Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Babylon - The Bookends Of Our Culture

The Professional Women’s Bible Study I attend every Friday morning is presently studying an overview of Genesis, using the Christianity 101 Series by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz. We recently completed the lesson, “God Intervenes When Humans Scheme,” in Chapter Six, in which the authors describe “The Tower of Power.” How timely that theologian Andy Woods should come to Bayside Community Church on Sunday, March 15, 2009, to teach us about Babylon in Prophecy. In his words, Babylon is a freight train barreling through the Bible. Genesis 11:1-9 describes the first worldwide rebellion against God in the land of Shinar, which is Mesopotamia (between the rivers). Babylon keeps popping up throughout the Scriptures in the writings of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and the apostle John in Revelation. We will come full circle in Revelation 17-18, as Babylon is, once again, the location for another universal rebellion against God. The rebellion of Babylon in Genesis 11 caused the spread of that sinful attitude throughout the cultures. It is evident today in the mystical teaching that we are God. The Holy Spirit of God dwells within the believer at the time of salvation, but that doesn’t make us God. The creature can never be the Creator. Isaiah Chapters 13 and 14 reveal the great Day of the Lord, with cosmic disturbances, global judgment, final desolation (worse than Sodom and Gomorrah) of Babylon, followed by universal peace, and then Israel is regenerated spiritually. Some say that Babylon has already suffered that fate, since the city is no longer on the map. Indeed, the prophecy of Isaiah 21:1-10 was fulfilled in Daniel 5. Babylon fell to the Persians without a battle. History shows no destruction occurred. Cyrus took Babylon by rerouting the Tigris River and was able to invade the city without taking a single life or tearing down any walls. Babylon survived intact. (The Truth Behind Left Behind – Hitchcock/Ice and The Nations in Prophecy, 63-64 – Walvoord.) But the prophecy of Jeremiah, Chapters 50-51 is a futuristic prediction…ditto for Isaiah 13-14. Zechariah 5:5-11 mirrors the prophecy in Revelation 17, which describes the woman (wickedness), ephah (commerce), house (temple), and the location of the future desolation (Shinar). Both books emphasize commerce and worship of a false deity. One area of confusion is Revelation 17:5 …and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” The word mystery in this context means a new truth revealed. Some scholars believe it refers to Jerusalem, Rome, or a religious system. But since none of these can be the “Mother” of Harlots, then it can only refer to Babylon. It’s the only thing that has been around since the days of the Tower. Let’s take a quick look at the emphasis on commerce. The oil industry now controls all the markets. Where is most of the oil? In the Land of Shinar, which is present day Iraq. Babylon represents the two bookends of this world’s history. The history of human culture began there and will end there. But, as believers…we won’t be around to see it.
And that’s the good news!