MAN'S AND GOD'S KINGDOMS

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KINGDOMS and CITIES
Although most people get nostalgic about life in the country, they have always tended to migrate to cities and urban regions. If for no other reason, people chose communal life just to survive under harsh climate conditions and to protect themselves from wild animals or enemy attack. But there are other reasons for this trend, the greatest of which is the need and desire for fellowship. Everyone senses the need to have friends, companionship and company with others who share their interests, desires, needs, convictions and beliefs. Even people with different ideas and interests stir a person to competitiveness and or to dialogue.

The sugar-sweet picture of native Americans living peacefully with each other until the Europeans arrived, is seriously flawed. Wherever human beings existed, there have been wars and mechanisms of war that were obviously intended for attack as well as defense.

Where there is an abundance of food and land, wars should logically be fewer, but this is seldom the case. People are seldom satisfied with what they have and there have always been those who sought to gratify personal lusts, gain power or who have garnered great wealth at the expense of fellow human beings. Persons and communities of greater affluence, regions that are productive, strategically located or have great mineral wealth are most vulnerable to attack.

Families, tribes, communities and kingdoms must have leaders. The family had its patriarch and tribes had their chiefs. Kingdoms have kings, governors and armies. In America we have Mayors, Governors, legislators and politicians on local, State and National levels. Other nations have monarchies, republics, sheikhdoms or dictatorships, but all have leaders whose purpose is to regulate communal activity.

A kingdom is composed of a governing body and subjects. Usually, a kingdom occupies a specific geographical territory. The kingdom is measured by its population, economic capability, military power, educational and social standards, and the ability of its leadership to control subjects.

THE CITY OF BABYLON
The first city mentioned in the Bible is Babylon, which is probably the most famous city of the ancient World. It was built by Nimrod (Genesis 10:10) and became the capital city of ten Mesopotamian dynasties, beginning with the dynasty of King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) and reaching prominence as the capital city of the great kingdom of Babylonia. The best-known king was Nebuchadnezzar II (605-563 BC).

Isaiah wrote of Babylon (Isaiah 13:19-22), And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

The city of Babylon was destroyed by the Medes under Cyrus, as a partial fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50-51). Babylon was devastated numerous times by earthquakes and wars, but each time, the city was rebuilt. Usually, the city was rebuilt on a slightly different location, but in the same general area. The reason for this is that building blocks from ruins were used to rebuild the city.

Although Babylon is mostly in ruins today and only a few ancient structures have survived, the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah have not been completely fulfilled. Isaiah said that no humans, Arabs in particular, would ever live there again (13:19-22). Jeremiah stated that the stones would not be re-used for construction (Jeremiah 51:26). In I Peter 5:13; Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; and chapter 18 we find prophecies relating to Babylon, so it still existed at the time of these writings.

From these scriptural references, it appears that Babylon will come to power once again in the last days only to be totally destroyed. This will come to pass at a time when the Jews' hearts are turned toward God and the nation is living in righteousness (Jeremiah 50:4 and 20). The prophecy also speaks of the Euphrates River drying up (Jeremiah 50:38; Revelation 16:12), something which has never occurred.

THE KINGDOM OF BABYLON (Babylonia)
There is a historical city named Babylon and a geographical region named Babylonia over which the kings of Babylon reigned.

The city of Babylon began as an absolute monarchy under Nimrod,. Genesis 10:10 states that Nimrod was "a mighty warrior and hunter before the Lord”, apparently in reference to his military prowess. At the time of Babylon's greatest dominion, the kingdom was ruled as a limited monarchy.

There are basically two types of kingdoms in this world (I will define a third kingdom later). An "absolute monarchy" is ruled by a single autocrat. The second type kingdom is a "limited monarchy", a cooperative rule of several regents and regions defined by a common constitution, treaty or binding agreement. Certain freedoms and limitations are outlined for the individual rulers and their subjects as well as laws pertaining to all subjects. There is usually one primary Monarch who attempts to exercise control over the other rulers. The limited monarchy is more common in kingdoms (empires) spread over a large geographical territory where it would be nearly impossible for one person to maintain oversight and control.

