Desolations to Come

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To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.   –Jeremiah 18:16

When the Babylonians took Jerusalem, they tore down the city’s walls, demolished all its major buildings, and set fire to it. The city’s inhabitants were scattered or deported.

And so certain travelers and traders would have had the experience described by Jeremiah, passing by the ruins of Jerusalem; and many of them would have done business there in better times, and would remember what the city had been like before its destruction. They would have seen it before and after.

Greater cities than Jerusalem would also be brought to desolation, the prophets warned. Babylon, once the greatest city in the world. Nineveh, the capital of the mighty Assyrian Empire. Both were so thoroughly desolated that their exact location was forgotten for centuries–until archaeologists dug them up again.

We don’t have that experience anymore. We don’t have cities that get destroyed and not built up again, but are left to the mercy of the elements.

Yet. We don’t have them yet.

Jerusalem and Nineveh were conquered by foreign enemies and quickly destroyed, but Babylon was a long time dying. It was conquered several times, until it wasn’t worth conquering anymore. There was enough of it left in the early Middle Ages for the Arabs to use it as a source of bricks for their building projects, but no one lived there anymore.

Some of our great cities in the West look like they’re on their way out. San Francisco. Detroit. Maybe London, Marseilles, Stockholm.

What will people say, when passing by the heap of ruins that used to be San Francisco? There may be those already born who will do that. Will they wonder how such a disaster could have happened; or will the next earthquake be sufficient explanation? Will anyone remember the filth on the sidewalks, the lawlessness, the sexual depravity–the crime and poverty spreading outwards, like ripples on a pond?

God is waiting for us to clean up our act.


3 comments on “Desolations to Come

  1. It is amazing. Basically, a city can be desolated without military action, just because of its depravity. A few weeks ago, I was talking to someone that had ventured into LA and they said it was a mess, with tent cities and filth everywhere. I make it a policy to never get deeper into LA than passing through on the 10 or the 101, and even that is no picnic. What I see there, already, is former glory, deteriorating before my eyes.

    When lawless behavior comes in, civilization suffers. Look at San Francisco. In the mid sixties, it became a haven for the counterculture and a bit of a curiosity to the rest of the country, but if you follow its progression over the years, it has tolerated some pretty seamy things and now they are paying the price. Ditto for other places as well. Tolerate badness and you will see bad results, every time.

  2. In the 1906 San Francisco earthquake that they say was a magnitude of 1.9, the greater destruction of the area was the fires. I personally believe God will judge California with a massive earthquake to make them learn righteousness. I pray they would repent because if they don’t God’s moral law will have to be upheld – God is not mocked, whatsoever we sow that we shall also reap.

    1. At the time,,many said that the San Fran earthquake was Divine judgment for the permissiveness of the city. I’m neither promoting nor discouraging that conclusion.

      In the past, God has acted in judgment when people egregiously disobeyed Him, so perhaps we may see more of that sort of thing in the future. California is one big earthquake waiting to happen. I hate going there and always feel relieved when I pass Palm Springs heading east, because that’s the end of the San Andreas Fault. I’ve only been in one earthquake, and it was very minor, but still surprising.

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