If this isn’t a sign for France, and to the world – on multiple levels – I don’t know what is.
Rome is burning.
Forshadowing of Babylon.
The tower falls every time.
If this isn’t a sign for France, and to the world – on multiple levels – I don’t know what is.
Rome is burning.
Forshadowing of Babylon.
The tower falls every time.
A comparison of four classical composers, with observations on how their music either helps uplift the soul to God, or draws the mind down to wallow in the things below.
1 – Johann Sebastian Bach: The Harmony Of Logos
Examples of Bach:
Brandenberg Concerto No.3:
Bach’s beautiful choral arrangement of the Lutheran hymn “By The Rivers Of Babylon” (“An Wasserflüssen Babylon”):
Toccata & Fugue:
Bach’s music describes in vivid sonic detail the reality of God’s divine order and eternal truth. There is seemingly no phrase or note in his music not written to this one end; all has distinct purpose. There is no waste; and everything is addressed in a most dignified manner. In Bach’s music, the Light is spoken of with awe and reverence; and the darkness is spoken of within the context of God’s mastery over all. There is pure joy in the Lord, with nothing trite or frivolous. There is pure fear of the Lord, with no hint of despair. There is no glorying in man’s thoughts or strength; but much rather in God’s wisdom and power.
Bach is (among other things) the great exegete of the keyboard, and his extensive repertoire lays out for us, as it were, the divinely appointed boundaries of every note’s potential use in relation to another, with every measure of his many compositions effortlessly reflecting his own remark that “harmony is close to Godliness”. There is no flirtation with musical subversion or mindless dissonance; and the occasional unusual sound is employed only to serve the well-being of the hearer as far as it reflects the realities of God’s truth within the created order of the music.
“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
– Johann Sebastian Bach
How well indeed did his music fulfill that saying!
2 – George Frideric Handel: The Sound Of Majesty
Examples of Handel:
Overture, from Messiah:
Comfort Ye My People, from Messiah:
Overture, from Alexander’s Feast of the Power of Music:
A contemporary and fellow countryman of Bach (though they never met), Handel’s music is hewn from the same substance, with an ever-present consciousness of honoring God’s glory. There is always a sense of divine majesty in his compositions, by which the sensitive hearer is at times made to feel that they tread on holy ground – and this without either pretension or any sense of overbearing forcefulness on the part of the music: it simply speaks for itself when played, as truth always does when uttered.
The instrumentation alone in his famous work “Messiah” can easily take one into the very holy of holies if the soul is prepared to heed its call; and the accompaniment of prophetic scriptures borne upon its heavenly melodies carries an anointing unparalleled in most hymnody. There is often a hush of awe which falls upon even the most secular of audiences when these pieces are performed in succession. That particular work was reported to have been written by Handel in the course of approximately 30 days (in its base form, without many of the large choral parts – still an astounding feat).
3 – Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Self-Interest Of Man
Examples of Beethoven:
Piano Concerto No.1 – Allegro Con Brio:
Cello Sonata No.3 in A Major:
Beethoven’s music still lives within the world of reality and truth, but it often does very little to consciously acknowledge such. There is still an adherence to the orderliness and natural beauty of things; but the element of divine authority is replaced with a largely unanswered search for meaning. Vast portions of his compositions are dedicated to meander through the deep woods of a lonesomely reasoning mind; and their occasional discoveries, though useful, are usually not revelatory. There is natural light, but always the bright sun is hidden behind a blanket of cloud; and the divine is so distant that it need not be directly spoken of.
In Beethoven the transcendent is lost to long rabbit trails of thought, and, at times, impulsive little adventures in melody. Not that anything is ever objectionable to the hearing – there is still a clear appreciation for beauty – yet it is limited to created beauty, and seemingly not the Creator Himself. Beethoven does eventually come to an appropriately resolved end in his compositions; but we are usually left wondering what ultimate reason there was for much of the journey. There is a distinct sense of spiritual unfulfullment despite the typical excellency of his musical form.
One always remembers the feeling of Beethoven’s music; but only a few of his pieces leave a definite impression – and even where they do, all of his music is strongly laced with the sighing melancholy of humanism’s emptiness. Even where he breaks through his troubles into a happy theme, it is always with a certain dullness of heart. Even if the light is brilliant without, it is as though the eyesight remains dim from within. Any soul not lulled to a certain numbness by much of his music is left wanting for a warmth and wholeness that was not granted; and who now shall sing to that soul of the brighter Day?
