Will It Be A Cyber-City?
Would you not agree that the various “end of days” prophecies found throughout the Bible and the way events seem to be lining up are sometimes like fitting the pieces together in a jigsaw puzzle? Isn’t it exciting that as time winds down and we stay abreast of current events we are catching on as to where each piece fits, and the closer we get to the tribulation the more we are able to see possible puzzle pieces previous generations could never have imagined?
On that note I would like to submit to you the idea that end time Babylon could be built and operational as a global commercial system led by the godless dictator, we generally refer to as “the Antichrist”, in a matter of a few short months, because nearly everything is ready for it.
But perhaps Babylon will be slightly different than we have previously thought.
Bear with me for a moment and I will try and lay out this possible scenario, but first, let me explain that this writer is squarely in the camp that reads Scripture literally and is persuaded there are two parts to the Biblical end time Babylon; namely, the Spiritual Religious Mystery Babylon and also the aspect of Commercial Babylon.
Religious and Commercial Babylon:
While there are many similarities between Religious and Commercial Babylon, one major difference is their judgment and man’s reaction to that judgment. Religious Mystery Babylon of Revelation 17 is judged at the half way point of the seven-year period of tribulation and men rejoice over her destruction (Revelation 17:16-17), but Commercial Babylon is judged at the end of the tribulation and men lament greatly at her destruction (Revelation 18: 9-11).
While the two may be intertwined, and it’s astounding how false religion and greed are so many times connected, this paper is concerned with the commercial side of Babylon. I also believe scripture is clear that end time Babylon must be located where Babylon has always been, about 56 miles south of modern day Baghdad, on the plains of Shinar in present day Iraq.
When reading Revelation chapter 18, if you’re like me, we have read of the weeping and wailing the kings of the earth and the merchants do over the destruction of Commercial Babylon and in verse 10 because they call it a “great, or mighty, or powerful or strong city”, (depending upon which translation of the Bible you use), we have quite naturally envisioned a fantastic and huge city much like many splendid cities that have existed throughout history.
You can easily picture what I mean, a city with wide streets, incredible architecture, a major shopping district, many theaters, libraries, universities, medical facilities, public areas where people gather to socialize, various religious centers and of course a huge residential area. The kind of metropolitan area it would take 50 years to build from scratch, not to mention billions of dollars.
2030 to 2050? Really? :
Little wonder some Christians think the end-times can’t possibly be any nearer than 2030 to 2050, or they think the name, “Babylon”, is somehow symbolic and really means New York City, or one of the cities already in existence. One scripture that is often cited as proof is Revelation 17:1 where religious Babylon is said to sit on many waters and that doesn’t seem to fit Babylon in Iraq. However we if we just read down a few more verses to verse 15 “ Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.”” So the proper interpretation is clear — it doesn’t mean waterways filled with H2O but Babylon sits on top of many people.
Let’s consider the possibility of the end-time city of Babylon being headquartered in one building physically located where Babylon has always been, perhaps with a population of no more than 1000 to 2000 people, but in addition—- also being a huge city encompassing the entire planet, by existing primarily in virtual reality any where the internet is available. Is it possible the Antichrist could take control of the entire Internet, either by hook and by crook or by the nations willingly giving control of it over to him, the whole World Wide Web — with its online shopping, its entertainment, its social networks, and etc., and probably most importantly its e-commerce? Could he somehow gain control, by utilizing an army of the world’s best and most corrupt hackers engaged in cyber warfare against the existing World Wide Web? Could the Antichrist then bill it as a global Cyber-City, free to all who are willing to pledge their allegiance to him as, “The New and Great Babylon”, “Which Will End All Wars” and “Bring in Human Equality” or some such tag-line?
Let’s start with the headquarters. A literal brick and mortar building with a physical address of Babylon, Iraq would be needed. There is an interesting scripture in Isaiah chapter 25, verse 2 which speaks of the end times and reads:
“For You have made a city into a heap, A fortified city into a ruin; A palace of strangers is a city no more, It will never be rebuilt.”
“A palace of strangers is a city no more”! Notice it’s a city that will never be rebuilt after Armageddon, but the city is a palace of strangers.
Could the palace that Saddam Hussein built on the site of ancient Babylon be turned into the headquarters for a Cyber-City, existing primarily in virtual reality, ruled by the Antichrist? It’s big enough. It’s a massive 40 foot high, 600-room structure the size of five football fields that Saddam Hussein had built and he called it “Saddam Hill”. He did some restoration to ancient Babylon also, but his main concern seemed to be this rather gaudy palace he built for himself, but never occupied. He built it over ruins, some of which are over 2,500 years old and local villagers told the news media Saddam moved a 1000 people to make room for it. Besides the damage his construction caused there’s been looting and more damage to the ancient ruins after being used as a military base during the Iraq War. Since the United States accepted responsibility for part of the war damage, they and other nations have pledged to develop Babylon into an international world center and some people have suggested the United Nations should move its headquarters there. But as of this date it seems it has only been turned into a hotel, and incidentally, (so far anyway), seems to be safe from ISIS.
