet Jeremiah ordered that his prophecies concerning the destruction of Babel would be taken to her, be read aloud and after that be cast in the river Euphrates. Then should be declared (Jeremiah 51:64): "So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring upon her. And her people will fall."
Though there is presently a village on the site where Babel once stood and Saddam Hussein had some interesting projects built there, we can without hesitation conclude that prophecies have been fulfilled. It is clear that our almighty God, the covenant God of Israel, our heavenly Father in Jesus Christ is still watching over his prophetic word concerning Babel. He used apparently the USA and her allies to make it impossible for the proud Saddam Hussein to let his ambitious dreams about Babel become a reality.
Why Babel was judged and destroyed by the Almighty God
The first reason. Babel represents the attempts of mankind to gain divine control over the lives and affairs of men. The tower of Babel, mentioned in Genesis 11:9, was most probably used to study the stars of heaven from the platform on its top. This knowledge was used for guidance to make decisions and develop policies. Here was the beginning of astrology, which is used to interpret character and give guidance. Babel developed into the arrogant, proud kingdom of idolatrous and worldly power in opposition against God and His people.
The second reason.
Though the Almighty God used
Babel to execute judgement over His disobedient and disloyal people
and punish it for it, it went too far with inhuman treatment of His
it was cruel and ruthless. The prophets declared Gods judgement and
destruction of Babel.
I do not share the
vision of some that Babel will
ever be rebuilt resembling the past glory of the city of
as based on Revelation chapter 17 and 18. I believe that this
vision has nothing to do with a rebuilt of the former city of Babel but
must be interpreted as a great religious and worldly centre with
and political power and richness. Some think that the Vatican in Rome,
the centre of the Roman Catholic Church, is being depicted here
T. J. de Ruiter,
22 August 2008
(Pastor and Bible teacher in The Netherlands)
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