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SOLD, Pen, Watercolor Pencil, Colored Pencil, Acrylic Paint on Paper, 28 cm x 48 cm (11″ x 19″)
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“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through me.'” (John 14:6)
How do we tangibly come into the presence of God and commune with him?
Jesus says there is only ONE Way we can come to God, and that is through faith in him and his atoning sacrifice for us on the cross. (See “Message“.)
“For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, ‘This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it…I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy. Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one. (Psalm 132:13-17)
The Biblical books that recount the history of Israel refer to Zion literally as Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. However, in the Psalms, Prophets and New Testament, Zion often takes on a more symbolic and spiritual meaning: “Zion” is the heavenly city, the dwelling place, of God (Isaiah 28:16; Psalm 132:13-17; Joel 3:17; Hebrews 12:22); the country of our heavenly citizenship as believers (Isaiah 1:24-28). Zion is our final destination and our eternal habitation as believers (Psalm 84:7). True believers bear the “cultural” identity of Zion, the country where they were born and the country of their citizenship (Psalm 87). Their Way (the road that they take and the manner in which they think, feel and act) is the Way of Zion. The “culture” of Zion is a living, intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is “…the Way” (John 14:6).
In contrast to Zion is Babylon.
“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.’ Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.'” (Revelation 18:2-5)
The Biblical books that recount the history of Israel refer to Babylon as the literal country of the Babylonians. In the Prophets and especially the New Testament, however, Babylon often takes on a more symbolic and spiritual meaning: She is a spiritual harlot. She is one who should be faithful to God but is not. She counterfeits as Christ’s Bride; she is the false church (Revelation 21:9). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on The Whole Bible (pub. 1871) concisely describes this spiritual Babylon in the entry on Revelation 18:4:
“quoted from Jeremiah 50:8 51:6, 45. Even in the Romish Church God has a people: but they are in great danger; their only safety is in coming out of her at once. So also in every apostate or world-conforming church there are some of God’s invisible and true Church, who, if they would be safe, must come out. Especially at the eve of God’s judgment on apostate Christendom: as Lot was warned to come out of Sodom just before its destruction, and Israel to come from about the tents of Dathan and Abiram. So the first Christians came out of Jerusalem when the apostate Jewish Church was judged. “State and Church are precious gifts of God. But the State being desecrated to a different end from what God designed it, namely. to govern for, and as under, God, becomes beast-like; the Church apostatizing becomes the harlot… “The harlot is not Rome alone (though she is pre-eminently so), but every Church that has not Christ’s mind and spirit. False Christendom, divided into very many sects, is truly Babylon, that is, confusion. However, in all Christendom the true Jesus-congregation, the woman clothed with the sun, lives and is hidden. Corrupt, lifeless Christendom is the harlot, whose great aim is the pleasure of the flesh, and which is governed by the spirit of nature and the world” [HAHN in AUBERLEN]. The first justification of the woman is in her being called out of Babylon the harlot, as the culminating stage of the latter’s sin, when judgment is about to fall: for apostate Christendom, Babylon, is not to be converted, but to be destroyed.”
False ‘believers’, the citizens of Babylon, bear the “cultural” identity of their home country. Their Way (the road that they take and the manner in which they think, feel and act) is the Way of Babylon. The “culture” of Babylon is characterized by fleshliness, worldliness, unholiness, etc. In regards to its spiritual characteristics, it is anything but a true, living, intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ (the Way of Zion). Their spiritual practices, therefore, are not centered on relationship with God but on religion. Babylon has a form of godliness (from initial outward appearance) but it denies its power (2 Timothy 3:5).
In Babylon, Religiosity replaces Relationship.
Non-Christians tend to think of Christianity as just another religion in the same basket as Islam and Hinduism, etc. Even Non-Christians at the time of the early church classified it as such, for the Apostle Paul, when defining himself as a Christian to a pagan audience, said, “However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect” (Acts 24:14).
In contrast to the world’s perception of Christianity, true believers in Jesus know that Christianity is NOT the practice of another world religion at all but a relationship with the living God.
True Christianity, the Way of the Christian, is something altogether entirely different than a religion. To be a Christian, as Paul put it, is to be a follower of the Way–Jesus–a Person (John 14:6).
“I believe that the real goal of Christianity is not to create a religion about God, but that we would actually know Him, experiencing firsthand the wonders and power of His incomparable life.” –Francis Frangipane (And I Will Be Found By You, Arrow Publications, Inc.)
