Archive for the ‘Eschatology’ Category

Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks

Don’t be fooled, this short little book surprisingly is a heavier weight of exegesis than what its size may look like.  After seeing this work cited in various footnotes in Dispensational books and journal articles, I thought I go to the source and read this book myself.  I was not disappointed.  The book focuses on the Prophet Daniel’s oracle of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel chapter nine.  In analyzing the passage the book is divided into three parts:  The first sixty nine weeks which predicts the coming Messianic Prince; then the gap between the sixty ninth and Seventieth week; and finally the seventieth week and the coming of the Roman Prince.  Daniel 9 has Messianic prophecies that have significance for apologetics which the introduction of the book rightly points out.  It is a testimony of the power of the Scriptures and also stirs confidence for the believer that the remaining prophecies of the Seventieth week will no doubt also be fulfilled.  I appreciate this book’s argument for why the “weeks” means groupings of seven years and also showing how prophecies up to the sixtieth ninth week have been fulfilled quite literally.  This of course strongly suggests that details of the future Seventieth week will be fulfilled literally as well.  I thought the author did a good job in carefully cross referencing other passages in order to illuminate Daniel 9 and he was able to do it such a way that one gets the sense he did justice to the text instead of merely “proof-texting” with disregard of the context and also lack of care in thinking through the passage’s inter-textuality.  Originally written in 1940 (before the 1948 formation of Israel) and having gone through multiple printing, I find this book to be a classic and a must read.


If you must really buy a hard copy of the book, get it over at AMAZON.

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The Master's Perspective on Biblical Prophecy

 (Available on Amazon)

This book is a compilation of eleven articles pertaining to the issues of eschatology and dispensationalism with contributions mainly from professors of The Master’s Seminary.  I started reading this book in search of possible deeper insights into the Biblical texts pertaining to eschatology, seeing how these articles for the most part came from theological journals.  To that end, I found the articles most helpful were those written by the New Testament professor Dr. Robert L. Thomas.  He contributed over half of the articles (six) in this volume.  His chapter on Revelation 2-3 pointed out how these two chapters alluded to Christ’s second coming, which previously I haven’t really notice before.  Relevant to the Amillennial/Premillennial debate is Thomas’ excellent article making a case for the structure of Revelation as basically being temporally progressive rather than that of recapitulation.  This is not to say that there is no interlude or “intermission” in the Book of revelation however, since the next chapter Dr. Thomas gave an excellent analysis of the seventh bowl of the Apocalypse.  Another thing that I took away from this book is Dr. Thomas and Dr. Barker’s point of how Revelation draws heavily from the Book of Daniel, and how the Book of Daniel as antecedent theology helps inform us and understand Revelation, in particular with Daniel chapter seven.  I appreciated the book’s being focused on exegesis, the original language, hermeneutics and the Bible itself rather than sensationalism and “newspaper” speculation that some quarters of pop dispensationalism engage in, which turned me off as a younger Christian.  Given its more technical nature, I would recommend this work for readers familiar with the original language.  One thing I thought was a bit odd about the book was the editors’ introduction that said the opinions in the book does no necessarily reflect the opinions of The Master’s Seminary when the title of the work is “The Master’s Perspective on Biblical Prophecy.”  Then there’s also Dr. Thomas’s Inspired Sensor Plenior Application (ISPA) that I’m not too sure about at this time.

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AfterLife What You Need to Know About Heaven and NDE by Hank

(Available on Amazon)

This book is a response to all the new books coming out about those who went to heaven and came back, those with Near Death Experiences (NDE), etc.  The author, Hank Hanegraaff, is currently “The Bible Answerman” and overall does a good job dealing with the subjectivity of these “I’ve gone to heaven” books, and how their account contradict the clear teaching of Scripture and one another’s description of heaven.  I enjoyed how Hanegraaff also dealt with the issue of hell, and a defense of hell from some of the recent attacks by some within the Evangelical quarter.  With this said, there were somethings that I disagree with the book or think it could have done better.  His discussion of libertarian free will (LFW) assumes it rather than defends it, and seems to be important in his view of end things.  I think his discussion about good angels never sinning even in future heaven hits a dilemma concerning LFW.  At times he even sounds like a Calvinists!  Furthermore, while the author does believe in a physical reality of our future existence, he does at time have tendency to be driven by a spiritual vision model in his hermeneutics (versus a new creation model).  The book does expound Hanegraaff’s Partial Preterism and here he does not have anything new to contribute beyond what Gary DeMar, RC Sproul and others have said.  I kind of wished he dealt with some of the objections Christian raise concerning Partial Preterism.  I also wished he could have dealt with more scholarly Dispensationalists.  At times he was question begging and could have been more nuance–such as his discussion of Rob Bell on hell and also objecting to Dispensationalists Premillennial view because of Revelation 21’s promise that there will no longer be any sorrow on earth–while not accounting for Revelation 20 before chapter 21 and a defense of re-capitulation.  I still think Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven is the best of recent book on heaven no matter what view of the Millennium you take.

I write this review an hour before a funeral for a saint at our church.

It was a good reminder about our eternity and keeps our ministry in perspective.

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Should have had this up earlier, but here is the lists or index to the marathon series focusing on Calvinistic Dispensationalists stream of Presuppositional apologetics.  I have decided to also compiled other posts on Veritas Domain from the past that touched on Dispensationalism and Presuppositionalism.

