21 Give my greetings to every holy one in union with Christ Jesus. The brothers that are with me send you their greetings. 22 All the holy ones, but ESPECIALLY those of the household of CAESAR, send you their greetings. (Php 4:21, 22)
Particularly in the case of ones with our religious background, I would suggest this is just one example of a scripture that likely seems rather confusing. After all, weren't we always taught things like ---the politics of this world are among the products and works of Satan, and a true Christian has nothing to do with the politics and wars of satan's system of things. Year after year we were heavily programmed with teachings such as that any and all involvement in the politics and wars of satan's world is among the proofs that any particular religion is a part of "Babylon the Great" and will thus suffer God's wrath right along with the rest of her. In fact seemingly in defense of this position, Jesus himself makes it clear that his true followers are "no part of this world." (Joh 15:19)
Nevertheless here in scriptures like Philippians 4:22 we find things like the Apostle Paul identifying the very household of CAESAR HIMSELF as among NOT merely his fellow spiritual brothers and sisters, but even the FOREMOST of them! In fact throughout our ENTIRE LIVES we have been considering scriptural accounts of even Jehovah's foremost servants like the ancient Joseph, the prophet Daniel, and Esther and Mordecai not only serving in capacities of political office, but even positions second only to the Pharaoh or king/emperor himself! Well do such things only serve as proof that the Bible contradicts itself? BY NO MEANS!
The fact is I both can and even already have been demonstrating with the scriptures for years now that what things such as this ACTUALLY prove is that we have NEVER been taught what Babylon the Great truly is. This is not to say however that ones such as the first century Christians did not understand these things. In fact careful and thorough analyses of accounts like 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 and its reference scriptures make it clear that the Apostle Paul ABSOLUTELY had a grasp of what was symbolized with these kinds of scriptural terms. So then how might an adjustment in our understanding of what this entity ACTUALLY is perfectly account for or reconcile what otherwise would seem a glaring contradiction?
You see the reason why the "seven times" prophesy was also expressed in terms such as "seven plantings and harvests," "seven" spiritual cleansings or "baptisms," or even "seven births of a barren woman," is because from as far back as the writings of Genesis, Jehovah had foretold that even well BEFORE the promised Millennial Reign there would be brief periods in which the earth would essentially NOT be under the power and control of Satan. (Ge 41:22-24) (2 Ki 5:14) (1 Sa 2:5) (Jer 15:9) (Da 4:23, 32) We might think of this in the following manner:
What could POSSIBLY be inappropriate with accepting a position in political office-- say –like in the case of Mordecai in ancient Persia when JEHOVAH HIMSELF points out that its king was one of his "anointed shepherds"? (Isa 44:28 45:1) Are we supposed to understand that ancient Babylon qualified as a "Great spiritual Harlot" when it was being ruled over by ones such as the prophet Daniel and his three Hebrew companions? (Da 2:46-49) Of course not! What would MAKE these seven foretold foreign powers "GREAT" to begin with was JEHOVAH; and more specifically that they would be chosen not only to deliver his people from a PREVIOUS nation that had fallen into complete apostasy, but then subsequently play host to them or even assist in their protection and care much like the Pharaoh of Egypt that began to bless and exalt the ancient Joseph.
