City of Man
The tale of humanity’s fall and redemption is a tale of two cities. After Cain murdered his brother, he went east and founded a city (Gen. 4:16–17). He laid the foundation for a civilization built on violence and vengeance. In contrast, Abraham went west looking for a city whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:8–10). He was looking for a new civilization, a peaceable city, built on the Prince of Peace (Heb. 13:14)
Cain’s city, or the City of Man, embodies the murderous spirit of Satan. It is the “dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit” (Rev. 18:2). It is Satan’s home from where he has exported untold misery and pain.
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth. (Revelation 18:24)
All the murders and massacres that have ever been inflicted on the human race were birthed in Satan’s city, a.k.a. the City of Man a.k.a. Babylon the Great. All the genocides and homicides and infanticides and fratricides that ever were originated here. This bloodstained town is the home of hurt and the seat of all suffering. But the King of kings shall send his heavenly armies and burn that hellish city (see Rev. 18:18).
Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.” (Revelation 18:21)
In the parable of the wedding banquet, the king sends his army to destroy those who murdered his slaves and set their city on fire (Matt. 22:7). Something similar happened in the parable of the wicked tenants (Luke 20:16). Commentators and theologians have long believed that Jesus was referring to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. “The Jews killed God’s Son so he destroyed their city.” But Roman armies are not angel armies and the City of Man cannot be Jerusalem of old.
After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the city was rebuilt. But the City of Man will never recover from God’s ultimate destruction. In the end, there shall be only one city, the King’s city from heaven, which endures forever.
What then is this that is written: “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief cornerstone”? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust. (Luke 20:17–18)
Jesus is the chief cornerstone over which the Jews stumbled (1 Cor. 1:23). The stumbling stone is a picture of Christ’s first coming when he was meek and mild, but when Christ returns he will come hurtling like an asteroid, metaphorically speaking. It is a picture of sudden and destructive judgment.
Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:35)
Nebuchadnezzar saw a stone not cut by human hands crushing the feet of a statue made of gold, silver, bronze, and iron. The statue represents the kingdoms of this earth, while the falling stone is the kingdom of heaven come down. It is King Jesus winnowing, threshing, and crushing those things that are opposed to his rule.
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. (Daniel 2:44)
Just as Babylon the Great is cast down like a stone in John’s revelation, the statue of Daniel’s prophecy is crushed by a falling stone. In the end, the City of Man and the kingdoms of the earth shall fall, and Jesus shall reign unchallenged and unopposed.
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ; and he will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
John’s visions and Christs’ parables of the wedding banquet and the vineyard signal something far more destructive and glorious than the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. They are prophetic end-of-the-world pictures of the wrath that comes on those things that oppose God and harm his children.
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