I plan to add more things to this lists in the future and when that happens I will let readers know of any updates on here.  Some ideas of future material include a book review, a consideration of what I call a Theonomic “Transcendental argument against Dispensationalism,” and future interviews.  In terms of interviews, I really want to have Dr. John Whitcomb field some questions since it seems so many Dispensationalists have been introduced to Cornelius Van Til’s apologetics through him.







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Purchase: Amazon

Probably the best contemporary Christian book on Heaven because of it’s depth and also for being Biblically based.  You would think that the eternal place where Christians would eventually dwell at would be the subjects of many many books, but it does not seem that there are many works that are in the market that has the Biblical depth that this book has.  Randy Alcorn’s work attempts to engage the Christian imagination with questions about what our future in Christ is like after death.  The author attacks a Christian platonic conception of our eternal destination, and makes the case that the new heaven for us ultimately will be on a new earth.  What I’ve benefited most from the book is that it stirred my heart to think more about my eternal home and also the verses he cite that makes me take another look more carefully concerning heaven.  I do admit that sometimes the author does have a bit of stretch of an imagination more than I do, concerning what heaven will be like.  But overall, it’s Biblically driven.  There are times where the book seems to be repetitive–but if you are reading it over a long period of time (say a chapter a week), the repetition is not necessarily bad but reinforcing truths to us.  I highly recommend this book.

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Purchase:  Amazon

Best summary of the defense of the Premillennial view of Revelation 20 that I have read thus far. Worthwhile read. The work was originally a syllabus that the author had for a Bible institute. Currently, the author is an adjunct professor. Waymeyer makes it clear that the work was not intended to give new arguments in support of Premillennialism, but more towards a summary and the gathering of the arguments for a Premillennial interpretation of Revelation 20. However, I did learn several new things from this work. Some of the issues that Waymeyer tackles that I enjoyed includes whether or not there is recapitulation going on in Revelation 20, the issue of a biblical demonology in interpreting when Satan is bound, etc. I think if there is ever another edition of this book, perhaps my compliant is thatsome of the lengthy endnotes can be moved into the main portion of the book since some of the discussion there was worth the attention of the readers. The book can also cite works with a footnote rather than a parenthesis with the author’s name, year of publication and page number, since the serious reader will end up having to have his hands in three different places in the book (one hand on the body, one hand on the footnote page, then still yet another hand on the bibliography). This seems to discourage most readers from thoroughly following the additional supplemental arguments (at times, it seems important enough not to be just left as an endnote!) or track the sources of the citation. The format would not encourage readers to use the endnotes and follow the sources, and defeats the purpose of why citing them in the first place.

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The author of this work went from being a Dispensationalist to becoming an adamant critic against Dispensationalism. This work is divided into five chapters, each that were originally published as five articles for the author’s magazine in 1952, the year of his death. Having spiritually benefited from Pink’s work, I do not think this particular work represents Pink’s at his finest. Readers who think of Dispensationalism largely in terms of the system that advocate a pre-tribulational rapture theory and Premillennialism will notice that these two doctrines are not the subject of discussion in the book. Instead, the book focuses largely on the hermeneutical issues of Dispsensationalism’s butchering of the Word of God as being no longer relevant for the church age. I find myself agreeing with Pink when it comes to the issue of more continuity between the Old and the New Testament more than perhaps the typical Dispensationalists would, but I do not believe Pink has offered a refutation of the essence of Dispensationalism. Here it might be good for readers to interact with the current work of contemporary Dispensationalist’s definition of Dispensationalism such as Michael Vlach of The Master’s Seminary and Dr. Feinberg’s contribution in the book, “Continuity and Discontinuity,” and also aware of the common myths about dispsensationalism such as it being necessarily antinominian, teaching salvation by the law, etc.

Purchase:  Amazon

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In Jeremiah’s oracle of the nations found in chapter 46 through 51, among the various nations addressed Babylon certainly received the largest amount of attention.  These prophecies against Babylon are found in chapters 50-51.  Robert P. Carroll has made the observation “these are almost as long (110 verses) as the material against the other nations in 46-49 (121 verses).”[1] Given Babylon’s importance in Jeremiah’s work, any study of Jeremiah must deal with the details of the prophecy of Babylon carefully.

It is the result of such a careful study of this passage that Charles Dyer believed that not everything mentioned about Babylon in Jeremiah 50-51 has yet been fulfilled.  The ramification of this has implication for eschatology.  On the basis of his observation of the text, Dyer believed that there will be a future existence of a literal Babylon that awaits destruction according to the details of Jeremiah’s prophecy.  In fact, Dyer believed it is highly probable that Babylon will have a role in the End Times if one further studied the issue in conjunction with other Scriptural passages.  Dyer’s has presented his view in print in a book titled The Rise of Babylon.[2] Given that the book’s primary audience are Evangelical lay people, further arguments can still be developed in pushing his view forward.  This essay seeks to contribute to Dyer’s position with further technical details.  Rather than rehash the same argument and evidence in this essay of what Dyer has already proposed, the purpose of this essay will make further observation of Jeremiah 50 through 51 on the basis of the Hebrew text and then contribute additional historical and archaeological evidences that support his thesis that the predictions in Jeremiah 50-51 have not all been fulfilled.  While this essay could stand alone apart from The Rise of Babylon, it is best to read this as reinforcing the biblical argument and extra-biblical evidences found in Dyer’s work.

