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Query for the Month

of April 2000

 

Next up-date: May 1st (God willing).


Query:

Response:

During Solomon's reign he kept the earthly kingdom of God together, but soon after his death there was a split in the church (surprise, surprise!) and two distinct groups emerged - the northern and the southern kingdoms - around 931BC, just three generations after it had been set up. The southern kingdom was made up of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin (from them comes the name "Jews"), while the other ten tribes joined the northern area called Israel. Of course, there were defections in both groups with some individuals from Judah joining the north, and vice versa, some from Israel coming south to live near Jerusalem. Eventually all twelve tribes were represented in the loyal kingdom, but with very few from the ten apostate tribes.

To cause more confusion, many writers over the centuries and some even today, speak of the Jews as "Israel". We have to be aware of the vital difference between them, for those represented by Israel and Judah are still among us today, and if we are not clear on this matter we may end up in the wrong camp.

Israel went further and further away from God's advice until eventually they left His care and protection totally and followed their own way only. King Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:1-24) started them on their slide, but when king Ahab married the high priest of Baal's daughter, Jezebel, things went from bad to worse. (1 Kings 16:30-33). She brought with her the public worship of Baal the god of force, and 'the die was cast' as it is said. Israel loved it! To be known as "religious" and at the same time, able to be a fighting person was great. (Think of the Irish.)

Despite the best efforts God could make through Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Amos and Hosea they positively refused to follow the meek and lowly One and preferred the strong armed god, rather like their ancestors had done at Mt. Sinai when they worshipped the golden calf of Egypt. Exodus 32:1-35. (The "calf" was really a strong young bull portraying the god of force!)

The limited protection that Jesus could still offer was totally dissipated by about 720BC when the majority finally rejected Him as their Saviour and thought they could look after themselves. So what happened? The king of the greatest nation of the time, Assyria, came into their land and took them away captive as slaves. From that time on the area was generally known as Samaria. Of course, some of them were still true Christians at heart (see John 4:5-26), but they suffered with the apostates because they remained with them.

This situation was not unique in that it has happened several times since then. The church splits and one portion eventually loses God's power while retaining His name and most of His outward ceremonies, while those who follow God regroup to form the nucleus of an effective but smaller band of true ones.

The first mention of Babylon in my Bible is when the king of Assyria brought some people from the east and placed them in the land of Samaria. They effectively replaced God's northern kingdom of Israel which disappeared from the history books from then on.

2 Kings 17:20-25

And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers [because He no longer had the right to protect them], until He had cast them out of His sight. For He rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king [in place of God's choice]: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin. (In the same way as the Nazis did to the Germans). For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria to this day.

And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared [respected] not the LORD [or His protection]: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them.

So right from the beginning the kingdom was at war with God's way. Babylon at that time was not the powerful nation it was to become, but was a small part of the Assyrian empire. Under the Nebuchadnezzars it broke free and conquered Nineveh and other great cities of Assyria, until it became the leading power in the then known world.

As we all know from a reading of the book of Daniel, eventually there came a face to face fight between the God of Judah and the god of Babylon around 606BC, and the god of Babylon appeared to win! This was because the church of God had very few loyal members at the time. They had a great head count, but few believers whom God could rely on because most of them had bowed the knee to Baal in their belief in the use of force and coercion in religion, and therefore the strength of the world overcame the nation. (Babylon often wins the battles, but God will win the war.)

Daniel 1:1-2

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.

From that time onwards the title of "Babylon" has been used as the name of the great city of the adversary of living God. (The word "Babylon" is mentioned 252 times in the KJV.)

Jerusalem and Babylon signify the two great opponents on earth and we can learn many spiritual things from their earthly behaviour.

Continuing with the history of the northern area we find that when the lions came attacking them they wanted protection and so they petitioned the king of Assyria who came up with a novel plan. (They believed in earthly protection). As you read about it remember that those who had remained true to God lived just south of this area, for there is often only little apparent distinction between right and wrong!

2 Kings 17:27-36

Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Carry there one of the priests whom you brought from there [a priest from the apostate Israel]; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel [which is by interpretation, ‘The house of God’], and taught them how they should fear the LORD. However every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places [of pride] which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tareak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. So they feared the LORD [publicly], and [yet] made to themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places [note this point!], which sacrificed for them [ministered to them] in the houses of the high places [the churches of the day].

