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A TIME TO DEFECT FROM THE DEFECTIVE
AND TO DESIRE THE DESIRE OF THE NATIONS
From the Euphrates,
Symbol of Babylon
The Waters of Shiloah,
Symbol of the Jerusalem which is Above
Isaiah 8:6-8, Revelation18:2-4,Haggai 2:6-9
The waters of Shiloah are taken to be those which came down from the Spring of the Virgin to the Pool and moved on to the Kidron. They are symbolic of peace, and gentleness and essential supply, quietness and confidence, as in Isaiah 30:15.
It is conspicuously noteworthy that WHEN the Lord speaks of those waters of Shiloah which "flow softly" in Isaiah 8, and again of the fact that "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength" in Isaiah 30:15, two lovely and desirable ingredients, things to be found and not lost, THEN Israel in both cases is saying NO! with no thank you.
What is the point of telling me about ancient Israel and what it did NOT do! someone may expostulate. Tell me about something which I should do, and I might listen.
Listen then. What was done at that former time, in terms of a nation, towards the God of creation, of covenant, of sacrifice and of pardon, of peace and of joy in life, because when HE is back of it, it IS joyful, is what may be done by any personal being on this earth right now.
Again, you may say, What is the good of telling me about what they did, when it was to negate, as you have surely just said, the thing in view, to be desired ?
Firstly, this is not the main focus (like a tyre with a hole in it, may require attention, but is not the main focus for the trip). Secondly, if you are caught, spoiled, misused, broken or spoilt (like the tyre), you need to be fixed; and if you disdain fixing, then you are merely exercising an option in the negative. THAT to be sure, is your affair; but it does have results which are neither necessary nor desirable. The tyre MUST be considered as it is, before we can look to the journey which requires it. One trusts the point is taken. What Israel refused, is what you have not taken. Focus on that: WHAT did it refuse ?
Since we are looking at what happened with a view to finding what is now to happen, and the better to understand just as medical students cut up corpses, not for love of the objects in their deceased state, but for love of the life which knowledge of corpses the better confers: then attention must be directed first to the negative. Love life ? then do not disdain a little time on the topic of cancer, if you have it.
This world has a spiritual cancer. It is not in need of knowing how to live with it, and die with it as it is so rapidly managing to do, but how to live without it. For that you need to be rid of it. For that you need to know where it is and what is its cure. It is worse than useless to ignore it.
It is unnecessary once more to rehearse this world's problems, and tragedies and curse (Romans 5:1-12, 8:17ff.), for this has been done before, and the daily news is full of it, though not under its right heading. The heart of man is mangled, and when it congratulates itself on its savvy, it is the more so. Pride comes before a fall, and what there is to be proud of - that is something difficult to find.
For my own part, I am intensely proud, but of nothing in this world. I am proud of Jesus Christ, and His peace is one of my possessions, His rest is another and His righteousness is a third. It is not that I am peculiarly holy or noble, but graciously granted gifts. One is that of HIS righteousness: I did not attain it, or qualify by merit (Ephesians 2). It was handed over (II Corinthians 5:17ff., Romans 5:17), gladly, necessarily; for without that, I simply could never be an inhabitant of heaven.
An inhabitant of heaven ? someone may snarl (people become shadowy and dark at times, feeling sadly cynical and clinically sad, being smitten with sin cf. SMR Ch. 3). Do I want heaven ? the interlocutor may exclaim.
If you do not, then forget it! is the reply. Your heart is earthy and set on the present, unwisely dispensing with life. SO be it. It is sad.
But ponder it further. Is this your heart's desire ? A little longer to be deluded on this earth ? It is no massif of marvel that you seek, but if you like anaesthesia (I personally detest it, having been brought up on odious things like chloroform with the option of ether, later on), that is for you. You DO wake up in the end, you know.
ALL I WANT, says one, is a bit of peace and security. But what peace is in this world, where islands are overflown, and become militant in their keyed up occupants, and mad mangles are available in the skies, spreading disaster, and dictators constantly seek to fulfil their dreams ? And what security is there in a life which is ready to stop at any moment ?
Indeed, life IS an issue because is susceptible to peace and war, marvels and mangles, anaesthesia and spirited liveliness, cancer of mind, spirit and body, and health. It is unwise to pre-empt for pollution.
In the case of Isaiah 8, there was on the one hand, the waters of Shiloah, the natural, the near, the gentle, the quiet, the fruitful, the known, and on the other, there were "the waters of the River, strong and mighty". This in context (which moves to Assyria) is the Euphrates, symbolic of imperial passion, horrendous cruelty, a sense of mandate and mockery of what does not have power. You find it treated in Nahum! It is the old-time Hitler complex, the I AM idea, or MY RACE IS, or MY WORLD IS, sort of concept. WE will do this and that and achieve mighty things, being knowledgeable and realistic and down to earth! That is the concept which is being contrasted with the quietness and confidence and rest in the Lord.