4 – Richard Wagner: The Madness Of Devils
Examples of Wagner:
Prelude of “Tristan und Isolde” – which has been cited by some as an early inspiration to Nietzsche’s trajectory of thought.* It is a daunting and tiresome listen:
The Ride of the Valkyries – known to often evoke in men a heightened desire for war and pointless worldly conquest:
Much of Wagner’s music (particularly as heard above) is the expression of the subversive amoral philosophy of will-to-power. There is no reality or truth there except whatever the soul desires to conquer and call its own. As an excellent example of this Satanic mindset, the starting notes of “The Ride Of The Valkyries” sound perfectly like the arousal of jealousy; and the ensuing journey is one of a constant blowing about in the swirling winds of the growing lust for power, which is the only meaning in this nihilistic worldview.
Therefore, its end is wanting of any real wholesome resolve; and throughout, the key signature changes frequently, but not often to a wholly related key. Its sense of mounting triumph has no source outside of what it has accomplished in itself by sheer will: the transcendent is drowned out completely by self-glory. At last, it crashes to an end after a swift tumble into darkness, having left the listener’s heart in great alarm. And after its echoes die off in the ears, one is left with no new thing to contemplate, no melody by which the soul is given a path toward the Logos of God. The divine is utterly cut off; the soul (if it has trusted the music) is left open to the first thought or spirit that may seek to lead it astray.
It is also worth noting that this Wagner, the composer, was a great personal influence upon Nietzsche, the philosopher; and a hefty portion of Wagner’s music certainly does seem to subvert divine order, just as the philosophy of that madman, leaving in its wake the chaotic void into which he himself no doubt gazed.
There hasn’t been a time since the fall of man when music was not a battleground for men’s souls.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
*For some additional interesting information on this subject matter, listen to this interview which I came across recently. He lays out the history of the subversion of music in the late classical era quite well, and particularly touches upon the relationship between Wagner and Nietzsche.
** I do not own any of the music or audio used in this post; it is herein used for reviewing purposes only. **
It is the inconsistencies which we most tolerate within ourselves that make us the most hypocritical. These may even seem to be our smallest faults; yet no matter what they are, if we tolerate them the most, they render us more grievous hypocrites than the greatest failings of which we immediately repent.
Wickedness and idolatry will take whatever shape or form that it requires to survive; and subtlety is its greatest weapon.
Repentance is the destroyer of all hypocrisy, and righteousness fills the void left by its absence. Heavy lies the flesh of he who does not repent of every known fault; but free is the man whose slave-master is Christ.
Part 2 can be read HERE
THE CITY OF GOD IS OUR CALLING
“My kingdom is not of this world.” – Jn 18:36
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
This prayer does not request mixture, it rather acknowledges contrast. What great perversion is wrought by men concerning these words of the Lord! For they postulate that the church itself must impose heaven’s method of governance upon the earthly authorities, and establish the heavenly kingdom by the means of earthly rulership. Now they would not all explicitly describe it in this way, but this truly is what they seek to do and how they operate. They contradict the Lord’s silence when He was offered all the kingdoms of the earth by Satan; forgetting that even after Christ was risen, His all-encompassing authority was for the church to “preach repentance and remission of sins in His name among all nations,” (Lk 24:47), not to obtain cultural sympathy. For example, the persecuted apostles found no need to argue for any form of “free speech;” they simply spoke, because they were free men (Acts 5). Cultural influence is only acceptable as a coincidental product of discipleship; whereas a “discipleship” born of cultural or political influence is inauthentic and blasphemous in God’s sight.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the lawmaker from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and the obedience of the peoples to HIM.
