Are We Babylon?

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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
the day will come when Christians will be seen with contempt and scorn. Drugs and homosexuality are Satan's devices to destroy men. I sat outside work and saw young gays celebrating the overturning of Proposition 8. Didn't they understand the eternal consequences of this? What Scripture says is happening right in front of me.

Christians are already seen with contempt and scorn by many in America, Britain and elsewhere. So far I am not aware of physical persecution by the State, but that is already experienced by Christians in other countries, so should we be surprised if it happened in e.g. America or Britain?

Drugs and homosexuality are Satan's devices to destroy men.

They are also God's devices by which to judge men, leading eventually to better days, after leading to worse days.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32, ESV)
 

Brandon1

Puritan Board Freshman
Mr. Rafalsky

It is not skepticism. It is the fact you are not using linguistics properly. Just because there are similarities in the possible range of meaning does not mean that sorcery really is another way of saying drug use. I don't have to argue for this, it is the way proper word studies are done.

I'm not trying to argue what the meaning of the word is, but you are saying something that is potentially correct (though I have reservations), but that you haven't offered an adequate argument for. You say you've proved the connection, but you haven't. All you've demonstrated is that this particular lexeme can mean sorcery and drugs. You have to develop a better connection than that for it to be a legitimate word study.

And BDAG clearly prefers witchcraft or sorcery in the passages in Revelation. It has chosen one of the potential meanings (within the range of meaning) in exclusion to the others. This is why appealing to BDAG actually subverts your argument the way that it is presented. For more reading on this you can read D.A. Carson's book, Exegetical Fallacies. I'll let this be my last post but I would just encourage you brother to consider the methodology you're employing (whether you think my criticisms are valid or not). Blessings.
 

Porter

Puritan Board Freshman
Of course the postmils are inoculated against envisioning such things – except it be as a catastrophic prelude to their “Jewish dreams” of conquering the world – and this itself is a powerful debilitating factor in our attaining spiritual preparedness for severe suffering. But that’s another thread.

Where's the smiley after this statement? :)

No, seriously...where's the smiley?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Brandon, in post #25 you say, “Obviously I think the point you're trying to prove is correct, but I think the methodology you're using to get there is flawed.” And you continue this line of thinking through to your last post. Either I’m a little dense or you’re not being clear, or a combination of both (though I favor the 2nd explanation), but your objections aren’t supported by anything but bald claims. In a court of law that wouldn’t fly. There are many here at PB well-advanced in Greek and Greek studies – posting as I do here is roughly equivalent to peer review in scholarly journals – and anyone can critique what I have written.

I’ve been doing Biblical word studies for over 40 years now (and in the secular English before that), so it’s not unfamiliar terrain for me – nor am I too old to learn new methods. On the particular topic at hand I have given much thought and study.

I’ll close our conversation with something Os Guinness, a well-known Christian writer, said in his, The Dust of Death: The Sixties Counterculture and How It Changed America Forever. He had been examining in the chapter, “Counterfeit Infinity”, the phenomenon of drug use in the sixties, and in the next chapter, “Encircling Eyes”, the resultant explosion of occult activity from that drug use:

“Reality [of the occult –SMR] is not to be taken for legitimacy. In a day of contentless religious experiences, the appeal of powerful spiritual phenomena is far wider than their legitimacy.

Interestingly, the word used for sorcery predicted in this context in Revelation (9:21; 18:23) is the word farmakeia, from which we get our word pharmacy or drugs. It is far from fanciful to interpret this as a prediction of the prevalence of drug-inspired sorcery at the end times.”
(pp. 309, 310)

I’ll stand by the position I have taken. I may elaborate on the topic of sorcery / drug use in another post shortly. I gather it's not a topic familiar to many Christians.

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Hello Cam! I haven’t seen you around for a while. Listen, in all of my 1,661 posts – at the time of this writing – I’ve never used a smiley. Not once. As a poet I prefer plain words.

And then I’m not happy with the postmil position, as you have gleaned (I can be happy with postmils, though, who are my friends, despite our differences). I note that you are postmil – isn’t that unusual for a Reformed Baptist? But I’ll give you personally a smile.

When I wind down on this thread I’ll get back to work on another one, The Law against “Theonomy”, and there I’ll get into the postmil view a bit (I do realize one can be postmil without being “Theonomic”, while one can’t be “Theonomic” without being postmil).
 

Brandon1

Puritan Board Freshman
Mr Rafalsky

Just to clarify my unclear comment. I am saying I agree that whatever pharmakeia is, it is bad (which is the broader point you were making).

I'm disagreeing with you finding Rev. speaking to drug use though. Hopefully that clarifies where I'm at.
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Amen to Vatican City...I agree

I find it interesting that Babylon is repeatedly referred to as a city. That great city, that mighty city, but the other governmental organizations are referred to as kingdoms or nations. Not sure what to make of it.

