The Maccabees were mightily used by the God of Israel to bring military deliverance to Jacob’s children. From weakness they were made strong, they became mighty in war and put foreign armies to flight (Hebrews 11:34). Barely two centuries later Messiah Yeshua walked the thorn-covered trails of Galilee, bearing chain-breaking gifts of light, healing, deliverance and eternal life – freely given to Israel’s scattered sheep, “a people who walked in darkness” (Isaiah 9:2). God’s heroes and deliverers – the gibor and the moshi’a – remain one of His time-honored strategies to break the power of the father of lies and to disconnect him from his infernal tools – the weapons and effects of sin.
Many years ago in a land far away stood a garden planted by the hands of YHVH Himself. In the middle of the garden stood a beautiful tree, its delicious-looking fruit laden with promising health and nutrition (Genesis 3:6). Yet YHVH God had commanded Adam, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may freely eat. But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:16-17). When Eve and Adam bit into the fruit of the forbidden tree, they underwent a spiritual transformation. Now they ‘knew good and evil,’ but not in the same way as YHVH, who knows all things without being infected by them (Genesis 3:22; 1 John 1:5). Our original father and mother disobeyed God and as a result were deathly infected by the virus of sin.
There was another tree in Eden, and its location was also no accident: “The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden” (Genesis 2:9). The devilish Temptation involved stampeding humankind into making a fateful choice: to eat from the forbidden tree, leading to a future history soaked in sin and rebellion. Mighty cherubim with flaming and swiftly spinning rotor-like swords would then need to forever stand guard, preventing man and woman accessing and eating from the second tree, the tree of life. “East of the Garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).
There are two cities intertwined with mankind’s destiny. One city is founded on man’s effort to establish his own values and to keep YHVH’s values at arm’s length. The other city is the beloved home of all who submit to the God of Israel with a joyous heart.
- Now all the earth used the same language and the same words. And it came about, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and fire them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:1-4).
The name of this first city was Babylon. Moses gives us YHVH’s perspective through a Hebrew word play in Genesis 11:9: The name of the city was called “Babel, because there YHVH confused (in Hebrew, balal) the language of all the earth. And from there YHVH scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” In modern Hebrew the same onomatopoeia exists. ‘Lebalbel’ (based on the same three root letters BBL) means to confuse or to communicate a confusing sound or message. And so God named that city ‘Babel’ or ‘confusion’ and the dwellers in that city could aptly be called ‘the confused ones!’
The founder of Babylon was a man named Nimrod: “Nimrod . . . became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before YHVH . . . And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel . . . in the land of Shinar” (Genesis 10:8-10). The personal name Nimrod comes from the Semitic root MRD which mean rebellion. Nimrod means ‘we will rebel’ or ‘let us rebel.’ This is the spiritual inheritance of that first city, founded by rebellious men and women and architecturally designed in their rebellious image.
- After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated from his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have fallen because of the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich from the excessive wealth of her luxury” (Revelation 18:1-3)
The other city is Jerusalem, also known as Zion. The city name ‘Jerusalem’ is connected from ancient days to the Semitic/Hebrew root SLM, or peace (today pronounced ‘shalom’). The alternate name of the city is ‘Zion,’ probably an ancient Hittite word. Originally it was the name given to a Hittite fortress in that location: “David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David” (2 Samuel 5:7). The city of Zion is called the footstool of God in Scripture (1 Chronicles 28:2). Messiah Yeshua calls Jerusalem “the city of the great King” in Matthew 5:35. It is a city especially close to God’s heart:
- “Therefore YHVH says this: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with compassion . . . and YHVH will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem’” (Zechariah 1:16-17)
The city of Zion that we know on earth has a heavenly counterpart – a specific place in Heaven also known as Zion. There is a correspondence and a sympathetic vibration going on between these two realities, and the Temple Mount is ground zero for that interface. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels” (Hebrews 12:22).
The history of mankind is thus ‘A Tale of Two Trees’ and ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ Men and women have, for the most part, continued to choose the wrong city and the wrong tree. God’s police force continues to stand, as they have for millennia – angelic bodyguards at the doors of eternal life.