Some note of caution is necessary here.  In suggesting that there are prophecies in Jeremiah 50 and 51 that have not been fulfilled, this does not imply that the Scripture is errant.  Rather, in light of the Evangelical commitment to inerrancy, these prophecies are expected to be fulfilled literally eventually in the future.  In addition, by saying that there are prophecies not yet fulfilled, this does not imply that there are not instances found in Jeremiah 50 through 51 that seems to have been fulfilled already. The description of the capture of Babylon is mentioned in Jeremiah 50:2, and this capture is predicted to be the act of a nation (50:3a) or nations (50:9) coming from the north.  In the next chapter, Jeremiah goes on to identify the specific identity of this nation, leaving no room for speculation what that nation would be.  Jeremiah 51:28 recognizes the agent of Babylon’s capture to be the Medes.  Historically it did turn out that the Medes invaded Babylon, as the Scripture attests in Daniel 5:31 and collaborated by other extra-biblical historical documents.

In what follows, this essay will evaluate three key predictions of Babylon found repeatedly throughout Jeremiah 50-51.  Next, this essay will explore several lines of evidences concerning the history of Babylon which indicates the three key predictions have not been fulfilled to this very day.

Key predictions

Walls will be torn down

There are three passages in Jeremiah that discusses the wall of Babylon being taken down.  In Jeremiah 50:15 there is a reference alluding to the walls of Babylon: “Her walls are overthrown.”  According to the context, the immediate subject of the pronominal suffix “her” is Babylon.  The wall of Bablyon is described in the Hebrew as נֶהֶרְסוּ.  It is a Niphal Perfect third person plural verb of הָרַס.  According to Holladay, the meaning of the verb means “demolished.”[3] Munderlein has noted the verb is used for “tearing down,” and this meaning is supported by several instances in the Old Testament when it is used as the opposite of “build.”[4]

Jeremiah 51:44 is another statement about the walls of Babylon coming down.  In a verse that begins with the statement of how God was punishing the Babylonian god Bel, Jeremiah testified that “Even Babylon’s wall has fallen down.”  Whereas previously in Jeremiah 50:15 the Hebrew verb נֶהֶרְסוּ was used to describe the destruction of the walls of Babylon, here the verb is נָפָלָה.  While the verb’s general meaning is “fall”, when the verb is used to described what has happened to structural building it has the idea of collapse as evident with it’s usage with tent in Judges 7:13 and walls in 1 Kings 20:30.[5]

Surprisingly, the phrase translated as “Even Babylon’s wall has fallen down” from the Hebrew גַּם־חֹומַת בָּבֶל נָפָלָה in Jeremiah 51:44 is missing from the Greek Septuagint.[6] The Jewish textual critic Emmanuel Tov believed that this phrase was a later addition to the text, reasoning that the Hebrew vorlage used by the translators of the Septuagint must have been a shorter first edition of Jeremiah and that the Masoretic text’s version of Jeremiah was a second edition that was filled with additional post-exilic vaticinium ex eventu materials.[7] Tov’s reasoning for his conclusion should caution any Evangelical Old Testament textual critic, especially with his operating precommitment of assuming vaticinium ex eventu.  In addition, it is begging the question to say that the Masoretic text was prophesying of events that already occur when it is not a given of whether it has happened already.  Moreover, since only the Septuagint is the one family of ancient translation that omits this phrase and other ancient translations bears witness to the reading of the Masoretic text, and in light of the fact that there are serious problem with the Septuagint’s transmission of Jeremiah such as being faithful to the order of Jeremiah[8] coupled with the absence of any significant variants of the rest of this verse among other Masoretic texts according to the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia’s Textual Critical Apparatus, it is best to adopt גַּם־חֹומַת בָּבֶל נָפָלָה as part of the original reading.  It is also the more difficult reading, and the canons of textual criticism dictates the Masoretic text should be the preferred reading over against the Septuagint’s reading.[9] The omission on the part of the translators of the Septuagint must have arisen from their knowledge that the walls of Babylon were still not destroyed between the second and first century B.C. and the variant was probably an attempt to make the text be compatible with contemporary realities.[10]

These two verses alone are enough to indicate that Babylon’s city walls will be destroyed but more details can be found in Jeremiah 51:58: “The broad wall of Babylon will be completely razed, and her gates will be set on fire.”  The walls of Babylon here is described as “broad.”  How broad were the walls of Babylon?  According to Huey, the ancient city walls of Babylon were wondrous: “The outer wall was twelve feet thick, and the inner wall was twenty-one feet thick with twenty-three feet separating them.”[11] Using another verb to describe what will happen to Babylon’s walls, Jeremiah 51:58 states that these walls will be in Huey’s words, “leveled.”[12] The broad walls seem to be referring to the city’s walls.  Apparently, the gates of the city walls will be burned during the event of it being taken down.  This gives some indication that one of the means for the destruction of the walls of Babylon and Babylon itself will include fire.


In Jeremiah 50:40 the prophecy of Bablyon’s destruction makes the comparison with that of the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah.  Carroll notes, “so great will be Babylon’s devastation that the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24-25, 28) comes to mind as the best analogy of it.”[13] In Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands A Verdict, he writes that while “Babylon would be destroyed and become as Sodom and Gomorrah…it does not predict destruction in the same manner as Sodom and Gomorrah.”[14] While it is true that the fate of Babylon according to Jeremiah 50:40 describes the fate of Babylon to be similar with that of Sodom and Gomorrah in that these three cities will be abandoned by their human occupants, other verses in Jeremiah 50-51 seem to indicate that the method of destruction by fire will be similar as well.  It is this picture of Sodom and Gomorrah with “fire on the cities, obliterating them and all the valley around” that Thompson believes Jeremiah 50:40 is painting.[15]

Fire has been explicitly predicted to be one of ways Babylon will be destroyed.  As stated earlier, Jeremiah 51:58 teaches that “her high gates will be set on fire.”  The Hebrew word for fire, אֵשׁ, is used here and the Qal verb form of יצת here should be translated according to Holladay as “burn up.”[16] What are predicted to be “burned up” are the high gates of Babylon, a clear reference to the gates of the city wall.

