The Prophetic Future of Iraq
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D, 1991
Edited by David Sielaff, April 2003
Read the accompanying Newsletter for April 2003
This lecture is being made on February 25, 1991, the third day of the land invasion of Kuwait by the coalition forces to extricate the army of Iraq from Kuwait. This subject is of utmost importance to all people who want to know what the prophetic future holds for Iraq, its people, and the whole of the Middle East and the world. We can know pretty accurately what will develop in that part of the Middle East because there are several prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments which have never been fulfilled, but they are destined to take place in the last generation of world history just prior to the Second Advent of Christ.
The Bible tells us specific details of events yet to occur that have been overlooked by prophetic interpreters. In 1970 I first mentioned these prophecies to authorities in the former denomination of which I was a member. I said that we should look again at these prophecies concerning Babylon and Iraq and that they have an end-time relevance to them. Since that time we have been able to look at these prophecies through proper eyeglasses. What we find is that many of those prophecies given by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Minor Prophets about Babylon, about the region of Mesopotamia, or Iraq as we call it today, have never been fulfilled in history. 1
Yes, there were types of fulfillment in one way or another, but the precise prophecies given in the Bible have not happened to this very day. The chronological significance of these prophecies certainly had to do with that generation just prior to the 2nd Coming of Christ. While in Jerusalem (where I was in charge of college students digging at the archeological excavation sponsored by Hebrew University), I took a 10-day trip in 1970 to Lebanon where I went to Beirut, and from there down to Tyre and Sidon, which I looked into from an archeological and historical point of view.
From Lebanon I went to Baghdad where I stayed for several days. I was able to take two separate trips to the ruined city of Babylon about 50 miles south and a little west of modern Baghdad. Baghdad is located on the Tigris River while old Babylon and its ruins are located on the River Euphrates. There is about a 50-mile distance between the two. What I saw at the time convinced me that most of the ancient prophecies about Babylon were not fulfilled, but that they were destined to take place in that generation before the 2nd Advent of Christ known as the End of the Age. 2
The majority of those prophecies, if you will look at them: the prophecies of Isaiah 13 and 14, Isaiah 48, Jeremiah 50 and 51, and the three chapters of Habakkuk, all of them deal with an end-time Babylon that is destined to exist just prior to the 2nd coming of Christ. However, here we are in 1991 and many prophetic interpreters are beginning to take the proper view, because they are beginning to look at these prophecies all over again. Even Protestants now are beginning to wonder if some of these prophecies do not have an end-time relevance to them.
B. W. Newton’s Analysis
I could have directed them easily to some works of the last century, well over 140 years old, written by B.W. Newton from England. He wrote two volumes, which I own, in which he said that if anyone would read the prophecies concerning Babylon, it would be a relatively strong and powerful nation just prior to the 2nd Coming of Christ. 3 The interesting thing about Newton was that he depended not upon what was going on at his present time, well over 100 years ago in Iraq which was still under the control of the Ottoman Empire (and later coming under control of the British). No, he was not paying attention immediately to what was going on there, because there was nothing in the region but desert. No one even realized there were vast quantities of petroleum or oil in that region of the world. 4
I hand it to Newton, he believed the Scripture. I hold him in great honor because he said there shall be a Babylon at the end of the age, that it will be relatively great, and that modern interpreters have misapplied those prophecies about old Babylon. He said that these prophecies did not refer to the period of time 500 to 600 years before the birth of Christ, but they refer to the generation just prior to the 2nd Coming of Christ.
Now in 1991 because of Sadaam Hussein being able to accumulate quantities of military hardware, armaments and troops, and being the bully of the Middle East for almost the past 15 years, it seems he is being given a lesson. Many of our military strategists have been amazed at the great quantities of armaments Sadaam Hussein has accumulated over the last 10 to 15 years. He went to war with Iran which ended in a stalemate after 8 years, but even after that he was able to have a tremendous quantity of military goods and hardware that staggered the imagination of our own military personnel. He had until this war (which is now going on) the 4th largest army in the world. The Iraqi army is still powerful now as I give this lecture.
No matter what happens with the coalition forces now fighting in Iraq and Kuwait, we find that Iraq at the end of the age, the region of Babylon, is destined to be a relatively strong power in the Middle East. Even if Sadaam Hussein is defeated it makes no difference because there will be a renewed Babylon. Several Scriptures show that, scriptures from Daniel in particular indicate what the prophetic future of Iraq will be in the next few years. If Iraq is even decimated they still have the oil in the ground. If their civilization were ruined, if that were possible, they could still come back in the next few years.
