Babylon and the Church

We are endeavouring to consider the dangers that the church has faced through its centuries so that we can take heed lest we fall. Babylon is a name in prophecy of a harlot – Babylon the great, the mother of harlots. The policy of Babylon was to join truth and error together in a relationship that was unlawful, making the church a harlot. Worldliness is that which the church must come away from. This is what we want to seek to understand and in understanding the scriptures, we need to look at the past, because history repeats itself.

The following scripture tells us to reflect upon a certain class of people lest we fall. It is speaking of the Israelites, the Jews:

1 Corinthians 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Everything that happened to the Israelites in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, anything that was written before was written for us today so that we can have a history that we can look back upon. Why?

1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

It’s actually written for those who think they are God’s people, those who think they are in a position that is positive when Jesus comes. That’s what it means to stand. If you think that you are in a good position, then the Bible is saying, these things were written in the past for us to look upon whom the ends of the world are come. There are people living at the end of the world. We can take heed lest we do exactly what they did.

When we talk about the church, the world and Babylon, generally if you put Babylon and the church in the same sentence, you are in strife. I actually find it probably one of the most unpardonable things to say the church was Babylon. Some statements are used which are right, that the church is not Babylon – light is not darkness, don’t mix them up.  But it’s come to the point where if you are God’s church, you could never be Babylon, you could never not be God’s church. It’s almost like a corporate “once saved always saved” in a corporate and church setting. Once you’re God’s church, that’s it, you’re always God’s church. This mentality comes from religious pride thinking we’re standing but the Bible says, take heed if you think you’re standing lest you fall, reflect back on the past.

I don’t believe that the church of God is Babylon. I believe the church of God is come out of Babylon. The word church means “a calling out”.  That’s what the word means, “Call out”, call out of Egypt, call out of Babylon, call out of the world, come out of her my people, that is the call that God has for His church. To say that the church is Babylon doesn’t make sense. But to say that an institution can never become Babylon can be dangerous and the reason why is in the past, the mentality that a certain institution could never fall away was held and it was wrong. According to the Holy Scriptures, all these things happened to the Israelites for examples for those living at the end of the world so that they can look at that and take heed lest they fall.

(It makes no sense to call the church Babylon because the church in itself means a “calling out”. The problems lies in the fact that we put the name “church” on the organisation, whereas that is not what God gave the name for in the first place. The church is constituted of faithful souls and it’s not the great cathedral.)

Just put yourself back in history to a time when the Jewish church had been running for a long time, it had a lot of history behind it and in the history was God’s hand. All the way along, God’s blessings as well as curses, good things and bad things. This church had a scriptural basis to understand that they were the people of God and I don’t think anyone doubted that the Israelites were God’s chosen people. Look at the miracles; look at the evidence around them. As the centuries went by, national pride and religious pride grew until Jesus came.

Jesus was not a natural leader in the Jewish church. He didn’t go to the schools of the prophets. He didn’t get His degree in theology. He didn’t come into the ranks of the leadership of the Jewish church. He was a carpenter. He did an apprenticeship. He worked as a tradesman with His hands and at the age of thirty, He steps out from His manual labour and starts a ministry. This ministry shook the foundation of the Jewish church.

Very early in His ministry He went to Nazareth and preached in His home church. Would you like to know how it went down? Try and get yourself in this mentality that the Jews scripturally, were God’s people. They had the evidences and promises. They had a bright hope that the Messiah would come and that they would be in a position of freedom. They kept God’s law, they claimed to keep God’s law and here Jesus came in.

Luke 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

This is after Jesus came back from the wilderness. His popularity and fame went throughout all the land and He got to speak in lots and lots of synagogues. When the members of the church were listening to this young preacher, the Bible says that He was glorified of all, they loved His preaching. They thought, wow, what talent.

Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

Here Christ comes and He has a specific place He wants to read from. He’s not just browsing the book and thinking, here it will do; He found the place. He was looking for something. He had a message in mind for the people of His hometown.

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Here was this acceptable year of the Lord. No doubt the Jews understood this to be the time of the Jubilee, the time that they would be freed that the Deliverer would come. Here He is preaching and He says, now is the time for your deliverance.

Luke 4:22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? 23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. 24 And he said, Verily, I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, [a city] of Sidon, unto a woman [that was] a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. 28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

What did Jesus say that really annoyed the church? He’s saying the acceptable year of the Lord is come, the Deliverer has come and then He makes a very powerful suggestion. You’re not going to be part of it. The church who has waited so long, is not in a position to actually receive any of the promises that were spoken. It says that the prophet in the days of Elijah didn’t go to the people of Israel but went to the Gentiles. Right at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, He challenges the church to think that you’re actually going to miss out on the promises of God. It’s going to be another people. It’s going to be another class that will be there, God’s chosen people. What did this do inside? It made them angry so much so that they rose up and thrust Him out of the city and tried to throw Him off a cliff head first and kill Him.

