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The Book of Revelation
“Babylon’s Fiery Fall”
When we were last in the Book of Revelation we looked at the rise and fall of religion as we studied Religious Babylon found in chapter 17.
In the beginning of chapter 18 we see the Apostle John saying, “After these things,” which opens up a whole new chapter in Babylon’s judgment. Gone is Religious Babylon, and now God is going to deal with political and commercial Babylon.
Read Revelation 18:1-3
Like it’s kissin’ cousin, Religious Babylon, political and commercial Babylon will meet its end. Some believe it represents a system of government and materialism, while others see it as the literal city. Which of these two is difficult to say, and it actually could be both.
But whichever view is taken, the whole world readily accepts and is intoxicated by it. This is seen in verse three
“For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” (Revelation 18:3 NKJV)
In essence these three, nations, kings, and merchants encompasses the entire gamut of the world’s population. Everyone has united in an ungodly union with political and commercial Babylon, because the spirit of Antichrist is embodied within it.
Babylon will be the answer to the utopian society that the world has been searching for, its Shangri-La, if you would, as it meets the felt needs of the people.
It will offer all that a person could ever want or desire, physically, emotionally, and mentally, but not spiritually, because it denies and rejects God. Instead life will be focused around technology, science, education, pleasures, recreation, and comfort, but not God.
It will be a city or system where secularism, humanism, and materialism are all wrapped up into one neat little package, as it will be allied with the Antichrist, promoting Satan’s agenda to the world.
It will be as the Apostle Paul foretold.
“In the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (1 Timothy 3:1-4 NKJV)
So dark and so evil is political and commercial Babylon that it takes an angel of great power to come and pronounce its doom. The fact that this angel illuminates the earth and speaks with a strong voice indicates just how strong the spell of darkness and stupor Babylon has over the minds, hearts, and souls of the people.
This is further emphasized by what the angel says. The overall character of the city is wrapped up in whose running the show, that is, Satan. Notice it’s become a den of demons and every foul and evil spirit. It also mentions unclean and detestable birds. These are scavengers that eat the dead.
This is how prevalent the occult is and how much control Satan’s forces have over the world, as they control both the political and commercial climates.
Some argue against the literal city of Babylon being rebuilt, but the Scriptures and history seem to indicate otherwise. The prophets speak about Babylon’s fall in these last days.
“And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation; nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there.” (Isaiah 13:19-20 NKJV)
“Because of the wrath of the Lord she shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate. Everyone who goes by Babylon shall be horrified and hiss at all her plagues.” (Jeremiah 50:13 NKJV)
“‘They shall not take from you a stone for a corner nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate forever,’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 51:26 NKJV)
Babylon, the ancient city fell to the Medes and Persians in 539B.C. just as the prophets predicted. Yet Babylon as a city has never undergone such destruction as indicated by the prophets. The present devastation is a result of slow decay, not from sudden destruction.
Further as least six cities have used the stones and other parts of ancient Babylon in their buildings, and the present day city of Hillah is actually part of ancient Babylon suburbs.
But could Babylon be a commercial center once again? The probability by many is high because Iraq is rich in oil, the one commodity the world needs to run. This makes this area a strategic center as it sits smack dab in the middle of the largest population concentration in the world.
After the angel cries out against Babylon, the Lord makes three pronouncements.
Read Revelation 18:4-8
There’s an urgency to this message. The Lord is not only calling His people out of Babylon, but also to avoid and reject its enticements.
In some ways this call amazes me. How could any saints still be in Babylon at all, seeing it means persecution and it will restrict their ability to buy or sell without the mark? This seems to speak more of this being a political and commercial system than a literal city.
God’s call is to warn them not to linger any longer, because the same fate that will befall Babylon will be their fate as well if they remain. We see this sort of lingering on the part of Lot’s wife as she turned back and thus received God’s judgment meant of Sodom and Gomorrah.
This has always been God’s call to His people. Don’t hang with the world. God has called those who are His to be different, separate and holy. A people commanded by God not to touch or be a part of anything unholy.
Paul speaks of this separation in his second letter to the Corinthian church.
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? … ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17 NKJV)
In today’s self-centered, materialistic world such a call to holiness is not easy, but the narrow way never is. But its ending destination of heaven makes all the ruts and potholes worth it. Further, the downside for staying and receiving the punishment isn’t worth what little and short-lived pleasure we may receive.
God’s call is so that believers do not share in her sin and receive Gods’ judgment.
The sins of Babylon and this overall system have now reached its end. God is just and wishes none to perish, but the sins of Babylon has gone as far as they can go and have reached unto the very heights of heaven, much like the tower they built so very long ago.
