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)

The Church of England's Babylon Exile

As I wept before God, he spoke to me and told me to turn to the book of the prophet Jeremiah. As I opened my bible, he referred me to chapter 25: 1-11. His voice had been so clear that my hands shook as I turned to the page. I sensed that the early verses were merely a preparation and that I was meant to focus on verse 11. I read from the beginning of the chapter about a people who had provoked God by failing to listen to him and by their evil practices, and how God was going to remove their joy, prosperity, and guidance. Finally, verse 11…

This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years.

‘What does this mean, Lord?’, I asked. Because I was interceding about the Church, I felt this somehow applied to it. ‘Are you saying that the Church of England will be sent in to exile?’ I was astounded at the inference that jumped out at me from the page. ‘Yes’ the Lord replied, ‘I am abandoning the Church of England to Babylon’. I was stunned! Although I myself – and many others too - had been frustrated, mystified, even angered by the Church’s tone and direction, this revelation seemed almost impossible to have come from God.

I knew deep down that Father saw my shock, and he said to me ‘Jeremiah 3:11’. So I turned there and read:

The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah

His voice was clear to me, so I read ... and re-read … and then asked ‘What does it mean, Father?’. ‘Let me show you’, he gently said. ‘Look now at chapter 1 verse 3’. Turning the page, I read:

… through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.

I thought that this time I must have misheard. This is just names and dates, I thought, but Father spoke again. ‘You heard me correctly’ he said ‘In time you will see what they mean, if you remember what I have shown you, and listen.’ Over the coming weeks I prayed, studied, and prayed more about this.

I recalled that long ago God had brought judgement upon King Solomon for marriage with non-Israelites. His wives turned his heart after other gods, and false religion spread amongst the people. Because of this, God would tear the kingdom from Solomon, and tear Israel itself apart (1Kings 11:1-13). Under Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, this came about. The nation divided into Israel and Judah. The remnant of Judah remained with the King, whilst Israel was occupied by the invading armies of Assyria. Under Assyrian rule, false gods were influential to Israel, and true faith faltered. Judah was the bastion of what we might call ‘biblical’ belief.

What did this have to do with the Lord’s word to me? It seemed to me that he was saying that ‘the kingdom’ – loosely meaning, in this context – his people, or the people of faith, had split, with many no longer part of the church or even professing bible-based faith. They were ‘faithless Israel’. Meanwhile it seemed the Church of England claimed to be a remnant, the church of the nation, a ‘Judah’. God was saying that those outside the church, who professed little or no organised faith, were more righteous than those within the Church who professed yet did not practice biblical faith. They were a ‘Judah’ claiming to speak for God, yet no longer listening! So God was giving the Church of England into Babylon!

But who was meant by ‘Zedekiah’, and did the dates of Jer 1:3 mean anything to the prophecy? Names always mean something in the bible. They are not just names in the sense of being just a word by which to identify someone. They also identify the character of a person or place and bring significance to their circumstances. ‘Zedekiah’, I discovered, means ‘God is righteous’. The person represented by Zedekiah would be a righteous man or woman of God. As I studied the historical Zedekiah I found that he had earlier been known as Mattaniah (2Kings 24:17). Mattaniah means ‘gift of God’ . As my mind began to interpret the revelation within the context of events which were happening at that time, things began to fall into place.

The life of the Church of England was big news in the media back in 2002. For those who do not have cause to remember, the most significant happening was the choosing of a new Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Rt Revd George Carey, the outgoing Archbishop, had been a bold and brave choice when he was appointed to the office. He was an evangelical, and one who not only supported but also encouraged the gifts of the Spirit. A charismatic, Spirit-filled, biblical and righteous man. A superbly inspiring bible teacher and preacher. For any Christian in England who counted themselves as biblical, born-again, and Spirit-filled – and particularly for those who were also Anglican – George Carey’s appointment was spoken of as a ‘gift from God’. He had been a ‘Mattaniah’, a ‘Zedekiah’.