A mere 3 miles from Saddam’s palace is the capital of Babylon Province, the modern city of Al Hillah, with a population of 364,700 (probably more now, that’s a 1998 estimate). Many of the older houses in Al Hillah and the nearby dam at Hindiya are made of bricks engraved with the name Nebuchadnezzar that were quarried from the ancient ruins.
In Jeremiah 51:8 we read that: “Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed…” and in verse 26: “No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone, nor any stone for a foundation, for you will be desolate forever,” declares the Lord. That prophecy has never been fulfilled as of yet, confirmed by the fact rocks from Ancient Babylon have been taken and re-used in older houses in Al Hillah and the dam at Hindiya. Later in verses 63 and 64 of Jeremiah chapter 51 God’s Word says: “When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. Then say, ‘So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall…”
We read again of the overthrow of Babylon in the New Testament in Revelation 18: 21; “Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.”
For pictures of rebuilt Babylon here’s a link to google images, and with pictures worth a 1000 words it becomes clear Babylon has risen again and CAN still be found. Therefore the destruction of literal Babylon is still in the future, but if a hotel with the Ishtar Gate is all it ever is would the Bible have devoted so much space to mentioning its destruction?
Notice also, Jeremiah 51:58, where speaking of the final destruction of Babylon we read; “Babylon’s thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire; the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations’ labor is only fuel for the flames.” Did you take note of the use of the plural for “nations”, which conveys the idea that multiple countries will be involved in building the city? What is already there today would take care of the physical part of Babylon as the headquarters with 600 rooms to contain the high tech equipment to oversee a Cyber-City (and also probably part-time residence for the Antichrist) but once it was operational, no doubt people from various nations would want to start building around it.
The One Thing Great Empires Need:
Until more recent times, one of the most important things that a city-state or kingdom needed if it was to grow into a large and powerful empire with many people under its control, was secure trade routes. The north/south and east/west trade routes named the King’s Highway and the Via Maris (Way of the Sea) intersecting through Israel was one of the reasons nearly every Middle Eastern king from ancient times thought was behind their wanting to conquer the land of Israel, (>please note, the real reason is a spiritual one, but it’s what the kings thought>). In fact over the entire globe, not just in the Middle East, and throughout all of history it was largely because of nations attempting to control the trade routes that so many wars took place.
Securing trade routes is still somewhat important today, (authorities having to curtail the criminal activities of the Somali pirates has proven that), —-wikipedia piracy but technologically advanced nations in the 21st century have an even more crucial need —namely, secure encryption.
In Revelation chapter 18 we are told when commercial Babylon is destroyed “… the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more”.
Here is a question—how can it be that during the 7 year tribulation the one city, Babylon, will have become the only consumer of —-
- gold and silver
- precious stones and pearls
- fine cloth
- beautiful wood and bronze, iron and metal
- spices, incense and perfumes
- wine, olive oil and fine flour
- cattle and sheep
- horses and chariots
- and the souls ( soul= the mind, will and emotions) of men
It must be Babylon is the only buyer of these things because in Revelation chapter 18 the merchants of the earth lament no one buys their cargoes anymore when Babylon is destroyed. Does Babylon or maybe better said, the Antichrist become the only buyer of these goods at a price he determines, and then resells them at a profit to only those “members of Babylon” located all over the rest of the world? In other words does he control ALL the transporting of expensive goods?
The Mark of the Beast
Let’s put that aside for just a moment and move on to the mark of the beast. To most of us who study prophecy Revelation 13:16 -17 is a familiar passage: “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
Does not “the mark” being needed to buy or sell seem to point logically to some sort of micro-chipping and electronic transactions? But, you say, it will be years before all people in all nations have access to the internet or the scanners to read a micro processor chip?
Yes that’s true, most estimates are that today roughly only one half of the world uses the internet but notice there seems to be two ways a person can buy and sell… either that individual can have:
- The MARK which is the NAME of the beast
- OR the MARK which is the NUMBER of his name
Let’s assume for the sake of argument micro-chipping WILL be the preferred mark of the beast. But the False Prophet going about the business of micro-chipping every person on the planet and getting the technology to utilize it into every corner of the globe is something that might take many years, even decades to complete. However is it possible a micro-chip would contain the name OR the number of the beast’s name and in the interim a person not yet “marked” with a micro-chip, but wanting to buy or sell, could substitute the other (either the name or number of the beast, which ever the micro-chip is not), in some way that is more primitive and less hi-tech? Maybe for example a person would sign and use a pledge card or something of that nature?
