By Chuck Missler
Babylon is on its way toward popularity once again. A mere 2600 years ago, Babylon stood as the greatest city on earth, the capital of the world. The grandeur of the mighty city can be vaguely imagined by gazing on the heaps of broken rock at its ancient site on the Euphrates River. Now, the Iraqi and US governments are preparing to develop the area as a tourist attraction. While promoting tourism may not rebuild Babylon, it will bring money into the country and provide plenty of industry to the local populations. And it may bring Babylon into the public mind once again.
The security has improved drastically in the Babil province around ancient Babylon, and that offers the community some opportunities. The local people live on one of the greatest historical sites of all time. Babylon is where Nebuchadnezzar II built the Hanging Gardens and where Alexander the Great died. Millennia before that, mankind attempted to build a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven" (Genesis 11:4), and as a result, their languages were confused and they were scattered over the face of the earth. The area is appropriately called the "cradle of civilization."
Promoting tourism would be a great way to bring revenue into the area. A stream of tourists interested in the ruins of ancient Babylon would bolster the local hotels and the food and entertainment industries. The US State Department and the Iraqi Board of Antiquities and Heritage are beginning work on the Future of Babylon Project, to preserve the ruins of ancient Babylon and make the area tourist-friendly.
Babylon in its current form is a mere shadow of its former self. The Ishtar Gate has been in Berlin since WWI. Artifacts have been whisked away to various museums and private collections. The site has been badly looted, and Saddam Hussein built a city for his glory on the site of ancient Babylon as an effort to connect himself to Nebuchadnezzar and the greatness of the past. New walls were built around the ancient city, and Saddam also built fortifications on top of Babylon's ruins.
"Some of the past restoration work hasn't been very good," said Jeff Allen, hired by the US State Department to co-run the US side of the project. "Saddam was trying to inherit the power of the ancients and continue that legacy. His restoration methods helped reinforce that vision of himself, and he created a pattern of restoration and repair work that benefited a certain agenda."Allen wants to ensure that the local people are involved in the project, so that when things are up and running the locals can manage without outside help.
Revelation 18 describes Babylon in the last times as a great city, filled with wickedness, a city that has become "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit." Babylon is destined for judgment. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah each spend two chapters detailing the catastrophic destruction that awaits this fabled city. The result of this final devastation will leave it uninhabitable; even the building materials will never be reused.
Whether these references are to a literal city of Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates is the subject of great debate. We do know that ancient Babylon was not destroyed, but was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians quite peacefully one night. If we take the Bible seriously, Babylon is destined to rise again to power to receive the judgment that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Apostle John have described.
U.S., Iraqi Experts Developing Plan To Preserve Babylon, Build Local Tourism Industry - Stars and Stripes
Babylon's Future Written In Its Ruins - Reuters
The Mystery Of Babylon: An Alternate View - 66/40 - Koinonia House
The Mystery Of Babylon: An Alternate View - DVD - Koinonia House Store
Dutch gov't returns stolen antiquities to Iraq - AP
U.S. troops badly damaged ancient Babylon - USA Today