The Bible clearly states that the Babylonian system of religion as a false ecumenical body which dominated the world (Rev. 17) as well as the city of Babylon as an important trade centre (Rev. 18) have to be restored before their final destruction when the judgements of God will be poured out upon them during the coming tribulation period. That will mark the end of the unruly nations’ long history which was characterised by arrogant leadership, the abuse of power, rebellion against God and the practising of pagan religions.
The history of the nations started after the Flood in the land Shinar (the present Iraq) where Nimrod built the city of Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates River (Gen. 10:8-10). This was the first wicked world empire, which was followed by various others of the same nature, i.e the Assyrian, neo-Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires. The seventh and last world empire will, in a certain sense, be a revival of all the previous world empires as they all had the same objectives and all ruled the nations in association with false religions. The Bible refers to the end time world empire as “Babylon” as this city was the early origin of deceived humanity’s political, religious and economic rebellion against God and His kingdom (including His people Israel) and Babylon will also be the last manifestation of this rebellion.
Nimrod, who was the builder of ancient Babylon and the founder of the Babylonian world empire, is a type of the end time Babylonian king, who will be the Antichrist. As Nimrod has built Babylon, the Antichrist will rebuild it. That will happen in great haste with international participation. Through the building of the temple of Marduk and the tower of Babel, Nimrod assigned a position of power to a pagan religion in his empire. The Antichrist will do the same and carry Mystery Babylon, the mother of all the false religions, on his back (Rev. 17:3-5). This ecumenical body of false religions (the mother of harlots) will have strong sentimental ties with her place of origin in the land Shinar, and will indeed move her headquarters to this land (Zech. 5:5-11). In the same manner in which Nimrod was still building the tower of Babel when God’s judgements suddenly terminated their efforts, the end time Nimrod (the Antichrist) will still be busy with the building of Babylon when it will be utterly and finally destroyed by God.
There are people who have serious concerns whether Babylon will ever be rebuilt as a city from where the world trade can be controlled. The view is entertained that Iraq is such a backward and underdeveloped country that it is unlikely that the Antichrist will use it as a home base for his world empire. Various people are of the opinion that Rome, New York, or even the entire USA, should be regarded as the modern Babylon.
However, we are committed to the literal interpretation of biblical prophecies on Babylon’s restoration and destruction. God said of the historically-known city of Babylon that after its final destruction it will become an eternal wilderness that will never again be inhabited by any people (Isa. 13:19-22; Jer. 50:39-40; 51:61-62). This prophecy will be fulfilled during the coming day of the Lord (Isa. 13:9) which will coincide with the Antichrist’s reign of terror. Jeremiah 51:63-64 says that Babylon will permanently vanish like a stone which is thrown into the water and sinks away to the bottom of the river.
This absolute and final destruction of Babylon which has, despite various instances of partial destruction, never occurred is also described in Revelation 18. The city will, in one hour, be destroyed and subside into a burning depression (Rev. 18:2,8-10,20-21). In their Bible Knowledge Commentary, Profs. Walvoord and Zuck say the following on Revelation 18: “The question remains as to what city is in view here. A common view is that it refers to the city of Rome, because of the prominence of Rome as the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the capital of the ancient Roman Empire... Evidence seems to point to the fact that it is Babylon itself, located on the Euphrates River. When all the evidence is studied, the conclusion seems to point to Babylon being rebuilt as the capital of the world empire in the end time.”
In their commentary on Jeremiah 50 and 51, these scholars refer to both the initial, partial destruction of Babylon and its final, end time destruction: “Jeremiah’s prophecy looked beyond the destruction of Babylon in 539 to an eschatological destruction that will reverse the fortunes of Israel and Judah... The destruction of Babylon will be the climax of God’s judgements on the Gentile powers that have oppressed His people and will open the way for the fulfilling of God’s promises to Israel. Other portions of Scripture also point to this still-future rebuilding of Israel and destruction of Babylon. The city of Babylon will be rebuilt only to be destroyed at the end of the tribulation period before Christ returns to establish His millennial reign.” In their commentary on Isaiah 13:19-22 they say: “Ultimately Babylon will again be rebuilt and then destroyed by God a final time.”
