Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Lure of Babylon

The story of Ezra is a story of a remnant of godly Jews who chose to leave their homes in Babylon.  It’s also a sad truth that many of that same tribe of Judah after seventy years in captivity, were now at home in Babylon and chose to remain there.

In this message, I challenge you to consider the lure of Babylon for those who chose to stay there 2500 years ago and the lure of Mystery Babylon, described in Revelation 17-18,  for many Christians today.

CONSIDER THE LOCATION OF BABYLON

 

Babylon, as many of you know, is situated between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  From geographical hints in Genesis 2:8-15 it’s probably the vicinity of the Garden of Eden from which Adam and Eve had been driven by an angel after their Fall into sin. Of course, no one can be certain because of the geographical changes that took place on the earth at the time of the world wide flood in Noah’s day.  

THE LURE OF BABYLON

 

The Garden of Eden, which God had made  perfect for Adam and Eve, while in their sinless perfection and innocence before The Fall;  was now according to Genesis 3:22-24, out of bounds for them after The Fall.

For awhile, the entrance to the Garden  was guarded by an angel with a flaming sword which kept Adam and Eve from reentering the Garden until it had deteriorated under the curse of sin.

NOAH’S THREE SONS

 

Later, after the Flood of Noah’s day which God sent because of the intense wickedness of the earth’s population according to Genesis 6;  Noah’s three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth, who with their wives survived the Flood in the ark which they and their father, Noah, had built; fathered three distinct groups of people on the earth.

Japheth is the father of the Gentiles, according to Genesis 10:1-5

From Noah’s son, Ham, came Nimrod, who established the Kingdom of Babel, which became Babylon.  Genesis 10:6-20

Also through Ham came the Assyrians and the Canaanites.

Through  the line of Shem came Abraham, from whom the promised SEED, CHRIST, would come according to Genesis 10:21-22 and 11:10-26.   Thus Abraham became the Father of Israel.

THE TOWER OF BABEL

 

Later, as the earth began to repopulate following the Flood, Genesis 11:1-9 tells about how they gathered together in the Plains of Shinar in the land of Babylon to build a tower to reach Heaven. This was all about man’s feeble, futile efforts  to reach up to God  in Heaven  by their own effort and ingenuity.

God confused and  nullified their efforts by causing them to all start speaking in a wide variety of languages, as though they had been born with those languages.  Because they could not understand one another, they gave up their building project and scattered over the face of the earth.

ABRAM BORN IN UR OF THE CHALDEES, BABYLON

 

Abram, whose name was changed by God to Abraham,  was born to Terah in the line of Noah’s son ,Shem  and became father of the Jewish nation and the forbearer of Jesus who would be born of the Virgin Mary five hundred years later in Bethlehem.   Jesus, the Saviour of the world,  is the Promised Seed of Genesis 3:15.

SATAN AND HIS BAG OF TRICKS

 

Satan is our chief enemy; however, usually he does not fight us directly. Rather, he uses our sinful flesh nature and his cosmos (the world system, known as Mystery Babylon) under his control  to try to ruin our testimonies and destroy us, making us useless to the cause of Christ.

The Apostle Paul describes in Romans 7  the struggle all of us face with our sinful flesh nature.  In Romans 8 he shows us how we can have victory over our sinful flesh nature.

The other tool in his bag of tricks is his seductive influence through his control of the cosmos, the sinful world system which he controls and uses in his battle against God for our souls.

THE LOVE OF BABYLON

 

The lure of Babylon has always been the love of Babylon, the world system, and it is still today.  This system has an amazing magnetic  hold on Christians, as well as on the lost.  Our problem is that we tend to love the world system more than we love God.  In fact, we tend to try to compartmentalize our lives, giving some parts to God and others parts of our lives and our love to the Satan-controlled world system.  That does not work. God will not put up with two-timers.

The love of the world system causes our sin-loving flesh nature to feed on the attractive garbage and raw sewage of this world which we permit to spill into our homes via salacious television fare and movies, degrading literature and music and through the internet.

To all of this God warns us in I John 2:15-16  “To love not the world system, neither the things that are in the world system. Such love of the world proves that we have little or no love for God and His Word.

Such feed on the garbage of this world system and socialize with it  until we fall in love with it and marry it.  Eventually we become lost in and one with this Satanic world system which is passing away, losing our lives for the fleeting, unsatisfying pleasures of this doomed world system.

THE PURPOSE OF SALVATION

 

The purpose of salvation is not just to be forgiven of our sins and made children of God through faith in Christ Jesus; but according to Galatians 1:3-4, it is to be freed from our infatuation with this sinful world system.  This world system is doomed and  passing away.  Revelation chapters 17 and 18 describe this sin-cursed world system and tells of how Christ is going to  destroy it once and for all.  Where are you going to be and what are you going to be doing when Christ returns to destroy this world system as described in those two chapters in The Revelation?

RETURNING NOW TO THE BOOK OF  EZRA

 

It was necessary that the Jews be back in their own land so God’s plan of redemption could be carried out in the land of Israel, as prophesied.  Ezra 8 tells the story of the Jews second return to Jerusalem from Babylon, this time under the leadership of Ezra, the Jewish priest and scribe who wrote this book. 

This is the story of the Children of Judah returning home to the Land of Israel, getting into place all the details for the coming of Jesus, the Son of God,  who would be born of a virgin, live and minister to the people  and then be crucified and slain as the perfect and complete sacrifice for our sins and then rise again; thereby delivering us from sin and Satan and his contaminating, sin-cursed world system.  