Is there, then, some value in this, doing racial or political wheelies for ever and ever, as if permanently adolescent, and in that class of people, permanently mentally maimed!
But Israel would not listen. Some of course did so, and what wonderful spirits some of them came to have, as like Simeon, they waited on the Lord. You can just see that venerable old man, much in the Temple, often in prayer, seeing the offer of the coming Messiah, set in vision of God and delighted in appetite for the glory to come, led by the Lord to find Jesus, the Saviour to be sent, at last come, and to hold Him in his arms! (Luke 2:25-35). Let us look at him, since we want something more positive, even at this stage.
"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon;
and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel:
and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
"Now it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, that he would not see death, before he had seen the Lordís Christ.
"So he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus,
to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
'Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word:
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which thou hast prepared before the face of all people:
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.'
"So Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken about him, and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Note that it was not just for Israel, that this offer came; it was to the other nations as well, as Isaiah was careful to make clear, and Simeon after him. The presentation of Isaiah is immense on this theme and is covered in many Chapters in this site*1.The Self-Sacrificing Saviour, victim in swallowing up the guilt of sin, in love SENT by His Father in heaven, with whom He had always been as His personal Expression, Word (cf. Hebrews 1, John 8:58, Isaiah 40:10), in love responding (as in Psalm 40), despite the heavy burden, which was almost enough to split His earthly soul, when incarnate, into two (Hebrews 5:7, Luke 22:39ff.)
Why did it seem like this ? It was because He became very heavy at the immediate prospect, seeking any other way, but finding none, met it all with that lovely grace of spirit and wonder of life which has gripped the world, so that many have received Him for millenia. At the payment prospect to savage His soul, He was heavy, the night before in this vast prayer time, burdened even to death, for sin separates from God (Isaiah 59:1-2); and this was the prelude to the performance of the passion to clear the books for man, meet justice, bring peace instead of deserved divine wrath and heaven instead of hell: but on ONE condition.
What then is that one, since we wish to be positive as much as possible, and much is possible ?
Given a prescription, you can feel confident, and leave it in the drawer in case you ever feel you must, that there is no other option. Again, you may take it to the chemist, and have it made up, and then put that in a drawer until you must take it, finding you have no other option. Again, you may take it in your hand, and inspect it, re-read the dangers and difficulties, sum it up and not take it, hoping against hope, and having concerns about the medicine.
None of this does the slightest good, and is a psychological excursion instead of a taking possession and imbibing.
It IS necessary to possess your possessions, and while it is only in the most remote sense that anyone outside the kingdom of heaven, the salvation of Jesus Christ, can 'possess' these things, yet they ARE at hand, for God is nearer than hands and feet, when the will does not place and posit its carnal impasse, whether with gleeful gliding or snarling snapping or the implements of the devious dealings of man. In I Timothy 4:10, we learn that God is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe.
Now to be sure, there is a big difference in the 'all' situation and the 'especially' one. Thus Paul spoke sharply to one group, who did not come to the Lord, telling them that since they deemed themselves unworthy of eternal life, he would go to the Gentiles with the Gospel (Acts 13:46), and his first Chapter of II Thessalonians makes an atomic fire seem bland by comparison, when the Lord is exposing impenitent man to the fury of his follies, after so long a time.
God has offered salvation to Jew and to Gentile. Many Jews formed the first Christian Church, and the apostles were both Jews (in race) and Christians (in grace). The nation of Israel rejected Christ and the nations of this earth, virtually without exception (and that partly a matter of form) have done the same. The squalling squabbles and sinister passions, for money, land, superiority, pre-eminence, glory, gain, make of this world a pan on the gas, for frying, while the cook looks longingly at what is to be put in it, forgetting that the recipe calls for himself.
It is hot, and the heat grows (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
Imagine now someone in that situation, with the recipe calling for himself, and cooking industriously as if deprived selectively of sight, so that he can see the other ingredients, but quite literally, forgets himself. He takes no steps to hide, to escape. He is bound to the recipe by his charter, and there is no escape. You would expect he would look carefully for escape, rather than dwelling, drooling on the imagined food; and if there is to be food, it is not such as he could eat, since by then he would be physically deleted, and available for some other fangs.
"HOW shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation!" - we read in Hebrews 2.
On the other hand, in Hebrews 6:19, we find the escape*2:
"God, willing more abundantly to show the heirs of promise
the immutability of His counsel,
guaranteed it by an oath:
That by two immutable things,
in which it was impossible for God to lie,
we might have a strong consolation,
who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil,
to which the forerunner is for us entered,
even Jesus, made a high priest for ever ..."
God promised blessing to mankind back in Abraham's day (Genesis 12; 22:16-17). "In your seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed," He guaranteed, swearing to it. God's word is invariable, in the first place, for He is sure; and in the second it was further confirmed, this being man's only hope.
