"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator -- who is forever praised. Amen,” [Romans 1:20-25]
“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. `For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.' "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone -- an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead,” [Acts 17:22-31]
“Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people,”
The Bible, from cover to cover, is an amazing account of God’s love for His people and His creation. Much of the content of this great Book conveys this relationship in terms of a marriage covenant. God’s foretells the Day when the “Bride” (His people) and the “Bridegroom” (Jesus) will be one as a husband and wife become one, and they will dwell together in His “House,” the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 & 22. But throughout the book, from cover to cover, we also hear of a rival “bride” and her name is Babylon. The apostle John, when describing this “bride,” states that he was “greatly astonished” (Revelation 17:6) when he saw her. He describes her riding on a beast that “once was, now is not, and yet will come…” Babylon is, in truth, a counterfeit bride –a prostitute. She entices the faithful to abandon the Husband (God), promising pleasure but delivering only death. Very soon after the flood of Noah, the people of the earth deliberately planned to disobey God, under the leadership of Nimrod, and do what was “right in their own eyes” by building a city (to keep them unified politically) and a tower (to keep them unified religiously). But what Nimrod offered as freedom from God ultimately can only be slavery of the world. God knew what the conclusion of this story would be if He didn’t intervene immediately (unified wickedness –just like the ancient world that had just been destroyed by a cataclysmic flood), so He confused the language of the people of Nimrod, and the majority of people abandoned the city and the tower and scattered throughout the earth. But, unfortunately, the people who left Babylon took Babylon with them. This can be seen throughout the world in the languages, religious beliefs, myths and political structures that all came from Babylon. In those early days, people knew who the One True God was. They even preserved His Name in their languages and preserved the events that had happened beforehand (such as the worldwide flood, the pre-flood world, Adam and Eve, and even intermingling of the “sons of God” with the daughters of men) though they twisted the true accounts of history to reflect an increasingly godless view of life (for example, the Babylonians later retold the account of the flood by saying that the Babylonians escaped the flood of the “evil God Hawawah [Hawawah is the ancient Babylonian Name for “Jehovah,” the LORD, the “I AM THAT I AM”] by building a tower and their epic hero, Gilgamesh, defeated and overthrew Hawawah so that He couldn’t send a flood on the earth again. While there are elements of truth that point back to what really happened, there are many elements of how those various ancient cultures that were dispersed from Babylon “exchanged the Truth of God for a lie.” Over the eons, all of the ancient cultures preserved the Truth in their languages and stories, but they became increasingly ignorant of the One True God. However, the stories around the world are beyond remarkable when studied closely -
While I was studying to become a missionary, I was taught the remarkable principle of “Origin Stories” which, when believed for what they plainly are, throw evolution out on its ear. Origin Stories are those stories that have been preserved in every culture and language that point back to the Bible’s Truthful Account of what really happened. When people of the various cultures of the world have been shown that their ancestors once worshipped the One True God, and then Christianity is no longer a foreign religion, it is what Christ means it to be: Freedom from captivity. This fact makes the “Tale of Two Cities” remarkably real: We are either citizens of the New Jerusalem, or we are citizens of Babylon –there really is no other citizenship. One is a city of freedom, the other, slavery.
One of the books that was on several of my recommended reading lists was Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson. This is an amazing book, and if you ever get the opportunity, please read it. Richardson brings out several “Origin Stories” that point the way back to God and to the Savior who sets us free –Jesus Christ. One of the accounts is the story surrounding the altar to the Unnamed God in Athens. There is an ancient account that tells of how the people of Javan (Ionian Greece) once worshipped “He Who has no name.” The altar actually predated the later counterfeit Greek-Babylonian worship (note that the tale of Uranus, Chronos and Zeus [Gk. gods] are copies of the account of Anu, Enlil and Marduk [Bab. Gods]). Richardson relays the account of that ancient story, and it’s interesting that Paul used that particular altar as part of his message about Jesus in Acts 17 to the people of Athens.
In our day, the message is still the same. But our approach must be as clever as Paul’s. When Peter spoke to the Jews at Pentecost (Acts 2), He spoke specifically about what they knew to be true. But when Paul spoke to the Greeks, he pointed to what they had, through time, grown ignorant of and lost: The One True God had a plan for all of mankind, to rescue them from Babylon and “remarry” them. Our message today is the same Message that has been spoken through the many centuries of time: Come out of her, my people! (Genesis 12:1ff; Isaiah 48:20ff; Jeremiah 50:8ff; 51:45ff; Zechariah 2:7ff & Revelation 18:4ff). We are to fall deeper in love with our Savior-“husband” and fall completely out of love with the “mistress.” But to do so, we must divorce ourselves from the temptations of this world: Her philosophies, instant gratifications and counterfeit promises. Salvation lies in escaping Babylon, because God’s wrath rests on her and all who are “married” to her. The prophetic picture of escape from Babylon can be seen in the account of Lot in Genesis when he was told to get out of town. When Lot had difficulty getting out of town, the Lord’s angels caught them up and took them out of the city. Lot’s wife wanted to go back “home” and was transformed into a symbol of God’s judgment and purification for His people. As the hymn, I Have Decided goes, “No turning back…” Even if the majority want to stay in Babylon, even if the majority of God’s people are somehow enticed to follow the philosophies of this world, we must remain faithful and share the Truth that sets some free. But always remember, not everyone is a Jew out there (those who know the truth already). There are many, many Greeks (ignorant of the Truth). Like Paul, start with what they know, don’t assume that they already know better –because they usually don’t.
On the Solid Rock we stand! George