The fiery destruction of Babylon will not be limited to just the high gates of the city wall but will extend itself into the city.  According to Jeremiah 51:30, “Their dwelling places are set on fire.”  Once again, a verbal root of יצת appears in this verse and indicates the burning that will occur.  The subjects of the pronominal suffix in the immediate context are the mighty men of Babylon (v.30).  This verse also informs the readers that the city bars would be broken into, which explains how the dwelling place of the warriors within the city of Babylon manage to get incinerated.

The burning of Babylon appears to go beyond Babylon and into nearby city as well.  Speaking from the perspective of God, Jeremiah 50:32 states, “I will set fire to his cities…”  It seems that other urban areas under Babylonian control will share in the similar fate as Babylon.

God describes the result of Babylon’s burning destruction in Jeremiah 51:25:  “And I will make you a burnt out mountain.”  Literally in the Hebrew, Babylon will be “a mountain of burning.”[17] Keown, Scalise and Smothers have noted that “Babylon was situated in a flat plain.”[18] As a result, Huey concluded, “The description could not be literal because Babylon was on a plain.”[19] One needs to be careful of what they rule as literal and not literal when it comes to biblical prophecy.  A literal interpretation might not be as easily ruled out as Huey believes.  To begin with, the range of the semantic of the Hebrew word הַר is definitely mountain, mountain ranges or hill.[20] Certainly the “burning” part to Jeremiah 51:25 can be accepted as literal in light of the other burning references in Jeremiah.  If the burning is seen as literal then it is a strongly possibility that “mountain” should be understood literally as well.  A better explanation than the one Huey arrived at would be that the burnt remains of Babylon will become a burnt mound of some sort.  The remains of Babylon as an abandoned mound or “hill” of some sort does receives several mention throughout Jeremiah 50-51.  It might have something to do with the fact that the ruins of Babylon gets piled up.  Jeremiah 50:26 records God saying to Babylon, “Pile her up like heaps.”  Then in Jeremiah 51:37, God says, “Babylon will become a heap of ruins.”

Taking all the above biblical data into consideration, the scene of Babylon’s destruction is that of an epic battle with the warriors of Babylon losing, the city infiltrated into and fire used to burn the city gates and homes.  The burning destructive force is so great it spills over to other Babylonian controlled cities.  Babylon itself will become a burnt mountain afterwards.


If Babylon’s destruction will result in her becoming a burnt mountain, it definitely sounds like the destruction was total.  With such devastation, it is not hard to imagine that survivors would abandon the wreckage of Babylon.

This total destruction and abandonment of Babylon is not only drawn by implication from the previous biblical data, it is also explicitly taught throughout Jeremiah 50-51.  The reason one would expect Babylon to be abandoned is because Jeremiah 50:26 uses languages to indicate the destruction was total with phrases such as “utterly destroy her” and “let nothing be left to her.”  Jeremiah 50:39-40 teaches that no one will live there after the destruction with the following phrases: “And it will never again be inhabited,” “No man will live there, nor will any son of man reside in it.”

Jeremiah 51:29 also speaks of Babylon being destroyed to such an extent that there will not be any inhabitants.  In 51:37, Jeremiah pronounces the fact that Babylon has turned into “an object of horror and hissing, without inhabitants.”  It will be a place of “perpetual desolation” with “nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast” according Jeremiah 51:62.  According to 51:43, not only will no one reside in Babylon, the extent of her abandonment reaches the point “through which no son of man passes.”  People traveling will not even take routes around its land.

The duration of this abandonment has been described in the last clause of Jeremiah 50:39: “And it will never again be inhabited or dwelt in from generation to generation.”  The Hebrew word used for “generation” is דֹּור.  According to Freedman and Lundbom, “Like other ancient peoples, the early Hebrew dated long periods by lifetimes.”[21] Concerning what the lengths were of one generation, there is some ambiguity.  Botterweck has observed how there were “two different ideas concerning the length of a dor: a longer period of 100 years, and a shorter period of 30.”[22] One should also note “that the Hebrews began with the son and not the father in counting generations.  The sons (banim) are the first generation; the grandsons (bene bhanim) the second, followed by the third (shilleshim) and fourth (ribbe‘im) generation (Ex. 34:7).”[23] What is definitely certain is the fact that Babylon has been predicted to be destroyed to such an extent that there will not be one generation after another dwelling in it (“generation to generation”).  The phrase “generation to generation”, which in Hebrew is ד־דֹּור וָדֹור, is probably better translated as “forever” like the Hebrew word “olam…the two terms are often found in parallelism” such as in Joel 3:20.[24] Thus, the duration of Babylon’s abandonment shall be forever according to Jeremiah 50:39.


Having surveyed three of Jeremiah’s prediction, the logical question is whether these matters have already come to pass and if so, when.  Has the walls of Babylon been destroyed?  When was the city torched and never again to have any residence?  What does the evidence of history indicate?