We who do not trust in our world or our selves or our own thoughts, on finding the Lord, do not put the offer in a drawer, or hold it in the hand. We flee for refuge, being spiritual refugees, not to some island, but in heart and in spirit and in mind, we turn to our Creator-Redeemer, who died for us, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God (II Peter 3:18). It IS very consoling, for it is good not to find that in the execution of the end of history, our own lives are as good as executed, without the solace of death, being caught in justice and judgment. I for one, have no desire for that. It is good that being born a sinner, I have found the Saviour, or rather He has found me!
It is this which fires the heart, being testimony of better things than facing fire, that is, impervious testing, imperial rejection and the fuel of folly, in rejecting it, to add to its burning.
It is good to be loved, without some desire for gain. It is far better to be loved by God in just this way, for we read in Romans 5, this: "... while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." That is, like the sacrifices of Israel at the Temple, the death is FOR (on behalf of ) ALL, but takes effect only where it, being received, like medicine, is DISPENSED. The heart of GOD is for all; but the MODE of mercy is for those who receive it; and the METHOD of mercy is through the death in abhorrence as an alleged criminal, of the Saviour, a picture of our deserts and of His diagnosis. It is not, to be more positive again, as if He in jaunty or dauntless precision and off-hand determination, like some Communist dictator, or puerile bounder seizing power as with some of the Rulers in Europe in past days, slams down the judicial fist. It is not as if capricious, wilful, He feels somewhat quirkish and says, Condemn them! Remove this refuse from the earth!
On the contrary, while the diagnosis is yet more lethal, in that it is true, the cure is in the hand of the Judge, Jesus Christ, the Just One who was put to death according to the very plan of God, who used the hatred and envy of sinners to enact HIS operation, on HIMSELF, when HE took the place in Christ, incarnate as Jesus, and bore sin for all whose sins are not proudly kept to themselves (John 8:24).
Now note this further, that those who have NOT in some way, been confronted with His words and deeds, DO have some excuse, not for the sin, but for the working of mercy; but those who HAVE BEEN, have not. His love is such that HE would have all, but would NOT have ANY who do not desire Him. He has known who these are from before time in our sense, even was (Ephesians 1:4).This, however, is not as if to reject any in advance of His knowing them, or to accept any for what they do, for this is expressly excluded (Titus 2-3). Indeed, as to His own, He knew them BEFORE OUR TIME EXISTED.
Divine predestination is to ensure the perfection of the divine attainment in the atonement, which brings home all who are His. It is marvellous: you do not need to say in your mind, I bet He finds a way to ignore me! as some negative thinkers may prefer to imagine. On the contrary, it would be far more reasonable for some watching angel to say of any man, if that angel were given to betting, which is of course not the case: I bet this fellow will find some way not to take the prescription, even though it is already made up with the blood of Christ!
This means, when it IS taken, that His death avails in spiritual substitution for your worst errors.
It does NOT mean that it invades your mouth and harasses your gullet, forcing the salvation on you!
THAT is the sense in which the salvation is already for you; and it is also the sense in which, should you reject it, it has no bearing on your outcome. What would you ? to become a Nanny-man, or parallel woman, with no heart, supervised in some sickness centre for the soul ?
You MUST take it. You do not need to, in this only, that there is no force.
You have only one barrier, and it is your self. Certainly, the devil would like more companionship, but you have no need to be indulgent to his vices and devices. It comes back to your heart.
Now, you may say, Alas, for the waters of Shiloah, which run softly, my heart is more the Euphrates, strong and more violent! A good point well made. However, you are not expected to engage in your own rebirth. What you are expected to do is to CALL on the name of the Lord, and to ENTER the door to the kingdom of heaven, which is Jesus Christ Himself, sacrificed and now risen, His very body the trophy of divine power, His life eternal. You say, But what if I were not predestinated for this ?
Nonsense! Predestination does not even come into it, at this level (Romans 8:29ff.). It is FOREKNOWLEDGE on which it waits. It seals; but WHAT it seals is what is foreknown.
You say, Well, I was not there, so perhaps, since it's all over, I need give it not thought. What will be, will be.
If you deem yourself unworthy of eternal life, that is, indeed, your option. Remember, however, we were discussing the outcome, and for that the income is your CALL.
How can this matter if the thing is done already ? you query.
It matters entirely, since WHAT God has foreknown includes ANYTHING you now do. How else could He foreknow!
But it does not depend on my works, is that not so ? Would it not be a 'work' if I called upon Him, now ?
It would be a work, indeed, but a work of God! (John 6:29). It is for ourselves, NOT OF WORKS (Ephesians 2), but it is equally BY HIS WORKS, that we come to believe; yet this is not so that our own wills are irrelevant (quite the contrary, John 3:19), but in His encompassing love (John 3:16, Colossians 1:19ff.), HE is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), and that in the context of two entities, GOD on the one hand, and heaven and earth on the other. If then it is a work of God, and it is not a work of man, and He knows the heart, not dwelling on its merits and achievements, attainments, but how it is set before Him, who has known it before time was and before therefore sin ever entered, then what ?
