The following is a transcript from the first message of “The Politics of Jesus” conference. Dr. Andy Davis, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Durham, NC, where the conference is being held, delivered “Babylon: An Ancient Assessment of a Present Reality” on the evening of Thursday, October 9th. The following is an edited summary of Dr. Davis’s incisive and personally searching remarks.
“Babylon: An Ancient Assessment of a Present Reality”
On August 30, 1933, a German pastor named Julius Leutherser said these words to his flock: “Christ as come to us through Hitler… through his honesty, his faith and his idealism, the Redeemer found us… We know today the Savior has come… We only have one task, be German, not Christian.”
That same year, in the Magdeburg Cathdral, the dean, Dr. Ernst Martin, surrounded the altar with a forest of Nazi Flags bearing the Swastika, the broken cross that Hitler had adopted as the symbol of his reign. Dr. Martin said this:
“Whoever reviles this symbol of ours is reviling Germany… the swastika flags around the altar radiate hope; hope that the day is at last about to dawn.”
By contrast, another German Pastor saw through all the nationalism, perceiving instead a deep threat to the church of Jesus Christ. That man’s name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and in the first sermon he preached after Hitler came to power in January of 1933, he said this:
“The church has only one altar, the altar of the Almighty… before which all creatures must kneel…. Whoever seeks something other than this must keep away; he cannot join us in the house of God….The church has only one pulpit, and from that one pulpit faith in God will be preached and no other faith.”
Bonhoeffer was eventually arrested by the Nazis, and was hanged on April 9, 1945, just one month before VE Day, the end of WWII in Europe
As we meet together tonight, it is possible that we stand before a perilous future in America. The economic future looks exceedingly troubled, and some are wondering if we are heading toward another Depression. It was the extreme suffering in Germany under the Depression, with its extreme inflation and high unemployment that made Germany so ripe for a dictatorship. And in the name of extreme nationalism and pride and economic prosperity, the German church was in part deceived by the Nazis and subjugated to Nazi rule.
Now, as much as ever in our history, the American Church must be clear-headed and biblical about Jesus’ view of politics.
1. The Reality of Babylon and Our Present Situation
A. Christ’s Confession Before Pilate: “My Kingdom is not of this world…”
John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
1. Worldly kingdoms: originate from the earth, advance by the sword
2. Christ’s Kingdom: originated from heaven, advances by loving self-sacrifice
3. But what about the kingdom Pilate represented? How should a Christian deal with secular governments?
4. The question on taxation… seeking to entrap Jesus
Matthew 22:16-17 “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Just as God cannot be mocked, so Jesus cannot be trapped. An African-American preacher once said “Your arm’s too short to box with God.” In the same way, your mind’s too shallow to play chess with Christ. You will lose:
Matthew 22:18-21 “But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
This is obviously a vital verse in understanding Christ’s attitude toward political involvement… toward a proper relationship to Caesar. There are some things that we must give to Caesar… some things it is right to give to Caesar… but all things belong to God
B. Government: Two Very Different Poles
Throughout redemptive history, God’s people have had a complex and ambivalent relationship with secular government.
This relationship can best be summarized by looking at the opposite poles Romans 13 and Revelation 13:
1. Romans 13: God’s servant to do you good
2. Revelation 13: Satan’s puppet to crush you
In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul spoke of governing officials in these terms: “he is God’s servant to do you good.”
The foundation of this statement is Paul’s opening command and assertion which stands over all Christians for all time:
Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
So according to Romans 13, even a pagan state like the Roman Empire was established by God and that submission to God-ordained authority was essential to a life well-pleasing to God.
Romans 13 thus paints a picture of governing authorities as God’s servants, established to do us good.
However, Revelation 13 paints an opposite picture… for there Satan in the form of a dragon is standing on the seashore, looking out on the turbulent waters of the ocean, and summoning forth a Beast… this Beast who will rule the whole earth in Satan’s name.
Revelation 13:7 “He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.”
