Question: Do you think the country of Iraq will have a part in the end- times scenario? When the bible speaks of Babylon, is it speaking of Rome or the original city of Babylon? Is Shinar located in Rome or Iraq?
Answer: (This is not a doctrinal issue. Some interpretations will differ regarding the meaning of Revelation 18.) We believe Iraq will play a significant role in End Times prophecy and we believe that there are two Babylons forecasted in Scripture. One is the religious or spiritual Babylon-- the apostate religious unification; and the other is the commercial Babylon, that will be literally rebuilt in the land currently known today as Iraq and will become the world capital of the final world empire, headed by the Antichrist.
Revelation 17 = Ecclesiastical Babylon - destroyed by the 10 kings Revelation 18 = Commercial Babylon - destroyed by fire from Heaven
Dr. McGee contrasts the two Babylons, "The commercial center is loved by the kings of the earth; and the apostate church is hated by the kings of the earth."
Babylon is mentioned 297 times in the Bible-- more than any other city except Jerusalem. Babylon is the theme of six long chapters in the Bible: Jeremiah 50-51; Isaiah 13-14 and Revelation 17-18.
Some scholars have said the whore to be Rome, as it is built on seven hills. Others contend the whore is Jerusalem, as it is also built on seven hills-- Israel is constantly depicted as playing the harlot in the Old Testament. Our study focuses on Revelation, chapter 18, which has to do with a commercial Babylon.
BABYLON THE GREAT
Rev 18:1-3 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Notice Revelation 18 begins with, "AFTER these things"-- (after the destruction of the harlot in Revelation 17) and "another angel," who shouts "Fallen! Fallen..."
Ancient Babylon existed in the area known as Iraq today. Many Bible scholars have said that Babylon, used in Revelation 18, is just symbolic and only used allegorically to signify Rome. We strongly disagree. The geographical region known as Iraq today will play a role in heading the FINAL world government. Shinar has always been located in the Middle East. Shinar is not Rome.
Dr. Ford C. Ottman wrote in 1905, "A literal Babylon...opens the way for a consistent and harmonious interpretation of the text throughout."
Isaiah prophesied the destruction of Babylon and likened it as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. Some scholars have said that this prophecy already was fulfilled when the Medo-Persian Empire overtook the city of Babylon. But we must remember that GOD rained fire down from Heaven when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and He will do the same to Babylon, as prophesied in Revelation 18-- "she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her..."
Isaiah 13:19-20: 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.
Ford C. Ottman wrote, "It is to be noted that this judgment is absolutely of God, whereas the judgment of the Mystery Babylon is instrumentally by men." [Though God will put it into their hearts to destroy the Whore.]
This will happen in the future. We know that the city of Babylon was inhabited, even during the time of Jesus Christ and afterward. (See 1Peter 5:13) The destruction foretold in Isaiah has yet to happen-- it is FUTURE. To a degree, Babylon was overthrown but not destroyed like "Sodom and Gomorrah." The Fall of Babylon in history is separate from the Destruction of Babylon, as prophesied in the Bible.
"Babylon must be restored in order that she may fall in a manner to fulfill to the last letter the predictions concerning her." -- Ford C. Ottman
Jeremiah 51:25-26 Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. 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.
"Babylon the Great" will be in Iraq. It will not be in Europe, not in Rome but in Shinar. That is what the Bible precisely says. Why would God call Rome "Shinar" in Zechariah? Why would God call Rome, "beauty of the Chaldees"? I have been studying Bible prophecy for over 25 years and I certainly do not have all the answers but when I would read some of the prophecy books on the subject, their analysis that "Rome is Babylon" truth- fully never made complete sense in light of the rest of the Scriptures. Such thinking truly underestimates the influence of Nimrod's Babel across the globe. (The Catholic Church has not influenced every religion of the world.) In order to see where the pagan religions began, we must go back to Genesis.
When the languages were confounded at the Tower of Babel, the religion they practiced went with them throughout the whole world and was practiced by all ancient peoples, except for the Jews. One of the best expositors we have found, who ties it all in, is Dr. Henry M. Morris in his book, "The Revelation Record."