Then it is well to realise that what you do now is what in His face, truly is responsible. HE will not let you be confused, but will enable what HE knows is not a matter of divine force, but of actual responsible preference. He activates truth, intimates results, penetrates obstruction, discerns all.
What then ? DO YOU want this grace ? No, then no argument, You consign yourself to death, willingly, wilfully.
DO YOU WANT this grace, divine mercy, gift of eternal life, ? Then leaving God's affairs to Him, act, CALL on His name, accept His salvation, enter that door.
Then ? Then the waters, the natural, the close, the local, the proper, the quiet waters of Shiloah are for you, and you are led by the still waters as in Psalm 23.
THE DESIRE OF THE NATIONS
But what of Haggai 2:6ff.. That tells us that there is One (who was then to come, and has now come these two thousand years!) who is the DESIRE OF THE NATIONS.
What! you may explode. Christ, the often predicted Messiah, called the DESIRE of the nations. How so!
It is in two senses that this is the case, and if
there is with the positive announcement, a measure of irony,
so be it.
Have you ever desired a lake-side walk, in some retreat, and yet ignored it because of the PRESSURE OF THINGS ?
Good then you desired it, but did not take it. Competitors for your time, they won out in you.
Does this mean that you did not desire it, because you did not take it ?
Of course not; but your desire for money, or work, or success, or pleasure or whatever, this took precedence. This does not DELETE DESIRE, which could then come as a pang for lost opportunity, from time to time, when you have time, to consider your times, not just those of this world, but of your own own psyche, your soul!
The nations from time to time, and underneath in much of the time (not in the heady dreams of insatiable leaders, but in the populace), want peace, want even brotherly love. You object ?
Consider then World War I. How many times, as these young men were so close, even within sight at times in the trenches, who were butchering and carving and hurling hellish missiles (this does not mean that defence is wrong but that the war might have been avoided) at each other, did they not have other feelings, and thoughts and desires.
They often did. Thus they might exchange on occasion, this or that food for variety, or have various forms of muted fellowship, or have extreme distaste and almost unbearable loathing for what they were doing, and wish they could instead consort with other young people in pleasanter ways, with kindly relationships, and mutual respect for co-ordination. But they were driven differently!
The adulterer may at times reflect on his REAL desire, as even in some cases, he or she might muse, for sound marriage, good relationships with the wife and children, paternal or maternal fidelity; but for all that, engage in preposterous actions, being driven by desire, boredom, self-expression or some other silly substitute for reality. Express yourself ? WHAT self ? The burning stub of a cigarette, penetrating your thumb, while yet you hold it as if it were some treasure ? It is not more excellent in wisdom than is that!
Christ is the desire of the nations, His peace, justice, equity, loving regard, kindly realism, power to purge, discipline of what pollutes, self-restraint in not losing His temper and so forth. They often formulate things (without Him, normally) which include such things, like a child who INSISTS on having sweets without brushing his teeth for days, instead of a delicious apple. Unreason propels him, desire snatches his attention, and wisdom is far from him.
No wonder the child is shaken; but more literally, God advises us in this very passage of Haggai, that He is going to shake the heavens and the earth, and confirms this in Hebrews 12:25-28. He is going to shake the things that can be shaken, so that the things which CANNOT be SHAKEN may remain. It is flake out or shake out. Things happen. God acts: "for our God is a consuming fire," as Hebrews 12:29 reminds us. Freedom is a glorious thing, background required for love; but when it is set on fire, and lust takes over, then the gear involved sooner or later, will burn. It is changed by yielding, and without remedy, is no more what it was, like chaff. It is changed from the day it was involved with ... wheat (cf. Matthew 3:12).
THE BURBLE OF BABYLON
AND THE PREFERENCE FOR BEING
SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD
Come out of her! That is found in Revelation 18:4-9, and before we proceed, let us look at it.
"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 the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundancea of her delicacies.
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying,Come out of her, my people, that you do not be partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.
For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
Reward her even as she rewarded you,
and double unto her double according to her works:
in the cup which she has filled, fill to her double.
How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously,
so much torment and sorrow give her: for she says in her heart,
I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8
Therefore 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 judges her.
And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning ..."
"The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,
and He shall reign forever and ever!"
WHY should the Lord's people leave this finale of Babylon's fame (that is, the great whore as Revelation 17:1) ? It is because this is a book statedly of things to come, and what is to come, as Daniel pointed out (Ch. 3 above), is this that the last imperial power set in spiritual significance before Christ returns is the Roman one, which went on from Christ's time on this earth, as traced in Ch. 3, in varying ways, being described as partly strong and partly fragile, to the time of Napoleon, flowering again in Hitler, and having had many subsidiary kingdoms, empires even, such as those of Portugal, Spain, France, Germany (all part of Europe), and lastly and somewhat more blessedly because of its partial association with the Bible, that of Great Britain.