This fearsome ruler—called the Antichrist in 1 John 2 and the Man of Sin in 2 Thessalonians 2—is clearly the enemy of God, for he speaks blasphemies directly against God and seeks actively to destroy God’s people
Revelation 13:5-6 “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.”
The saints—God’s people—will suffer immensely under this wicked ruler, and will only survive because of God’s protective power and the invasion from heaven known as the Second Coming of Christ.
Two different pictures of human government—the Servant of God, established by God to do you good, and the Beast from the Sea, summoned by Satan to dominate you and destroy you.
C. Church History: Two Extreme Reactions
1. Embracing the State as a Christian Power
a. Constantine, October 28, 312, at the Milvian Bridge
b. Conquering by the cross??
c. Historian Eusebius celebrated Constantine with glowing praise
d. But now we have “convert or die”
in 782, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, beheaded 4500 pagan Saxons for repudiating their earlier baptism
The grossest medieval example of the blending of the church and state was the Crusade movement; thousands of Christian knights rode forth from Europe to reconquer the Holy Land from the Moslems by the power of the sword.
In the 20th century, the blending of the church and state—the mixture of piety and patriotism—reached its nadir with the Nazi takeover of the German state church. Churches throughout Germany draped themselves in Nazi regalia… I saw black and white photos of a Nazi altar and of a Nazi baptism; the Nazi flag was prominent in both pictures.
This is the grave danger of the Christian church in too close a relationship with the state
2. Shunning the State as a Demonic Pollution
a. Anabaptist’s doctrine of separation of church and state
b. State only necessary because of sin
c. Avoided all involvement… extreme dualism
So you have two opposite themes in scripture (government as servant of God and government as Beast from Satan), and two opposite extremes in church history (embrace the state fully as a Christian power vs. flee involvement in the state as though it were defiled).
D. Our Present Context: 21st Century America
1. the legalization of abortion in 1973 has polarized American politics
2. Evangelical Christians tempted to resort to single-issue politics
3. Also the increasing secularization of American society and the increasing pluralism of this melting pot, coupled with the rise of post-modern questioning of absolute truth claims makes discerning Christ’s will in our political involvement much more difficult… we tend to run to and embrace a political party or candidate that gives us God-like buzz-words, and ignore other issues
What are we to do in the 21st century American scene? We live in a strange time in American political and religious history: the last presidential election was decided in favor of George Bush in the key state of Ohio, and according to secular pundits, it was decided on moral themes like abortion and gay marriage. The “Politics of Jesus” were a hot theme then, and they are now as well. How shall we then live? What does the Scripture say?
E. The Lessons of the Rise and Fall of Babylon the Great
1. tracing out the biblical history of Babylon… from the flood to the end of the world
2. central lesson: ultimate allegiance is to Christ
3. no human government exists wholly for the glory of Christ and His Kingdom
Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
4. according to prophecy, the future of human government is bleak
5. goal: biblically educated, wary of overweening loyalty to any one nation
Philippians 3:20 our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Chris
6. the rise and fall of the world: essential to our story
7. much-discussed quote from 18th century Scottish historian Alexander Fraser Tytler:
“The average age,” says Tytler, “of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
“These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency and from dependency back into bondage.”
Origin of the quote is somewhat debunked by Loren Collins in “The Truth About Tytler” (http://www.geocities.com/nerolsnilloc/library/tytler.html); but the insight about history remains generally true
The Bible records the rise and fall of nations very plainly; and it says that the Sovereign Lord rules over all of that history.
No book of the Bible reveals this more plainly than the Book of Daniel:
8. Daniel speaks prominently of the “Rise and Fall of the World”
a. Key message for the exiled and enslaved Jews to learn: God rules history
b. Daniel 2: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream = the Rise and Fall of the World
c. Daniel 4: Nebuchadnezzar’s Judgment = the Rise and Fall of the World
d. Daniel 5: Belshazzar’s Feast = the Rise and Fall of the World
e. Daniel 7: Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts from the Sea = the Rise and Fall of the World
Daniel 4:17 so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.’