This alludes to the Tower of Babel, and each sin of political and commercial Babylon is another brick, each attached to one another reaching upwards into heaven until God sends down His judgment for humanity’s arrogance and pride.
And so God will double down on their judgment. In other words they’re reaping what they’ve been sowing over these past millenniums.
There’s been great evil done against us that in reality doesn’t make sense, and we see absolutely no earthly or heavenly good coming from it. But what’s been happening is that this evil has been building up until it will be judged, not in equal proportion for what it’s been dishing out, but doubled.
Evil in the end gets what it deserves and will end up in the Lake of Fire and everlasting torment, while those who believe and endure will no longer be hurt or in pain, they’ll no longer shed tears of disappointment and sorrow, but will be filled with the light of joy in the presence of God forever.
Now in verse seven the Lord gives us insight as to just what pushed Babylon over the edge.
“She glorified herself”
Babylon, this political and commercial system glorifies itself, making itself equal with God. But God doesn’t take kindly to anyone trying to stake claim to His territory.
“I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God … For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Isaiah 44:6b; Deuteronomy 4:24 NKJV)
God will judge all who place themselves over Him, or in His place.
“And lived luxuriously”
Self-indulgence is accompanied by arrogance and a ruthless exercise of strength. They were literally stuffing themselves with all that Babylon had to offer, grabbing and hoarding, being selfish overfed and bloated with materialism.
For those who follow in this manner will never inherit God’s kingdom.
“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5 NKJV)
“She says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’”
Babylon is rejecting the possibility that anything can happen to her and that she will never experience any downside to her actions. The idea that she is beyond reach and beyond any sort of punishments smacks of the sin of the Laodicea church.
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17 NKJV)
They thought they had everything, when it truth they had nothing in God’s commerce.
After the call of God’s people to come out of Babylon, the Lord reveals Babylon’s outcome and the mourning that will take place
Read Revelation 18:9-19
The first mourners are the kings of the earth because they’ve lost their power.
They distance themselves from the destruction, that is, they’re acting like typical politicians trying to consolidate whatever power they have left.
The second mourners are the merchants because they’ve lost their profits.
Babylon traffics in material goods, things that the world holds dear, and people will literally be willing to sell their souls to obtain. And while there is the usual: jewelry, clothing, furnishings, perfumes, food and travel, it also lists slavery.
Slavery emphasizes just how far they’ve degenerated, because from slavery we see human brutality and an overall contempt for human life, which the prosperity of this system of commerce rests.
And so the merchants like the kings distance themselves and lament their losses.
The last mourners are the shippers because of they’ve lost their business.
They’ve profited from the transportation of these goods. And like all the others they’ll stand back and watch in horror the destruction of everything they’ve known.
Yet not everyone mourns.
“Rejoice over her fate, O heaven and people of God and apostles and prophets! For at last God has judged her for your sakes.” (Revelation 18:20 NKJV)
Some look upon this as the most un-Christ thing imaginable, rejoicing over destruction. But God gives us the reason behind it, and that is He is performing the judgment required. He is pronouncing in favor of the saints who earlier cried out
“How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10 NKJV)
Read Revelation 18:21-24
John see a graphic portrayal of what was foretold as another mighty angel takes a millstone and casts it into the depths of the sea.
This speaks of the violence, suddenness, and permanence of God’s judgment. In one day there will come death, mourning, and famine, and Babylon will be utterly consumed, burned with fire, and the smoke of its destruction will be seen a great distance away.
And so where there was once bright lights, music, glamour, and splendor, now only darkness and silence prevail. Notice that the voice of the bridegroom and bride will never be heard again. It’s as if the highest form of human joy will be silenced by God’s judgment.
And so we have seen in these last two chapters the destruction of human religion, government, and commerce; systems Satan has used to move humanity further and further away from the Lord.
Some look to capitalism and democracy as the means that’ll bring hope and salvation to our world. But they won’t. There is actually no system of government or commerce that will save the human race.
We look to politicians or a particular political party thinking these will help, and while they are beneficial, in the end they’re not our salvation.
The only thing that will save this nation and its inhabitants are the hearts of the people that are changed and brought into alignment with God, His word, His will, and His ways. It’s a heart change of the people, not a political realignment.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)
We need to start praying, but even more than that, we need to start confessing and repenting of our sins. We need to, as the Lord says, “turn from our wicked ways.” Then God will forgive and heal.
We can’t have it both ways. We can’t continue to love the world and love God.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NKJV)
And so we need to take God’s admonition from our study today and come out from among the world and be holy, that is, be separated for God and for His use.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study