The Babylon Prophecy
Babylon, both as a legendary ancient city and the first unrivaled world empire, has loomed large inmemory throughout human history. Six hundred years before Jesus came to earth, the Euphrates River Valley was home to the magnificent Babylonian Empire. The Babylonians had conquered the rest of the known world and brought untold numbers of people from the defeated kingdoms to Babylon as slaves.
Among the slaves was a youngman who was chosen byGod to become one of the greatest of the Hebrew prophets. God gave Daniel visions of the future and the ability to interpret dreams. While living in exile, Daniel recorded prophecies that some twenty-six centuries later give us a highly detailed look at our own future. Daniel saw the unfolding of human history and the days of Jesus Christ on earth. And as we will read in the chapters that follow, he saw the most detailed visions describing the end of the age–the days that we are about to enter.
We live in prophetic times, so it is not surprising that the land of Babylon– present-day Iraq and parts of present-day Iran–is the focus of international tension and the subject of daily news reports. Iraq is torn by violent insurgencies, armed factions fighting for control of the country, and sectarian violence that continually causes injury and death. Foreign fighters, devoted to the cause of Al Qaeda and radical Islam, enter Iraq to join militant groups, to help train terrorists, to battle against Western allied forces, and to plot the demise of the State of Israel.THE POWER OF ANCIENT BABYLON
The name Babylon still evokes a powerful image of the greatest city of the ancient world. The name is derived from babel,
a Hebrew word meaning “the gate of God.” Located fifty-six miles south of modern-day Baghdad in Iraq, it rapidly grew in power until it became the most important city inthe ancient world. Babylon is in an area originally known by the name Sumer, or Shinar, designating the fertile country lying between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The land also was known as Mesopotamia, meaning “the land between the rivers.”
The first mention of Babylon in the Bible reveals that the city of Babel was founded by Nimrod, who was the son of Cush. “Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD.… And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel” (Genesis 10:8—10). This was the site of the first widespread rebellion against God. The men of Babel built an enormous tower in an arrogant attempt to rebel against God and make themselves famous. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). God’s response was to “confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:7). In the confusion that resulted, “the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city” (Genesis 11:8). Scientists have verified the dispersion of humanity throughout three continents after the Flood (see Genesis 10:32; 11:8—9).
History records that much later, around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi made Babylon the political and religious capital of his very powerful but small empire.Hammurabi combined astute diplomacy with superbmilitary leadership to defeat the surrounding kingdoms inMesopotamia.He was the first major king who created a written code of laws, known as the Code of Hammurabi. He became the ruler of the first united Babylonian Empire, which extended fromthe Persian Gulf to theHabur Rivermore than amillennium before the rise of the Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar.
In the seventh century BC, under King Nabopolassar and later his famous son, Nebuchadnezzar, the new empire of Babylon waged continuous wars against neighboring kingdoms, laying waste to cities and carrying countless numbers of people into captivity. Most notable among the millions of captives were the Judeans of Israel, who were taken in three phases between 606 BC and 587 BC.
Some historical sources conclude that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah in 605 BC. However, a careful reading of the Scriptures reveals that the correct date is actually 606 BC. The prophet Jeremiah recorded, “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 25:1). Jehoiakim’s “fourth year” was 605 BC. However, Daniel declared that Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar’s army a year earlier, in the “third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah” (Daniel 1:1), which was the year 606 BC. The historian Henry Fynes Clinton also confirmed in his exhaustive chronological study of ancient history that Prince Nebuchadnezzar led his army against the Kingdom of Judah in the summer of 606 BC.
The Babylonian Empire did not endure for long, however. TheMedo- Persian Empire, led by the powerful kings Darius and Cyrus the Great, conquered the empire and the city of Babylon in 538 BC. But in the years that Nebuchadnezzar ruled the known world, God raised up Daniel, one of Israel’s greatest prophets.DANIEL’S VISION OF OUR FUTURE
While serving in Babylon’s royal courts, Daniel saw remarkable visions and interpreted inspired dreams. Many of his visions foretold the upheaval in the world that came to pass more than two thousand years ago. In fact, the fulfillment of those prophecies verifies that Daniel was truly God’s prophet. His predictions came true exactly as they were given. However, many of Daniel’s most intriguing prophecies describe events that are still to come. The generation that you and I are part of will see the fulfillment of these last-days prophecies.
In this book we will examine all of Daniel’s prophecies–the ones that were fulfilled long ago and those that are soon to be fulfilled. Our generation will witness the rise of the Antichrist and the False Prophet, the Tribulation period, the Antichrist’s political and military domination of the world, the battle of Armageddon, and the return to earth of Jesus Christ. Daniel’s ancient Babylonian prophecies give us a precise time line that reveals the sequence of events and the amount of time that will separate the major developments of the last days. It is certain that the events Daniel described will occur during the current generation.
If you know what to look for, you will see that signs of the last days are appearing all around us. I invite you to join me in this study of Daniel’s prophecies. Together we will discover what the future holds for God’s people, as well as for those who wage war against God.
Excerpted from Countdown to the Apocalypse by Grant R. Jeffrey. Copyright © 2008 by Grant R. Jeffrey. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.