Basic concept of the “Rise and Fall of the World” = God sovereignly rules over human history, allowing great empires to rise from the earth and rule for a time; but in God’s timing they are defeated and the next great world power pushes its way to the fore.
9. God’s Purpose in the Rise and Fall of the World
a. To control human history
b. To judge human pride
c. To protect His people
d. To advance the gospel of Jesus Christ
In this message, we will be tracing the rise and fall of the world through one mysterious word: BABYLON.
II. The History and Character of Babylon
A. A Literal City, With a History of Rebellion
1. (Genesis 10) founded by Nimrod, a mighty hunter and warrior who also established Nineveh and thus could be seen as the first tyrant conqueror emperor
a. it was built in the fertile soil of Mesopotamia right on the Euphrates River, less than 75 miles from the Tigris River in modern Iraq, only about 50 miles south of modern Baghdad
b. it was well-situated… not only the fertile soil between the Tigris and Euphrates but also along the major trade route of the fertile crescent connecting the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea
c. it thus began as a nation of merchants (Ezekiel 16:29 calls it a land of merchants), but also of warriors like their founder mighty Nimrod
d. with Babylon and these other urban centers came the concept of the “City-state”… a region controlled by a city
2. Genesis 11) The Tower of Babel: the Power of United Sinners Retarded
Genesis 11:4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
a. at the core of this effort was self-worship… pride… ambition… the desire to be like God and to ascend to heaven
b. God gave his stunning assessment of human power in cooperation
Genesis 11:6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”
c. He then retarded the progress of evil by confusing the languages… a perfect “babble” of confusion
d. from this came the origin of all the languages on earth… it began in Babylon
3. The Defeat of Babylon by Abraham (Genesis 14)
4. From Abraham to the Babylonian Exile
a. Babylon was conquered and dominated by Assyria
b. At one point, Babylon was friendly toward King Hezekiah and sent emissaries to congratulate him on the defeat of Assyria and his healing from a fatal illness… Hezekiah welcomed the emissaries and showed them all his riches; Isaiah the prophet predicted at that point the exile to Babylon
B. The Exile to Babylon
1. 586 B.C.: King Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled God’s warnings and threats against his sinning people and conquered Jerusalem
2. they destroyed the city, burned the temple to the ground, slaughtered all but a small remnant of the people… those people they exiled to Babylon
3. there the Jews, the People of God, dwelt for seventy years as a punishment for their many sins
4. while there, the Jews settled down and lived their lives
5. some of them prospered greatly, like Daniel who became the third highest ruler in the land and a special counselor to King Nebuchadnezzar
6. the Book of Daniel gives a glimpse into a fruitful life lived in a pagan land under the domination of pagan government
7. Daniel himself is a godly government leader who maintains his integrity and his walk with God by faith and obedience, while at the same time being an indispensible member of the government… highly skilled and influential
8. Daniel also recorded clear visions of the rise and fall of the world
C. The Fall of Babylon: Prophesied and Fulfilled
1. God ordained the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem… but then He punished Babylon for doing it
2. Through the Prophet Jeremiah, God predicted the duration of the exile: seventy years
3. Through the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, God also predicted the destruction of Babylon
Isaiah 13:19-22 “Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians’ pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there. 21 But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. 22 Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces.”
Jeremiah 25:12 “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the LORD, “and will make it desolate forever.
4. the Fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians described plainly in Daniel 5
D. The Spirit of Babylon Rises from the Ashes
1. God predicted the total destruction of Babylon and stated that it would remain desolate forever
2. key point: this did not happen immediately…
Cyrus the Great of Persia took over Babylon and ruled it, but destroyed the immense walls so its citizens couldn’t revolt
Alexander the Great wanted to live there and make it his empire’s capital city, but he died there before his dreams could be realized
309 B.C. Antigonis I of Macedonia leveled Babylon
in 275 B.C., Antiochus I took away the remaining civilian population and deported them to other cities.