What then was the meaning of the date given in Jeremiah 1:3? If Zedekiah represented Carey, could the chronological clues in this verse be identified as a date in our times? Carey was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury on 1 April 1991. Jeremiah 1:3 spoke of ‘the fifth month of the eleventh year … when the people went into exile’. According to God’s word to me, the exile of the C of E into a modern-day ‘Babylon’ would begin eleven years and five months into this ‘reign’. Initial application of this led me to September 2002, but what happened then? At this time, both the secular and ecclesiastical press were full of commentary about the declining biblical morality and authority in the Church of England, of the declining authority of the Church’s voice in the world, and of the ascendancy of Liberal clergy.

In a piece in the Church of England Newspaper (Aug 8, 2002), Andrew Carey (a reporter) responds to suggestions that “it is time for another reformation” by quoting that ‘Anglican theology has been Catholicised. “It is dominated by Anglo-catholic liberals, whose figurehead is none other than Dr Williams.”’ The reporter adds ‘Evangelical ecclesiology has been ejected from Anglican thinking entirely, and evangelicals have done little to object.’

The secular press recognised the declining biblical presence in the Church too. Typical of this, The Sunday Times writer John Humphrys (Aug 18, 2002) referred to an exchange of letters between bestselling author Louis de Bernières and the Bishop of Oxford, the supposedly-evangelical Richard Harries. De Bernières is quoted as longing for a day when bishops “resign en masse as a protest against the feckless monster they have served so long with so much misplaced trust” … a God “who is out of control of his empire, surrounded by sycophants”. Humphrys observed that “Harries, you might have thought, would call down a thunderbolt on the blasphemer … [but] Instead he has written a book … God Outside the Box … saying ‘Hang on a minute … maybe he’s got a point.’”! Putting it simply, the Church of England was (and still is) in a great big mess.

However, identifying September 2002 as the date of the ‘exile’ didn’t seem precise enough to be what God was speaking to me about. The dates were not accurate enough. Simply applying Jer 1:3 to our calendar sounded alarm bells in my mind. The eleventh year seemed accurate enough, but the month did not. You see, the Hebrews had two calendars, and neither fits neatly with ours! So I looked at their calendars to see what they would show, based upon their different approaches to the year.

The ‘Sacred Year’ approach depended upon the Hebrew calendar of festivals. In this the fifth month is the month Ab, equivalent to our July-August. Historians tell us that the Babylonian Exile of the Jews began in July 587 (some say the year was 586). Commemorative feasts fall in July, according to this calendar. The Church of England commemorates July 2002 for a significant event. On 23 July 2002 the name of the new Archbishop of Canterbury was announced. It was the aforementioned Dr Rowan Williams.

The alternative approach to the calendar looked to the ‘Civil Year’. This depended upon the calendar of Kings, and in this the fifth month is Shebat, overlapping our January-February. But the fifth month of the eleventh year from George Carey’s enthronement would bring us to January-February (Shebat) 2003. What happened then? On February 27 2003 the new Archbishop, Rowan Williams, was enthroned!

Let me make clear that I had no axe to grind against Dr Williams. I have never thought it my business to discredit or to judge him, or anyone else. Romans 14:4

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

There were, however, many theological stances taken by Dr Williams that did not sit well with a biblical view of church leadership. Women bishops; ordination of practising homosexuals; rationalising rather than theologising the Iraq War. Williams is a man who takes a thoughtful, but philosophical approach to problems. As a liberal theologian, he is not a man who looks first and last to the bible. He is also a self-confessed Druid who, rather than renounce his involvement in this occult practice (which he has never done to the best of my knowledge) has instead sought to defend it! Even now he continues to provoke disruption and disrepute of the Church by courting controversy. His views on homosexuality, in which he claims that a same-sex relationship “might … reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage”, drove The Times to headline an article ‘Williams has made a split inevitable’ (The Times, Aug 8, 2008). I believe that God told me that Rowan Williams would lead the Church of England into Babylon, and I believe that time has proven this to be correct.

