Iraqi Visionary Explains Phenomena That Have Occurred From Nineveh To Baghdad
By Michael H. Brown
We have reported previously on Dina Basher, an Iraqi Catholic who, it is claimed, has experienced apparitions of Christ and the Virgin. This began on the Feast of the Assumption in 1991 and developed in earnest during the fall of that same year, mainly near Mosul, which in its turn is near the ruins of ancient Nineveh. We now have revisited the issue and culled additional details from taped amateur interviews. From them we learn that her ecstasies last anywhere from ten minutes to three or even six hours and in appearance bring to mind the apparitions in Kibeho, Rwanda. She says that the Lord walks on a cloud about a meter high and takes her to a place in heaven, which Dina -- who is now 25 -- describes as an "immense place with no limits or end." Allegedly Dina has seen many angels, describing one as appearing eight years old with short blond hair. She also has seen St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Thomas, and St. Andrew. Sometimes, during her ecstasies, she appears in a crucified position. She says she has been taken to Calvary by the Lord, Who told her: "You are to share in the Passion." She has also been "transported" to churches to "visit" and pray in them. Her hands and sometimes her face exude a mysterious, fragrant oil; the first time was September 29, 1991. On one occasion, according to Church authorities, it occurred in Baghdad. After that came bleeding wounds (stigmata) which have shown themselves in various placed, including the Church of the Virgin Mary in Baghdad, where there have also been impressive healings. Many have witnessed her stigmata in a town called Mansur. Doctors have studied the wounds, as have psychiatrists, who don't believe it's a "psychic" condition, according to local bishops. Brain tests and x-rays have been normal, say authorities, who have declared the happenings supernatural (at least in the case of her Patriarch and the Bishop of Baghdad). According to one prelate, the doctors see Dina's phenomena as something "beyond nature's capability." On one occasion she heard Satan ask if she would be able to endure the pains of Crucifixion, and the Lord say "Yes." When Satan said he wanted to see, Dina supposedly participated in the Crucifixion, endured the pain, and afterward, standing with Christ, saw Satan "evaporate." After that, Dina says, she was taken to a large church where the Lord gave her Communion. These of course are ecstasies we submit for your own reckoning. We are attempting to discern this potentially important situation. We do not yet know what to make of some of her stronger claims, at least one of which appears apocalyptic. The town in which she lives is in the vicinity that encompasses the ancient ruins of Nineveh. In Baghdad, three bishops saw blood mysteriously flow from her. A large wound, jagged and round, has appeared on her forehead.
What other details can we cull from these interviews?
"My father is a teacher and my mother is a housewife," says Dina.
"A few seconds before the ecstasy I feel like a dizziness and then find myself either with the Blessed Virgin Mary or with Our Lord Jesus Christ."
In the first apparition with Our Lord, where were you? Were you in bed in your house or did He take you somewhere else when He appeared to you?
"At the beginning of the ecstasy I was at my uncle's house. Then the Lord Jesus took me to a magnificent white palace with water coming down from it. When I entered the palace I was met by many saints. The first saint was St. Mina [of Egypt]. How do I know? Because he was wearing a cross around his neck and his name under it."
What about the oil that comes from your hands?
"I have felt the wounds in my hands, the wounds of Christ, and the oil comes out."
When the oil first exuded, what church were you in?
"The first time the oil came out, I was in our house with several deaconesses. Before falling asleep, I saw the Blessed Virgin Mary standing on my bed and oil came out of her hands. We prayed and also oil came from my hands. There were the deaconesses and my mother."
What happened in the next ecstasy?
"In the second ecstasy more oil came from my hands. I walked into a church and more oil came out of my hands."
You told us that after the oil came blood. Where on your body did the blood come the first time, and where were you?
"After the Mass on Sunday at 11:30, I felt pain in my hands, side, and feet. This experience was foreign to me. I was at my uncle's house and I began to pray in front of the image of Christ. When I was praying, blood started to come out of my hands, feet, head, and side."