Historically, kingdoms have subjects, which are subdivided into classes. There is the ruling class, citizenry and serfdom. Citizens of a kingdom are subject to its laws, rules, philosophies etc. but enjoy certain privileges and rights. Peasants were little more than slaves. They could seldom own property or make decisions for themselves. Few peasants received any education whatsoever and they were purposely kept poor and defenseless, although they were often conscripted to fight in wars. Finally, there were slaves and foreigners living in these kingdoms.

KINGDOMS AND RELIGION
Religion has always been an important if not central component of kingdoms. The primary regent often elevated himself to the status of a deity and demanded worshipful obeisance of subjects. This was true in Babylon of Daniel's day as it was in Greece and Rome, which practiced emperor worship. The same was true of the Inca and Aztec empires of South America and major powers of the Far East.

For eight centuries, much of Europe was ruled as a "Holy Roman Empire," by a coalition of worldly regents and the Roman Catholic Church. Mohammed recognized the great advantage of such a coalition, but decided it would be more efficient if the government and church were one and the same entity. Islam is not just a religion. It is a government and Sharia Law is it's official Constitution which supersedes any other legal document. Communism sought to eradicate religion, but was only moderately successful in Albania.

Our founding fathers wrote the Constitution with these historical facts in mind. It forbids the formation of a state religion or the formation of a coalition between the state and a specific religion, but in no way did it prohibit religious concepts in governmental matters. To the contrary, all the founding documents of our nation made reference to God and the Bible.

A democracy is defined as government of and by the people, but this would be chaos without a ruler or ruling body (government). Our American form of government is actually a republic or delegated democracy. Because the government and citizens are basically agreed on the form of government, the potential is virtually unlimited.

The dictator is similar to a prison keeper. His domain and power is limited by the number of underlings who are loyal to him. An overbearing, dictatorial boss or husband, for instance, may exercise a measure of power and control when present, but his subjects may not be effective extensions of that authority in his absence. Even loyal pawns may decide to break away (coup, junta, revolt).

A THIRD KIND OF KINGDOM
The scriptures clearly teach that the kingdom of God is the ultimate, eternal and supreme kingdom. God is described as "the King of Kings and Lord of Lords." All other kingdoms are either subject to the Kingdom of God, or they stand in opposition to that kingdom and will ultimately be judged accordingly.

The Kingdom of God is actually a theocracy and is well defined in the Bible. Unlike worldly kingdoms, God’s kingdom has unlimited potential and no geographical borders. Its subjects are voluntary extensions of the ruler’s power and authority. Even those who oppose the kingdom will someday fall down and worship Christ.

The first mention of a kingdom under the leadership of God is found in Exodus 19:6. When Moses as on Mount Sinai, God spoke of a “kingdom of priests”.

In Deuteronomy 17, God gives three commandments for later kings of His people. They are warned against excess in the areas of fleshly desires, lust for power and wealth. These excesses have been the primary downfall of rulers and basic components of evil throughout world history.

The first king of Israel was not Saul, but a self-willed man named Abimelech (Judges 9). He was made king by the people of Shechem (democracy). Saul was anointed king of Israel by Samuel (I Samuel 10), but this too was according to the will of the people. The people demanded a king “like other nations.”

Israel is called “God’s chosen people” in the Old Testament and the Israelites felt that God was with them to protect and bless, but to most, God was somehow embodied in the ark of the covenants. Prophets foretold a future king or "Messiah" who would someday reign over Israel, but the concept of a “Kingdom of God” as portrayed in the New Testament did not exist. The picture most Jews had was similar to the medieval “Holy Roman Empire.” It was Jesus himself, who introduced the "Kingdom of God" and "Kingdom of Heaven." This was mainly done through parables and by using terminology that often confused his listeners (I Corinthians 6:9-10; 15:24 & 50; Matthew 13; 25:34; Luke 22:28-30; Luke 11:20; 17:21; John 18:36)

KINGDOMS HAVE CAPITAL CITIES
The Bible not only describes the Kingdom of God and kingdom of this world, but also names their “capital cities,” Babel and Zion. There is a physical, geographical Zion and a spiritual Zion. There is a geographical and temporal Babylon and a spiritual Babylon (Isaiah 47; Revelation 14-17).