All we have to do is to realize what happened to Germany and Japan after World War II. No nation on earth was more damaged than Germany, but within 10 to 15 years after the allies in World War II had defeated Germany, they came back to be a strong economic power in Europe, and within 30 years became the dominant European economic power, and certainly is to this very day. The same thing happened to Japan. Japan was defeated by the allies and surrendered in Tokyo Bay in 1945. Within 20 to 25 years they recovered to such a state that they were even more powerful than before World War II. Now they are one of the great economic giants in the world. We all know that. Just look at the example of Germany and Japan to understand that just because Iraq or that region of the world could be put down (they may be and will be perhaps); at the same time they will have the capacity to come back into power and into prominence. One reason for this is because the center of world attention from now on will be the Middle East.
God Is in Charge
God is about ready to show who is in charge of world affairs. He is about ready to show that Jesus Christ His Son, was sent into this world almost 2,000 years ago with a message. It was not only a message of peace, but also a message of hope, a message explaining why we are here on this earth in the first place, why there are individuals here, male and female, why there are nations, why there are peoples, what we are destined to become, why it is that God allows these things to occur on earth. If we want to know, it is all right there in the Holy Scripture, the most modern up-to-date book in the world. It has the answers to all of the major problems now affecting the world, particularly those problems in the Middle East.
What is occurring now [in 1991] in Kuwait, in Iraq and in other areas of the Middle East is nothing more than a prelude to events known as the "end of the age," which we find described with great precision in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation. We also find other prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Minor Prophets and even in the Psalms, which have to do with our age in which we are living. 5
He says in Daniel 12:4 and in verse 9, that knowledge shall be increased. When He says knowledge, it means THE knowledge, the knowledge of the prophecies of Daniel. They will be made known precisely. Several prophecies still remain unclear to this very day, but as we see events in the Middle East begin to happen, we will understand these prophecies as never before. Many prophecies, that are staring us in the face, have never occurred in history, and all you need do is read what they say and you will be amazed at what we will see happen in the near future in the Middle East. To understand some of these prophecies, first of all we need to read a little bit about the histories of the Middle East, and since this lecture is on the prophecies concerning the area of Babylon, we need to concentrate on that specific region.
Background History of Mesopotamia
Do you know that Iraq is mentioned in the Bible at the very beginning of history after the flood of Noah? 6 That is correct. Iraq is specifically named as a city-state in association with other city-states in southern Mesopotamia known as the land of Shinar. Genesis chapter 10 provides historical background to the modern nation of Iraq, and it equates remarkably with Babylon. The two terms are practically identical, not in phonetics but in political meaning.
The word "Iraq" is mentioned in Genesis 10, which is the Table of Nations that arose after the flood of Noah. Genesis 10:6, "And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan." Look at these sons of Cush. Of all the descendants of Noah, the first to show any prominence in political power and authority were the people who came from Cush. 7 The first world despot by the name of Nimrod came from this patriarch, this son of Noah, called Ham and then his son Cush.
"And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth."
That means a type of a hero, someone who was a despot and one who was controlling others. Nimrod would reach out to show power and authority over the other children of Noah and the grandchildren and great grandchildren as time went on. He was the first one who began to be called "a mighty one in the earth." It says, "He was a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Genesis 10:9). That means he put himself above or in place of, or in defiance of YHWH, "wherefore it is said [this was a proverb about Nimrod], ‘Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.’" That proverb got into the Bible. 8
"And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel"(Genesis 10:10). That was the first mention of Babylon as a city. Nimrod took control of Babylon. It does not say he built it. It was built soon after the flood within a matter of years. Once started we find this son of Cush, the grandson of Noah, Nimrod, became ruler over the city of Babylon, but not only Babel, it also says, "and Erech," the second town mentioned, south of Babylon, near the present city of Basra (which you are hearing about if you listen to the news about what is happening in Iraq and in Kuwait at the present time). One of the southernmost cities of Iraq of economic and geographical importance is Basra.
The Name "Iraq"
Somewhere in that area there is where the ancient city of Erech was constructed. Our modern word Iraq comes from this sister city of Babylon. The reason why the whole region became known as Iraq and not Babylon, is because the word Erech means "long" or "link." The control of the waterways in the south, of commerce, of people coming and going through the Persian Gulf, they first come into the area of Erech. It became known as the name of the general area between the rivers of Mesopotamia. This is where our word Iraq comes from. The next city was "Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar" (Genesis 10:10) also in southern Mesopotamia. It goes on to speak about this Nimrod a bit more. After he gained control the southern area of Iraq and Babylon in that region, it says he went,
"Out of that land went forth [to] Asshur, and built Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city."