Europe has flowered and failed in the Empire of Rome at the first, in the Holy Roman Empire, and many other forms till now it is found in the EU.
It is however specifically the founding Empire which gives the bond of meaning, and that is of Rome; and it is accordingly, as we come to Revelation 17, to be found that this is still the meaning for this last phase, the city of the seven hills. It has not lost its touch, whether in the days of the papacy, with here its headquarters, in the Inquisition, suffered by Rome, and leading to perhaps many millions of sufferers, in various sub-empires, or in the EU. The mystery Babylon of Revelation 17 has also been explained from the time of the SMR (pp. 729ff.), Babylon being identified as Rome.
The spirit of that empire being seen as the 'mystery Babylon' of Revelation 17, with Rome all but the ending of the whole matter, before the nations dispense at last with her imperial parasitism, and she is removed from being on the back of the beast as 'its lady': Rome, then, is replaced in the final furore by the spirit of rebellion with even less limits (cf. SMR pp. 911ff.). Accordingly, the Roman format*3, now seen in a number of 'kings', without the burden of the unlovely lady, unleashes its final power, for a short time, when they have "one hour with the beast" (Revelation 17:12). Like many 'one hour' themes, it is disastrous, and the Lord, as in Revelation 19, rescues the earth from this incinerative display, but not without a burning of dross, in the fire of His coming (II Thessalonians 1).
This leads to the millenium as shown in Revelation 20, when at last, not in mere presentation, but in precipitation, the earth now is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea, and the evil no more prosper, for the Lord "shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth", so that "with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth," a thing monstrous even to conceive, at the present time!
But as the angel told Mary at the time of the incarnation of the everlasting God, even through a womb, With God nothing shall be impossible", (Luke 1:37).
It is not, indeed, the difficulty of the good, but the enormity of the evil which astounds; but then, freedom has its lusts, and love has its restraint, and in the end, all is tried, tested and resolved, and the free salvation which was given in grace, is received; and as to God, HE is not deceived.
Before, however, this which precedes the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 20, II Peter 3), there is NOW, the present time. What does the Lord say ? It is this, relative to Rome, in its two faces, the imperial and the ecclesiastical, "MY PEOPLE COME OUT OF HER!"
Now here the importance of realising the depth of the MYSTERY BABYLON counts very much indeed. It is not only from the famous religion of Rome, Roman Catholicism, that His people are to COME OUT! as He cries, as indeed He did to Lot's wife. It is from the entire surrounding mystery of it, namely the court of the harlot, as Revelation calls her, from the similar bodies of a similar mind for variation from, addition to, subtraction or violence towards the word of God, to His people, to His direction, HIS pre-eminence. This is biblically and actually such that with Him, there can be NO man whatsoever in a position of ANY primacy, as if elevated above the brethren with any suggestion of being master. This is the case, Christ indicated, since ONE is your master, teacher, ONE is your Father, and NO OTHER. Hence you do not even call any man on earth, in the spiritual sense, 'father'. That is the law of God.
This principle is what Jesus Christ stated, as seen in Matthew 23:8-10. As He moreover said, covering male and female alike, WHOEVER DOES THE WILL OF GOD, this is His brother and mother (Matthew 12:48-50). There is no regality on earth or in heaven which is other than that of the Trinity on the one hand, as Lord, and no queen or criterion on the other, who bears power of remission or authority (cf. I Timothy 2:5). In the manner and mode of mediators, you can search through every galaxy and grace, and find nothing between God and man; you can investigate cathedrals and works of philosophy, but nothing can appear. There is one, between God and man, to whom this role if provided, that of mediation. Any other is fraudulent; as any other master is fraudulent. It is an imposition, not by Mary, but by those who misuse her name; just as it is an imposition, not by Christ, but by those who misuse His name, to pretend to have the position of master, master-teacher or the like (cf. I John 2:27).
This, it of course applies to theologians and to philosophers, elders and would-be apostles, to all who exalt themselves (I Peter 5). IF it is giving a REASON for the faith as specifically authorised (I Peter 3:15) in word and by example (II Corinthians 10:5, I Corinthians 11:1), well; and it is merely providing the sense of what is written, with no addition or subtraction, what is either written or demonstrable from what is, beyond rational question, again well. If not, then out of her, be the offence in the specific Roman format or any other. It is all 'mystery Babylon', the continuation and proliferation of the spirit of Babylon, essentialised as we see, in Rome.
Now here the importance of realising the depth of the MYSTERY BABYLON counts very much indeed. It is not only from the famous religion of Rome, Roman Catholicism, that His people are to COME OUT! as He cries, as indeed He did to Lot's wife. It is from the entire surrounding mystery of it, namely the court of the harlot, as Revelation calls her, the similar bodies of a similar mind for variation from, addition to, subtraction or violence towards the word of God, His people, His direction, HIS pre-eminence with NO man whatsoever in a position of ANY primacy, since ONE if your master, teacher, ONE is your Father, and NO OTHER. This Jesus Christ stated, as seen in Matthew 23:8-10. As He moreover said, covering male and female alike, WHOEVER DOES THE WILL OF GOD, this is His brother and mother (Matthew 12:48-50).