Vatican City perhaps.

I say Amen and agree with My Reformed Baptist brother, I think that the Vatican City is one possible Babylon. The Reformers saw her "Whore Of Babylon" and her pope as the antichist and the man of sin and perdition. I believe she is an untrue church and the papacy is an antichrist system.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
It is to be expected that Christians generally will be ignorant – naïve – with regard to such matters as sorcery and witchcraft. And that’s as it should be. However – and it’s a big however! – there are times coming upon the church (they are already here, actually) when we shall need to be acquainted with the matter or else they shall intrude upon us from the world’s culture, and we shall be unprepared to deal with them. If John and Paul the apostles had not spoken of these things perhaps we could let it go, but they did, and so it is part of “the whole counsel of God”.

There have been objections to my denominating the word (and its cognates) almost universally translated in Bible versions as “sorcery” as pertaining to a certain class of drugs and their use (NIV has “practicing magic arts” and “magic spell”). I believe these objections come from wise caution, but even more from unfamiliarity. I mean, who knows much about sorcery if one has lead either a sheltered or a godly life – or both?

But there are some among us who have been deeply involved in such, and have been delivered from their extreme dangers. I refer to the use of hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs. The work I mentioned in my previous post by Os Guinness has a good examination and analysis of the history of such substances from ancient times until their popular use in the 1960’s in America, and then throughout the world.

When one looks in standard dictionaries, even the queen of them, the OED (New Edition), one gets spare definitions such as: “Sorcery: the use of magic or enchantment; the practice of magic arts; witchcraft” (OED). To those of us who lived in the counterculture of the sixties – or even in various offshoots of the ‘70’s to the present – those brief definitions are alive and poignant with meaning. But to the uninitiated they’re kind of academic and distant.

That’s why the Scripture is of such tremendous value to us of today, for in the original Greek it goes into explicit, precise definition, and, by virtue of the almost universal consensus of the English translators, unloads this into one word: sorcery. We do not well to interpret the Greek by rather vague and inconclusive definitions of the target language, English, as it ought to be the other way around: the precision and clarity of the Greek original should inform the English. In other words, we will get our understanding of the translated word from its meanings and nuances in the Greek.

The days are coming – I noted developments in California earlier, where there is a referendum coming in November as to whether 1 oz. or less of pot should be legalized and taxed – when drugs will no longer carry the stigma of earlier days, and in some cases will be legally available (of course they are widely and easily available now, though illegal). I noted in the OP a NY Times online article stating that researchers and practitioners in the therapeutic profession are again using LSD to cure patients of various mental illnesses. It’s getting some good press.

We who came out of the sixties – and others who have partaken – are full aware that “the use of magic or enchantment; the practice of magic arts; witchcraft” are easily comprehended in the experience of getting high on acid or mescaline, and also the stronger strains of modern grass, smoked or eaten. Before we were illumined by the Lord Jesus and His Spirit, we thought such consciousness was holy and sacred, even though there were some occasions when demonic presences showed us it was not always as we thought: there were different realms and living entities in the spirit world we had to reckon with.

The primary delusion we were all taken by was that our psychedelic experiences were sacred; if we entered into demonic realms it was due to “bad environment” or our own “inner demons”; the normative state was benign, nay, the very path to spiritual illumination. It eventually became clear that it was not as it at first seemed. There were depths of wickedness in others we tripped with we could not even plumb; and we saw such terrible depths in our own selves. And then the spirits. Some purported to be divine, helpers of the human race. We see the industry of channelers that came of such encounters. Others sought to ravage us, and many, many took their lives to try to flee such horrors, or ended up in mental institutions.

We were a generation of novice sorcerers thrown into a realm way over our heads. Our teachers lied to us. They had been deceived by demons. Some lines from a poem, Howl II,

Most of the poets who were singing
when I came of age
– realizing then I knew nothing as I ought to know
for so the drugs they gave me taught me –
are gone

I listened to their voices
danced to their music
followed their visions
these who showed in the end they were lost and deluded
though dearly loved

when the blind follow the blind
– in this realm of sorcerers and seers –
they both fall into the abyss
archetypal regions of terror
beneath the lettered wasteland​


The community of saints – Christ’s people – were spared the ravages of the onslaught from Hell through the opening made in human consciousness by the sorcerous drugs. If the Bible translators gave the name to this phenomenon (which is clear enough in the Greek), sorcery, well, that’s the name we know it by. Christ’s people may have been spared the direct onslaught, but the seismic shifting of the culture’s foundations spared no one, especially not the church, which now reaps the fruit of an age where the worldview is no longer influenced by God’s word, but by a zeitgeist of vast and deep deception, reinforced by the general consciousness of people in love with the world, and the things that are in the world. The former absolutes, which people at least gave lip service to, are now targeted for destruction, along with those “primitive throwbacks” who hold to them.