Nimrod controlled the southern four cities, Babel, Erech, Akkad and Calah in the land of Shinar. But he also went north and established the city of Nineveh, which was in Assyria, along with Rehoboth, Calah and Resin. Nineveh was a great city, in existence in the time of Jonah and others. It proved to be very important in ancient history. After his death Nimrod was assigned the greatest constellation in the heavens. In the various languages of the world they have different names for Orion, but the original was Nimrod. The word "Orion" through the Hebrew means "the fool." He started the world’s first Babylonian civilization. 9
These symbols (which are astrological in one way of looking at them) have deep religious significance to them, as far as the Gentiles are concerned. Many of these ideas were perpetuated by Nimrod and others since that time, of conquering other nations and establishing kingdoms and empires. Many of the feelings that they had in doing these things, were motivated by these essential ideas established in the period right after the flood. They go right back to the time of Nimrod.
In actual fact, even in [the book of] Micah we are told that the land of Nimrod was Assyria. 10 Most of you know how powerful and authoritative the ancient Assyrians were in the time of King Hezekiah of Judah. But a sister country of Assyria, different slightly in race, and located farther south was Babylon or Iraq. They also through Nebuchadnezzar wanted to control the entirety of the world.
Jeremiah, Daniel and the Axial Period
If you look at what happened back in the time of Jeremiah in the 6th century B.C.E., Nebuchadnezzar was doing that very thing, taking control just like Nimrod did in the earlier periods of time. The Assyrians took the northern Israelites captive in the 8th century B.C.E. to northern regions of the Assyrian Empire. The Jews, the Kingdom of Judah in the south, lasted until Nebuchadnezzar, who controlled the northern areas at the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Egypt at that time was powerful also, but Nebuchadnezzar was able to take over Egypt, and the great power that developed throughout the entire world at that time (once Israel and Judah were taken out of the way, and Egypt was eclipsed in power and authority) was Babylon.
This is why Sadaam Hussein at the present time does not look on his kingdom as going back to Nimrod, though no doubt he has that feeling, but he goes back to Nebuchadnezzar. He calls himself a new Nebuchadnezzar. The psyche of the people in Iraq at the present time, and that of Sadaam Hussein for the last 15 years, has been the idea that they need to rebuild Babylon, have a new Babylonian civilization and that he [Sadaam] is the new Nebuchadnezzar to bring it to pass. The man who will be King of Babylon just prior to the 2nd Coming of Christ will be a new Nebuchadnezzar. This is most important for us to realize.
The original Nebuchadnezzar lived in a time that historians today call an "Axial Period." Before that time there were various nations around the world that we do not hear about any more. With the arrival of Nebuchadnezzar, a "new world order" came on the scene. Babylon became the top nation on earth. In the dream that Daniel interpreted, Daniel called Nebuchadnezzar the Head of Gold of this vast image that he saw on the plains of Shinar. The next portion down in the area of the breast was silver. That came to be the Persian Empire. Coming down to the brass area of the image, you find the Grecian empire, the Hellenistic or Macedonian empire of Alexander the Great. Coming down to the legs portion, it came to an iron, and finally iron mixed with miry clay when you get down to the ten toes. This Iron Kingdom was to last until the final 10 kingdoms which would be in existence just prior to the advent of the Kingdom of God. 11 Since this image had a Head of Gold, Nebuchadnezzar, and the head was where the mindset would be, where the philosophies, religions, societies and all of that would be established, therefore the workings of this one vast image would be motivated by the mindset of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.
The period from the 6th century B.C.E. onward, down to the 2nd Coming of Christ was reckoned as a different type of world system than what had gone on before. At the time of Nebuchadnezzar was Jeremiah the prophet, who was there at the very beginning of this Babylonian system. Jeremiah was given a commission, a most important role not given to any other prophet of the Old Testament period, or of any time. He should be called the "Axial Prophet," which means the axis in world history, around which all of secular history embraces, a time of transition in world history. The prophet who was to introduce it was Jeremiah.
Turn to Jeremiah and see that the system established by Nebuchadnezzar was to be diminished to an extent when the Persians arose a generation or so later. Then the Greeks and the Macedonians would come up, and then others, and finally on down to our day today. The head, the mind and the mental activity that would guide world history from the time of Jeremiah or Nebuchadnezzar forward would be governed by this Babylon. The whole system would be known as Babylon, reaching down in time to the 10 toes to be destroyed by the Kingdom of God coming to earth. The 10 toes are mentioned not only in the book of Daniel, they are also mentioned [by different terms] in the book of Revelation. The whole Gentile world system that exists, to be destroyed at the 2nd Coming of Christ, is known as "Mystery Babylon the Great," secret Babylon. You would not think of it as being Babylon on the Euphrates in the book of Revelation, but it will be so. Babylon has existed from the time of Nebuchadnezzar, all through the various phases of this image mentioned in Daniel chapter 2.
The Axial Prophet, the one who introduced all of this was Jeremiah. Look at his commission. He was about 17 years of age when he received this commission from God.
"Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the belly I knew you [YHWH speaking to Jeremiah as a youth.]; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations [all nations of the world].’ Then said I [Jeremiah], ‘Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.’ But the Lord said unto me,’ Say not, I am a child: for you shall go to all that I shall send you, and whatsoever I command you, you shall speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with you to deliver you,’ saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. [Here is the commission:] See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms [to do 4 things], to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, …
That was what he was going to do to the nations in existence at this time. The nations that were there since the flood had been around for a long time like the nations of Moab, Ammon, Elam and others. How many of these nations have you heard of being in existence after the time of Jeremiah? Hardly any of them. But Jeremiah as Axial Prophet was going "to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down" various kingdoms and nations. He was also to do other things, "to build, and to plant" (verse 11). He was to build and to plant new nations. The nations that arose from the time of Nebuchadnezzar, when Jeremiah was getting his commission, are the nations that you and I are familiar with today, nations such as Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome and then let us not forget India, China, those in Europe, and finally the new world. The nations that we know of today, and the civilization that we are governed by today, all are essentially Babylonian as far as mindset is concerned, from the Gentile point of view. They are known as Babylon today and they differ fundamentally from the type of nations that existed before Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was given a rule by prophecy over all the nations of the world. If you want to see how his prophecies were carried out, go to Jeremiah 25. It says that Jeremiah would give prophecies that would lead to utter destruction to the civilizations back at that time, save the one that would not be destroyed, but would continue as the Babylonian civilization to last until the 2nd Advent of Christ.
"Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; ‘Because ye have not heard my words [speaking to Judah], Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations [desolations that will last a long time]. Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations."
The 70-Years Prophecy
Notice this point carefully. In verses 11–12 it says that after a 70-year period in which Judah and the other nations round about would be in desolation, God would then cause Babylon to be judged, and then suffer perpetual desolations. Or at least it looks that way on the surface. It says, after a 70-year period from this time. Most people reading this prophecy of Jeremiah would say, well, Babylon will be a major power that will exist for 70 years and then be wiped off the surface of the earth. The only thing is, Babylon was powerful at the time Jeremiah said this, and after 70 years Babylon as a city was not destroyed at all the way it seems it should have been. In fact it was not destroyed 200 years later, or even 300 years later. It finally went into decay about 500 to 700 years later. Do you realize that the prophecies about the perpetual desolations of this Babylon never took place? In fact, Babylon will be built up at the end of the age.
Does this mean that the prophecy here of Jeremiah is mistaken? Not at all. It says after a 70-year period, at some period in the future, Babylon will be judged and go into perpetual desolations. This is one of the scriptures that give people problems in trying to understand what and when the judgments would be upon the city and civilization of Babylon. It says after 70 years.
"For thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto me; ‘Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them.’ Then took I the cup at the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the Lord had sent me."
Note where he starts, to whom does Jeremiah go first?
"To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah
…" (Jeremiah 25:18). That is the first one. He told them to drink
of the cup, the cup of indignation and that they will be destroyed. Then it
says, I will, "make them a desolation, an
astonishment, an hissing, and a curse;
as it is this day" (verse 18). That is the editor of the book of Jeremiah (likely Ezra some 100+ years after Jeremiah) saying, look around and see that this prophecy about Jerusalem has come to pass.
But Jeremiah was not sent just to the kings of Judah and to Jerusalem. In verse 19 it says go also to Pharaoh, King of Egypt; verse 20 to the mingled people, the Arabs which means "mingled people" in Hebrew; all the kings of the land of Uz; the kings of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Azzah, Ekron, the remnant of Ashdod). These were cities down on the southwestern portion of Judah. Edom, Moab and Ammon on the other side of the river Jordan were included, as well as the kings of Tyre, Sidon and the isles beyond the sea that reached out into Carthage in North Africa. Dedan, Tema and Buz and all those that are in the utmost corner, going into Saudi Arabia were included. All the kings of Arabia were included, going even north into the Kuwait region in southern Mesopotamia, as were all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert, all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, all the kings of the Medes. Elam and the Medes lived in the country of Iran today, east of the Tigris River. But it did not stop there. He said, "and all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth" (Jeremiah 25:26).
Notice the end of verse 26, "… and the king of Sheshach [Shishak] shall drink after them." Here was the cup of the wine of indignation Jeremiah was given. God said take it to Jerusalem first, then to the nations near to Jerusalem, the Philistines and others, then to the Moabites and the Ammonites and to the Edomites not very far away. Then take it farther and farther. He finally says, take it to every nation on earth. Every one of them will drink of this wine of fury of indignation from Me. The last one to drink will be Shishak.
