FLIGHT FROM BABYLON
The Coming Salvation From The Works Of Collective Society
BABYLONIANISM VERSUS THE WAY OF FAITH
The Concept of Babylonianism
The theme of this article is salvation by grace from the works of human economy and social community. Prophetically, the term applied to this system in Scripture is "Babylon":
"`Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.'
"And the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.
"And a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, `Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.'"1
Rev.14:8; 16:19; 18:21
To found our understanding of what "Babylon" truly means, we turn to Genesis 11 where we find the first mention of this city and its famous tower, the "Tower of Babel":
Now the whole
earth used the same language and the same words. And it came about as they
journeyed east, that 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 used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. And
they said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and - a tower whose top
will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be
scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." And the Lord came down to
see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said,
"Behold, they are one people,
and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.
[Now Cush became the father of Nimrod... And the beginning of his kingdom was Babylon and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.] Gen.11:1-9; [10:8,10-12]
Prior to the establishment of Babylon and its tower, human society was loosely knit and extremely mobile. Life was fairly "nomadic", ie, people did not become settled for very long periods of time and conglomerate into large, fixed centres of population. But at Babylon, the intent of man took a decided turn. Under the leadership of Nimrod, the people of earth decided to establish just such a center. It was to be a new system of society organized under a human ruler and secured with buildings constructed of permanent elements (brick and mortar). Its landmark was to be a tower that would "reach into heaven".
The idea of building a city was new to these people. They were all descendants of Noah within the third and fourth generation, which means they had been born after the Flood. They did not know what cities were. From whence then came the idea to build a city and why was God so opposed?
The clue that answers these questions is found in the words of the people: "Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name." According to the prophecy of Isaiah, these words mirror the words of satan himself, the arch-enemy of God:
"I will scale the heavens; I will elevate my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of assembly, far away in the north. I will rise above the heights of the clouds; I will rival the Most High."
The parallel spirit between these passages shows us that satan was the inspirer of the new idea to build a stationary city. This also reveals therefore why the city was built. We already know that from the beginning, satan's goal was to overthrow God and rule the universe. The focus of this struggle has been the control of earth through the allegiance of mankind to whom God gave its dominion. Since satan inspired the idea to build this city, and since his goal is universal control through securing the allegiance of all mankind, we see therefore that the gathering together of mankind into stationary collective societies through the building of cities is satan's means for accomplishing his end of world rule. In gathering man together, his objective has been to rule him through possessing human leaders. This is conclusively revealed to us in Isaiah's prophecy where satan is interchangeably identified with the king of Babylon.2
Now we can see why God was so opposed to what the people did under Nimrod. This gathering and settling was not just an innocent switch in lifestyle. It was the first post-Flood manifestation of spiritual war3 in the heavenlies for control of earth through the collectivization4 of man. God's will was for man to remain mobile over the earth. When man conglomerates into settled organization, his thoughts turn to self-exaltation and rebellion which service the satanic quest. Therefore God viewed the people's action as rebellious. Retaliation was swift. Because of the ramifications building this first city would have, and to permanently impede those ramifications in history, God scattered the people through confusing their language. This activated a pattern of judgment ordained upon all human attempts to become collectivized.
Despite God's pre-emptive strike against this first incident of collective rebellion, the struggle was still in force. The war had only just begun. Under Nimrod as first earth-king, Babylon went on to become the first fixed human society among many more to come. It achieved ultimate status as "empire", ie, the embracing of a region under control of a network of fixed population centres ("cities").5 From that time forward, the story of spiritual war has been told through the rise and fall of empires over the goal of complete collectivization of man into one global community under a single satan-possessed monarch. We are told by the prophets that satan's quest will ultimately fail. At the end, all of the cities of the nations will fall.6 Afterward, man will rise no more to " fill the face of the earth with cities" (Isa. 14:21).7
Because of its precedent-setting position, "Babylon" becomes for all time the name in Scripture that identifies the concept of satanic control through the gathering of people into immobile concentrations of population cemented by systems of economy and social community. To God, every human city is named "Babylon" and its permanent buildings a symbol of its rebellion - the bricks typify the people, the mortar typifies the slavish works of fixed society that bind them together. These systems of human economy and social community are the "works of the world". They are the last works from which we, the Church, await our salvation, and it is our salvation from these works which is the theme of this article.
and the Way of Faith
Scattering the people at Babel was only a stop-gap measure for dealing with the blight of babylonianism. Within two to three centuries of Babylon's founding, God initiated a new strategy for overcoming satan's quest for world dominion through collectivization. He chose to begin a new line of descendants through the man Abraham.8 This new line of descendants was to be noted for their walk by faith9 with the Unseen Eternal God, contrary to the ways of mankind-at-large who now held the upper hand in rebellion. This new line was to be a people who would live in direct opposition to the force of babylonianism wherever they encountered it.
