Alas, Babylon

I am a patriotic American, who knows our nation was founded on principles which respect the sovereign majesty of a holy God. This is not to say those principles have always been followed. Sadly, though, our foundational principles are being systematically eroded in recent decades. I am writing about the causes and consequences of that deliberate reconstruction.

Much of the hatred and polarized divisiveness that is exploding in our culture today results at its core from people’s rebellion against God and His Word. When I was growing up post-World War II, American society generally agreed that the morals and principles found in the Bible were authoritative, although it was of course understood that those beliefs were not always followed. It was understood there was sin, or disobedience to God, and there was also confession of sin and restoration without condemnation for those who were repentant, who turned away from sin. Today, a significant portion of our society is openly defiant toward God, and sets the individual (or perhaps the tribe) up as taking the place of God, as being the ultimate authority. This situation of Godless lawlessness is already leading to obvious chaos politically, legally, economically and socially, and is the fundamental contributor to the breakdown of our society.

Man will never achieve the utopia he seeks by setting himself up as the ultimate Being of the universe, one who does not answer to a higher power. The Old Testament, for example, recounts a long history of man turning his back on God, suffering the painful and disastrous consequences of that rebellion, and then being restored following a return to God. Things have not changed over the millennia, and the United States has entered such a period of flagrant rebellion. It is not a new and exciting progressive world order, it is the same old history being repeated, with destruction the same obvious result.

One has to start with a world view, or a position, and I stand on the first two responses given in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, dated 1647. Things have not changed since 1647, in terms of spiritual truth, and indeed since far before 1647. This is because God does not change, “in order to keep up.” It is we who must keep up with him, who must follow the will of a sovereign and holy God in order to prosper. The first question of the Catechism asks “What is the chief end of man?” In modern English, one might ask “What is my purpose in life?” So many do not have an answer to that question, and are wandering in darkness, emotionally unstable or worse, as they seek their own meaning in life. The answer is given in the Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” It’s all about God, it’s not all about us, and what we think or decide.

The second question of the Catechism naturally follows: “What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?” The answer: “The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.” Either we believe these things or we don’t. As our society becomes increasingly post-Christian and anti-God, as Christianity becomes increasingly criminalized, there will be little room left for fence-straddling.

Our cultural attitude is to blame God for everything, and credit him with nothing. It is well demonstrated by a seemingly straightforward question which is asked: “God, why do bad things happen to good people?” We pay little attention to basic Christian theology that there are no good people. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We think that we deserve many things, including the freedom from “bad things.” What is the truth about what we deserve, from the Christian perspective? We deserve death, including death on the cross. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death (what we deserve), but the gift of God (his undeserved kindness if we accept it) is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Truly, if we don’t deserve death on the cross, why did Jesus go there for us?

When we come to a proper understanding of our relationship to a sovereign and holy God, one who cares about us and loves us, we will ask a far different question than “God, why do bad things happen to good people?” Instead we will ask in wonder, “God, why have you blessed me beyond what I deserve?” Truly his grace is amazing, and this is the good news of the Bible, given for all who will accept it. All means all.

