AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
August 3rd, 2014,
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
and the THREEFOLD PRONG
POINTING TO THE END OF THE AGE
Ezekiel 26-28, 37-39
Part 2 of 3
See also shortly, Department of Bible, Vol. 7, Epilogue
Latter Day Tyre
Last Sunday, we saw something of the elevation and degradation of Tyre, its heights so great, that even after the ravaging of Nebuchadnezzar, unknown to him doing his stint as in an opera program, and singing his oratorio with splendid zeal, including a 13 year reported siege of the mainland city, it even showed centuries later, a spirit of undimmed assurance. It even dared to slay some of the messengers seeking surrender, from Alexander, of its offshore island retreat. The Little Tyre which grew as mainland fell, was not now so small. This murder of some of the conqueror's messengers would possibly seal the city's fate at the strategic level, making it mirror that foretold by Ezekiel 26.
God uses many means, and that includes making even the wrath, the hot anger of man, to serve Him, as here (Psalm 76:10). What fulfils that task, may then in its residue become absorbed by the deity, like clothes, and be aborted as in the case of the early death of Alexander. That was the conquest of Alexander by mortality, coming in his still almost youthful years, in his thirties. The world of the day was won; but Alexander himself was lost.
The situation leading Alexander on, before his grand sweep of world powers, to overcome them, to invade Tyre at such cost, by one report the workers on the mole amounting to figures in the ten thousands is of interest; for it can educate us on the potential folly of power and the power of folly, when untamed in man: that lofty spirit. Possibly it was out of outrage and questions of kudos, as well as of imperial aspirations, that the initial flamboyant refusal of the city to yield, with murder to match, clinched the desire at such cost, for a full invasion of the city. This was to fulfil Ezekiel's prophecy, in providing a REASON in the mind of Alexander for putting the stones of the city into the sea in order to build a causeway (to become an isthmus) to the city to enable its overthrow amid imperial vengeance from Alexander for its audacity in treatment of his messengers.
What steps, then, did the fleet-footed Alexander take when he both reached and breached the island city, Little Tyre, which now appeared a repository for much transported to it from the mainland scene ? Just as the story of the building of the causeway arouses interest, for the report is of canny and determined efforts, when Tyre at last realised its impregnability was not so, but rather an incitement to the conqueror, and so sought to destroy this growing maritime path to the city, so does that leader's response.
It reportedly included tests of purpose and endurance for Alexander. For example, when the causeway was in danger of failing, instead of deciding that enough was enough, Alexander redoubled his efforts to complete the construction. Starting with fresh vision, he caused it to be rebuilt it more stably, including tower consolidation, and with naval power coming back to his hand from elsewhere, overcoming Tyre's fleet disastrously, he breached its massive wall. What then ?
When Alexander the Great conquered the island off Tyre's coast, Little Tyre, he reportedly had thousands crucified, more thousands sold as slaves, while that maritime location suffered rampaging assault. Thus even the Island was smashed, and it continued to be devastated by many forces in the following years, even by earthquakes, with ruins now in view coming from Greek and Roman times, with no trace of the Phoenician city, its culture, its civilisation, all left mounded over its breaches with the flux of time or pounded by the sea.
The other towns built around the isthmus and adjoining area, as if at a wake, are recently said to be depressed, mauled in war, neither the site of mainland Tyre nor the grandeur of island-retreat Tyre with anything left to show. In sum: the work of Alexander in using the materials of mainland Tyre to reach and ravage the Little Tyre on the island, was artfully resisted by the Tyrians; but in the end Alexander receiving reinforcements for his fleet, had a great victory over that of Tyre, punctured its walls, slaughtered people, smashed treasures and went on his way at length to his own death session in India, dying like Tyre.
On his demise, as Daniel 8 predicted, there was a multi-partite residue of his power and civilisation, leaving four regions! Division led to excision, and there was no more unity in the Macedonian empire. Indeed, the empire so slipped, that it did not even provide safety for Alexander's wife. He himself was gobbled up in his own grandeur, like the food of one of his feasts. As to Tyre, glory, ancient site, monuments of glory, continuation of culture, imperial presence and power, its own nature and contribution were all swallowed up in desolations continuing over the ages, and as to the predicted fishing, yes even now it continues, as it may well have done in the days of the initial 13 years siege and ravagement of Nebuchadnezzar. That was a feat to yield scope for the many sunken stones of Alexander and his intensive, sustained fury.
