Saturday, June 28, 2008

God’s Wrath and the Mysterious Babylon: Part 2

In Part 1 we looked into a few Scriptures that clearly state that God does in fact execute wrath upon His children. It is all rooted in His love and is always followed by His compassion with humbling us and bringing us to His side as the goal. Again, we must see Him as a Father, correcting His dearly loved children. In this installment we'll really get to the heart of the matter in regards to defining the Babylon of the Bible. Again, face head on what you believe - don't cower away from it. Let the Word define your understanding.

So how do we, the children of God, avoid His coming wrath that is assigned for His obstinate children? I believe that many answers lie within the understanding of who this mysterious Babylon is that we see throughout the Bible. After hours of looking into this, I personally believe that we can immediately rule out that the earth, or “the lost” are Babylon due to many verses that reference the earth and Babylon separately, such as Jeremiah 50:34: “Their redeemer will plead their case , so that He may bring rest to the land (whole earth) but turmoil to the inhabitants of Babylon and against her officials and wise men.” (Also see 51:48 & 49) To further this point a bit more, in John 17:14 Jesus tells us that we are not of the world government and system, just as He was not. Therefore, we, as true followers of Christ, cannot come out of something that we are no longer even a part of! Further on in verse 18 Jesus says that He “sent (us) into the world”, so we can know assuredly that Jesus does not contradict Himself later in Revelation and say that we’re now to come out of the world! Babylon and the earth (or world) cannot be one in the same.

Before we go any further, let’s not overlook the simple fact that Babylon is always being referred to having walls. Of course we know that the earth doesn’t have walls. Hebrews 13:12-14 states “Therefore Jesus… suffered outside the gate (pule: wall of a city). Hence let us go out (exerchomai: depart) to Him outside the camp (sacred congregation or assembly), bearing His reproach. For we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come (new Jerusalem).” It clearly states that He did not leave the world, He left the congregation and assembly. Furthermore, is it coincidence that a few verses earlier (9) the writer tells the people to “not be carried away by varied and strange teachings”?

Again we look to Jeremiah for insight into many of the who’s and what’s of Babylon. In chapter 50, verse 6 the Lord Himself informs us of the events unfolding within Babylon’s walls. When you look at the original text, there is no denying what this is saying. (For clarity, I’ve added, within the verse, the original text definitions.) “My people (‘am: countrymen, kinsmen) have become lost (abad: destroyed, broken) sheep (tso’n: flock), their shepherds (ra’ah: pastors) have led them astray (ta’ ah: seduced them and left them to wander). They have turned them away (turned back, caused to return) on the mountains; They have gone along (halak: walked) from mountain to hill (gib‘ah: lower than a mountain, a place of illicit worship) and forgotten (shakach: ceased to care about) their resting place (rebets: dwelling)." As far as I’m concerned I could stop here and more than enough has been said.

For just a bit more though, what can be said about the events of Daniel and the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar? It was in Babylon that Daniel had his visions and interpreted dreams. The king became full of pride and boasted: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty? The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.’” - Daniel 4:30 & 31. The Lord made the king crazy for seven years for not giving the glory of Babylon to Him. The era of what I like to call “pastoral/leadership elevation” is coming to an end and a seven year season will usher in the Lord alone as leader of His church (a mirroring of the seven years of tribulation perhaps?). All glory and honor must, and will be, given to the Lord alone!

In his book, God’s Ultimate Passion, Frank Viola words it well: “In Revelation 18:16 we discover that Babylon is made of the same materials as New Jerusalem. The difference is that these materials are part of the outward clothing of the Babylonian harlot of Revelation. Whereas the Bride of Christ’s inward constitution is comprised of these heavenly materials (‘foundation stones’ in Revelation 21:18-21). The principle of Babylon is that of hypocrisy. It seems to make a good appearance on the outside, while the inside is corrupt. In short, the spirit of Babylon is rooted in giving the appearance of spirituality… the impression of God’s favor… the outward adornment of God’s glory… when it doesn’t exist in reality. The Babylonian harlot is a pretend bride.”

We must see that all of this fascination with giving the appearance of Christianity is not true Christianity. The modern church’s facades, as convincing as some may seem, cannot substitute for the inward reign and lordship of Jesus Christ. We’ve been duped to believe that being seen wearing “church clothes” on Sunday, having a “Jesus fish” on our car and sending our kids to VBS somehow pleases God. Lord, forgive us for adorning our outward appearance with eye candy yet we’re found lacking any Christly attribute in our innermost being. Oh how different would this world be if we spent our money on helping the homeless instead of building multi-million dollar campuses… if we used our wealth of time at church functions to befriend the broken instead of create our Christian bubbles… if we were more concerned about actually being Christ-like more than looking like a good Christian. Look around people! The organized church as we know it has programs and groups in place to entice and entertain everyone yet, in the end, bears no fruit that Jesus is in their midst. A Barna survey reports that over the past 15 years the organized church has spent 500 billion dollars, yet each year approximately 1 million people are leaving the church! In 2006 a survey found that 15 percent of those who regularly attend a Christian church ranked their relationship with God as the top priority in their life. 15 percent! And people want to argue that organized religion is the way to go? I just don’t see it. Simply stated, the average organized church, without its weekly tithes and offerings, buildings and membership numbers has nothing that will remain. Is this harsh? You’d better believe it is! We must leave the outward-minded imitation (Babylon) behind and move on into the real thing (New Jerusalem)! What we’re seeing is that a blinded, self-centered system is reproducing generation upon generation of the same. Who and what the church is, is what it will reproduce. An arrogant and selfish “Christianity” will not reproduce vitality and passion for Jesus. It can only reproduce what it is itself. Therefore all counterfeits must be cast down in order that God’s plan can be exalted.

