Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Flesh, the Spirit, and the City

Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!
I will mention Rahab and Babylon to them who know me.
Psalm 87:3-4a

These words from Psalm 87 were spoken by the Spirit of Christ through a prophet. The prophet knew where Rahab and Babylon were located, but he understood nothing about what the Son of God was actually talking about. Nor did that prophet know about the city of God that was revealed to John the apostle in his Revelation.

There are two ways by which man is brought into bondage in this life. He can be enslaved by the lusts of his own fleshly nature, or he can be enslaved by demons. “Rahab” and Babylon” refer to these two evils. In the Old Testament, “Rahab “ is another name for Egypt (e.g., Isa. 51:9-10), and Egypt is a symbol of the fleshly nature of man (as suggested in Ezek. 16:26). “Babylon”, on the other hand, refers to spiritual uncleanness, the place where men are brought into spiritual bondage by “doctrines of demons” rather than by the lusts of the flesh. Jesus speaks of these things to those who know him. That is, he teaches his children wisdom concerning such things, revealing how those enemies of our souls work their craftiness and ensnare the spirits of men. Paul also spoke of these two evils to the saints in Corinth, exhorting them to cleanse themselves of “from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit” (2Cor. 7:1).

At the same time, Jesus and his servants speak of the glory of the city of God, to which we hope to go when this age is ended. It is a city illuminated not by the sun but by the brightness of the presence of the Father and the Son (Rev. 21:23), and through which flows a river of life, bordered on each side with trees whose very leaves heal (Rev. 22:1-2). It is a city whose streets are laid with transparent gold, and where every hope for peace and pleasantness is realized. Jesus speaks of that city “to those who know me”, and he encourages them to be faithful and diligent so that they may overcome the two great evils that oppose them and, so, obtain that eternal life.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to tell you how much I was blessed by your article on Rahab and Babylon from Psalm 87. When I read what you said about these places and the city of God, I said, "of course."

    But reading it again this morning made me consider the fact that those verses would mean nothing to me without the Old Testament you have taught us, and without this wonderful truths we have been privileged to learn. That would be a verse I would just skip over, without understanding.

    Meaningless verses are made understandable through the Spirit of God, and a love of the truth. That's no small thing to have what would be a meaningless bible verse come alive.

    Thanks Again for the article.