The Commercial Appeal, Apr. 19, 2003 (Opinion)
Iraq is the site of the ancient kingdom of Babylon – the greatest, most influential empire of all times, famous for its hanging gardens and fabled Tower of Babel (a ziggurat built to study the stars and worship deities).
Many of Babylon’s exploits recorded in the Bible relate to attacks on Israel. It has spawned some of the world’s most brutal dictators, including Nebuchadnezzar who 2,600 years ago leveled Jerusalem. Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a modern-day Nebuchadnezzar who would restore Iraq to world power.
The prophet Jeremiah predicted Babylon would defeat Israel, imprisoning Jews for 70 years, a prophecy fulfilled 40 years later in 586 BC. Daniel of lion’s den fame was among the 10,000 captives. He rose to prominence in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon as God enabled Daniel to recall and then interpret the king’s dreams.
In one dream a large statue with a golden head symbolized the Babylonian Empire. Daniel described lesser kingdoms that would replace Babylon: Persia, Iran, Greece, Rome. But Daniel declared that man’s attempt at world domination would fail.
Years later Daniel was summoned to the royal palace to interpret “the handwriting on the wall.” He shocked the drunken revelers by predicting the Medes and Persians would defeat Babylon. Because the city walls were 85 feet thick with a water-filled moat and inner walls, the prophecy seemed preposterous. Yet that night the city of Babylon fell.
For the next 2,600 years the city of Babylon slipped into obscurity beneath 70 feet of sand and rubble. Isaiah predicted the city would never be rebuilt or inhabited (Isaiah 13:19-20).
But in recent years Saddam lavished $1 billion to rebuild Babylon, 50 miles south of Baghdad.
Strangely, water seeps into every dig, and shifting sand stymies progress. Only a few structures have been rebuilt. A temple to the Sun God is one. It stands on the supposed ruins of the ancient Tower of Babel.
A few Bible prophecy experts believe Babylon will be rebuilt to its former glory during the end times tribulation. They see God then destroying it as He did Sodom and Gomorrah.
Is God on America’s side? Many point with arrogance and pride to America as the world’s remaining superpower. Others credit our nation’s success to God’s blessing.
Does America really merit God’s blessing? God is little more than a swear word in “Christian” America. We can’t display the Ten Commandments in a courtroom for fear they might affect a juror’s thinking.
And, of course, long ago prayer and Bible reading were banished from our schools. So we removed Bibles and replaced them with policemen.
On the average Sunday, two-thirds of Americans are not in any church. How can we claim God’s help and blessing in our so-called Christian nation?
We must not forget that 13 times in Israel’s history God allowed that nation to be conquered by pagan armies, and only when there was true repentance did God restore the nation.
As we face the uncertainties in Iraq we ask, “Is God on America’s side?” Long ago President Abraham Lincoln phrased it differently: ” . . . I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”