They feared the LORD [on the surface], and [yet] served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from there [the ten tribes].

To this day they do after the former manners [follow religion in a worldly way]: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their [rightful] statutes, or after their [rightful] ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel; with whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying,

"You shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: but the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, Him shall you fear, and Him shall you worship, and to Him shall you do sacrifice."

So, as you can see, the distinguishing feature of the people of this group is that they want to be called Christians, but they actually have their own gods, and completely ignore the first of the Ten Commandments for they commonly state that the Ten Commandments were done away with at the cross (or that they keep them in the spirit, but not the letter, when they should have both spirit and letter). See Exodus 20:1-17 for the commandments, or try this URL.

Again, to confuse the issue even more, sometimes they uphold the Ten Commandments as being very sacred, but then they have their own version of them.

You will find that the Spirit of God uses the names Jezebel and Babylon in one of the great prophecies of the New Testament as titles for various groups, and therefore, by implication, the Ahab and Elijah groups are there also.

Revelation 2:18-22

And to the angel [the leading person] of the church in Thyatira write; These things says the Son of God, who has His eyes like to a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass; I know your works, and charity, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first [they were better at the end than at the beginning of their period].

Notwithstanding I have a few things against you, because you suffer [allow] that woman Jezebel [a woman in prophecy means a church], which calls herself a prophetess [an official from the living God], to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication [to accept a union with the states of the world to enforce their religious views], and to eat things sacrificed to idols [to enjoy their way of doing things]. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into [a different kind of] a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

We should note that tribulation or trouble is the RESULT (wages) of sin, not a punishment from God because of transgressions. Romans 6:23.

Revelation 18:1-4

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And 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. For ALL nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and [ALL] the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and [ALL] the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies."

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, My people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues."

If we heed the warning given from heaven, we will not be part of that group when they become worldwide. Becoming "great", or having a worldwide church union, is part of God's plan because He wants all the universe to see the results of sin, for it is the only way to stop the controversy. Great external power will show the great inward corruption.

Isaiah was well aware of their chief national characteristic, the love of money and power, and he soon told a king of Judah what he had done by allowing them to get too close.

2 Kings 20:12-18

At that time Berodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. [They can appear to be very sympathetic]. And Hezekiah hearkened to them, and showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. [He was "showing off".]

Then came Isaiah the prophet to king Hezekiah, and said to him, "What said these men? And from where came they to you?" And Hezekiah said, "They are come from a far country, even from Babylon." And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" And Hezekiah answered, "All the things that are in my house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them."

And Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD. Behold, the days come, that all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store to this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, says the LORD. And of your sons that shall issue from you, which you shall beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."

So, although as Christians we are to love everyone, we do not have to trust everyone!

Actually, Babylon as a system was not new to Isaiah's time. Way back at the beginning, when Cain and Abel came to worship God, Cain showed that he thought he knew better than God and brought his own choice of offering.

Genesis 4:3

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering: but to Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

The angry Cain killed his brother and eventually left the area of Eden with his companions [he left God] and built a city named Enoch in the land of Nod. Genesis 4:16-17. (Jewish tradition tells us that Adam and Eve had 97 children, so Cain had taken one of his sisters as a wife, and now he led a band of his siblings into rebellion against God, just like Lucifer had done in heaven.) In the city they built he set up his own rules in place of God's commandments by finding earthly replacements for them all. It was one of his followers who introduced polygamy and revenge into the world. Genesis 4:23. Other commandments also fell by the wayside as they began to worship the sun and the moon as symbols of Baal and his wife in place of the Father and the Son.

Consider Job's statement:

Job 31:26-28

If I beheld the sun when it shined [and praised its glory], or the moon walking in brightness; and my heart has been secretly enticed, or my mouth has kissed my hand [in worship]: this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.

So the split in the family of God has been there since the beginning!

But don't forget that the rebellious ones still like to call themselves "followers of God"- they just don't specify which god. But their behaviour soon shows up their parentage.

John 8:42-45

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? even because you cannot hear My word.

You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father [originator] of it.

And because I tell you the truth, you believe Me not.

2 Corinthians 4:1-4

[Paul wrote] Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but [we, unlike the false professors of Christianity] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.

