During the time that the Old Testament was being written, Israel was surrounded by a number of nations, most of which no longer exist. Some of them were great powers and one of these was Babylon. Israel had quite a lot of contact with Babylon and was affected by their idolatrous religion. Consequently, the prophets of Israel who spoke the word of God to the people, had a message of condemnation to both Israel and Babylon. As with Israel, the future of Babylon was foretold by the prophets. God declared through the prophet Isaiah,
“I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
The power to foretell the future, accurately and in great detail, is an attribute of God alone and its purpose in the Bible is declared to be, that men in succeeding generations may study his word and compare it with the actual unfolding of human history; so that their faith in the book as a whole may be vindicated and strengthened.
THE TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE
Babylon was the richest and most splendid city of the ancient world and was the capital of the country we now call Iraq. Eventually she conquered so much territory that she ruled the mightiest empire the world had then known. However, her ways were evil before God and so the Bible said plainly that she would be punished for her wickedness. She was to be destroyed and remain a collection of ruins, uninhabited except for wild animals and birds. Here are the words of Isaiah:
“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” (Isaiah 13:19-21)
Here are the words of Jeremiah about Babylon:
“It shall be NO MORE INHABITED FOR EVER; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation… 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… and Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant” (Jeremiah 50:39; 51:26,37)
You can visit the site of ancient Babylon and see how precisely these prophecies have been fulfilled. Babylon, whose massive walls and great brazen gates were counted among the wonders of the ancient world, and whose surrounding countryside was the most fertile plain in all the Middle East, now lies deserted. Many other ancient cities have had cities built on top of them - but not Babylon.
As far as the eye can see, lie deserted heaps of ruins where the archaeologists find proof of the wonderful accuracy of Bible prophecy. Not even a Bedouin encampment breaks the monotony for there is no grazing for their flocks, and the superstitious Arabs believe the ruins to be haunted. Only wild beasts and birds inhabit the heaps of stones.
READ FOR YOURSELF
Now read again the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah quoted above and ask yourselves, “How were they able to describe this scene so accurately long before Babylon?s power began to wane?”. For more than 1000 years their words have, in effect, challenged the world - “Re-inhabit Babylon and you will prove the Bible false.” Nobody has taken up the challenge. It is said that Alexander the Great decided to make his capital on the site of ancient Babylon, as it was in a central position for the governing of his Empire, but before he could begin building, he suddenly died at the age of 32.
THE HAND OF GOD
Babylon has never been rebuilt and its people have been scattered and lost amongst the nations of the earth. When they were first uttered, these prophecies must have sounded most unlikely of fulfilment. Yet fulfilled they were down to the last detail.
In this small booklet there is no space to write all the prophecies Jeremiah spoke about Babylon. He foretold in detail the clever way in which Cyrus the Persian, commander of the Median and Persian armies, finally broke into the city by damming up the river Euphrates outside the city so that the people inside had no water. A very pertinent question remains. How did the prophets know these things except they spoke, as they were moved, by the power of God?
There is no doubt that God was behind these remarkable prophecies and so we urge you to give careful consideration to them, because it is through the prophecies penned by faithful men of God that we know what the future holds in store for all of us.