Genesis 49:10 (LITV)
Shiloh has come. When Shiloh (Heb. “He whose it is”) came, the theocracy of earthly Israel ended, and the theocracy of Christ reigning within the hearts of men by the direct infilling of the Holy Spirit began. God’s answer to the Jews’ expectation is and always will be Pentecost, not dominion. If you do not partake in the Holy Ghost in this age, you will not partake in the kingdom in the age to come. (I say to partake in, not merely to partake of, which is different.) As long as you are without the first coming of Christ, you will most assuredly miss the second. You cannot reject the one and be able to recieve the other. This is the explicit teaching of the apostles…
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
Acts 2:36-40 (ESV)
“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” – The kingdom comes when God sees that the church is pure, unspotted by, and unmixed with the ways of this present world – and this can only begin in each individual “sanctifying the Lord God in their hearts” (1Pet 3:15). God’s will being done on earth does not mean that we demand the earthly governances to operate by our best conception of the heavenly standard: it rather means that HIS CHURCH is pure, and that as such, she worthily commands all men everywhere to repent, by which call He gathers His elect from the four winds of the earth. For truly the phrase “as it is in heaven” speaks of the perfect degree to which His will is done. It is a prayer that His will be adhered to on earth as obediently as it is adhered to in heaven. And what is His will for the nations on earth? To be divided. (Read Pt. 1) And what is His will for the church? To be united under His absolute Lordship wherever they dwell. But where the one is compromised to supposedly accomplish the other, there is Babylon; and of this our wicked and perverse generation is most assuredly guilty. They render unto Caesar what is God’s, and unto God what is Caesar’s.
By no means, therefore, can the the will of God being done on earth, in this age, imply anything that contradicts the spiritual chasm which the Lord God has set between the kingdoms of this world and His own kingdom since the fall of man. This is not a gnostic dichotomy, of which I have been accused by the simpletons; this is rather to point out the obvious boundary which God has set in lieu of man’s sin and Satan’s rebellion. There are realms of authority witheld from men, including from the church, until the new heavens and new earth appear. To overstep these bounds is not the zeal of the Lord, it is really the pride of the fallen one seducing us. It is not by human conquest that Christ subdues the nations, but rather by His final coming; and it is not by the cultural ingenuity or political zeal of religious men that the earthly kingdoms “become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ:” but rather by the preserving of souls from out of this wicked generation; since in this age His reign takes place in their hearts, and theirs in His. Then the rest will finally be thrown into everlasting fire, and whoever remains are His body: those whom He has redeemed from out of all the nations, who overcame the draw of this present evil age by nothing except the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; having become Israel His portion, which are Jacob His allotted heritage. “And so all Israel will be saved.”
FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM…
“…and the power, and the glory, forever.” – Matt 6:13
And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: *and we shall reign on the earth.”
It is because God has an elect from out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation that the scriptures will be fulfilled which say, “God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself,” and, “I will draw all men unto Myself,” and, “God so loved the world… that every believing one might not perish…” (accurate Gk. for Jn 3:16 – and note the specificity). Election is the scriptures’ rebuke to every form of universalism. For the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world has names excluded from it; though there will be names written in it from every corner of the earth. *[As for their “reign on the earth,” the saints here speak of it as a future event, in a passage which describes the culmination of His redemption in the present age. It therefore cannot speak of them reigining now in a material sense.]
The Lord’s design for His own people from eternity is hanged upon the wisdom of His cross: wherein is both hidden and revealed the fulcrum of all justice, before which the wise are made foolish and the foolish are made wise. It would have been just and righteous for Him to have wiped out all of creation upon the commencement of the fall; yet He freely chose not to do so, being pleased to make the justification of the unjust a just reward for those who will have the sufferings of Christ at work in themselves by His mighty power. For in sin being made much of in ages beforehand, how much more now the glory of God in breaking sin’s hold! Who then is man to answer back to God, who finds fault with some, yet mercies others? The Almighty is under no obligation to show mercy; yet He has done so, while retaining for Himself all the rights to His grace. “What if God, desiring to show His wrath, and to make His power known, patiently endured the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory to vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory – we whom He has called, not of the Jews only but also of the nations?” (Rom 9:22-24) This reveals no capitulation or moral compromise in God, but rather reveals the infinite glory of Christ who bore the sins of many in His own body on the tree, showing forth the longsuffering and patience of God toward all who will trust in Him.
And those who have this mystery at work in them rise not unto earthly gain as though it is Godliness. For in this world we are rather exhorted:
Therefore let us go to Him outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name.
Not by might or by power, but by the Spirit of Christ, He has begun, as our psalmist cried, to “judge the earth.” (Ps 82).
And this is the judgment: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light because their works were evil.