However if or when these same theocratically appointed shepherds in a covenant relationship with Jehovah begin to "act wickedly against the covenant" and even "LEAVE the holy covenant," would it not also now be true that what WAS "the faithful town has now BECOME a prostitute"? Just as Isaiah says? (Isa 1:21) (Da 11:30-32) Would not the definition of Babylon the Great now actually change into precisely what we read in accounts like Revelation 17:5? As opposed to simply Babylon the Great, would it not now qualify also as the "mother of the harlots and the DISGUSTING things of the earth"? Is this not PRECISELY what Babylon the Great became the moment the son and heir of King Nebuchadnezzar began to do as recorded by Daniel the prophet when Belshazzar began to exhibit great disrespect for Jehovah and his temple treasures, all the while undertaking to "praise the gods of gold and of silver, copper and wood and stone"? (Da 5:1-5)
You see when the scriptures speak of the "FALL of Babylon the Great," it is not a literal or military fall that is being referred to, and this should be all the more apparent to us when we consider that the LITERAL kingdom of Babylon went completely out of existence long before prophesies found in Revelation 14 and 19 were even written. (Re 14:8 18:2) This symbolic spiritual language is with reference to the "times" in which a foreign nation serving in the role of a benevolent captor and even host of Jehovah's people would "FALL" into spiritual adultery or "harlotry" by means of violating the kingdom or marriage covenant that initially qualified it as among Jehovah's "anointed shepherds." (Isa 44:28 45:1)
In order for it to even be POSSIBLE for one of these "seven" foretold kingdoms to "BECOME a dwelling place of demons," it would first have to qualify as NOT being such an entity. In order for it to "BECOME a lurking place of every unclean exhalation and a lurking place of every unclean and hated bird," it would first have to qualify as NOT such a "place." Just as pointed out in scriptural passages such as Daniel 7:4, in order for ANY of these "FALLS" to unfold in connection with the foretold "births" or manifestations of these "seven kings," they would first need to be in a "STANDING" position with respect to their covenant relationship with JEHOVAH HIMSELF. (1 Sa 2:5) (Jer 15:9) (Re 17:10) In order for them ever to ACQUIRE the "loathsome" or "disgusting" "wings of an eagle," they would FIRST need to be recognized by Jehovah as having had them "plucked out." (Da 7:4) Compare (Le 11:13) (Da 9:27 11:30-32) (Mt 24:15, 16) (Re 12:14) By the same token in order for this foreign entity to be "given the heart of a man," it would first need to have its "heart of stone" removed from it. (Ez 11:19)
Now on the other hand when this "anointed" "king of the north" entity would begin to "lead" his fellow spiritual shepherds "into APOSTASY," and they would begin to "act wickedly against the covenant" and even "LEAVE the holy covenant," the very opposite of this would begin to manifest itself. Just as it points out here in this same account of Daniel, when the kingdom covenant is broken with spiritual unfaithfulness or even "harlotry" on the part of these "anointed" shepherds, the Christ ( literally –anointed -Strong's #5547) or what here is referred to as the "continual sacrifice" is "REMOVED" from Jehovah's "sanctuary" or "temple" (consider 1 Cor 3:16) and a "DISGUSTING THING that causes desolation" is "PUT IN PLACE" of it. (Da 11:31)
Well rest assured it is no coincidence that this concept of a replaced or substituted anointing is PRECISELY the TRUE definition of the word "antichrist." (Strong's #473 #5547) This word "antichrist" is actually among SEVERAL scriptural terms such as "man of lawlessness," "disgusting thing," or "great harlot" (as opposed to "Babylon the Great") that point to the fact that when Jehovah's appointed spiritual shepherds fall into this aforementioned "apostasy," the subsequent demonic invasion spoken of in accounts like Revelation 18:2 is ACTUALLY with reference to what Jehovah allows to happen the moment he removes his holy spirit from them. Yes, since these shepherds themselves would COMPRISE the "temple" or "sanctuary" of Jehovah's Holy Spirit, this empty void created by the removal of Jehovah's spirit would now be filled or replaced with that of THE DEMONS!
Now at this point anyone who would REMAIN anointed or even become anointed with Jehovah's spirit AFTERWARDS, the moment they would begin to UNDERSTAND that this great tragedy had once again unfolded, they would be required to do exactly what is referred to in accounts like Matthew 24:15, 16 , 1 Corinthians 6:17 or Revelation 12:6, 14 18:4. Yes after "catching sight" of this incredibly disturbing situation, (as the evidence of this "apostasy" always inevitably begins to manifests itself), the FIRST thing they would need to do in order for Jehovah to now "take them in" (2 Cor 6:17b) is to in effect take what is now even THEIR OWN "loathsome" or "disgusting wings of an eagle" (based on the community responsibility that Jehovah assigns to ALL of the anointed in these pre-kingdom time frames) and "FLEE" to the "mountains" or "wilderness" to be "fed" spiritually by Jehovah's prophets and prepared for yet another complete spiritual cleansing and rebirth. (Am 3:7) (Mt 3:11 24:15, 16) (Re 12:6, 14) (Le 4:3 11:13) This spiritual cleansing and rebirth is referred to with terms such as a "baptism of holy spirit and fire" or "planting and harvest," and as brought out in accounts like Revelation 11, the ENTIRE sequence of events that it ALWAYS includes would continue to be repeated all the way up to the Millennial Reign. As verse 7 and 11-13 point out, this would include also the literal death and resurrection of Jehovah's "prophets" or "two witnesses."