When did this next happen?
"After that I went to Mozul to my uncle's again, to visit some of the homes, and more blood came from my hands than before, and the wound in my side became eight centimeters [three inches] in size. After ten minutes it closed by itself and the blood dried up. There were two priests there who were watching. I felt a pain, a spiritual pain. There was also blood on my forehead in the shape of a cross."
When the Lord comes, does He come alone or is He with the Blessed Virgin Mary or someone else?
"When He came the first time He was with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sometimes He is with the Blessed Virgin. He always has two angels with him, and the Blessed Virgin also comes with two angels."
When the Lord comes, does He discuss anything or take you any place?
"He took me to many churches," claims Dina -- who in 1991, at the onset, was just 14. "One was St. Thomas Monastery. He took me there three times."
You "went" there during ecstasies, and during some had tears in your eyes. What happened?
"This happened when I looked at the Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot look at Him when He appears as He is. When I look at the garment He is wearing, which has bright shining stars, there is a bright light that causes my eyes to water. But when during the Crucifixion, when He is on the Cross, I can look at Him and describe Him."
During the ecstasies, there are movements. It looks like you are receiving a candle. What were these movements of your hands?
"Either the Lord Jesus gives me a chalice to drink, which is the Blood of Christ, and sometimes very bitter. Or He gives me holy Communion or blesses me or gives me the Holy Gospel to read or I hold a candle in my hand. When I saw the Lord Jesus Christ wearing a beautiful robe it was the first time it was the first time I was able to look at His eyes and face, because before I would only look at His feet, and the only time I could see Him all was on the Cross. Now I saw Him dressed all in white with white rays around His head and a cross with light coming from it. He said that everyone must light a candle in his house, in the church, and pray for others and for the churches, and repent for their sins, because He says, 'My Second Coming is now drawing near.' He said to light candles in all the churches and welcome Him with joyful hands, because He said, 'My arrival is very near.' The last thing He did was give me an icon that was fastened around His neck."
Dina sometimes has had four ecstasies in a single day. In one case she was "taken" to a place that resembled the tabernacle. Here she has received blessings and read from a "holy book."
After one ecstasy Dina said that Jesus told her the sign of the blood "will be a sign for the people so that they may see her and believe." At St. Thomas Church, in front of many ecclesiastical students and faithful, she had an ecstasy and related the message of Jesus as: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," and said He spoke to her about His "near Second Coming" and told her all people must fast three days. He asked her to visit the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary [in Masinta]. That was November 25, 1991. On December 6, 1991, she related a message from the Lord in which He allegedly said, "Begin prayers in the church, begin prayers in the home. Repent, for My Second Coming is near at hand. Each of the faithful is to light a candle in his own home, sing hymns in your homes, and sing hymns of praise and glory because the Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near. Repeat Kyrie Eleison -- Lord have mercy -- three times in your prayers. Fasting from the tongue -- not talking -- is preferable to fasting from food though both are required. Come to My house and begin prayer and light the candles and welcome Me with joy. Come to Me, all who have burdens, and I will give you rest."
On December 27 of that same year -- allegedly -- Jesus was quoted as saying, "I want faith, love, and unity." Two days before, on Christmas, the Virgin allegedly told the young Iraqi woman that "your unity in the Church is my feast." On January 14, 1992, the Lord allegedly said, "Stay awake because you do not know when the time will come. I will give you an example of this. A man traveling abroad leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gate keeper to be on watch. Watch, therefore, you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the morning, in the evening, or at cock crow. I tell you a second time, stay awake, my dear ones."
