People have begun asking me if current events parallel the destruction of ancient Babylon, and whether the Corona Virus epidemic heralds the collapse of prophetic Mystery Babylon. Forecasting the future from the past is not an easy exercise, especially because every detail does not have to match in historical parallels. For example, the Biblical Background Commentary on Revelation 18 says, “Beset by problems ignored by its king Nabonidus, ancient Babylon had fallen without battle to its conquerors in a single night, as Jewish people well knew (Dan. 5:30). But this new “[Mystery] Babylon,” the new site of the oppression of God’s people, would be judged with fire (see Rev. 17:16). Although the imagery is not totally consistent here (cf. Rev. 17:16), apocalyptic imagery did not have to be consistent.”
Bible prophecy has an aura of mystery. God wants people in every era to remain ever vigilant and hopeful, living every day to the fullest in expectation of our Lord’s return. We were not given the exact date and time of the Second Coming or even of the many other prophetic events in Scripture. We have the general outline of prophecy and only a few choice details in order to anticipate the fulfillment of these coming trials. So many false dates have been given by Christian teachers through the years that it is not only embarrassing, but a direct offense counter to the clear Scriptural warning against doing so. (Deut. 18:22; Zech. 13:3-5)
People also ask whether we are to flee the cities and large metropolitan areas for safer places out in the country. Indeed, in the current epidemic, it is the large cities, such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and San Francisco that are suffering the most. People have been fleeing New York City, in particular, for other states because of the wide spread of this disease there. It is ironic that largely-undeveloped northern Michigan, which relies on tourism as the basis of its economy, is warning visitors to stay away. I even received a notice from our neighborhood association asking if we knew of the availability of any short-term house rentals for New York City natives who have fled to Michigan for safety.
For those of you seeking a beautiful country area and safe haven where Bible-believing Kingdom-Israel folks are happily gathering and have a lovely place to worship together, Pastor Ken Kemble’s growing congregation would welcome you to Capac, Michigan. (https://capacbible.org and “Capac Bible Church” on YouTube.com)
What message did the prophets give to ancient Judah when they were dwelling in the large metropolitan city of Babylon? The Biblical Background Commentary has this to say on Revelation 18:4, “In pronouncing judgment on Babylon, Jeremiah warned his people—who were supposed to be at home there in the short term (Jer. 29:4-10)—to flee from the city’s midst, because God would destroy it (Jer. 51:6, Jer. 51:45; cf. Zec. 2:7); even the presence of some of the righteous would not stay the judgment (cf. Gen. 19:17).” Such a destruction of modern Babylon could certainly include a widespread epidemic.
Where did these ancient Hebrews flee? It is common in Christian teaching to say, with a definitive wave of the hand, that “they all came back to Jerusalem.” Yet the Bible tells us instead that only a very few decided to return to Palestine (Ezra 2:64). Where did they go, since only 42,360 returned to the land of Canaan? Ezekiel said the Lord led them into the wilderness, an undeveloped area, which in those days could only match the description of early Europe and western Asia: “And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face… And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.” (Ezek. 20:35; 34:25)
Ezekiel further said that the Lord would leave the exiled Israelites in the wilderness and they would NOT be “brought together” again (i.e. not regathered to Canaan): “And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness… thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered…” (Ezek. 29:5)
Jeremiah counselled the Judean exiles in the metropolis of Babylon to leave: “Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness.” (Jer. 48:6) The heath spreads everywhere! Spread out there in the wilderness land they would find grace and rest. Again, where could this be but in early undeveloped Europe and western Asia north of the Caucasus? “Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” (Jer. 31:2)
Hosea said the Lord would prevent them from finding their path back. “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths…Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.” (Hos 2:6, 14-16)
The prophets make it clear that Israel was commanded to leave Babylon for an undeveloped wilderness region where they would return in faith to the Lord, calling him “Ishi,” meaning “husband.” Do not we as Christians call ourselves “the Bride of Christ”? This prophecy, and others, were fulfilled in the European Reformation.
The Biblical Background Commentary says, “In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the righteous were to “separate” themselves from the “children of the pit”; in one Essene commentary on Nahum, when the iniquity of those who were leading people astray was exposed, the righteous of Ephraim would flee from among them, joining the forces of the true Israel. Getting out of an imminently doomed city was common sense for anyone who believed the prophecy (cf. Tobit 14:8; Exo. 9:20-21).”
What this commentary is saying, although slightly garbled, is that the House of Judah (which included the tribe of Benjamin of the House of Ephraim-Israel) would flee from Babylon and join their brethren of the House of Israel exiled in Assyria, called “true Israel” because the pre-exilic ten tribes were known as “Israel” in distinction from Judah.
This is exactly what Bible prophecy foretold in the Book of Jeremiah: “In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.” (Jer. 3:18-19) Again this speaks of a redeemed people specifically located in the land of the north, now known as Europe.
We may in fact have entered the last times of prophecy, or perhaps the Lord is instead giving us a much-needed wake-up call as a people to turn from our wicked ways, as a last chance before His judgment falls. We need to continue to be faithful, observe the signs of the times, and remain vigilant!