Part 1 of 2
Babylon the great
fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils
There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to just what Babylon is. The only thing I've found to be a certainty when talking to people is that, whatever Babylon is, it's bad, and it for sure has nothing to do with the one (or their church) who is speaking.
Babylon is probably one of the most clearly defined concepts in the Bible, that is to say it is near impossible to misunderstand or to misinterpret. Because it is so clearly explained, naturally we clever people miss it.
Egypt I think we will all agree is a type of the world. The world is a place we must live that has many things in it that will captivate our interests and bind us to it. When we leave the bondage of the world we're to separate ourselves from the world and everything about the world. When the Hebrews left Egypt they left nothing behind that would attract them back into the bondage they had left. Consider Lot's wife.
When a person decides to become a Christian they must reach the same state as did the Hebrews. The riches of Egypt, the wonders of the land, all that brought them to Egypt in the first place, became a trap and a loathsome experience to them. They wanted nothing more than to leave their land of captivity.
When we come out of our captivity to the world we must have reached this same stage, that of desiring nothing more than to be free of all those "pleasures" that we find ourselves bound to. We must have reached the end of our rope where it appears there is nothing ahead for us if someone, if God, doesn't reach down and "save" us from the situation we most likely created for ourself. Unfortunately this is not the typical situation in the churches today, at least not in this country it isn't. In many of the third-world countries becoming a Christian means the possible surrender of all a person has, even their own life. However, life to them is not a life of pleasure and ease as it is in the more "civilized" countries. They are reaching out for something that they have found unobtainable elsewhere.
In this country the concept of becoming a Christian entails the making a simple decision that calls for the surrender of nothing at all, and in fact is quite often accompanied by promises of great wealth and eternal life to boot. A question comes to mind regarding this state of affairs. Since in the mind of so many Christians it's the baptismal tank that makes the difference between spending eternity in Heaven or that other place, do you think it makes any difference to God if the one baptized is joining the Church because it's just something to do rather than because of a heart-felt need to seek the Lord?
We know that very few (two in fact) of all those people who left Egypt proved themselves worthy to enter God's Paradise. All the rest of the people died in the very desert they resented being in, yet needed to pass through in order to prepare themselves for what they most wanted (and thought themselves worthy of). There are certain faults we see in these people, that are quite apparent to us, that we must learn from and avoid if we do not wish to die in our wilderness training period. We see where Korah and his bunch, as well as Miriam and Aaron, resisted the idea of Moses being the one in charge, considering themselves just a Spiritual as was he. God made it very plain that He does not like this type of rebellion and inflated ego. Ego then, along with rebellion, are two things that can keep us out of the Promised Land.
We like to complain. We never think what God supplies is enough for us. The idea that God will give us all we want if we just hold our mouth right when we pray, or use a particular formula, or if we use the power of positive thinking did not seem to go over so well in the wilderness. God promised us "Daily Bread." The Israelites were not satisfied with the bread God provided, and demanded real meat (Jesus came as "Manna from Heaven, meek and mild." The Jews wanted meat, a mighty warrior who could drive the Romans off their land). So God gave them so much quail meat that they choked on it. We want to be careful what we ask for because we're liable to get more of it than we can handle.
We're told that when we become a Christian we are promising to "Trust and obey." We don't know what that means, but because they tell us we have to say the words, that's all there is to it. We see this in marriage vows anymore as well. The words only have any value as long as the two parties still desire to remain together. Even before the split, there is no certainty that there is fidelity, trust or obedience. I believe this is even more so in the Christian where the concepts are not explained before the "Marriage contract" the "New Testament" we agree to abide by at our conversion (which is what the baptismal event is about, as shown by the fact that the marriage contract is read, agreed upon, and ignored ever after). We also forget that a marriage contract involves two parties equally. One person can not break the contract and fully expect the other party to forever be bound to it. This is what the history of the Jews has been. They did whatever they chose to do, placed God on a low shelf, and expected God to do everything for them regardless of their infidelity because they are "His" people." We certainly do this today in the churches. It didn't work for the Jews, it certainly will not work for us. God tells us in Isaiah:
When the Israelites reached the edge of the Promised Land and spies were sent in to check it out, a report came back that validated all God had said about the land, but they added the fact that the people were so big they, the spies, felt like grasshoppers in their own eyes. Did the Israelite people stand up and cheer stating they knew their God would take care of them as He said He would? Did the Hebrew children display the faith they claimed to have? No, they buckled. They wanted to stone Moses and return to Egypt (which they wanted to do many times before).
Claims of faith and obedience is nothing until it's tested. Yet we not only resist the idea of such a test, we deny the test exists for the Christian. We think being given a sideways glance at the water cooler because of being a Christian (even though we've tried so hard to conceal the fact) is the cross we must bear. And our church supports such reasoning. How do those strange looks or the unkind comments that cause you to feel so abused compare to the Goliaths the Hebrew children were expected to face?
