Gustav Doré: Bible Illustrations c. 1866
The destruction of Babel and of Sodom
Here are some Bible passages that provide an answer for this question:
They said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."
Jer 50: 22-27
"The noise of battle is in the land, And great destruction. 23 "How the hammer of the whole earth Has been cut off and broken! How Babylon has become An object of horror among the nations!
24 "I set a snare for you and you were also caught, O Babylon, While you yourself were not aware; You have been found and also seized Because you have engaged in conflict with the LORD."
25 The LORD has opened His armory And has brought forth the weapons of His indignation, For it is a work of the Lord GOD of hosts In the land of the Chaldeans.
26 Come to her from the farthest border; Open up her barns, Pile her up like heaps And utterly destroy her, Let nothing be left to her.
27 Put all her young bulls to the sword; Let them go down to the slaughter! Woe be upon them, for their day has come, The time of their punishment.
And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans' pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; Nor will the Arab pitch his tent there, Nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there.
21 But desert creatures will lie down there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches also will live there, and shaggy goats will frolic there.
22 Hyenas will howl in their fortified towers And jackals in their luxurious palaces. Her fateful time also will soon come And her days will not be prolonged.
For thus the Lord says to me, "Go, station the lookout, let him report what he sees.
7 "When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs, A train of donkeys, a train of camels, Let him pay close attention, very close attention."
8 Then the lookout called, "O Lord, I stand continually by day on the watchtower, And I am stationed every night at my guard post.
9 "Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs." And one said, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon; And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground."
Jer 50: 39-42
"Therefore the desert creatures will live there along with the jackals; The ostriches also will live in it, And it will never again be inhabited Or dwelt in from generation to generation.
40 "As when God overthrew Sodom And Gomorrah with its neighbors," declares the LORD, "No man will live there, Nor will any son of man reside in it.
41 "Behold, a people is coming from the north, And a great nation and many kings Will be aroused from the remote parts of the earth.
42 "They seize their bow and javelin; They are cruel and have no mercy. Their voice roars like the sea; And they ride on horses, Marshalled like a man for the battle Against you, O daughter of Babylon.
"Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I punished the king of Assyria.
19 'And I will bring Israel back to his pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan, and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead.
20 'In those days and at that time,' declares the LORD, 'search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.'
"But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes," declares the LORD.
25 "Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, Who destroys the whole earth," declares the LORD, "And I will stretch out My hand against you, And roll you down from the crags, And I will make you a burnt out mountain.
26 "They will not take from you even a stone for a corner Nor a stone for foundations, But you will be desolate forever," declares the LORD.
Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, "It is done."
18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.
19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.
20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.
The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality,
5 and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
"The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth."
2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.
3 "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality."
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;
5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
"To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, 'I SIT AS A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.'
8 "For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.
9 "And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning,
10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.'
19 "And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!'
20 "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her."
||Babylon has to be seen in its total Biblical context linking the ancient city of the tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-8) to the city described in the book of the Apocalypse. In addition, its meaning cannot be understood without the context of Jerusalem, Babylon's counterpiece. The two cities are opposites. This applies to both periods of biblical prophecy - to the context of the ancient Hebrew prophets and to the context of the Book of Revelation. Whether or not Babylon's ruins will be built up again will only become clear in time.
What we do know already is that Babylon's symbolic meaning is humanity's rebellion against God following the parallel rebellion of Satan indicated in Isaiah 14:1-27 and Ezekiel 28. The Fall of Babylon signals the outcome of the final confrontation between the ruling powers of a Satan-controlled humanity and the Messiah who will set his foot on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel, the throne of God's kingdom to come (Jer 3:17; Ezek 43:7; Zech 14:9). The glory of God is the glory of the God of Israel (Ezek 10:18-19).
The apocalyptic description of Babylon's final fall is the most powerful warning against man's selfishness, pride and arrogance from the beginning. Rather than trying to find out if Babylon will have to be rebuilt or not to fulfil the requirements of Biblical prophecy it is more important to seek to understand the meaning of this apocalyptic imagery for our time. Its message is a multiple one - the warning to move out of that 'city' before the judgment falls, the need to be ready for His coming and the need to pray and to work for the coming of His kingdom; the satisfaction that He will execute judgment in justice and the joy that Jesus the Jewish Messiah will reign in eternity without Babylon ever reappearing again, neither geographically nor symbolically.
If you have comments, please add them below.