Our goal today is to see that these small daily acts of overcoming, which can be sometimes painful, sometimes tedious, sometimes joyful are part of a grander scheme. You might not feel like an Abraham being called out into a new land, to become a new people and live a different way but you are. You are part of God’s consistent plan, stretched out over all of human history, involving titanic forces, with a glorious goal ahead. So, come out of her my people!
Revelation 18:4-5 Why does God use Babylon as the poster child for everything you must reject and leave behind it you are to be one of His people?
Lets look at what the scriptures have to say about Babylon. God’s word and the record of scripture is mostly concerned with the people God chose to work with Israel and late the church. Most nations outside this close circle of interest get little attention except when they are interacting with God’s people.
Babylon is no exception to this approach but Babylon does get a degree of attention other nations do not. Babylon’s presence is felt from the beginnings... as early as Genesis 10 when mankind set out to create his own governments, his own culture and societies. Babylon’s threatening presence is felt during the history of Israel’s kings. And as we read Babylon looms large in the final pages of Revelation. God makes special mention that Babylon and all that she stands for will be destroyed.
And through it all He says to his people: “come out of Her and do not get caught up in, or copy her ways, go My way instead”
A Brief Look At Babylon’s Beginnings In Scripture
- What – Babylon is (or was) an actual city.
- When – The city was established about 100 years after the flood
- Where – On the banks of the Euphrates river. The geographic area of the kingdom which Babylon was a part of is called Shinar in scripture, Sumer in most histories and today it is called Iraq. (show map1 and then 2)
- Who – Babylon was established or built by Nimrod who was the son of Cush who was a grandson of Noah. (Show time line)
A Closer Look At Nimrod
- A mighty warrior (he fought with other men for supremacy)
- First human recorded to be a king (one who ruled over others) Nimrod is the first of the kings of the gentiles whom Jesus would later refer to in Luke 22:25-26 “lording it over others” rather than acting to benefit others
- A mighty hunter (the hunter kept wild animals at bay and protect the people). (show slide of hunting)
- Nimrod means rebellious, it is speculated that the name Nimrod is more of a description of what this person was rather than a name he would have been known by…. Possibly Nimrod is really Sargon the great king of the Sumerians. We don’t really know. (show picture of Sargon)
- “A mighty hunter before the Lord…” alternate rendering could be against the Lord, impudently, which is in keeping with the meaning of his name… rebellious
So, Nimrod was violent, exerted power over other men, impudent and rebellious before God. What we know about the founder of Babylon (Nimrod) tells us about the nature and character of the city he established and the principles it was founded upon.
Why – so mankind could make a name for himself (proud of technology) stick together and not be dispersed all over the planet, disobeying God’s instructions (show picture of ziggurat 1, 2 and 3)
Babel – according to God the name “Babel” means confusion. Of course, that is not how the Sumerian people viewed it. To them, Babel meant the “gate of the Gods”. In fact, if you read up on what the Babylonians wrote and taught and believed you find they have an alternate perspective on just about everything from the first 10 chapters of Genesis… there is a Creation, an Adam, an Eve, Cain, Abel, Seth, Noah, a Flood, Nimrod, the founding of the first cities, the building of a mighty tower… but all told from a COMPLETELY different perspective. The names are changed, the attitude is wrong… but much of the same ground is covered.
Part of the purpose of Genesis is to set the record straight.
The people of the Babylonian culture held a perspective in which man is the hero, the creator God is silly, untrustworthy, and dangerous. He thwarts humanities attempts to raise themselves up to greatness (to exalt themselves). He is an obstacle to humanities desire to freely to make their own choices, create their own rules. There are many, many, gods in Babylon but there is one, a creator god who pops up here and there, who is portrayed as man’s foe and adversary. That is Babylon’s perspective on the one who calls himself “I am” or YHWH.
We are not going to discuss Babylonian religion and philosophy today but we will look at what it is about her that we must come out of and leave behind.
Who is behind the Babylonian way?
Isaiah 14:12-14 Lucifer/Satan is behind the Babylonian way of self-exaltation, the will to power and oppression of others, violence, rebellion against God, the love of dishonest trade (getting the better of someone), gold, and money, and all forms of perversion?
- the god of this world
- the prince of the power of the air
- the father of lies, and violence
- the one who deceives the whole world
The spirit of Babylon is a spirit that dominates the whole world. And it is a way of living and thinking that you must come out of.
Abraham Told To Come Out Of Babylon
Genesis 11:27-12:5 (Show map)
Joshua 24:2 Abraham called out of idolatry… and what is idolatry if not confusion about who is the true God, and what is He like… Abraham was not called because he was so righteous but he was called to become righteous, to believe, and to follow.