The taking of the Promised Land is also symbolic of the process of taking over this "land," this body of flesh that we are to turn over to the Lord. It already belongs to God, it belongs to God because He made us, and it belongs to God because He redeemed it from Egypt and because we have promised it to Him. However God will accept nothing that's less than perfect, so it's our job to fight off the worldly influences, the lusts, the ego, and the selfish traits that are not acceptable to God. Whatever we don't conquer is going to conquer us in the end, and it will keep us from reaching that Promised Land we've been promised.
If we begin cheating even just a little, our pattern changes, and our direction makes a gradual turnaround, and we find ourselves back on the fatness road.
What is true of dieting is true of any endeavor. We have to keep at it faithfully or we lose the battle. Am I one who can speak from many successful encounters with achieving my goal? No, I am one who can speak from many failed attempts to reach my goal.
The Israelites finally acquired the land they had been promised. And as they were warned, those areas they failed to overcome continued to cause them problems. When we're fighting the battle we stay strong for the battle, and we stay alert to the tricks and the infiltration of the enemy. But when we feel the battle is over, we become complacent and confident that nothing will touch us. This is our danger point. The enemy knows our weaknesses. He's always ready to tell you that there is no battle, the war is won already, and that there is no enemy to fight And he will tell you, since you're a Christian, Satan can't touch you. Look to Paul and the many battle scars he acquired to see an example of how this lie is far from true. During WWII we saw examples of the use of this very same tactic in the person of Tokyo Rose and others just like her. If you're not familiar with Rose, look her up on the web and see how your enemy is tricking you.
Keep in mind, we're looking at Babylon in action here.
As the people settled into their Promised Land they began to see the "niceties" enjoyed by the people around them. They started feeling restricted, cheated from the "good" things of life because they were God's chosen people. If they were special in God's eyes, then why isn't God giving them the things the world around them has? Why would He tell them to stay just as far away from the good things of the world as the east is from the west? In today's church we would say "If God gave His only begotten Son to die for me because I'm so special and He loves me so much, then surely He would want me to have the things those unsaved, ungrateful heathen have. That only stands to reason. When He says to stay separate and to not touch the unclean things of the world, He must be talking about something else, not my toys and the things that cause me pleasure and amusement. There's nothing wrong with any of them." And guess what, ol' Tokyo Satan is standing right there cheering on such thinking.
Eventually the Israelites found themselves just as much involved in the world as those around them. They were indistinguishable from the lost. It only takes a very tiny hole in a full balloon to pop it. It only takes a tiny bit of compromise on our part to lose all the resolve we once possessed in order to become and to remain Holy unto the Lord. Solomon was given total peace in the Kingdom he was to rule over. He was given the wisdom needed to rule the people of the Lord, for the Lord. Yet all that wisdom did him no good when it came to his own life because of the compromises he made in his spiritual life. Peace brought complacency. He began to care less for the people he was ruling over, and to care more for his own grandizement and pleasures. He had an eye for the women, and no amount of women seemed to please him. He began catering to the "gods" of those women he married, which changed the direction the country took in regards to following God. The "toys," the little pleasures he added to his life that could hurt no one (in his opinion) caused him to deflect from his dedicated direction until he was worse, morally and Spiritually, than those of the people he was to abstain from. He gained great wealth by over taxing the people, and spent that money on his own lusts. All the while he spouted words of wisdom, none of that wisdom was doing him any good because he refused to look at his own failures.
Israel took their eye off the ball, and lost the game. Eventually they were kicked off the land altogether and the land was allowed to return to seed.
Two out of the millions who came out of Egypt and made an oath to obey God fulfilled their promise and made it to the promise given them. And this is a people who witnessed God at work, were under the protection of the Shekinah Glory, who had seen for themselves first hand what happens to those who don't fulfill their promise to God. What do you think the chances are that we of this couch-potato Church age that's taught there are no trials or requirements to fulfill will see the land promised us? No answer is necessary. Those of you who are still reading this already know these things and are striving to fulfill your promises. Those who don't believe there are any promises made, or that they don't really have to keep them, aren't bothering to read what I have to say anyway. They already know about Babylon because they're living there, they just don't know it.
When God sent Babylon to capture all the people and to destroy His Temple (yes, He's the One who caused all these things), He made it clear that it was His doing and that Judah was not to resist. There were those who wanted to flee into Egypt to escape the captivity. God said He would chase them down if they tried to rebel against what He had ordained. There were those who wanted to stand and fight, sure God would defend them. After all, weren't they God's people? Weren't they the defender of God's Holy Temple? Wasn't Jerusalem God's Holy city? Why wouldn't God protect His own from the heathen hordes? Again, we have this same call today, those saying that God won't let His Church go through the Tribulation that He Himself is bringing upon the earth, therefore He will "rapture" His Church out of the world before it all happens. They forget that God is not only calling the Tribulation on the world for its misdeeds, but on His Church as well. The world hasn't made a pledge to trust and obey God that they have treated lightly and ignored. It's the unfaithful Church that God is going to punish, which we will see shortly.
As in any situation where there are people wanting to force their own view, or to force God to do things their way, false prophets came forth and said God said they, Judah, were to stand and fight and He would protect them as He had always done. Jeremiah made if very clear that God had not said this, but rather He said they will indeed go into Babylon and serve "His servant Nebuchadnezzar" in Babylon.
