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Living in the Age of Signs

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The city of Babylon is currently in ruins. Yet we know it will rise to power again because of biblical prophecy. The eighteenth chapter of Revelation says Babylon will once again rule the economic world, this time as a hub for the Antichrist's one–world economy. In the End Times, it will rise—and fall—again.

How will this transformation occur? In the world today, there are already indications emerging of things to come.

The rebuilding of Babylon is not just an idle topic of scholarly books. When Saddam Hussein rose to power in Iraq, he conceived a grandiose scheme for the rebuilding of that ancient city. He promised that Babylon's grand palaces and legendary Hanging Gardens (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) would rise from the dust. Believing himself to be the reincarnation of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who had conquered Jerusalem 2,500 years earlier, Hussein invested more than $500 million toward his goal of restoring Babylon's ancient city.

In 1987, while on a site visit to the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's palace, Hussein asked how his guides were so certain of the date of its construction. The curator showed Hussein some of the original bricks, stamped with the name of Nebuchadnezzar II and the date that we now refer to as 605 B.C. Hussein, not to be outdone, had bricks laid in his palace wall that read: "In the reign of the victorious Saddam Hussein, the president of the Republic, . . . the guardian of the great Iraq and the renovator of its renaissance and the builder of its great civilization, the rebuilding of the great city of Babylon was done in 1987."1

To further cement the implication of a relationship between himself and Nebuchadnezzar, Hussein had a seal struck depicting parallel images of himself and the ancient ruler. The inscription was written in the wedge shapes of ancient cuneiform script as well as, strangely enough, in English.

Hussein was consumed with reviving the glory days of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. He made Babylon "the focal point of Iraqi nationalism," and on September 22, 1987, he inaugurated the musical event known as the Babylon Festival. Saddam seemed determined to echo Nebuchadnezzar's bold proclamation: "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:30).

Saddam's extravagant plans were interrupted by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Despite his removal from power and subsequent execution, the work to rebuild Babylon continues.

How does a war–torn nation like Iraq come up with the funds to rebuild an ancient site? Obviously, some of the resources come from the exportation of oil. In early 2010, Iraqi oil exports were at the highest level in more than a decade. As the world's third largest exporter of crude oil, the Iraqi government has issued long–term contracts with foreign oil companies to manage ten of Iraq's major oil fields. Al–Maliki aims to make Iraq a "preeminent producer that will rival, if not eclipse, Saudi Arabia and Russia" as the predominant world oil producers.2

In 2009 the U.S. State Department issued a media note announcing a $700,000 pledge to The Future of Babylon Project, explaining that "Babylon stands out among Iraq's rich contributions to humanity." The note went on to say that this project "exemplifies the American people's commitment to the preservation of human heritage and their respect for the cultural heritage of Iraq."4

An article in the British newspaper The Independent was titled, "Iraq's New Venture: Holidays in the Garden of Eden," and subtitled, "Iraq is trying to lure visitors to the land of Babylon with the slogan 'tourism not terrorism.' " The article goes on to say, "The cradle of civilisation, the land of Babylon and the Garden of Eden, will become a paradise for foreign tourists."5

The United States government is taking seriously the rise of the city of Babylon and the central place of Iraq in the future of the world. On January 5, 2009, the largest and, at $474 million, the most expensive U.S. Embassy in the world opened in Baghdad, not far from Babylon. The 104–acre, twenty–seven–building complex is situated on the banks of the Tigris River.6 It includes 619 apartments for staff, restaurants, basketball and volleyball courts, and an indoor Olympic–sized swimming pool.7

This embassy, known as "Embassy Baghdad," is the largest of its kind in the world. It is the size of eighty football fields—as large as Vatican City—with a population of 5,500. It dwarfs U.S. embassies elsewhere that typically cover about ten acres. The Baghdad embassy has its own defense force and is designed to be entirely self–sufficient. We can see by these moves toward rebuilding Babylon that the city has a special interest in the eyes of the powers of the world. I believe these steps signal the beginning of the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Henry Morris explains:

Never has a great world city had such a meteoric rise as New Babylon, and never will one experience such a cataclysmic and total fall. . . . Babylon on the Euphrates has lain dormant and foreboding for centuries. . . . But mighty Babylon is not really dead. . . . Suddenly it will rise once again. Under the impact of overwhelming geopolitical needs, it will be authorized and implemented by the unprecedented building program undertaken by the federal ten–kingdom empire of the West, then pushed to dynamic completion by the Beast. Finally it will be inaugurated as the great world capital of the Beast, who will have become king of all the kingdoms of the globe.8

This is an excerpt from David Jeremiah's book The Coming Economic Armageddon, published in 2010.*

*Since the rebuilding was last reported in Dr. Jeremiah's The Coming Economic Armageddon, the Future of Babylon Project has helped conserve and stabilize the Lion of Babylon and complete a Site Management Plan. This plan addresses site boundaries, future excavations, and effective viewing stations for future tourism. In 2017 they focused efforts on and around the Ishtar Gate, improving drainage and repointing the brick to protect against further water damage.

