Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"We have reason to believe (Saddam) was in there"

On March 20th, 2003, U.S. officials announced they had struck a reinforced bunker in Baghdad that intelligence officials believed hid Saddam Hussein and possibly his sons. The report can still be read at this USA Today web site. The strike involved three dozen ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles that leveled the aboveground structures and four 2,000-pound "bunker-buster" bombs, dropped from a B-1 bomber, that are designed to penetrate deep underground after being guided to their target by satellite signals.

After that attack, Saddam was seen on video, but the United States was unconvinced he was still alive, until the day, December 14th, 2003, they found him hiding in a rat hole in Tikrit.

The reason I mention this is because this event represented the first challenge to my original supposition that this Iraqi conflict might be the fulfillment of the Jeremiah 50-51 prophecy of doom upon Babylon. The problem was, if the U.S. had indeed succeeded in killing Saddam before the invasion had even begun, then it would be impossible for the conflict to be the fulfillment of the Jeremiah 50-51 prophecy. I knew that the moment the missile strike was announced on March 20th, 2003.

Here is the critical passage: "Tell the king of Babylon that his city has been captured from end to end..." (Jer. 51:31). Now if Saddam had been killed on March 20th, 2003, twenty days before Baghdad fell to U.S. forces on April 9th, 2003, there would be no way for this prophecy to have come true, and I would have had to admit it right then and there.

But no one knew for sure whether they had killed Saddam in that strike. For months I paced the house whenever a report came on the news that perhaps he was still alive, saying, "Of course he's still alive... otherwise the prophecy will fail!"

In a way, I kind of wished he had been killed then, because I could have gone to bed that night and breathed a sigh of relief, reassured that ancient Hebrew prophecies from 600 BC were not springing to life and coming true right here and now at the start of the 21st century, during my lifetime.

But instead, the very day Saddam was found, this prophecy also came true: "The king of Babylon has heard the report about (the invaders aroused from the remote parts of the earth), and his hands hang limp; distress has gripped him, agony like a woman in childbirth" (Jer. 50:43). I had also thought about this passage when they said he was dead. How could it be reported to us his state of mind at the invasion, if he was killed in a surprise attack before it even got under way? But then this news story appeared from the London Sunday Times (here retold by the Sydney Morning Herald):

"Samira Shahbandar... said Saddam had arrived at her hiding place on April 9, the day Baghdad fell, to say goodbye. 'He came to me very depressed and sad,' she told the paper. 'He took me to the next room and cried...'"

When I read that report, I didn't know whether to feel elated that the prophecy was coming true in such exacting literalness, or to feel sick that the prophecy was coming true in such exacting literalness. I had already read ahead to the culminating desolation. And for the last three and a half years I've been on pins and needles waiting for the next event to strike, the punishment of the arrogant one, and the resulting burning of the cities.

And there is nothing any of us can do to stop the coming desolation.

Execution, burning, abandonment, defeat in battle, flood, drought and utter desolation. The calamity on Babylon has been decreed.

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