In Babylon, worldliness, fleshiness, covetousness, selfishness, etc. has the upper hand. While some indulge in it secretly, others indulge in it flagrantly. Others turn to religiosity, instead of Jesus the Savior, to appease their troubled consciences. They often approach their ‘christianity’ like joining a health club: they try to make sure they do all of the “right” religious things frequently enough to maintain a good outward appearance and to satisfy their own consciences. They may focus on doing all sorts of Christian looking-like things, but a truthful heart and a genuine relationship with God is what’s missing. They do not know God, or more importantly and accurately, they aren’t known by God. (Please read John 17:3, Matthew 7:21-23 and Luke 13:22-30). Please read “Message”. Those who continue in this counterfeit christianity will become the dreadful fulfilment of Jesus’ parable in Luke 13:22-30:
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” (Luke 13:24-30)
In Zion, however, Christianity is like a betrothal between a bride (a believer) and a groom (the Living God). Their hearts genuinely and passionately burn for intimacy with God. They long to know him better so they eagerly read their Bibles and spend time in prayer. They genuinely love Jesus for laying down his life for them, and so they respond in sacrificial worship by laying down their lives for him. Their devotion to God costs them everything in this world, but they don’t shrink back from offering their very best and their very all to him. They love to be in the company of others who know God and love God. When they sin they are cut to the heart, for they know they have hurt and grieved their lover more than they have simply broken a command. They know God and they are ever increasingly transformed into the likeness of Christ, not through their own human efforts to eradicate sin from their lives but by the mysterious power and grace of the Holy Spirit working in them. Their Christianity is a pleasurable relationship, not a burdensome set of religious rules they must keep.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Walking in the Way of intimacy with Jesus is the True Way and it is the Way of True Life. Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10), and that is the kind of living that is truly living. Worshiping God with all of our lives, which is the expression of our intimacy with God, is the life that is truly living.
Relationship and intimacy with God through Jesus Christ is the Way of Zion.
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true–even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
To walk in steadfast intimacy with Jesus is the true way of abundant life, and there is no substitute…only counterfeits.
When we know and walk in the Way of Jesus, it becomes very apparent to us that he is the only true way and the only true life. We see very clearly that every other way is false, and that the end of those roads is death (Proverbs 14:12).
My dear brothers and sisters, there are many alternative Ways being taught and followed within Christendom today (Acts 20:28-30) which are actually the Ways of Babylon and NOT the Way of Zion. If you are truly born again, then you have already seen this and know this, and by the grace of God, are fleeing from it.
There is only one Way that makes true sense to the born again believer, and that is the way of intimacy with Jesus. Every other “way” in the church aside from this brings confusion into our spirits.
Confusion does not come when two things look distinctly different but when they look similar (sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46), wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43), sheep and wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-19)). Indeed, the false ways and false doctrines that are the most difficult to discern are those which have been assembled from the pure Word of God which has been distorted by man or Satan (2 Peter 3:15-16, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15, Matthew 4:5-7).
With our physical eyes, many ways in the church appear to be the right way, but with the eyes of our spirit we clearly see that they are wrong. If we trust our physical eyes more than we trust our spiritual eyes and the leading of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13, 1 John 2:26-27), then the end result is confusion, for we are seeing two different images when we look at the same physical thing.
To the apostle John, the false prophet appeared having two horns like a lamb, and yet he spoke like a dragon (Revelation 13:11). The false prophet’s true nature was not revealed through what he appeared to be on the outside, but through what came out of his inside. The Lord makes judgments according to what he perceives with his spiritual eyes, and in order to correctly discern things we must do the same (See 1 Samuel 16:7, Isaiah 11:1-4 and Mark 12:14).
When we are confronted with alternative “ways” in the church, it initially brings our spirits into confusion, for outwardly such ways often look good and Christian (and our minds often try to convince us that it is so), but their true nature is anti-christ. We are seeing Babylon, the land of spiritual confusion (Babylon means “confusion”) and spiritual counterfeits. If we are deceived into following these false ways or if we choose to succumb to them (even when we fully see and know that they are wrong (Revelation 2:20, 2 Corinthians 11:2-4)), they only lead to frustration, and they work bondage and death within us, for Jesus is the only Way of True Life.
We become frustrated because we expect these false ways to draw us closer to God, to impart spiritual life and to produce fruit in our lives, but they never do. We keep holding out for what has been promised to us if we walk in these alternative ways, yet they are like clouds without rain, for they never deliver anything that truly satisfies our spirits. They obscure God’s truth, and so we wander around in the darkness following these ways and teachings, but they never lead us into the presence of God or into deeper intimacy with God. We keep going around in circles on religious paths that look good and sound promising but lead to nowhere, and we become disoriented and disillusioned with “christianity”, “church” and/or “god”. (And yet such a “christianity”, “church” or “god” is not true Christianity, the true Church or the true God, but only counterfeit images of them which have been constructed, preached and worshiped by man.) (See “What About You? Who Do You Say I Am?” (John the Baptist Artworks Series)).
