Leaf it!

When I was younger, my grandmother had a house with an enormous back yard. It’s probably not as big as I remember it being, but it was a good size in any case.

Her yard had some impressively large trees. I remember climbing part way up the one that had low, fat branches. I was not as brave as my cousin who went much higher. Not that I had a fear of heights. The prospect of falling was what kept me on the lower, fatter branches.

The trees were the deciduous sort, so every fall, they ditched all their leaves in a yellow and brown sheet across the yard.

When visiting grandma, my cousin, brother, and I would grab rakes and get all the leaves together in one huge pile then run full tilt and jump into the pile. That scattered the leaves and we raked them together for another go.



Mystery Babylon

The fall of Babylon described in Daniel 5 was a spectacular event, but there’s more to it than what Daniel reports.  This isn’t so surprising since the Big Picture is beyond the scope of what he’d know without divine revelation.

We might think it weird that the leaders of a city under siege might be hanging out having a big drunken bash.  Why weren’t they planning a defense or a counter-attack?  At the time, Babylon was considered impregnable.  The wall was actually two concentric walls, one of which was wide enough to hold chariot races on top of.  There were lookout towers of impressive height at various locations around the wall.  They had enough stored food to outlast the average siege.  Water was a non-issue because the Euphrates River ran through the city and fed the moat between the walls.  By the technology of the time, this place was ready for everything and anything.

Belshazzar didn’t count on Cyrus’ general, a pretty clever dude.  He stationed part of his troops upriver and concocted a way to divert the Euphrates.  On cue, the upriver troops engaged their feat of engineering, and the moat dropped to the height of a man’s thigh.  The rest of the group just waded in under the wall and took over.  This was actually done so quietly that most of the city didn’t know it had happened for three days.  Babylon became the capital for the Persian King Cyrus and later for Alexander the Great, a young Greek guy who kicked butt and took names.  That’ll be important later.

After the general had secured the city, Cyrus himself put in an appearance.  The Bible calls him “Darius1,” and there are many who suspect that “Darius” is actually a title.  Others suggest that Cyrus was the king over all and Darius was a prince put in charge of a certain area2.

God, by way of Isaiah, had written a letter to Cyrus outlining his career3.  They were not contemporaries.  Isaiah lived during the reign of Judah’s King Manassah, which was a good, long time before the Babylonian captivity, which itself lasted 70 years.  There is tradition that Daniel handed Cyrus the letter in Isaiah, which greatly impressed Cyrus and caused him to sponsor the return of Jews to Israel to rebuild the Temple4.


Remember that I said it was important that Cyrus and Alexander the Great both used Babylon as a capitol city?  Well, there’s another set of prophecies about Babylon’s utter destruction.  The place is going to be wiped out like Sodom and Gomorrah.  The building materials will not be used again.  No one will ever be able to live there again5.  There are some scholars who insist that has already happened when Cyrus defeated Belshazzar, but Babylon was not wiped out in that encounter.  Without a formal battle of any sort, Cyrus’ troops just walked in and took over.  I get the impression from reading Isaiah 13, Jeremiah 50-51, and Revelation 17-18 that Babylon becomes the next best thing to a nuclear wasteland.

There are still people living near and in Babylon.  When archaeologists appeared on the scene, they were able to hire local help.  Saddam Hussein worked at rebuilding the city and even held state events in the very hall where Belshazzar got the bad news that he was destined for an early demise.  Clearly the prophecy about Babylon the Great or Mystery Babylon hasn’t happened yet.


So, who or what is Mystery Babylon?  Some speculative types suggest that Mystery Babylon is an allegory for somewhere else, like the United States.  There is some evidence to suggest that could be possible.  After all, John refers to Israel as Egypt and Sodom6.  I am, however, leery of treating Scripture as an allegory.  You can get into really messy situations that way and end up undermining most of what the Bible is saying.

Others suggest that Mystery Babylon is the Roman Catholic Church.  Dave Hunt’s The Woman Rides the Beast gives evidence to why that could be.  One of his points is that Mystery Babylon is described as being drunk with the blood of the saints7.  In Chuck Missler and Dave Hunt’s The Kingdom of Blood, they report that “One Pope in one afternoon killed more saints than all the Roman persecutions combined.”  Yikes.

The easiest solution is that Mystery Babylon is the rebuilt city of Babylon.  Hussein started to rebuild it.  Maybe someone else will continue or finish the city.  If the city is standing and flourishing as a trade center again, then it could be wiped out as the Bible describes.

I’m not sure which theory will prove the correct one.  The real answer may be a combination of two or more ideas or something else altogether.  Stay tuned.  The answer may be closer than we think.



Missler, Chuck. The Book of Daniel: A Commentary.  Koinonia House.


1 Daniel 5:31

2 http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/new_choice.pl?string=daniel&live_word=daniel&choice=NT0001328%2CET0000969%2CHDaniel&Entry.x=46&Entry.y=15

3 Isaiah 44:28-45:7

4 Ezra 1:1-2

5 Psalm 137:8-9, Isaiah 13-14, Isaiah 21:1-10, Jeremiah 50-51, Revelation 17-18

6 Revelation 11:8

7 Revelation 17:6



Ah Autumn.

