Stairway To Babylon

It has been said that the surest way to aim large groups of people in a particular, desired direction is to push them hard towards its opposite. I can’t help but wonder if that’s what we’re seeing in the world today. Is a steady diet of violence, racism, political unrest, and division creating a hunger for peace, inclusion, universal governance, and unity? I think that it could be so. And as I contemplate these things I can’t help but imagine that such a climate sets the stage perfectly for Babylon and the Beast. “And it makes me wonder.”

The last time that all the people of the earth were unified and of the same mind was after the Flood, on the plains of Shinar, in ancient Babylon.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

If you haven’t guessed it already this is a segue into the story we know as the Tower of Babel. Mankind was all together, of one mind and one accord, seeking to establish themselves as god. Babylon, in its earliest geopolitical and prophetic form. And perhaps it is here that we catch our first glimpse of the “beast” and see the essence of “Mystery Babylon, Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations”: mankind, unified and deified. We are, you are, I am god. Our desires, our appetites are not to be denied for we are divine. Let us recognize the common divinity we share as men, and establish ourselves as one upon the face of the earth. We will put an end to war, racism, political divide, any and everything that would separate us. There is no religion other than the worship of ourselves. Together, we shall prevail! “And it makes me wonder.”

Many, if not the majority of Christians see the world in a state of progressive deterioration. “Things are only gonna get worse,” they say. But what if things “get better”? What if people start coming together, loving each other, and laying all of their differences aside? Doesn’t that sound like the exact thing we’ve all been praying for? Doesn’t it sound beautiful? Surely, only a god could accomplish such a thing! “And it makes me wonder.”

 …and all who dwell on earth will worship it [the beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

For years now I have pondered and prayed over II Thessalonians 2. The passage is never far from the forefront of my mind. And although many now see Islam as the Beast or Babylon or the end- time religion, I always come back to the place where it is said of the “antichrist/beast,”…who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” These words remind me of how man sought to establish himself as God upon the plains of Shinar. “And it makes me wonder.”

This is not the place where I put a stake in the ground and build my whole eschatological paradigm. But it would seem that the time is right for a season of “peace,” “self-realization,” and “human divinization.” Rampant violence, racism, political unrest, and division are pushing humanity to seek another direction, one that may appear good, but its true end is destruction. Even many within the Body of Christ have abandoned their First Love for “good causes.” Among the religions of the world, Islam has successfully been demonized, and soon true Christianity will be labeled as hateful. Why not simply do away with all religion and focus upon the only thing suitable for worship- US.

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one [Jesus,] sitting on the horse and his army.  And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.

“And it makes me wonder.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Faithful Not Fearful

It seems like everyday there’s something in the news or on social-media that Christians are supposed to be afraid of. “By 2017, every American will be forced to have a chip implant…” Oh no, it’s the Mark of the Beast! “The economy is on the verge of collapse.” Start burying your money. “The radical Muslims are going to take over America.” Annie, get your gun! The list goes on, you see it all the time. But I hear the Spirit reminding us of what he told the church in Smyrna so long ago, “Stop being afraid.”

In the midst of everything the church in Smyrna was facing and would later endure, Jesus tells them (commands them) to stop being afraid. They would face prison, they would face death, but he tells them to be faithful- not fearful. Jesus assures the church in Smyrna that their faithfulness would earn them a crown of eternal value.

Although we don’t face trials that could even remotely be compared to what the church in Smyrna faced, it seems like so many Christians in America today are afraid. We look at the direction our country is heading, we see conspiracies under every bush (or Obama), and many are afraid. However, in contrast to the words of Jesus to the church in Smyrna by which he exhorted them to respond to fear with faithfulness, the response to our fear is to buy guns, get lawyers, and stand up for our rights. I wonder just what it is we’re afraid of.

Have we fallen so in love with the American dream that we have forgotten who we are? I know we don’t like to hear it, but sometimes being a good American and being a genuine Christian are not the same thing. We run from trials and suffering, after all, God doesn’t want his children to suffer does he? But is the bottom line simply that we’re afraid someone is going to come along and take all of our stuff? Remember the words of the Lord, “Wherever your treasure is, that’s where your heart’s going to be. Your life is hidden in Christ. Jesus is your treasure and reward. Could it be that we have more “invested” in the the world than we do in him? Have we become so attached to our way of life that the thought of losing it fills us with fear?  Jesus says to us, “Stop being afraid! You are mine and I am yours. Be faithful.”

The trials and suffering that may be heading our way will not take the Lord by surprise. He may not spare us having to go through tribulation like the church in Smyrna endured, like many of our brothers and sisters around the world are enduring RIGHT NOW! But he assures us that he is in control and that we can be faithful- even to our death. I believe we American Christians need to get a new outlook on suffering, an outlook that has nothing to do with being American, but everything to do with following Jesus. Brothers and sisters, let us not be fearful, but faithful.