On that same day Dina claimed the Blessed Virgin Mary said, "Keep my words and keep my commandments and prayers and pray to me and my beloved Son. Pray for your souls and fast for your souls. When you pray, meditate on the angelic salutations and meditate on the Apostle's Creed. My dear ones, I give you this message that you may do what I say. Sit in a church and examine your consciences and go to the priest and confess your sins. Come to the holy Eucharist because it brings you close to my beloved Son. Open the doors of the church and do not close them. Open your eyes and do not close them. Open your hearts and be wise like your heavenly Father. Be firm in my commandments, and I will stay with you forever. Do what I tell you and you will obtain graces from me. My beloved Son sacrificed Himself on the cross for you. He shed His pure Blood for you because we love you. We come close to you and you run away from us. We come close to you and you run away. Why, my dear ones? Why my dear ones? Examine your consciences and come close to me and do not go away. Why this separation? You have covered your faces with a veil of darkness. I beg of you that you may remove this veil. With a heavenly Light on your faces, I ask from each one of you to each take this message to each church and each heart and to each person. My dear ones, I love you very much. My only question is, why do you close the doors to your hearts to me? Open them and you will see a white heavenly ray entering your home and expelling the dark clouds from your hearts. Your faces will change to the faces of people with pure hearts and innocent people; they will turn to faces of angels and doves. The smile on your face will be a pure smile and not a false one. My last word is that you love one another so that my love remains in you and that you examine your consciences and do not run away from me." When Dina said to Jesus, "Lord, these words are hard. How can I say them to the people?" He allegedly answered, "No, Dina, tell them. Announce this, my message, to all the churches. Bear all. You will be exposed to many pains and dangers, but I beg of you to bear it so that you may be with Me always and I will help you in everything and I am with all of you. Tell My people I suffer like you; tell My dear ones I suffer so much. My daughter, obey your priests and obey your deaconesses and obey all who tell you something good. Pray with your priests and all the people. Unite, unite, My brothers. United and you will receive the power to fight those who oppose Me."
Could it be true? Have Jesus and the Blessed Mother really made such a stunning announcement in the world's greatest current hotspot? Could Iraq have a role in coming spiritual events?
We must discern not only the general mysticism but also discern among the various messages, as we are instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:50: "Do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good."
Apparitions Occurred In Iraq In Very Vicinity Of Ancient Nineveh
By Michael H. Brown
Unknown to many, the Virgin Mary has appeared in the Muslim nation of Iraq -- a nation that may soon dominate world headlines. The apparitions allegedly took place at Mozul and the message was serious. We are trying to get an update. Obviously, and especially in light of current events, the locale has great meaning. It's a vicinity that encompasses the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh -- where Jonah issued his strong warning (Jonah 3:4) of repentance -- and it was one of a number of apparitions to occur in the Mideast during recent times.
Its occurrence in the very stronghold of Saddam Hussein can now be seen as potentially prophetic. The apparitions began on the Feast of the Assumption in 1991 to a 14-year-old Syrian Orthodox girl named Dina Basher who claimed that on one occasion Our Lord came to her in a bright light, blinding her for several days. There was also stigmata: In Baghdad three bishops saw the blood flow from Dina. At first oil had exuded from Dina's skin, but at one point a voice told her that "a day will come when blood will come out of your hands," as it then did.
Baghdad, of course, may soon be the focus of U.S. military actions, and many suspect it is where the current spate of bio-terrorism originated. The girl also saw Jesus with a golden crown and shining white robe or with white rays around His head. She claimed the Second Coming was drawing near. That's for your discernment. However such predictions pan out, the Patriarch has issued a decree referring to the happenings as "astounding miracles and wonders" and the Bishop of Baghdad has described the phenomena as a manifestation of God's living power.
Let us remember that Nineveh was the New York City of the day. It was a large and wealthy city and it was where Jonah prophesied devastation unless there was fasting and repentance.
There were idols. There was great wealth. It was a place of merchants. It was Babylon's sister city (and often its rival), and though initially spared, it was eventually destroyed both by natural disasters and the invasion of enemy forces.
Apparitions have also been reported in Egypt in the midst of a militant Muslim stronghold. The site is Assiut. "This year (2001) starting on Wednesday 15 August, visitors witnessed spiritual phenomena in the form of bright lights, which reached a peak on Saturday 18 August," according to El-Keraza, official magazine of the Coptic Orthodox Church. "The monastery was receiving around 30-40 thousand visitors daily, but after the spiritual phenomena the numbers grew very rapidly."
