Iraq - The future headquarters of the coming antichristNote: The following is an excerpt from Perry's book, Unleashing the Beast, which can be ordered from the ministry.
Named the butcher of Baghdad by the west, Saddam Hussein took control of Iraq in July 1979. A member of the Ba'athist party, Saddam's vision for Iraq was one of power and grandeur. Fully aware of the historic significance of his nation, Saddam set in motion plans to rebuild the ancient city of Babylon, erect the world largest mosque with the Euphrates river running though it, and eventually become the leader of a new Islamic crescent that would include Israel as its prized possession. A lengthy war with Iran cancelled many of his plans, but not before Saddam began spending millions of dollars rebuilding in the region of ancient Babylon.
The Mystique of Ancient Babylon
After Noah's flood, men began to rebuild cities in the plains and valleys. One of the first cities among many was Babel, built by Nimrod, the grandson of Noah through his son Ham (see Genesis 10:1-10). According to Josephus, Babel was built in the plains of Shinar as an act of rebellion against God for sending the flood and destroying the world. Nimrod began to erect a tall tower, intending it to be so high that any future flood waters would never reach the top. Josephus indicates that God destroyed the tower by sending a strong wind (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, book 1 Chapter IV, section 2). The tower was called "Tower of Babel," which can translate as "confusion," alluding to the incident where God scattered the people by confusing their languages.
The modern area of Iraq became known in early history as Mesopotamia. The next reference to the plains of Shinar is during the time of Abraham when a war was raging between five kings in Canaan and five kings from Mesopotamia, who were being led by Amraphel, the king of Shinar (Gen.14:1). The four other kings listed in Genesis 14 are:
- Kedorlamour, the King of Elam – this is modern Persia or Iraq
- Tidal, the King of the nations – this was a king over Gentile tribes
- Amraphel, the King of Shinar – this was the area of Babel
- Arioch, the King of Ellasar – this was a city near Ur, or Mesopotamia
These five kings ruled from the area of modern Syria and Iraq. Abraham, the father of the Hebrews, engaged in war against these five kings and reclaimed the possessions seized during the battle. Following his war victory, Abraham went to Jerusalem where he met with Melchizedek, the first priest of God (Gen.14).
Abraham's first battle was with kings from the same area where Israel's worst enemies still live. Since 1979, the countries of Syria and Iran have been the leading opposition against the Jews, the rebirth of Israel, the re-unification of Jerusalem, and the return of the Jews to their historic land. Just as the kings surrounding ancient Babylonia initiated the first conflict with the father of the Hebrew nation, the future Islamic kings of a new Babylon will instigate the final mother of battles that will climax in the valley of Megiddo in central Israel (Rev.16:16).
After Abraham, the next mention of the Babylonian area is penned in the prophetic book of Daniel. By this time Babylon was not just a city built on the Euphrates River. It had grown into a mighty kingdom, powering over Mesopotamia and extending its dominion by conquering Israel and Jerusalem. Thousands of Jews were taken captive in Babylon for seventy years, including Daniel the prophet. Babylonian armies destroyed Solomon's Temple, seizing the priceless vessels of gold and silver, and storing them in the treasure houses of Babylonian gods (Jeremiah 52).
Ancient Babylon (the area of Iraq today) was eventually seized by the armies of the Medes and Persians around 546 B.C. Many years later, the Grecian empire under Alexander the Great conquered the Persians and took possession of Babylon, extending their global dominion into more countries. Following the Grecians, the Roman Empire began to form and eventually became the fourth kingdom in Daniel's prophecies (Daniel 2:40; 7:23).
Hundreds of years later in the seventh century, the Arabs possessed the land of Shinar and set up the headquarters of various branches of Islam near the banks of the Euphrates River. In 637 A.D., the first Arab empire was established in Mesopotamia. The first Arab government was called the Abbasid Empire.
The Arabians Take Babylon
Throughout history the Babylonian area was occupied by the Sumerians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians and Greeks, but never by the Arabians. A prophecy in Isaiah implies the Arabians would be there, but after Babylon's destruction they would no longer live there:
"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
"It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there." - Isaiah 13:19-20
This prophecy of destruction must allude to the present, since the Arabians did not pitch their tent there until 637 AD. Between the years 661 – 750 AD, the Arabs conquered Babylonia and the town of al-Kufa, which was situated near the ruins of ancient Babylon. This town became the capital of Iraq and the headquarters for the Umayyad dynasty. Between 744-750 AD, the Islamic caliph Marwan II ibn Muhammad transferred his residency to Harran, Iraq. Beginning in 717, fanatical caliphs began to persecute the Jews living in and around Babylonia. Throughout Islamic history, the fate of the Jews often depended upon who the regional Islamic governors were at the time.