A second seemingly straightforward statement that is commonly heard also demonstrates where we are as a nation in terms of our attitude about God. Here it is: “The Bible teaches us that we should all just love each other.” This statement, which sounds good on the surface, reflects a completely inaccurate and misplaced setting of priorities. Proper priorities are found in the Ten Commandments, for example (Exodus 20), where the first four commandments all direct us to the priority of loving God, not loving each other. When Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:35-39), he replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The Bible teaches us to first love God. Then after that, the next command to follow, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we get that priority backwards, effectively eliminating the first part, the result is completely disastrous, and that is what we are seeing in our culture today. So we must ask the question “how do we love God?” We are given the answer in 1st John 5:3 among other places: “This is love for God: to keep his commands.” Only after we first obey God’s commands, and seek to do his will (Matthew 12:50, John 14), will we be able to show proper love to others. And how do we obey God’s commands? It is not a mystery. We are back to the second response to the Westminster Catechism: it is by following the Word of God. We must first keep a high view of the authority of Scripture.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Romans 1: 18-32. I mean, it really sums things up. I suppose it has been a favorite scripture passage of mine for quite a number of decades now, even well before the current wholesale rebellion against God came to be so blatantly promoted in our culture. This scripture passage tells us, among many other things, that homosexual activity is sinful activity, and is not part of God’s plan for people. God’s plan is found in Matthew 19:4-6. Are Christians supposed to treat those involved in homosexual activity with kindness? Yes. Are Christians obligated by the Word of God to affirm that homosexual activity is a sin? Yes. Christians are being increasingly accused of hate and bigotry by an increasingly confrontational homosexual community whose agenda is to deny them a right to speak, when in fact the very opposite of those accusations is true. If a certain lifestyle is a sin against God, and Christians’ first priority is to love God, seek to obey his commands and do his will, then it would be an act of hate not to tell people the truth about God’s plan for their lives, and about the prosperity and joy which results from being in the center of God’s will.

There are multiple tactics that liberal progressives in our society use to deny what God’s Word says. They may claim that previous Bible scholars were not very educated in their translations, or that “new research” shows that previous translations are inaccurate, both of which positions can be placed in the “revisionist” category. In fact, Bible scholars over centuries have been highly educated in the ancient languages, and have taken their work incredibly seriously. Or, they can claim that we now know more than people did 2,000 years ago, and we have discovered that the Bible is simply inaccurate in some of its characterizations of sin. This is definitely taking a “low view” of the authority of Scripture. However the justification is made, new Bible “translations” are being offered, which simply say what people want it to say.

What is being called “progressive Christianity” is actually not Christianity at all, since what God considers to be sin against him never changes (Malachi 3:6). The honest position for those who would try to change what the Word of God says would be for them to simply admit that they are pagan or heathen and anti-Christian, which is the truth.

Will God judge America for her sin? Clearly it has already started. Before he passed away, Billy Graham agreed with his wife Ruth, who had commented that if God doesn’t judge America, he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah (ref. “My Heart Aches for America,” July 19, 2012).

Revelation Chapters 17 and 18 have spoken to me for some decades now. As many know, the book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible, and is accepted by many Christians as prophetic regarding future events; it is often referred to as “end-time prophecy.” Chapters 17 and 18 speak of a religious and economic system, “Mystery Babylon,” that is set up against God and opposed to God; the language is rich in imagery and symbolism, and indeed many agree it is among the most difficult passages in the Bible to interpret. “Mystery Babylon” is characterized as a mighty city, and is also described as a woman living in extreme luxury and decadence, a great harlot who sits on many waters, who will be utterly destroyed. “Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” (Rev. 18:10). John’s vision revealed to him astonishing events of the future, and it is easy to see why he referred to this reality still to take place as “Mystery Babylon,” something new and yet something that paralleled what he was familiar with from Old Testament writings. We must acknowledge that the United States of America didn’t exist when John wrote the book of Revelation around 95 A.D.

I believe Mystery Babylon, as a religious and economic system, exists throughout the world (on many waters) where the prophecy is fulfilled, but I will limit my comments to how this scripture applies to our current society and culture.

Revelation 17:6, “she was drunk with the blood of the Saints.” But that couldn’t describe the United States, we are confident, while not even thinking of the more than 50 million babies- and counting- who have been aborted here since abortion on demand became legal in 1973. In Ephesians 1:4 we read that God chose us (his saints) in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him. What could be more innocent, more blameless, more without sin, more of a saint before God than an unborn baby? As far as I know, every single aborted baby was, and still is, a saint of God, known by him since before the creation of the world. It should leave us shaking in fear to contemplate the consequences of what we have done as a nation. But we are defiant.

“I have the right to choose.” What about the baby’s right to choose? “I have the right to do what I want with my own body.” We are talking about killing the baby, not you. You won’t be dead after the procedure is over, the baby will.

I must conclude this section by assuring those who may painfully regret having had an abortion that there is full and complete forgiveness available, as well as for any other sin, offered to those who are truly repentant. Such forgiveness is without condemnation whatsoever (Romans 8:1), and is due to nothing less than God’s amazing love and grace!