Babylon is a servant of God? Does that sound right to you? Does what's described in Revelation sound like a people who are serving God in any way at all? We read where Babylon had killed the saints and the prophets, had profaned the name of God, and had done everything but serve God. Yet God said Babylon is serving Him, and we are not to resist going into Babylon. Read the accounts of the Babylon captivity (that's a great deal of reading) and see for yourself that Babylon is what God has established for His Church. Does this mean He wants His Church to be Babylon? Not at all. Neither did He want His Church to resist him and to die in their wilderness training. He wanted more for them. But in order to give them the more, they had to learn to do with less. Jesus came to serve, and by serving He learned to reign supreme. We must do the same. We must not only escape our Egyptian captivity, accept our training in the wilderness, and remain loyal to the end; but we must also learn to live in Babylon without becoming Babylonian ourselves.
I find parallels interesting, don't you? Consider: when the Jews were in Egypt, what was going on at that time? What were the Jews doing in Egypt? They were building. And not only were they building, but they were building some of the most magnificent structures ever conceived. They were building the great pyramids to the heathen gods in which to bury the kings of the land by whom they were held captive.
At the time Nebuchadnezzar overtook Judah he too was conducting a building project. He was rebuilding the greatest city that ever existed. He was building Babylon with its hanging gardens and its great structures. Nebuchadnezzar's dream was not held by those who followed him and his project was left in disarray. And when Alexander came through, he decimated the city until there is nothing left of it today but a hill in the desert (of course there are excavations done in the area lately, but not for many hundreds of years after its fall).
When a king wants to build, what does he need? He needs labor of course, and that's why Nebuchadnezzar carried captives of everyone he conquered into Babylon, to "serve" him and to build up his city (are you getting a picture? I hope you're keeping a bit of your memory on the pages of Revelation as you read this account (Rev 18:21-24). Craftsmen, and educated people are needed to produce a fine building. Also there is money needed to finance such an endeavor, Gold and wealth is required to pay for the materials and the grand furnishings of the city. Gold, silver and many other precious substances were carried from the destroyed Temple, and where are those things of God now? Why, they're in Babylon. And not only are they in Babylon, they are in the house of the gods Nebuchadnezzar worshiped.
(Remember, it's not ancient Babylon we're interested in. We just want to understand the ancient because it's the pattern for the modern version.)
Jumping ahead 70 years or so we find Cyrus, then again Darius hearing directly from the Lord instructing them to do something that went totally against their nature: They were turning captives loose to rebuild a temple to worship a god other than the one they believed in. Not only were they allowing this, they were supporting the effort and providing all the gold, the help, and the finances necessary for the project. They're only doing this because God put it in their heart to do such a thing. But did any of this cause them to worship the God of the Jews instead of their false gods?
Now, momentarily lets look ahead another 500 years to the time of Christ. There was an announcement made by some shepherds that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem and that angels had called the hearers to come and see. Of course these were uncouth shepherds that made this announcement to the kingdom, and who would pay any attention to uncouth shepherds? But then a couple years later there were some wise men who could not be ignored that said they had followed a star to this same place, and they wanted to see this new king, this Messiah they had been waiting for. King Herod wanted to learn more about this usurping king that might be up to taking away his kingdomship, even if it was just a baby. Herod called those in the know, his experts on theology, and his experts informed the king that indeed there was something written about a coming king. And lo and behold, it just so happened that the day they heard the announcement from the shepherds was the very day Daniel told them their Messiah would be born. We know Herod believed the report because he did all he could to have the baby killed. But what of those theologians, those religious experts, those who have been waiting for their Messiah all these centuries? I'll bet you think they jumped on their camels and rode off after the wise men to see their Messiah and to worship Him? You know better than that. They dismissed the entire thing, even though they could have had no doubts whatever that what they heard was true. It had to be true because that was the only day that fit their prophesies. If it wasn't that day, it had to be a fantasy. Yet the Jews still cling to that same fantasy even though there is no way they can ever fully believe there will be a Messiah come to them given their present circumstances as far as prophecy is concerned.
But the Jews are not the only ones who will cling to a fantasy when the truth is presented to them. We see it all through life, and especially in the Church. We see more fantasy in the Fundamental churches than there is in Star Wars, and these fantasies are rarely if ever questioned. They're just accepted because no one really cares anyway, because no one really believes in this Christian experience. There's a lot to-do made over the coming of the Christ and the Kingdom, but no one really believes it, not those who live in Babylon at least.
Back to the time of Jesus. Thirty years later, after the leaders ignored the message by the shepherds, the wise men, the prophetess in the Temple, the twelve year old that stood before them having an incredible understanding of Scripture; John the Baptist announced that the Messiah had come. Then with mighty signs and wonders Jesus proved He was the Messiah. Did the theologians, the experts sit up and take notice at these proofs of Messiahship? Yes, they did. And as per history, they tried to deny it and to quench what they claimed to be standing for and preparing for.