In 850 the Islamic caliph al-Mutawakkil, a religious fanatic, demanded that Jews wear a yellow head covering. The poor and servants had a yellow patch attached to their clothes on their chest or back. During the early centuries of Islam, Jews and Christians were often identified by being forced to wear yellow clothes with patches on them. In most instances, Jews and Christians were levied with heavy taxes.
Clearly, the plains of Shinar, the tower of Babel, the city of Babylon, and the kingdom of the Babylonians have played a major role in Biblical history and prophecy. Iraq and the city of Baghdad have served as headquarters for caliphs in Islam since the infancy of the religion. Just as the first battle with Abraham, father of the Jews, involved the king of Mesopotamia (Iraq), the final battle of battles involving Israel and her enemies will be with a future king of Iraq. Prophetically, he will be the king of the neo-Babylon.
The New Babylon—Rising From the Ashes
On October 11, 1990, the New York Times International said:
"Under Saddam Hussein, one of the ancient world's most legendary cities has begun to rise again. More than an archaeological venture, the new Babylon is self-consciously dedicated to the idea that Nebuchadnezzar has a successor in Mr. Hussein, whose military prowess and vision will restore to Iraqis the glory their ancestors knew when all of what is now Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, and Israel was under Babylonian control."
The ancient king Nebuchadnezzar left instruction for the future of Babylon on cuneiform script tablets. On these clay tablets the scribes, 2,500 years ago, instructed those who find the tablets to rebuild the temples and palaces. This message was so clear to Saddam, that during this building project he had bricks impressed with his image and that of old king Nebuchadnezzar!
Iraqi archeologist Shafqa Mohammad Jaafar said, "Because Babylon was built in ancient times and was a great city, it must be a great city again in the time of our great leader Saddam Hussein." According to Paul Lewis of the New York Times, the motivation for Saddam rebuilding Babylon was to strengthen Iraqi nationalism by appealing to history. It also portrayed Saddam in the eyes of his people as the new Nebuchadnezzar, a leader who eventually conquered the world in his day.
After spending $100 million, thousands of workers laid 60 million bricks along new walls in the new Babylon. Every six feet along the wall there is a brick with an inscription in Arabic that reads, "The Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar was reconstructed in the era of Saddam Hussein." After laying 60 million bricks and rebuilding gates, walls, and palaces, the last Babylonian festival was in 1988. The war with Iran had taken its toll on Iraq and the building program ceased. Instead, Saddam began placing hundreds of millions of dollars into his lavish palaces scattered throughout the country.
Saddam's invasion into Kuwait was not for its oil wells. Iraq has huge amounts of oil reserves. The "spiritual" motive was to begin annexing the land that once belonged to ancient Babylon. It would have also given Iraq a much needed coastline. Even the name Babylon comes into play constantly in the minds of Iraqis. In the early 90's, Saddam built a super gun with a 16-inch barrel that was 172 feet long. The gun was tested and set a world record by shooting a projectile 112 miles straight up. The super gun was code named Baby Babylon by the Iraqis.
A second gun was being built when the parts were intercepted by special agents. The gun had a 39-inch barrel and was 512 feet long with the potential range of hundreds of miles. This larger gun was being named Big Babylon!
The Demise of Saddam
Saddam Hussein met his doom on the gallows in the very land where he ruled. Just like Hitler and evil dictators before him, Saddam's rule came to an abrupt end. He would never become the leader of a new Islamic crescent, nor the king of a new Babylon. Yet, in the future, under a new and different leadership, the ancient land of Shinar, (Iraq) could once again expand with wealth from the oil wells and be rebuilt into a strong nation.
After all, the Bible teaches there will be a season of false peace. This peace must involve Israel and her Arab-Muslim neighbors. Yet, out of this region of the world will arise the leader of the new Islamic republic, a Muslim that will at first be received by the Islamic world, but in the end will be the most violent, bloodthirsty human to have ever walked the earth.
According to Paul, this mans appearance is now being restrained. But one day he will be revealed in his full identity (2 Thessalonians 2:1-10).
