Shadow Ministry

Excerpt from James B. Jordan, Babylon and the Babel Project, Biblical Horizons Occasional Paper No. 39. Available from

In the Latter Days [the Restoration era], Babylon is anti-Jerusalem, apostate Judaism. A careful reading of Zechariah will uncover this fact. Zechariah 2:7 tells Zion to escape from living with Daughter Babylon, but in fact Babylon had been conquered and the people were literally living in the Persian empire. Moreover, there was no need for most of the Jews to return to Jerusalem; God’s missionary purpose involved having them spread out all over the world. Indeed, in context, “Jerusalem” is spoken of as a non-geographical entity (2:2-5). It is clear that the geographical language used here is symbolic of spiritual realities. The righteous were to separate themselves from living in terms of Babylonian principle…

In Zechariah 5:5-11, the prophet is shown a counterfeit of the Ark of the Covenant. The actual Ark had been lost, and so only a “spiritual Ark” was located in the Temple, in the midst of the Temple-People. Similarly, this anti-Ark is located in “Shinar,” which is also Jerusalem and the people of God. The anti-Ark is round instead of rectangular; it has a lead cover instead of a golden one; it is flanked by storks instead of by cherubim; it contains Wickedness instead of the tables of the Covenant; and it has a temple built for it in Shinar instead of Jerusalem.

In the vision, the anti-Ark is removed from Jerusalem and the land of God. We are being told that the exodus of God’s people back to Him will mean the removal of idolatry and apostasy from her midst. Wickedness will make an “exodus” back to Shinar, back to Babel, back to Ur.

This exodus of Wickedness is not, however, to be understood geographically or even socially. Rather, the thought, clearly in view of the preceding history of Israel, is that the new Temple that Zerubbabel was building could be a house of God or a house for Wickedness. Both are at the same location. Which one the Temple will be depends on the people. Indeed, the Temple will be both. For faithful worshipers (like the publican), it will be the Temple of God, but for the proud (like the Pharisee), it will be a Temple of Wickedness.

Thus, the new Babel is not located some place other than Jerusalem. It is a false Jerusalem superimposed on the true one. It is a shadow Temple and City, next to the true ones.

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