In spite of Iraq’s economic backwardness there is an important factor of which we should not loose sight, and that is the tremendous oil wealth of the Arab countries around the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain jointly hold 57% of the world’s total oil reserves. Saudi Arabia holds the biggest reserves by far (261 billion barrels), followed by Iraq with 113 billion barrels. Because of internal instability, the oil fields of Iraq are poorly exploited. At present only 27% of the world’s crude oil is supplied by the Persian Gulf region, which means that there is a big potential for increased supply from these states.
Two years ago a barrel of Brent crude oil, the main European benchmark, could be bought for less than $24. A month ago it reached $56, and it still hovers at $50. China’s rapid growth and America’s recovery led the rise in demand. The recoil is already being felt in slower growth in the US and Europe. Oil is essential for the maintenance and survival of the western industrial-technological base. The need for oil, particularly to produce fuel, will sharply increase during the next decade.
From this point of view, the rich oil fields in die Middle East will play a decisive role in the economic future of the entire world. Because of this fact, the big industrial countries regard it as in their direct interest to maintain peace in this region, and to even base a permanent UN peace-keeping force in the Middle East. It is by the day becoming more evident that the economic and political future of the world is closely tied up to events in the Middle East. It is only a matter of time before international governance structures will be formed and based in the Middle East.
The USA and Iraq
It is now believed that the US’s main motive for invading Iraq was not because of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, but to control oil resources and their access routes. In almost all the rallies and speeches in the US, Europe and the rest of the world, the most common slogans are “no blood for oil” and “no war for oil.” For good reasons, the US is concerned about the continued supply of adequate quantities affordable crude oil. Without this, the US and many other countries will not be able to survive economically.
Another reason for the US invasion of Iraq is the maintenance and the political and economic survival of Israel as an independent state. Because of the destabilising effect of the Palestinian uprising, a total economic collapse is looming large in Israel. The continuous infusion of political, economic, financial and military aid by the US can no longer be relied upon to stave off the impending collapse. For the first time the very existence of Israel is seriously threatened as its economy is approaching the edge of collapse. The radical solution to this problem is to reshape the entire political and economic landscape of the Middle East by force.
This approach clearly indicates that the US fully realises the strategic importance of the Middle East. It is obvious that the most stringent test for implementing the planned new world order will be in the Middle East, and that it will also have to controlled from here if it is to be acceptable to all the power blocks of the world – east, west, north and south. It is almost as if there is an unseen power which not only causes the great powers to be dependent upon the Middle East, but which also induces them to intervene in this region.
In spite of the strong opposition caused by the multinational military intervention in Iraq, president Bush was re-elected in the US, while his most important national security adviser who justified this war, Condoleeza Rice, was appointed by him as Secretary of State. In the UK, Tony Blair won the election, while the PM of Australia, who supports the invasion of Iraq, was similarly returned to office. The occupation and restructuring of Iraq continues, and their neighbours must put up with the reality of living in the shadow of a super power. They will pay an expensive price if they refuse to do so.
The new world order
It is obvious that the US is only paving the way for the new world order. This new dispensation will, according to the Bible, be under the direct control of the Antichrist (Rev. 13:2,3,7) who will rule the world with allies from Europe and the Middle East (Rev. 17:12-13; Dan. 7:7-8,19-26). America is, therefore, facilitating a future dispensation and governance structure in which they will play no role. Other powers will replace them.
It is even now becoming evident that the US is not accepted as global policeman by the international community, and especially not by the Muslim countries. The terrorist attacks against their occupation force in Iraq, and also against the Shiite-controlled government that was elected under their supervision, are so violent and relentless that they are now seeking an honourable way to get out of Iraq. They completely underestimated the internal power struggle among Muslim factions, as well as their combined revolt against American imperialism. They now wait for a strong world leader to rise from the UN, Europe or the Middle East to bring order in a confused and divided world.