Here was this preacher that everybody loved to hear. They loved hearing His preaching of God’s word and expounding on it but if it ever challenged their position as God’s people, forget it, he’s crazy, he’s worth killing. This was the setting that Jesus came into; this was the mentality that Jesus had to deal with. People that thought they were standing who were about to fall, and He says, this was written so that God’s chosen people at the end of the world would take heed lest they fall also.

Afterwards Christ preaches His sermon on the mount and by this time, everyone is really looking at Him side-on saying, who is this young man? What is He really doing? He’s really stirring up the nation. He’s really provoking the members of the church. He stands up and He gives a sermon and throughout the sermon He says, you have heard of old time that it was said, but I say unto you. What’s He doing? He’s actually challenging the way that they understand scriptures. You’ve heard it interpreted from the old from the ministers, this way, but I’m going to tell you this. At the end of the sermon, the people marvelled at His authority because He spoke not like the scribes and the Pharisees. He spoke in a way that challenged them saying, the way you have been taught is wrong. The law of Moses He did not negate.  He did not change the ten commandments. He actually expounded into a depth that the Pharisees and the church leaders would never do. They would just shrink to God’s requirements just to a minimum, but Jesus actually challenged it and said, It’s even down to your thoughts; even if you think the thoughts you’ve broken the commandments. That’s what I am telling you Moses meant, that’s the Ten Commandments.

Then He even goes into the temple, and as He goes into the temple, there’s a ruckus happening, selling and disgracing God’s house. He goes in there after preaching the provocative sermon in Nazareth after challenging the whole way they’ve been taught from their leaders for a long time. Merchants who have been there year after year selling their goods, He comes and just throws their tables over and physically cleans out the temple. He’s not even a priest and He does this.

What would it be like if there was something that was an abomination before God in the church and someone stood up and just smashed it in front of everybody? Would it go down too well? People would be offended. People would say, He’s not Christ-like. He’s rude! Here Christ is challenging the whole religious pride and patriotism of the Jewish church. Then He speaks to the Jewish leaders and notice what He is saying. Notice the mentality that He is meeting with and try and put yourself in that mentality so you can see if it’s replayed today because it is replayed today incredibly similarly.

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, [then] are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

Christ is simply saying to anyone who wants to believe in Him; if we want to believe in Jesus Christ and actually come to a point of freedom from sin, we have to continue in His word not just believe on one particular day and say that such and such a day I was saved or this is when my conversion took place, it’s a whole process. If you continue in my word, then you will be my disciples indeed. That means in action, in every practice you will be my disciple and you will be free. The Jews simply took that and said, you’re actually saying that we are in bondage, we’re bound people. To be a bound person means that you are under the rule of Satan. So they simply interpret Jesus’ words as indicating that. You’re under Satan’s dominion. They’re like, well how can that be if we’re God’s church? How can we be under Satan’s control when we’re God’s remnant people? We’re never in bondage. But how blind was that reasoning? Were the Jews ever in bondage physically? To the Egyptians, to the Assyrians, to the Babylonians they were in bondage. To the Persians and the Medes they were in bondage. To the Greeks they were in bondage, to the Romans they were in bondage. They were always in bondage. So much so did they have their pride that they did not consider that they were bound by sin because Jesus says:

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Until there is victory over sin, call yourself what you like, claim to be God’s people. If you’re sinning, if you’re a servant of sin, you’re in bondage; and if you’re in bondage, Satan is your master. That’s the bottom line, that’s what Christ was saying. All your national pride amounts to nothing if you’re stuck in sin. That’s what He was saying.

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

What word didn’t have place in the Jews? The Bible just said that these Jews were the ones that started believing on Him and now He challenges them on the point of the question of the church. Do you believe you’re God’s people by virtue of being in the church? Because if that’s your mentality, you’re wrong. You’re God’s child by virtue of coming out of sin. That makes you God’s child, not being part of the church and that word they did not like. My word, His word regarding His take on what makes a Jew a Jew, they didn’t like that part.

They liked all the other sermons He preached, He was glorified for His preaching. Let’s not miss the point. People loved Jesus as long as it didn’t cross their opinion. He was a great preacher but as soon as He challenges on this point, He says, my word has no place in you. What I’m actually saying is really irritating to you as a proud religious Jew.

So it is today that if there is any challenge on the church, the Seventh-day Adventist movement, if it’s ever spoken against, people get hurt, whereas do you get hurt from sin? Where are you really offended? Is it your religious pride that gets offended? Or is it the fact that your sin that gets you offended? Huge difference and it makes all the world to your salvation what actually offends you.

John 8:38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

Were they Abraham’s children? They were. In the flesh they were Abraham’s children. But did God count them as Abraham’s children? No, because it’s your actions that actually prove who you are. He is simply saying, profession, the claim, the name means nothing without the walk.