Truth is, no one can know with absolute certainty exactly how the Tribulation events will exactly unfold until the prophecies take place and true Believers, in Christ Jesus, will not be on earth when the Tribulation takes place.
Just because "tradition" has upheld certain interpretation does not necessarily mean that it is what shall take place in the future. Man is limited because man does not have the capacity to jump into the future to see the actual events. So the Bible gives us the future prewritten... but the Bible must be taken literally where applicable and where there is imagery, that too must be held within context. We cannot rewrite God's Word in places to fit what we think will happen. There are countless commentaries out there on the Book of Revelation and each expositor will have something slightly different to say, although most share similar views and interpretations, because they were all trained by the same few teachers of their day.
John F. Walvoord, speaking of Revelation 18, wrote "...the approach taken here is to anticipate Babylon as a city that will be rebuilt as the capital of the final world empire and will be destroyed physically as well as politically at the time of the Second Coming. This conclusion is based on studies in the Old Testament concerning the prophecies there of the destruction of Babylon ... These prophecies anticipating the sudden destruction of Babylon were not fulfilled in history."
WORLD CAPITAL UNDER ANTICHRIST
We disagree with the idea that that Rome will be the "world headquarters" of the antichrist. This has been the general consensus among Protestant scholars for centuries to claim Rome as the "Land of Shinar" but for many dispensationalist scholars, it is just a matter of time before the literal Babylon appears...in the land of Iraq. There are simply too many references to "Babylon" and "Shinar" concerning the End Times to be discounted.
We must remember it was in the area of Iraq where the first tower of human unity was attempted...a new world order. The Tower of Babel was where mankind attempted to reach God by their own means-- an effort that proved disastrous. It would be no surprise that the devil would want to pick up where he was forced to leave off.
Henry M. Morris wrote in his book, The Revelation Record, "Babylon will indeed be resurrected as a great city, capital of a worldwide empire. She will be the eighth of these great kingdoms of the earth, arising out of them even as they all are also reviving. Yet in mystery form, Babylon the Great has existed ever since Nimrod."
SHINAR AND THE EPHAH
If one is to take the Bible literally, then Shinar cannot be allegorized to fit as "Rome".
Zechariah 5:6-11 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. 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.
"This is wickedness" could be referring to the "mystery of iniquity" taught by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein wrote: An ephah-- which is a Jewish measure standing here for commerce. The eyes of all the land (or earth) are upon it. Commercialism is very prominent in Revelation in connection with the full measure of wickedness, the climax of ungodliness. In Revelation 18, merchants are mentioned who have grown rich through the abundance of her delicacies. Then the merchants are seen weeping, for no man buys their merchandise any more. And then a long list follows, including all the articles of modern commerce. Compare this with the awful description of the last times in James 5. Rich men are commanded to weep and howl, for miseries are come upon them. They heaped treasure together the last days, and it was a heaping together by fraud, dishonesty in keeping back the hire of the laborers. They lived in pleasure (luxuriously) and were wanton... In Habakuk 2:12, the woe of judgment of that coming glory of the Lord is pronounced upon him that buildeth a town with blood and establisheth a city by iniquity! The people are seen laboring for the fire and wearying themselves for vanity. Luxuries, increase, riches, etc., are mentioned in the second and third chapters of Isaiah, chapters of judgment... The ephah points to this.
Let us notice that in the midst of the ephah there is seen a woman. She is called wickednessâ€¦personifies wickedness. She has surrounded herself with the ephah and sits in the midst of it. Have we not here the great whore having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication? Undoubtedly. This woman is the type of evil and wickedness in its highest form. Let us glance at that wonderful description of that woman in Revelation. She is the great whore sitting upon many waters. She sits upon scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman is arrayed in purple and scarlet decked with gold, precious stones and pearls. Upon her forehead is seen her name, Mystery, BABYLON the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations in the earth. She is drunk with the blood of the saints. The woman in the ephah represents the same great whore, Babylon the great. This becomes at once clear when we take into, consideration that the woman in the ephah is carried swiftly away and a house is built for her in the land of Shinar and it shall be established and set; there upon her own base.