Pausanias, a Greek writer and geographer of the Roman period, said that there was absolutely nothing within the walls of Babylon.
Last century before Christ, ancient geographer Strabo wrote “the great city of Babylon has become a wilderness”
The Roman Emperor Trajan, eager to visit the infamous Babylon, was disappointed when he arrived at the site; it was only a wasted pile of rubble
As recently as a century ago, the ruins of ancient Babylon had yet to be discovered
Today: modern Iraq, Saddam Hussein had plans to rebuild Babylon, but they were thwarted by the Gulf Wars
Some modern Iraqi leaders want to turn it into a theme park centered around archeological artifacts… problem is, American troops using ancient Babylonian clay to fill their sand bags have inadvertently destroyed ancient artifacts
In the adjacent area there is today the city of Hilla, but the site of Babylon’s ruins is now uninhabited except by wild animals and birds
So the city of Babylon slowly sank down into the dust of the centuries, sinking under the judgment of God.
BUT the “Spirit of Babylon” lived beyond it:
there were “kings of Babylon” after the end of the Babylonian empire
Ezra 5:13 calls Cyrus the Great “King of Babylon”, even though Babylon had been destroyed.
so the spirit of Babylon moves on and inhabits whoever rules the world
key passage: 1 Peter 5:13
1 Peter 5:13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.
this proves the “Spirit of Babylon” infused the Roman Empire of Peter’s day
Babylon itself was a howling empty wasteland at that time
Church tradition puts Peter in Rome where he would later die
“she who is in Babylon, chosen together with you” is code language for the Church of Rome
Thus the Spirit of Babylon rises from the ashes of the last world dominating empire and takes over
It goes from Babylon to Persia to Greece to Rome to the Huns to the to the Vikings to the Mongols to the Turks to the Spanish to the French to the British to the Germans… right up to the present day
Any realm which seeks to dominate the world militarily and economically
E. Two Aspects of Babylon
1. Military Domination resulting in cruel tyranny
The beasts from the sea are symbols of this aspect of Babylon
Note what Daniel says about the fourth beast
Daniel 7:7 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast– terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left.”
2. Economic Prosperity resulting in pleasure-filled self-indulgence
First: building of a glorious self-celebrating culture
Daniel 4:29-30 “the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Second: the widespread trade resulting in economic domination and gluttonous self-indulgence
Revelation 18:2-3 “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great!… 3 For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
Third: the corruption of morals weakening the empire and making it ready for the next Babylon to rise
F. The Final Form of the “Babylonian Empire: Revelation 18
Babylon the Great of Revelation linked to the persecution by the Roman Empire
however, the best interpretation of Revelation 18 is of the final form of Babylon… the worldwide reign of the Anti-Christ
right before the Second Coming of Christ, the final fall of Babylon the Great is described
III. The Power Behind the Throne: Satan
A. Two Great Texts in the Old Testament: Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28
On the surface, two prophetic passages about human kings… the King of Babylon and the King of Tyre… but the passages soar above language usually reserved for merely human kings.
Isaiah 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
KJV famously calls him “Lucifer”…
Ezekiel 28:12 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre…”‘You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God … You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.”
The King of Babylon in Isaiah 14: Arrogant Military Dominance
The King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28: Gluttonous Economic Dominance
These are the two great attribute of Babylon throughout human history… and these human Kings are merely frontmen for Satan as he wickedly dominates the earth.
i. fascinating that Satan is hiding behind these two great Kings, which represent the two great aspects of mighty Babylon… the crushing conquest and the economic prosperity
ii. behind both is the true spirit of Babylon: prideful ambition resulting in rebellion in God, resulting in judgment from God
the story of Satan before the fall is clearest in Ezekiel 28
Ezekiel 28:12-15 …
a. “model of perfection” = lit. sealed in perfect proportions
b. “full of wisdom” = intellectual, mental ability and moral judgment
c. “perfect in beauty”… and there follows a listing of magnificent precious gemstones to describe the beauty of this cherub (vs. 14)
d. A created being… “on the day you were created” (vs. 13); “so I ordained you” (vs. 14); “from the day you were created” (vs. 15)
e. Position: anointed as a guardian cherub
f. Purity: blameless in your ways from the day you were created
the unsolvable mystery of theology: the origin of evil
Ezekiel 28:15 “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.”