Babylon is mentioned over 300 times in 18 books of the Bible. Babylon may refer to the historical city or kingdom, but it sometimes represents the kingdom of this world with Babel as its capital city.

The city of Zion is mentioned 155 times in the Bible and Jerusalem appears 764 times! Both Babylon (Babel) and Jerusalem (Zion) have physical and spiritual significance.

COMPARISON OF BABEL AND ZION

BABEL

ZION

• Man attempting to become god (Gen. 11:3-4)

• God becomes man

• Pride, self-centered, egoistic (“We will... us...”), elevation of self, built a tower that was to reach heaven

• Humility (“He humbled himself”, foot washing, "humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God")

• Purpose to escape punishment (flood)

• Purpose to serve God and call to repentence

• Plan: to stick together and “build us a city”

• Plan: “Go unto the ends of the earth" and build the Lord's church

• Building materials counterfeit, artificial

• Building materials “fleshly stones”; “a living sacrifice”

• Result is confusion, division and chaos

• Result is love for one another and eternal salvation

   

SPIRITUAL BABYLON and BABEL
Revelation 17:5 speaks of a "mystery Babylon" which seems to denote a world-wide spiritual kingdom rather than a physical kingdom with clear geographical boundaries. Babylon seems to be depicted as the worldly counterpart of the heavenly "Zion." Babylon and Zion are seen as the religious and political centers of God's kingdom and it's earthly counterpart, the kingdom of man apart from God.

Babylon represents man's age-old attempt to create his own paradise (Utopia). The flood was God's punishment for man's evil deeds. Man was still evil after the flood. He is not prepared or willing to seek God's forgiveness and grace and live according to His Word. The tower of Babel was man's attempt to build a tower that would reach into heaven. Man is still determined to establish religious and political unity (the coalition idea), thus achieving eternal peace, prosperity and salvation.

The world was destroyed by a universal flood because of man's sin. The builders of Babel apparently had the flood in mind, for they used asphalt for mortar. In Genesis 11, man deliberately disobeyed God’s command to disperse and populate the world (Genesis 1:28; 11:4; 8-9; 8:17; 9:1&7 and 35:11) . The men of this world system want to stick together, build a great city and kingdom, and make a name for themselves. What they were doing was in direct opposition to God's command to disperse and populate the world, and what godless men are doing today is no different. God commands us to seek what is right in his kingdom and to go into all the world and preach the gospel of God's kingdom. Wicked men and even many who claim to be Christians prefer to stay where they are comfortable and safe, building their ivory towers. Christ's "great commission" has virtually vanished from most American churches. Going, sending and praying are rare. Churches now invite the godless to come, join and help build their tower.

The builders of Babel used asphalt as mortar, thinking it would hold up in a flood. But God had promised, no more judgment by a flood (Genesis 9:11). God's judgment in the last days will be with fire (II Peter 3:6-7). What happens to asphalt in fire?!

God has many other means with which to judge sinners. Instead of water or fire, God came down and confused their language. "And the LORD said, behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do."

Construction of the tower came to an abrupt halt. The Hebrew word for "left off" in verse 8 (KJV), means "to interrupt" or "let rest." In the last days, man will resume what he set out to accomplish.

RESUMING the CONSTRUCTION of BABEL

Communication:
Genesis 11 speaks of a unified “language” and “words” (11:1, 6, & 9; compare with Genesis 10:5; Zephaniah 3:9; Acts 2; I Cor.14:33). The development of computer technology has led to a proliferation of information in a uniform language. There are easy methods of converting languages, leading to a single, dynamic communications system. Cell phones have brought us text messaging, using abbreviated and symbolized words.

