Monday, March 18, 2013

Farewell to Babylon (2 Nephi 23)

The preamble of 2 Nephi 23 (compare Isaiah 13) says that the destruction of Babylon is a type of the destruction that will happen at The Lord's 2nd Coming.  Therefore, today I will talk about
Last of the Mohicans...

Doesn't look like Babylon lasted very long.  I guess Isaiah was right about them...

2 Nephi 23: 19
19.  And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

20.  It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.
Here's Babylon today
What was so awful about Babylon?  There were lots of places around the world whose people weren't models of obedience to The Lord.  Why pick on the Babylonians as the standard in wicked behavior, always to be referred to in a negative context?

Me & Gerry Lindley in Vincennes, Indiana; circa 1988
Pictured up yonder is me as a missionary and my mission companion, Gerry Lindley.  It may seem like we're rocking out, but actually we're singing along with Bring the World His Truth, and are on the "Weeeee are as the Army of Helaman, we have been born in our youth" part of the song.

In my mission, the rules restricted our listening pleasure to Mormon Tabernacle Choir songs and Church Hymns.  Though this song is in the LDS Primary songbook, the version we listened to was technically against our rules.  Anything we missionaries had which was outside the rules was called Babylon.  This song was Babylon, and so was the stereo I was playing it on, much as I tried to justify myself by listening to our Gospel Study tapes on it.  I finally ended up bringing my stereo thing into the Mission Office and leaving it until I finished my mission and went home.

Most of the tribes of Israel were already scattered and lost.  The Babylonians conquered what was left, The tribe of Judah, and carried them away captive to Babylon, where they remained for about 70 years, long enough for God's people to pick up some bad habits.  When Judah returned from Babylon, they brought much of its influence with them, and this caused some major apostasy.  In order to cleave unto God and the covenants they had made with Him, the people of Judah were commanded to leave Babylon behind, not just physically, but spiritually too, even more so.  Those who were able to leave Babylon behind were able to remain steadfast in their faith.  If they kept some souvenirs, they had a much harder time, and many were lost.

How does this connect to me? 

The reason missionaries attached the name Babylon to stuff against the rules is because the same principle applies to them.  Those who are able to let go of the world (in our case it was TV, good music, going to movies, dating, etc.) could become missionaries of great faith and influence, wielding the sword of the spirit like the Army of Helaman.  Those who hold on to the world (my stereo), are much less effective.  And in some cases, this has led to apostasy as well.

Screenshot of Babylon from "Age of Empires" computer game
In my 30's I was quite the gamer.  As a lonely bachelor, I found computer games to be a welcome distraction from my otherwise dull life.  I used to say stuff like, "My life sucks anyway, might as well buy this $2000 computer."  Now, computer and video games ain't a bad thing.  It ain't a sin to play Age of Empires or whatever.  That is, until it distracts you from what is really important.  Sometimes I'd play for hours, late into the night.  This usually exhausted me for the next day's activities, be they work or family or church, or just productive living.  Then I'd be back at it that night, and so on.

She finally found me in 2008
Whether it was because marrying Emilie filled the emptiness in me that caused me to lose interest in my computer games or the fact that we are so broke that I can't even afford a decent computer, let alone the 50-buck games I'd want to play, either way I'm grateful.

I heard a scary statistic the other day.  An LDS Bishop in Orem, Utah stated that over 60% of the divorces in his area were related to video/ computer gaming. 

What a jerk.  C'mon man, it's her turn.
So that's my speech about Babylon.  People have different things which, to them, is a 'hanging on to Babylon' issue.  My advice is to bid farewell to Babylon, whatever that may be to you, and remember who you are, where you're headed, and what is important.

It's actually quite a battle to keep your head in the game of life these days.  There are zillions of distractions around us all the time, and the effects of The Fall of man are such that our "natural man" wants to be distracted.  To do battle against our "natural" desire for Babylon, The Lord has blest us with power from on High, if we only ask for it, reach for it.  If you personally are able to live a life that balances spiritual joys and temporal fun, that's groovy.  Nothing wrong with playing a game, watching a movie, hangin' with friends, etc.  Ain't nobody said we need to read the BOM all day long.  It's when the distractions take a more weighted role in our lives than the important stuff that could cause us trouble.

As Colonel Munro said in Last of the Mohicans,
"There's a terrible feature of war here in the Americas, Major Heyward; best we keep our eye fixed on our duty:  To defeat France (or Babylon)."
Here's Ye Elders of Israel if you'd care to listen to a verse or two 
(at least listen to 1:05 to 1:22)...

So, this is my spiel for today:

  • Recognize if you are hanging on to any part of Babylon
  • If it's a problem, and you'll know if it's a problem, make a decision to leave your Babylon behind, whatever it is
  • If you find it difficult to defeat Babylon or France, call upon your good buddy Hawkeye to help you...

He will "let Killdeer take part in the conversation; for at this distance, he will touch the life 2 out of 3 times."

Great Spirit and Maker of all life
A warrior comes to you straight and true as an arrow shot into the sun
Welcome him, and make a place for him at the council fire of my people
He is Uncas, my son
Teach him to be patient, as he has death for speed
For they are all there, but one:  I, Chingachgook, Last of the Mohicans

Good luck, and

Peace be with you...