Andrew Abernethy – Babylon – Sunday Morning, Australia Convention – 1961

Daniel 1:8. There is a very profitable story contained in these first chapters of the Book of Daniel more than 2500 years ago, but the application of it is very much in our own day. Four young men against a world empire. These four young men wrote some grand history and made some grander history in their day. Some day the pages will be turned to our portion and what is written in the Book is either going to make some very nice history or some history that we will be ashamed of and that we will wish that it had been much better. It is what we are doing now that is going down in the Book. Whether we like it or whether we don’t it is going down in the Book. “The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on. And all your piety and wit cannot lure it back to cancel out the line or all your tears wash out a word of it.” I have learned it is a lot easier to read history and to write history, than to make history. It is a lot easier to read about Daniel and his companions than to be like them. The Lord is not so much concerned about the history that is going on and the battles amongst us that are fought. The Lord is not concerned very much about that, but of the greatest importance to the Lord is the history that is going down from the lives of His people. What is going down there is unknown largely in this world. Women like Mary and the sister of Lazarus, not well known outside their own locality but known in Heaven. Unknown people but they are known in Heaven. A record is being kept. There are two Babylons. There is a natural Babylon that was an empire and there were great world rulers that reigned over that and suddenly in that period Babylon was no more. Suddenly in one hour, Babylon disappeared. An allegory is a story that is enacted by human people in this world but it is telling another story. Just as Sarah in the Old Testament. There was a natural story, a natural child, but it was telling another story altogether. It is telling another story. There is a spiritual Babylon. There is a world empire. Spiritual darkness. Spiritual wickedness, and worldliness. Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel who enacted and taught certain eternal truths that concern us today. There is a spiritual kingdom. Paul wrote we wrestle not against flesh and blood. It is not merely human beings we are wrestling against. We are wrestling against powers, spiritual wickedness. Nebuchadnezzar is the symbol of the ruler of spiritual Babylon. Spiritual Babylon takes in everything and everybody who is not born of God. Every teaching that is not in the line with the teaching of God’s Son. Idolatry is wrong thinking of our God. It is a thought taken for a substance. It is a mental picture mistaken for reality. It is wrong thinking about God – wrong thoughts about His way. The meaning of Babylon is confusion of mind and heart. Confusion in the world. Confusion in religion. There are almost as many gods as there are people. Everybody has their own thoughts about God. There could not be any greater confusion in the world than the confusion that is in Babylon. The first mention of Babylon in the Bible. Genesis 10. The beginning of the kingdom of Babylon. The man whose name was Nimrod, he began to be a mighty one in the earth, he was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Not only amongst men but he was lifting up himself before the Almighty. The beginning of Babylon. He was a big man, he was a great man. He was not little. In the household of faith we are all born little or we are not born. It is the will of our Father that we should remain so. We should remain so in our own estimation. There is no room for any one of us to be proud, for what do we have, that our Father did not give us? What have we accomplished by ourselves? Not one thing. There is no room for any one of us to ever feel the least bit inflated and to get the feeling that we have somewhat of superiority because everything we have our Father gave to us. No room for boasting or bigness in this house. In the next chapter you read of these people who were journeying to the east. They were on the move. They were sojourners in the land. They got tired. They did not like walking by faith and being sojourners and pilgrims in the earth. You will read they found a nice plain in the land of Shinar and they dwelt there. The nice easy way to serve God. When it is easy for us, there is something wrong. There will be nothing accomplished in this household of God without suffering. There will be no progress, no growth or prosperity in this house apart from suffering. Somebody is going to suffer and the more the better. When we find a nice easy way to serve God, to be in this walk of God we are on the way to destruction. It will be the most sacrificing life and should be. It depends on what is in us to stand as we are not to settle down on the plain. This path will be the path where we keep on walking. They said, “Let us make us a city. We will have a fellowship, we will have a tower, we will be strong and this will lead us to Heaven. We will have brick for stone and slime for mortar. We are going to do a human endeavour.” The Lord was disregarded. It was all their own ideas and their own plans. The Lord had no part in it. Babylon can make bricks and church members. Only the Lord can make stone and can make children of God. Do we ever have any temptation to stoop to Babylon? I have heard, “We have got to have something for the young people to hold them out of this world.” In the fellowship of the Divine One, we are held together by the love of God and the love of His truth and the love to obey Him and that is stronger and better than all the slime of Babylon. It will hold us if we have the love of God, but if we do not, all the slime of Babylon will not keep us together. All the mortar that they will bring will never hold us. We will be held together only by Divine Love. The most important thing in our gathering will be the Love of God burning. If that is burning there will be prosperous times amongst us. All the slime of Babylon will not prevent truth from rising. If the love of God is dying it talks of iniquity abiding. They said, “We will make us a city, etc.” The Lord looked down and said, “Let us go down and confound their language and scatter them.” That is figurative of what you will read in the last book of the Bible. That the Almighty is coming down to scatter Babylon. In one hour the Lord is coming down and they will be scattered and there will be no more Babylon.