Now the land of Shinar is Babylonia... But while in Revelation 17 the mystical Babylon is seen, in the eighteenth chapter there is another Babylon, the final great political-commercial world system; it is still future, not very far away, for we see that the trend of modern events is towards such a combination."
Ford C. Ottman in his book, "The Unfolding of the Ages", wrote on page 387-388: "The ephah is taken to the land of Shinar. Shinar is strictly Babylonian in its significance. It was the original base of evil and is to become the final one. The building of the house in Shinar would seem to point to the erection of a world's temple for the last great parliament of religions. The word "house," defining her abode, is the word employed to designate a heathen temple. It is fitting that the land of Shinar, where man was first found in rebellion against God, should be the scene and center of man's final fall into devil-worship. Babylon shall then stand forth in its real character as the open and defiant antagonist of God and of Christ..."
"The woman in the ephah and the woman riding the beast appear to be one and the same. Mystery Babylon falls and then literal Babylon comes into remembrance before God. This, of necessity, implies the reconstruction of the city. It is absolutely impossible exegetically to force the language of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation in such a way as to make it a part and continuance of the seventeenth (chapter)." pp 387 - 388.
Chuck Missler has an interesting theory about the passage in Zechariah: "It should be borne in mind that the stork was, in Jewish terms, an unclean bird. This vision has 'sinister' written all over it! Shinar is the geographic location where Babylon was located. It seems that this woman - wickedness, mother of harlots, etc. - is to be relocated to where it all began."
And this would make perfect sense. The antichrist uses the Whore to rise to power but later the "ten kings", who reign one hour with the Beast, destroy the Whore AND the religion of the whore is taken to Shinar. So in essence, they destroy the headquarters of the religion but KEEP THE RELIGION and take it to Shinar to be practiced in its own temple there in Babylon.
God is specific in Scripture, that it is the Land of Shinar (geographically located in Iraq), where the woman, "wickedness," is taken.
Jeremiah 51:7-9 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.
Revelation 16:19b "...and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath."
Henry M. Morris wrote this commentary on Revelation 17:2:
Revelation 17:2. With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
"The allusion both here and in Revelation 14:8 to Jeremiah 51:7 is obvious. Since the latter clearly refers to literal Babylon, so must this passage. But how could it really be that Babylon had made all nations and their inhabitants drunk with the wrath of her fornication? Nebuchadnezzar, with whom Jeremiah's prophecy had been immediately concerned, was a great king and his later Babylonian empire was the greatest of his day, but his kingdom was long gone even in John's day, and so were the empires of Persia and Greece that followed him. Furthermore, there were great nations even in Nebuchadnezzar's day--the nations of the Far East and of the Americas, for example--who had never even heard of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire. How could he have infected them?
To understand this situation, it should be remembered that Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon was not the original Babylon. As a matter of fact, Nebuchadnezzar himself had been eminently concerned with the restoration of Babylon's earlier culture and religion. He rebuilt temples and reinstituted the ancient worship of the older Babylonians of the time of Hammurabi and earlier.
Thus it is not the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar that made all nations drunk with the wine of her spiritual fornications. Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon did transmit much of its culture to the Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires which succeeded it (as implied by the great image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2), and it was of profound importance in the history of Israel, since it was Nebuchadnezzar who carried them into their seventy-year Babylonian captivity. But what it transmitted, it must have first received from its own progenitors. Furthermore, the great number of similarities between the idolatrous worship of the ancient Chinese the Hindus, the Incas, and other peoples far removed from Babylon, with the Babylonian worship could not have come from Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom."
Nimrod (found in Genesis 10-11) was the founder of Babylon and Nineveh and was the founder of the Babylonian-Assyrian civilization. Nimrod, the leader of Babel, was a type of the future antichrist.
The antichrist is called, the Assyrian, found in Micah 5. The Assyrian empire came before the Babylonian empire by several centuries. This empire consisted of the region we know today as Syria and Iraq.
