Babylon the Great - Saddam’s legacy
Cranmer wishes instead to focus on Saddam Hussein’s legacy, and in particular his decision to rebuild Babylon. The Bible speaks extensively of this city as a place of manifest evil, and it was Saddam’s intention to restore it to its former glory. For two millennia, the ruins have lain on the Euphrates river in modern-day Iraq. Some of the bricks of the ancient ruins still carry the embossed message of King Nebuchadnezzar, inscribed: ‘I am Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the world’.
Saddam, as ruler of Iraq, perceived himself to be the heir to Nebuchadnezzar, and manifested the sort of demonic defiance of God exemplified by him. He spent billions of dollars reconstructing Babylon, emulating his forebear in almost everything. He even embossed the bricks with his own inscription: ‘In the era of President Saddam Hussein all Babylon was constructed in three stages. From Nebuchadnezzar to Saddam Hussein, Babylon is rising again.’
‘Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling-places not their own.’ (Hab 1:5)
Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar that he would be cut down like a tree, leaving only a stump in the ground (Dan 4:23). His kingdom would be restored to him when he acknowledged the rule of God, which, after seven years of beast-like behaviour, he did. He was indeed humbled. The recent pictures of Saddam resemble something of a beast, but he would not humble himself; he was defiant to the end, and died denouncing the West, clutching a copy of the Qur’an. One wonders what Allah will make of his good and faithful servant…
Saddam may have bequeathed to the world a new city, but it is possessed by an ancient spirit. It is complete with an opulent palace, and a most impressive throne room. But who will the next occupant be?