Leaving Babylon Behind
There’s a country music song about happiness being a certain Texas town in the rearview mirror; true happiness comes from leaving Babylon behind, with Babylon representing the single kingdom of this world, the kingdom that takes it name from its head, the spiritual king of Babylon (Isa 14:4), the present prince of this world and prince of the power of the air.
Ancient King Nebuchadnezzar saw, in vision, a humanoid image that represented “‘what will be in the latter days’” (Dan 2:28). And what will be in the latter days is the destruction of this human-appearing image by a stone cut not by human hands, and the kingdom over which this image reigned shall be given to the Son of Man. This shall be a kingdom set up by the God of heaven (v. 44) and a kingdom without end even though this earth itself is passing away (1 John 2:17). It is those who do the will of God that abide forever for they form Matthew’s kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom over which the human-appearing image Nebuchadnezzar saw reigns in his world, all of it, not merely the geographical boundaries of ancient Babylon; for Daniel tells the king that he as the head of gold shall rule over the children of men wherever they dwell (Dan 2:38) … Nebuchadnezzar did not rule over men in Europe, China, or in the Americas, but the spiritual king of Babylon does through all of humankind being consigned to disobedience (Rom 11:32) so that God can have mercy on all. Thus, Nebuchadnezzar was a type or shadow and copy of the spiritual king of Babylon. And it isn’t earthly Babylon that rides the endtime scarlet beast; it isn’t earthly Babylon that’s drunk on the blood of the saints (Rev 17:5–6). Rather, it is the kingdom of this world, lead by the dragon, Satan the devil, working through the man of perdition that slays the saints and pursues even the remnant of Israel’s offspring (Rev 12:17) when the One who now restrains the mystery of lawlessness gets “out of the way” (2 Thess 2:7). This One is Christ Jesus, and He gets out of the way when the Father delivers the saints into the hand of the lawless one “‘for a time, times, and half a time’” (Dan 7:25), the first 1260 days of the seven endtime years of tribulation. The Father will deliver the saints into the hand of the lawless one for the same reason that the Apostle Paul commanded the saints at Corinth to deliver the man who was with his father’s wife to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1 Cor 5:5): the saints collectively but not individually commit spiritual adultery by worshiping demons.
The spiritual journey of faith every disciple must make is equivalent in length to the physical journey of faith made by the patriarch Abraham (Heb 4:11–12), who left Ur of the Chaldeans with his father Terah (Gen 11:31) and journeyed toward Canaan, going first to Haran [Assyria — the North Country, the geographical representation of death] where his father remained before continuing one to Shechem … a disciple must mentally leave Babylon or Ur of the Chaldeas and journey toward spiritual Canaan, the land that represents God’s rest (Ps 95:10–11), a euphemism for entering into God’s presence. As Abraham’s father died in Haran, the disciple’s old nature or old man must die before entering into God’s rest. For a disciple, keeping the Sabbath marks when the new self or new creature born of spirit as a son of God enters into God’s rest (cf. Heb 3:16–4:11), and no Israelite circumcised of heart can enter into God’s rest on the following day (Num 14:40–44). It is presumptuous of Israel to attempt to enter into God’s rest on the following day.
If the patriarch Abraham would have remained in the land of Canaan, the type or model for Christian discipleship would have a newly born son of God leaving this world with Babylon in his or her rearview mirror and journeying into God’s presence where the disciple remains. Unfortunately, Abram and Sarai continued on to Egypt where Abram told Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister, a half-truth that was a full lie. Although Abram prospered greatly physically, he had left the geographical land representing God’s rest, God’s presence, to which he did not return voluntarily. Rather, the Lord afflicted Pharaoh, who demanded of Abram, “‘What is this you have done to me’” (Gen 12:18), and Pharaoh sent Abram and Sarai away with all that he had given Abram.
A Christian can prosper in this world, but only by remaining in this world or by returning to sin through having one foot in the waters of this world. And this is what’s seen in churches everywhere. It is only by Sabbath observance that a person leaves spiritual Babylon—and then the person hasn’t scaled the heights to heavenly Jerusalem.
Three seasons a year all males in Israel were to come to Jerusalem and appear before the Lord (Deut 16:16). These three seasons are Passover, Pentecost, and the Fall Feast [Succoth]. So the Sabbatarian disciple who doesn’t also keep the high Sabbaths of God (the annual Sabbaths) remains in God’s rest but doesn’t come into God’s presence—remains in God’s rest as a foreigner and stranger to the assembly of Israel.
The 21st-Century Iraq war has given most Americans a better understanding of the geography of the Fertile Crescent … if a person were to leave geographical Babylon, the person would have to trek across the deserts of Western Iraq before entering Syria or Jordan. The ancient plains of Moab would have been in modern day Jordan, east of Jerusalem. Moses led Israel from Egypt to the plains of Moab, where Moses became the mediator of a second covenant made with the children of Israel (Deut 29:1) … better promises are not added to an abolished covenant, nor does an abolished covenant receive a new mediator. This second covenant is not ratified by blood, but by a song (Deut chap 32) so it is not an earthly copy of a heavenly thing (Heb 9:23), but a heavenly covenant made with the people of Israel. And in this Moab covenant, the Lord sets before Israel life and death (Deut 30:15–20).
A born of spirit disciple leaves Babylon by faith and mentally journeys into Sabbath observance. Once crossing into Sabbath observance—as ancient Israel crossed the Jordan—the disciple is circumcised of heart as the children of Israel were circumcised with flint knifes after crossing the Jordan (Josh 5:2–7). Now, the disciple must journey to Jerusalem; i.e., must keep the high Sabbaths, especially the Passover, the sacraments eaten on the night that Jesus was betrayed, the dark portion of the 14th of Abib.
Moses only led the children of Israel to the plains of Moab where life and death were placed before each Israelite, with instructions to choose life. Israel followed Joshua across the Jordan as disciples follow Jesus into God’s rest. In Greek Joshua is written Iēsous (see Acts 7:45). In Greek Jesus is written Iēsous (see Acts 4:10). Joshua, not Moses, is the type and shadow of Jesus; yet Jesus said, “‘If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words’” (John 5:46–47). And the answer is that a person won’t believe Jesus if the person doesn’t first believe Moses.
When a person leaves spiritual Babylon the person does so by choosing life and entering into Sabbath observance as the type and shadow of entering into God’s presence. Although the prince of this world will not bless the person for leaving Babylon, the God of heaven has already given life through a second birth to the person. So if this person continues in well doing, striving to walk uprightly before God and not continuing in half-truths that mask deceit, the Son will cause the mortal flesh to put on immortality.
Human maturation forms the shadow and type of spiritual maturation—and as an infant human child stumbles and falls, sometimes for no apparent reason other than his or her legs will not then support walking, a spirit-born son of God occasionally stumbles and falls because of the weakness of the flesh. The mantle of grace—the garment of Christ Jesus’ righteousness—covers these falls as the son of God learns to walk upright in God’s presence.
The Apostle Paul said that the visible things of this world reveal the invisible things of God (Rom 1:20) and that the physical things of this world precede the spiritual things of God (1 Cor 15:46); thus the visible physical things of this world, from the location of earthly Babylon to human maturation, reveal the invisible things of God, including the location of heavenly Jerusalem, a city of gold clear as glass.
The Philadelphia Church — Bedford Valley, like all other fellowships of Philadelphia, takes meaning from Scripture through typological exegesis—we welcome you on your journey of faith.
"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."
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