How many of you studying history have seen a king by the name of Shishak spelled in this fashion? In fact, Jeremiah wrote this as a cipher for people in his time. When he explained it to them, they were able to perfectly comprehend what he meant. If you take the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet beginning with aleph, beth, gimmel, and daleth, on down to tau, take them in order, and instead of going forward like our A-B-C, X-Y-Z, you start with Z-Y-X and go backwards. You find that the letters, if you go forward, represent B-B-L, that is Babel. If you go backwards through the alphabet it comes to Sh-Sh-K, meaning Shishak. It is a cipher used by Jeremiah to indicate Babylon at the end of the age, but Babylon which would not have the name Babylon on it, so to speak, it would be "Mystery Babylon." Shishak would be the last to drink the wine of indignation. It says that 70 years after this prophecy is when Babylon or Shishak would drink of the wine of the fury of God and go into perpetual desolation. That is how it looks on the surface.
Daniel’s Problem with the 70 Years
But God did not tell Jeremiah that precisely at the end of 70 years it would take place. He says that after 70 years were up, sometime in the future, the last one to drink of the wine of the fury of God would be this Mystery Babylon, this Shishak. When Daniel later tried to interpret what Jeremiah meant, and as the end of the 70-year period was approaching, he wondered himself whether or not the 70 years meant 70 literal years and then would come Babylon’s perpetual destruction.
"In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign …"
The ruling house of Nebuchadnezzar had ceased to exist by this time. Cyrus had come on the scene, entered Babylon, did not destroy the city, but took over the government. After that his son Cambyses came on the scene and ruled for a few years. Now we come to the time of Darius. Here is Daniel saying Babylon, supposedly, is no longer with us. We are now under Persian rule. When will the 70 years be up, and when will the perpetual desolation of Babylon to take place, as the prophecies of Jeremiah said? So it says,
"I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."
That refers to the prophecy in chapter 25 of Jeremiah. But at the end of that 70-year period when Jerusalem would finally see its judgment completed, Babylon apparently was also to be judged and go into perpetual desolations. Daniel could look around him and Babylon was not in perpetual desolations. Indeed it was powerful and prosperous. The Persian kings had their winter capital there. So Daniel was scratching his head. What was meant by these 70 years? He wanted to know what God was talking about. The 70 years were coming and going and the city of Babylon was not going into perpetual desolation. So Daniel set his "face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes" (Daniel 9:3). He wanted to know how to interpret the prophecy.
Daniel finally was given a message from Gabriel on how to interpret that prophecy correctly. In verse 21 he has a vision once more when Gabriel gives Daniel an interpretation of how to understand the 70 years of Jeremiah, and how at the end of the 70 years Babylon would go into perpetual desolation. It shows that it was not to be 70 literal years, but 70 weeks of years,
"… are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy."
The 70-Weeks Prophecy
Seventy weeks of years. Daniel was given a reinterpretation of those 70 years as far as the Messiah and the people of Judah were concerned, and the establishment of everlasting righteousness on earth. This 70-weeks of years was to stretch out to 490 years from the time of the going forth of a command to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, until all these events would be fulfilled of a 490-year period. That was considerably more than the 70 years mentioned back in chapter 25 of Jeremiah.
This 70-weeks prophecy is most interesting because it is divided into four sections. In the Hebrew it says that the prophecy is "cut up" or "cut out" of history into four divisions. One division was to be for a period of 7 weeks, then another period of 62 weeks. Put them together and you get 483 years [7 + 62 = 69, 69 x 7 = 483]. Then a period of 7 years would exist at the endtime. These 7 years would be divided in half to be 3½ years on one side and 3½ years on the other side.
The book of Daniel and the book of Revelation in the New Testament both speak about endtimes. The book of Revelation in particular talks about this last week of Daniel’s 490 years, or the last 7 years of this prophecy, which was divided in half. The book of Revelation (in 12:14) speaks about a time, times (plural) and half a time, meaning one time which is a year of 360 days ideally, then two times of 720 days and then half a time would be half a year, 180 days. You add them all together and you get 1260 days or 42 months [360 + 720 + 180 = 1260]. Forty-two months equals 3½ years. Then 3½ years plus 3½ years equals 7 years. The 7 years is the 70th week of Daniel’s 490-year prophecy. It was to stretch out until the very end when righteousness and the Kingdom of God would come on the earth. 12
It sounds rather complicated. But God tells us how to interpret how long until Babylon would be destroyed and come under perpetual desolations. Daniel is told that the Kingdom of Babylon, the Kingdom of Persia, and the Kingdom of Greece, though Babylon was outwardly destroyed back in the 6th century B.C.E. and then in the 4th century we find Persia destroyed by the Macedonians and Alexander the Great. Then Alexander’s Grecian empire went by the wayside as well. These kingdoms back then were to retain their power and authority subliminally until the end of the age when this last 7-year period would occur that Daniel talked about in the 70-weeks prophecy.
This is most important to understand, because the image seen in chapter 2 of Daniel is described again in Daniel chapter 7 in different terms. It says that Daniel was able to see four beasts come out of the sea.
"And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings."