John 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, [even] God. 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 44 Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Do you see what Jesus is doing to these Jews? He’s simply saying, you say you’re Abraham’s children but you’re lying. He clearly told them that they’re lying by saying that they are the children of Abraham. Not because they didn’t understand in the flesh, but because they were missing the point entirely that to be one of Abraham’s children you must do the works of Abraham. Then when that annoyed them, it really made them hate Him. Whenever there is a thought of hatred, what is it according to Jesus’ understanding of the law? That’s murder.

It is exactly today that when someone will challenge someone who claims to be part of the remnant church and say, you’re not, you’re in the world or even dares to say he Seventh-day Adventist organisation is Babylon. What does that produce in the people’s understanding? They’ll hate you and hatred is murder. The actual response proves that they’re the children of the devil according to Christ. If you put yourself in the Jews’ situation but shifted it to our terminology, that’s exactly what He was doing. Do you know how long Jesus’ ministry lasted for? Three years and they killed Him.

This person who did amazing things, great preacher, spoke the truth and they knew it, but on the point of challenging their religious system He was killed. The leaders hated it because a lot of the people liked Him and the reason why He actually lasted so long is because the leaders couldn’t actually get their hands on Him because the people liked Him. But when it came to the crucifixion, how many cried out crucify him? Was it just the leaders? No, even the people did. Because when Jesus came to the feast the last time He came late. He didn’t turn up on the beginning day, He came later and there was talking of, where’s Jesus? In this talking some were saying, He’s a deceiver, He’s trying to trick all the Israelites. He’s trying to send them off on a tangent away from the ship because the ship will go through. Other people said, no, I really like His preaching. But no one would actually speak up for Him because they were afraid of the leadership.

Jesus gave a parable to the Jewish leaders and this is really challenging. Jesus gets straight to the point; He makes it extremely clear that all these things happened for us to learn from today.

Matthew 21:33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

He has this precious work that He’s done and He puts it in the hands of human beings.

Matthew 21:34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast [him] out of the vineyard, and slew [him]. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out [his] vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.  

Here Christ is speaking about what God would do to people who have been given the truth and haven’t used it properly. Would God ever cast them away? Is it possible? According even to the Jewish reasoning, yes that’s what they would do. Jesus was actually speaking about them and about the Jewish church, did they get upset again? You will find it all the way through, the contention that the leaders had with Jesus was that He was challenging their authority and their claim to be God’s people. Is it ever wrong to challenge the thought, am I God’s person? Am I really part of God’s people? Is it ever wrong to examine myself whether I am in the faith? It’s not wrong at all. But whether it’s done even in today’s religious climate, people don’t take it very well. They take it all personally to say, you’re putting yourself up against the church. Well that’s actually what Jesus did.

Would the Jews be God’s people today if they accepted Him? Yes. They didn’t have to have the kingdom of heaven taken from them while it was it given to another class of people, they didn’t have to. If the Jews actually did with the message what they were meant, they would have been approved. What is actually the criterion of whether God keeps them or not? It’s the fruits. When? In the harvest. What time of the earth’s history are we living in? Are we living in the time when God is expecting fruit? What is fruit by the way? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. What’s the opposite to that? The works of the flesh, which were given a few verses before in Galatians chapter 5. What God is looking for is, He delivered to a church messages, wonderful life-giving truths that the people of the church were to distribute to the people so that the people would overcome what? Sin. When you can overcome sin, do you have some peace? Do you have joy in your life? You can’t have peace when you’re guilty, because condemnation and peace are exact opposites.

There have been heaps of manufacturing of trying to get peace without taking away the guilt the correct way. It’s sort of a message that is, you will never overcome sin, just believe and when Jesus comes in the clouds you’ll be changed like that as long as you believe Him and be loyal to the organisation. Whereas Jesus all the way through His ministry, was challenging and saying, if you’re a servant of sin, if you’re sinning, you’re in bondage to sin, and if you’re in bondage, you’re not free; and if you’re not free, you can’t be God’s people because God’s people are free people. Some might say, does that mean that I’ll never struggle again with sin? The Bible says, if you continue in my word, you will be my disciples in your actions which means overcoming sin and the truth will make you free.

Jesus is simply saying, here’s truth, this truth if you stick with it, if you continue with it, the truth, will give you the victory. It’s a causing effect, it will make you free from your habits in your daily life. When you’re free from your habits of action through a new way of thinking through the gospel, then you’ll actually be free from sin, and you’ll have the fruits of the Spirit.  When the fruits of the Spirit are come, then it’s time to gather the harvest. It’s time for Jesus to come because when He can see Himself perfectly reflected in His people, then He’ll come and claim them as His own. Until that happens, are we His own entirely?