Politics:
Great monarchies have come and gone, colonialism and communism (actually isolationism, as the Berlin Wall, Bamboo and Iron Curtains bear out) are now history. Nationalism is giving way to internationalism. Air travel has brought people closer together. People in the East and West, North and South, have become more world conscious, and there is talk about "world citizens", “a New World Order” and the “global community.” Nearly all nations are now represented in the United Nations. The hypothetical American Indian philosophy “All land belongs to all people” has made the charts of the international hit parade as is illustrated in "Agenda 21." There is a lot of talk about global warming, the vanishing rain forests in South America and ozone readings in the Arctic Circle. This is global socialism.

Economics:
Takeovers, mergers, privatization of public utilities, replacement of small businesses by huge shopping malls and chain stores, and internet commerce. The Dow Jones climbs to unprecedented heights for no apparent reason other than the dubious rule of “supply and demand”, only to fall again causing people to lose much of their savings. Billions of Dollars, Marks, Yen and Rubles are circulating via paper, but much more by electronic transmission that doesn’t even exist! Formerly impoverished nations have become the wealthiest in the world through the discovery of oil. Once rich or powerful countries have broken apart and are now dependent upon foreign aid from the West to stave off starvation. Romania was the “Breadbasket of Europe” a century ago, yet the median income today is less than $200 per month. We read daily of near economic collapse of some nations, even member nations of the European Union. The Euro now competes with the Dollar for dominance, but most nations are seriously planning a world currency which would replace both.

Ethics and Morals:
Single parent households now outnumber the traditional dual parent variety in most major cities of America and Europe. Homosexual and lesbian relationships have gained recognition as being normal; same sex marriages have equal status in many states and lands. Organ transplants and modern medicine have extended life expectancy, but early deaths are on the increase due to drug use, aids, violence and suicide. Legalized abortion is the biggest killer. Euthanasia or “mercy deaths” are on the rise. What about genes manipulation, surrogate mothers and cloning? What will be next?

Religion:
As I write, there is a great world-wide movement to consolidate the great world religions. The Roman Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, and many protestant denominations are all cooperating in this super ecumenical collaboration to produce a one-world religion. And it is closely aligned with the push for a one-world government. We need to decide which kingdom we belong to!

For millenniums man has been attempting to perfect a coalition of church and state. The Greeks and Romans had emperor worship. In the middle ages, Europe was ruled by a coalition of Roman government and the Roman Catholic Church. Great Britain chose the Church of England as partner. The Middle-East is ruled by the political/religious system of Islam while Asia and the Far East have similar constellations. None of these, however, were world-wide in scope and massive conflicts have been the result.

In the last days man will create a religious and political coalition of a much greater magnitude. Men aspire to build “their” kingdom and don’t recognize that they are actually serving the purposes of the “ruler of this world”, Satan and his kingdom. John calls it "Babylon the Great" and "mystery Babylon." There will be a molding of different religious groups to form one unified global religion, the "great whore" and "mother of harlots."

At the same time, the formation of a one-world government under the "beast" will take place. Although these constellations cooperate in waging war against the Lamb, having the same self-serving and godless purpose, the beast despises the woman. After failing in their war against the Lamb, the beast will turn on the "whore" and strip her of all she has and is.

CONCLUSION
“Let us bake bricks” Personal, reflexive pronouns “we, us...” appear seven times in verses three and four. Man utters these words four times and God three times.

My father worked in the DuPont Chemical Plant during WW I on what was called the “Manhattan Project”. Following the bombing of Hiroshima, he discovered that he had been helping to build a weapon of mass destruction!

Similarly, the people of Babylon who were busy building the Tower of Babel had little or no idea what this was all about. If someone had asked them what they were doing, they might have answered, “We are making bricks” or “digging for asphalt”. Many people are occupied at what they call “making a living” when they may be working towards their own destruction.