Ezekiel goes on to describe more of Satan’s early thoughts
Ezekiel 28:17 “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.”
a. He was apparently corrupted by pride… impressed by his own beauty, he corrupted his wisdom
b. Isaiah takes up the account from there
c. Satan’s Pride and Ambition: Five “I will”s
Isaiah 14:13-14 You said in your heart,
I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
“I will ascend to heaven…”: an upward mobility stemming from pride
a. Satan had been set perfectly where God wanted him
b. But it wasn’t enough for Satan… he wanted more
c. He wanted to be higher than all the other angels… to rule over them
d. He wanted to sit enthroned on the mount of assembly… basically
e. He wanted to take God’s place and rule the universe and be worshiped as God
f. He wanted to BE GOD
g. Satan Thrown to the Earth… and Ultimately to the Grave
Isaiah 14:15 “But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.”
Ezekiel 28:16-17 “I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones…. I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.”
Jesus said: Luke 10:18 “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Revelation 12:7-9 “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down– that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
Satan, thrown to the earth but not finally judged or destroyed then moved to take dominion of the earth.
He recruited Adam, the federal head of the human race, to join him in rebellion against God.
Adam was the first human King on the earth, and he joined Satan in rebellion against God.
Satan has had a powerful influence over government ever since:
The “Ruler of the Kingdom of the Air” (Ephesians 2, 6)
Satan told Jesus he was in charge of all the kingdoms on earth:
Luke 4:5-7 “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Note that the devil wants Jesus to worship him… to WORSHIP HIM, as though he is God.
Characteristic of all the Kings of Babylon is arrogance and pride… the most prideful among them actually get deceived into thinking that they are divine, that they should be worshiped… more on this in a moment.
The point here: Satan controls all the authority and splendor of all the kingdoms of the world.
i. Jesus called Satan the ruler of this world
John 14:30 “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me”
i. the apostle Paul spoke of Satan in governmental terms:
Ephesians 2:1-2 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
This is a KEY PASSAGE in understanding secular governments!!! Satan is the ruler of an invisible kingdom, the “kingdom of the air”, he is an invisible spirit who is now at work in all who are disobedient.
Thus, every non-Christian governmental official, prime minister, king, governor, dictator, premier, emperor, etc. is actually in some sense under the domination of Satan, whether they realize it or not. This does not mean everyone is equally bad, equally evil, equally Satanic; just INFLUENCED EFFECTIVELY by the ruler of this age.
Ephesians 6:12 “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
IV. The Human on the Throne: The “King of Babylon”
Isaiah 14: The Human “King of Babylon”
a. many commentators completely reject the idea that Isaiah 14 is talking about Satan
b. John Calvin called it a useless fable, rooted in ignorance, based on the fact that commentators paid no attention to context
c. but the wider context of the Bible makes it plain that Satan does in fact dominate unbelieving Kings and government officials
d. he hides, quietly, spiritually dark, the malevolent power behind the throne
e. the human frontman may not even be aware that he’s being used
f. so there is a human king of Babylon… he who through military conquest lays low the nations
g. there is also a human King of Tyre, who through widespread trade pollutes and corrupts the hearts of the nations with greed and lust and self-indulgence
i. and Satan is behind all of it
Driven by Cruelty, Arrogance and Greed
a. like Satan, the human empire builders are not satisfied with their original position
b. they move out, they conquer, with relentless cruelty
Isaiah 14:3-6 “On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended! 5 The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, 6 which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression.”
a. they amass wealth and power and nations and gold and silver and “stuff”
b. the truck and trade of Babylon listed in Revelation 18:
Revelation 18:12-13 “gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.”
