When Whole Cities Turn Away from God

Biblical Examples of Prophecy and its Fulfilment Relating to Cities

The prosperity and decline of a city does not happen by chance, but is the result of the lives and behaviour of its inhabitants. A decline of law, order and morals will always be followed by sorrow and chaos. Whenever people disregard God's statutes, they inevitably lose God's protection and blessing. For a few decades things may appear to work out; however, misery will strike, often by means of war.

Many examples are to be found in the Bible where cities were warned by God and called to repentance. Sodom and Gomorrah, which remained in their sins of homosexuality, pride and lack of neighbourly love, fell under the judgment of God. Nineveh, to whom Jonah prophesied, repented and was spared. Only when the city slid back into sin, after 120 years of Godly forbearance, did judgment fall. Again this was pronounced by prophets of God.

The Bible says the sign of a prophecy from God is that the prophecy comes to pass in the exact manner spoken. If this is not the case, "then the Lord has not spoken" (DEUTERONOMY 18:22). This assertion can be clearly proven in numerous biblical passages, especially concerning large cities - many of which still partially remain today.

The following summary gives several biblical prophecies concerning cities, and their fulfilment compared with history.

Sidon

The sister city of Tyrus, being also very rich and proud, appeared very hostile towards Israel (and thus toward God's people).

Prophecy: Fulfilment:
by Ezekiel (592-570 B.C.)

"And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Zidon; and I will be glorified in the midst of thee: and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her. For I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall be judged in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am the LORD" (EZEKIEL 28:22-23).
In 351 B.C., the Sidonites rebelled against the Persian king. However, they were defeated and had to suffer his cruel revenge. Tens of thousands were slaughtered and their blood ran through the streets. Later Sidon was rebuilt and again captured and its inhabitants were killed. This was repeated three times during the crusades alone. The Drusens, Turks and French warred against the city. The history of Sidon remains bloody to this day and it still exists in the same location.

Tyrus

The incredibly rich harbour of the Phoenician merchant fleet, full of pride and arrogance, took Jerusalem's misfortune to its own advantage.

Prophecy: Fulfilment:
Through Ezekiel (592-570 B.C.)

"Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock... For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people... And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water... And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD" (EZEKIEL 26:3-4,7,12,14).
Three years after this prophecy Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyrus began. After 13 years of siege the city was conquered and destroyed in 573 B.C. Nevertheless, most of the inhabitants had already fled to an offshore island and built a new town. More than 200 years later more of the prophecy was fulfilled: Alexander the Great besieged the island town, and by throwing the ruins of the old Tyrus into the sea built a causeway. In the same manner the island city was besieged and destroyed in 322 B.C. The old Tyrus became a bare rock, where fishermen even today dry their nets. Attempts to rebuild the island failed because of the destructive effect of foreign invasion which finally destroyed the city in 1291 A.D. The new Tyrus was finally built, approximately 15 km away, this being neither the same city nor at the same location.

Samaria

Capital city of fallen Israel; idolatry, temple prostitution and child sacrifices.

Prophecy: Fulfilment:
By Micah (738-690 B.C.)

"Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof"
(MICAH 1:6).
Samaria was captured by the Assyrians in 725 B.C., by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C., and by John Hyrkanas in 120 B.C. The city was razed to the ground. Vineyards were planted on the fertile ground and can still be found today. The stones were used to build the vineyard walls.

Nineveh

The capital of the Assyrian empire, which lasted approx. 1,500 years, subjugated its surrounding nations with unprecedented cruelty. The book of Jonah speaks of 120,000 inhabitants who could not yet discern between right and left (children). It took three days to travel across the city. Its 2 city walls were approx. 13 metres high and 15 metres thick, with towers that were 16 metres high. Nineveh seemed to be impregnable.

Prophecy: Fulfilment:
By Nahum (661 to approx. 612 B.C.)

"The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved... But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back... Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars... There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?"
(NAHUM 2:6,8; NAHUM 3:13,19)
In 612 B.C. the Medes and Babylonians were firstly unsuccessful in besieging the city. Then a mighty rise of the Tigris River caused parts of the city wall to collapse thus clearing a path. During excavation, evidence of fire was everywhere. The city was apparently burnt to the ground and has never been rebuilt.

Babylon

The capital of the Babylonian Empire was grand in size and strongly fortified, a centre of culture, trade and science. It led Judah in its 70 years of captivity. It was judged because of its ungodliness, uncleanness, idolatry, arrogance and pride.

Prophecy: Fulfilment:
By Isaiah (783-704 B.C.) and Jeremiah (626-586 B.C.)

"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. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there... I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts..."
(ISAIAH 13:19-21; ISAIAH 14:23).

"And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant"
(JEREMIAH 51:37).
In 539 B.C. the Persians and Medes besieged Babylon. They stood before two immensely high 50 metre thick city walls, against which they could not prevail, therefore they diverted the Euphrates, which ran underneath the city wall. During the night as the Babylonians celebrated their yearly pagan festival and the famous phrase "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin" (weighed, found wanting and judged) appeared on the wall, the Persians invaded. Babylon was subjugated and razed to the ground; never again did it regain its power. Today the area is a marshy wilderness with wild animals abiding there. Shepherds do not allow their animals to rest there; the Arabs avoid this place because of superstitious rumours that have circulated; even tourists very rarely go there. The probability of an accidental fulfilment of these seven prophecies is 1 in five billion, which is practically zero.

Jerusalem

Since the time of David, approx. 1000 years B.C., Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel and also a religious centre due to its temples. It repeatedly turned from God's laws to human statutes, mass idolatry and an unrepentant nature.

Prophecy: Fulfilment:
By Jesus Christ (33 A.D.)

"And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down...

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.


And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled"
(LUKE 21:5-6,20,24).
After years of siege the Romans captured the city under Titus in 70 A.D.; destroyed it and killed approx. 1 million Jews and sold the remnant throughout the world. Even though the order had been given to spare the temple, it was still burnt down. It is reported that in searching for the gold the Roman soldiers did not leave one stone upon another. However, the complete destruction of Jerusalem was never prophesied - and Jerusalem still exists today in contrast to Nineveh and Babylon.

None of the prophets had the power to bring these happenings to pass; but everything occurred as was prophesied. This shows us two things: 1) God is real and the Lord of history; and 2) Ongoing injustice and sin have consequences for a single person as well as for whole cities and nations. This can be seen throughout history. - One only has to think about the two World Wars! If we consider the actual state of our cities, it becomes clear that we in most European countries and cities are overdue for judgment. It is only thanks to God's grace and forbearance, that we still live in peace.

collated by Werner Hanke

Source: 'Der Auftrag'