It has been argued that there is no specific meaning to the Greek pharmakon and its cognates. But that’s not sound. As I have shown above, it was understood by the NT writers to refer strictly to curative medicine, or poison, or demonic potion, and in their usage in Revelation and Galatians 5:20 they meant it to signify the last category, activities which used these drugs for occult purposes. Inherent in the meaning of witchcraft and sorcery is the use of potions to facilitate intercourse with “powers” in the unseen realm. Special potions are part of the stock and trade – the very craft – of these practitioners, without which they are impotent.

I realize that many Christians live in a culture pretty much isolated from what is going on in the general culture around them. Only when drastic things occur do they take notice. We have few who devote themselves to – among other godly enterprises – gathering intelligence on what’s happening in the “general culture”. Drugs may or may not find a resurgence – though it is very likely grass will (and it’s more dangerous than ever) – but the main damage has already been done.

If grass does comes back in legal vogue will we have the Biblical authority to prohibit it to our people? If we don’t acknowledge it as sorcerous we’ll have no basis on which to forbid it. It’ll end up being just another “harmless” intoxicant to be used in moderation, while opening the saints to the satanic wavelength through “lack of knowledge”.

We should not downplay the profound impact of the sixties drug culture on both America and on the rest of the world. In the psychic realm it was equivalent to a massive nuclear event; the “fissionable material”? Demonic presence, power, and intelligence sent throughout the collective consciousness of humankind.

Downplay it at the risk of not understanding the times. And the meaning of parts of the Revelation of Jesus Christ through John the apostle to the church.

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Addendum: yes, the papacy and the pope were manifestations of the Babylonian spirit and also the antichrist, but not the final manifestations. This is partly why amendments to the Westminster Confession of Faith were retained by the OPC, reflecting the growing awareness of the church on some points in the light of Scripture. To limit the identification of Babylon and the antichrist to Rome during the Reformation would have blinded the church to further manifestations of these in the future, leaving her unprepared to meet the need of the hour.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
Who is limiting the Anti-Christ to Rome of one specific era? There are clear signs of a papal resurgence in both political and ecclesiastical power. I think our forefathers had it right, and so we must keep on protesting.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
when drugs will no longer carry the stigma of earlier days

You'll have to rethink that one. Drugs have been used forever and usually legally until very recently. If Sherlock Holmes wanted to use coke no one cared. Jimson weed was named after Jamestown, where it was used to get high. The list goes on forever. I recently had to stop selling Salvia divinorum on ebay since it's outlawed in 17 states last time I looked.

State control of stuff like that has been on the increase only for a couple generations, with exceptions.
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
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Brandon, I don’t really understand what your objection is. I think I have abundantly and adequately shown that pharmakon, the root of all the “sorcery” words, refers only – strictly – to drugs. The derivative words pharmakeia and pharmakeus / pharmakos – sorceries and sorcerers respectively likewise refer to activities or persons using drugs.

Brandon is recognizing the difference between drug use as applied in a recreational or medical case and that of drugs used in the cult for mystical insight and experience. There can be a case made for overlap within recreational use and cultic use, but the same case of an altered mind can emerge from drunkenness as well. The use of the substance must be considered in applying the critique towards application of sorcery. The same use must be considered with the context of scripture as well, such as Revelation 18:23, as seen earlier in the thread. The real issue that Brandon was addressing was whether or not sorcery is a synonym for drug use. I would say no, because sorcery applies drug use by the making of potions or altering one’s state of mind to receive the desired effect. One, sorcery, uses the other, drugs, within a cultic application. It is not a complete synonym for application. Sorcery, broadly like witchcraft, is the practice of performing religious functions to control or gain insight over the spiritual and natural realms. Drug use is slightly different in meaning because it is a tool for such control, but only as it applies within the cultic context. As the context changes then so does the application of the drug use, such as in a medical case. Therefore, the two are not one and the name in meaning.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Do a little research about ganja and Rastafarians. I think it provides an observable link between setting up attempted "spiritual" experiences and smoking cannabis.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hi Tim, as PB Botanist you bring some insightful nuances to my more general statements. Thanks. There is though, in the traditional / morally conservative sectors of our population, a disdain for drug use and users – albeit perhaps not that much in California, which is not an ordinary state.

Guinness, in his aforementioned book, details quite well the history of the use of marijuana (going back millennia).

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Hello David (Grimmson),

Your observations are good, and you force me to be clearer about the matter. I may not have done it in this thread, but I have elsewhere made the point that even the “recreational” use of these kinds of drugs constitutes sorcery. It is not the motive or intent but the action of the drugs on the heart and mind that is the determining factor.