That turns out to be Babylon, when you really understand it. Verse 5, the next was like a bear and this was Medo-Persia. Then in verse 6, a leopard, and that turned out to be the Grecian empire of Alexander the Great. In verse 7 he sees a non-descript beast exceedingly powerful, strong and like iron which finally will develop into 10 kings answering to the 10 toes of the image interpreted in chapter 2 of Daniel. These 10 kings would be under the leadership of one little horn, the antichrist, the beast as we call him in the book of Revelation, who will stand up against Christ Jesus and who Christ would put down when the Kingdom of God would come on the earth. It is interesting about these first three beasts (the lion, the bear and the leopard), which answer to Babylon, Persia and Greece. It says in verse 11,
"I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts [the lion, the bear and the leopard; Babylon, Persia and Greece], they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time."
They will be prolonged even after they were "destroyed" back in the 6th, 4th, and 3rd centuries B.C.E. In fact in the second part of this prophecy it says in Daniel 7:17, "These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth" at the end of the age when you put all of these prophecies together. This means that Babylon along with Persia, Greece, and the non-descript beast of iron, will be in existence at the end of the age. Though their dominions anciently were taken away, they will come forth at the end of the age, and at the head of all of them will be Babylon succeeded by Persia, and succeeded by Greece. Daniel chapter 7 says there will be a Babylon at the end of the age. There also will be a Persia (which is Iran). There also will be the area of Greece. 13 These nations will be in existence when the 10 toes, led by a little horn, will bring up the beast power, the antichristian kingdom just prior to the 2nd Coming of Christ. Babylon will be around. The perpetual desolations of Babylon have not yet taken place as prophesied.
The Desolation of Babylon
If you want to see some of those prophecies about Babylon and how perpetual desolations will come to pass, go back to chapter 13 of Isaiah written in the 8th century before Christ. 14 It speaks about Babylon finally going into desolations. This prophecy here in chapter 13 about Babylon is called the "Burden of Babylon." It is about Babylon when the Day of the Lord will come.
"Howl ye; for the day of the Lord 15 is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. … Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it [talking about the land of Babylon]. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine [see Revelation 8:12]. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger."
Isaiah 13:6, 9–13
This is talking about the whole earth, but it is centered primarily upon Babylon. Notice what will happen to Babylon when this prophecy takes place. It has never happened in history, but will come on the earth at the end of the age when the 10 toes come up, when the man of sin, the little horn, is able to control the nations in the Middle East. Babylon will be right there according to chapter 7 of Daniel.
The Medes are part of the Iran today, and they live east of the Mesopotamian region.
"Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them [Babylon], which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. [notice what will happen to Babylon] And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah."
This is talking about a time in the future of the Day of the Lord when the Medes will do this to Babylon. It has never happened in history. But it will happen in the generation or so ahead of us. It says,
"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."
How surprised I was when I went to Babylon in 1970 on two different occasions and found Arabs pitching their tents in the city of Babylon. Not only that, a contingent of the Iraqi army, which I saw and took photographs of, were bivouacking right in the midst of the ruins of ancient Babylon. It says in this prophecy here that the Arabian will never pitch a tent in Babylon after the destruction of this city. This prophecy has never taken place. It will take place in the Day of the Lord. It will take place just before the emergence of the Kingdom of God on this earth.
"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."
Evil beasts will be in the area of Babylon. I went to Babylon and there was a small village there, quite pleasant. It was a national park area and Sadaam Hussein had been building up Babylon and restoring it, trying to bring back the seven gardens, the Hanging Gardens of ancient Babylon.
That will occur, no matter what happens to Sadaam Hussein. It is in the psyche of the people of Iraq to bring these things to pass and it is in the Bible that Babylon will be built back up, but also be destroyed at the end of the age. There are no wild beasts of the desert living there are the present time. It is quite a pleasant place to be. In fact on the Fridays, because they are Muslims in that area, when I was there, people from Halah, which was south about 15 miles, would get in their cars and come out to Babylon to picnic because it was so pleasant to be there on the Euphrates River in the massive ancient ruins of Babylon.
While I was there I was able to go around and pick up stones, ancient bricks and things like that, some of them half-burnt and some of them not. I found with my own hands, bricks that had incised on them in cuneiform or wedge-type letters, the name of Nebuchadnezzar himself. I have these to this very day. You can find them all around Babylon. It is very pleasant to be in that region, although the area is in ruins. It was never destroyed the way Isaiah 13 says that it will be destroyed.
"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."
"Prolonged" means for judgment. The Medes will do this. The Medes did not destroy Babylon back in the time of King Cyrus. Cyrus had Median blood in him, that is true, but it was the Persians primarily that took over Babylon, and they did not destroy it in this fashion at all, not in the 6th century B.C.E. It was not destroyed in the 4th, or in the 3rd century B.C.E. either. It went into ruin gradually, over the years.
