Is it Time to Leave Babylon? What would Daniel do?
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
Disclaimer: Bible prophecy interpretation is complex, and as Sir Isaac Newton noted, generally not well understood until fulfillment. Yet Jesus told his disciples to "keep on the watch" and to "lift up your heads" when they see significant events--that deliverance is near. It is in this spirit that this is written: to help Christians make sense of today's events in the context of prophecy. There is no claim to inspiration or special insight. All errors are mine.
Daniel was a Hebrew prophet who lived in captivity in Babylon during the 6th century BCE. Babylon had invaded Israel and destroyed Jerusalem and its temple as punishment from God. Because of his outstanding abilities, and God's unseen hand, Daniel was trusted by several Babylonian leaders and elevated to high positions in the government. Unlike the Babylonian advisers and priests, Daniel had access to divine knowledge, and told the Babylonian leaders the truth, where the Babylonian advisors and priests told the King what he wanted to hear. His prophecies predicted the rise and fall of world powers, right down to our day, and the ultimate establishment of God's Kingdom on earth--but that is a story for another time.
In Chapter 9 of the Book of Daniel, it is revealed that another prophet, Jeremiah, wrote that there would be 70 years of captivity in Babylon for Israel's gross corruption, idolatry, and other sins. Since this period was nearing an end, he decided to pray a prayer of repentance on behalf of his people. He understood that the captivity had the goal of national repentance and reconciliation.
Daniel begins by praising God as a covenant-keeper who is "full of lovingkindness for those that love him and keep his commandments" (v4, NASB). Representing the nation, he repents of the wickedness and rebelliousness of his people and their failure to follow God's commands or to listen to the prophets he has sent them. He does not blame God, but reinforces God's good character: "Righteousness belongs to you, O Lord, but to us open shame..." (v7). He notes that all of Israel has sinned--especially the leadership--so all are guilty (v11-12), and therefore the curses for breaking the agreement, outlined in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, are now in operation. He reminds Yahweh, the God of Israel, that he miraculously led his people out of Egypt, and asks him to do the same for his people in Babylonian captivity: "O Lord, hear! O Lord forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people are called by your name" (v19). Shortly after Daniel's prayer, Gabriel, an archangel, promptly visits him to assure him his prayer was heard, and to deliver another prophecy. In a few years, Israel would be released from captivity and allowed to return to Israel to rebuild the city and its temple. God heard Daniel's prayer and acted.
Christians today are, like Daniel's people, in Babylon. This is brought out in the Book of Revelation: "I heard another voice from heaven, saying, 'Come out of her [Babylon], my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues...'" (Rev 18:4). In Chapters 17 and 18, Babylon is described as a harlot sitting atop a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns, representing Roman-type republican governments (more on this in an upcoming article. Harlots in the bible are often used to describe God's people in rebellion. There are also merchants, and kings, and vast riches described. As the renowned bible scholar Dr. Gordon Fee said, in his Revelation lectures several years ago, "Babylon is Western culture" and "many of our brethren in the United States have fallen away from the faith." What did he mean? I believe he meant that much of our religion, commerce, and politics in the West is corrupt, unjust, idolatrous and sinful. The corrupt churches create a veneer of false righteousness which deceives the people. True Christians must "Come out of her" by not participating in her wicked deeds. Those that refuse to do so will suffer the approaching consequences. If Daniel was alive today, his prayer of repentance might look something like the following.
"O Lord, you are righteous, good, and full of truth and lovingkindness. We have sinned and rebelled against you. The rich have taken most of the wealth, and left the poor with scraps. Our leaders lie to us while they line their pockets and plot evil yet we still support them. Although your son and our redeemer Jesus Christ taught us to put away the sword, turn the other cheek, love our enemies, and do to others as we would have them do to us, our history is one of almost constant wars--where your people have slaughtered each other--usually over resources in other countries that the rich want for themselves. We repent of these things Lord, and wish to do better. We commit to pursuing peace, not war and violence. We commit to sharing the wealth woth those in need rather than greedily hoarding it for ourselves. Lord hear our prayer."