Now, if you listen to some prophecy experts, you will hear them say, "The headquarters for the antichrist will be Rome...for the last empire will be the Revived Roman Empire-- the iron mixed with clay." But we must remember the vision of the statue found in Daniel, chapter 2. The iron legs signify Rome but Rome was split into two legs...the Eastern and Western Empires. The Eastern Roman Empire outlasted the Western empire for almost 1000 years. And the influence of Rome is still felt throughout the civilized world. Our democratic governments stem from Rome and even our architecture stems from Roman architecture. The ten toes could very well represent the final 10 sections of the world. At this moment, our world is officially divided into ten sections. To limit the "ten toes" exclusively to Europe might be terrible a mistake. There is, after all, the other leg of the Roman Empire-- the Eastern Roman Empire, which had the region of Iraq under its rule as well. It could also be that five toes represent the Western Empire and five toes represent the Eastern Empire. We know that Daniel saw FOUR beasts and the fourth beast (Daniel 7:7) that he saw is the final world empire-- the very same beast that the Apostle John sees in Revelation 13.
Daniel 7:23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
Daniel 2:40-43 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
J. Vernon McGee wrote, "In that day Babylon will dominate and rule the world. The capital of the Antichrist will be Babylon, and he will have the first total dictatorship. The world will become an awful place. In that day every- thing will center in Babylon. The stock market will be read from Babylon-- not New York. Babylon, instead of Paris, will set the styles for the world... Everything in that city will be in rebellion against Almighty God, and it centers in Antichrist."
English scholar and Oxford professor, George Rawlinson, wrote: "Chaldea stands forth as the great parent and original adventress of Asiatic civilizations, without any rival that can reasonably dispute her claims."
Given the history of Babel in Genesis 11, it would make perfect sense that the devil, in his rebellion, would want to pick up right where he was cut off-- where God ruined his plans and put an end to the rebellion at the Tower of Babel.
The devil found it easy to deceive the people of Babel...they had the same language, same geographical location, same goals, and a charismatic leader. All was put to an end with the confusion of tongues. So today, it would make perfect sense that the devil would want to pick up right where his original goals were severed.
The time is quickly ripening for the full rebellion to come to fruition. The ideal of Babel, that could not be attained in Genesis 11, shall be realized during the Seven-Year-Tribulation and the nations of the world shall give their power to the Beast.
The language barrier is becoming a thing of the past...all over the world, everyone is learning English and with computer translation software-- communication is a breeze.
Geographical barriers are broken--The people of this world are again connected via the internet, satellite TV and radio, telephone, fax, etc.
The goals are the same: peace and prosperity and a new order. Now all that is needed is a brilliant leader to usher in the desired "utopia."
The Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun and so the idea of world government that started in Babel and will most likely end there. There has been within the hearts of evil men, a gravitational pull to unite under the banner of self-exaltation and create a one-world government headed by one world leader, since the beginning at Babel and onward through history. Nebuchanezzar, Alexander the Great, Caesars of Rome, Charlemagne, etc. There have always been hindrances-- the language barrier, cultural barrier, religious differences, and so forth.
In the Tribulation Period, the attempt that was originally stopped in the land of Shinar (Tower of Babel) shall succeed for a very short season until her judgment shall come.
Henry M. Morris comments that one-world government, "was Satan's strategy after the Deluge. God had instituted the principle of human government (Genesis 9:6) but had decidedly not instituted the principle of a one-world government. In fact, His specific command to mankind had been to scatter worldwide (Genesis 9: I, 7), which meant that governmental systems would be simple and localized, serving the purpose of maintaining peace and freedom for each community. Instead, Satan had raised up Nimrod to conquer all others and to establish a one-world autocratic government centered at the first Babylon (Genesis 10:8-12; 11:2-4)."
In Noel Smith's book called, "Nimrod - The Rebellious Panther," he wrote, "Babylon's first king, Nimrod, hated GOD, ruled the earth in tyranny, and was destroyed. Babylon's last king, Antichrist, will hate GOD, will rule the earth in tyranny, and will be destroyed."
As quoted above, Dr. J. Vernon McGee believed that there would be two babylons: One being religious and the other, commercial. Surely the religion of Babel has influenced every major religion in the world. Rome is simply a branch of the Babylonian system but it is not solely "Mystery Babylon" by itself. It is joined by other branches comprised of the major religions of the world. Some scholars have written that even Judaism (Talmudic) has its origin from Babylon and would be included in the system.