Me being part of God’s people is dependent on me continuing in His word all the way along and that’s what Jesus said. If at one point we’re God’s people and then we shift and we don’t continue in His word, then we cease to be His people. This is the message Jesus was telling to the Jews and unfortunately, the Jews hated this message.

Jesus then gives seven woes to the Pharisees, which, if you were a Jewish leader in those days and you had that said to you by this young carpenter, you would say that He was so rude, so disrespectful, but Christ was challenging them on are they real or not. Are you real? If they would repent and turn from their ways, praise God, if not, then they were fake.

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

Your house, not God’s house. Your house, it’s your religion. It’s your church, not Mine. That’s hard words. That’s what He said to them after He gives these woes to the Pharisees. This was the last part of His earthly ministry. He was in His last week before He was killed and He gives a decided message and challenges how they don’t keep God’s commandments and exposes the problems in the leadership. Then He finishes, Your house is left unto you desolate. Then afterwards, Jesus goes up into the mountain and He looks at the city. Now the Jews heard this and they thought, wow. This was even challenging for the disciples, the disciples heard this. It was in the next chapter that they asked and said, what are the signs of these things, the destruction of Jerusalem? They were looking at the city, they were looking at the temple and saying to Jesus, wow, look at the beautiful building, look at the beautiful temple, isn’t our religion great? Jesus says, I tell you the truth that not one stone will be left upon another. When will this actually happen? Is it ever possible that our all things could actually fall entirely that it doesn’t rise again?

Luke 19:42 …If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things [which belong] unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

You can’t see them, you’re blind is what Christ is telling the church.

Luke 19:43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

What was the whole reason? They did not understand the prophecies.

If you went up to a Pharisee and said, excuse me sir, you don’t understand the prophecies, would he believe you? He’d say, no way, I’m a doctor of the law, I’ve been studying the prophecies all my life. Jesus says, you don’t even know what’s going to transpire within your own faith, within your own religion. You don’t even know what’s happening or what’s going to happen. Could it be possible that Adventism has done the same thing, that we don’t understand prophecy relating to the church correctly? Jesus said, all this will happen because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. You didn’t know what time we’re living in. Why didn’t they know the time? It was their relationship with the prophets that mattered. The church leaders’ relationship with the prophets of God was all important for them actually being saved or not. If you receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, you will receive a prophet’s reward. The Bible says, don’t despise prophesying, test all things, prove all things and hold fast to that which is good.

Jesus challenges them again and He gives some of their reasoning:

Matthew 23:29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 [Ye] serpents, [ye] generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and [some] of them ye shall kill and crucify; and [some] of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute [them] from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Here Christ exposes their relationship with the prophets. He says this is how you think if you place yourself in the history when a prophet is clearly proven to be a prophet you would say within yourself, we would accept them as a prophet entirely. But if the prophet is a modern day prophet as in given in your lifetime, or very close to your living, then you wouldn’t receive him. And because you won’t receive the prophet that is close to you, by virtue of not receiving the prophet, you will also not actually receive the prophet that was long ago because that thinking was wrong.

If you were in Jeremiah’s day, would you believe Jeremiah as a prophet? You are a faithful patriotic Jew in Jerusalem. You go to the synagogue every Sabbath and Jeremiah comes along. Would you believe Jeremiah? Yes or no? We flatter ourselves and think, yes I would. But if you read the book of Jeremiah, he’s one of the most negative prophets in all the Scriptures. He is, woe this and woe that. There’s a problem there and there’s a problem over here. How do we relate with people who do that today? When someone says, excuse me, here is a problem in the church and there’s a problem in the church there and there’s some worldliness here and this should be done away with, and we go, oh! I don’t like these people because they’re just naggers and yet I would accept Jeremiah. Jesus is challenging the reasoning of that by saying, if you don’t receive them today, if you can’t handle examining this way, okay well, is it worldly? Let’s see according to scriptures. Let’s actually be open about it and actually receive a reproof from God’s messengers. Then perhaps you would receive Jeremiah.

Christ is saying, how do you deal with the prophets today? Do we do with the prophets today what the Jews did with the prophets of old? Ellen White – how does the church take her? Are there statements in Ellen White’s writings that the church loves? Are there statements that they hate? Ellen White makes a statement that the church is not Babylon, that is a hot favourite. Is it possible that there are statements that people don’t like to read and actually balance them? To say that the church of God isn’t actually Babylon, the question is, what is the church? Is it the national establishment? Is it the various denominations? Is it the institution? Or is it the message that people join to in order to come out of the world? Because if it’s coming out of the world and the church means “calling out”, it can’t be Babylon. But if you take that word “church” and stick it onto something that God didn’t mean to call, then you will misinterpret the prophecies. If you misinterpret the prophecies, could you lose your salvation? Yes. Jesus just said, because you didn’t know the time of your visitation your city will be destroyed because of that. In other words, it’s salvational to understand the messages God has through His prophets even today.

