Word on Fire

Paul writes to Timothy

'I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you'
(2Tim 1:6)

so, to help the church with this, we offer this brief word, because

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord'
(Jeremiah 23:29)

Babylon Burning!
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” Revelation 19:1

Picture it – a huge gathering of believers, joined together for a celebration meeting. Celebrating with good reason! The ‘after this’ , which is the reason for the party, refers to the destruction of Babylon. Babylon’s burning! What a celebration we’d have if this were to take place tomorrow! Babylon, the grip of worldly values, aims, and methods, is overthrown and destroyed. Having just days earlier (perhaps) been in full sway over the worlds of politics and commerce and over much of the church, the Refiner’s Fire has purged and purified Babylon by burning!

Let’s take a swift look at a few of the characteristics of Babylon from these chapters. Revelation 18 speaks of the commercial aspects of Babylon. It is ‘a haunt of demons’ (v2) (the Greek daimonion literally means ‘inferior god’. It is a power which has sent nations mad as their leaders were drawn into its immoral – even pornographic – relationships (v3). Babylon is a promoter of ‘excessive luxuries’. The significant cause of all this is the trade of merchants (vv11-13). There’s nothing wrong with trade in itself, but in the demonically-inspired constant craving of more and more luxury, human bodies and souls are sold! Some of us will recognize this scenario from our workplace, I suspect!

Revelation 17 portrays another aspect of Babylon. It is an aspect which may be hard for the Christian church to hear! This chapter speaks of ecclesiastical Babylon: the church! She is a prostitute – a woman who should be married, and faithful to her husband, but instead she sells her body and soul on the street to the world. The prostitute is a familiar biblical image for the wayward church (Ezek 23, Hosea, and Jeremiah e.g. 3:10). The whore’s influence is felt across many nations (or ‘waters’, vv1, 15). Babylon church is a church ‘sold out’ to the world. A church that seeks worldly approval, status, and power. A church with a controlling spirit within it, and a ‘guru-mentality’ in place of the biblical ‘elder’; a ‘marketing manager’ (by any other name) as its leader. It is an anti-supernatural church which feels it doesn’t need, or can’t find room for, the real power of the gospel.

But Babylon’s burning! Imagine the banks, the shops, and the workplace purified from compromise and corruption; from excessive emphasis on profit and performance! Imagine a church purged from chasing after financial and numerical success; from values and ‘victories’ that merely have passing purposes! A church in which it isn’t just the ‘pastor’ and other leaders who get to participate, but a true every-member ministry in which everyone is valued and has their gifts received and released! Hallelujah indeed! There is so much more that could be said about the Church in Babylon – and believe me over the next few months and years the Church will hear more, worldwide, about this, but this is not the place or the time for it. Likewise, for those with a connection to India, there is much more that I could say about the demonic power of the prostitute Babylon but again, a public posting like this is not the place for it.

Let’s come back to the party in heaven (Rev 19) – because it’s happening now! The gathering is celebrating and seeing the fullness of salvation and glory in its midst. Forgiveness and eternal life; health, healing and wholeness; deliverance and prosperity (all being part of the biblical definition of salvation) are being experienced. Glory – the beauty, majesty, honour and power of God made visible and audible – is being seen and heard. Imagine how this would drive out the doubts and deceptions of even the lowliest believer! Unsurprisingly, they shout Hallelujah!

The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!” v4

Led by the twelve apostles of Jesus and representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel, and by representatives of all living things, the cry of Amen, Hallelujah continues. The word ‘cried’ is the Greek lego. It might reminds us here in the UK of our children’s building blocks (sold as Lego), because these shouts of Hallelujah are indeed the building blocks of the Throne of Christ!

He who belongs to God hears what God says John 8:47

Like the very stones which might cry out if we did not (Luke 19:40), even the throne of God calls out encouragement to worship!

“Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!” v5

Let me ask you this, friends: are you a small servant or a great servant? Don’t let false humility creep in but answer honestly and with faith. In the parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14ff) which servant would you be, and will you hear the voice addressing you as “good and faithful”? I’ll tell you openly, as for me, the ministry given to me may be small by some people’s values, but even if they’re right for now (and maybe they’re influenced by Babylon, but I ain’t judgin’!) I’m gonna keep on keeping on, and I’m gonna be grea..aa..aa..aatt! (as Tony The Tiger used to say! Sorry if you don’t understand that). It’s not about this man of God, its about the God of this man!

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. v7

There is so much more that the crowd is celebrating as they look at each other and recognize each other’s glory. It’s the glory given to us by Jesus (John 17:22,24 and here in v7), but … get this …

The best is yet to come, and it’s very near!
In this glorious vision of John in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, at this point the Rider On The White Horse – the Lord himself, whose name is Faithful and True – is just over the horizon! He isn’t even in sight, and the sound of his marching army hasn’t yet been heard by the Church, but he’s coming soon! (Rev 19:11ff).

Here’s the punch line, Church … your picture or vision may presently not see much hope of victory over the Babylon you see in your work or church. Maybe you see little sense of the unified celebration of believers? Maybe there’s not great cause in what you get to see and hear, for you to join in with the ringing cries of Hallelujah. But maybe there is! Maybe you really do see this happening with your spiritual insight? Hallelujah anyway! Whatever, you ain’t seen nothing yet … and it’s not far off! Faithful and True is on his white horse, and he’s leading his armies. The march has begun. Will you be in that army? Will you celebrate Babylon burning? Keep your eyes on the horizon! Hallelujah just ain’t enough for the celebration that’s about to begin!!