One woman told the BBC she had seen the Virgin Mary with outstretched hands and a light emanating from them, accompanied by a smell of incense and large numbers of pigeons. The birds seem to be a common element of the sightings. The secretary of the Assiut Council of Churches, Father Mina Hanna, said other people had seen a big white, brightly lit pigeon appearing and disappearing -- but he said the apparitions were different each time.
The last time there was a major apparition in Egypt it was outside of Cairo at Zeitoun, where apparitional birds were also seen, along with a luminous form shaped like the Virgin Mary and witnessed even by Egyptian President Abdul Nasser. She was known as the "Queen of Peace." More than a million reportedly saw her. It was a few months after the famous "Six-Day War."
As War Sabers Rattle, Iraq Is Cast As Focus Of Phenomena And Prophecies
By Michael H. Brown
Nearly two years ago, in warning about what turned out to be September 11, Venezuelan mystic Maria Esperanza had said she saw "two powers -- one small, one larger," that were working in concert behind the scenes. She prophesied that they would attack both abroad and on America's own soil. Their goal, said the great seer, would be to provoke the United States into war (and she warned against entering such a war, as has now the Vatican).
While speculation was rampant at the time that Maria was alluding to a nation like Cuba working with a larger one like Russia or China -- and while a future scenario may indeed involve those two large countries -- the current crisis with Iraq crystallizes the possible scenario of a little power -- al-Qaeda -- having worked with a larger one -- Iraq -- to provoke the U.S. There is now evidence that Osama Bin Laden personally visited Iraq on at least two occasions, and one of the hijackers was believed to have met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague before September 11 (although this report is now in dispute). Meanwhile The London Sunday Telegraph reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had a dossier on Iraq that would reveal Saddam Hussein trained some of Bin Laden's key lieutenants. There is said to be evidence that Iraqi funds have flowed into terrorist camps.
Tied with this are the phenomena that have taken place in Iraq itself. As we have previously reported, the Blessed Mother began to appear at the Iraqi town of Mozul in 1991 to a Syrian Orthodox girl named Dina Basher, who later developed stigmata. Mozul is on the ruins of ancient Nineveh -- accenting prophetic importance (see the Book of Jonah). We are currently asking any of our Middle Eastern viewers who may have further details on Dina to please contact us. What we do know is that the Patriarch issued a decree referring to the happenings as "astounding miracles" (an opinion repeated by the Bishop of Baghdad).
Is the Lord trying to say something through that? Is He asking us to revisit the story of Nineveh? We look back at that ancient city and wonder if it means Iraq is going to be destroyed just as Nineveh was destroyed by invaders. Is that the prophetic symbolism? Is that the significance, if significance there is? Or could the location also harbor a secret warning for the U.S.?
We ask this because Nineveh was known in the Bible as "that great city" (Jonah 3:2), just as the great city of today is New York. The fact that the phenomena would occur at Nineveh may send out a warning that any war with Iraq will be followed by an event that affects one of our modern-day "Ninevehs" -- if not New York, then perhaps Los Angeles, London, or some other major center. In other words, war may be followed by a great act of terrorism or an unusual natural disaster. Nineveh was saved for a while after it heeded the warnings of Jonah, but reverted back to evil and was destroyed not only by war -- war with Babylon -- but also floods. We look back at a prompting we had received that "war will be followed by the great calamity" -- and wonder if this might apply to both Iraq and the United States: that any war will be a prelude to some unexpectedly large event in one of the two countries.
We can only hope that's not the case, that it's errant prophecy, that mercy will carry the day as it has carried the day so far.
And we can only urge prayer. Now is the time for novenas. We are offering a new book, The Church's Most Powerful Novenas, at this time when prayer is so needed -- not just for the world scene, but in all our lives. We also strongly urge the Scriptural Rosary. A darkness has descended and can be dispelled -- if not in Iraq, at least in our own homes and families.