Let’s leave the medical use of them out for a moment (will return to it). Concerning the recreational: whether it be marijuana, mescaline, peyote, or LSD, you say, “the difference between drug use as applied in a recreational. . . case and that of drugs used in the cult for mystical insight and experience” determines whether the category “sorcery” may be applied. The distinction you make between the two uses is not valid.

If you and a friend are getting in a car in order to go to a nearby town, the friend for the purpose of partying and you for spiritual activities, it remains true that you both used the same vehicle and arrived in the same place, despite your differing motives in going.

Likewise with these drugs, their psychopharmacological action within and affect upon the systems of the participants is identical regardless of reasons for taking them. Yes, one may be attuned to having some sort of “fun” and the other to some sort of mental or psychic activity but they are both in the same place despite their varying goals and perceptions. What “place” am I talking of? It is a psychic / spiritual realm of consciousness the drugs provide a “gateway” to. Despite the focus of one’s awareness (“fun” or “higher consciousness”) one has entered a psychic wavelength where spirit entities have direct access to a person’s being. That’s the action of these drugs whatever the “reasons” for taking them! You get in the car and you’ll get to where it’s going. You may not even be aware of all that is in the place you have arrived at, but you’re still there. Many folks have arrived at the place just intending to groove and play and have plunged into an abyss of horrors.

I wrote the following about grass, which someone here (a few years ago) was disputing the harm of:

“I do not say that ‘every use of marijuana, medicinal or otherwise, is tantamount to using drugs for the purpose of sorcery…’ But whether that is the intended purpose or not does not matter – you go through a door you go through a door, whatever your reason. I say the motive is negligible; and you may not even be aware of the realm you are in; you may think you’re just in a fun mildly euphoric state, akin to mild alcohol intoxication. But you are on that wavelength. And there will be a toll.

In terms of psychopharmacology the properties of the THC in cannabis sativa [marijuana] put it on a level with the other psychedelics and their properties. Whatever the motives are for using it, I repeat, they do not negate the effect of the chemicals on the human system. And thus, it (grass) is equivalent to the other drugs classified under sorcery. You may deny it all you want, but the psychopharmacological effects (not necessarily in the perception of the one taking it) contradict your denial.

You are aware that many psychiatrists routinely used LSD as a therapeutic tool, and that they said it was not harmful when used wisely and under medical supervision? The damage was done to their patients despite their caveat.

Unless you are absolutely certain that marijuana is not in the class of sorcerous drugs, you do ill telling others it is not, for you pave the way to their committing grievous sin, and endanger their souls. Perhaps you do not have a pastoral care for them, and this is just an exercise in exploring/defending ‘Christian liberty’ to you, but your view works evil – yes, though I know you do not intend it – and I do have a pastoral care, and I know the fruit of your teaching.”

David, the “altered mind that can emerge from drunkenness” is not in the same league as the drugs we are discussing. One might as well try to equate water and gasoline.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
. There is though, in the traditional / morally conservative sectors of our population, a disdain for drug use and users

True, but the attitude coincides more with Prohibition mentality and Big State control than traditional morality.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Some interesting translation from the Jewish New Testament, by David H. Stern:

Revelation 9:21: Nor did they turn from their murdering, their misuse of drugs in connection with the occult, their sexual immorality or their stealing.

Revelation 21:8: But as for the cowardly, the untrustworthy, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who misuse drugs in connection with the occult, idol-worshippers, and all liars — their destiny is the lake burning with fire and sulphur, the second death.


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Ok, Tim, disdain is not the word I’d use for my attitude to “drug use and users”, having come from thence, thus having compassion on them, and also understanding why some folks go that route. But as for the drug use itself – the sorcery leading souls into the satanic realm – it is condemned by Scripture. And those that promote it, well, the word of God warns of terrible judgment in store for them unless they repent and turn to the Saviour for a new heart and life.

If I ever get back to Woodstock to live (where I lived 19 years), I will (God willing) preach the Kingdom of God and the mercies of His Christ – and take a stand against what drug use remains there. I will make it known it violates the law of God, is under His curse, and has no place among His people.

This is simply wholesome godliness.

Whether one embarks on a foolish, lustful and hedonistic sorcery (drinking deep the pleasures of the world, with demonic enhancement), or a “white” sorcery (unwittingly using demonic power to supposedly illumine and spiritually bless others), or “black” sorcery (knowingly using satanic power to control and destroy others, and exalt the devil) – it is all of the same cloth: sorcery. And it all shall end in the lake of fire.