After the antics of the rejecting group led to the destruction of the world by the Flood (remember Romans 6:23?), the surviving sons of Noah faced the same problem, for the devil never gives up. Eventually they too split into the familiar two groups and one of them wandered off to the east again, this time into the plain of Shinar. (See Daniel 1:2). There they built the tower in their city which they called Babel, (this name now means "confusion") and through this they became very cut off from God in that they began to have serious disagreements among themselves and split up into innumerable denominations and cults (languages). But they were still "Babylon" by their common acceptance of the use of force in religion and disregard of the Commandments of God.

Genesis 11:1-5

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east [margin, eastwards], that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, "Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly [cook them well]." And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

And they said, "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven [let’s be equal with God, Isaiah 14:14]; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

The Jews never became a part of "Babylon" even though they too eventually believed in the use of force in religion - they tried to kill Christ because He differed in belief from them, and was an irritant. But God had another symbol in His Commandments which separated them from all the other religions of the world. Not a negative one like the use of force, but a positive one which identified Him as their God. He was the Creator of the universe and His sign was the seventh-day Sabbath. This they never gave up.

Genesis 2:1-3

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.

Ezekiel 20:19-20

I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them; and hallow My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you [and the people of the world] may know that I am the LORD your God.

Finally, we have the word of God that the system this city of Babylon represents has been responsible for the deaths of all the martyrs and saints of Jesus. We are also told that this "woman" (church) is the mother of similar churches, so there is more than one denomination in Babylon, but only one system. When the king of Assyria (aka Satan, for all great worldly conquerors are under his guidance) moved the people into the land of Samaria he brought more than just Babylonians - he brought also men "from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel." So today Babylon has many faces.

Maybe we should let John have the last say:-

Revelation 17:3-6

So he [John's angel guide] carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.

And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

John was wondering, How could this be? How can this system overcome God's system for so long?

We can deal with that question next time.


Below is God’s version of the last events in "Babylonian" (false church) history.

Isaiah 47:1-15

Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground. There is no throne [for you], O daughter of the Chaldeans: for you shall no more be called tender and delicate. Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover your locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh [hitch up your skirt], pass over the rivers [get to work like a slave].

Your nakedness [all your dark deeds] shall be uncovered, yes, your shame shall be seen. I will take vengeance, and [but] I will not meet you as a man [Mine is strict justice]. (As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.) Sit you silent, and get you into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for you shall no more be called, "The lady of kingdoms [the queen of the world's religions]."

I was wroth with My people, I have polluted My inheritance, and given them into your hand. You showed them no mercy; [even] upon the ancient/ have you very heavily laid your yoke. And you said, "I shall be a lady for ever": so that you did not lay these things to your heart, neither did remember [or think of] the latter end of it. Therefore hear now this, you that are given to pleasures, that dwells carelessly, that say in your heart, "I am [the boss], and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children". [See Revelation 18:7-8].

But these two things shall come to you in a moment in one day, the loss of children [supporters], and widowhood [cut off from Baal]: they shall come upon you in their perfection [completeness] for the multitude of your sorceries, and for the great abundance of your enchantments. For you have trusted in your wickedness: you have said, "No one sees me." Your wisdom and your knowledge, it has perverted you; and you have said in your heart, "I am [the best], and none else beside me [the fullness of pride]." Therefore shall evil come upon you; you shall not know from where it rises [because it will come from within, from where you least expect it, Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:18-19]: and mischief shall fall upon you; you shall not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know [or believe].

Stand now with your enchantments, and with the multitude of your sorceries, wherein you have laboured from your youth; if so be [maybe] you shall be able to profit, if so be [maybe] you may prevail [but I don’t think so!].

You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators [those who give horoscopes by the moon], stand up, and save you from these things that shall come upon you. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame [let alone you]. There shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it [this will not be a nice experience]. Thus shall they be to you with whom you have laboured, even your merchants, from your youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter [to save themselves]; none shall save you.

 

Conclusion:

Babylon is not the friend of God. It is a name used for the city and country of the group who have rebelled against God and who have caused great suffering to His followers. Just as Jerusalem and Judea represent the good guys, so Babylon and Chaldea represent the bad guys. The problem is to know in which city or country we dwell, for they sing the same hymns, and say the same prayers to what appears to be the same God. They even use the same Book but see it in a different light, for they use the words in it to justify their use of force.