They killed the Prince of Peace. They crucified their Messiah. Now what? They had proven themselves to be in the right. Then, three days later there are reports that the One they killed is back at it again teaching His disciples. They even had their own guards tell them about the incredible thing that happened at the tomb. Did these theologians, these keepers of the Truth, turn and begin to see the truth? Of course not, they continued to deny the event and to kill anyone who tried to preach in the name of their awaited Messiah.
Back to Babylon:
Craftsmen were needed to build the city of Babylon just as craftsmen were needed to build the Temple and everything that went with it. Now here we have a wicked king of Judah, one of the reasons the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, being treated like royalty. We have the people of God building a city that is restricting them and causing them to conform to their ways and give up their Godly, separate ways. Not only are these people of God being forced to conform to false gods, they're building the temples to these gods, as they had done in Egypt. We have the great minds being bent to the thinking of the Babylonians. And of course where the great minds go, those with lesser minds follow. The mighty people of God are becoming Babylonian, and they don't even recognize the fact, nor do they care.
Before I get into detail regarding the events in Babylon as it effects the Church today I would like to jump ahead to the time of Ezra where the people were released to return to the city of their God they call their home. One might think these people would jump at the chance to be free and to see their homeland, the land God Himself gave them, would you not? As it turns out this is not to be. Yes, out of the thousands who were carried into Babylon, and among the many more thousands who were born in Babylon, there were a few people who cared enough to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. But there was an amazingly high number of people who became very complacent and comfortable in their Babylonian way of life. They were treated well enough, and they had everything they wanted. Why should they leave the comfort of the religious atmosphere they had become accustomed to? Couldn't they find God just as easily in Babylon as they could in Jerusalem? And besides, everyone knows that God is in a rickety old dirty shack just as much as He is in a fabulous Temple. Why go to all that wasted effort? Besides, don't you know that God doesn't want His special people to work? And He loves us just the way we are, warts and all? No need to try and fix up these Tabernacles God has chosen for His own. Settle back in Babylon, and don't worry about any ol' Temple.
We find there were many who returned to Jerusalem, a very long and difficult journey, who came out of her in the captivity and had seen the Temple Solomon built. This would have placed them at least in their late 70's and most likely considerably older. Now, it would seem to me that amongst the people who desired to return those at the front of the line would be the Levites, the ones who's entire purpose and function was attached to the Temple. The Levites were the preachers, the priests, the people closest to God, chosen to be God's and who stand before God and serve Him, which they couldn't do in Babylon, having to teach what they were told to teach and no more. Wouldn't you think the Levites would be chomping at the bit to return to their home and their Temple? This was not to be the case. Out of the ragtag group that volunteered to accompany Ezra to religious freedom he discovered there were no Levites! How can they have a Temple without priests, the only ones who are qualified to enter the Temple they are about to build? As for a High Priest Ezra himself more than qualified for that position, and there was Joshua who was the High priest, but they couldn't do everything. They had to send back for some Levites, who I suspect were resentful at having to leave their favorite TV program just to build an old Temple to their God.
There are thousands of churches today, and there are thousands of pastors and doctrines amongst those thousands of churches. Now it would seem to me that if there was any common thread amongst all those churches and preachers that thread would be that of motivation. I should think that every preacher would be striving with all his or her might to make their congregation the most Christ-like Christians found anywhere. I would think they would be like the coach of a pro football team, get out there and play to win! That's what I would expect to see in the churches. Isn't that what I see in Paul's writings? Isn't that what I read in the sermons and the parables of Jesus? Isn't that what I see demanded all the way through the Old Testament? Then why do I hear in the churches that we are ok the way we are, so settle back, enjoy the Christian ride, wait for a cloud, and know we are ok just the way we are? Have the Levites remained in Babylon? Are there no priests to drive us on to victory and to show us the way? Do we really believe the words of Jesus were for the Old Testament saints and not for us today?
In Babylon we have several examples of what a Church within a church is like. We have the true church, and we have the Babylonian church. Babylon is comfortable for those who like the life of pleasure and are not driven to succeed in the Spirit. Settle back and take life easy, is the call of Babylon. Meanwhile we have a Church of individuals who do not hear the Babylonian trumpet but are listening to the voice of God through their own spirit. One of the most common examples of this Church within a church is the story of the four Hebrew children. You heard there were only three Hebrew children? No, there were four.
Nebuchadnezzar wanted the finest youth of those in the land he had conquered to serve him as advisers. Amongst the finest of these youth were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But even above these three special boys there was Daniel, who was placed above all the others in importance since there were none other with the wisdom and the Spirit of God as was Daniel.
Nebuchadnezzar, as is common with so many people placed in authority, had a big ego. To match his ego he had a huge statue made, a statue (of himself?) that stood 90 feet high. Now 90 feet is a huge statue any way you look at it. Everyone who did not bow down to this statue would be cast into a fiery furnace. Now no one likes to be cast into a fiery furnace, so it appears everyone in Babylon bowed down to this image when the call went out. However there were three young men who, although they lived in Babylon, they were not a part of the Babylonian system. They refused to bow down to the image.