"You created this beautiful planet, and commanded us to look after it (Genesis 1, 2). You warned us that you would "destroy those destroying the earth" (Rev 11:18). Instead of heeding your commands and warnings, we have exploited the earth for profit. We have destroyed habitat and ecosystems with chemicals and irresponsible farming practices, and burned fossil fuels even though scientists told us decades ago it would lead to the planet's ruin. And now we see it. Fossil fuel companies and their bought and paid for politicians have lied to us. Earth's life is collapsing, the Arctic and Antarctic are melting, Australia is burning, low lying lands are being flooded, and our leaders continue to lie and do mostly nothing. They are more concerned with lining their pockets than saving the earth. But we are all guilty Lord! We have all participated in the destruction of this beautiful gem called Earth in one way or another. Please forgive us Lord. Please heal us from our stupidity, arrogance, and pride. Help us to know humility and to be dependent on you, not led by our own selfish desires. Heal us Lord. Heal our land. Hear our prayer of repentance. We need you now more than ever."
"You designed us to be social creatures who need each other. You gave us the institute of marriage, where two people can be intimate and live life together as partners; producing children, who, if taught well, will grow into adult worshipers of you. But we have corrupted this beautiful arrangement! We have fallen into sexual sin: pornography, prostitution, sexual deviancy, and casual sex is now rampant--even among those claiming to be your people! Forgive us Lord! Help us to remain within the parameters you have outlined in your Word. Help us to be clean before you. We repent of our sexual sins Lord. Please forgive us and heal us."
"Lord, you are a God of justice, but there is no justice in the land. The rich are rarely held accountable, and the poor are thrown in jail for misdemeanors. The rich have corrupted the laws to avoid paying their share of taxes. They have paid off our corrupt politicians so their businesses can continue destroying your beautiful earth with impunity. Those of us in wealthy countries have taken or stolen much of the planet's wealth, resulting in billions of poor and malnourished people, especially children. We in wealthy countries have done the most damage to the environment but the poor in the South are suffering the most. And when they come to us for relief, we put up walls and barriers to keep them out and put their children in cages while deporting their parents. Lord we repent of this evil, grievous sin and ask you to forgive. Teach us your justice, Lord. Make within us a new heart."
"Father Yahweh, Lord of the universe, we come to you in deep repentance and shame, our heads bowed, and ask for healing. Many of our churches and church leaders are corrupt. They have partnered with sinful politicians and greedy business leaders to subjugate your people. They "tickle our ears" with shallow sermons, often promising worldly blessings (2 Tim 4:3). They write books and go on television to advance their careers, and mingle with the powerful, but they do little to help your sheep know you and grow in your Word and in the faith of Christ. They wink at immorality and say little or nothing about your ruined planet or the gross injustice and corruption of the ruling elite. When those rulers want a war, these corrupt pastors support them in disobedience to Jesus' commands. Lord, please discipline us. Please forgive us. Please heal us and make us whole. Show us how to worship you in purity and truth."
"O Lord, you made all things, and humans were your crowning achievement. Your people come from all nations and ethnicities. Yet racism is rampant. Our corrupt politicians and corrupt pastors and their people discriminate against those who have a different skin color or nationality. This is gross idolatry and sinful. O God, we repent of all racism, nationalism and discrimination. Please heal us, O God. Help us to see all people as you see them. Help us see your image in all of humanity (Gen 1:27)."
"Yahweh, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have committed a great sin against you. Some of our pastors and their people have aligned themselves with politicians who are liars, racists, greed-mongers and warmongers. They have reviled in their new-found political power and willingly participate in the deception of your people. Like those before them, they have preferred the bed of the emperor to being the chaste Bride of Christ. They are the harlot you describe in Revelation and their end will be as prophesied unless they repent (Revelation 17:16-17). Discipline us Lord, and turn us from our bad ways. Make in us a new heart that is chaste, just, humble, caring, and true (Ps 51:10). We repent of this disgusting idolatry."
"Lord Yahweh, God of Israel, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive our many sins. You are good. You are righteous and just, wise, and full of lovingkindness. Heal us Lord and heal our land. Fill us with your Spirit. Remove the sin far from us, O God, for we repent with humble hearts. As this coronavirus sweeps the globe, we pray for your protection and salvation. We are frightened O God, and afraid of what more is to come. But we put our trust in you and you alone. We need you now more than ever. Lord save us! In the name of Jesus Christ we pray."