  1. Neil MacFarquhar, "Hussein's Babylon: A Beloved Atrocity,"New York Times.com, 19 August 2003, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/19/world/hussein–s–babylon–a–beloved–atrocity.html (accessed 26 January 2009).

  2. "Energy Resources: Iraq Oil Sales Up But Plans 'Unrealistic,' "United Press International, 5 March 2010, http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource–Wars/2010/03/05/Iraq–oil–sales–up–but–plans–unrealistic/UPI–98181267816651/ (accessed 12 March 2010).

  3. U.S. Department of State, "The Future of Babylon Project," 7 January 2009, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/2009/01/1134648.htm (accessed 15 January 2009).

  4. "Iraq's New Venture: Holidays in the Garden of Eden," The Independent, 1 August 2008, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle–east/iraqs–new–venture–holidays–in–the–garden–of–eden–882635.html (accessed 15 January 2009) and "Iraq: Ready to Fly," http://www.airport–technology. com/features/feature59101/ (accessed 17 November 2009).

  5. "New American Embassy Opens in Baghdad," CNN.com, 5 January 2009, http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/05/iraq.main/index.html (accessed 15 January 2009).

  6. "Opening Soon in Baghdad: Largest U.S. Embassy in the World with Restaurants, 619 Apartments," World Tribune.com, 18 April 2008, http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2008/ss_iraq0068_04_18.asp (accessed 20 April 2010).

  7. Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1983), 351.

Today's Audio Devotion: Creation Care

Marine litter is a huge ecological problem. Many countries’ coastlines are littered with plastic and debris, and there is an “island” of plastic more than the twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean where currents have accumulated the debris. Fish become entangled in discarded fishing nets and lines, with bellies full of plastic debris they have swallowed.

Such images are in stark contrast to the pristine beauty and glory of Eden as presented in Genesis. Though mankind was given the mandate to “have dominion over” (that is, to care for) all of creation, we have not done a good job. When God’s mandates go unfulfilled on earth, God’s glory is diminished. And that mandate extends to our personal life as well. Paul writes that we belong to God and we are to glorify Him with our care and use of our body.

When you see opportunities to care for creation—nature or your own body—do so as a way of glorifying the Creator.

The creation is both a monument of God’s power, and a looking-glass in which we may see his wisdom.
Thomas Watson

Babylon is the second most frequently mentioned city in the Bible. In the NKJV, it appears 287 times in 253 verses.

We've gathered a list of 15 passages to provide a brief glimpse of Babylon's prophetic history and future, along with the pagan attributes that make the city perennially infamous.

Prophecy of the Babylon Captivity and Babylon's Destruction

Isaiah 13:19–20

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
The beauty of the Chaldeans' pride,
Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
It will never be inhabited,
Nor will it be settled from generation to generation;
Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there,
Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there.

Isaiah 14:22–23

"For I will rise up against them," says the Lord of hosts,
"And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant,
And offspring and posterity," says the Lord.
"I will also make it a possession for the porcupine,
And marshes of muddy water;
I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," says the Lord of hosts.

Daniel 3:1

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

Jeremiah 25:9

"Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north," says the Lord, "and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations."

Jeremiah 51:58

The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken,
And her high gates shall be burned with fire;
The people will labor in vain,
And the nations, because of the fire;
And they shall be weary.

1 Chronicles 9:1

So all Israel was recorded by genealogies, and indeed, they were inscribed in the book of the kings of Israel. But Judah was carried away captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness.

Psalm 137:8–9

O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
Happy the one who takes and dashes
Your little ones against the rock!

Jeremiah 29:10

For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit [the exiled Jews] and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.

2 Kings 24:7

And the king of Egypt did not come out of his land anymore, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the River Euphrates.

Daniel 5:30–31

That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty–two years old.

Ezra 5:13–15

However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to build this house of God. Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple that was in Jerusalem and carried into the temple of Babylon—those King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon, and they were given to one named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. And he said to him, "Take these articles; go, carry them to the temple site that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its former site."

Babylon in End Times Prophecy

Revelation 14:8

And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

Revelation 16:19

Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.

Revelation 17:3–6

So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written:

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH.

I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

Revelation 18:10

Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come."