Babylon is a place that caters, not to the setting of oneself aside, but to the feeding of one's ego. There were people in the kingdom of Babylon who were jealous of the position these three Hebrew children held and wanted them out of the way. They dropped a hint to the king that it might be a good idea to do away with these rebellious youth who would rather do what is right than to polish the king's ego. Kings can become very angry when crossed, and their mind (like ours), can become lost in confusion. The king in his rage forgot that these specially selected and trained young men are important to his kingdom and has them cast into the furnace. The fire was so hot that it burned up the ones who threw the young men in, yet it didn't even singe a hair on the faithful Hebrews' head.
The true Church scores a big one over the Babylonian church. Mightn't you think the king would now have learned his lesson and realize there is only one God in this world?
Now it's Daniel's turn to prove himself. Nebuchadnezzar is gone, and so is the kingdom. Although still in Babylon the city is governed by Darius the Mede. Don't get confused with all the different Darius's. History tells us there was a Darius Nothus mentioned in Nehemiah, a Darius Hystaspes (Persia) who Ezra speaks of, and our Darius Cyaxares of Media that Daniel is dealing with here. Confused? Me too. Like Nebuchadnezzar, Darius recognized the value of having a sharp Spirit-filled man (no longer a youth) in his court. And like Nebuchadnezzar, Darius had an ego problem, that those of a Babylonian persuasion was able to turn to their own purpose. There were those of the Babylonian church who wanted this Spirit-filled person out of the way, and they knew the only way to do such a thing was to cause distention concerning Daniel's God and the king. Now I said Daniel's God. But don't those of the Babylonian church worship the same god as do the True church, just not as fervently? That's what is supposed by those in the Babylonian church, but those in the true Church know there is little resemblance between the Babylonian god and the True God. The True God is one to be served, the Babylonian god is one that serves those in the Babylonian church. The True God is a strict disciplinarian who has the highest of ideals and expectations of those who wish to be with Him in eternity. The Babylonian god is one who loves everybody no matter how wicked they may be and has lost His eyesight when it comes to sin, as long as that person has been baptized in the proper manner. Consider a feature of a true Christian: A true Christian is happy when a nonbeliever becomes saved, regardless of what church that person decides to join or attend, knowing that a Christian walk begins with a single step, and God will direct the steps afterwards. The Babylonian church insists that a person belong to their denomination, accepts their doctrines, and adds to their numbers. Babylon is ego-based; the true Church is Spirit-based. We are about to witness some Babylonian church members who want to destroy a true "Christian" because he wants to serve God and not their church:
These Babylonian counselors convinced the king to make a proclamation that states if a person, whoever that person might be, makes a petition (praying is a petition) to anyone but the king, they would be thrown in to a lion's den. The scheme worked. Only Daniel didn't buckle, nor did he hide his prayer time. He opened his windows on schedule and prayed toward Jerusalem (where the Temple of the Lord would have been) as he always had. Of course the Pharisees, I mean the Babylonian advisers were right there waiting to catch Daniel in the act, then they scurried off to tattle on him. Darius was angry at himself for allowing himself to be duped in the way he had, but he had to keep his word. In Babylon you have to do what you say regardless of how stupid a thing you might have promised. The only exception to this of course is if that promise is made to God. Since God is so loving and forgiving (even though we don't confess or repent) He doesn't mind if you break your promise to Him over and over, just as long as you keep reminding Him of promises He supposedly made to you and demand He keep them.
Again faithfulness wins out, and those who tried to win by deceit fell to the very same fate they had hoped to bestow on the True "Christian." We're told in the Bible that he who digs a pit will surely fall into it. This certainly is true in the stories out of Babylon. All the dirty tricks Babylon tried to play on Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Job... Job? Yes, Job. Consider how Job, the only truly righteous one of the bunch, was being accused of all sorts of things by those who supposedly wanted to help him by defending God against the truth. They made up stories about Him, and said things of God that seem true on the surface when we try to force God into the mold we made for Him, but were not true according to the pattern God has established, nor according to what He has told us of Himself. Babylon would rather have its fairy tales than to hear the truth.
Are you getting some pictures here? Are you at the same time finding an image of the Beast system the Babylonian harlot is riding on showing one of its heads? If not yet, keep watching.
Before we look in to this story, a bit of background might be helpful. First we find that this scene is not taking place in the city of Babylon (although it is still in the realm of Babylon) but in Shushan the palace. Shushan, or Susa, is located about 200 miles east of Babylon closer to the Persian gulf. The events taking place are not necessarily effected by this difference of location, but an understanding of the events require knowledge of this variance. For instance, when we read the story of Daniel we find the Medes, who are a part of the Mede-Persian conquerors of Babylon, apparently governing from Babylon. We can know this because the objects taken from the Temple were housed in Babylon, and we read of these objects being utilized in parts of the story of Daniel. Ezra was commissioned by Cyrus, the first ruler of the Persian Empire, to take the items from the vault and to carry them back to Jerusalem. Cyrus and Ezra then were in Babylon at the time. Nehemiah on the other hand was commissioned by Darius the king to go check on the welfare of the remnant Jews and to rebuild the walls of the city. This exchange between Darius and Nehemiah took place in Shushan the Palace. Darius and Nehemiah were therefore stationed 200 miles away from Ezra and Cyrus. This may seem unimportant on the surface, but read these two accounts, and see what appears to be conflicting reports, in fact become understandable. Why didn't Darius know what Cyrus had written when Cyrus was the one who gave him his job and he apparently reported to him? Because they were working together but from different locations. This is true also of the lack of knowledge Nehemiah had regarding the welfare of the Jews left in Jerusalem.