The Jewish church kept going. Jesus died, He rose again, people denied it. The Christian church started, they sort of broke away, the leaders didn’t like these young fishermen, rough looking fellows, the church kept going on and on for years after that. What’s Jesus talking about,? You’ll be destroyed?  What actually took place in A.D. 70? Before A.D. 70, the Roman armies came around the city. What did the Jews do? We’ll fight. So they fought, like they had done in the past. What happened the first time they pursued after the Roman army?

The Jewish forces, pursuing after Cestius and his army, fell upon their rear with such fierceness as to threaten them with total destruction. It was with great difficulty that the Romans succeeded in making their retreat. The Jews escaped almost without loss, and with their spoils returned in triumph to Jerusalem. Yet this apparent success brought them only evil. It inspired them with that spirit of stubborn resistance to the Romans which speedily brought unutterable woe upon the doomed city.  {GC 31.1}

Put yourself as a Jew. You really love the whole nation and as far as your mind is, you are God’s people and here comes the Romans. You go out or one of your loved ones goes out in the army and the Jews absolutely shake the Roman power to bits almost destroying them. They get back everything that was taken and the Romans fled. Is that an answer to prayer? Was that a miracle from God? If you put yourself in that circumstance, you’d say yes, God is for us. Look at these amazing miracles that God is doing! I don’t know what Jesus was on about, but He was wrong. These Christians they all ran away, look at them, they’re gone and we’ve got Jerusalem to ourselves now. Finally the church is clean from all these heretics. There was a promise that the uncircumcised would leave Jerusalem and the Christians, well, they weren’t Jews anymore. All the Romans left and now we have the fulfilment of prophecy. This world power has just fallen at our feet.

I believe if I was there and I was in that circumstance, I would have thought that. That is human thinking. But the amazing thing is it was wrong. That thinking is wrong. How do we know? Because we have the privilege of looking back at history and seeing that it was. The Bible says all these things happened unto them for examples upon whom the ends of the world have come, the people at the end. That happened so we can say, perhaps we shouldn’t do the same thing.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be celebrating and saying God is with us as we baptise so many thousands of people or when we can run these amazing crusades or we can have amazing television series or whatever is glorious in this world. Let’s not get proud about that it is proof of our acceptance with God that we have so many hospitals and institutions and look at the other people, look at these… they’re not going to do anything.

According to history that mentality can be easily flawed because what does it boil down to? It’s not about how many hospitals you have, it’s about how many sins you have overcome. It’s how many habits you break. That’s what it’s actually about. I’m proud, and that attitude made them suffer more when the Roman army came back.

The destruction of Jerusalem is a fearful and solemn warning to all who are trifling with the offers of divine grace and resisting the pleadings of divine mercy. Never was there given a more decisive testimony to God’s hatred of sin and to the certain punishment that will fall upon the guilty. {GC 36.1}

Be proud and as haughty as you like, make the biggest claims you like. If sin is an issue in your life, be afraid because God hates sin. It’s all about harbouring sin or being willing to let sin go. To be willing to let sin go means we need to take some reproving from God’s messengers without letting my pride get in the way and rejecting it because of my pride.

If you went up to a Jew and said, excuse me Mr. Jew, are you trampling on God’s law? What would they say? ‘No we’re not trampling on God’s law we’re Sabbath-keepers. We have all these rules about what the law is.’ Why was their city destroyed then? Did the Jews keep the law? They didn’t. Did they think they did? Is it possible that I can believe that I am in a commandment-keeping remnant church that actually doesn’t keep the commandments but not know it and if anyone will challenge me on that point I will be utterly offended and say, of course we keep the commandments?

The Saviour’s prophecy concerning the visitation of judgments upon Jerusalem is to have another fulfillment, of which that terrible desolation was but a faint shadow. In the fate of the chosen city we may behold the doom of a world that has rejected God’s mercy and trampled upon His law. {GC 36.2}

Let men beware lest they neglect the lesson conveyed to them in the words of Christ. {GC 37.2}

Let us be very careful that we don’t miss what Christ was actually getting at through His life. The disciples to a large extent up until the Pentecost and the resurrection of Christ, misunderstood the prophecies. Christ says to His disciples:

Luke 24:25 …O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

Do we believe in prophecy that God will revive the church, that there will be this compelling power that will come and will clean the church and that there will be a full reformation in the church?  The church will be revived and all those who aren’t loyal to the church will be gone and then in this amazing Pentecostal experience, the whole church is revived? That Jesus will come and the loud cry will happen? Do we believe that view is given in prophecy?

The old standard-bearers knew what it was to wrestle with God in prayer, and to enjoy the out-pouring of his Spirit. {RH, March 22, 1887 par. 2}

Those who began the work, those faithful Abrahams and Isaacs and Jacobs of the Advent message knew what it was like to receive God’s Spirit.