Blasphemy: The God-Complex
a. central to their persona is soaring ambition, pride, arrogance
b. in some cases it reaches the point of seeing themselves as gods who should be worshiped
c. their adoring crowds gladly comply and lavish on them worship
Acts 12:21-22 “On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.”
a. history is full of the accounts of human rulers who claimed to be God or whose followers spoke of them that way
i. Alexander the Great visited a shrine of Zeus in Ammon and became convinced that Zeus was his father; from then on he called Philip of Macedon “my so-called father” and accepted worship as a god; coins minted depicted ram’s horns coming from his head as a symbol that he was Zeus Ammon
ii. In Rome, Julius Caesar himself had claimed descent from the ancient Roman kings and the gods. After crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC, Caesar was greeted and worshipped by the Romans as a god. After his first victories in the civil war, he received cults and worship as god and savior in the East; the cult of the Emperor then became part of the religion of all Romans; to be patriotic, you had to burn a pinch of incense to the Emperor
iii. Napoleon, on the day of his crowning as Emperor of France, took the crown from the hands of the pope and put it on his own head; a clear symbol of rejecting God as the one who established him as ruler; a German poet, upon meeting Napoleon, saw the incredible power of his personality and declared, “There is something in his face that makes one say, “You shall have no other gods but me.”
iv. Adolph Hitler encouraged his cult status, and for many Germans, they all but worshiped him in his life:
Hitler said privately to his closest followers, “I am going to become a religious figure. Soon I’ll be the great chief of the Tartars. Already Arabs and Moroccans are mingling my name with their prayers.” [Lutzer, Hitler’s Cross, p. 63; quoting Robert G. Waite, Adolph Hitler: The Psychopathic God, p. 29.]
Erwin Lutzer writes, “Hitler did become a god for millions…. At one of the Nuremburg rallies, a giant photo of Hitler was captioned with the words, ‘In the beginning was the word.’”
One of his followers, Alfred Rosenberg said, “Let it happen as it will and must, but I believe in Adolph Hitler; above him there hovers a star.”
Hitler’s hold over people and over the German nation was supernatural and demonic… the evidence is overwhelming if you know what to look for.
William L. Shirer, covering the Nazi Rally in Nuremburg in September of 1934, was astonished by the rabid fanaticism of the German people toward Hitler. This is what he wrote that night:
“About ten o’clock tonight I got caught in a mob of ten thousand hysterics who jammed the moat in front of Hitler’s hotel, shouting: “We want our Fuhrer.” I was a little shocked at the faces, especially those of the women, when Hitler finally appeared on the balcony for a moment. They reminded me of the crazed expressions I saw once in the back country of Louisiana on the faces of some Holy Rollers who were about to hit the trail. They looked up at him as if he were a Messiah, their faces transformed into something positively inhuman. If he had remained in sight for more than a few moments, I think many of the women would have swooned from excitement.”
Historian George Bruce concluded that Hitler had mediumistic powers that linked him with Satanic forces which spoke through him and gave him specialized information.
The Final Version: Antichrist
However great was the influence of this one demon-possessed ruler, it was a mere dress rehearsal for the future Antichrist who will come at the end of the world.
It will be the culmination of every tyrannical throne there has ever been… the final form of Babylon the Great that has ruled the world in various forms and in every era for thousands of years. And behind each of those tyrannical thrones has been the power of Satan himself…
The Dragon Who Will Control the Beast (Revelation 13)
Revelation 13:1 “And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.”
the dragon = Satan; stands by the sea = the turbulent nations
he summons the beast from the sea = calling forth a powerful ruler, Anti-Christ, who will rule in his name
Revelation 13:2 “The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.”
the end result of the beast’s reign is worship for the dragon; Satan finally gets what he’s always yearned for: worship as God
Revelation 13:4 “Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast”
the anti-Christ himself will be worshiped because of his
one of the consistent themes of the anti-Christ in Scripture: arrogant blasphemy
2 Thessalonians 2:4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Daniel 7:8 This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
Daniel 7:25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints
Daniel 11:36 The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.