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

The Collapse of the Global Financial Market

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

When we think of the world's great cities today, we think of New York, London, Tokyo, Rome, Sao Paulo, and others. But a city is coming into the future—an ancient city that has lain dormant for ages—that will dwarf today's world-class cities in opulence, commerce, finance, and sin.

As we've studied the prophetic sign of Babylon together, we've learned that it will be the center of the Antichrist's one–world economy. The Antichrist will begin his work under the guise of peace, but Babylon will quickly return to its former wickedness—extreme decadence, infinite cruelty, and ravenous power—total rebellion against God.

For those of us who are believers, we won't experience Babylon's rebirth during the Tribulation. But the spirit of Babylon is evident in our world today. Materialism and selfish pursuits dominate our culture.

As believers, how do we guard against the spirit of Babylon in our own lives? How do we wisely steward the wealth God has apportioned to us in our world today?

The Bible doesn't tell us how to invest our money, but it does provide principles for how we should steward our resources.

Recognize Today's Economy is Fragile and Fluctuating

When Enos Barton boarded a train for Cleveland in 1869, he was fuming about Western Union's decision to cut his salary by ten dollars per month. He had been one of the best telegraph operators in New York City during the Civil War. Every day he had accurately transmitted news to and from the front lines. But after the war, the economy faltered and Western Union cut costs. Barton quit and traveled to Ohio, hoping to find a job with inventor Elisha Gray.

Barton was a bright young man with a receding hairline, a retiring chin, sharp eyes, and a head for business. He was immediately impressed with Gray's product line—bells and alarms and new–fangled electrical gadgets. Barton decided he didn't just want to work for Gray; he wanted to co–own the business. There was only one problem. Barton didn't have any money to invest.

Sitting down with his mother, Barton shared his ideas and told her it was a great investment opportunity. She was impressed enough to mortgage the family farm and give him the $400 he needed to buy into the business, which became Gray and Barton (and later, Graybar). It was one of the best investments in history. Mrs. Barton's $400 investment has become a $5.4 billion FORTUNE 500 company and a leader in the telecommunications world.

It's amazing what you can do with $400—if you're the mother of a bright young man with a head for business and a knack for being at the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, few investments pay off like that. Millions of us have suffered loss during the last few years as the stock market has risen and plunged like a rollercoaster. Individual investors, senior citizens with mutual funds, charitable institutions with endowments, and most people who have a pension plan—have all suffered from the fragile and fluctuating world economy.

Not even the experts know what to do. "One of the funny things about the stock market," said the American publisher William Feather, "is that every time one person buys, another person sells, and both think they are astute."1

Discern How You Can Invest in Eternity

The Bible tells us to handle our money as wisely as we can. It is God who gives us the ability to earn a living and gain wealth (Deuteronomy 8:17–18). In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus commended the wise stewards who made good investments of what had been entrusted to them. Proverbs 13:11 (NIV) says, "He who gathers money little by little makes it grow." That's why John Wesley famously said, "Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can."

But the Bible's fundamental investment strategy has little to do with accumulating money. Jesus Christ wasn't a stockbroker, but He gave the best investment tip in history when He said: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19–21).

The world is full of investment advisors, but none of them has a better plan. We have entire cable channels, like CNBC, Fox Business Network, and Bloomberg Television. We have talking heads like Jim Cramer and his ilk–hawking investment advice day and night. The Wall Street Journal has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the United States. Dozens of magazines are devoted to investment strategy and money management.

But Jesus perfectly understood the law of returns when He said in John 6:27, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life." Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." The apostle Paul warned us not to put our hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to be rich in good works, thus laying up a treasure for ourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age (1 Timothy 6:19). We need to take stock of our lives and make sure we're investing ourselves in eternity. As Colonel Harlan Sanders put it, "There's no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can't do any business from there."

With the world nearing an economic Armageddon, it's hard to imagine a safe place to deposit our money. But when we faithfully tithe or devote our resources to the Kingdom, it propels the Gospel to the world: souls are saved and heaven is populated. When you support your local church, your funds are transmuted into literature, lives, ministries, and missions. You may never see the returns until you get to heaven, but what a joy it will be to meet people who are there because your gift helped bring them to faith in Christ.

