The Bible ends with a vision of the descent of a jeweled bridal city Jerusalem descending from heaven. Before the city descends, though. a city ascends: Babylon is destroyed and her smoke rises forever and ever. God's city descends only after the city of man is sent up to God as an ascension offering.

The pattern occurs over and over again in the Bible. The first great city, Sodom, ascends in smoke before God begins to build Abraham's city by giving him a son. Egypt is decimated by plagues before the pattern of the tabernacle descends to Moses, and the cities of Canaan are offered as ascension offerings in the conquest before David conquers the city of Jerusalem, before the tabnit of the temple-city descends to the king. Nebuchadnezzar sends idolatrous Jerusalem up to heaven in smoke before Ezekiel sees a vision of a new temple and city. 

The pattern still holds, and the church's mission is to turn the city into a sacrifice of ascent. We no longer do this as Joshua did, with the sword and fire of flesh. Rather, the church carries on her herem war, her war of utter destruction, through the sword of the Word and the fire of the Spirit, which cut down the inhabitants of the old city, transfigure them in the Spirit, so they can ascend to God. We offer up the city in the incense of our prayer, so that God will send down His city flashing with lightning and rumbling with thunder.