But these are passing off from the stage of action; and who are coming up to fill their places? How is it with the rising generation? are they converted to God? Are we awake to the work that is going on in the heavenly Sanctuary, or are we waiting for some compelling power to come upon the church before we shall arouse? Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come. {RH, March 22, 1887 par. 2}

Could it be that we have false hope in prophecy regarding our church, the Seventh-day Adventist movement? Is it possible that we could have the end time views relating to us all wrong? As if we’re standing, we’re going to go through, the ship will go through. Well let’s look at a prophecy. We need to believe all that the prophets have spoken. It is so important that we understand prophecy relating to the condition of God’s true people, because if we make a mistake and we make a profession that we’re the remnant church, that we are God’s people and we get it wrong, what a disappointment that will be. Is it possible? Is it scriptural that there will be people who were expecting to be in heaven and that won’t be there? Are you expecting to be in heaven? Is your expectation good enough? It’s not good enough. You need to understand entirely the prophetic view that God gives for the last generation.

If we don’t understand all that the prophets have spoken, if we don’t receive the message that is given currently, the modern day prophet, then we actually can’t be saved believe it or not. Because if we cannot receive the message given through the prophet today, we wouldn’t receive it when John the Baptist came or Elijah came, or when any other prophet came in our current circumstance. We like the hindsight know who was right and wrong, but in the current day it’s always harder to work out who is really God’s person and who is not.

In Ezekiel we see a prophecy that is frightening if we do not flee to the mercy of God and to the gospel message to have our sins cleaned and have repentance and hatred for sin that the gospel offers us.

Ezekiel 9:1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man [with] his destroying weapon in his hand. 2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them [was] clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar. 3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which [had] the writer’s inkhorn by his side; 4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. 5 And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: 6 Slay utterly old [and] young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom [is] the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which [were] before the house. 7 And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.

Nice picture? Sounds like the destruction of Jerusalem? Old and young. Christ said of the destruction of Jerusalem, Your children will perish inside. Here is this story, go through the city and if anyone is sighing and crying for the abominations that are done within, mark them, and if not, kill them.

How is it when someone is sighing and crying for wrong things that are done? Do they get pushed out of this church, saying, they are annoying ones in the church, they’re breaking our church peace and unity? Indeed people can complain and not be sealed because here it says:

The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. {5T 211.1}

You see here two things. It’s not just about complaining about the sins of other people, it’s actually complaining about your own frailty and realising my own condition. But it’s not just my own, it’s also that of others. That is such an important statement.

The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension: there are plenty people that can go around the church and point out every wrong thing and they feel quite proud about it. They’ll say, everyone else is wrong and I’m holy. In Jerusalem there was a man who went out the streets saying, woe, woe to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Was that man saved? He wasn’t saved. So let us balance this. Not every complainer, not all the people that raise problems, are okay; nor are those that want to push them away that complain. It’s a combination of being sensitive to my own failures and sins and coming to God with true sorrow mourning over my sin meaning that I don’t like them anymore; I want them gone, that is repentance and confession.

The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.”  {5T 211.1}

No mercy. Is there such a time when there will be no mercy? In that time, will those within the city of the Seventh-day Adventist movement be killed? According to prophecy, according to what the prophets have written, this will be the case. Therefore the question is, am I safe by being part of a group who claims to be the remnant? Am I safe? I’m actually not safe. My safety does not lay in my attachment to any group or any church however high the profession. My salvation is utterly dependent on my internal condition.

…and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Here we see that the church–the Lord’s sanctuary–was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. {5T 211.1,2}

We have this picture that when Jesus comes it’s going to be this glorious day. When probation closes, this is a dark day, a day of wrath, a day where the church receives the first strokes of the wrath of God let alone the last. It starts there. Do we forget this?

The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. {Ibid.}

Christ is coming to His husbandmen looking for fruit. He is coming to every church on the planet. Every minister, every elder, every deacon is answerable to God of what have you done with the truth that I have given you? Have you developed a congregation that has overcome sin? Have you brought forth the fruits of the gospel which is victory over sin practically? If we hang our heads and say, I’ve been preaching the exact opposite, I’ve been sharing that we can’t overcome sin, what will God do? What He did to the Jews. God is not a respecter of persons. God doesn’t have favourites above anyone else. If someone is faithful to God, whatever race, colour, whatever it is, God accepts them if they’ve done the right thing. If they have done the wrong thing, whatever your rank, station, office, position, claim, profession, it’s nothing to God.

These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say: The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. {5T 211.2}

We’re really good people; He couldn’t do that. That thinking is wrong.