In Revelation 18, when God’s judgment falls on Babylon and she is destroyed being “utterly burned with fire. . . in one hour”, precipitating mass death and famine, so that those in ships at sea stay “afar off for fear of her torment”, bewailing and lamenting the destruction of that great and mighty city who made all the kings and merchants of the earth rich, when this comes upon her an angel cries out, “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her” (v. 20), the saints will rejoice – are commanded to rejoice – at the great enemy of God and His beleaguered people destroyed forever, by whose “sorceries were all nations deceived” (v. 23). Whatever this Babylon is, it is not full-blown so as to be identified with certainty yet, but we are told to rejoice over her demise. Those who do not, sympathize and identify with her, their loyalty lying with her and not with God.

As I have said, the sorceries that have gone throughout the world, undermining the Biblical worldview, reason, law and order in the nations, by means of enabling satanic infiltration and influence – those responsible for this sorcery and the perpetuation of its after-effects shall be confronted by “the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and. . . the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16, 17).

These severe attitudes to sorcerous drug use are way beyond “Prohibition mentality and Big State control” – belonging rather to the holiness of Heaven and its righteous indignation. For whatever facilitates the activity and power of the devil wars against the infinite dignity and majesty of Heaven’s King.
 

Brandon1

Puritan Board Freshman
David,

Thanks so much for your post.

I'm even somewhat skeptical that every time the word is used it refers to witch's taking "potions." It seems that the word (at least in its NT usage) is primarily focused on the occult. Perhaps this included drug usage (maybe even usually) but I'm skeptical that it always means they were taking potions. I don't have access to the LXX but what word is used with the witch of Endor? There is no indication that she was using drugs right?
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't have access to the LXX but what word is used with the witch of Endor? There is no indication that she was using drugs right?
If this is to be discussed further, I suggest we make a new thread.

I think it would be safe to assume some presence of Canaanite sorcery, based on their inhabitants during the time of Joshua in Endor. The phrase that used for her (the witch) is γυνὴ ἐγγαστρίμυθος, see NEW ADVENT BIBLE: 1 Samuel 28 (verse 7) for the Septuagint for conformation. According to Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint - Google Books ἐγγαστρίμυθος should be seen as a female ventriloquist or as for a descriptive noun as a woman, because of γυνὴ, familiar with spirits as a medium (yes, I added to Taylor’s description). It does not necessarily in Greek literature imply drug use in necromancy/mediums, but am not as sure regarding the Canaanite rites of the dead. It was common in Greek rites to require a blood sacrifice of sorts (such as by offering up an animal) and some type of ritualistic incantation/spell casting or prayer of invocation to bring out the dead spirit for communication. Drugs were not necessarily used in practice, such as the case in Homer’s Odyssey when Odysseus was communicating with the dead (but in that case it was not through a human medium). We cannot apply the use of drugs in the case of the witch of Endor unless we are aware of the Canaanite rite practices of mediums in that region, because the Classical Greek alone does not communicate it and I cannot tell you about the Hebrew. Talismans and objects of death (like animal/human bones and clothing) have been commonly used in various cultures, but I cannot say for sure regarding the Canaanite rites without serious study. In this case, I think it is clear to say that in the rite used in Endor sometype of spell casting was involved but I cannot say drug use was or was not applied in the ritual.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hello again, Brandon, I thought you’d gone.

The woman with a “familiar [or divining] spirit” whom Saul consulted re Samuel (1 Sam 28:7 ff.) is not called a witch in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, or NIV. In the LXX there are no words referring to drug use in this passage. She is spoken of as a “medium” or “spiritist”. In popular usage she is called “the witch of Endor”.

However, in Exodus 7:11 (LXX), there the sorcerers of Pharaoh’s court are designated by the Greek pharmakos.

And in Deuteronomy 18:10 (LXX v. 11) where the various occultists are named, the witch is designated a pharmakos. In the famous passage of Exodus 22:18 (KJV), “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”, witch in the LXX is called a pharmakos, one who uses drugs for occult purposes. In the NT era we do not put witches – pharmakos – to death (though “Theonomists” would), but rather the NT equivalent: “put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor 5:13), signifying excommunication for those unrepentantly practicing wickedness.

I have been using Lancelot C.L. Brenton’s edition of the Septuagint, and the accompanying concordance by George Morrish (both from Zondervan).

I realize this teaching will meet opposition from those not willing to submit to “doctrine which is according to godliness” (1 Tim 6:3) – not at all implying that Brandon or David are in this class! – but I have met those who are. They like their weed (or whatever) and are not willing to give it up. We learned from Tim there are many natural drugs unclassified by the government which people regularly use to get high, seeing as they are legal. I believe that genuine Indians belonging to the Native American Church are legally allowed to use peyote, a powerful hallucinogen.

“In 1994 Congress--backed by the Drug Enforcement Agency and other federal law-enforcement officials--rebuked the high court by reaffirming the right to use peyote in religious ways, and by preventing states from cracking down on the transport of peyote.” [source]

I am not at all the only Christian who has taken this position, though perhaps one of the few here at PB, but it is an important matter. When sorcery / sorcerers come into the church – even in stealth mode – it powerfully impacts the communion of the Body.