Invest Your Time as Wisely as Your Money

Our investments for Christ go beyond money. We also invest our energy and passion into the work, and this investment comes back to bless us. In his treatise on Christian zeal, the British writer J. C. Ryle wrote, "Zeal is good for a Christian's own soul. We all know that exercise is good for the health and that regular employment of our muscles and limbs promotes our bodily comfort and increases our bodily vigor. Now that which exercise does for our bodies, zeal will do for our souls. It will help mightily to promote inward feelings of joy, peace, comfort, and happiness. None have so much enjoyment of Christ as those who are ever zealous for His glory."2

Charles Caleb Colton was another British wit who is remembered for his quips and quotes. He knew how to turn a great phrase, and for many years his sayings have been recycled in quotation books. Colton, for example, is the one who first said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

It is Colton's definition of time that interests me: "Time is the most indefinable, yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past, even while we attempt to define it, and like the flash of the lightning, at once exists and expires." Time, according to another of Colton's apt quotations, is "the bleak and narrow isthmus between two eternities."

Right now we have just enough time to do what God wants us to do. According to Ephesians 2:10, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 5:15–16 (ESV) adds, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."

It is easy to become so busy doing what comes next that we only tackle those things that seem urgent. But the Bible tells us to give thought to our steps (Proverbs 14:8 NIV). We should begin every day by thinking through our agenda and making time for what is truly important, things that will matter in eternity.

In the April 3, 1919, edition of The Herald of Gospel Liberty, a Maine pastor named M. W. Willard told the story of a businessman in Calcutta who was approached by the secretary of the British Missionary Society for a donation. The merchant wrote a check for $250, a significant amount in those days. As he handed over the check, a cablegram arrived. He read it and looked troubled. "This cablegram," he said, "tells me that one of my ships has been wrecked and the cargo lost. It makes a very large difference in my affairs. I will have to write you another check."

The secretary understood perfectly and handed back the $250 check. The checkbook was still open, and so the merchant wrote another check and handed it over. It was for $1000.

"Haven't you made a mistake?" asked the secretary.

"No," said the merchant. "I have not made a mistake. That cablegram was a message from my Father in heaven. It read: ‘Lay not up for yourself treasure on earth.'"

The Bible says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world… the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15–17). The investments of this world may crumble, but whatever we invest in the kingdom, we're sending it on ahead. We will lose what we have in this life; but the time, energy, and resources we invest in God's work are solid investments that will pay dividends throughout eternity. This perspective will guard our hearts against the spirit of Babylon.

1Charles J. Corrado and Bradford D. Jordan , Fundamentals of Investments by (Boston: McGraw–Hill, 2004), 214.

2J. C. Ryle, Be Zealous (Ipswich: Hung & Son, 1852), 19.

For nearly 2000 years, Babylon was the economic and cultural center of ancient Mesopotamia. Not much is left of the city today, but Revelation 18 tells us it will return to its prior power and prestige during the Tribulation. God still has a future planned for the city of Babylon, and understanding its history will help us better grasp its significance.

Here is a glimpse of Babylon's history in ancient Bible times:

  • Babylon was an ancient city in Mesopotamia. It was the capital city of Babylonians from the second to first millennium B.C., and then the Chaldean Empire in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.

  • Hammurabi ruled Babylon in the early 18th century B.C. and created the first written law. There were 282 detailed laws, which covered marriage, wages, the sale of slaves, rental rates, stealing, adoption, and much more.

  • Hammurabi's Code
  • After Hammurabi's death, the strength of Babylon declined. By the sixteenth century B.C., it had passed through the hands of several nations.

  • Assyria took control of Babylon in 705 B.C. under the rule of Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32). The city revolted against his rule, so Sennacherib destroyed Babylon in retaliation.

  • Babylon fell into many different religious practices as it was the home of ziggurats and the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). Babylon's chief god, Marduk, became the supreme Mesopotamian god.

  • The neo–Babylonian Empire was established in 612 B.C. under King Nabopolassar. His son, King Nebuchadnezzar II, made Babylon his capital and rebuilt the city.

  • The reign of Nebuchadnezzar II lasted for 43 years. He expanded the territory of Babylonia to the Middle East and conquered the Hebrews, making them slaves. (One Hebrew slave was the prophet Daniel who interpreted the king's prophetic dream recorded in the book of Daniel.)

  • Ishtar Gate Entrance into Babylon
  • Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon was the largest city of its time. Babylon was a commercial, administrative, literary, and religious center. Its Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were filled with thousands of hanging plants, flowers, and trees located on 75–foot high terraces.

  • Babylon was truly a "city with a view," for it was a home to various kinds of towers, artworks, gardens, and palaces. Its citizens held a high view of culture, as evidenced by its flourishing architectural, literary, and astronomical centers.

  • Painting of Ancient Babylon
  • In 539 B.C. the city fell to Persia under Cyrus the Great. (King Cyrus appears in Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45; 2 Chronicles 36:22–23; Daniel 10:1.)

  • In 331 B.C. Babylon surrendered to Alexander the Great. After Alexander's death, the Seleucids took control.

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