About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Stranded in Babylon

Larry Norman, a Christian singer songwriter from the 1960's and 1970's Jesus People Movement titled his 1994 album "Stranded In Babylon."  I imagine that album title might have portrayed how Daniel and his friends felt when they were exiled to Babylon after their nation was brutally conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar's army.    


Jeremiah predicted that the Jewish captivity in Babylon would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11, 29:10).  When Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians there were about a million Jews living in Babylon.  They were all permitted to return home to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.  Sadly, only about 42,300 Jews took the trip home.  Less than 5% of the Jewish population caught the vision to restore their cultural distinctiveness among the nations.  The rest felt comfortable, not stranded, in Babylon. 


Like the Jews of old, Christians live in a cultural landscape that is not our own.  The lyrics of the old song that Larry Norman borrowed in his song entitled "Readers Digest" (Only Visiting This Planet - 1972) put it this way.  "This world is not my home.  I'm just passing through."  As Christians we live in a cultural environment that's not our own.  We stand as a separate and distinct culture unto ourselves.  In terms that Canadians would understand, we are a "distinct society." 


Jesus called His disciples out of the world (John 15:19, 17:6) and warned His eleven apostles that the world would hate them (John 15:19) to the extent that they would be killed by those thinking they were doing God a favour (John 16:2).  The world Jesus spoke of is the world systems, not the geographical world.  I think that would have made Peter feel stranded in his version of Babylon.  That's probably why he warned his audience to save themselves from their corrupt generation (Acts 2:40).  That's probably why the Apostle John advised his readers not to love the world in which they lived (1 John 2:15).  We are indeed a separate and distinct people, or, a kingdom of priest as Revelation 1:6 states. 


In Biblical terms, each nation throughout history is symbolized as a humanistic, satanically inspired, Babylon that opposes God on all fronts.  For this reason all nations will be utterly destroyed by the hand of God at the end of this age (Revelation 17 and 18). 


During the 70 year Jewish exile the vast majority of Jews grew comfortable living in the pagan culture of Babylon.  Only 42,300 felt sufficiently stranded in Babylon to be motivated to catch the vision to be God's distinct and separate nation in the land He had given them.  Like Babylon of old, our neo-Babylon western world is falling fast.  Larry Norman was right.  We are stranded strangers in Babylon that's not our home. 

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