A careful observer can recognize this sort of situation in the present political arena. People are duped into voting for those who seek to enslave them or even destroy them. All the politician has to do is feed their ego and get them to believe they are getting something they want cheap or free. A high percentage of those who get abortions are black, yet most blacks vote for the party that offers abortions. They are kept in poverty by the ones they elect, because poor people can be easily controlled or enslaved. The poor will support whoever gives them handouts.

In early times, buildings were of wood or stone. Mud was used to fill the gaps in the logs or stones. Some of the more curious Babylonian workers might have asked, “Why bricks and asphalt?” The answer might have been, “Bricks are easier to handle and you don't have to go far to get them. We are doing this to make your work easier." Or, they might say, "Asphalt is a modern invention that holds better and doesn't dissolve in water. Besides, mud is so messy to work with!" Occasionally, a worker might have asked what in the world they were building and why? It satisfied them to know, "We are building a city with a tower that reaches into paradise. We want to stick together and not disperse throughout the earth. We want to make a name for ourselves.”

All minerals, vegetation and animals are for man, but what is man for? Does he have no purpose higher than his own preservation? When man dies, he is placed in a casket and buried so deep that he is not even useful for compost! But carnal man seldom if ever asks that most important question, "What is my purpose?"

The men of Babel desired to stick together, but ended up divided.
They sought salvation, but became recipients of judgment.
They wanted to make a name for themselves, but became fools.
They desired to create a monument to themselves, but their tower became a symbol of their folly.

Babel will be destroyed, never to be rebuilt (II Peter 3:6-7), but Zion will survive every attempt of the enemy to wipe it out. (“The gates of hell cannot prevail...” Matthew 16:18; Isaiah 13,14 and 47).

After the flood, God told man to spread out - horizontally, but man insisted on staying and building their tower - vertically. God said, "Let us go down..." When Jesus came down to earth again, he told his followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

In the New Testament, Christ came down to earth to bring salvation to all who believe. After His crucifixion, Christ was resurrected and ascended into heaven. Jesus will come down again to receive his own. And he will  judge Satan, the demons and sinners.

God instructed his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, to make disciples and gather souls for his kingdom. Our work is laid out for us. For believers, this is a crucial time for gathering in the final harvest. Unfortunately, few are responding to Christ's command today. It is not because sinful men and women don't hear or respond. It is because God's children don't listen and obey.

Wicked men are willingly spreading Satan's diabolical philosophies throughout the earth. Like the people before the flood and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the message is, “Let us eat, drink and be merry.”

In the past, God intervened for man’s own good but in the last days he allows mankind to rush headlong into his own destruction. Biblical descriptions of the antichrist, and of situations or happenings during his reign bear this out. Today, the God who has thus far prevented man from destroying the world and himself, seems to be allowing him to run full-speed ahead to his own destruction (11:6).

Our world is changing with great momentum, and like a run-away train, it is virtually leaderless. America is still recognized as the most powerful nation on earth, yet the political situation is chaotic. The “experts” tell us to place all our faith and trust in that which is changing the fastest: modern technology! When did you last experience a computer crash? Man is building his own death trap, the world-wide-web in which he will soon be ensnared. Hi-tech is based on tiny, delicate computer chips made from silicon - sand! What does God’s Word have to say about building on sand? One sizable solar flare can wipe all that out in minutes.

God alone is unchanging and absolutely dependable. Let us be about our Father’s business: networking with God for the final ingathering! Let us build on the Rock of Ages! (Matthew 7:24-27)

Ralph V Harvey

There are kingdoms that have no defined territory. Kurdistan, for instance, was once a great kingdom (Assyria), but no longer has defined geographical boundaries, a recognized government or system of distinctly Kurdish laws. Palestine, on the other hand, never was a kingdom or particular ethnic people, yet claims to be a nation and is often incorrectly recognized as such.