“For what fellowship has light with darkness?” Do not let this warning pass you by. Consider the day when Israel made a covenant with the deceitful Gibeonites in exchange for earthly utility (Joshua 9). It was grievous enough that the leaders of Israel did not inquire of the Lord regarding the Gibeonites before swearing an oath of protection to them – but we today are far worse: for we, even when we do inquire of the Lord, and He tells us what they really are, we still make covenants with them from behind a facade of ignorance regarding their true nature. Until all of our Gibeonite oaths are renounced, and the son of the slave woman kicked out, God’s people will have no sustained power to do His will. Let not those who think to have crossed the Jordan be sure of themselves as did the children of Israel in the deception of the Gibeonites; for the Jordan crossing is only the first step in the taking of the promised land. These are the most elementary schemes of the devil; meanwhile, there are even more deep and more treacherous waters through which we have yet to wade before we find rest beyond Egypt, which is also Babylon.
Now the synagogue of Satan are the high priests of Babylon; and in response to their doctrine the apostle wrote:
Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.
But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.”
So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
Ever have the false prophets slowly drawn men of God away from their rightful post (apostasy – to leave one’s post) by speaking things which even may come to pass, leading us to follow after their gods (Deut 13:1-3). And who are their gods? They are those principalities which the god of this age has used to infatuate the prophets with earthly glories! And for the sake of earthly gain they will even prophesy of the true prophets, saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:16-18). By their smooth words they steal the flock of God away to the idolatry of earthly power, to the erection of the tower of the city in which all the nations fornicate. For in their own unity, the hearts of men find no need of the unity that is found only in Christ.
The whore is Babel, the city of man’s unity; but the church invisible is true Zion, the city of God’s unity. God divided the nations at Babel; He unites the nations in the redeemed souls of His heavenly kingdom. But when man seeks to do this for himself on earth, he rebuilds Babel every time; and every time, it falls. God will not be mocked.
Of Zion it is said over Babylon:
On the holy mount stands the city He founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God.
Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush – “This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in HER”; for the Most High Himself will establish HER.
The LORD records as He registers the peoples, “This one was born there.”
Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in YOU.”
For THINE is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever! Amen.
From Babylon to Zion bright,
Let children tread above the mire.
For gods in which man takes delight
Shall drag him to eternal fire.
The rulers fought for kingdom-come
Without a thought of Christ within.
How much indeed will be the sum
Of judgement if we likewise sin.
There is no rest, no throne on earth,
That grasping, we shall have repose.
But God in Christ has made a birth
In which His kingdom is disclosed.
Part 1 can be read HERE
VICTORY REVEALED, REBELLION RENEWED
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” – Lk 10:18
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The victory of Christ in His death and resurrection surely sealed the fate of sin and death, and spelled certain doom for the rule of Satan on the earth; but not yet has the full task been manifestly completed. The legal groundwork is laid; but the war is far from over. The gavel has resounded with “it is finished;” but now God builds His kingdom upon that decree in our hearts just as a man builds his house upon a foundation. The Potter has chosen His lumps of clay in Christ; but now He puts them to His wheel for the making of vessels, and tries them each by fire.
Yet for now, my focus is drawn primarily to the cosmic regime change at which the Lord hints in the phrase, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” This is in stark contrast to His earlier acknowledgement by silence that the kingdoms of the earth were rightfully under the rule of the Devil (Matt 4:8-10). But now, they are rightfully under Christ’s rule, in just as direct a sense that they were once rightfully under the Devil’s – yet here is where men of God become puffed up in their understanding. And to counter their leaven, we need look no further than His prescription for the church in light of His total authority: “MAKE DISCIPLES.”
Now one will say, “But He says, ‘of all nations’ – so surely the body of Christ is meant to eventually disciple the very kingdoms of the earth even in this age.” How such men must then interpret the kings of the earth committing fornication with the Great Prostitute, I am quite at a loss. For it would imply a total failure on the part of His church, thus reflecting a poor record upon He who said “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Little do they realize, however, that such a mixture of the city of God and the city of man is the very fornication there spoken of! But no, we are to make disciples from out of all nations. In Luke’s account of the same great commission, Jesus says to preach the gospel into or among the nations [“εἰς” – Str. G1519 ] – it is the personal call of the gospel’s command to repent unto the Lordship of Christ, not a commission for the broad moral or spiritual conquest of society as a whole. It is the call to suffer outside the camp which turns the world upside-down, not the call to reorder the camp. It is the countering of worldly agendas with a heavenly gospel that throws men off balance from their mesmerization with the world; it is the individual repenting of his race to the bottom of depravity which offends the flesh; it is the simple holy life lived against the stream of the spirit of the age that sheds the most light upon the Devil’s work. We ought to be so heavenly minded that the scriptures would include us in the saying, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb 11).