Thus “Peace and safety” is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children all perish together.  {5T 211.2}

What we are actually looking at is a prophecy against the Seventh-day Adventist church for all of those who do not prepare internally for Jesus to come. This is something that is hard to actually understand that the Seventh-day Adventist church that has great light, has the three angels’ messages and hasn’t produced overcoming, sinless people, that throw a cloak over the existing evils and say, don’t pick too much, it’s God’s church, don’t pick at the faults. That mentality will be destroyed, according to prophecy. “To believe all that the prophets have spoken”, do we believe it? Ezekiel chapter 9, do we really believe that prophecy?

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Babylon? Is it possible that I could be part of Babylon personally, and be a Seventh-day Adventist? Is that possible? Could ten people do that? Could a hundred people do that? What does it mean to be Babylon? Let’s not get too mystical about it. Babylon is just a harlot, the mother of harlots. A harlot is an adulterer or adulteress, a friendship with the world. It’s a friendship with the world and keeping the faith at the same time, that’s all it is. To the point that the second angel’s message, Babylon is fallen, does not apply to the Catholic Church alone. The Catholic Church fell long ago. The second angel’s messages apply to the Protestant movements. Why? Because the Protestant movements had this profession of protesting against the paganism that the Roman church was playing around with against the fact that the Catholic church included paganism into its Christianity and Protestantism, the people who stood up and protested against the church for worldliness, those Protestant movements then did exactly the same thing.

They said, let’s take the world and incorporate worldly methods into Christianity. Let’s blend the two together and as far as the Scriptures are concerned, that is harlotry; and the harlot was Babylon.

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Think of what this means. What at does the world mean? The lust of the flesh. Study this out, Galatians tells you exactly what the lusts of the flesh are. Don’t get too narrow-minded in the meaning of these words. Actually look at the words that are given in Galatians, when it says the works of the flesh are these, and it lists them, study them out to see what they are in their broadness and you’ll know what worldliness is.

The lust of the eyes, the desire for glory, visual stimulus, that our world is so addicted to today; and the pride of life: does that mean religious pride is worldly? Yes. If I love my religious position, am I loving the world? The love of the Father is not in me.

1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Will the churches heed the Laodicean message? Will they repent, or will they, notwithstanding that the most solemn message of truth–the third angel’s message–is being proclaimed to the world, go on in sin? This is the last message of mercy, the last warning to a fallen world. If the church of God becomes lukewarm, it does not stand in favor with God any more than do the churches that are represented as having fallen and become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Those who have had opportunities to hear and receive the truth and who have united with the Seventh-day Adventist church, calling themselves the commandment-keeping people of God, and yet possess no more vitality and consecration to God than do the nominal churches, will receive of the plagues of God just as verily as the churches who oppose the law of God. Only those that are sanctified through the truth will compose the royal family in the heavenly mansions Christ has gone to prepare for those that love Him and keep His commandments.  {19MR 176.1}

Challenging. Do we like that statement? Really? Doesn’t it hit at religious pride entirely? If the statement says the church will just be glorious, we love it, the Jews did also. They loved every prophecy that made them look good in the world. But when there was a prophecy that had a negative tone on it, we don’t want to hear it. To believe all that the prophets have spoken. If we have the truth, if we unite with the Seventh-day Adventist church calling ourselves commandment-keeping people and yet there’s no difference between us and the world, or worldly churches, it’s maybe minute, God says you don’t stand in any better relation to God than if you were in those churches.

The world must not be introduced into the church and married to the church. Through union with the world the church will become corrupt,–“a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” The customs of the world must not have a place; for they will be open doors through which the prince of darkness will find access, and the line of demarkation will become indistinguishable between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. {RH, February 26, 1895 par. 4}

Can you tell the difference between God’s professed people and the world? If you were to walk down the street, could you say, hey, there’s someone who’s different, or you wouldn’t know? The question is, is there a clear line of demarcation between us and the world or not? That’s not using worldly music and putting Christian lyrics to it because that’s not a big enough demarcation. If this happens, through union with the world the church will become corrupt. That’s what the prophet said. That’s what God’s messenger said. It’s up to you to believe it or not. I know I believe it.

Revelation 18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

It’s a repeat of the second angel’s message. The Roman Catholic Church fell long ago, the second angel’s message happened in the summer of 1844 and it applied to the Protestant churches and now we have another calling of a fall. Who may it be?

Revelation 18:3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

What is it all about? It’s all about sin. It’s not about profession, not about claim, not about your opinion, it’s about sin. God will punish sin. Those who hang on to it will be destroyed. God’s final call is, come out of her my people, the way of worldly sinning.  Whatever church you want to call it, it doesn’t actually matter the name at all, what matters is, is it worldly? Is it sinful? Then you come out of it. If not, be at peace, you don’t have to be all defensive.