The end time role of the restored Babylonian empire is taking shape and will soon present itself to the international community. But first the great diplomat and leader with supernatural powers, the end time “Nimrod,” must appear on the scene. He will achieve the humanly impossible ideal of being accepted by the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and deceived Christians as their common messiah and prince of peace. He will not only, for a few years, establish religious unity in the world but an equally deceptive kind of economic and political stability.
The absence of peace and unity
The most serious problem which is afflicting Muslim countries in the Middle East arises from internal divisions, intolerance and hatred towards each other, as well as a consuming, religiously-based hatred of all non-Muslims, who are regarded as infidels. They are awaiting the world messiah, described by them as the Imam Mahdi, but in the meantime they cannot even get along with one another.
Almost 90% of all Muslims are Sunnites. Sunnah means Tradition and refers to the fact that this group upholds a collection of traditions (the hadiths) which are observed on the same level as the Koran. They recognise all the kalifs who rule in the Muslim world as successors of Mohammed, while the Shiites regard the first three kalifs as intruders who usurped the position of Mohammed, and whose teachings are also rejected. There is bitter enmity among the various Muslim factions. At times the one group may set fire to the mosque of an opposing group, or they may destroy it by explosions when people are worshipping inside, thereby killing many of them.
A minority group of Iraq’s inhabitants – the group who ruled the country under Saddam Hussein – are Sunnis. They oppressed the Shiites, while Saddam Hussein also waged war against the neighbouring Shiite-dominated Iran for eight years. Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaida Movement strongly identifies with the Sunnis Muslims struggle against the Shiites and also against the external enemies of Islam – particularly the USA and Israel.
Security officers from Saudi Arabia have been determined to play a major role in Al Qaida's network in Iraq. U.S. officials said Saudi nationals, including members of the kingdom's security forces, have played a major role in Sunni insurgency attacks in Iraq. They said hundreds of Saudi nationals accused of participating in Al Qaida-aligned attacks have been arrested in Iraq over the last year. In all, about 2,000 Saudi nationals have been recruited into the Sunni insurgency, many of them in the network led by Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. They were said to have included hundreds of members of the Saudi National Guard, commanded by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz. Officials said Saudi nationals comprise a leading element in the foreign insurgency presence in Iraq. They said the majority of the foreign fighters come from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria and their numbers are growing.
Should a full-scale war erupt in this region it will have a detrimental affect on oil production and exports, and have major consequences for the whole world. Fuel will become scarce and very expensive in most countries.
Prelude to the end time drama
In the near future the inability of the US and its allies to promote peace, stability, tolerance and prosperity in Iraq and the Middle East will be evident to all. Their failure will further increase the strategic importance of this region, and renders the achievement of peace and stability in the Middle East a high priority in the UN and Europe.
At a given moment after the withholder of the kingdom of darkness has been taken out of the way through the rapture (2 Thess. 2:6-12), Satan’s false prince of peace will suddenly appear on the scene and be followed by all people. Two cities will be very important to him – i.e. Babylon where he will base his seat of government, and Jerusalem where he will show himself to be God in the rebuilt temple (2 Thess. 2:4). After reigning in collaboration with various allies for 3½ years he will, during the last 3½ years, institute a military dictatorship which will lead up to the battle of Armageddon.
The rebuilt city of Babylon as the seat of the Antichrist’s government an home of the false world religion, will be utterly destroyed by God as part of His judgements upon the rebellious nations. The Lord will also stir up the Medes against the Babylonian state of the Antichrist (Isa. 13:17-18). The present Kurds of Northern Iraq and neighbouring countries are the descendants of the Medes. They joined forces with the Shiite Muslims to take over Iraq’s government, and a Kurdish president has even been elected for the country. These events have further provoked the anger of the Sunni Muslims, leading to the killing of 200 people by suicide bombers during the first week after announcing the new cabinet.
These developments have placed greater emphasis of the search for peace in this region. However, since the world is searching for a form of peace outside Christ they will embrace the Antichrist when he comes. That will be the beginning of the greatest tribulation this world has ever seen (Matt. 24:21). Christians should watch and pray that they may be worthy to escape all these things that will come, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).