In evaluating when these events occurred in history, Thompson came to the following conclusion under his comments on Jeremiah 51:26:  “The fact that historically Cyrus entered Babylon without any appreciable resistance and left the city intact is quite contrary to the description of devastation that appears in v.26, so that the verse, as well as others in chs. 50 and 51, must come from a period before the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus.”[25] However, the events of Jeremiah 50-51 could not have happened before Cyrus, since the book of Daniel reveals otherwise.  Daniel was a court official in Babylon beginning with the first wave of the Babylonian captivity and lived his life there until the reign of King Cyrus.  Thompson’s view is problematic because if Jeremiah 50-51 has already happened before King Cyrus entrance into Babylon, then in light of the observation from the Hebrew text above there would have been no Babylon for Cyrus to peacefully enter into, no residence to greet him since it would have been abandoned and nothing there for Cyrus but heaps of ruins.  Logically, Jeremiah’s fulfillment must come after Cyrus’ entrance into Babylon and not before.

History attests that Babylon survived beyond the Medes-Persian era though this history might not be as familiar to as many as it should be.  According to Bill Arnold, it would survive for another one thousand years after Cyrus II first took over Babylon:  “When Cyrus II captured Babylon without a fight in October 539, its people welcomed him as a liberator.  The Persian capture of Babylon ended the last native Semitic empire in ancient Mesopotamia…For the next millennium, Indo-Europeans would dominate Babylonia.”[26]

Not only was Babylon still inhabited during the Persian and Hellenistic period, but its great city walls were still standing according to Classical sources.  The famous fifth century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus claimed to have visited Babylon and described how the city walls were still standing:  “The outer wall is the main defense of the city.  There is, however, a second inner wall, of less thickness than the first, but very inferior to it in strength.”[27]

Two Greek sources, Arrian of Nicomedia’s Anabasis of Alexander III. 16.3 and Curtius Rufus V 1.19-23 both record how Alexander the Great’s “invasion” in 331 B.C. of Babylon were met with joyous celebration and festivity thrown by the citizens of Babylon upon their arrival.[28] Rather than wiping out the people and making Babylon desolate, the army of Alexander the Great had a welcomed stay for 34 days according to Curtius V 1:39, due to the people’s friendliness towards the Greek army as Diodorus XVII 64.4 records.[29] It is clear that Alexander the Great was not the one who brought Jeremiah 50-51 to fulfillment.

After Alexander the Great untimely death, the various Greek generals and their line fought battles in which the control of Babylon juggled back and forth with the various Greek powers for the next few centuries.  To summarize Boiy’s study of the primary sources concerning the condition and history of Babylon during the Achaemenid[30] and Hellenistic period,

On the Basis of a few classical sources it was for a long time communis opinion that the Achaemenid king Xerxes destroyed Babylon’s main temple Esagil.  It was also thought that the city ceased to exist shortly after the beginning of the Hellenistic period because Seleucus I founded a new capital in the vicinity, Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, and deported the complete population of Babylon—minus a few priests to continue the cult of Bel in Babylon—to the new metropolis.  Thanks to the publication of several cuneiform tablets dating from the Hellenistic period it is now clear that Babylon was also in the Hellenistic period still a flourishing city.[31]

The cuneiform texts which Boiy alluded to reveal more than the existence of Babylon, it also revealed that this era did not witness the fulfillment of other prophecies found in Jeremiah 50-51.  The Babylonian Astronomical Diary 3 -124A: ‘rev.5’ alludes to the continual existence of Babylon’s city walls, when it gave an account of Arab raiders which made a hole on the Babylonian’s city wall near the neighborhood of the Zabba gate around July/August 125/4 B.C.[32] These preserved cuneiform Astronomical Diaries cover a wide span of time but ends in 61 B.C.[33]

Babylon continued to exist beyond the last written entry in the Astronomical Diaries. The existence of Bathyrans in Israel during the reign of Herod in Israel contributes to our knowledge that there were still people in Babylon during the transition between the B.C. and A.D. era.  According to Jacob Neusner, “The Bathyrans were Babylonian Jewish immigrants who came at the time of Herod and settled in frontier regions, northeast of the Sea of Galilee, to protect the border.  They founded the town of Bathyra, hence the name.  Herod put some of them into the Temple hierarchy.”[34]

Gleaming through Jewish rabbinical literature, it provides another indirect witness of Babylon’s populated existence during the time of Herod and Christ’s early years of life.  According to the Palestinian Talmud, the famous Rabbi Hillel was from Babylon.  Hillel was a near contemporary of Jesus, who lived most of his life before Jesus and became historically significance for being a Rabbi whose interpretation later became an important Rabbinic school.  His Rabbinic school would later govern the Jews in the post-Temple destruction 70 A.D. era.  In the Palestinian Talmud’s Gemara[35], a record of Hillel’s origin is mentioned in a passage concerning the Passover and the Sabbath:

On one occasion the fourteenth of Nisan fell on the Sabbath, and they forgot and did not know whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not.  Said they, “Is there any many who knows whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not?”  They were told, “There is a certain man who has come up from Babylonia, Hillel the Babylonian by name, who served the two greatest men of the time, and he knows whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not.”[36]

Evidence beyond the third century of Babylon’s existence does get a little difficult.  There is still testimony of Babylon’s existence during the first half of the fifth century A.D.  In his Commentarii in Isaiam V 13.20, Theodoretus writes of how during his day Babylon still had a few inhabitants which were primarily Jewish.[37] Archaeologically, Aramic incantation bowls dating around 600 A.D. have been found.[38]

Understanding the situation of Babylon from the seventh century A.D. onwards requires one to take into consideration that the world surrounding Babylon at that time was changing since Mesopotamia would become heavily Islamic.  Therefore any sources on Babylon at this time would likely be Arabic in origin.  This is usually the stopping point for most studies considering the legacy of Babylon, as one writer puts it, “Few accounts, however, include the Arabic accounts.”[39] Compounding this difficulty is the fact that many Arabic texts referencing Babylon have not been translated into English.