If Jesus was challenged and they said, you’re of the devil, did that phase Him? No. So many times the Jews said, we think you’re a Samaritan, as in they were calling Jesus names. If you’re a Samaritan that is really bad. You know that Jesus didn’t say anything? He didn’t feel like killing them or getting upset. If someone calls you Babylon and you’re not, don’t worry. Do you know why? Because you’re not. You don’t have to be defensive. But if someone calls you Babylon or you are in the world, and you get all defensive like perhaps you are, then it should speak to you and say, hang on, why am I all upset with people saying this? Maybe it could be true. Perhaps, maybe I should examine myself, maybe I should look back at history and take heed lest I think I’m standing but I could actually be falling.

I think that’s a much wiser way of going about it if people called you names or called your church names. Don’t worry if it’s wrong. Don’t even defend it. Truth doesn’t need defending, truth is truth. We do uphold the truth though, but we don’t have to kill people over it if they don’t agree with it. That’s what I mean by defending.

Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Here Christ is speaking directly to a church.

Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Christ is saying, I’m going to spue out, reject, because you have a mentality that you think you understand everything but you’re actually blind and you can’t see. So He says, I counsel thee to buy of me eye salve so that you can see. One of the best ways to get vision is through prophecy because without a vision the people perish. We need to be told directly by God’s messengers in black and white what will happen and what won’t happen because we are blind. We need to have the vision of God, not our earthly vision with which we seem to look at the scenario and look at the numbers of the church and look at the missionary reports and this person’s testimony and that amazing thing and as far as I can see this is just brilliant; instead of actually going with what the prophet said because it gives an entirely different view.

Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time? Is it those who virtually excuse wrongs among the professed people of God and who murmur in their hearts, if not openly, against those who would reprove sin? Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? {3T 267.1}

It’s interesting when someone in the laity stands up against some wrong in the leadership, and the leadership has supporters. Those people who are pointing out wrong in the leadership are all of a sudden turned as if they are the bad people. They are the trouble makers. Are those people who defend the wrong and make those who stand up for what is right look wrong? Are those God’s people? That’s the question? Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time?

Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? No, indeed! Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work and in holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God’s sealing approval. They will fall in the general destruction of the wicked, represented by the work of the five men bearing slaughter weapons. Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those “that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done” in the church. Their love for purity and the honor and glory of God is such, and they have so clear a view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that they are represented as being in agony, even sighing and crying. {3T 267.1}

The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, {RH, September 23, 1873 par. 4}

That’s not bringing in people in the church by the way. Salvation of souls means salvation from sin. Many people get the zeal of going around and finding people to come to church, that’s not the missionary work spoken of here, this is the burden of saving people from sin, that burden.

The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character.  {RH, September 23, 1873 par. 4}

What’s it all about? It’s all about sin and rejecting sin through the gospel.

They will always be on the side of faithful and plain dealing with sins which easily beset the people of God. Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand, who are to stand without fault before the throne of God, will they feel most deeply the wrongs of God’s professed people. This is forcibly set forth by the prophet’s illustration of the last work under the figure of the men, each having a slaughter weapon in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side. “And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” {Ibid.}

The leaven of godliness has not entirely lost its power. At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world.  {5T 209.3}

Are you burdened with this? Have you received from God the burden and the love of souls that when sin is practiced it hurts you?

These are all prophecies so that we can get a view of the people at the end.

In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.  {5T 210.3}

The church is in this condition and then there is a little company of people who sigh and cry. Which part are you under? Are you part of the church that wants to uphold God’s standard and have a zeal for God’s honour? Or of the one that puts a cloak to cover over the iniquities of the church by certain reasonings, which could be, the church will go through, it can’t fail, it’s not Babylon and all these reasonings that are used to excuse wrongs that will lead to the destruction of those people if they’re not repented of?

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The message is, come out of the world and be separate. If the church ever loses that message, it’s not doing its work. To come out of sin, if anyone hears the message, say it. If you hear, come out of her, then come out and be part of the message that calls people out. We must be out ourselves to be able to call people out otherwise you’d be telling them to “Go” out and that wasn’t the message, go out, it’s, Come out, which means you must be out yourself.

John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear [them] not, because ye are not of God.

Are you in tune with God’s message? Can you tell when God is speaking through His prophets? Because if we can hear Him speaking, we will not be offended like the Jews were because of religious pride. Jesus says:

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

The 144,000, they’re not defiled with women, what’s a woman in prophecy? A church. Is it possible to go to a church and end up being defiled because of that church? Yes and that is done through loyalty to the church above the truth, you’re defiled by a woman.

Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women;

There is not a loyalty to a church that is at the expense of the truth. That’s the 144,000.

Revelation 14:4 …for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, [being] the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

I pray that we can be part of the first fruits, that we can be part of the 144,000. Not because of what we claim to be, or what group we claim to belong to, but that we allow the gospel to produce a fruit in us that when God comes, He will receive us as His own. May God bless us as we seek to hear His voice from hereon.

Amen.

 

Posted on January 29, 2014, in Babylon, Divine Service Sermons, Sermons For Sabbath. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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