There is one God, one Lord, one Master, one faith, and it is forbidden to add, subtract, meddle (II Corinthians 4) or otherwise ladle man's things into those of God (cf. also Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18-19). HE as sovereign needs no priming. HE is His own counsellor, and only those who have been eternal in the heavens, never sinned, been born of a virgin, and bodily resurrected need apply for a post as another Mediator, director of mind for man to heed (Isaiah 40), as authoritative in person. As to those, since the only One of this sort is already in heaven, it is useless for those on earth to lay claim.
Worship therefore God alone, and nothing visible, or sinful, or that has ever known sin, nor heed the commands of any who is not God. In convenience, to be sure, arrangements may be made to enable the commands to be carried out (Church at this or that time, and such things), but the case is clear. There is no commanding authority (cf. I Peter 5), given to man, except to Christ. Administrators do not make rules; teachers do not instal commandments; directions are not found in some other authority. If it is not in the word of God, the Bible, only presumption, thing of Babylon, not now quite so mysterious, is its source, and judgment its result.
The revelation of the deep thing in a mystery, therefore, in mystery Babylon, is far from unclear, as were other 'mysteries' (e.g. Matthew 13:11); but it does bring depths to light, and themes to the understanding (cf. I Corinthians 2:9-13).
It is time to come out! Is it not like the voice to Lot (Genesis 19:12-14). "Get out, get out of this place!" they cried, in the face of imminent destruction coming to Sodom.
The case is not different today; for dwelling a little, leaving the prescription on the mantel-piece, dreaming a little, it leads on and on. Act therefore, and seek fellowship with the people of the Lord where HE is the only Master, HIS WORD, the Bible is the only authoritative book, all else being merely for help, not for addition or subtraction, not bound as it is. Avoid entanglements with Babylon in her many tentacular displays, like 200 foot octopus trailings, squelching through the oceans of life, waiting for the skin to seize.
Note the urgency with Lot. Observe how at that, his wife had been polluted irreparably, and was lost, looking back to Sodom as she was leaving it, EVEN AT THAT LATE DATE! and the follies which followed with Lot and his daughters, when they made him drunk.
The time to close with Christ set to return; it is near: and His word, and His lordship, and His salvation appeal like a lighthouse on a dark night, as you sail on the seas nearby, when you strike the rocks, and look find His rescue in His salvation which HE bought. Make haste therefore! Follow the light to the shore, in the small but crucial boat of faith.
See for example:
With Heart and Soul ... Chs. 4, 5, 6, 7;
Christ Jesus: the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 4; More Marvels... Ch. 11 ;
No Thanks for Angst! ... Ch. 3
Joyful Jottings 6; "COMFORT Ye, My People!" Ch. 7 (overview of the thrust of Spring onsets in Isaiah);
The Glow of Predestination ... Ch. 8, *1;
Journey to God Ch. 8 esp. here.
The Jewish Temple had an inner sanctum called the Holy of Holies, or Very Holy, so that amid what was holy, this was as it were in a dimension above dimensions, the intense focus of it all. Here there was an altar on which blood sprinkled, on the Mercy Seat, indicated an admission of sin's guilt and the meeting of wrath and justice, by death. It was a symbolically substitutionary sacrificial death, in which life was given for life, the blood typifying life and being a convenient instrument for transfer, being take to the altar (cf. Leviticus 4, 17).
Each year the blood was taken into the Holy of Holy, separated from the rest of the Temple by a heavy, beautiful curtain. On the mercy seat it went, with the law actually below in the large box, or ark, and above, golden angels or cherubim with wings stretching to the limits of the temple, signifying that divine response to the message thus transferred for the people, in mercy.
In Hebrews 6:19, the concept is that not only is the blood behind the veil, as for the Day of Atonement in its yearly advent, but there was an anchor; and this, it was not in some inner part of the Temple merely, but in heaven, that is, in what the Holy of Holy symbolised. It is there steadfast and sure, and certain to hold.
News 49 treats this topic of Rome, and it may be helpful to review this now.
This topic is of its own interest. Thus in Adelaide University, a Ph.D. student once decided "Your book is wrong!" on the delusive basis that it did not mention persecution by the Anglican Church. As the book did not deny such persecution, and in fact cited some of it (SMR pp.446-447), it was a tad difficult to see even the relevance of this unsupported charge, far more its force! It disappeared into the soup of rampant emotion and irrational reaction, a pathogen not uncommon when the Lord requires one to forsake all that one has, and follow HIM (Luke 14:27ff.).
