Many end times teachers believe that prophecies in Revelation predict that the city of Babylon will be rebuilt. They point to the mention of Babylon in Revelation 14, 16, 17, and 18 as proof that the city will be restored as a worldwide hub of commerce only to be destroyed again. Is that really true?
According to prophecies in the Old Testament, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The city of Babylon became completely desolate by 141 BC when the Parthians took over the region, but the name “Babylon” was still used for the province where the city once stood until approximately the end of the 7th century AD or beginning of the 8th century AD when even the province was dissolved. All of this fulfilled what God revealed to the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah centuries earlier:
The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see. …
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, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged. Isaiah 13:1, 19-22
…thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. …
For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts. Isaiah 14:22-23
The word that the Lord spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet. …Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues. …Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land. …As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the Lord; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. Jeremiah 50:1, 13, 16, 40
These prophecies compare the final desolation of Babylon to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God makes this comparison to let us know that once the ancient city of Babylon became uninhabited it would never rise again from its desolation–the same thing that happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Although Saddam Hussein made a vigorous attempt to rebuild Babylon, his plans were cut off when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. There have been rumors of UN plans to rebuild it, but none of the plans have come to fruition, nor will they ever because God’s word is final on the issue. I personally believe that all the talk of ancient Babylon’s restoration in evangelical circles is merely a ruse to take our attention away from the figurative Babylon to which Revelation is referring.
Harry A. Gaylord