Yes this entire sequence of events or what the scriptures represent in prophetic symbolism also as an ongoing "circuit"/cycle/wheelwork" or even "marches around the figurative ("great city") of Jericho" was ALWAYS foretold to repeat itself "seven times" in connection with "GENTILE" or FOREIGN kings before the manifestation of the long anticipated "Millennial Reign." (Mt 10:23) (Eze 10:13) (Jos 6:2-5) (Da 4:23) (Le 26:18) (1 Sa 2:5) (Jer 15:9) (Lu 21:24) (2 Ki 5:14) (Ge 41:22-24) Moreover, every single step or facet of this ongoing sequence of spiritual deaths and rebirths of Jehovah's kingdom was PERFECTLY illustrated in prophetic dramas such as with the apostasy of the ancient King Saul. How exactly was this?
Here in the book of 1st Samuel we find that after King Saul becomes guilty of apostasy and Jehovah removes his holy spirit from him, we find that the demons are now allowed to begin "terrorizing" this unfaithful king. (1 Sa 16:14) At this point the shepherd boy David is used to symbolically prefigure the people that Jehovah now chooses to anoint in place of these unfaithful rulers. (He 8:5) Just as illustrated with the ancient David however, at the time that this NEW anointing by Jehovah occurs, these ones are actually engaged in unclean spiritual relations with this now apostate nation. In order to now qualify as spiritual "virgins" (Mt 25:1, 2) or even BEGIN to position themselves as ones that Jehovah can begin to now spiritually cleanse from this demonic invasion and all it's spiritual "harlotry," these unclean spiritual relations with the apostate nation must cease altogether. (Re 14:4) (Mt 3:11) This "separation" (2 Cor 6:17) is exactly what is now represented with the "running away" or fleeing that David eventually performs in connection with King Saul. (1 Sa 19:18)
We of course realize however that ultimately much more will now be required on the part of these spiritual "widows" and "virgins," or what Jehovah now begins to recognize even as a "barren woman" since not only have they now been forced to abandon even the children or flock of the now APOSTATE shepherds, but clearly they have not at this point even had the TIME to begin developing Bible students of their own. (Isa 54:1, 4) (Song 1:6) Just as demonstrated for us also in the early part of the first century in this exact same setting, the spiritual cleansings of these newly anointed ones also involve not only the undertaking of a NEW ministry, but in the case of Jehovah's prophets or "two witnesses," (John the Baptist and Jesus on this occasion) even a literal death and resurrection. (Re 11:3, 7, 11- 13) So would there perhaps be ADDITIONAL steps that are now represented in this prophetic drama of David and Saul?