Behind Conflict With Iraq Is The Mystery Of Israel And Its Link To The 'End Times'
By Michael H. Brown
The issue of Israel and whether the Middle East figures into the end times are hidden factors behind widespread thinking on the current Iraq conflict (at least in evangelical circles) and may even factor into the considerations of the president himself. By denomination a Methodist but in spirit often evangelical, George W. Bush's conversion came through evangelist Billy Graham -- who has repeatedly spoken of the end times at his huge prayer crusades, some of which Bush has attended, according to reports.
What do evangelicals and other non-Catholic Christians believe is that end-times scenario? And how does it figure into events that may be tied to Iraq?
Of course, we always get back to Israel. Iraq is a sworn, blood enemy of Israel, and evangelicals are keenly supportive of Israel, quoting Scripture as saying that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse it will be cursed. Along with his concerns about terrorism, freeing the Iraqi people, and geopolitical considerations, this protective feeling toward Israel may factor into the equation.
Does prophecy factor in as well? In his earnest approach to the situation, and his feeling of a divine mission, does Bush possess a prophetic outlook engendered by many whose brand of Christianity he openly shares -- including Attorney General John Ashcroft, a minister in the Assembly of God, which has an apocalyptic view of current events and the role of the Mideast in them?
While mainstream churches don't openly preach about the end times, it is a significant theme within many evangelical, pentecostal, and fundamentalist denominations. They believe, as do many Catholics, that the Second Coming is approaching and it is a great battle involving Israel -- Armageddon -- that they believe will herald the return of Jesus. For this reason, they consider all events tied to Israel as crucial and follow each Middle Eastern development as bearing great prophetic importance.
"Jesus predicted the persecution of the church, the fall of Jerusalem with the destruction of the temple, the scattering of the Jews into all nations, and the amazing survival and growth of the church," notes one such author, John F. Walvoord, in Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis. "Along with the Old Testament prophets, He also saw a time when Israel would be reestablished as a nation. All this has been realized in history. But He also warned those who understood the Old Testament prophets to watch Jerusalem and the Middle East for signs of the approaching end of the world civilization, the end of the Time of the Gentiles."
Could this really be true? Does so much hinge upon the Holy Land?
Many of those who set such forth point to Matthew 24, which mentions the impending destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem after an "abomination" is placed in it. In Luke 21 there are warnings that many will die by the sword, that people should flee to the mountains -- that there will be famine and earthquakes and signs in the sky before the second arrival of Jesus.
An argument can be made that many of these prophesies were fulfilled in the decades immediately after Christ's death -- when swarms of Roman soldiers invaded Israel and committed a horrifying slaughter, surrounding and destroying the Temple itself, indeed sending many Israelis into the mountains. In that very Temple, Nero had tried to place his image -- to be sure, an abomination -- during this period in which quakes were felt in Rome (quakes, fire, and floods) and there was the horrifying destruction due to Pompeii -- a volcano that literally turned the region to pitch-darkness.
As for signs in the sky, in A.D. 66 -- the year Jerusalem revolted against Rome -- Halley's Comet hung in the sky over Palestine like a sword.
Whether or not these events are what was predicted in Matthew, or minor elements in the longer view of history, we can say this: portions of the prophecy clearly have not yet been fulfilled -- specifically that such events would herald the Second Coming. Simply put: Jesus has not yet returned. And there indeed seems to be an important future role, perhaps a crucial role, for the Holy Land; no one can deny the relevance of this remarkable place, which is like a spiritual vortex. Note the major events through history that have occurred on this little sliver of land and how recent conflicts have specifically targeted the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Wailing Wall, and the Temple area in Jerusalem. It is a power spot. Its role could assume any proportion.
Israel is the reason the U.S. was attacked on September 11 and largely a reason why the U.S. is attacking Iraq, which has been developing weapons that could greatly harm Israel (if not one day destroy it).