This involved the people of Judah traveling from their former slavery in Babylon, even though it might have been a comfortable life; to a new life of freedom in Jerusalem with all its burdens of rebuilding.

All of this is a picture of  New Testament truth in Hebrews 11:8-13. Let me hit just the highlights as you read the passage. 

By faith Abraham went out,  dwelling in tents with his son Isaac  and grandson Jacob, following God, but not knowing where he was going.

By faith he dwelt in tents, not settling down and building a permanent home for he looked for a city with permanent foundations, whose builder and architect is God.   Now down to verse 13.  These all died in faith not having received the promises, but saw them by faith afar off.  They recognized themselves as pilgrims and strangers on this earth.

THIS WORLD IS A FOREIGN, HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT FOR US

Christians, we live together in a foreign, hostile environment.  Satan is  the temporary god of this present world system. That’s not difficult to believe as we observe the explosive political atmosphere in this world today. In all my years in America, coming here as a child in the mid 1940’s during World War II,  I’ve never sensed a more discouraging atmosphere in America than right now. Thank God, He is in control.

A VOLUNTEER ARMY

Understand that those who followed Ezra to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, came of their own free will.  They were not compelled nor forced by either Cyrus or Artaxerxes. It was all voluntary. That’s the only service God desires. God does not draft people into His service.  True, in His sovereignty, He called us from before  we were born, but, as far as we are concerned,  He calls those who willingly volunteer and freely choose to serve Him. See Acts 9:6,  Romans 12:1-2,  Isaiah 6:8, and II Corinthians 8:1-6.

 

As Abraham and as the Jews returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity; so we Christians who are saved and bound for Heaven, are presently in a journey from the bondage of this hostile, Satan-dominated world system to our Heavenly Home. This religious/political  world system, known as Mystery Babylon, identified and described in Revelations 17 and 18, is doomed for destruction when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to set up His Millennial Kingdom in Jerusalem.

DON’T CONFUSE GOD’S WONDERFUL CREATION WITH THE COSMOS, WHICH IS OF THE DEVIL

 

Don’t misunderstand.  This world is still ultimately God’s world which He created. Many Scriptures, especially the Psalms, make that clear; but Satan has usurped it and is presently the god of this God-dishonoring, sin-cursed religious/political world system.  According to II Corinthians 4:3-4, Satan has blinded his subjects to Christ and to His gracious Gospel.  Thank God, that today, in His sovereignty, God is opening eyes to the Truth of the Gospel, as He did for Lydia in Acts 16:14.

In the fullness of time, Christ is returning to this earth to catch Christians up into Heaven to be with Himself. Then following seven years of Tribulation and the reign of Antichrist, Christ will return to cast Satan into a bottomless pit for one thousand years while Christ Himself reigns over the whole world from Jerusalem.  Faithful Christians will be involved with Him in His reign, according to II Timothy 2:12.  For the Biblical background for all of this, go to the PROPHECY category for a full 32 part series on this subject.

IN CHRIST WE CAN BE VICTORIOUS!

What about this Church Age? Does Satan have any power over Christians today?  Here’s an encouraging truth I want you to try to grasp concerning the power of Satan and his evil world system today, as far as Christians are concerned.  In the Upper Room with His disciples, Jesus announced in John 16:33,  “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”   Now look at John 12:31 “Now is the judgment of this world: Now shall the Prince of this world be cast out.” and John 16:7-11.  Here Jesus speaks of sending His Holy Spirit to live in us as believers. In verse 11 Jesus announces that  Satan, “the Prince of this world is judged.”  

Then in John 17, just before Jesus is crucified and returns to Heaven, He prays His great intercessory prayer for us, His children, who are left behind in this present evil world. Read also II Corinthians 2:14.  In all these passages we learn that Satan is even now, for the Christian, a defeated foe.

Though it’s a fact that many Christian are enslaved by sin and Satan;  no Christian need ever be. II Corinthians 2:14 states, “Now thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place.”   Let me paraphrase that  for you. Now thanks be to God who always enables us to triumph over sin, through the indwelling presence and power of His Holy Spirit so that wherever we go, whatever we do; we carry the fragrance of the presence of Christ upon us.

SOME CHRISTIANS NEVER EXPERIENCE VICTORIES

As we’ve been focusing on the returning Jewish exiles from Babylon, I want to call your attention to those Jews who chose to live and die in Babylon, outside the city of Jerusalem, the city of promise and blessing.  They were content to live and be fed and be satisfied with Babylon,  a type of the Satanic-controlled world system.  They were content to never experience  the victories of their brothers and sisters who had returned to Jerusalem.  

I remind you again that those Jews who followed Zerubbabel and Ezra back to Jerusalem did it of their own free will.  They were not compelled by Cyrus and Artaxerxes. 

The lesson for us as Christians is that’s the only service God wants of us. is volunteered.  God does not draft people into His service.   It’s true that by His foreknowledge, He calls us from before we were born.  See Isaiah 49:1  and Jeremiah 1:5   But it’s also true that God only calls those who surrender to His Lordship and freely desire and choose to follow Him.  Study the following Scriptures concerning this truth.  Acts 9:6, Romans 12:1-2, Isaiah 6:8 and II Corinthians 8:1-6  

May God  strengthen you, my Christian reader and friend, to fully surrender to Christ as your Lord

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March 5, 2011 - Posted by | EZRA

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