In fact, this world grasping powers are many. Thus in SMR we have these paragraphs (italics added):
- "One fantasy or another: power, superiority, condescension, with one hand overarching the church - as the English so foolishly tried to make it; with no church, as the Communists far more foolishly tried; with Roman Catholic massacres in mind, as from James II of England; or with Presbyterians for the cages, as in Scotland at the gracious hand of Charles II; with economic 'insights' as in Singapore, but with poor man in the grip of what it takes to get what is wanted: so they come ... they flourish and are great. (Cf. pp. 1191-1192 infra, at STATISM, under 844.)
- "Yet even if the sun never sets on their dominions, as with the British Empire, surely in its day one of the best of them all, yet it will set; for they will all be overthrown until He comes whose right it is. That is the message of the text, in one major phase" - (i.e. Ezekiel 21:26-27).
Verbal assault without logical force is unfortunately one of the ways of what is untrue. The truth stands without any difficulty even when abused, and is often the more obvious because of the contrast between it, and mere verbal denigration.
What is interesting indeed is that it is BABYLON in Revelation 16:19 ff. which is singled out for the divine treatment of retribution for inhuman and vast assaults on the saints. This symbolically signified city of the famous seven hills, is identified in SMR pp. 946ff., beyond evidential doubt, as Rome.
Yet there is far more to it *, though not less, than that, a reference being given at the time of the challenge, though never answered, since error can be speechless under test, and merely continue to adorn its preferences with neither truth nor wit. SMR's First Edition carried this extension of 'Mystery Babylon' which charts the end of Babylon against its whole array of commencements and extensions, it type (pp/ 729ff.).
As the proud recipient of the great name of one of the greatest religious mix-masters of all time, that is, of Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 50:18-51:34, 51:44, 51:52-53 - and note of Babylon this, "he has spit Me out", 51.34), the syncretist specialists, this new Babylon, Rome, has indeed become a death-mask for this whole religious spirit of folly and presumption, self-affirming arrogance and power before the face of the Lord, before the divine judgment so abundantly outlined in Revelation 17-18. It is this which is measured and identified as coming for that city of the seven hills. That is how 'Babylon' is when it is laid to rest, summed up in this Roman location: but its antecedents *, as also noted in SMR (p. 1031C) for this name, reach vastly into antiquity, and these indeed give to Rome this censorious name, set upon its seven hills in Revelation.
Indeed, it has spiritual associates, in condominion. As noted in the above reference,
"In practice, this end-time 'mystery' of Babylon reaches to the WCC cohorts, to the New Babylon as indiscrete adherents might call it. It centres in Rome and bubbles beyond with all the brave effrontery of an ancient regime, the religion-thirsty, confused spirit of Babylon. However, though its battlements have changed, its foundations are the same: Rome has centred it, the WCC dances about it, antiquity knew it, its predicted precincts for today are as clear as the astounding spate and state of its friends. On these same foundations of old, sit Liberalism , neo-Orthodoxy, Existentialism - indeed the whole heretical synthetics (Biblically 'harlotries') of today. "
Most importantly, in the system of apologetics in this site, Rome is given extensive treatment not least because it is
1) RELEVANT to the contemporary scene and the prophetic portent, jointly,
2) fulfilling to the 't' the latter, and operating high profile in the former, and hence
3) equipped with verificatory value, merely enhanced by the amazing divine donated forecast of I Timothy 4:1-4.
It also is
4) the scripturally cited body on which judgment is to be poured, as was the case with the generation of Jesus Christ, something stored up over a long period (cf. Matthew 24:33-36); and hence it figures in the scenario of fulfilments, and conditions leading to them.
In that parallel pronounced in Jerusalem which was to receive, just as it did receive such retribution some 40 years after the murder of the Lord Jesus Christ, the words are a stimulus to understanding. Let us quote them:
- "Therefore, indeed, I will send you prophets, wise men, and scribes, some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation."
You see that focus of much on the current standard bearer, the present runner in that evil marathon of religious self-assertion. Yet for all that, Christ went right on to say in lament, for He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11),
- "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!
How often I would have gathered your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
but you were not willing!
See, your house is left to you desolate..."
But let us now return from this appalling parallel, to the current focus, Rome in its religious drapings, the Rome world-famous for its spiritual assumptions, "no salvation outside the Roman pontiff" and the like, for its bloodshed in the inquisitions as famous as the destruction of the Incas, for its idols of mass, Mary, Pope, the active ingredient religiously that resides in the city and gives its name uniqueness. (See SMR pp. 1042-1088H, including *9 and *10, pp. 1086ff..)
It would be an anti-verification if NO CITY at ROME could be said to be resplendent as is this predicted city, guilty of much blood of the saints and a very conspicuously central focus for the spirit of Babylon! Accordingly, its presence is a massive verification, some 1900 years after the prediction.
