When North Means East
"North" is an easily discerned direction on the compass, but from the perspective of Bible History, and prophecy (see the Fact Finder question below), it is sometimes used to describe a direction of arrival, not necessarily of origin. Just as, for example, when the armies of Egypt invaded Israel, natural obstacles (in that case, The Mediterranean Sea) dictated that they did so from the south, even though Egypt is to the west of Israel. So too, when the armies of Babylon (which is to the east of Israel) invaded Israel, they did so from the north to avoid having to go through the vast desert of Arabia.
"I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name"
When the Babylonians invaded Israel (see Why Babylon?), they came in from the north, even though Babylon was to the east. The Lord makes the distinction Himself in describing the Babylonians coming "from the rising of the sun" (i.e. from the east) but at the same time also describes them as being "from the north":
"I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay" (Isaiah 41:25 KJV)
And again, as evidenced in Jeremiah:
"And the word of The Lord came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou?"
"And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north."
"Then The Lord said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith The Lord; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah." (Jeremiah 1:13-15 KJV)
Babylon's own fall is spoken of in duality, historically and prophetically, one the fall of an ancient empire (see Ancient Empires - Babylon), the other the fall of the present confused religious/economic world of "Babylon" (Babylon literally means confusion). When the historic Babylon fell, the people of Judah were allowed to return to the land of Israel (see Home From Babylon); when modern-day Babylon falls, all of Israel is going to return to the land of Israel (see Many More Are Coming Home and Spiritual and Physical Gatherings, also Physical and Spiritual Israel):
"The word that The Lord spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet."
"Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces. For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast."
"In those days, and in that time, saith The Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek The Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion [see Who, What or Where Is Zion?] with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to The Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten."
"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace. All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against The Lord, the habitation of justice, even The Lord, the hope of their fathers."
"Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks. For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain" (Jeremiah 50:1-9 KJV)
Fact Finder: For what key event of Prophecy does "east" literally mean east?
See Why Did They Face East?