We would do well to take heed of Jesus’ words to the seventy-two; when they had experienced the power of His authority yet admired it according to the flesh, which leads to all manner of unholy mixture:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your Name!” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The Lord Jesus was not impressed by the mere excercise of His authority; He sought for His own an eternal perspective of His kingdom, a heavenly mindset in which men find no earthly good – for God Himself is the only absolute good. But in the midst of this discussion, He remarks, as if out of nowhere, upon the scene in the heavenlies that backdrops His first coming: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” And it is this very scene in time which the apostle John saw regarding the birth of that Son of Man…
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a Male Child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her Child was caught up to God and to His throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
This woman was the Israel of that day, from which the Christ was brought forth; and upon His coming, the Devil incurred yet another rebellion of heavenly hosts to thwart the rule of He “who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” Yet the Anointed One did NOT immediately establish this full reign upon the earth, as had been expected by the wisdom of this world; but was rather “caught up to God and to His throne” (the ascension), “and the woman fled into the wilderness…” And that woman is comprised of all those to whom He came, as unto His own, and they received Him not (Jn 1:11).
Now as we read above, it is within the context of the first coming of Christ – not the fall of Adam – that a third of the stars of heaven were “swept down” by the dragon. And these are the forces against which much of our warfare is fought today. For it says of the first incursion of the fallen sons of god (the bên ‘ĕlôhîym – read part 1) that Christ has now kept them “in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day…” (Jude 5-7)
But concerning the new rebellion, the beloved apostle writes further of what was shown to him:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come [Mt 28:18-20], for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
This describes the current age. Here the great commission is echoed in the saying, “the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come;” because Satan fell, as Jesus said, like lightning from heaven: “for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” He shall never again set foot in the divine council; but on earth he works to establish a kingdom of darkness, and to wear out the holy ones of God through the whoredoms of the earthly powers, upon whom he imposes his wicked influence.
“It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” – Lk 13:33
“And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints…” – Rev 18:24
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
The Devil’s scheme is the seduction of all who do not obey the Spirit of Christ; and in his rage against the Son of God, he turns to persecute and stamp out the offspring which are born after His image. For notice where the woman flees to: “into the wilderness;” and there she is preserved “where she has a place prepared by God.”
But for what is she prepared? It could have been for mercy; but the story quickly changes. We see that the dragon in his wrath does not continue this pursuit of her, but turns rather to the persecution of her spiritual offspring (the church). And notice by what she is helped when the dragon sought her utter destruction: she is helped not by God, who had borne her away in mercy for a time; but she is now helped by the earth, which “opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth…”
I see in this a turning of the woman away from the purposes of God to fully embrace the methods of the rulers of the earth, which the Christ foretold to her worldly children the Jews saying, “I have come in My Father’s Name, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” (Jn 5:43) For until this day, all who reject Christ, especially they which call themselves the Jews, have turned to the kings of the earth for help; and having thereby aquired a lust for power, have embittered the whole world against them, of whom Paul says, “who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men…” (1Thess 2:14-16) Such is the tale of all to whom He comes, yet who do not receive Him; and it remains a warning to His church. “He came unto His own; but…”
It is at this very junction that judgement begins anew at the house of God, resulting in the distinction between two women: the bride and the whore. And this is the age of judgement in which we now live; for this judgement befalls every generation in one way or another. As Christ said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see might see; and that those who see might become blind.” (Jn 9:39)
Later, the woman is found again in the wilderness and is pronounced fallen, “for she has BECOME a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.” (Rev 18:2)
This is what John saw concerning she who had become the mother of harlots:
And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.