As one reads old commentaries on Revelation, one finds the basic consensus of many expositors is: "Rome is Babylon". I was schooled in this thought for over 20 years until I began to take the bible passages literally, where applicable. This subject is so much more complex than one could ever imagine. There are two Babylons in the Book of Revelation: one being the ecclesiastical Babylon...aka, the Whore and the political Babylon, that will be headquartered in Shinar, which is modern day Iraq.
"In ecclesiastical form, Babylon is the foe of Christ's true church. In political form, she is the foe of Christ's kingdom." -- Ford C. Ottman
Henry M. Morris writes: There is no doubt that many of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the various Orthodox churches and similar ancient churches, are based on tradition rather than Scripture. There are many striking parallels between many of these and the corresponding doctrines and practices of ancient paganism, which can in turn be generally traced back to their origins in Babylon. The old harlot has indeed caused all nations to imbibe her abominable wine, including even Christian nations.
But to say that spiritual Babylon is either Rome or the Roman Catholic Church is to grossly underestimate the age long global impact of this great mystery, Babylon the Great. Babylon is the mother of all the harlots and abominations of the earth. From her have come ancient paganism, Chinese Confucianism, Asian Buddhism, Indian Hinduism, Shamanism, Taoism, Shintoism, animism, astrology, witchcraft, spiritism, Sikhism, and all the world's vast complex of "gods many, and lords many" (1 Corinthians 8:5).
Rev 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
Bible scholar, Ford C. Ottman wrote, "To meet the requirements of this prophecy, Babylon must be lifted from its present condition of desolation. It shall then become the habitation of demons. Babylon shall become their habitation. It is even more than a habitation, for the word 'hold' is literally, a watch place, or station, where they assemble for the last desperate resistance against God." (Unfolding Of The Ages, pg 391.)
"The Babylon of Revelation is still future, and its fullest development falls in the time when the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ is no longer in the earth." ~AC Gaebelein, Zechariah commentary, page 57.
"If we hold to a literal interpretation of the Scriptures then of necessity Babylon is to be rebuilt. The desolations of Babylon, prophesied by these two prophets (Isaiah and Jeremiah) have not yet taken place. The destruction is to be suddenly by fire, and that destruction has never been. Still more startling is the fact that the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah concerning Babylon and its final destruction are identical with Revelation 17 and 18. The vision of the ephah and the woman in it being swiftly carried to Shinar and housed there upon her own base, as well as other prophecies concerning Babylon, point to an actual rebuilding of ancient Babylon as a great commercial center and world power as well as religious centralization." ~ACG, Studies in Zechariah, page 57
Most experts agree that the Antichrist will rise to power with "the Whore" backing him up. The Whore will be comprised of all the major religions, not simply Roman Catholicism. We are already witnessing a breaking down of the Christian Faith among professing "Christians" who are willing to compromise their beliefs for the sake of unity. Already many within Catholic and Protestant Evangelical circles have joined forces and those who will not band together "in unity" are considered "backward" and "useless" to the greater cause.
The World Council of Churches is uniting almost every Protestant denomination. The Charismatic Movement has recently brought the Roman Catholic Church into the ecumenical fold. And now a united effort is being made to bring in the other great religions of the world. We believe that many Catholics and Protestants will come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Tribulation period and will come out of the Whore. Remember that the Two Witnesses, Enoch and Elijah, will be preaching in the streets of Jerusalem and will perform mighty miracles. There will be many converts from their ministry, as well as from the ministry of the 144,000 Hebrew Male Virgins.
The Antichrist will come as a man of peace and will deceive the nations and "by peace shall destroy many." Anyone with a "peace initiative" and a "full- proof" peace plan would be heralded by the religious world as being "sent from God" for peace is presumed as a "good thing." The Antichrist will deceive the people who reject the truths found in the Bible. Peace-making is not evil in itself UNLESS it means direct rebellion against God, which is the case in this world. The world wants to create peace apart from the true and Only God of the Bible-- for Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. And true peace shall never come to this world until Christ returns to set up His kingdom upon the earth.
In the meantime, we are to be a light in this ever present darkness, proclaiming the message of the Gospel. We are also to prepare ourselves for persecution, which will come, as the evil days approach us.
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;