Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The peoples will toil for nothing, and the nations become exhausted for fire

There are several other references to fire or burning that should be mentioned in conjunction with the judgment of the cities being set on fire at the time of the punishment of the "arrogant one." One is simply a general curse: "I will stretch out my hand against you, and roll you down from the crags and I will make you a burnt out mountain" (Jer. 51:25). If the cities of Iraq are set on fire, that would certainly allude to that calamity.

One other reference to fire is related to the initial invasion and capture by the great nation and many kings: "Tell the king of Babylon that his city has been captured from end to end; the fords also have been seized, and they have burned the marshes with fire, and the men of war are terrified" (Jer. 51:32). This burning would refer to the various oil wells that were lit on fire, not by the invaders, but by Saddam's own retreating Iraqi army during the initial ground push by coalition forces from the south.

As the web site globalsecurity.org reported: "Prior to the [2003 invasion], the U.S. Defense Department said it had reliable reports that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed the 'capability and intent' to damage or destroy Iraqi oil fields." While the numbers of oil wells set ablaze were not as numerous as had been originally feared, still, as globalsecurity.org relayed, "The oil well fires in Iraq have produced smoke plumes large enough to be visible to orbiting satellites..."

March 20, 2003 March 21, 2003
Photos courtesy of ORBIMAGE

The caption on the photos reads: "The following are two images of Iraq taken from ORBIMAGE's OrbView-2 'SeaWiFS' satellite at 1km resolution from Thursday, March 20th and Friday, March 21st [2003]. The March 21st image clearly shows thick black smoke from burning oil well fires near Basra in southern Iraq [i.e., in the 'Marsh District']."

Peter Mezel, on assignment for Time Magazine, shot some compelling closeup photos of the burning oil wells, which may be seen on his web site here.

But the last mention of fire in Jeremiah's prophecy is this (remembering that the Babylon Jeremiah is talking about is the kingdom, the nation, and not the long gone capital city also at one time called Babylon): "The broad wall of Babylon will be completely razed, and her high gates will be set on fire; so the peoples will toil for nothing, and the nations become exhausted only for fire" (Jer. 51:58).

I think this might read better this way: "The centers of her cities will be set on fire; so the peoples of the world will have toiled for nothing, and the nations will become exhausted of trying because of the fires."

And so what better reason to say, "we applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed; forsake her and let us each go to his own country."

We are tired because of the fire.



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