In Daniel 2 – a picture of Babylon given to us. Nebuchadnezzar the king has a dream. He is only a natural king, but a symbol of the Ruler of the darkness of Babylon. He could not remember that vision. He called his magicians and astrologers but they could not tell him what was in his heart, because they did not know the God who had given him that vision. It is the knowledge of the Almighty that will tell what is in your heart. Daniel was called in. He asked for this appointment to speak with the king and before the appointment Daniel and the three young men prayed to the God of Heaven that He would show to them what He had spoken to Nebuchadnezzar. These young men out of the reasoning of their heart, out of the agony of soul they were praying. The effectual fervent prayer was moving the heart of God. These four young men desired mercies of the God of heaven. The Lord revealed this to Daniel in a vision of the night. Daniel said, “Blessed be the name of God forever, wisdom and might are His. He changes the time and the seasons, He removeth kings and setteth up kings. He giveth wisdom unto the wise and knowledge to them that know understanding. He revealeth the deep and secret things, He knoweth what is in the darkness and the light dwelleth with Him.” In his heart, Daniel said, “The Lord can remove this man and can set up another.” Are we with that knowledge that regardless of what is going on amongst men, are we worried about the people in Russia or about the people in Africa or who might rise up and what they might do? The Lord can remove kings and set up whomever He will. If the Lord wants that man in, you cannot stop him. The Lord will do the appointing and He knows what is in the darkness and the light is with Him. Our Father is on the throne and we can trust Him and it is His will for certain happenings that are going to affect us, let it come. It is only hastening the day of the Lord. It is a great time just to keep right, just to be true today. Do not worry about next year or next month, or whatever our business is, be true today. We only have to live for one day at a time. We could borrow trouble and think of the future but we only have to fight this out today. Let us be true today.
Daniel saw this and went in and told the king what the position was. In Babylon there were kings succeeding Nebuchadnezzar that were lesser. The head of gold, very great philosophy, great thinking, wonderful teaching, but feet of clay that could not walk. Teaching people what to do but no power to do that, a form of godliness, no power, no ability. In coming into the house of faith, we realise we have come into this and God gives us power to walk. Jesus’ feet were like unto burnished brass – strong judgment, walking in the judgment of His Father. Babylon had feet of clay. Babylon still cannot walk, never could walk. The truth of Heaven gave us power to be what we want to be and what God wants us to be. Then there was a stone cut out of the mountain without hands that smote that image and it was scattered and there was no place found for that image. Telling what was going to happen with this great image that is in the world – having wonderful preachers, wonderful sermons, great men of the world, but someday this truth of Heaven that we have entrusted, that God has given, some day that Jesus of Nazareth who is the stone set aside by the builders, some day that stone is the head of the corner. Do we realise we are on the winning side? For a little while we are scorned, for a little while the world thinks we are fanatical when we elect to walk in the pathway of the Son of God, but we are on the winning side. Some day these teachings of Jesus will be the only teaching in all this world. All we need to do is watch. We need patience. Let us keep on quietly and steadily. Our day is coming. Babylon has their day now, but our day is coming, all we have to do is watch a little while. It will be great to be here with Him, when there is no other doctrine, no other teaching except what we have received by faith. It is certain and it is sure.
Nebuchadnezzar set up the image and everybody was commanded to fall down and worship the image. This image is also Babylon. What I am afraid of is Babylon in us, that we would have the thoughts of Babylon in us, that we will have the ways of Babylon in this walk, that Babylon will come into the midst of us. The Israelites never went to Babylon, till Babylon was in them.They had the ways of Babylon and the pride of Babylon and they copied all the thoughts of Babylon. It would be Babylon if we wanted to preach like the clergymen of this world. To be swelled up with the feeling of our importance. I am afraid of Babylon in myself and in the Lord’s people. It is one and the same thing whether we are in Babylon or Babylon is in us. The reason why Babylon has prospered is that it is attractive to the human, very enticing. We do not want to be in scorn, or unlike the world, or unlike their religions. It is in us by nature to want to avoid the suffering and to make a show in the flesh. To make a show in the flesh is Babylon, to make a show in preaching is Babylon. The image of gold. 2 Corinthians 10. Paul puts it like this, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Bringing every thought into subjection to Christ. Babylon has risen images, and high and lofty thoughts that are contrary to God. That is the image of gold that was so enticing.