In the first Arabic Islamic geographical road book that has survived, the Kitab al-Masalik Wa’l-mamalik, the geographer Abu’l-Qasim ‘Ubayd Allah Ibn Hurdadbih (820-826 A.D.) gives some description of the Abbasid empire during his lifetime which makes reference to the irrigation district of Babylon.[40] The Arabic usage of the term “Babil” has more than one range of meaning in that it can refer to Babylon, the area surrounding Babylon and also Babylonia.  If Babylon still existed, a comparison of this irrigation district with the other five sister irrigation districts reveal that Babylon might have been a significantly populated area compared to the other areas since their district were taxed more than the other districts in terms of wheat, barley and money according to official documents at that time.[41] However, one should be cautious in assuming that Babylon still remained as a population center since the tendency of previous primary sources seems to suggest a gradual depopulation and migration away from Babylon has already begun for centuries.  The name for the district as Babylon might have been retained given the proximity and the prestige Babylon once had in that district.

By the tenth century A.D. however, it becomes clear that Babylon was no longer populated.  Arabic road books suddenly stop talking about the city of Babylon as a present reality but something of the past.  For instance one of the Persian geographers of this time, Abu Ishak Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al-Karhi,[42] describe Babylon in this fashion:

Babil would be but a small village, were it not the oldest construction of al-‘Iraq.  That iqlim (Babil) is named after it because of its antiquity, for the Canaanite kings and others used to reside there.  Here are the remnants of a construction whose outer appearance suggests it was an important capital (misr) in the days of old.[43]

Ibn Hawqal, who was the heir of Al-Karhi’s work during the tenth century also described Babylon as a city of the past in which remains of her glory days are still visible: “In Babil are the remnants of a construction of which is reported that it was in the days of old a large capital.”[44] These tenth century documents demonstrates that while there are gaps in the historical data in explaining the exact time and cause of Babylon’s decline, the anti-climatic abandonment of Babylon is not the same dramatic devastating end prophesied in Jeremiah 50-51.  The decline of Babylon is so anti-climatic that it escapes the attention of it’s contemporary historical writers.  If the Word of God is true, it is possible that a future Babylon still waits for its destruction as described in Jeremiah.

Coming to the days of modern archaeological studies of Babylon, the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey is credited as the first archaeologist to study Babylon.  His work is still highly regarded and given the unstable political climate of the region from World War I onwards, further archaeological studies have been severly limited.  His works remains to this day the most detailed study of Babylon.  Koldewey “opened his first trenches at Babylon on March 26, 1899, and continued to dig there every year until 1912.”[45] During the excavation Koldewey discovered a shift in archaeological paradigm when it comes to excavating Babylon as compared with ancient Greek remains, which he described in his own words: “To those accustomed to Greece and its remains, it is a constant surprise to have these mounds pointed out as ruins.  Here are no blocks of stones, no columns; even in excavation there is only brickwork.”[46] While it was true that “with the weathering of time, the mud bricks had literally become mud again after the buildings of the city was abandoned,” Koldewey’s workmen “uncovered literally miles and miles of mud-brick walls” due to the good fortune that “the stratification of the various buildings were relatively easy to identify, simply because the builders inscribed their bricks with their names.”[47] Not only were bricks upon bricks found but Koldewey also discovered “walls decorated with huge reliefs of dragons and bulls that stand thirty feet high even today.”[48] This is far from the fulfillment of Babylon’s walls being destroyed and taken down. According to Boiy in 2004, “The first eye-catcher on the map of Babylon is the outer wall on the east bank, the so-called ‘Osthaken.’  Remains of this wall are still visible in the landscape.”[49] The walls of Babylon still remain standing, and Jeremiah’s prophecies about her walls is at a stand still and is waiting for a future fulfillment.

Surprisingly, some of the archaeological discovery of Babylon survived in a good and durable state.  For instance Koldewey’s 1899 excavation revealed walls filled with glazed bricks on either side of Babylon’s Procession street, and the pavements of red and white marble flagstones on asphalt were also found.[50] The most incredible discovery during all the years of Koldewey’s excavation was the famous Ishtar gate, found in 1902.  It stood over forty feet high, and experts estimated that before it’s ruin it must have had at least five hundred and seventy five bulls and dragons decorated horizontally on it, of which one hundred and fifty two of these figures survived and still on the gate.[51] What’s incredible is the fact that these remains go back to the time of Nebuchadnezzar and visitors to the German museum viewing the original Ishtar Gates will find no hint of destructive burning on them.  Nor are there any indications of destructive fiery destruction on the authentic ruins in Babylon itself.[52]


This paper has demonstrated how Jeremiah 50-51 predicts Babylon’s final destruction will include her city walls taken down, the city itself to be destroyed into a burning heap or mountain of fire, and how she will be abandon from having any inhabitants forever.  Since the walls of Babylon still stand today, having yet for the whole city to be totally destroyed by fire and since there are currently a large international military force residing in Babylon which has become a Division headquarters, it seems that there will be a future literal Babylon that will one day rise again to have it’s destruction according to Jeremiah be fully fulfilled.





