Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Future Destruction Of Babylon

Jeremiah 50:1-20
“The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.

Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.  For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.

In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.   They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. ” (Jeremiah 50:1-5)

At the time this was written, Babylon was just coming into power.  About sixty years later It was taken over by the Medo-Persian Empire, and later the Greek Empire.  Although the city was partially destroyed  and relocated by the Seleucid Empire after 320 BC, the city continued to be occupied until about 1860, when Archaeologists displaced about ten thousand people to begin excavating the city.  After they returned to Jerusalem, under the command of Cyrus, the Jews never fully dedicated themselves to God and described in this passage.   Clearly this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. 

“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.  All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.” (Jeremiah 50:6-7)

After Cyrus gave permission to return to Jerusalem, many of the Jews remained in Babylon.  After Alexander the greats, death many of them adopted Greek culture and became the group known as the Sadducees in Jesus’ day.  Even the Pharisees substituted their own interpretation for what God’s law said, and eventually Jerusalem was destroyed and Jews driven to other areas.   Nation after nation has felt free to attack them because of their rejection of God. 

“Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.  For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.
And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the LORD.  Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls; Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.  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.

Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.  Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.  Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land. ” (Jeremiah 50:8-20)

At some point in the future, the Jews will need to leave the area around Babylon, leading the way back to Israel, because of an invading force from the North.  God will bring a great assembly of nations against her, that will destroy her and leave the land desolate, never to be occupied again.   Daniel 11:13-15 describes one such event at the time of the end.   “For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.   And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.  So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.”

Revelation 18:21-23 describes the destruction of Babylon.  “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.   And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Since Babylon is no longer a major world power, this passage has been interpreted by many to refer to other world powers including the Roman Catholic Church and the United States.  Zechariah 5:7-11 clearly indicates this refers to actual Babylon.  “And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.  And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.  Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.  Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah?  And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.”  An evil center is to be established in the land of Shinar, and none of those other world powers are located in the land of Shinar.   Saddam Hussein reconstructed most of  the city of Babylon, and after Iraq was taken over, the United Nations guaranteed to continue the reconstruction .  Hussein  claimed to be a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar and proclaimed his intention of making Babylon a major world city again. 

“Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.  Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.  And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.   In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” (Jeremiah 50:17-20)

Israel was like a bunch of sheep that had gotten separated, splitting into the nations of Israel and Judah.  Because of their rejection of God the Assyrians had defeated and destroyed Israel.  About a hundred years later the Babylonians had destroyed the Assyrian empire, and because Judah had also rebelled against God they were establishing control of Judah, and would ultimately destroy her completely.    When Babylon is destroyed, Israel and Judah will return to the Land of Israel and serve God wholly.  That has yet to happen.  

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