Now Babylon is not only the city in which “is found the blood of the prophets and saints” – a characterization which Christ Himself makes of the earthly Jerusalem (Lk 13:33) – but she is also the city in which is found the blood of “all who have been slain upon the earth” (Rev 18:24). Christ indeed seems to place the epicenter of Babylon during His earthly ministry at Jerusalem, as that is where the judgement of the gospel began; but then as the gospel spread, so also did the daughters of Babylon follow to the ends of the world. And now her cancer is found across the whole face of the earth; as she and her daughters are ever the more proficient at seducing men of God into her worldly ways. They are the false prophets which seduce the flock, they are the apostates which secretly prey upon the children of His inheritance; they are the synagogue of Satan, “who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie;” for the true Israel of God are the children of the very faith of Christ which dwelt in Abraham, but those who do not receive Him are cut off from the Vine. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:29)
And note what characterizes the beast on which she is carried: “it had seven heads and ten horns.” This is because the mode of her operation is religious in nature, but secular in power. Yet even the secular power in the end will hate her, resenting her sway over them, and her mixture will be her downfall.
And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”
The great whore is seated in stark contrast to the true bride of Christ. For while the former sits arrayed in purple and scarlet, the latter humbly adorns herself in the white raiment bought beyond price; and unlike the former, she drinks not the blood of her enemies from a chalice of gold: but she purifies herself in the blood of her Beloved through the fellowship of His sufferings to keep her garments unstained. And the betrothed of the Lord looks not for an earthly dwelling, but for a city whose builder and maker is God. For the assertion of Babylon is, “I sit a queen, and am no widow” (Rev 18:7); but the cry of the true daughter of Zion is, “Make haste, my Beloved!” (SS 8:14)
The pursuit of the kingdom by the will of man is the road to Babylon. The mixture of the holy with the profane is the abomination which causes desolation. Those who do these things are truly the murderers of the apostles and prophets; they are the perverters of all that the Lord would work in the hearts of His people. But in the seeing of the Son and in the suffering for His Name, the holy ones are brought to kingdom-come; and the whores will be delivered into the vengeful hand of He to whom belongs all power and glory.
That Word above all earthly pow’rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
– Martin Luther
Part 3 can be read HERE
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
The religion toward which every man’s heart is naturally drawn is characterized by a boasting in his own spirituality through the outward show of lofty words, and even lovely deeds, while inwardly there dwells secret depravity unchecked. But true religion in the sight of God is characterized by the golden harmony of authentic selflessness and personal holiness.
There is a sureity of tongue that is born not of holy confidence, but of arrogance; and yet there is also a self-deprication that is born not of humility, but of sinful pride.
The spiritual worship that is to be the very walk of every child of God is a daily offering of life to receive Life; it is the fragrance of holy conduct born of the fear of the Lord’s mercy. For he in whom the demerrited mercy of God does not invoke a reverence unto obedience has not known God.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
To “worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24) is seen in a selfless and holy life; to be authentically selfless only flows from the shattering recognition of the mercy of God; and to be truly holy is in a sense to be wholly true – which is to be without mixture in one’s dealings before the eyes of He who is all-knowing.
How, therefore, does the selfish man walk humbly, and the sinner live holy? By the application of the cross to every facet of his life and being, spirit soul and body. He to whom the cross of Christ truly applies will bear his own cross also. And it is this bearing of the cross which promises the abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom. In the urgency of such a life in God, there is found the foretaste of eternal rest; and in the overcoming obedience of such a faith, there runs a trust which takes hold of a purely God-ward contentment.
“The truly religious man does everything as if everything depends on himself, and then leaves everything as if everything depended on God.”
– Joseph Parker
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:3
“Now if peace be of grace, why hast thou high thoughts? Why art thou so puffed up, being saved of grace? And if thou hast peace with God, why wish to assign thyself to others, since this is what separation comes to? For what if you be at “peace” with this man, and with the other even find “grace?” My prayer is that both these may be yours from God; both from Him I say, and towards Him.
For neither do they abide secure except they enjoy the influence from above; nor unless God be their object will they aught avail you: for it profiteth us nothing, though we be peaceful towards all men, if we be at war with God; even as it is no harm to us, although by all men we are held enemies, if with God we are at peace. And again it is no gain to us, if all men approve, and the Lord be offended; neither is their any danger, though all shun and hate us, if with God we have acceptance and love.
For that which is verily grace, and verily peace, cometh of God, since he who finds grace in God’s sight, though he suffer ten thousand horrors, feareth no one; I say not only no man, but not even the devil himself; but he that hath offended God suspects all men, though he seem to be in security… Thus, if ye will mark it, David was in favor with God, Absalom was in favor with men. What was the end of each, and which of them gained most honor, ye know.”
– John Chrysostom (347-407)