Go to Jeremiah. He uttered his prophecies some 150 years after Isaiah. In two long chapters of Jeremiah, at the end of his prophecies, here is what he says concerning Babylon and the land of the Chaldeans, or as we call it today, Iraq, named after that sister city of Babel, Erech, in the time of Nimrod.
"The word that the Lord spoke 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, … For out of the north there comes 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."
This nation from the north is described later in this long prophecy here as being the Medes who will head a coalition of peoples to destroy Babylon in the day of the Lord. That Babylon will be there in our day today, the Babylon that Daniel chapter 7 says will come back and exist along with Persia, and with Macedonia (Greece or Javan) at the end of the age. Their dominion would be taken away, but they themselves remained and will come back up in power and authority in the generation prior to the establishment of the Kingdom of God. "For out of the north there comes up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate," and she will be perpetually desolate from that time forward and throughout the millennium.
Babylon will remain desolate, along with the nation of Edom, southeast of Jerusalem. All the other nations of the world in the millennium will be beautiful, wonderful, full of joy and happiness, and even the deserts of Israel will blossom. A few areas of the earth will remain in perpetual desolations, just a few, to remind the people throughout the millennium of the great sins that these nations did.
We find God in Jeremiah and also in Isaiah, describing what will happen. This is for the future because these prophecies have never yet happened in history. Look at the end of verse 3, "… none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast." People have dwelt in Babylon from the time that this prophecy was made. It was a great city in the time of Jeremiah, in the time of Cyrus, King of Persia, and in the time of Alexander the Great. Babylon was considered by Alexander to be the capital of his world empire. He wanted to retain it. Only in the generation after Alexander was it decided to build a new Babylon on the River Tigris about 50 miles north. They built it up there and called it Babylon on the Tigris.
Baghdad and Babylon
One of the local names of this new Babylon on the Tigris was Baghdad, the city that we find there today. Later the Seleucid Empire decided to move the capital from that region of the Tigris, to an area on the Mediterranean coast near where the Orontes River went into the Mediterranean. Antiochus the Great built the city there, and he called it Antioch. Another name for it was Babylon on the Orontes. They wanted to retain the name Babylon, but these cities eventually became known as Baghdad and Antioch. 16
People continue to live in Babylon. The Arabian is pitching his tent there to this very day. Even in the time of B.W. Newton who wrote in the last century (the Englishman who said that these prophecies were never fulfilled, but would be in the future), he said you can go to Babylon then in his day and find Arabians living in the area and pitching their tents there. I saw them with my own eyes and have pictures of them. Even the Iraqi army bivouacked there was living in tents. So the prophecies that are being talked of here are not the prophecies that have been fulfilled.
These prophecies are for the end of the age, exactly as Daniel said would take place. Shishak (which is Mystery Babylon to be destroyed at the end of the age) is not the Babylon back in the time of Isaiah or Jeremiah, it is the future Babylon to be raised up at the end of the age. A future Nebuchadnezzar will come along who will be the King of Babylon. He will be an Assyrian (Assyria being a sister race of the Babylonians). He will head this coalition of Babylonian powers.
Going on in Jeremiah, "Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate" (Jeremiah 50:13), from that time on. That never happened to the Babylon of history, but it will happen to the Babylon to come up a few years from now. Verse 15 says of this future Babylon that the walls will be thrown down where you cannot even find them. 17 But they are being raised up right now by the supposed new Nebuchadnezzar, Sadaam Hussein. If he lasts any longer, he may continue to do so. If not, someone else will do it, because this Babylon will come back in power and authority. You can still see many of the walls of the city of Babylon over there.
It goes on to say in Jeremiah 50:23 that Babylon will become a desolation. But it is not desolation at this time. It says in Jeremiah 50:38 that Babylon shall be, "A drought … upon her waters; and they shall be dried up." Babylon is a desert area, that is quite true, but it is right on the Euphrates River, and there is plenty of water underneath the city of Babylon. One of the reasons they have difficulty in preserving some of the clay tablets is because the water table is so high that it caused tablets to fuse together into a type of a mud. It has not become a drought area. It is still quite pleasant.
"Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein [the type of evil animals that God is talking about]: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever [for olam, for the age]; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation."
That is the destruction of the future Babylon that will be raised up. But right now it is being dwelt in.
"As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, saith the Lord; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. Behold, a people shall come from the north [the Medes], and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. … they are cruel, and will not show mercy."
These kings will come against this future Babylon. Going on in Jeremiah 51:2, it says that these kings of the north, these Medes, will empty the land of Babylon of people and of beasts. It says in verse 8 that, "Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed." This never happened in ancient history. It says in verse 11,
"Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it."
This is the future Babylon. Continuing on to verse 26,
"And they shall not take of you a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but you shall be desolate for ever [for olam, for the age], saith the Lord [YHWH]."