Abraham was called by YHWH to come out of the confusion and sin of the Babylonian society to start something new. A people and a nation to whom God would reveal Himself, His true character, His law, His take on how life should be lived. His take on the destiny and purpose of mankind.
That nation was Israel. God’s take on things is the bible you have in your lap. And God made a covenant with them... He would be their king to rule over them in perfect justice, not oppression, He would be their protector. In return, they would keep his laws and provide a good example of God’s way and God’s truth in the world.
Over the course of the next 1500 years (a significant chunk of human history), God worked with them… He patiently explained, taught, disciplined and corrected them. As a people Israel and Judah failed miserably, they failed to keep up their end of the covenant and rebelled against God. But, throughout the course of it all, a record was kept and preserved for us today.
The biblical record tells us that people longed for (lusted you could say) after what they saw around them:
- We want a king like the nations around us (we want oppression)
- We want cool looking idols like our neighbors (we want confusion)
- Violence, dishonest trade, sexual perversion etc. (we want rebellion)
Israel Goes Back to Babylon
So, God allowed Israel to be militarily conquered and enslaved by… none other than Babylon! This turn of circumstances seems only fitting since they had already been overcome in their hearts and minds by the way of Babylon. The children of Abraham were conquered and carried back to the very place Abraham had been called to come out from.
They had not resisted and overcome the “world” around them but had been overcome by it. And their story and example have been recorded as an example for us today, to learn and to take heed. If you don’t overcome you will be overcome.
Today, there is no place to come out of her… Babylon… the world. There is no promised land where God’s law is obeyed, no nation which is led by His spirit, no city where He dwells with men. There is no place you can go with walls and gates to keep out the ways of Babylon, the spiritual influence of Satan, or the world.
Coming out of Babylon, overcoming the world is not a matter of where you are. It’s a matter of what you do and how you think. And it takes place on an individual level, in small and mostly unseen ways.
Daniel was in Babylon but he was not of Babylon. He lived and worked within it. He couldn’t run away… where would he go? But Daniel set a great example of one who would not be overcome by Babylon’s ways and who held fast to the truth.
Ephesians 6:12 - corruption comes from the top… why?
The little man is not without his sins and fleshly desires… and some people at the top of society try to do good but when you look closely, real wickedness, oppression, rebellion, perversion starts at the top and trickles down. It was that way in Israel, it was that way in Babylon, and its that way in our country. (at the start God did not give Israel a King)
The human heart is wicked and deceitful above all things AND the influence of a person with power and fame is enormous. Put the two together and there will be trouble. You’ll end up with another Nimrod, someone powerful and protecting who people look up to, and listen to, and give the benefit of the doubt to.
If you, a little person with no power of voice admires a person known for their musical ability or tremendous wealth… its only natural that you give consideration to their thoughts on sexuality or God or moral behavior. You could also substitute in great political power, personal beauty etc.
- Do our highest government officials actively promote violence and sexual perversion? (abortion/sodomy)
- Do the spiritual leaders of our society teach confusion about God? Who He is… what is His character… what is His plan (false doctrine/lawlessness)
- Do our business leaders practice dishonest trade? Yes
- Do our national celebrities make rebellion, arrogance, violence and lawlessness look sexy and appealing?
Does this affect how you think and act? Yes, it does… how much do you let impressive people introduce wicked and rebellious ideas into our mind?
I John 2:14-17
John 17:12-19 God’s desire is that we overcome the world, we are not whisked away to a spiritual Shangra La… instead we are sent into the world.
We are sent into it to overcome it on a personal level with the hope of life eternal but we go into the world to present the truth in a compelling and convincing way. So, that those who are willing will also “come out of her, to not share in her sins” and perhaps grab hold of same hope we have.
Have we learned anything new or extraordinary today? Have we discovered some secret truth about how to come out of Babylon? No, not really…
- how do we overcome pride and power, with humility and over-riding concern for the well being of others
- how do we overcome violence, dissension, fighting… with gentleness, patience, and kindness
- how do we overcome out of control sexuality… with faithfulness, and self-control
- how do we overcome selfish gain… with honesty and trustworthiness
- how do we overcome rebellion and confusion… with teaching and sound doctrine
Our goal today is to see that these small daily acts of overcoming, which can be sometimes painful, sometimes tedious, sometimes joyful… are part of a grander scheme. You might not feel like an Abraham being called out into a new land, to become a new people and live a different way… but you are. You are part of God’s consistent plan, stretched out over all of human history, involving titanic forces, with a glorious goal ahead.
So, come out of her my people!