Q: How do you interpret the Babylon of the book of Revelation? Do you believe it was meant at any point to refer to the city of Rome at the time of the early church? Do you believe the Babylon of the future will be geographically located in Iraq?
A: I do not believe Babylon is referring to Rome. However, there are two Babylons in the book. In chapter 17, there is religious Babylon, which refers to a world religion. It is called Babylon because Babylon was the mother of all false religions. While the religion is worldwide, the headquarters would be based in the city of Babylon. Revelation 18 deals with the city of Babylon and should be taken literally. It is destined to become the world capital under the Antichrist. Babylon is located in Southern Iraq and that is where these events will take place.
Q: In light of Isaiah 13:19-22 which seems to indicate that Babylon will not be rebuilt and that “her time will soon come and her days will not be prolonged,” how is it that Saddam Hussein is rebuilding Babylon? If you look at the entire context of the passage in Isaiah, which is Isaiah 13:1-14:23, you will notice that the prophecy of Isaiah has never actually been fulfilled. The passage as a whole clearly times itself as happening in the “Day of Jehovah,” the most common biblical term for the Tribulation. As for the specific verses you referred to, 13:19-22, they also have to be in that specific time period, which is in the Tribulation before the establishment of the Millennium.
A: You will notice the passage does mention the Medes but does not mention the Persians and yet the Medes play the minor role in the fall of Babylon. Furthermore, this passage describes a destruction of the city by the Medes. However, the kind of destruction Isaiah pictures the Medes performing in these verses was not done by the Medes in the past. Actually, as you can see from Daniel Chapter 5, the city of Babylon was taken intact and the only casualty was Belshazzar the King. After the Persians conquered Babylon, Daniel was appointed as the one in charge of the province of Babylon under Darius the Mede. In other words, neither the Persians or the Medes did to Babylon what Isaiah describes them doing in Babylon of history. Babylon continued to exist for several centuries and eventually became a ghost town. Besides, over all these centuries, it is not true that the Arab never pitched his tent there. Throughout the centuries Arab nomads and Bedouins continue to live in the area of ancient Babylon.
If you take these prophecies literally, it requires the rebuilding of Babylon, a city that will become the capital of the world under the Antichrist and will be totally destroyed during the campaign of Armageddon. Only then will it fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 13-14. It will remain a totally uninhabited city for the remainder of the Millennium. Again, taking the text literally, the prophecy of Isaiah, including the verses you quote have never been fulfilled to this day and therefore require a future fulfillment.