Chapter 4. Nebuchadnezzar had another vision. It is about a great tree in the earth and the top of it reached to Heaven. The great tree. Its leaves were fair and fruit was much. Under it were the beasts of the field, in it were the fowls of the air and all flesh was fed off it. Babylon. Babylon is powerful. Babylon is mighty. Babylon seemed supreme – the top reached to Heaven. All flesh is full of it. Babylon feeds flesh and it feeds pride. You can be in Babylon and please yourself. That is Babylon. If you were in Zion you walk the self denying way. There is nothing for flesh in Zion. In this vision Nebuchadnezzar saw the watcher come down and cut down this tree. Babylon was gone. And the stump was left in the ground for seven seasons until he was restored to his kingdom again. In the very same day, the ruler of spiritual Babylon will be driven from the scenes of men. He will be in the bottomless pit for the thousand years. After a little while he was to be loosed. In that, Nebuchadnezzar is also the symbol. Nebuchadnezzar is only an earthly ruler, but the Lord has chosen him to teach another truth in that Babylon, in one hour, was no more. These four men against an empire. In the first chapter, Nebuchadnezzar said, “Take these four men. Teach them the learning of the Chaldeans. Make them learned in the wisdom of Babylon, give them the meat of Babylon. Give them the drink of Babylon and at the end of three years they will be just like Babylon.” Keep on feeding and it will be just like Babylon. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with this meat. He was only a captive and most likely was there because many of his forebears had failed him and the whole nation was sold into captivity. He purposed in his heart. He was abiding steadfast. It was not merely a desire – it was a purpose. These four men had iron in their purpose. Do we have some in our purpose? When a purpose is made with iron in it, we have won half the battle. If we have a purpose with some in it, we are not pushed over by every little temptation that comes along. Let it come what may, if we have a purpose that has iron in it. The prince said, “You want to eat pulse and drink water. You cannot live on that stuff.” Did anybody ever tell you, you cannot simply live in this world and just follow the teaching of that Book? You cannot live on pulse and water. You cannot live, especially the young people. You will be a sad looking bunch of people if you try to follow that and live on that stuff. The world thinks our young people cannot live on what the Lord has given them. They live a lot better than what Babylon is giving them, and the world cannot ever give them. This is reality. Daniel said, “Prove us for ten days.” At the end of ten days, they were a far better, fresher, pleasanter-looking bunch than all the people that took Babylon’s diet. More happiness, peace, and pleasure in the house of God with the affliction that comes, than ever we could have in Babylon. If we are prepared to walk wholeheartedly, we will not be the sad looking bunch of people, we will have the best of it here and hereafter. In all the matters of the king, they were ten times wiser. They had ten times more knowledge. More wisdom even about the affairs of this world because they could look ahead and know what was going to happen. He had a purpose in his heart.
In chapter 2 when that image of gold was made and they were told to fall down and worship, or you will get the fiery furnace? They were brought in and the man said, “Dare you lift yourselves against a world empire?” Do we dare lift up ourselves and defy all the commandments of man and devils? Do we dare defy the darkness of the world? When you hear the music, if you will fall down and worship, it will be well with you. Do not try to think you are the only ones that are right in the world. Do not be out-of-step with the whole world. If we are in-step with Jesus we are out-of-step with this world and Babylon. We cannot be in-step with both. They answered back and I admire their answer. They answered back, “We are not careful how we answer you. If our God wants to deliver us, He will.” We have no doubt that if it is His will, He will deliver us and even if He will not choose to do that, let it be known to you here and now we are not bowing down. In his rage and fury, seven times hotter, and the mightiest men of his realm threw them into the fire. These men that put the three Hebrew children in, they were consumed in a moment. The king looked in and asked, “Did not we throw three men bound into this fire?” He said, “I see four men loose and the form of the fourth is the form of the Son of God.” Three men bound in the will of God equals four men in liberty. The Lord was looking on. The world may bind us and imprison us but we will be free men and women in the spirit. The more they saw it the more was the form of the Son Of God to be brought to bear and that ungodly king, that man who did not know the Lord, he knew the form of God’s Son. This world knows the form of God’s Son when they see it. It is up to us to manifest the form. Nebuchadnezzar said, “Come forth and come hither. There is no other God who can deliver like your God.” He said, “You have changed the king’s word. You have yielded your bodies to serve no God but your own.” They were making some history. Daniel kept himself and this is written – God has delivered you because you believe your God. You believed Him and you were simple enough to just do what He told you, what you knew to be right. Have enough simplicity to believe God, and to believe His word and to believe that that is what we should be doing. If we do that, we will be preserved in the den of lions, we will be preserved in the midst of the fire of persecution in this world, and best of all we shall be in our own day making a little bit of history so that we will not be ashamed when we are standing with Daniel and his three companions and we can say; we also had a purpose. I have confidence in God that there will be strength given us for the needs of the day, if we are just being true to do what He tells us to do. That is the path of safety.
Let us not get too smart, let us not get too lifted up in ourselves but keep as the little ones in this kingdom so that the Lord can preserve us until the journey’s end.