When we begin to walk in these false, Babylonian ways, deep down in our spirits we know we have wandered off the narrow Way, for the Holy Spirit, who does not lie to us, bears witness within us believers (John 16:13, 1 John 2:20-27). And yet so often we doubt the Spirit’s witness inside of us; we reason to ourselves,“How can so many people in the church possibly be wrong? Surely I must be the one who’s incorrect…” And even when the Word of God spells it out clearly to us, we are often afraid to apply it to our personal situation for fear of being judgmental.
Nothing has changed since the days of the early church:
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you…These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm–shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted–twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 3-4, 13-14)
If we become ensnared by these false ways and walk in them, the fruit they finally produce is death, for they war against our relationship with God and the life that comes from our intimacy with him. Such false ways only tear us down, harm our faith, rob us of joy, dishearten and discourage us, clothe us with a cloak of mourning and a spirit of despair, stumble us into idolatry and spiritual adultery, inebriate us from discerning and walking in the truth, cause us to compromise and to walk in hypocrisy, deceit and powerlessness.
Above all, such ways never lead us into the presence of God……but only away from him.
Such ways, often cloaked in a costume of “christianity” or religiosity, have no spiritual life or presence of God in them. They are ways, but they have no truth or life in them. Intimacy with Jesus is not their Way.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, 4-5)
To the degree we depart from the Word of God, to the same degree we will reap the consequences. To the degree we depart from the Word of truth, to the same degree we will also bring ourselves into bondage, create counterfeits and extinguish the Spirit’s fire.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us choose NOT to entangle ourselves in the Ways of Babylon. May we heed the warnings in God’s Word (Revelation 17-19) and may we pay careful attention to the leading of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13) and the anointing of God which teaches us about all things (1 John 2:20-27). Let us not fear the implications of coming completely out of Babylon and coming completely clean in repentance, for the holy fire, power and glory of God rests on such men and women. May we not fear men and covet their praise more than we fear God and seek his praise (John 5:44, 12:42-43, Mark 8:38).
May we not be like the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-22), who departed from the Way of Zion and followed the Ways of Babylon for such a long time that they did not even realize how spiritually pitiful, poor, blind and naked they had become. The Lord Jesus stood outside the door of their church knocking to get back in! Tragically, the church was completely absent of his Presence and they did not even realize it, even as they carried on with all their “church” activities. May we never be drunk with “…the maddening wine of her [Babylon’s] adulteries” (Revelation 18:3) which distorts our sense of reality and God’s truth and influences us to do all sorts of wicked things we would never do if we were spiritually sober.
Let us fully forsake the Ways of Babylon, for to walk in them when we intimately know Jesus is to deny him. As his Bride, we must forsake all other lovers and all other false ways and religious roads. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
My dear brothers and sisters, if any of you have wandered away into Babylon and are lost and confused by the myriad of foreign languages you hear in Christendom, then listen for the voice of your Good Shepherd who is calling out to you even now (John 10). Set the Word of God before you, for it is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path (Psalm 119:105, Psalm 19:7-11, Psalm 43:3-4). Heed the voice of the Holy Spirit, and he will guide you into the truth (John 16:13). (See “Return to The Good Shepherd” (John the Baptist Artworks Series 2)).
Jesus stands distinctly apart and separate from Babylon, waiting to receive us and walk with us in all of the overwhelming beauty of his love and grace. Come, let us leave the confusion of Babylon and return wholeheartedly to the Lord and walk in the Way of Zion: intimacy with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“‘In those days, at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.
‘My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty, for they sinned against the LORD, their true pasture, the LORD, the hope of their fathers.’
‘Flee out of Babylon; leave the land of the Babylonians, and be like the goats that lead the flock. For I will stir up and bring against Babylon an alliance of great nations…So Babylonia will be plundered; all who plunder her will have their fill,’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 50:4-10)
“After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:
‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.’
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes…” (Revelation 18:1-5)
“Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold, and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.” (Psalm 119:127-128)
“I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:101-104 NKJV)
My artwork depicts the Way of Zion (intimacy with Jesus). I have used the imagery of the Bride and Bridegroom (Revelation 21:2) and John 14:6 to depict this. Beneath, many people wander around in confusion within the Babylonian “church”. Babylon is constructed like a ziggurat, which alludes to the Tower of Babel (confusion) in Genesis 11:1-9. The Babylonian church has 6 towers, which represents the number of man. The imagery of Babylon in this drawing was influenced by M. C. Escher’s work, “Relativity”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativity_(M._C._Escher)
(See also “Come Out of Her, My People (Babylon The Harlot)” (Signs of The Times Series), “Return to The Good Shepherd” (John the Baptist Artworks Series 2), “Let Your Light and Truth Guide Me to The Place Where You Dwell” (Believer’s Road Series), “Home is Where Your Heart is” (Praise and Worship Series) and “Don’t Be Afraid to Come Out if You Can See” (John the Baptist Artworks Series 2).)