Wastelands in the Messianic Kingdom

Hanging Gardens of BabylonBABYLON

During the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom, not every place on earth is going to become more like Eden.  In addition to the marshes of the Dead Sea remaining salty and lifeless (Ezek. 47:11), some areas of the earth will become nothing but desolate wastelands.  One such notable wasteland is Babylon in modern day Iraq.  Isaiah 13:19-22:

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.

Jeremiah confirms that Babylon will suffer the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah and will only be inhabited by wild beasts (Jer. 50:39-40).  These beasts are in reality demons with animal characteristics (Rev. 18:2).  Babylon, once the praise of the whole earth, will become a horror among the nations.  Her land will become so parched that men will not even pass through, let alone live there (Jer. 51:41-43). Throughout the Millennium, smoke will perpetually rise from the ruined city (Rev. 19:3).  Once home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Babylon will never see her hanging gardens again.


Another significant wasteland is Edom in southern Jordan.  The most comprehensive description of the city’s future condition is found in Isaiah 34:8-15:

For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into sulfur; her land shall become burning pitch. Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever. But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it, the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. He shall stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness. Its nobles—there is no one there to call it a kingdom, and all its princes shall be nothing. Thorns shall grow over its strongholds, nettles and thistles in its fortresses. It shall be the haunt of jackals, an abode for ostriches. And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place. There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow; indeed, there the hawks are gathered, each one with her mate.

As expected, Edom’s condition will match that of Babylon’s.  She too will be compared to Sodom and Gomorrah (Jer. 49:18).  Her devastation is the result of God avenging Israel (v. 8).  The land, streams and air will become so poisoned that men will not be able to pass through. Smoke will rise from Edom until the end of this world (vv. 9-10).  The many animals represent various kinds of demons[1] which will inhabit the sulfuric Edom (vv. 11; 14-15).  Thorns and thistles growing over Edom’s strongholds (v. 14) signal that this area will be under the control of sin (Gen. 3:17-18) in contrast to the majority of the earth being free from such growth (Is. 55:13).

The prophet gives us more details on why Edom is to be devastated and poisoned in Ezekiel 35:9-15.  Her people will conspire to take the land of Israel and Judah after their desolation (v. 10).  Edom will disparage Israel and rejoice over the fall of Judah (vv. 12-15).  As a result, the LORD will keep His promise to Abram to curse those who curse Israel (Gen. 12:3).  Just as Edom celebrated the desolation of Judah, the world will celebrate the desolation of Edom (vv. 14-15).

The permanence of Edom’s desolation is important to note.  Joel 3:19:

“Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.   

We know that Egypt’s desolation will only last forty years (Ezek. 29:12).  At some point in the Millennium, God will even consider Egypt to be His people (Is. 19:25).  And yet, Edom will remain a place of perpetual desolation for shedding the blood of the Jews in their own land.


The descriptions of Babylon and Edom as being filled with smoke, sulfur, pitch and demons make them little Hells on earth.  They offer a stark contrast to an otherwise beautified world (e.g. Is. 35).  The prophets make it a point to stress this contrast.  The Messianic Kingdom will be filled with princes while Edom will have no kingdom and no princes (Is. 34:12).  While the entire earth rejoices, Edom will be made into a wasteland (Ezek. 35:14).  Those passing by Israel will compare her to the Garden of Eden (Ezek. 36:34-35), while those passing by Edom and Babylon will be horrified and hiss (Jer. 49:17; 51:41-43).  These are telling juxtapositions that speak the very nature of the Millennium.  It is to be a golden age that is in many ways Edenic.  However, only in the Eternal State will everything be made perfect.

[1] The Hebrew Lilith translated as night bird in Isaiah 34:14, is more literally translated as night monster.  Likewise, the Hebrew Sa`iyr translated as wild goat, more specifically identifies a goat-like demon.

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