Revelation 17:9,”the seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits.” Since “Mystery Babylon” refers to a Godless religious and economic system rather than to a physical woman, it is appropriate that the “mountains” of verse 9 are also symbolic of a system upon which she sits, and are not actual physical mountains. I can see that there are seven spheres of cultural influence which the great harlot is coming to dominate or have dominion over. These seven mountains are: government, media, entertainment and the arts, business, education, religion, and family. I do not take credit for this interpretation, but am referring to what others have already described.

Revelation 17:18, “The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” Does New York City, as the largest and busiest seaport in the eastern United States, fit the description given in Revelation chapter 18? It certainly is a major world-wide symbol of commerce, trade and finance, and some would say of corruption and decadence. The following are a few recent news items which may be relevant. First, the New York “Reproductive Health Act,” signed 1-22-19, “expanded the state’s already liberal abortion regime” so that “abortion will be available to women essentially on demand up to the point of birth.” (ref. National Review, 1-22-19) National Review also reported in the same article that “according to the CDC’s most recent Abortion Surveillance report, for the year 2015, New York City performed 544 abortions for every 1,000 live births. That means New York City’s abortion rate makes up more than half of the city’s birth rate.”

As a second example, in New York City starting in 2016, there are now 31 different gender identities which are legally recognized, not two. A third example, the New York City Commission on Human Rights ruled in Sept. 2019 that using the term “illegal alien” can be declared to be hateful and discriminatory, and can result in a $250,000 fine.

Is the great statue of a woman which sits in New York harbor, whether we like it or not, now become a symbol of the great harlot, Mystery Babylon, who sits on many waters, and with whom the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries? Also, is not the United Nations, headquartered in New York City, the de facto head of a nascent one-world government? One might not be too far off the mark to compare the United Nations building in New York with the Tower of Babel described in Genesis 11.

To those who are discerning, events are coming together, pointing to coming judgment. As one indicator, extreme polarization, divisiveness and chaos is increasing rapidly throughout our society, politically, economically, and legally. A recent Pew Research report found that if the current rate of change continues, the U.S. will become majority non-Christian by about 2035. It is projected that as currently configured, Social Security will run out of funding in 2035, and Medicare won’t be able to cover its costs by 2026. The U.S. government’s public debt is now more than $22 trillion and increasing, which is over $67,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. That of course does not include all other forms of debt, including personal and business. And I haven’t even mentioned the rapidly exploding proliferation of a major illegal drug culture in our country in recent decades.

It is well known that there are radical and extreme Muslim terrorist groups who hate the United States and who see New York City in particular as a potent and dominating symbol of what they wish to destroy. That is why, for example, the World Trade Center towers were targeted on 9-11-2001. The agenda of such radical groups has not ended. It does not stretch credulity at all to envision a time in the 2030s when America is crumbling economically and spiritually, rife with internal disorder and confusion, and then…. some sort of terrorist nuclear device is exploded in downtown New York. I will not document various opinions about the consequences of such a scenario, but it will mark the end of our society as we have known it. There is no reason why such a scenario is not plausible; indeed, there are certainly those who must be dedicated to it.

Destruction by nuclear device is compatible with Revelation chapter 18: obliteration of an entire city in one hour (verses 10 and 19), being consumed by fire (verses 8 and 18), and never to be inhabited again (verses 21-23). This latter condition is understandable in terms of radiation contamination, or the prohibitive cost of rebuilding in economically disintegrating times, or a combination of both factors.

What is the positive answer for those persons and families who find themselves in this time and place in history? There is only one answer, and it is a good one. It has always been the answer for humanity. True joy does not accrue through the pursuit of material riches or through self-glorification. True joy is found in a relationship with a sovereign, majestic and holy God, made possible through his Son and empowered by his Spirit. Turn to Jesus, and find life. Go to church, and worship God. Submit in humility, no longer rebel against him in defiance.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Ist John 1:8-9

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