Thus whether in small attacks by some, or in these two massifs of assault by Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander, Tyre was spoiled, soiled, its splendour departing, its site drowning. Sought in vain in its loss, it yielded only this negative, overall and sustained result of its civilisation and glory, site and sufficiency, imperial temper and spiritual signature. Wrought chiefly by two, but over time by the unconscious co-operation of many assailants, these many actions led to the eventual unchartered burial of Tyre. But who did more than Alexander, who having despatched the glory and will to resist of that magnificence, was himself despatched in short measure, living not long after this! So was the temper of intolerant majesty and invincible aspiration left ready for others to seize in satanic power, as beauty turned to ashes, vision to death, might to murk and ostentation to rebuff in the world.
ANOTHER THREE in One
But it is no more for Tyre. To others ? Daniel's listing of the four empires in view as in Daniel 2, 7 and 8, leading on to the spiritual exposition of Daniel 9, then, began in his sphere of concentration, with Babylon, went on to Media-Persia and this followed by the Greek or Macedonian case of Alexander, Tyre being hit by this third empire, led to the fourth and final beast in this overall coverage. This was the European empire of Rome, taking the unholy baton. That, in turn, led on to the end of the Age. In Daniel 7's cover of the case to come, we find that this fourth empire, or beast with its commercial, military, political and religious (quasi- or direct) character, was different from the rest earlier in the list. Such is the message of Daniel 7:1-10,19-27.
This last beast was to be partly strong and partly fragile or broken (Daniel 2:36-45). For ravagement in its strength, it was incomparable; but there was also a certain weakness, which qualified that strength in its own way. So has the Roman Empire, succeeding in imperial impact the Alexandrian one and its four derivatives, fulfilled its own final type and specifications in many ways.
Thus for long Roman imperial surges ruled with architecture, roads, civil developments and forms of organisation marking its progress. When Rome fell in 410 AD, there was still not only its power to absorb, but the Eastern Empire, soon to be dishonoured by Julius the Apostate as he is called, was to continue, partly strong and partly fragile, with its ecclesiastical vying and relevant power, till in 1453 Constantinople fell to the troops regarding favourably the false prophet Muhammad. Even at that, the Roman power, despite this fragility, was not gone.
Indeed, it remained, rather directively, in the Holy Roman Empire, proceeding past the times when the Moors in Spain and the Islamic efforts at world rule (like another Alexander, risen from the dead) sought in vain their goal, set back by the Battle of Tours in 732. Their rebuff was followed in 800 by the Empire of Charlemagne, developing into the HRE lasting till 1917, when the powers in which it was invested were defeated. Yet just as it began in Imperial Rome, the expanding borders of Roman imperialism, soon showed strength once more.
Thus after World War II, Europe began with the Common Market, moving to the European Union. Becoming a large world power, it began to look for a Constitution with which to define itself. Would Greece and Rome be a basis for a character reference ? No. Would Christianity, or the this worldly distortion of it in Romanism or Roman Catholicism, as it is in self-contradiction named ? Europe would have neither, so that a "common destiny" was the portmanteau to carry it where it might go, whatever that might be.
For years there were ten in the alliance, for more years there were ten in the Western European Alliance, the defence group, winding down in 2011; and now the forms await new definition.
Meanwhile, as in Revelation 13 and 17-18, there is a specialised religious side as well as political, so that in Rev. 13 there are two beasts, the one supportive of the other (Rev. 13:11). This is an ultimate formula for one religion, just as there are signs for the coming effort to culminate the anti-Christ regions with one coinage and one rule overall. But in Rev. 17:1ff., we come upon what is called the harlot, which is sexual imagery as in Ezekiel 16, 23, as in Hosea, for unfaithfulness to God on the part of what is ostensibly committed to Him, like an erratic wife. She, typifying the spirit reaching back to Babylon and its multiple religions and soaring pretensions, and indeed to Eden, in its breach with God from the first, is identified in this phase by seven hills as Rome.
This harlot, or prodigiously erring party, religion leaning, indeed riding on the imperial beast (Rev. 17:1-6,15-18, with Ch. 18), while using the name of Christ, is tossed off the back of the beast, we find. Then, without her governance or interest, it proceeds to amplify unhindered, its arrogance of imperial power alone, yet with ten participants, one image to be worshipped (Rev. 13:17).
This now unfettered imperial power then acts with ruthless fidelity to its type as with Tyre, and though the time is not long, the ten end kings in the Fourth Empire development will luxuriate in their power, being given "one hour with the beast" Revelation 17:12). Insatiable according to the nature of the four successive empires shown to be coming by Daniel in Chs. 2, 7,8, with addition in 9, these predicted kings burn the site of the "harlot". This resembles that of Tyre in that for it also, the merchants were shown giving funereal sorrow at its passing, so ending all competition.