When I lived in Texas, Autumn was just a time on the calendar that marked the beginning of school and football season. Central Texas does actually have four seasons: Pre-summer, Summer, Post-summer, and Bad Swimming Weather. Summer happens from late March to early November and then you get sporadic chilly weather, and in January or February, that might include some frozen stuff falling out of the sky.

I now live further north in the corn patch. There are, actually, 4 real seasons up here. Autumn is more than just a date from September to December. The temperatures are cooler. The garden is producing metric tons of squashes. Trees actually do change colors more interesting than a brief spurt of yellow and then brown.

This is my first Autumn in the corn patch. It has been a very different kind of time, but I do think I like it.

Matthew 13 and the 7 Letters, Part 7

“How do the Kingdom parables (Matthew 13) relate to the epistles from Christ to the Churches?”

 Parable: The Dragnet

Church: Laodicea

  A net is thrown out and collects a monstrous number of fish.  Then the angels sort out the good fish from the bad fish.

  The Apostate Church is the last in the chain.  This represents the Judgment when the angels sort out the believers from the unbelievers.

What if…

What if we supported the things we love with the same ferocity we use when we attack the things we hate?

What if we practiced what we preached?

What if we kept our noses out of things that don’t pertain to us?

What if we supported people who were feeling poorly?

What if we gave people the same benefit of doubt that we hope to receive when things go wrong?

What if we looked for solutions not excuses?

What if we valued success and hard work?

What if we looked out for others the same way we hope people will look out for us?

What if we stopped waiting for someone else to fix it?

What if truth mattered?

What if integrity mattered?

What if we actually treated the people around us with the kindness and grace we expect to be treated with?


Matthew 13 and the 7 Letters, Part 6

“How do the Kingdom parables (Matthew 13) relate to the epistles from Christ to the Churches?”

Parable: Pearl of Great Price

Church: Philadelphia

  A merchant wanders around, finds an incredible pearl, and buys it with everything he has.

Once again, we miss the point because we’re Gentiles.  Pearls are not kosher.  Jews had little use for pearls except to trade to those weird Gentile people.

The Missionary Church is going out to acquire a Gentile Treasure for the Lord.

  Something else about pearls.  They grow by accretion (gradual addition of stuff) as a response to irritation then they’re removed from their place of growth to become an adornment.  Huh.  Just like the church.

The Anonymity of the Net

There was a time when people could have a civil conversation about hot topics. Sure, there were gooberheads who would rile people up. The apostle Paul ran into a few on his journeys (See Acts 14 for an example or two). The very fact that we have general advice like “If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all” and “Avoid discussions of religion and politics” suggests that people at least had an expectation of avoiding vitriol in public.

This is no longer the case, particularly online. There seems to be a trend toward people assuming that “I disagree with you” must equal “I hate you, so you must be destroyed.”

Many people spend more time bashing what they hate than supporting what they love. There is a difference.

All I have to do in some cases is simply like a quote from someone who has a political perspective on something, and I get messages and posts about how the quoted person is evil personified and does nothing more than lie, cheat, and steal.

That, however, is very mild in the grand scheme of things. Simple comments stating an opinion on a hot topic can gather responses as totally inappropriate as threats to harm or even kill the commenter.

What is going on here?

I think it has to do with the anonymity of the internet. I can create bogus profiles with either realistic names or obviously fake names like Rex Karz or Jim Nasium or totally goofy names like TwinkleGlitterGirl. For all the viewer on the next computer knows, I could be a gray-haired granny or a teenager or a big guy with a mohawk. Not even a profile pic guarantees that you know anything about me.

Likewise, I could tell you that I’m hanging out in Austin, Texas, while I’m actually in northern Michigan. I could tell you I’m single when I’m actually married, or that I’m 46 when I’m actually 63. You have no idea.

That anonymity serves a purpose. I’ve twice been in situations that made being able to hide my real identity was a matter of safety. For a while, I went dark on the internet to put distance between me and a not-so-nice guy. Now that I’m publishing books, my name and likeness are all over the web, but for a while, being able to sneak was a good thing.

Some people, however, use that ability to hide their identity as a platform to act like total jerks. Their bad behavior can’t be traced back to them. If their accounts on various services get banned, they can create a new email address and start a new account.

Bullying happens at an alarming rate.

Some people take the approach of “It’s not affecting me, so I don’t care.” Is that any different than the “I don’t want to get involved” excuse?  Not really.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about the bullies. Creating a new profile is easy.

We aren’t completely helpless, though. We can block interaction from some accounts and delete offensive posts. That doesn’t do much for the knucklehead, except maybe take away the audience. We can speak up when someone is being inappropriate. We can support the person who’s under attack.

Sticking our heads in the sand, however, doesn’t help anyone.

A bully is often brave against one and a coward against many. Use that to our advantage.