Bible prophecy students have been saying for decades there is going to be a cashless society someday but doesn’t a cashless society almost require that the Antichrist will drop a net over the entire internet?
Anyone For A Cashless Society?
Dear friends listen— a cashless society has been sneaking in through the back door much faster than most people realize, for electronic transactions are replacing cash at an alarming rate in Europe and North America with other nations scrambling to catch up. Sweden and Italy are both talking about becoming totally cashless very soon, reasoning that 97% of their transactions are already electronic so they say, “hey, why not?” —and are ready to eliminate coins and notes completely.
In the United States 93% of all transactions conducted are electronic and while some folks think of debit cards and credit cards not being easily obtained by the poor or unemployed, this is untrue, because the ‘Food Stamp’ entitlements are transferred from the government to the people by means of an ‘EBT’ (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card that is used like a debit card.
?Did you know the Central Bank of Nigeria has recently stipulated a ‘cash handling charge’ on daily cash withdrawals or cash deposits that exceed a certain amount in an effort to encourage more electronic-based transactions?
Japan is a nation definitely on the leading edge of e-money technology and one of the first to have widely used contactless pre-paid cards. What makes these different from credit or debit cards is that they are RFID cards and do not need to be swiped through a card-reader; instead all the bearer has to do is hold the card up to a sensor that reads the information. In fact a lot of times people just hold their wallet or bag containing the card up in front of the card reader. Presently in Japan, no centralized card exists; in fact Japan supports 6 different cards, including the “Edy card” (euro, dollar and yen) mainly in the Tokyo area, but also the popular “Suica” card (Super Urban Intelligent CArd) and others. In all there are about 30 million e- cards in circulation in Japan.
Bottom line: People all over the world are turning to electronic transactions for the convenience, to speed up transactions, to curtail drug trafficking and counterfeiting, and because they think it is safer. However, without cash there is no room for buying and selling outside the system and every single transaction can be tracked and potentially controlled. That’s what the Antichrist will want—control on steroids with a capital “C”!
Just as a side note, Revelation 11:8-9 informs us that when the Two Witnesses are killed their dead bodies will lie on the streets of Jerusalem for 3 and ½ days and the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will view the morbid spectacle, so it seems satellite TV and satellites will still be in working order, which means electronic transactions could also be conducted.
Ripe For The Taking:
A report by Oxford A Economics estimated the total size of the entire world wide digital economy was $20.4 trillion in 2013. With that much value another major problem that’s possibly on the horizon is unprecedented fraud. Some experts predict that while cyber pirates have been busy stealing millions of dollars to date —we haven’t seen anything yet! Even with sophisticated firewalls and 100% secure encryption, there’s really no way of making the system foolproof and business transactions conducted online perfectly, absolutely, positively safe. Of course if Satan the devil can create the problem —- he can resolve the problem, so perhaps the Antichrist will be able to stop all digital fraud by others.
In Daniel 11: 39 we are told— “He (the Antichrist) will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.” He will attack fortresses, so we have to ask ourselves what is a “fortress’ in this day and age? Could the Federal Reserve Bank be called a fortress? What about other financial institutions such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Lloyds Banking Group, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo? Well if you have an account in one of those banks you’re probably hoping it’s a fortress — but are they? Are they susceptible to attack? In September of 2012 several major banks and stock exchanges in the U.S. were hit with cyber-attacks twice as large as any in history, mostly involving large-scale denial-of-service but also including pilfering funds from banks.
While this writer is certainly not dogmatic about it, I think it’s very possible that:
- Endtime Babylon will be exactly where Babylon has always been, on the plains of Shinar
- But comprised of only the headquarters located at Babylon while the rest of it…-
- …could be a great city like the world has never seen before, but only headquartered in Babylon, the bulk of it existing in virtual reality, in other words a Cyber-city.
- All “the pieces” are in place, the transatlantic cables, fiber optic cables, server farms, satellites, GPS systems, online retailers, social media, internet entertainment venues and et al.
- Babylon therefore could be “built” very quickly.
- That the fortresses the Antichrist attacks, with the help of a demonic “god”, might be the electronic banking systems of entire countries and possibly military installations with nuclear weapons.
- That a cyber Babylon might think of herself as having so many back up servers, satellites and ways to reroute internet traffic that she could not possibly be destroyed. Of course God can burn it all up in one day. And will!