Iraq Will Become the Headquarters of the Beast
Modern Iraq was once the center of the ancient Babylonian empire. Bagdad served as the headquarters and center of operation for several Islamic dynasties. Today, the Shi'ite branch of Islam needs a headquarters, and I believe Iraq, in the future, will become the center for Shiite Muslims who will claim this prophetic territory. Prior to the 2002 invasion of Iraq, I wrote that the new government would be a Shi'ite government. Iraq is important since the Antichrist does not invade Israel until the middle of the seven year period. This means he will be living and ruling from another nation, prior to making his move against Israel. The prophet Daniel was told, "he (the antichrist) will become great with a small people" (Dan.11:23). His authority is identified through the symbol of a little horn (Dan.7:8). These predictions reveal that, during the first 42 months, the antichrist will not be a well known, powerful leader (such as an elected official over the E.U.). Instead, he will control a small number of people, yet will gain his power through deception and demonic power (Rev.13:1-5).
Another indicator that Iraq will be heavily involved in this end time prophetic conflict is found in the book of Revelation. John speaks of activity linked with the Euphrates River and a massive 200-million-man army that will cross the Euphrates, passing through the nation of Iraq.
The Euphrates Connection
The Euphrates and Tigris Rivers divide Iran from Iraq. The Euphrates begins in Turkey not far from Mount Ararat. It travels through Turkey, Syria and Iraq, emptying into the Persian Gulf (1700 miles long). The Euphrates was the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire. This river is the only river mentioned by name in apocalyptic prophecies related to the final days of the rule of the beast kingdom.
Biblically, there are several powerful ancient spirits that have been confined under the great river Euphrates which will be released during the great tribulation:
"Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men." - Revelation 9:14-15
These wicked angels will rise up and motivate a massive army of two hundred million soldiers to slay one-third of mankind during a 13-month period (Rev 9:13-19). I personally believe these angels are the same ancient prince spirits (called principalities in Ephesians 6:12) that once ruled from the past empires of prophecy. These include the spirit of Babylon, the spirit of the Medes and Persians (mentioned in Daniel 10:13), along with the price spirit of Greece, also mentioned by Daniel in Daniel 10:20. The above mentioned empires all ruled from ancient Babylon; and according to Daniel, each kingdom had a strong demonic spirit dominating the atmosphere over the kingdoms (Daniel 10).
Later, toward the conclusion of the tribulation, the Euphrates River will dry up to make a way for a massive army, headed by the kings of the east:
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." - Revelation 16:12
John in Revelation indicates severe drought and famine will precede this event (Rev. 6:8; 11:6). Presently, during the dry season, the water level of the Euphrates might drop as low as 24 inches. The country of Turkey has constructed several massive dams which can presently shut off the flow of the Euphrates like a knob on a faucet. Why is the emphasis on the Euphrates so important? Because ancient Babylon was built along the Euphrates, and Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, sits near the Tigris River not far from the Euphrates.
When the Euphrates dries up and a massive army marches across, they will march from the east which includes Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan—nations which are located on the east of the Euphrates. These three nations are home to millions of Islamic radicals, all promoting their fanatical form of Islam with its strict agenda. The antichrist will be "great toward the east" (Dan.8:9), which includes these Islamic-controlled areas mentioned above.
Armies marching from the east would also need to pass through Iraq, as they proceed into Israel and the valley of Megiddo, the site of the future battle of Armageddon (Rev.16:16). We cannot underestimate the historical, spiritual, and political importance of the Iraqi nation. The land of Iraq was ancient Shinar, the land of the first battle Abraham fought, and it will be the land where the last king will rise and battle the Jews in their homeland. Iraq is:
- The place where the Tower of Babel was built
- The same territory of ancient Babylon
- The same territory where three prophetic empires have ruled
- The heart of the 10/40 window
- The headquarters for the Shiite Muslims
- The place where Ali, Mohammad's son-in-law, was murdered
- The place where some believe the 12th imam disappeared
- The place where many Shiites believe the Mahdi will appear
- A land where the Euphrates River flows
- Located toward the east from Israel—where the Antichrist will be strong
- The location where a united Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon will form the old Babylon
Here is the summary: Iraq was the cradle of civilization, and the area where Abraham lived (in Ur) before migrating to the Promised Land (Gen.11:31). It was home to the five kings whom Abraham and his servants fought (Gen.14:1-8). It is the place of the tower of Babel, the site of the first global religion and first world government (Gen.11). It was the area where three major empires of Bible prophecy set up their kingdoms. It was the headquarters of the Shi'ite branch of Islam and the site where many Muslims believe the12th Imam disappeared and where the Mahdi will re-merge to take possession of the world, forming an Islamic empire.
