Babylon and the Church: two cities

Cities: Babylon and the Church: man building a city and God building the church, a comparison

The church as the new Jerusalem is in contrast with the symbolic city of Babylon throughout the Scriptures. In the nature and characteristics of these two cities is found much to guide us in our daily walk.

Meditation on the motives and actions of the builders of Babylon can assist us as we seek to build the New Testament church of today.

In the Word of God two things always work together …

First the SPIRIT then The WORD.

Genesis 1:2-3 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. [3] and God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

In the plans of rebellious man the same order prevails … First the spirit of man then the words of man.

Humankind always wants to do it their way to satisfy their spirit and words flow in discussion and argument to bring about the vanity of man’s imagining.

The Lord has warned us about this:

James 3:3,5-6,8 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. . . Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. . . . The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Consider the question of why we gather as a church. Do we really know why? Are we following the teachings and the guidance of the Spirit? Much of the result of our gathering is the construction of convenience measures. Nothing wrong with that but let’s be careful what we are building.

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Gathering together, controlling our tongues, understanding the why of being together these are all important questions.

(Genesis 11:1-9 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. [2] As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. [3] They said to each other, "Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. [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." [5] But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. [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. [7] Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." [8] So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.[9] That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

The Spirit of the Adamic Nature.

(Genesis 10:9-10) He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, "Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD." [10] The first centres of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh, in Shinar.

Nimrod (the valiant and strong one) was a descendant of Ham (dark coloured) from whom came the "ites" including Sodom? He was a founder of earthly empires and history tells of the excesses of these cities. many of the tribes who inhabited the land of Canaan came from this source and Joshua was to destroy them. A man of the flesh nature with alike spirit to the great son of dawn in Isa.

(Isaiah 14:12-14) 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! [13] 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. [14] I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."

The result is always in the end … confusion.

The Spirit of Christ:

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. They were in submission to the command of Jesus, humble and obedient spirit, a realisation of no ability without God, thy will not mine be done, a appropriation of the five wounds of the cross as an answer to Satan’s five I wills’

Question:

Are we in the right place? Do we have thoughts like Nimrod? Do we seek to be mighty hunters before the Lord.(our own strength) Do we hunt things, status, church building, even souls! Humility?!

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False Unity: Centralising.

(Genesis 11:1) Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.

This was a unity of communication by way of the senses. This is the way of mankind. A man made unity seeks to have a common" sense experience".Let’s think alike, plan plans, talk together, work it out … but no common spirit.

Esperanto, Basic English, United Nations, Common Market, One "organised Church" All seek the same end, control from one place. Centralising is Babylon’s answer to achieving unity. Even in the world people rebel against this kind of imposition.

True Unity: To be sent world wide.

(Acts 1:8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
(Galatians 5:18, 25) But if youare led by the Spirit, you are not under law. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

No man made organisation,

(Ephesians 2:21-22) In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. [22] And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

God is not deceived by the name on the door.

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Glorifying Man. .

Genesis 11:2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They found a plain … not led by God.

A plain … a flat place The glorified church is called "the mountain of the Lord’s house."

Shinar means "to confound"

This whole picture speaks of man’s efforts. A place near natural water in a river valley, going their own way and doing their own thing.

Glorifying God.

Acts 1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. (Acts 14:13)
1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

The disciples returned to the city of God, the place of peace, in obedience to Jesus. They were in prayer and submission and seeking the Lord. Spiritual water was about to flow. Note they were tarrying NOT dwelling. Ours is a pilgrim walk.

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Building Material: bricks

Genesis 11:3 They said to each other, "Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly."

They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.

And they said, (that tongue again) not we note, God said, buttheysaid.

The bricks were made of clay … we are lifted out of the miry clay of an earthly existence.

… straw. all flesh is as grass.

Isaiah 40:6 A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.

Natural water . speaks of man’s spirit … man’s fire. man’s ideas of righteous behaviour, spiritual hype, histrionics.. slime or pitch. black in colour a reminder of sin. Note that bricks are a poor fit as is all of man’s creation.

Building Materials. Living Stones.

1 Peter 2:5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We are joined by "agape" love to become a perfect fit.

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Man’s Foundation.

The city was to be built on sandy soil as the result of man’s word of command.

The result …

Matthew 7:26-27 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. [27] The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

God’s Foundation.

Matthew 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Building on the rock Christ Jesus, by God’s Word, Apostle and Prophets ministry, Jesus the chief corner stone.

Ephesians 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

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Man’s Building.

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."

They said … again.

Let us … self glory, do your own thing. build … except the Lord build the house a tower to heaven.. we can get to heaven by our own efforts. make us a name … there is only one name under heaven

These things are still with us. Let us build an organisation and put our name on it … and the church is not free from this even to this day.

It is what the enemy wants. I’m a Anglican-ite, I’m a Pentecostal-ite, I’m a hope-ite … a substitute name and a central geographical place. E.g. Mecca. or "the headquarters" etc.

God’s Building.

Jesus said ..

I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.

Consider .. a heavenly Jerusalem the name as a strong tower the name above every name. one body in Christ

The body is not geographical

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Earthly Tongues.

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.

The Lord (us) came down to see. He looks upon the heart.

… rebellion

… wilful acts to frustrate the purpose of God.

Result confounding of the tongue.

Heavenly Tongues.

Acts 2:2-4 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. [3] They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. [4] All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speakin other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

The Lord descends as the Holy Spirit to re-establish communication in the spiritual realm.

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Babel The Church

Destruction of Communication Restoration of Communication

Unruly, uncontrolled tongues. Tongues controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Man’s purpose confounded. God’s purpose restored.

Separation Unity

Man’s word brings confusion God’s Word brings order and peace.

Man invents a name. The Name of the Lord.

God is not interested in man’s buildings, man’s towers, man’s ideas, man’s works,

Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit …

He is looking for a people who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

To return to an earlier remark about why we meet together. One of the best answers is found in Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. [43] Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. [44] All the believers were together and had everything in common. [45] Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. [46] Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, [47] praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Preached at Queanbeyan Assemblies of God Queanbeyan NSW.