The Circle of Life
The angel Gabriel gave some sobering advice to Daniel during the prophet’s last recorded revelation: “Go your way, Daniel, for these words will be kept secret and sealed up until the end time. Many will be purged, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly. And none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand” (Daniel 12:9-10).
We live in days of prophecy, in the season where all are being constantly surprised by unexpected developments. The ‘princes’ and world powers are trying to unite with ‘one purpose,’ honing their strategies to ‘speak with one language.’ The simmering rebellion of Adam’s descendants is raising the ante,’ ramping up the challenges to YHVH of the Hebrews and to His divine order. The Tower of Babel is once again under construction.
Some historians like to contrast two views of history – linear (moving in a straight and non-repeating line) and cyclical (going through a cycle, age or pattern, and eventually coming back full circle to the initial starting point). The Biblical view of history is decidedly cyclical, beginning with man and woman in close fellowship to God, and ending with man and women in eternal divine fellowship. Humankind begins in a garden (the Garden of Eden) and ends in a city (the New Jerusalem). And it is the God of Jacob who continues to hold both eternity and the hearts of mankind in His hands:
- Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My plan will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ . . . Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, I will certainly do it. (Isaiah 46:9-11)
Schadenfreude at the altar
A wicked generation acts wickedly, refusing to understand God’s ways or to see His hand. Sadly, something similar has occurred in the history of Christianity. Many theologians have gladly recognized God’s judgment and discipline on the Jewish people – national Jewish sin, the agony of the Exile, etc. – while simultaneously being overjoyed that the doors of the Kingdom have been opened to the nations. Yet they have not grasped that the same God who scattered Israel has never stopped loving her and is presently regathering her: “Hear the word of YHVH, you nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away, and say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and He will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock” (Jeremiah 31:10).
Christian theology often exhibits a peculiar sin of the heart – the Germans call it schadenfreude (a response of joy at others’ misfortunes) – when considering the judgment on Israel. Many exhibit a cold-hearted response when asked to consider Jacob’s coming blessing, victory and full restoration to original status. But history is coming full circle. The merry-go-round can’t be stopped. The clock needs to run out. God’s vision and plan for a world capital in a Jewish Jerusalem will trump any Babylonian substitute. “For the gifts and calling of God [on the Jewish people] are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). Though evil men cannot understand this, and though they bridle at a special calling, status, borders and destiny for the Jewish people, God smiles, even laughs as His plan comes together (see Psalm 2:1-6).
- You, Zion! Escape, you who are living with the daughter of Babylon. For YHVH of armies says this: “After glory He has sent me against the nations that plunder you, for the one who touches you, touches the apple of His eye. For behold, I am going to wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves. Then you will know that YHVH of armies has sent Me. Shout for joy and rejoice, daughter of Zion! For behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst, declares YHVH. And many nations will join themselves to YHVH on that day . . . Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that YHVH of armies has sent Me to you. And YHVH will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:7-12)
Nearly ninety years ago, the demonic spirit of Nazism rose up out of medieval cobblestones to haunt the streets and courtyards of Germany. Hitler’s stated goals were threefold: confront Communism; counter rampant inflation; make Germany great again (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutschlandlied#Official_adoption). And of course, there was that maniacal and genocidal urge to murder the entire Jewish nation . . . Yet the proud boast of a visionary Third Reich crumbled along with many beautiful German cities. That 1945 collapse should give pause to the leaders of today’s Western world. The West is similarly on the brink of the abyss economically, socially, morally and spiritually. The ease and blindness with which Western democratic principles and traditions are crumbling takes the breath away from those who have the spiritual and historical insight to understand.
- Flee from the midst of Babylon and each of you save his life! Do not perish in her punishment, for this is YHVH’s time of vengeance. He is going to repay to her what she deserves (Jeremiah 51:6)
- Come out from her midst, My people, and each of you save yourselves from the fierce anger of YHVH (Jeremiah 51:45)
- I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive any of her plagues. For her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her offenses” (Revelation 18:4)
“Little children, guard yourselves from idols!” (1 John 5:21). Choose to eat from the right tree – the tree of obedience. And make sure that you are living in the right city – Zion and not Babylon. The days are getting shorter.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for wisdom, discernment, provision and divine strategies to guide us in our choices during these very challenging days
- Pray for protection, discernment and salvation to visit Jacob’s children across the globe and especially in Israel
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
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,
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