But is it really as clearly cut as the evangelicals assert? Is what will occur in Israel the entire ball of prophetic wax -- or is there a larger global picture?
We assert the latter, but we agree that Israel and the Middle East will be key players and that the stage is being set for something big. Many evangelicals believe that the Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (indeed, there are such plans afoot) and that a dictator of a confederation (by some measures, a new world power based around the Mediterranean) will desecrate the Temple three-and-a-half years before the return of Christ.
Thus, we see how crucial is the future role of Israel in the evangelical scenario.
"The prophecies about Jerusalem make it clear that the Holy City will be in the center of world events in the end time," asserts Walvoord.
Additionally, the period immediately before the Second Coming is supposed to involve the greatest distress since the beginning of time (something that events like Pompeii of the first century did not measure up to), and an evil ruler is supposed to reign for 42 months, which also has not yet happened. This "Mediterranean leader" is supposed to seize control of the new confederacy -- which many fear will come in the way of the new European Union -- and masquerade as a good man, a prince of peace.
Soon he will be seen for his evil, however -- according to one evangelical interpretation -- and war will be waged at the Mount of Megiddo, a small mountain in northern Palestine at the end of a broad valley where many conflicts have been fought in the past and where many believe will one day occur Armageddon (the name of which comes from this mountain). From some interpretations of the Bible, a great army will attack the Middle East from the south at the same time that Russia or other armies to the north will mobilize another powerful unit to descend on the Holy Land. Soon after will come an enormous army from the east.
How does Iraq play into such end-times scenarios?
It's not clear that it does. One can argue that the army from the east is supposed to cross Iraq and that current changes there may open up that region for such a crossing. That's one view. One might also postulate that Iraq and September 11 are simply part of a larger holy war that will become global in nature and see major battles fought in the Middle East. This we believe. No one really knows. But we can say this: Iraq itself has terrific connotation, and is itself a "power spot." This is where some believe the Garden of Eden was located. This is the territory of ancient Nineveh. And Babylon. This is the land of the River Euphrates in Revelation.
Something seems to be playing out. We just don't know as yet to what extent it will play, nor when the Mideast will truly enter into a final confrontation. Right now the world is undergoing a chastisement, and we must ask ourselves if it is simply the kind of chastisement men periodically encounter (as at Pompeii) or whether it is leading up to something far more apocalyptical.
While there is no question about the role of Israel (see Revelation), and while we seem to be approaching huge events, war is a part of any major global chastisement, and no one knows for certain if we are watching the very initial phase of a final end-times scenario, or a chastisement like previous historic chastisements (see the Middle Ages). Epidemics, violence, societal upheaval, famine, natural disasters, weather extremes, and war are often components in a purification. At the least, we appear to be entering the heightened phase of a very major one, with a final chapter that is a long ways from being written.
[note also the coincidence of the new bomb called MOAB, recently tested in Florida,
Excerpts from Matthew 24 and Luke 21:
Signs of Christ's
1 (1) Jesus (2) came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.
2 And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, (3) not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down."
3 As He was sitting on (4) the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of (5) Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, "(6) See to it that no one misleads you.
5 "For (7) many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many.
6 "You will be hearing of (8) wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
7 "For (9) nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be (10) famines and earthquakes.
8 "(11) But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 "(12) Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and (13) you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
10 "At that time many will (14) fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
11 "Many (15) false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.
13 "(16) But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
14 "This (17) gospel of the kingdom (18) shall be preached in the whole (19) world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
15 "Therefore when you see the (20) ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in (21) the holy place ((22) let the reader understand),
16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.
17 "Whoever is on (23) the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.
18 "Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.
19 "But (24) woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.
21 "For then there will be a (25) great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for (26) the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
23 "(27) Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him.
24 "For false Christs and (28) false prophets will arise and will show great (29) signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even (30) the elect.
25 "Behold, I have told you in advance.
26 "So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them.
27 "(31) For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the (32) coming of the (33) Son of Man be.