I would not presently take a position – as an officer in the church – on the genuinely medical use of marijuana, yet with this caveat: though it may very well alleviate pain, anxiety (in the face of death in terminal illness), and other symptoms (including psychopathological), it nonetheless brings the user into the spirit realms (cannot demons affect the human system for “good”?), and it is a sorcerous potion.

Yes, David, it’s a good idea to start this in another thread if you wish to continue it. And thanks for your informative comments.

I’ll have to sign off for now, for sermon preparation. Back later Sunday or so.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
If We Are Babylon . . .

Then what are we to do? For a terrible storm is coming, tsunamis of brilliant flame razing great swaths through our land, leaving toxic what is not destroyed.

It is not settled and certain we are this dread entity, but one suspects it may well be the case. I suspect it, as many items match the profile, though some remain to be realized.

What now is to be our stance toward the culture? Are we to seek its renewal, to “reweave the unraveling of creation” as one hopeful seer calls works of mercy and love in transforming the culture and our environment so as to “make this world a great place” to live in? Works of mercy and bringing justice and gladness into lives surely cannot harm, but if we do not bring the Gospel of eternal life in Christ at the same time we but give nice coats to those on the verge of entering the door to eternal torment.

A highly significant item in the Babylon profile missing from the American checklist is the bloody – and official – persecution of Christians. Given the presence of most other items, I await this. Though it may come in one decade, or two (or more, or less), and I may not be here to see it.

So in the meanwhile? Teach people to walk with Christ, to know what to expect, to know how to avail oneself of grace to help in time of need. Raise up serious saints.

It is important to clear the deck of false eschatologies, which will work against being prepared for what is to come. This requires laboring in the word and in doctrine.

It is apparent that non-confessional churches drift into error and eventual apostasy, as there are no other stays to hold them fast; men come and go. And confessional churches – I think particularly of the Reformed communions – are even now facing great stress to keep their confessions intact. Like a building under pressure from gale winds creaks and groans as its supporting structure is impacted by the force of the storm, so the faithful Reformed churches strain against the forces of dissolution aimed at their integrity. In the complex of Reformed churches, many outbuildings have already fallen, or been taken over by hostiles, and the faithful labor mightily to stem the ill tide.

It is clear enough that the slide into apostasy is picking up; only those who have solid grips on the Rock of safety – or rather who cry out to Him who is the Rock to grip them – do not slip into the pit.

If we set ourselves for the long haul – acknowledging that Babylon may possibly not realize her full identity for some decades – then we shall have need to think and plan strategically: How shall we organize our churches? What will be our emphases in teaching and mentoring? What spiritual and relational skills will we focus on and seek to inculcate in the disciples given into our care? What kind of material and spiritual preparations will we advise our people to seek? Do we think long-term, or only for the day or year?

Certainly community-building will be a high priority, equal to (but not greater than) sound doctrine. In the days to come we shall have need of grace-oriented communities for spiritual and material sustenance. For survival.

If indeed we are the last and greatest Babylon manifestation yet in its embryonic stage, we have the priceless gift of time. Time to order our priorities; time to prepare our hearts while yet in relative ease for the days when that ease vanishes (cf. Jer 12:5).

And what shall we do but what we should have been doing anyway: the pastors and elders – as well the mature saints – asking the Lord for greater intimacy of communion with Him, a greater awareness of being in His presence through His promises in Scripture, and then as we realize these things feed our people with the comfort we ourselves have been comforted by, through the hearing of our faith. For all our blessings are by faith in His word.

It shall be time to teach the people that to come in the name of Jesus is not merely to see the name as a label for a person, for in Biblical days the name of God was His very presence, His character and being. To be in His name was to be in Him, clothed with Him, hid in Him, as in, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Prov 18:10). A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself (Prov 22:3).

There is a great force now at work to cause those not rooted and grounded in Christ’s love and truth to fall away from “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). If our faith is pure and our walk godly in His presence we shall not succumb to the “hipster” style of Christianity – or the other modern fashions drenched in the wine of the world – for we will walk as true 21st century humans in the ancient, the eternal, paths.

Prepare for many to fall away, even dear friends and loved ones. Remain constant and gracious, reflecting the light of the eternal One who indwells us, as lighthouses in the storm.

If we are Babylon (or even if we are not!), this is how we should live. But if we are, how much the more should we, like the ants, prepare for a lean season (Prov 30:25; 6:6).

Some may think my musings foolish, and some wise, but as for me, I know how I shall live from henceforth till the end, by God’s grace.
 

Turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello Bryan (Turtle),

Are you reading any of the amil commentators? If so, which among them are your favorites? Are your thoughts just your own speculations apart from them?