There are those who believe Nehemiah preceded Ezra by some years. For myself I do not see this albeit there is some evidence pointing to the possibility. But regardless of the order of events, it is the distance, and the timing I want you to see.
The story of Esther takes place in Shushan the palace where we might have found Nehemiah bringing the cup to the king. In the story of Esther King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes as he is called in Nehemiah and elsewhere) was in his third year of reign over the provinces (Nehemiah's account was in the ninth year, so the queen he saw might have been Esther) called his queen (Vashti) to come show off her beauty to the princes and the nobility of the land. Queen Vashti (who's name means "Beautiful woman") refused to come at the king's bidding. I suspect this was one of the first occurrences of the women's lib movement, Jezebel being the forerunner. Neither incident turned out well for the activist involved. This rebuke did not sit well with the king, so he took the advise of his advises and replaced the queen with someone who would be more obedient than was the former queen.
Have we a parallel here that we might apply to the Babylonian church? I believe we have. In the Book of Revelation we see the harlot Babylon riding on the back of the beast, being supported by the beast. Later we see the beast turning on the harlot and seeking to destroy her. Just why this turn of events I'm not sure, we only know that the ten kings given rule by the beast wanted her out of the way. Before Vashti was dismissed the king had thrown a party designed to impress the royalty of the kingdom. And we find Vashti doing her part to entertain the women as she should. In Revelation we see that the rich men and the kings were horrified to see the lose of their income and their luxuries as Babylon burned. A small comparison to be sure. Vashti was noted for her beauty, this was her main attraction it appears. But beauty is not enough when it carries with it a rebellious nature. A little later I'll be coming back to Vashti and her beauty, but contrary to my nature, I'll stick to the subject at hand. We see in Revelation again that a goodly part of the description of the city Babylon is devoted to her beauty. She was not only beautiful herself but she was covered with beautiful things. And she was cocky about her beauty and all she had to offer. We read where she claimed to be "queen and no widow" meaning she reigned supreme and no one would divorce her.
In today's Babylonian church we find a common strand that shows this same attitude, that is the belief that God will not do anything about the harlotry and rebellious nature of the church no matter how out of hand it becomes. They believe God has made a vow of dedication to them and He can't break that vow. At the end of Revelation we discover, as did Vashti, that she was wrong.
In the Book of Revelation we see a decree going out that everyone must bow to a certain person, or the image of that person. We read also that there were just a very few of the Church, called the "elect" who did not bow. And because they did not bow, great vengeance was taken out on them, and I believe the entire Church in retribution, as occurred in the book of Esther.
By the end of Esther we see the enemies of the Jews were destroyed who wanted to destroy them. They had "put their enemies under their feet." Esther reigns as queen in peace, and Mordecai has been given a high position over all the people. and we find that many people became jews because of the fear of Mordecai.
The Babylonian church is suppressed, and the true Church shines like a beacon in the darkness.
Notice that at the end of the story, not everyone became true Jews because they believed in the Jew's philosophies or their religion. They became Jews in order to protect their own interest. We find this in the Exodus as well where many of the Egyptians came out with the Jews, but that does not mean they all chose to follow the Jewish religion any more than the Jews leaving Egypt meant they would follow the Lord as they had vowed to do. We again see this in Revelation where after everything is said and done, there are still people (called the "nations of the saved") in the world, but they are not part of the Holy Nation. They live by the light of that nation, but they had not taken on the light themselves. They still live in darkness, as they chose to live here in this life. All they wanted was eternal life. And that's what they will receive. However that eternal life will be as lifeless as the life they chose to live here and now.
We find in the story of Lazarus and the rich man that even if one returned from the dead those who have closed their eyes will refuse to see the truth. Jesus displayed all the evidence and more needed to prove He held the truth. The Apostles could not be held in prison, nor could they be stopped by those who desperately wanted them out of the way. They stoned Paul and left him for dead, and he just stood up and began to preach again. Nothing will convince those who like to believe a lie of the truth. Tell them more lies, and ever expanding lies such as the Rapture and the Satan-was-once-a-beautiful-angel fantasy and the Babylonian church will follow you anywhere to hear more. Tell them the truth, and they will pick up rocks to stone you. Truth and the Babylonian church are at polar ends of one another.
In the True Church there is the leadership of the Holy Spirit. But just because the Holy Spirit is here to lead the Church does not mean everyone in the Church is listening to or following the Holy Spirit. We have two examples of the Holy Spirit at work in the story of Esther. First we have Esther being obedient to Mordecai in every way, following his advise even when she is selected to be queen over him and everyone else in the kingdom.
