The kingdom of Babylon had seen better days. Up to quite recently it had been feared and respected by all the nations of the world.
Isaiah the son of Amoz declared, “Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride” (Isaiah 13:1, 19).
Jeremiah the prophet waxed eloquent, “Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of YHVH, intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine” (Jeremiah 51:7).
Even the prophetic seer Daniel spoke boldly to Nebuchadnezzar, “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory. And wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all” (Daniel 2:37-38).
Yet the rumbling foreshocks of a huge earthquake were now rippling through the palace of King Belshazzar. Every citizen of that great city knew that at that very moment a vast and vengeful army of Persians and Medians was gathered outside the mighty and seemingly impenetrable walls of the world’s strongest capital – Babylon, the City of the Lions.
Golden vessels filled with pagan wine
Babylon’s king believed that his country was protected. More than that – he knew that the city’s defenses and destiny were impregnable. Even with the Persian enemy at the gates, there would be no breaching of the walls and no military conquest. Babylon the Mighty’s future was assured.
Belshazzar now called for a feast of wine. He commanded that the sacred vessels of YHVH’s Temple in Jerusalem – booty seized by his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar – be brought out, and that royal libations be poured into Hebrew goblets of gold. The king’s wives and concubines would drink a toast to the Great Babylon, while skilled Middle Eastern musicians would serenade the banqueters. In the king’s mind, Bel and Nebo (Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 50:2; 51:44) had once vanquished YHVH the God of the Hebrews. Now Babylon’s gods would soon make short shrift of these upstart Persians.
All of a sudden, in the middle of the royal festivities, “the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing” (Daniel 5:5). One could have cut the silence with a knife. Belshazzar began to tremble, and his knees uncontrollably knocked together. He shouted out for the royal astrologers and horoscope casters to come and explain the writings, for to him they appeared like gibberish. “Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the inscription” (Daniel 5:8).
The destiny of Babylon was hanging in the balance, but her wisest men could not decipher the threat – because the threat was written in Hebrew and these wise men could not read Hebrew.
What do the Jews have to do with it?
The fate of the Babylonian empire hinged on understanding a message from the God of the Jews, given through a Jewish prophet in a Semitic language.
- But Babylon found it hard to interpret world events through an Israel-focused lens and so ended up blind to what was coming down the pike.
It was not only a language question with Babylon. It was the ability to see events as God sees them. This means looking at world events from the perspective of how it affects the Jewish people, who are described in Zechariah 2:8 as the apple or pupil of God’s eye.
This scenario was set up for Babylon by the God of Jacob, who “has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and … has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
God’s choosing of Israel as His first-born nation is often a stumbling block to the nations of the world, and to Middle Eastern nations in particular.
- “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation. And as for His ordinances, they have not known them” (Psalm 147:19-20)
- “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is YHVH our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)
- “From the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the patriarchs, for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-29)
Keeping a biblical focus on Israel could have saved the King of Babylon much grief and loss. Even in tumultuous time – then and now – there is the need to remember and be guided by YHVH’s priority dealings with the Jewish people.
Shakings in today’s world
The present swirl of traumatic world events is pronounced. Present crisis situations like the four major wars (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya) raging in the Middle East, the rise of Russia and Iran as serious world players, cyberwarfare attacks, the weakening of the USA, and the upcoming American elections – all of these have the potential to exclusively monopolize our attention. A concomitant danger here is that any one of these events may pull us into tunnel vision and eclipse a biblical focus on God’s priority people Israel.
The quicksand of world events could easily distract us from standing firm with God’s heart and strategy for Zion:
- “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13)
- “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, until her vindication shines out like the dawn and her salvation like a blazing torch …I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem. They will never be silent day or night. You who call on YHVH, give yourselves no rest and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth” (Isaiah 62:1, 6-7)
Earthquakes and tsunamis
The writer of Psalm 46 reminds us that earth-shaking events are fearful things: “We will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Along with natural cataclysmic disasters, war and anarchy may raise their ugly heads: “Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall … wars, bow, spear … shield” all rise up across the planet. The biblical antidote is not a consortium of ‘peace-enforcing’ nations like the United Nations, UNESCO, the EU, the Quartet or even the USA.
It is the covenant presence of the God of the Jewish people which is our deliverance and protection. “YHVH of armies is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.” This God of Israel tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”
God’s protection of His people comes about through His judgments, His military defeat of Israel’s enemies, and His forcible disarmament of the nations: “He lifts his voice, the earth melts. Come and see what YHVH has done, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear. He burns the shields with fire.”
The defeat of Israel’s enemies will occur on two levels. God Himself will go forth to fight against His enemies as they despoil Jerusalem: “Then YHVH will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem…” (Zechariah 14:3).
But the prophetic scriptures also let us in on a secret – that the God of Jacob will also make use of His Ezekiel 37 Dry Bones Army in this campaign: “You (ed. Jacob) are My war club, My weapon for battle. With you (ed. Zion) I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms” (Jeremiah 51:20).
Only when these enemies have been defeated on the battlefield, will the peace promised by the Hebrew prophets flower and fill the earth. In that day Jerusalem will be the center of this blessed reality: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble….There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy Place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall. God will help her at break of day” (see Psalm 102:22).
Stay on target
Present worries and fears have the ability to choke out spiritual fruit and fill our hearts with fear (see Matthew 13:21-22). One of the first casualties in such a scenario is God’s heart, perspectives and strategies regarding Jacob’s children. The Lord of Heaven has enscripturated most of the Bible with detailed teaching and prophecy about these coming events. Let’s stay on target in our prayers as these days speed up and as these events approach.
Peace is not about to break out in the Middle East. From Egypt to Assyria and from Morocco to Malaysia, the heart attitude among Islamic and Arab states toward the Jewish people and their state will not be easily resolved apart from decisive events (including revival and military defeats).
Yeshua warned us, “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming …‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them” (Luke 21:8). There will be significant hostilities and open war on the highway of the Middle East before there will be a highway of peace, salvation and worship.
- The antidote to prophetic confusion involves laying hold of the prophetic hope that God gives us in His word – and much of that hope centers in and around the Jewish people, the Land of Israel and the physical city of Jerusalem.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for spiritual leaders in your city and your country to receive spiritual revelation and revival about these issues as crisis events raise their heads
- Pray for yourself as you sit with God’s word – that He will deepen your understanding and discernment about these issues
- Pray for God’s Spirit to fall on Jewish people worldwide, granting revelation about His covenant promises, His marvelous calling on Israel, and His incredible provision of atonement and rescue in Yeshua the Messiah
- Pray for the self-declared enemies of the Jewish people – for revelation of these truths, for repentance, for revelation of God’s heart and for works in keeping with repentance on these matters
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
Donations can be sent to:
FINAL FRONTIER MINISTRIES
BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA
Donations can also be made on-line (by PayPal) through: www.davidstent.org