All posts tagged: Babylon

The new Babylon?

In 597 BC, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah and part of his strategy involved removing defeated peoples from their homeland and transporting them to other regions of the empire. It was thought if they were living in another area of the world there would be less incentive to rebel and try to reclaim their country. And for the most part that was probably true. Part of this process also involved bringing the best and brightest of the conquered nations into Babylon where they were trained in the ways of Babylon. These young leaders were undoubtedly expected to influence Jews now in captivity. Initially, these men including Daniel were allowed to practice their faith and eat the foods approved under the Mosaic law. However, things took a dramatic change when Nebuchadnezzar constructed a giant statue and required everyone to bow down and worship it, under the threat of a fiery death if they didn’t obey. When three of Daniel’s friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) refused to compromise their faith in Jehovah by bowing to another …

Fire near Santee, CA during the 1980s. Credit: Rick Bolin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Apocalypse 5: The Final Occupation

This is about the end of the book that is at the end of the Bible. It’s the last installment in a series of articles on the book of Revelation, at the end of the Bible. Revelation is a future description of the end of this age in history. Christians are supposed to read this book, but too many of us are satisfied with a few pictures like 666 (chapter 13 and verse 18) and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (chapter 6), and Armageddon, the great final battle (chapter 16 and verse 16). The pictures are interesting, but we are told to read the whole book: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (1:3) We are supposed to make sense of this book, and to understand where we are in history. So, think about something that makes you angry, or someone who has that effect. Now calm down …

US Supreme Court, Washington, DC Credit: Matthew Buckley/Flickr/Creative Commons

Today marks the anniversary of the remarkable water baptism of ‘Jane Roe’

August 8, 2018 marks the 23rd anniversary of the water baptism of Norma McCorvey in a Garland, Texas swimming pool.  She was baptized by an Evangelical minister Philip (Flip) Benham who today leads a pro-life organization called Operation Save America. For those who don’t know, Norma McCorvey was the woman involved in Roe vs Wade, the infamous 1973 Supreme Court case that ruled it was illegal to criminalize abortion, opening the door for unimpeded abortions across the US. She came from a rough family. Her mother was an alcoholic and her father abandoned the family. In 1969, Norma McCorvey, who was living in Dallas, Texas, was 21 years old and pregnant with her third child. She wanted an abortion which was illegal. Her friends recommended that she claim the pregnancy was due to rape, one of the rare exceptions that many states allowed for abortion. However, since she had not filed a police report that was ruled out. McCorvey was eventually told about two lawyers who were willing to take on her case. Using the …

Gibraltar Crossing near the city of Tarshis Credit: Cubanito, Wikipedia

Did an ancient Babylonian priest refer to Jonah?

Though known primarily for his confrontation with a whale, Jonah was a well-known prophet in Israel and is referenced several times (Judges 16:23-24; 1 Samuel 5:1-7; 1 Chronicles 10:8-12; 2 Kings 14:25). But of course it’s his story of calling the city of Nineveh to repentance that he is most known for. When Jonah refused to obey God’s call and took passage on a ship heading towards Tarshish near the Strait of Gibraltar on the coast of Spain, God stirred up a storm to get Jonah’s attention. After the sailors threw Jonah overboard, he was swallowed by a Grey whale (my vote but far from certain) and after a three days was coughed up on a beach undoubtedly along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. From there Jonah headed far inland to Nineveh that was then part of the nation of Assyria and delivered a message of repentance. Led by the king, the city responded and repented. Some have suggested, the king may have been impacted by Jonah’s whale story, because one of the …

Remains of the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq as seen from Saddam Hussein's former summer palace: Credit US Navy Arlo K Abrahamson/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Cuneiform tablet confirms the gruesome story of Jeremiah 39

Jeremiah chapter 39 paints the gruesome fall of Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586BC/587BC. King Zedekiah had previously been installed by the Babylonians as Judah’s puppet king after Babylon defeated Jerusalem in 597 BC. Jerusalem remained largely intact, and Judah was forced to pay an annual tribute to Babylon. However, Zedekiah, who was 21 years only when he was set up as a vassal king, eventually tired of the arrangement and rebelled against Babylon by forming an alliance with Egypt. The prophet Jeremiah who initially served as one of Zedekiah’s counselors warned against the move, but Zedekiah was by this stage doing evil in the sight of the Lord (Jeremiah 52:1-3) setting the stage for God’s devastating judgement. When King Nebuchadnezzar returned a second time to bring Jerusalem back into submission, he was in a foul mood. The battle predictably turned against Judah and with Jerusalem on the brink of falling, King Zedekiah, along with his family and personal guards, fled with the Babylonian army in pursuit. After the invaders caught up with …

Three of the pottery shards from Arad Fortress revealing troop movement and costs for fort provisions. Photo credit:PNAS, Faigenbaum-Golovin et al

How words written on 16 pottery shards screwed up Liberal theories, again

Throughout the Old Testament, there are many references to people recording historical events as they were happening. Liberals of course have long disagreed with this. They believe writing was not widely in use during Biblical times and people wrote these stories long after they occurred. They then of course go the next step and insist these historical records and the people named in them were simply made up. This meant Biblical books ranging from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings were written centuries after the events cited in them took place, despite the Bible treating them as eye-witness accounts. Those Liberal views just came crashing down after researchers analyzed writing found on pottery shards discovered in a Jewish frontier fort named Arad, dated to 600 BC. Researchers from Tel Aviv University used computer programs, often employed by forensics to compare writing samples and banks to verify signatures, to find out if the same person wrote them. The research team was made up of a diverse group of people including archaeologists, physicists and mathematicians, After they scanned the …

New York City: Photo Wanderingtheworld (www.chrisford.com)/Foter/CC BY-NC

What should we do?

As we watch the dramatic changes taking place in our society over the past five years, many Christians are unsure of what their next steps should be. Christians rights, freedoms and beliefs have been roughly shoved aside. We can’t refuse to bake a $200 wedding cake for a lesbian couple without fear of a $135,000 fine. We are captives in our own land. About 2,600 years ago (597 BC), the prophet Jeremiah had some advice for the Israelis who were ripped out of the comfort of their homes and marched off into captivity in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. His advice to these Jews might be suitable today as our circumstances are somewhat similar. Though we haven’t been dragged off to a strange land with new customs and new language, there have been such rapid changes in our society we might as well have been. Even our language has changed; the word marriage no longer means the same thing it did two years ago. In Israel, false prophets were popping up and telling the Jews their …