No stones will be reused from this Babylon in the future. When B.W. Newton wrote his work some 130–140 years ago, he said the Babylon on the Euphrates, the old Babylon of the old Nebuchadnezzar was not the one being talked of, because it was not destroyed in this fashion by the Medes. He says that 15 miles to the south, most of the city of Hillah was built of stones from the ruins of Babylon.
Though I did not get to Hillah myself when I was in Iraq, I have guidebooks which said 20 years ago [from 1991] that they were still getting and using bricks from Babylon to build parts of their homes in Hillah, a city of about 100,000 people. But this rebuilt Babylon will be destroyed to such an extent that,
"… they shall not take of you a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but you shall be desolate for ever [for the age], saith the Lord."
It mentions the nations that will do the destructions, the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni and Ashchenas, along with the Medes. Verse 29, Babylon shall become "a desolation without an inhabitant." In verse 36,
"… I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant."
No one shall dwell in the future Babylon. It will be so utterly destroyed that for a 1,000-year period no animal or beast will be there. No Arabian will pitch his tent there. Not even the bricks will be used to build other cities and houses and towns. These prophecies have never been fulfilled. Verse 43,
"Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwells, neither does any son of man pass thereby."
It goes on to say, "… spoilers shall come unto her from the north" (Jeremiah 51:48) which shall turn this Babylon into utter destruction and that the land of the Chaldeans shall be utterly broken,
"The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labor in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary. The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded ..."
The words of Jeremiah the prophet will come to pass. This is the time, as he said in Jeremiah 25, when Shishak, Mystery Babylon shall be destroyed. It was not to occur 70 years after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in the 6th century B.C.E. It was not to take place in the time of Daniel when he read the prophecies of Jeremiah and he saw the 70 years transpire. Daniel said, well, I guess it is about time for Babylon to be destroyed, but the angel Gabriel came to him and said, no, there is a different way to interpret this. God did not say precisely at the end of the 70 years. Gabriel said there is a 490-year period, 70-weeks of years until that will take place, and even that is in four divisions.
There is coming a final division of one week of 7 years divided into two sections, 3½ years on one side, 3½ years on the other. These 3½ year periods will be dominated by 10 kings, or as in the original vision of Nebuchadnezzar, the 10 toes of this Babylonian image. Babylon will come back along with Persia and along with Greece and be a part of this image, along with the iron, and iron mixed with miry clay, to be destroyed at the end of the age. This Babylonian image with the mind of Nebuchadnezzar was the type of the age dominated by Babylon. It was an age in which Jesus Christ would come and the Gospel given to the world.
It is the age that you and I are in right now, and coming closer to the end every day. What is happening in the Persian Gulf, in Kuwait, in Iraq and in the Babylon that we are talking about here, is a prelude — no doubt — of the setting-up of this new Babylon that is described here, to be destroyed by the Medes and other nations from out of the north. These prophecies in Isaiah chapters 13, 14, 47, all the chapters of Habakkuk as well as Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51, and some prophecies of Daniel, as well as Revelation, which speak about Babylon connected with the final world kingdom to emanate from Mystery Babylon, all of these things are to be brought to an end with the 2nd advent of Christ.
We need to keep our minds on what is happening in the Middle East, no matter what occurs with Sadaam Hussein, or how much Iraq is reduced of its power and authority. It is destined to come back with a new power that will be in existence at the 2nd coming of Christ. We need to keep our eyes on that area. Just as Japan and Germany recovered very quickly [after World War II], so we can find the same thing happening in the Middle East. The future prophetic history of Iraq is fascinating.
Let’s keep our minds on what the Bible says.
Ernest L. Martin, 1991
Edited by David Sielaff, April 2003
1 In fact I was Dean of Faculty of their college in England. Soon after I was promoted to Chairman of the Department of Theology in Pasadena, California. I tried to tell the authorities in my former denomination that, but it was just like water off a duck’s back. They were not interested in knowing any of it at the time. Most were not knowledgeable of ancient history in most cases, or when it came to Babylon, they considered it to be a symbol of Rome or some other area like in Europe. They did not want to see that these prophecies had a geographical basis in the Middle East where we find Iraq at present.
2 Upon returning to Jerusalem in 1970 and finally back to England where I then lived, I began to tell the church authorities these things. As I said before I got little attention from most of them because they have little understanding of ancient history. No matter how I tried to show the historical and geographical factors of the prophecies and how these factors showed there was to be a relatively strong and viable nation known as Babylon near the end of the age, it made no difference.
3 These works were, Aids to Prophetic Inquiry, 3rd ed. (London: Houlston and Sons, 1881) and Babylon, Its Future History and Doom, 3rd ed. (London: Houlston & Sons, 1890). DWS
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