We might notice that David wasn't represented merely as fleeing from Saul, but more specifically he fled to the prophet Samuel at a place called Ramah. (1 Sa 19:18) Well as it turns out this is precisely what is being represented with scriptural terms such as "fleeing to the "mountains" or even "valley of MY mountains." (Mt 24:15, 16) (Zec 14:5) In much the same manner as prophets like Moses were often associated with a mountain (Mt Sinai in this case) in these settings of national apostasy, the word Ramah literally means a height or high place. Throughout the scriptures mountains have consistently been used to represent genuine authority and power, even if it consists at times of what was granted to satan after the rebellion in Eden. (Lu 4:6)
We might recall that when ones such as Peter and John began to separate themselves from apostate Judaism for example in the first century, as opposed to simply removing themselves from this false worship, they began to seek out Jehovah's prophets or "two witnesses." Upon subsequently responding favorably to their teachings and spiritual direction, THEY THEMSELVES were soon granted the theocratic authority and power required to JOIN IN with Jehovah's prophets in their assigned ministry to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" that were continually and increasingly now "catching sight" of yet another national apostasy. (Mt 10:5, 6) (Mr 3:14)
In the prophetic drama of David and Saul, this very thing was represented or illustrated with David now beginning to accumulate followers after LISTENING and paying heed to Jehovah's prophet. (1 Sa 22:1, 2) Compare (Ez 9:4) This prophetic pattern is repeated again and again in the scriptures such as in the account of Haggai. We might notice that it was ONLY at the moment that the separated/escaped ones began to "LISTEN" and pay heed to Jehovah's prophets that what was recognized as a completely devastated "house" or nation now began to qualify in Jehovah's eyes as beginning to be rebuilt. (Hag 1:2, 8, 12-14) In the prophetic drama of Saul and David, it is in this precise time frame that Samuel experiences his death, and this of course was used to represent the blood inauguration that is ALWAYS the final part of the spiritual cleansing and rebirth of Jehovah's kingdom or "birth of the barren woman." (1 Sa 25:1) (Isa 54:1-3 66:7, 8) (Jer 15:9) Compare (Re 11:3, 7, 11, 12) Nevertheless David and his followers would ultimately spend years in this "wilderness" or "separated" condition before he is finally crowned as the next King of Jehovah's nation.
Are we beginning to better appreciate not only that there is a very critical distinction between Babylon the Great and the "great harlot," but also why it is so important for us to grasp this distinction? You see if we don't even know what scriptural terms such as this actually mean, how in turn would we even know how to obey divine commands such as found in Matthew 24:15, 16?
We need to understand that regardless of whether or not Israel would exist in a fleshly or spiritual form, or whether or not it would exist in "foreign captivity and exile," it was ALWAYS represented first and foremost as a NATION. It would ALWAYS qualify as a nation or kingdom that would HAVE a religion, or organized form of worship. In other words, during the brief periods or "times" that Israel would actually EXIST (by means of a kingdom covenant in good "standing" with Jehovah) even its anointed shepherds would be DIRECTLY AND HEAVILY involved not only in its religion, but also its POLITICS! However on EACH of the foretold "seven times" that this holy covenant would be violated with spiritual adultery on the part of these same shepherds and they would now need to be "struck" or "chastised" by Jehovah, the anointed ones would now need to "get out of" or "flee" from BOTH its religion AND politics! And as we can see this would comprise merely the FIRST thing they need to do. (Da 4:23) (Le 26:18, 24) Compare (Mt 26:31) In other words, the "seven times" prophesy was MUCH more than merely a time calculation of 2, 520 years of foreign captivity and exile.
So to conclude this discussion, let's please take a second look at this scripture I cited at the beginning. (Php 4:21, 22) The fact is that particularly upon considering some of the Bible Books that the Catholic Church began to remove from the canon after the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, we will find that the first century Christian congregation was working VERY CLOSELY and in COMPLETE cooperation with an up and coming NEW manifestation of the Roman Empire. Just as had already been demonstrated for many centuries, there would ALWAYS be a NEW foreign kingdom that would rise to great power in CONJUNCTION with the "seven" foretold "births of the barren woman." (1 Sa 2:5) In fact regardless of what these manifestations would be referred to or identified as by mere humans in the annals of earth's history, if there were to ultimately be "seven kings" involved in this "seven times" prophecy, then this "birth" of the Roman empire would have qualified as the SECOND of what would eventually be FOUR. (Re 17:10) This ALONE would mean that the failing political system we are experiencing at this very moment qualifies as the final "horn" on this "fourth beast" of Daniel 7 that would supplant or "pluck out" three that came before it. (Da 7:7, 8) Rest assured it is no coincidence that any serious amount of digging soon reveals that the Roman Catholic Church is ultimately what is still behind the scenes desperately attempting to pull all the strings.
Just as clearly demonstrated for us throughout the history of Jehovah's nation or kingdom with the "typical representation and shadow of the SPIRITUAL things," the foreign political power that would rise in connection with a RENEWED kingdom covenant (such as occurred also in 33 CE with the death and resurrection of John the Baptist and Jesus), would ALWAYS immediately embark on the COMPLETE destruction NOT ONLY of the political system that came before it, but also its false "Jewish" religious system. (He 8:5) (Col 2:17) This would continue to hold true even in connection with SPIRITUAL Israel, and even if it began to be referred to most often as true Christianity.