In the last, and much shorter, article, we'll overview and look at a couple more verses that define God's view of what religion is. Again, I urge you to search the Scriptures. Whether you agree or disagree with me personally is irrelevant. Know for yourself what God desires and what He defines as holy and acceptable.


Justin said...

I wrote this yesterday, but my wife has a severe sunburn & I love her more than literal words, so I just didn't finish the thought.

No comments? Must be the weekend.

I don't know enough about original Hebrew, Greek & Aramaic language to validate the statements you've made, but you've been clear that isn't the point. The depravity of man is final, the unfitness of my heart is final unless this Man Christ is measured as my only hope in every situation. Our corrupt religion has been sired on stolen catch-phrase optimisms like "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you" & kept hidden from the light at the end of that very passage in 1st Peter: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now, 'If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?'"

I am one so unworthy of this Majesty, who awakened my soul--who lingers every day on the Earth after our hearts. Who am I, that He would even consider me? Yet, who also am I to follow a partial doctrine that makes friends with the world He called to repentance first & lastly, sending the Spirit afterward to convict of sin, righteousness &, praise His name, judgment.

Yet the answer is not to abandon the body. It is in the body of Christ we encounter the life of Our Beloved Savior as each one of us "speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Christ, the Cornerstone, will not be moved. We must find Him & bring no plans for adaptation, but adhere to Him, dead as grain that first falls to the ground.

I invite you Joel, to make certain & emphatic mention of the body responsibility. We are a nation breast fed on conferences, causes & lifestyle-seminars & have been found in complete infancy about the LIFE of knowing Jesus. It's the invitation of eternity to be a sheep of this Shepherd--stupid, dull & gullible for Him. It's rebellion to administer a gospel bereft of headship & the body as a united bride. We are chastened by our Father because of His enduring love. We are to be encouraged by this. But outside of His bride--the bride of the Utmost Husband with utmost preference for her, whom His Father will present holy & blameless to Him--outside we are in an additionally wicked settlement of this Babylon false bride, where every man & woman is after God without a Bride requirement. Our faith is interdependent, independent. The corruption comes when we permit this "inward constitution" to be of the same cheap materials of the earth in ourselves. We are designed to retain our flaws without the justice of Christ's life born within us. The removal of a plank in our own eye is not so that we forsake the specialized care of removing the brother's speck by the exchange of truth. Yet, submission is an untaught & disrespected necessity to knowing the Messiah as a Bridegroom, King & Judge.

Good study, brother. Do not abandon it, even if a few darts come after you. Sift every one of my words. The rhema word of God is the exact phrase the beloved leaders in our local body have compelled us to understand & interact with.

Joel Spencer said...

Justin: Your 1 Peter associations are perfect. I agree, we're not to "abandon the body", it's just that I believe much of what has been deemed as such is merely a counterfeit.

I'm grateful and thankful to the core of my being that God has placed me in the midst of a small group of true followers of Him. We need no building, no programs and no masquerades - just Jesus and anything good that He has placed within us.

thehoov143 said...

Joel, i do like what you are sayin about the church. Th church has become the eye sore of our faith. I know you say well hoover you go to one of the largest churches in the nation. How can you say that. Believe it or not there is an upcropping of churches in the nation that are bringing people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

Now i agree "church" has to be christ centered or it will die. But when a church has environments to attract people to come to get them to go from sitting in rows to sit in circles in living rooms. That is where life change happens, not sunday morning listening to a iders and influence with outsiders.

We should give. The bible calls us again to give save and live on the rest. Even a story as simple as manna from heaven for the jews for six days of the week to feed them for the seven.
I do agree there is a lot of problems with the "church" but let's go ahead and call it religion, cause religion is what makes people not love. Religion is what separates people from God. Religion is what causes crazies to bomb abortion clinics. Religion as a form of leadership and governing is what is tearing the veil of the church and pushing people away.

THe story with Daneil and King Neb. is a great one, i love how Daniel writes how King Nebs. grandson has a party protesting the persians and then Daniel reads the writing on the wall. God is the most high!!

I do like this series!

Joel Spencer said...

the hoov143: I know that you're seeking out God's plan for your life and attending church... for now. I personally believe as much as I believe anything that the closer you get to the Lord and the more time you spend really looking into His Word that you will inevitebly be drawn out and see things that you never saw before.

With that being said, it excites me to see you quoting Scripture and sharing your thoughts on this - seriously. The fact is, religions "home" is the church. It resides there more than anywhere else on the planet, therefore, to me they're inseparable.