This is the culmination of the Spirit of Babylon, the final phase of human government: the worldwide reign of Anti-Christ.
Indwelt by Satan himself, endued with miraculous powers, he will be worshiped as a god by all non-Christians; he will set up a military power that will be unchallenged; he will set up an economic system of prosperity that will feed the lusts of all his subjects.
He will abolish all religions, and will accept worship as god of all the earth.
In all this, he will merely be a frontman for Satan, who at last is receiving the worship for which he has yearned.
This Babylon, with its human and its true king is the very one that Christ will destroy at the Second Coming.
V, The People of God: Temporarily Crushed by the Throne
A. Living in Babylon
a. throughout history, God’s people have had to endure life in Babylon
b. we are in exile because of our sins, just as the Jews were
c. we have to settle down in Babylon and make our lives there
e. is the whole world “Babylon”? yes and no
i. I use the term for whatever national power dominates the world in any given era
ii. However, the whole world would LIKE to be in charge, to gain the whole world… so they are already infected with the Spirit of Babylon
1 John 2:16 “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world”
a. What nation is the most powerful on the face of the earth now? What nation has the most powerful weapons and exerts the greatest military influence on earth? What nation has the greatest influence economically and represents the “lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life”… it is none other than America
b. that does not mean that all Americans are evil, or that all American political leaders are under the control of Satan… not at all; remember that one of the godliest men in the Bible was Daniel, and he was third highest ruler of Babylon and of the Persian Empire
c. but any person or nation that does not openly live for Christ and his glory, anyone that is not FOR Christ is AGAINST Him…
B. Protected by the Power of God
Only God’s power can keep us safe in Babylon… surrounded as we are by spiritual enemies at every moment:
John 17:11-12 “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name– the name you gave me– so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost”
1 Peter 1:5 “who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
C. Tempted by Babylonian Corruption
Babylon is powerful militarily, and God’s people can easily be swayed by nationalism to applaud the growing empire
German Christians were sorely tempted to applaud Hitler’s conquest of Poland and France in 1939-40.
even more to the point, Christians can be tempted by the allurements of the prosperity that Babylon’s success can bring
Revelation 18:3 “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
D. Crushed by Babylonian Persecution
however, Babylon eventually persecutes the people of God
Peter was crucified upsidedown in Rome for the faith
E. Called on to Submit to the King of Babylon
1 Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”
Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
F. Called on to Seek the Peace of the City
Jeremiah 29:4-7 “This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
G. Instructed About the Final Destruction of the City
VI. The Power Above the Throne: Christ
A. Establishing Every King
[to Cyrus King of Persia] Isaiah 45:4 “I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.”
Daniel 4:17 “so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.”
B. Guiding Godly Kings Who Seek Him for Wisdom
C. Controlling Ungodly Kings Who Don’t Know His Name
Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”
D. Destroying the Final King
2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”
Revelation 19:11-16 “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Revelation 19:19-20 “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”
E. Coming to Establish His Kingdom
1. Trust in Christ Alone for Salvation
2. Beware of Immoderate Patriotism
3. Do Not Put Trust in a Political Party or Leader
4. Give to Babylon What is Babylon’s and to God What is God’s
i. pay taxes
ii. give honor and respect to those whose positions merit it
5. Serve Babylon as God Wills
i. some may be godly political leaders
ii. make Daniel your role model
6. Understand: Christ’s Kingdom is Not of the World… and Doesn’t Advance by Killing
7. Seek the True Peace of Babylon… through Evangelism
8. Flee the Corruption of Babylon… through Personal Holiness
Revelation 18:4 “Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.””
9. Yearn for the Coming Kingdom
10. Be Warned About the Final King of Babylon
1 John 2:18 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”
11. Honor the King of Babylon and Pray for His Conversion
It is quite possible that God used Daniel to lead Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon to saving faith.
Paul commands that we pray for kings…
1 Timothy 2:1-4 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
If even a vicious tyrant like the first King of Babylon can be saved, then anyone can if God changes their hearts.