In the case of this SECOND manifestation of the Roman Empire that began in 33 CE, the destruction of apostate Judaism was completed 40 years later in 74 CE at the fortress of Masada. (Col 1:13) By the time this occurred however there was absolutely nothing left of the FIRST foretold manifestation. The first century historian Flavius Josephus pointed out in fact that it was essentially for this very reason that General Cestus Gallus suddenly withdrew his attack on Jerusalem in 66 CE. He had just received word that he no longer even had an Empire left to fight for! What returned to Jerusalem with General Titus in 70 CE to finish the Job was an entirely new manifestation of the Roman Empire with the full support of Jehovah himself, and this is exactly why it now experienced complete success.
You see regardless of whether "Babylon the Great" would exist in a "standing" or "fallen" spiritual condition, it qualifies both as a religious AND a political entity. As such, BOTH of its aspects would either experience tremendous blessings or tremendous cursings. Among the things that these facts irrefutably demonstrate is that in order to EVER qualify as a great spiritual adulteress or "harlot" from Jehovah's standpoint and thus experience a "divorce" from him, you would FIRST need to qualify as his WIFE! (Isa 50:1) (Jer 3:8) Just as clearly indicated in accounts like 2 Corinthians 6:17 or for that matter even DEMONSTRATED for us in the early part of the first century, what "God's people" need to "get out from among" at times would be what WAS the ONLY form of TRUE worship, and what by means of a broken kingdom/marriage covenant NOW suddenly qualifies as a "GREAT" spiritual ADULTERESS or "HARLOT." (Re 18:4) Compare (Re 11:8)
When we piece all of these scripturally verifiable facts together, we are finally in a position to fully grasp what ones such as the Apostle John is actually conveying in accounts like 1 John 2:18, or otherwise in the symbolic spiritual language that Jehovah utilizes THROUGHOUT the Bible. What exactly is this?
John is actually informing all of the remaining spirit anointed ones that there in the setting of on or around 98 CE, what HAD comprised the fifth of the "seven" foretold "births of the barren woman" or manifestations of Jehovah's nation/kingdom in the context of foreign exile and captivity was now its "last hour." The "apostasy" that ones like the Apostle Paul had long been warning the Christian congregation about was now unfolding, or otherwise the TERMS of the divine kingdom/marriage covenant which on this occasion had been instituted by Jesus in 33 CE were now in the process of being completely violated on the part of the theocratically appointed spiritual shepherds. (Lu 22:29) (2 Th 2:1-10) By extension, what up until then had qualified as the Christ or "body of many members" or spirit anointed ones (Strong's #5547) (1 Cor 3:16 12:12) in Jehovah's "temple" or earthly "sanctuary," was NOW beginning to qualify as the "ANTI-Christ" or SUBSTITUTE/REPLACEMENT anointing which would NOW emanate from the DEMONS. (Da 11:30-32) (Strong's #473) What HAD qualified as the FIFTH of the "seven times" that God's kingdom would manifest itself in the form of "Babylon the Great" was NOW beginning to qualify as the "GREAT HARLOT" or otherwise Babylon the Great in a spiritually "FALLEN" and demon infested condition. (Re 18:4) (Da 4:23, 30)
Yes if the anointed "virgins" now wish to be "AWAY from the face of the "SERPENT" (Re 12:4) that now occupies Jehovah's "sanctuary" or "temple" (which now qualifies as the appointed spiritual shepherds THEMSELVES) (1 Cor 3:16), then for the FIFTH of the "seven" foretold "times," any and all REPENTANT and OBEDIENT members of the anointed are once again required to "FLEE" or "separate themselves" from what is NOW an "APOSTATE nation" or even a "disgusting thing that causes desolation." (Mt 24:15, 16) (Da 11:31) (Isa 10:6) That is unless they would now choose to remain as the figurative "Jezebel" portion of the "Great harlot" as opposed to the repentant and cooperative "Rahab" portion. (Jos 2:1)