Arnold, Bill T. “Babylonians.” In Peoples of the Old Testament World, edited by Alfred J. Hoerth, Gerald L. Mattingly and Edwin M. Yamauchi, 43-75.  Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994.


Boiy, T. Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishers and Department of Oriental studies, 2004.


Botterweck, G.J. “דֹּור.”  In Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.  14 volumes.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry.  Translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:174. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.


Carroll, Robert P. Jeremiah: A Commentary. The Old Testament Library.  Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986.


Champdor, Albert. Babylon.  Translated by Elsa Coult.  New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1958.


Dyer, Charles H. The Rise of Babylon: Signs of the End Times. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1991.


Fagan, Brian M. Return to Babylon: Travelers, Archaeologists, and Monuments in Mesopotamia.  Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company, 1979.


Freedman, D.N. and J. Lundbom. “דֹּור.”  In Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. 14 volumes.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry.  Translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:173-181. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.


Freedman, H. Pesahim: Translated into English with notes, glossary and indices. The Talmud.  London: The Soncino Press, 1938.


Keown, Gerald L., Pamela J. Scalise and Thomas G. Smothers. Jeremiah 26-52. WBC. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.


Holladay, William L.  A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.


Huey Jr., F.B. Jeremiah Lamentations. NAC.  Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993.


Janssen, Caroline.  Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine.  Ghent, Belguim: University of Ghent, 1995.


Neusner, Jacob. From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism.  Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003.


McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.


Munderlein, G. “הָרַס.” In Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. 14 volumes.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry.  Translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:461-463. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.


Talmon, S. “הַר.”  In Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.  14 volumes.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry.  Translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:427-447.  Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.


Thompson, J. A. The Book of Jeremiah. NICOT.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980.


Tov, Emanuel. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. 2nd revised edition. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001.


___________.  The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research. 2nd edition. Jerusalem: Simor Ltd., 1997.


Ziegler, Joseph ed. Jeremias, Baruc, Threni, Episula Ieremiae. Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976.

[1] Robert P. Carroll, Jeremiah: A Commentary, The Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986), 814.

[2] Charles H. Dyer, The Rise of Babylon: Signs of the End Times, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1991).

[3] William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 84 (הָרַס 1).


[4] G. Munderlein, “הָרַס” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 14 vols., ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:461-463. (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 462.


[5] Holladay, Lexicon, 196 (נָפָל 4).


[6] Gerald L. Keown, Pamela J. Scalise and Thomas G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52, WBC (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), 357.

[7] Emanuel Tov, The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research, 2nd edition

(Jerusalem: Simor Ltd., 1997), 47.


[8] The Septuagint version of Jeremiah moves the oracle of the nations into the middle of Jeremiah rather than in the end as one can see in their English Bible.


[9] This principle is discussed in further details in Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, 2nd revised edition (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 302-305.


[10] The evidence that the walls of Babylon were not destroyed during this time shall be presented below.


[11] F.B. Huey Jr., Jeremiah Lamentations, NAC (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993), 427.

[12] Ibid.


[13] Carroll, Jeremiah, 832.

[14] Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 306.


[15] J. A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, NICOT (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), 745.

[16] Holladay, Lexicon, 141 (יצת 2).

[17] Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, 757.

[18] Keown, Jeremiah 26-52, 370.


[19] Huey, Jeremiah Lamentations, 423.


[20] S. Talmon, “הַר” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 14 vols., ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:427-447. (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 443-444.

[21] D.N. Freedman and J. Lundbom, “דֹּור” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 14 vols., ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:173-181. (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 174.


[22] G.J. Botterweck, “דֹּור” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 14 vols., ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:174. (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 174.

[23] Freedman, “דֹּור”, 174-175.


[24] Ibid, 175.

[25] Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, 757.


[26] Bill T. Arnold, “Babylonians,” in Peoples of the Old Testament World, edited by Alfred J. Hoerth, Gerald L. Mattingly and Edwin M. Yamauchi (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994), 66.


[27] Quoted in Albert Champdor, Babylon, translated by Elsa Coult (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1958), 126.


[28] T. Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishers and Department of Oriental studies, 2004), 105.


[29] Ibid, 108.


[30] That is, the Persian Empire period.

[31] Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, 3.


[32] Ibid, 178.


[33] Ibi, 186.

[34] Jacob Neusner, From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism, (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003), 27.


[35] Gemara were Jewish commentary on the Jewish code of the Oral Torah that were collected and written down called the Mishnah.  See Neusner, From Politics to Piety, xxi.

[36] Pesahim 66a (or Peshahim 6:1).  Quoted from H. Freedman, Pesahim: Translated into English with notes, glossary and indices (London: The Soncino Press, 1938), 333-334.

[37] Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, 191.

[38] Ibid, 192.

[39] Caroline Janssen, Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine, (Ghent, Belguim: University of Ghent, 1995), 5.

[40]Ibid, 22-23.

[41]  Kitab al-Masalik Wa’l-mamalik fragments quoted in Janssen, Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine, 23.

[42] Al-Karhi is apparently also known as Al-Istahri.

[43] Al-Istahri’s fragments quoted in Janssen, Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine, 30.

[44] Ibn Hawqal fragments quoted in Janssen, Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine, 33.