All the most beautiful women in the kingdom were selected to try out to be the king's bride. The call went out, and they of course came. This is kind of a Cinderella story in the religious realm. We see beautiful women acting just the way we would expect beautiful women to act: They sought after all they could acquire that they felt would make them even more appealing to the king. While all the contestants were saying to the one given the charge to "purify" them (Esther 2:3-12) :Gimme this, and gimme that, and splash more of that perfumy stuff on me here, and gimme that bracelet," Esther required nothing but what was offered to her. She turned herself over entirely to the one put in place to do the job of preparing her. And because of this she found favor in the eyes of all those who looked upon her.
To God is given all the glory. When we succeed, when we prosper in the Spirit, when we help others at the expense of ourself; we cause God to receive glory when it's known that we are His servants.
There's an old Indian saying that speaks of a man who wears soft moccasins. A man's wife makes the moccasins for her man. In order to make soft leather the leather is chewed, and the more it is chewed, the softer it becomes. This process takes much time and effort. A woman is unlikely to spend this time and effort on a man who does not treat her right or who does not appreciate her. The softer a man's shoes, the more it speaks of how he treats his wife. And should a man be fortunate enough to also have a soft shirt and leggings....?
Solomon says a man with a perfect wife is known in the gates because she brags on him and every man is envious of him. However, this glory is a two way street. A good wife means a good husband, or else the wife is not likely to remain the good and perfect wife very long. We are the Lord's bride, what kind of reaction do you think our Lord receives at the gate because of His bride? If He has a wife as Solomon described, as Esther showed herself to be, then He will have a grand reception. If, on the other hand, He is confronted with a wife as He had in Israel, as the harlot of Babylon presents herself as being, as the ugly, selfish sisters in the Cinderella story were, then I doubt the Lord would be able to show His face in the gates.
13Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: (Isaiah 29:)
I think you'll agree that what I have just suggested is not by any means a small thing. To do any of the above would be criminal at best, would it not? How about something that seems on the surface to be unimportant, but in reality it is misdirecting the intention of what is given to us by God, would that be a small thing? Here I present a long version of something that might have easily been said in a short passage, but you would have missed my point. Back to Esther:
The Spring Equinox celebrates four main things, only two of which has any effect on the Christian. One, it announces the beginning of Spring. This effects everyone. Two, it is the day Jesus was raised from the dead, which is important to us the Christian, but holds a minor importance with that of obeying the Word of God and moving on to perfection. Beyond these two things, and what pertains to my point as given here, is that this was the day Tammuz (Adonis) was supposed to awake from his long Winter's nap, and when Astarte (Ishtar) starts her trek across the skies
Here again we have an opposing comparison between the True Church and the Babylonian church. On the Babylonian side we have the two fabled lovers who are known for their immoral ways beginning their romp in the "heavens." At the same time we have the True Heavenly body beginning His venture into Heaven to be a part of the Father. While the Babylonian church plays with the immoral characteristics of the heathen gods, the True Church is doing what it can to emulate the One who created the opportunity to join Him with the Father.
Esther is the "Morning Star." Esther is a picture of the True Church living in and amongst the Babylonian church without conforming to that church. If I have provided enough evidence of this to make it worth your while to read on then I will resume.
15And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: 16He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: 17I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. 18And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. 19Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. (Num 24:)
1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Mat 2:)
42Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. (Acts 7:)
35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (1Cor 15:)
16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star ["Light Bearer"] arise in your hearts: 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2Peter 1:)
26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28And I will give him the morning star. 29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 2:)
16I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (Rev 22:)
In the passages above we find references to the stars (not all of them), especially the "Morning Star." Did you see who the Morning Star is? I think you'll find that the Morning Star is, first Jesus, then secondly the overcomer. Does this fit your understanding at all?
What happens to this important truth if it is redirected to something benign and fanciful? What happens if we take what Jesus attributes to Himself and make a huge Cecil B. DeMill or a Star Wars adventure story of it? Don't you think what Jesus is telling us would sink into the ordinary?
Let's take a look at one of these grand extravaganzas devised by none other than the greatest of tale-weavers, Satan himself:
Note how the word is capitalized even though it is not a proper noun in that it doesn't have a definite article affixed as does the word for Satan. Hebrew, especially ancient Hebrew, had no capital letters. Hebrew was the simplest, most primitive of languages, intended to be spoken, not written as is the Greek and the English languages. On top of this Lucifer is not a Hebrew word, it a Latin translation of the Hebrew that was not converted to its proper form in the KJ version of the Bible, that is, it was left capitalized. Legends have been built on this small error that has infiltrated just about every church and culture, yet there is no bases for the legend. The word that lies at the base of the word in question does possess the characteristics attributed to the legend of Satan before his alleged fall, but so do they apply to the person given the warning in the book of Isaiah.
For more on this subject see the notes regarding this passage in the Amplified Bible.
11Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 12Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty [Ex 28:2; Isaiah 44:13; Mat 23:27; Isaiah 53:1-3]. 13Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God [God declared that the land to which He was bringing the Israelites was His land, and they were to be caretakers of His land. Because they failed at this, He kicked them off His land. Now see Ezek 36:34-35; SoS 4:12; Isaiah 58:1-12; Rev 22:1-2; Gen 2:8-15]; every precious stone was thy covering, [Ex 28:15-22; Rev 21:18-20; 18:16] the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created [Jer 31:1-5; 1Kings 1:39-40; 2Chron 5:11-13; Rev 14:1-5]. 14Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth [1Kings 8:7; 1Chron 5:7-8; Heb 9:1-7; Ex 37:6-9; Ezek 10:5-14; Rev 4:7; Gen 3:24]; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God [Ex 19:20; Ezek 20:39-40; 2Peter 1:16-18; Dan 9:15-20; Joel 3:17; Rev 21:9-10]; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire [1Cor 3:9; 12:24; 1Peter 2:5; Zech 13:8-9; Rev 21:19; 18:12-16]. 15Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. [Gen 1:30; Luke 6:40; Mat 5:48; 23:27-28; Eph 5:26-27; Isaiah 47:1-15; Ezek 27:1-36]; 16By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence [Mat 11:12; Ezek 7:23; John 2:16], and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee [Rev 18:21; 12:9; John 15:6; 1Cor 5:5], O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground [Rev 12:9], I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee [Isaiah 14:16; Rev 18:15]. 18Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries [Ezek 44:7-9; Zeph 3:4; Rev 17:4-6] by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee [Rev 17:15], it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee [Rev 17:17-18]. 19All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee [Jer 18:13-17]: thou shalt be a terror ["Destruction, alarm"], and never shalt thou be any more [Rev 18:21]. (Ezek 28:)
3Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. (John 8:)
Why would Satan want to masquerade as an angel of light? Why would he want to get us to believe the passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel are descriptive of him? The reason for such a deception is that if we think it all applies to him, then we won't look at the fact that it actually describes you and me and the True Church.
The True Church? How could such a description be of the True Church? The Babylonian church yes, but the True Church?
Consider this in the light of what follows:
1And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. 7How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. (Rev 18:)
How has Babylon fallen as described in Isaiah? When was Babylon, the church ever in Eden and in perfect harmony with God? Where did the Babylonian church fall from?
In the beginning of the Church there was just one person, and that was Jesus. Jesus was in Heaven at the same time He was on earth. Because He died He opened the door for us to enter in to Heaven as well through the Holy Spirit. The Apostles carried the torch Jesus lit to the world and to the believing Church. Very shortly those with imitation lights, those who acted like Christians but were in fact tares and wolves, entered in to the flock and began to disrupt the Church, alter the doctrines, and confuse the sheep. Then came the walls from which each of the denominations took pot shots at one another calling themselves treasures of God and everyone else deceived, doomed sinners. When we take on a judgmental attitude toward others, especially those of the body, we then put ourselves in the place of God, who is the only One capable, or with authority to judge the heart and the intent of another. Each of the denominations, therefore the people in the denominations, have made themselves "Like the Most High," and they will be judged for their arrogance. Is there an exception to this? None that I can see. I know there are individuals within any of the denominations who have not been caught up in the web of doctrine, but no denomination or religion considers others more highly then themselves as Jesus instructed His people to do.
Babylon was once a Woman clothed with the sun, the Morning Star, the Esther who shined amidst the darkness. Now, and it will become much worse in the very near future, Babylon will have become so dark that those who are merely resting in the shadows of the churches who do not know where to go will either have to decide to come out of her, or to stay and become a part of her destruction. I have seen those people who are in a lost state because their church doesn't seem that bad yet. They can see the fairy tales, and they can know bits and pieces of the truth that differs from what they've been told, but they just can not quite find it in themselves to separate themselves from the world and the pleasures of this life that is required to wear the cloak of the sun and to put the moon at their feet. They see the words of the stars, the twelve Apostles, but they don't hunger and thirst to learn what those words are trying to tell them. I've also seen those who have floundered next to the edge of the pool; they've come out of Babylon, but they haven't been given the keys to unlocking the Scriptures. They're doing their best with what they have, but instead of looking to God for their understanding of His Word, they're filtering their understanding through commentaries and other doctrines of man. When we trust to man, God can not, or will not take us any farther because we've settled on an answer that He has not given.
I've also seen those people, and preachers, who earnestly believe what they preach, and they preach exactly what that denomination says to preach. But all their integrity profits neither them nor their congregation or listeners because they are doing what is right in their own eyes and not seeking for the Truth through God's eyes (Prov 14:12; 21:2).
And, I have seen all I really want to see of those preachers who are merely playing church, having no idea what is truth and what is falsehood, even though they are well versed in the Bible and the ways of the churches. They have a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof. They may be very competent preachers and ministers, but like a skilled musician with no heart for what they're doing, their words are like clanging symbols to those who are actually tuned to the beauty and the glory of God's true Word and purposes.
First I will bring up those the Mainline churches call cults and see what we find in them that either favors the "Morning Star' or that reminds us of Babylon.