When Abraham was called by God, he was dwelling in Ur-of-the-Chaldees.10 Ur was a city, ie, one of the manifest centres for the rebellion. Not only was it a city, it was a city belonging to the original site of collective rebellion - Babylon. This is highly significant. Precedenting another pattern, God reached into the very heart and center of world babylonianism to initiate his plan to save a people who would one day bring about the destruction of babylonianism and possess the earth for Him.
For Abraham, the first step of salvation and obedience was that he leave Babylon and return to a life of mobility.11 This did not just happen to be a first requirement laid upon Abraham to test his faith in an invisible God. It was an absolutely fundamental requirement because, as an act of spiritual war, it undermined the foundational principles on which babylonian society was laid and which had become accepted as the norm after so many decades. Abraham's action challenged the validity of babylonianism without lifting a sword. It set a new standard for righteousness in the earth. It also established that true faith is not just a declaration, but manifest action that openly confronts the world system and its drive for collectivization.12 The way of faith was to be the way of salvation and a way of perpetual conflict until that salvation was complete.
God's call to leave Babylon set the pattern for salvation for all who were to follow in Abraham's steps. From Abraham on, God's People in the earth were to be marked by an openly different lifestyle of relative mobility. Whereas the babylonian cities were secured by their permanent buildings and towers, God's People were to become noted as tent-dwellers (making tents to become symbolic of the way of faith for all time). They were to be free from attachment to the works of human economy and social community rooted in collective centres of population. They were to be identified as the "called-out" people.13 The call to leave Babylon is found to the very end of the Scriptures.14 This is the way of faith. As a life of mobility and unattachment to collective society, it is found to describe the completely faithful in the book of Hebrews:
"(Men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
"For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for a city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
Heb 11:38; 13:14; 11:8-10
These historical observations of Babylon and Abraham set the tone for us. What we are establishing is that since the Great Flood:
1. The chief manifestation of rebellion in earth is stationary, collective human economy and social community (the "works of the world").
2. The chief manifestation of the way of faith is a lifestyle of relative mobility free from works of organized human society.
Salvation by grace through faith has always included salvation from the works of organized human society--conomically and socially. From the very beginning, the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God are distinguished by different lifestyles relative to these works. We are saying that no salvation of God is complete until this fundamental alteration of lifestyle from immobility to mobility takes place in the believer's life and in the world-wide body of Christ. Salvation from dead works must include salvation from "Babylon."
[3. SUBVERSION OF THE
OLD COVENANT PEOPLE ]
[3. SUBVERSION OF THE OLD COVENANT PEOPLE ]
TABLE OF CONTENTS
References:1 also Is 21:9 Jer 51:44,48-49
2 Is 14:1 > 13-14
3 Gen 3:15 > (Eph 6:12 Dan 1O:13,2O Lk 1O:18 Rev 12:7-9)
4 (Zec 5:5-11)
5 Gen 10:10-12
6 Rev 16:19 > Is 30:27-28 Ob 16 Hag 2:6,21-22
7 also Jer 51:48 Mic 5:14
8 Gen 12:1-3; 15:5-6; 17:1-8; 22:15-18
9 Rom 9:4
1O Gen 15:7
11 Gen 12:1 Heb 11:8
12 Jms 2:10-24
13 Heb 11:8 > Mt 16:18 "church"=[Gk]"ekklesia"= "called-out") > Rev 5:9 (KJV)
14 Is 6:1-2; 48:20; 52:12; Jer 50:8; 51:6,9,45; Zec 2:6-7 > Rev 18:4
[3. SUBVERSION OF THE OLD COVENANT PEOPLE ]
TABLE OF CONTENTS