Yet there is far more to it than this, significant though it undoubtedly is. It is -
5) imperative in any rational consideration of Christianity, its claims and its fruits, in parallel with other religions, to realise that the path of Romanism, Roman Catholic world imperialism as shown in Unam Sanctam, mentioned earlier, and in many other ways in history, one which has led to multitudinous slaughter, torture, dispossession, is NOTHING WHATEVER TO DO WITH BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY: this is shown in detail in SMR pp. 1032ff..
Thus when some journalist in a local paper (as in fact happened here in Adelaide) speaks of Christianity as a failure because it has been implicated in wars and aggressions, it is a mere confusion. He/she simply confuses a this-worldly aspiration on the part of Rome (it makes no difference that it does not stop there, it still abides there), with all its horrors, with Christianity, a lapse which is most obviously highly relevant to Christian Apologetics. You might as well condemn medicine because some practitioner, excluded from the society of the doctors, has done evilly, disdaining the Hippocratic oath. It is important for medicine to make its position clear, that this is not medicine, but rather its abuse. So here.
Rome is the death-mask of Babylon, that world urge with synthetic, all-embracing religion, like an itch of misguided angst in the troubled heart of man; but the spirit and city of Babylon lived long before it came to this; and has surged into its present format through a varied ancestry, and with many associates. Yet since the Bible focusses on Rome so profoundly, and indeed as an international religious centre of no small parade, it has lived up to, or down to Biblical expectations with some flair: it is the Rome of these pretensions which must be roundly contemplated in any conscientious work in this field. Now as in former times, each with its flair and fame, the metonymy of Rome is of no doubt. There is none like it indeed! As Rome' stood for much in its Empire days, so now the association of the term is manifest and unique. The contemporary site is no newcomer, and its long specific antecedents go back in spirit at least, in this setting some 1400 years, when the Bishop of Rome, Gregory I, first complained of the misuse and mischief of the term 'universal bishop' as applied to the bishop of that city.
In his view, it was a matter of antichrist, for any bishop, so to speak of himself or his office. It insulted the brethren, the other pastors, and exalted what had no such due (see SMR p. 914, 924, Matthew 23:8-10, I John 2:24-27, I Peter 5:1-4, Ezekiel 26-27, cf. SMR pp. 623ff.). The effective categories when it comes to being the teacher and master, are merely two: CHRIST, the 'Master', and ALL the REST, who are 'brethren'. We may function differently (I Corinthians 12, Romans 12) as brethren, but that is the place of mastery in the Church, for the throne is that of the Lord Himself, overtowering, overpowering, filled with grace, God as man, the Saviour.
There is no other Lord, no other Saviour, and the difference is infinite (Psalm 73:25, 89:6, Isaiah 43:10-11, Ephesians 4:4, John 13:13-15). The rest ? the brethren ? they are redeemed sinners; Christ, increate, He is the Redeemer who is Lord over His own, and ONLY Lord (Ephesians 4:4, II Corinthians 11:13-19,) and master. In this field, additions are merely subtractions, and the final subtraction of such additions is a vast judgment as outlined in Revelation 13-18.
N.B.: See further on this topic, Biblical Blessings, Ch.2, pp. 21ff. , which deals amongst many other things, with the "Mystery Babylon the Great" to be found in Revelation 17, which merely amplifies the signal of Rome, readily identified from its 7 hills (Rev. 17:9), moving to the other signals coming from the term "Babylon", which was a symbol par excellence of religious syncretism, deviationism, misuse of the divine name, playing about with religion in the interests of political power and so on. Such extension into the hinterland of the past, of these culminating events for Rome, has been published from 1992, in the first Edition of The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, as on pp. 729ff..
There we see that the 'Babylon' of Revelation,
"though focussed as we show, in Rome of the 7 hills ... is yet an approach, a projection,
a renegade movement - a monument to confused and evil - not to say forceful ... religion:
there is also more generally, a type of propaganda. This, broadly promulgated, adopts
the spirit of this sort of confused compromise."
Thus these culminating events in terms of Rome and Babylon, in Revelation, are shown from the very first Edition of The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, in terms of the spirit of the thing, which continues to its entire overthrow, not only in its original pagan religious lust, or in the developing primacy of Rome which enshrines it, and biblically specifically defines its hub, but in the generic thrust into the heartland of false religion ('Mystery Babylon' - Rev. 17:5) without the discipline of the true and living God, Himself alone the Master. This proceeds until the finale looms on the disappearing horizon of human power. Thus Rev. 18:24 now leads on to Revelation 19, which commences, "After these things ... ".
Here, the more direct movements culminating in Revelation 19:19-20, artfully consummate what went before, even when 'Babylon' as identified in focus, lies a burnt ruin (Rev. 17-18); for the beast does not rest with Babylon (Rev. 17:16), and participates ( will "make her desolate") in her just ruin (so seen in Rev. 18:21-24). It is in his own terminal arrogance, that he proceeds to his own terminus (19:19-20) in the vile company of the false prophet (16:13-14).