28 "(34) Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
The Glorious Return
29 "But immediately after the (35) tribulation of those days (36) THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND (37) THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30 "And then (38) the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see (39) the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.
31 "And (40) He will send forth His angels with (41) A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His (42) elect from (43) the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
As Troops Rush Through Iraq, Questions Are Raised About Symbolisms Of Babylon
By Michael H. Brown
We have spoken of Israel and how it is a center of mystery: a "power spot" and the reason for much of what transpires in the Middle East. Whether or not President Bush bears prophetic beliefs, many of his fellow evangelical-style Christians do, and there is no doubt that Israel in some ways will figure into future events, perhaps even the "end times."
But what about Iraq? What might its role be?
We asked this question the other day and would like to explore it now in the context of a great city that was once located there -- Babylon, located just 30 miles south of Baghdad, in the path of rushing U.S. troops (they are there as we speak). Babylon was the center of ancient commerce as well as occultism. This was where the Israelis were held in captivity, and where Daniel had his major vision, which many believe will tie to the end times. There were the astrologers and the merchants, the Southern Palace of Nebuchadnezzar and the Ishtar gate, which Saddam Hussein wanted to rebuild. It is perhaps informative that temples dedicated to Ishtar had prostitutes of both genders and that she was the goddess of both love (read: lustful sensuality) and war.
This was the spirit of Babylon, which the Bible describes as "a dwelling place for demons," a cage for immorality, and a place from which all the nations drank the wine of lewdness. "The kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the world's merchants grew rich from her wealth and wantonness," says Revelation 18:3 while another passage describes a woman seated on a beast with the words "Babylon, the great, mother of harlots, and all the world's abominations" written on her head. The woman is described as "the great city which has sovereignty over the kings of the earth."
Scripture adds that the beast had seven heads and ten horns and no longer existed at the time Revelation was written but would rise once more before its final ruin. The ten horns represent kings who would bestow their power and authority upon the beast and fight against the Lamb -- which sounds like an Armageddon. As prophecy buffs point out, the power of political Babylon is decimated by the return of the Lord in glory. But they also point out that the notion of a literal "Babylon" to be rebuilt on the site of ancient Babylon is in conflict with Isaiah 13:18-22. Obviously, Babylon, which lay waste in the desert, has not qualified as a great city -- as a place of wealth and influence -- for millennia.
But after the current war, which many believe is only a catalyst for future events, will it once more assume a strategic role, and at the least, does it not represent a spirit that still lives and has pervaded many major parts -- many urban areas -- of the world?
This seems to be the truth of Revelation if that passage pertains to current events. Babylon is more a spirit than a place, and as we know by our current culture -- which brings back images of the lustful temples -- "Babylonia" is rising all over and is now centered in cities like Los Angeles, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York (where the United Nations, and its many kings, are located). Babylon itself, the ancient site, is located inland. Does not Revelation refer to a city "by the waters of the deep" (which implies a city next to the ocean)?
What is occurring in Iraq -- the rebuilding of temples, the Hanging Gardens -- is thus a symbol and possibly also a portent. While the current war itself hardly qualifies as Armageddon, its long-term implications -- the stage it sets, and the light it casts on the notion of Babylon -- are a different story. For according to Scripture, Babylon (wherever it is, whatever it is) will be cast down, destroyed with fire, wracked by plagues, punished for leading the world astray. Will the current war galvanize the rest of the world into formation of a huge superpower of ten kings that will come against the rest of the world -- possibly including that nation, the U.S., which is currently dismantling the neighborhood of ancient Babylon?
"Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left," says the Lord in 2 Kings 20:17.
"Because of the indignation of the Lord she will not be inhabited, but she will be completely desolate," adds Jeremiah 50:13. "Everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified and will hiss because of all her wounds."
Do such passages refer to the future, or past events?
Will there be a repeat of the confusion caused at the Tower of Babel?
Will there be the type of commotion implied by Jeremiah -- where it says that "at the shout, 'Babylon has been seized!' the earth is shaken, and an outcry is heard among the nations"?
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