What is Babylon? I have no need to repeat in depth what I and other commentators or preachers have written or said. In brief, the historical city of Babylon (or Babel) was built by Nimrod (Genesis 10:10). The story of Babel in Genesis 11 shows a people outreaching God’s plan for them; making a ‘name’ for themselves; taking pride and power to themselves. It is a city which represents a church and a people which feels that it no longer needs or can find space for God’s supernatural power, because it has power and status of its own.

Nimrod was also known as Ninus, and was the first Assyrian king. Killed by Shem, son of Noah, in judgement for his practice of demon-worship, at his death he was proclaimed by his wife Semiramis to be the deliverer promised by God. Worshipped in Egypt as Osiris, the sun-god and god of the underworld and of the dead, Nimrod is a ‘type’ or representative of Satan, and Babylon, his city, a home of Satan. Nimrod’s name means ‘rebellion’ and Babylon characterises this.

Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit Rev 18:2

Revelation chapters 17-19 speak in depth about Babylon’s characteristics and about her punishment. Broadly speaking, chapter 17 shows ecclesiastical Babylon as a prostitute – a figure often used in scripture (Hosea, or Ezekiel 23) to represent a rebellious church that no longer listens to her Lord. She represents a church ripened for judgement; corrupt religion. She comprises truth for worldly power. She is spiritually destitute (in the desert, 17:3). She dominates, controls, and uses the power of the State whenever possible (v3b). It is relevant to remember that the Church of England clings on to its status as the State religion. The whore of Babylon manifests a controlling spirit, and Babylon Church is one in which the Bishop (or regional overseer) is no longer one amongst equals but a ruler, and the Pastor (or, more commonly amongst Anglicans, the Priest) a vicarious power-on-the-platform. Babylon Church has a ‘guru’ mentality in which the ‘expert’ is almighty and the leader a marketing manager by any other name.

The commercial or political Babylon of Rev 18 shows adulterous relationships with the powers of this world; merchants (could these be clergy?) ‘dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls’ (v16) who are brought to ruin!

Early in 2003 the Lord spoke very clearly to me again, and he told me to leave the Church of England, as I was ready for the new thing he had prepared for me. I left on Pentecost Sunday 2003 to set up Heavenfire Ministries. I can count on one hand the number of times since then that I have worshipped in an Anglican Church service. I don’t see myself as Anglican now, yet I do care about the Bride of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ. I am not making public this revelation of God in order to attack the Church of England. The problem, I now see, goes far beyond the one Church denomination! Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will see Babylon not only within the C of E or even the Anglican Communion, but far, far wider – pervading many expressions of Christianity worldwide. I believe – and believe that God says this – that the Church will hear a lot more about the Church in Babylon over the next year or two. Up to now I have kept this revelation relatively quiet, out of love for my brothers and sisters. I now feel it is the Lord’s will for me to offer the account more widely so that the debate is picked up by others – others who are more academically capable and with greater leadership skills than I – and so that we may come out of Babylon. Perhaps we may not even enter in? I offer this so that we may be a Bride made ready.

On the evening of March 6, 2002, I was deep in prayer. At home in Nottingham, face down on the floor of our sitting room, I was interceding about various things, but at the end I came to a familiar subject: the condition of the Church of England. I was, at that time, ministering as an Anglican Vicar. Although the practices and beliefs of the Liberal and Catholic wings of the Church had long been a frustration, my sense of righteous anguish had been rising, and by early 2002 had reached fever pitch. On this particular evening, I was crying out to the Lord with a passion that went beyond my own heart. What the Lord spoke to me on that night, and subsequently confirmed, I have previously only shared with a handful of people. I believe that now the time is right to share it publically.