Two Important Questions
Concerning End Time Prophecy
Ark of the Covenant be Found?
Is Modern Day
Babylon the Babylon of the End Times?
by Dr. David
Two geographical locations have become a
focal point of debate among Bible prophecy experts. The first
is the location of the Ark of the Covenant. The second is the
location of the city of Babylon.
The Ark was lost when Solomon's Temple was
destroyed in 587 BC. Was the Ark also destroyed, or was it hidden
away somewhere? And if it was hidden, where might it be?
The city of Babylon reached its zenith of
glory during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BC). After it
was conquered by the Medo-Persians in 539 BC, it went into a decline
that ultimately resulted in it becoming a heap of ruins. Will
it be rebuilt, and if not, then what city is referred to in the
many prophecies concerning Babylon in the end times? For example,
in Revelation 18 we are told that the Tribulation will conclude
with the destruction of Babylon in "one hour of one day"
The Search for the
Ark of the Covenant
A new book by Randall Price has helped to
sharpen the debate concerning the fate of the Ark. It is entitled
In Search of Temple Treasures (Harvest House 1994). Price
is a fine scholar and an excellent communicator. Unlike others
who have written on the issue, he avoids sensationalism and fanciful
His opening pages present an excellent capsule
summary of the origin, purpose and history of the Ark. He points
out that the last mention of the Ark in the Bible is to be found
in 2 Chronicles 35:3, during the time of King Josiah (about 25
years before the Temple was destroyed).
One of the best parts of the book is the
author's survey of the various theories concerning the Ark's fate.
He takes a look at claims that the Ark might have been destroyed
on five different occasions, and he gives good reasons for dismissing
all of these. He then considers 12 different locations where people
have speculated the Ark might have been hidden. These include
believe it or not the Irish isles, the Vatican,
a church in Ethiopia, Mt. Nebo in Jordan, and a great variety
of locations within Israel.
Without absolutely declaring that he knows
where the Ark is located, Price nonetheless concludes that Jewish
traditions, both written and oral, are the most reliable indicator.
Those traditions point to a secret compartment under the Temple
This theory cannot be proved at the moment
because the Israelis have allowed Islamic authorities to control
the Temple Mount ever since Israel reconquered it in 1967. These
authorities will not permit any archeological excavations on the
Mount both because they consider it a holy place and because
they do not want any evidence unearthed that would prove the Mount
was the site of the Jewish Temple.
Price tells a fascinating story about two
Jewish rabbis who decided to tunnel under the Mount to find the
secret hiding place of the Ark. They began their quest in 1981,
and it was brought to a sudden halt that same year when the Muslims
discovered their digging. The entrance to the tunnel was sealed,
and the Jewish tradition regarding the Ark's location remains
Price devotes an entire chapter to a third
possible fate of the Ark (in addition to destruction and hiding).
It is the fate that I personally believe to be the most likely
namely, that the Ark was raptured to Heaven before the
destruction of Solomon's Temple.
I hold this view because the Apostle John
states that he saw the Ark in Heaven (Revelation 11:19). Price
argues that the Ark John saw was the heavenly model of the earthly
version, and he points to Exodus 25 where Moses was told to construct
the Ark according to the Lord's "pattern." But a pattern
does not have to be a model. It can be a blueprint or an oral
Personally, I cannot imagine the Lord allowing
anyone to destroy the Ark which was the symbol of His presence.
And if the Ark was hidden in a secret chamber under the Temple
Mount, why didn't the Jews simply bring it out of the chamber
and put it in the Holy of Holies after they returned from Babylonian
captivity? Why did they leave the Holy of Holies empty throughout
the history of the Second Temple?
And why would the Lord allow the Jews to
find the Ark today? Price indicates that its discovery may well
prove to be the catalyst that will prompt the Jews to build the
Third Temple. There is no doubt such a Temple will be built, but
keep in mind that it will be an apostate Temple. Would
God allow His holy Ark to be found and placed in such a Temple?
I think not.
Let me emphasize this point. It is not
God's perfect will that a Third Temple be built. He will allow
it to be built in His permissive will, but His perfect will for
Israel is for them to accept Jesus as their Messiah and
not for them to return to the Mosaic sacrificial system that was
nullified by the Cross.