[45] Brian M. Fagan, Return to Babylon: Travelers, Archaeologists, and Monuments in Mesopotamia, (Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company, 1979), 214.


[46] Ibid,, 215.

[47] Ibid.


[48] Ibid, 216.


[49] Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, 56.


[50] Fagan, Return to Babylon: Travelers, Archaeologists, and Monuments in Mesopotamia, 217.


[51] Ibid, 219.

[52] In 2003 I was with the Marines in Iraq and had the privilege of visiting the ruins of Babylon about half a dozen time.  Seeing the ruins left much to treasure in my heart concerning the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah especially with the prediction of it’s burnt destruction which the remains seem to lack any past indication of.

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Interesting articles over at Dr. Michael Vlach’s website.  He is a professor of Theology at The Master’s Seminary.

Feature Articles

Hebrews and Eschatological Systems by Brian Colmery (pdf) Does Hebrews really support a non-premillennial eschatology?

The Kingdom Program in Matthew’s Gospel by Michael J. Vlach (pdf)

The Church: A Search for Definition by Erik Swanson (pdf). A comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Views of the Church

Nations in the Eternal State by Andrew Kim (pdf) See how God’s plan for Eternity includes literal nations

“All Israel Will Be Saved”: The Nature and Circumstances of the Salvation Mentioned in Rom 11:25-27 by Ken Stiles (pdf)

Worship in Messiah’s Kingdom by Kent Maitland (pdf) A look at Messiah Temple of Ezekiel 40-48

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For the past two or three weeks I’ve really grown fond of the hymn:
It Is Well With My Soul.

Here are the lyrics:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Some contemporary worship starts off joyful but when I occasionally don’t feel joyful. In contrast this song, by reflecting on theology, and using vivid imagery can bring tears to my eye because of the meditation on ideas so powerful and moving: My salvation and Christ’s Return.

The first stanza really sets the stage that all may not be going well in life saying, “When sorrows like sea bellows roar.” The length and emphasis on the word, “roar” causes you to hear the storm, making the singer/reader feel like a boat on stormy waters with thunder and waves crashing into the boat, over the rails, and seemingly on the verge of sinking the ship. It really contrasts with the first verse, “when peace like a river attendeth my way.” For in the first verse peace sounds calming, like the constant soft trickling of water on rocks- sort of like the trickle of a water filter creating bubbles in a fish tank.

And I love how the stanza ends with the phrase, “Whatever my lot, you have taught me to say,” really emphasizing that regardless of the situation, God teaches to consider Christ crucified so that you will say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul.” The repetition of “it is well” really emphasizes what one ought to be thinking and meditating on during trials and tribulations.

In the second stanza, the phrase, “Though Satan should buffet”, continuing to use the ocean in a storm metaphor the lyrics emphasize the idea that the wind is striking repeatedly and forcefully– the idea of being battered around, or “tossed to and fro” like in Ephesians 4:14. The second stanza reminds one that Christ died for us, bringing to mind many aspects of Romans:

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Ro 5:6-11

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Ro 8:31-32

In the next stanza, notice how the 3rd stanza shifts from thinking about one’s own personal troubles and shifts the focus to God, I love how the hymn as a whole is working up in fervor and building on each joyful meditation on the precious doctrines that give us peace and joy. The 3rd stanza move now to Christ’s complete atonement. I actually didn’t know what verses supported the verse, “My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more” but I think this scripture is similar in Hebrews 10 is similar:

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
Hebrews 10:10-14

And finally the 3rd stanza ends with a celebratory tone loudly reminding oneself whom has forgotten to “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

The epitome of emotions and theological depth, concludes boldly in the 4th stanza: Christ’s return!

The verse, “And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,” refers not to suicide but to seeing Jesus. “When my faith shall be sight,” is playful use of 2 Cor 5:

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
2 Cor 5:6-8

However this last stanza not only brings to mind scripture, but also vivid imagery of Christ’s return- giving one the sense of awe and majesty of his return with the phrase, “The clouds be rolled back as a scroll.” Our church has been going through Revelations, so I immediately think of Revelations 6 whenever I hear the lyrics:

“The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”
Rev 6:14

The context may refer to the stars striking the earth not Christ’s return, but its the imagery that comes to mind when thinking of the clouds being “rolled back as a scroll.” Perhaps Rev 6:14 may be appropriate because the context of the following verse, “The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.” The verse uses the phrase, “even so,” seeming to offer reassurance to the one who is afraid.

Plus, the fear and reverence at Christ’s return is biblical:

“Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Rev 6:16-17

Lastly this majestic stanza not only piles a multitude of scripture and theology, not only imagery of clouds being rolled back, but sound: “The trump shall resound”, and finally the image of the Lord descending to earth in Mark 13:

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
Mark 13:24-2

The combination of sound of the trumpet, the majesty of the sky being rolled back, and the image of Jesus descending on a cloud is what usually brings one to tears of joy.The story explained a lot about the lyrics as well:

Words by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
– Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1876

The words to this hymn was written after two major traumas in Spafford’s life. The first was the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which ruined him financially. Shortly after, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of Spafford’s daughters died in a collision with another ship. Spafford’s wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram: “SAVED ALONE.” Several weeks later, as Spafford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, he was inspired to write these words.

Bliss originally named the tune “Ville de Havre” after the ship on which Spafford’s four girls perished, the SS Ville de Havre. Ironically, Bliss himself died in a tragic train wreck shortly after writing this music.

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