I am trying to stay close to the Biblical data as understood by the just-mentioned commentators, as I have rejected the other schools’ interpretations of Scripture, and now have little interest in them.


Steve (Blade),

Decades ago my faith was shaken over a sharp theological disagreement among groups that profess one another to be brothers and sisters in Christ, yet treat each other with a measure of rejection. In my perplexity, I began diligent prayers and careful studies recommended by trusted teachers and preachers from each camp. Intellectual rigor required I gave preference to none. I studied diligently and wore out the pages of the recommended commentators but was disappointed to find no solace because though the commentators helped me understand the various positions, I found they too often had logical fallacies rendering them inconclusive. My hopes of finding conclusive proof were raised when I learned of the existence of books by pastors that had switched their conviction from one camp to the other. I figured surely the threshold of accuracy for these books would have to be higher than previous commentators and books, if indeed a pastor had been persuaded to change his position. The threshold was higher, however, I was disappointed more greatly because I found that these books also were inconclusive, resulting in even more perplexity. What was I to do?

I approached another pastor who listened carefully to my perplexity and the details of my studies. He said, “Of course you are perplexed. I have a book that sheds a lot of light on commentaries!” When it dawned on me why I was offended at his remark, I thanked him.


….

Part 1, The Culture of the American Empire

A. Sorceries

I want first to consider a point pretty much overlooked by commentators, although one – Simon Kistemaker – does focus on it, and that is the statement in Revelation 18:23, giving as part of the cause for the horrific judgment meted upon Babylon, “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived” (all scripture quotations will be from the Authorized Version unless otherwise noted; I may on occasion modernize the language).

Kistemaker comments on this phrase,

“. . . Babylon deceived the nations with sorcery. The expression sorcery relates to the practice of magic (9:21). While it allows a person ‘to control the gods, it is at the same time a gift and revelation of the gods to men’ [Colin Brown, “Magic,” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2:556]. This sin is an utter abomination to God (Deut.18:10-12). All those Israelites who practiced sorcery or witchcraft were to be put to death, according to the Law of Moses (Exod. 22:18; Lev. 20:6. 27). . . And John states that those who practice the magic arts will be consigned to the lake of fire and burning sulfur (21:8; 22:15).” [New Testament Commentary: Revelation (Baker 2001), p. 503].​

Merrill F. Unger in his, Unger’s Bible Dictionary, says “Sorcery is . . . the practice of the occult arts under the power of evil spirits or demons and has been common in all ages of the world’s history.” (p. 1039)

Lest anyone think this is but some archaic or esoteric practice unrelated to our 21st century world, I shall proceed in a moment to show its current relevance. Other commentators (who I value greatly) often think of “sorceries” rather loosely as merely deception and deceptive practices, apart from a connection to the magic arts, but I don’t think their view does justice to the Biblical data. As this is a key reason why I see America a strong candidate for being the Babylon spoken of in Revelation, I shall be developing this point. First, for understanding’s sake, some New Testament Greek background; I excerpt from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates,

“Strong’s # 5331, pharmakeia, from pharmakon, a drug, which in the Gr. writers is used both for a curative or medicinal drug, and also as a poisonous one. Pharmakeia means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21; 18:23; Sept.: Ex. 7:22; Is. 47:9, 12). (pp. 1437, 1438)

“Strong’s # 5332, pharmakeus; gen. pharmakeos, from pharmakeuo, to administer a drug. An enchanter with drugs, a sorcerer (Rev. 21:8 [TR]) (Ibid., p. 1438)

“Strong’s #5333, pharmakos, gen. pharmakou. A magician, sorcerer, enchanter (Rev. 21:8 [UBS]; 22:15; Sept.: Ex. 7:11; 9:11; Deut. 18:10; Dan. 2:2). The same as pharmakeus (5332). The noun pharmakeia (5331) means the preparing and giving of medicine, and in the NT, sorcery, enchantment.” (Ibid.)


To show why the use of “sorceries” in the Rev 18:23 passage refers to activities involving certain kinds of drugs rather then mere deceptive practices, consider the classes of transgressors in Rev 21:8 who are consigned to “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death”: “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars”. Sorcerers (from pharmakeus) here specifically means one who administers or uses a certain class of drugs to “enchant”, to cast a psychic spell upon by use of drugs and demonic power. It doesn’t mean a deceiver generally or even figuratively, but specifically one who uses sorcerous potions. Likewise in Rev 22:15 where a similar Greek word, pharmakos, is used for sorcerer, with the same meaning as pharmakeus in 21:8. So here we have real drug-dealing “sorcerers” declared liable for judgment…..


I have appreciated reading this thread that asks, “Are we (the United States) Babylon?”.