Religion now will be just according to THEIR desire, and just as Europe has now bypassed a Romanist basis, cardinals notwithstanding, the entirety looking for something better for itself in its constitution, but not knowing where to go, so their imperious rule continues for its brevity. It falls in its limits, when "the man of sin", showing himself that he is god, in the temple, inherits like Alexander, a very sudden end (II Thessalonians 1 and 2:4-10). The flames of consummation are very active in the end!
CULMINATION, CONSUMMATION, KINGDOMS IN CONTRAST
Lord willing, next Sunday, we turn to Tyre and the Consummation in various elements, but now let us compare the multiple firings of the Tyre type, like an atomic missile with multiple independently targettable heads. It has thrust (it forces), it has self-confidence (it boasts, surveys supremely), often has personalised panache, is heartless except perhaps episodically, has delusive, superficial vision of which it is proud and has a true or pseudo- or even quasi-religious base, engendering a sense of power or mystery or hubris. It gobbles up lives, thinks strategically, is wise in its own eyes, and in general exhibits an indifference to mere humans, though run by them, truly startling and utterly horrific. Here power is normally surpassed by devilry.
Such are the beasts of Daniel and Revelation, and such appears the spirit of those involved in these episodes and sub-episodes such as Tyre, which is instructive because its depths and heights are given such attention. Such is often the trend in those who, exploding with the Darwinian myth in recent times, imagine they are serving 'nature' or 'advancement' by becoming unfit for any last relic of morals, self-control or rationality. It is par from that construction-through- destruction folly, which creates nothing but havoc, both literally and metaphorically.
The kingdom of heaven, of Christ as the Word of God in person, is not merely the opposite of all this. Where might is right is the monstrous fallacy, as if power made morals, and push were principle, hands made overview or the meaningless, in the consistent naturalistic model, could become moral! Right is not possible without having truth to tell it (and relativistic reactionism has no truth, even to state itself, being concerned with internal reactions, not contradictory overviews), principle to know it and reality to show it. The humble know it, read it, discover it in their Maker. Not power but purity inherits the earth, because in humility it finds the God whose it is, whose love gives to those who are His. The peacemakers pursue it, for the Lord is good and reliable, just and compassionate. The poor in spirit do not spoil for a fight, but fight for self-control and the beauty of holiness. The kingdoms of this world, of the beasts, of the antichrist, are pitch compared with daphne, fungus compared to wheat.
The Lord Himself cannot be evacuated in heart, mind or spirit from this world without its collapse into malice, rampageous bulls thrusting home any advantageous, irresponsible dreamers whether in theology or politics or both, woven like an evil tartan. How vast is the difference between the ENFORCED worship of the beast in Revelation where neither heart nor head nor spirit nor soul can be willing, except in a temporary intoxication before pay-day, and the loving worship of the Lord because it is fitting, due, a marvel for the spirit, as is the DNA for the body. Hence in Revelation 5:9-10 and 7:16-17, we hear worshipful because fact-based and realistic praise for the triumphant lamb and His sender.
In 5:9 there is a hiatus in heaven, as One is sought to open the scrolls of incoming history, that the world may complete its tour, and life its testings. None can do it but the Lamb of whom it is said,
"You were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings,"
and so is to hear this,
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing."
WORTH! FITNESS ? it is ultimately what has what it takes, gives what is needed for the overall wisdom that creation needs, and for which it was created. Only God even KNOWS the truth, and dispensing it, gives not the mere anodyne to spiritual disease, but the vision of truth, the paths of peace and the entry to life eternal, which includes His shepherding, NOT His herding skills. As Revelation 7 puts it:
"He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.
They shall neither hunger any more nor thirst anymore:
the sun shall not strike them, nor any heart;
for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them
and lead them to living fountains of waters.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. "
Lacking God, people readily fill the place for His grace, as their God, with trash which seeps in like poison to the water table. It seems so natural, as does sin; but it is foul, demanding not only on this earth the festering fealty of the oppressed, even policed in thought, but the soul's shameless ending in divorce from God. But God, following repentance of heart and the regeneration of the soul as in John 3, Titus 2-3, in love has provided what is WORTHY for worship, because it is true. Truly nothing like this, the living Son of the everlasting God, sent from heaven, His tour foretold, to redeem sinners, has ever been seen or heard or found.
Without it, however, man is but a foundling, crying that it is meaningless, or fostering festering dreams of pretended power which comes and goes like grass, in this case, in the end, by burning. In the kingdom of heaven, self-worth and self-evaluation are like grass, tedious thrusts of presumption into the arena of truth, where grace gives, love finds and kindness funds, while devotion flowers amid the undying trees planted by rivers of water. Such is the tested word of the Bible and of Jesus Christ.