When they had the Jews in their claws they even wanted them to sing their religious songs to them!

Psalm 137:1-4

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion."

How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?

What is the difference between Jerusalem and Babylon?

The belief that it is OK to use force in religion, and the disregard of God's commandments. The Lamb of God NEVER EVER uses force to get His followers to stay at His side. Like the good shepherd He is, He leads His sheep and they follow for they know His voice and love and trust Him.

John 10:2-5

But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

He NEVER uses force on His enemies either, for He tells us,

Matthew 5:43-45

You have heard that it has been said, "You shall love your neighbour, and hate your enemy." But I say to you, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust [He has no favourites]."

He always did what His Father commanded.

John 8:29

And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.

And, lest we get the wrong idea through the destruction of Babylon,

Jeremiah 51:8-9

Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl [sympathise] for her; take [with you] balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. [Try, until I tell you to stop.]

We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: [therefore] forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reaches to heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.

If you are a "slave" in the world God will "free" you and tell you where to go, but you will have to agree to His proposition. In practical terms, this means that the Spirit of God will take you to a church group of His choosing where you will fit in with His desire for mercy and self-propelled obedience.

If you are a Christian and yet dwell in today's Babylon of your free will, you will become increasingly uncomfortable at their actions and will eventually want to leave. Sooner rather than later will be better for you and your loved ones, so you should be open to the Spirit's leading.

ancient/ly, when it came time to leave for the Jews who had been taken as prisoners of war into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, not many wanted to go back to Jerusalem. In the new kingdom of Persia [there had been a changeover of control then as there has been in our time] many had aquired houses and lands and had no desire to sacrifice their posssessions. They loved ease and comfort and were well satisfied to remain. Their example proved a hindrance to others who otherwise might have chosen to go with those who were advancing by faith. However, a general place of meeting was named, and at the appointed time those who desired to go to Jerusalem assembled for the long journey.

Ezra 8:1-15

These are now the chief of their fathers, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king...

And I gathered them together to the river that runs to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.

Less than 50,000 ordinary folk had taken up the offer, with a few of the priestly line. But NONE AT ALL of the ministers, or Levites. So Ezra made a special appeal and ONE Levite came. He did manage to persuade 38 of his fellows to come with him and 220 singers but this was not their first choice! Verses 16-20. While in captivity they had been granted many special privileges and had apparently been able to carry on their worship without hindrance. But Babylon's master is "more subtle than any other creature" and he knew that given no opposition they would slowly absorb his principles and unconsciously pass over to his side, and this is what had happened.

Their strange indifference is a sad revelation of the attitude of the Jews in Babylon toward God's purpose for His people.

There was a real need of men of God to act as teachers of the people who were returning to Judah. And besides, any Jews remaining in Babylon were in danger of having their religious liberty restricted, and their lives put in peril. Through the prophet Zechariah, as well as by their recent experience during the troublous times of Esther and Mordecai, the Jews in Medo-Persia had been plainly warned to return to their own land. The time had come when it was perilous for them to dwell longer in the midst of the false Christian influences. In view of these changed conditions, the priests of the true God in Babylon should have been quick to discern in the issuance of the decree of the king a special call to them to return to Jerusalem.

 


Spiritual Dictionary:

BABYLON:

Babylon is not the friend of God. It is a name used for the city and country of the group who have rebelled against God and who have caused great suffering to His followers. Just as Jerusalem and Judea represent the good guys, so Babylon and Chaldea represent the bad guys. The problem is to know in which city or country we dwell, for they sing the same hymns, and say the same prayers to what appears to be the same God. They even use the same Book but see it in a different light, for they use the words in it to justify their use of force.

When they had the Jews in their claws they even wanted them to sing their religious songs to them!

Psalm 137:1-4

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion."

How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?

What is the difference between Jerusalem and Babylon?

The belief that it is OK to use force in religion, and the disregard of God's commandments. The Lamb of God NEVER EVER uses force to get His followers to stay at His side. Like the good shepherd He is, He leads His sheep and they follow for they know His voice and love and trust Him.


Next thought. To be discussed from May 1st 2000.

 

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