“Sorceries” is one of several useful criteria in Rev 18:23 to help assess proposals concerning the identity of Babylon, but probably is a little too narrow or subordinate to be conclusive. In 18:23, the “sorceries” of Babylon are cited as the cause of deception, proving the culpability of Babylon. It was proposed earlier in the thread that “sorceries” "refers to activities involving certain kinds of drugs”, which may account for some of the means by which all the nations were deceived. However I have to ask, is it enough to merely abstain from drugs to be not deceived in order to overcome unto the end? Or are drugs included in the experience of all that are deceived? It seems to me that the explanation of drugs does not account for the experience and persuasion of all the nations that were deceived by that great city.

It appears that there is a direct explanation of the “sorceries” cited in 18:23, showing the activities and the means of deception of Babylon. A comparison of 13:14 (cf. 16:14 and 19:20) shows the deception and the activities (that evidence their deception) of them that dwell on the earth, of all kindreds, and tongues and nations who have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

While the U.S. has many reasons for which it will be judged by the Lord, It does not appear to be the city that causes the deceptions for which Babylon is judged.

Bryan
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Who is the ''we'' in "Are we Babylon?'' ?

The Church or America? All of North and South America or just the US?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Bryan (Turtle),

I note that in your long search for a cogent eschatology, you use the phrase, “[a high] threshold of accuracy” as a criterion for what would make a view acceptable. Let me ask you, accuracy with regard to what?

I do suppose that the most important thing in this search pertains to the basic interpretive paradigm we would hold, and it seems to me there are three, the premil, the postmil, and the amil. Is it between these three you hang suspended and perplexed? Or between any two of them? Once you come to a view you think has fidelity to the Biblical data – with the remaining two not having such fidelity, and thus to be discarded – there is the matter of fine-tuning your apprehension among the smaller sub-categories, as well as the minor disagreements between the best expositors of your chosen view.

So where are you in this scheme of things?

You said,

“I have to ask, is it enough to merely abstain from drugs to be not deceived in order to overcome unto the end? Or are drugs included in the experience of all that are deceived? It seems to me that the explanation of drugs does not account for the experience and persuasion of all the nations that were deceived by that great city.”

Of course it is not enough to abstain from drugs to be free of deception and to overcome! Nor are drugs included in the experience of all that are deceived! How many “straight” people are blind to the truth and perishing? Vast multitudes! You miss my point. There was an event (the very term now used for military-caliber biological, chemical, or nuclear events) that befell the entire world through the drug-energized sixties generation in America, as this counterculture permeated the nations and cultures of the world through music, literature, art, film, and other culture-bearing vehicles. These nations of the world were leavened from within by the sorceries exported into them, and became vulnerable to satanic deception as a result. They became open to input from the satanic realm, mentally and spiritually. This damage done is irreversible. It was, in the psychic realm, the equivalent of a massive nuclear detonation. As noted in the OP, it came from America, and into the United Kingdom, and into all the world.

Atheism, New Age, satanic religions (the Hindu, Islamic, Confucian, et al), and various philosophies were all given a tremendous boost by this psychic explosion, either directly or indirectly. The faith of Christ was increasingly suppressed, relativized, and marginalized as the new “enlightened” thinking spread.

Many people who never had or would take drugs were influenced by the postmodern juggernaut that was energized with the new thinking.

You said you have been seeking to understand eschatology for “decades” so I assume you’re not a wet-behind-the-ears kid. Perhaps you were even alive and of age during the tumultuous ‘60s. I was in my early twenties then, a poet, and on the road.

At any rate, arriving at an interpretive paradigm you accept to the exclusion of the others is the beginning of understanding.

-------

Richard,

My conjecture is that the “we” is America, the U.S. The apostate and false church is part of Babylon, but Babylon is not limited to that apostate church. Babylon is the culture (and economic system) of the unregenerate and hostile world in opposition to God, which I think is headquartered in America, as the worldwide Babylonian system was once headquartered in Chaldean Babylon and, later, in Rome.

Observing developments, it appears that, if my conjecture is correct, the Biblical Babylon is still embryonic in its development (like the little gestating aliens in the Sigourney films), and may take a few decades, more or less, to mature into the bloodthirsty monster she truly is. Though to the unregenerate, she will be a beauty. At least until they turn against her, her promises of prosperity and ease become empty, and she will be hated, for the Lord will have “put in their hearts” (Rev 17:17) to hate and destroy her.

One last caveat: another writer has well said of these things, “God may again shuffle the deck, but the cards as they are currently dealt point to America as Babylon the Great.”

I may not be adding to this thread again (except perhaps to respond), as I am beginning to preach through Luke this week, and that’s where my attention will, to a great extent, be.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Brother Steve, I appreciate your well thought-out answers. I'm in agreement that we should build ourselves a spiritual (and maybe physical) bunker, and warn others of the terrible blast (for lack of better terms) to come. I have been debating with some Dominionists lately, and believe they are in for a rude awakening in the near future.
 
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