The only disappointing thing about Price's
book was something he tried to do in the closing chapters. Incredibly,
he tries to argue that Jeremiah 3:16 means exactly the opposite
of what it says! This verse states categorically that during the
Millennium the Ark "will not be remembered or missed or made
again." Price argues that this statement is so strong that
it must be hyperbole, and therefore it must mean the opposite
of what it says. Such spiritualization of Scripture by a premillennial
author is astounding and is enough to make an amillennialist blush!
The fact of the matter is that the Bible
makes it very clear in this verse and in Exodus 40-48 that there
will be no Ark of the Covenant in the Millennial Temple. The reason,
of course, is that Jesus has fulfilled all the Ark's prophetic
implications. Jesus is our Ark of safety, peace, and redemption.
We have no need for any other Ark.
The Identity of End
The second issue, concerning end time Babylon,
has always been a perplexing one for prophetic scholars, especially
for premillennialists who try always to accept the plain sense
meaning of the Scriptures.
The Bible clearly teaches that Babylon will
be the end time capital of the Antichrist's world kingdom (read
Revelation 17 and 18). The Bible is also full of prophecies about
the total destruction of this city (see Isaiah 13 & 47, Jeremiah
50 & 51, and Revelation 17 & 18).
But there are some very good reasons to
conclude that the Babylon of the end times will not be the same
city as ancient Babylon which is located in the modern nation
The first reason for drawing this conclusion
can be found in Isaiah 13:7-22 where a very clear prophecy is
given that Babylon will lose its glory after its defeat by the
Medes and that it will cease to be inhabited forever. In accordance
with this prophecy, Babylon was conquered by the Medes, and it
began a long decline that ultimately resulted in its abandonment
to the forces of nature. By the time of Christ, one eyewitness
reported that the city was nothing but "mounds and stones
The second reason for concluding that end
time Babylon will be a different city is to be found in the description
recorded in Revelation 17. First, the city is referred to as "mystery"
Babylon, a clear tip off that the name is being used symbolically
(verse 5). Then the passage proceeds to state that the city is
the one located on "seven mountains" (verse 9). This
seems to be a clear reference to Rome, since it was known at that
time as "the city built on seven hills." Finally, in
verse 18, the city is identified as "the great city which
reigns over the kings of the earth." At the time of the writing
of Revelation, this phrase could only refer to Rome.
The city is referred to metaphorically as
Babylon because at the time of the Antichrist's reign, it will
represent the epitome of the occultic spiritual evil that originated
in Babylon and has always been associated with its name. Likewise,
at that same time, Jerusalem will be a center of revolt against
the Lord, and it is referred to in a similar metaphorical way
as "Sodom and Egypt" in Revelation 11:8 symbolizing
immorality and idolatry.
The argument over the location of end time
Babylon has been sharpened recently by the publication of a book
called The Rise of Babylon (Tyndale House, 1991). It was
authored by Charles Dyer, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Dyer takes the position that the end time
Babylon is the same as ancient Babylon, and he strives valiantly
to prove his point by reproducing photos of what he asserts to
be the rebuilding of Babylon. But the photos do not show that
the city is being rebuilt for habitation. Rather, they show that
Saddam Hussein is simply building a tourist center.
I went to hear the author speak about Babylon.
I wanted to see how he would handle the passage in Isaiah 13:17-18
which says that Babylon will become a waste city and never be
built again after it is taken by the Medes. The author started
reading with verse 9, and when he completed reading verse 16,
he simply said, "Now let's skip to verse 19." In short,
he completely ignored the passage about the Medes. I guess that
is better than trying to explain that it really doesn't mean what
Unfortunately, that is exactly what the
author tries to do in his book. He argues that the prophecy regarding
the Medes refers to the modern day Kurds who will join with a
multinational force that will destroy Babylon. The argument is
Although I do not agree with the conclusions
of either of these books, I recommend them to you. They will provoke
you to think and to search the Scriptures two exercises
that we need much more of in the Church today.