It is not necessary for a future Iraqi ruler to continue rebuilding the ancient ruins of Babylon. The spirit of Babylon will be released during the tribulation and will work in the hearts of the beast and his ten kings. This newly-formed Babylon will eventually consist of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and from a religious perspective, will also include Iran.
The main argument against the neo-Babylon
Scholars may argue that ancient Babylon has been destroyed and the Bible says it will not be rebuilt. According to a pastor friend Mike Coleman, he was told by a Hebrew professor this is one of the reasons Saddam desired to rebuild Babylon—to prove the Bible was wrong! Throughout the Old Testament, the prophets gave grave warnings about the utter destruction of Babylon. Many references are found in Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51:
"Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation." - Jeremiah 50:39
"And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah." - Jeremiah 51:64
In Jeremiah's time Babylon had invaded Israel, destroyed Jerusalem, burnt the Temple, and led the Jews into captivity. Jeremiah was predicting the utter destruction of Babylon. Yet, Jeremiah's prophecy is parallel to the prophecy in Revelation chapters 17 and 18 concerning "Mystery Babylon." Jeremiah's Babylon is a political city and John's Babylon is a religious and economic system.
During the Gulf War, I flew on a plane with a Rabbi from Hungary. We discussed the Gulf War. He believed Jeremiah alluded to a future war in the area of ancient Babylon, today Iraq. He noted America's involvement in the Gulf War appeared to parallel the warnings of Babylon's destruction:
- Jeremiah said a nation from the north would rise against Babylon (Jer.50:41). The Medes and Persians that overthrew Babylon were from the east. America is called "North America."
- Jeremiah said many kings would be raised up from the coast of the earth (Jer.50:41). The largest coalition in history was raised up during the Gulf War.
The Rabbi then showed me in scripture where the Babylon of Jeremiah chapter 51 was a future Babylon, or the area of modern Iraq. He noted that the original Babylon was never destroyed in the manner that we read in Jeremiah's prophecy. Ancient Babylon slowly deteriorated into ruins and rubble. Jeremiah said the Babylon he saw would be destroyed by a "destroying wind" (Jer.51:2). He noted that "bright arrows" would be used (Jer.51:11), and the "reeds would be burned with fire" (Jer.51:32). The Rabbi said, "During the Gulf war in a future conflict, America or Israel may be forced to used nuclear or other modern weapons (the destroying wind), or missiles (arrows) tipped with powerful weapons that will burn the area with fire." He continued, "If this prophecy does not happen in this war, it will in the future, and old Babylon will be destroyed."
If the headquarters of the antichrist will be Iraq and the area of ancient Babylon, then at what point could this area be destroyed? It could be devastated during a war with Israel or the west and rebuilt for the antichrist. After all, the nations of the earth would never allow Iraq to be destroyed without demanding the west rebuild it, the same way we did Japan after WW II. Others suggest that in the middle of the tribulation the Antichrist headquarters will be destroyed and he will move his armies into Israel.
Since John in Revelation sees "Mystery Babylon" burnt with fire on one hour, and this prophecy is fulfilled during the final 42 months of the great tribulation, Iraq could become the command center for the beast kingdom the first 42 months. Following a major conflict with the king of the north (Turkey – Daniel 11:40-44), the area of Iraq could be destroyed and the Antichrist would then make his move into Israel.
Without a doubt, Iraq will become the center of attention in the last days. Just as Jerusalem is the gate of heaven and the place where God placed His name, ancient Babel was the gate of wickedness and the place where deceit and spiritual corruption was birthed (Zech.5:5-11).
A final reason I believe that Iraq will be the headquarters of the future antichrist is the destruction coming to surrounding nations prior to the seven-year tribulation. Isaiah 17:1 predicts the utter destruction of Damascus, Syria. Damascus is the world's oldest continuing city and has never been completely destroyed in a war. It will, however, become non-existent in the future. We also read where the Persians (Iranians) will participate as a leading nation in the upcoming war against Israel called the battle of Gog and Magog. In the future, with Damascus (Syria) and the Iranians destroyed, the one nation that will continue to exist will be the nation sitting between Iran and Syria: Iraq.
Prior to the rise of Iraq as a strong Middle East nation, there will be a rise of a price of Persia in Iran.