THE FALL OF BABYLON

Revelation 18

1} After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. {2} And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! {3} "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."

With the words "after these things" we understand that the events of chapter 18 follow those of chapter 17. As we stated last week, chapter 17 must be finished about the middle of the tribulation when the Anti-christ takes over the world religion and sets himself up in the temple of God, proclaiming that he is God. Another reason we would think that these are separate events is that the woman of chapter 17 is said to be made desolate, naked, and burned with fire by the beast and the ten horns but in chapter 18 the kings of the earth morn the destruction of Babylon. Also, there, Babylon is a person while here Babylon is described as a city. Many interpreters understand chapter 17 to refer to a religious system while chapter 18 refers to an economic or political system.

We need to see that Babylon will be not only a religious system but an economic system. Both of which will be very contrary to what God would have. Walvoord says,"It seems that chapter 17 deals with the religious aspect and chapter 18 with the political and economic aspects of Babylon. According to verse 9 the kings of the earth as well as the merchants will mourn the passing of the Babylon of chapter 18. There is apparently no morning connected with the destruction of the woman in chapter 17."

{4} And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.


Jer. 51:45 45 "My people, go out of the midst of her! And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the LORD.

1 John 2:15-17

15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. 17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Jesus taught His disciples that they were to be in the world but not a part of the world. God's people are to be spiritually alert to identify those things that are contrary to God's plan and purpose and to depart from iniquity (1 Tim. 2:19). We notice also that those who will not depart from this wicked world system's ways will also share in its plagues.

We find similar language in Jer. 51:45 where God calls the people to come out of that present Babylon so as to not suffer along with Babylon.

Alford compares the command to come out of Babylon to the warning to Lot to leave Sodom. Gen. 19:15-22

The plagues refer to the last bowls of God's wrath, especially the seventh that is poured out on Babylon specifically.

Therefore they are to come out first, so as to not partake of the sins of Babylon. Secondly they are to come out so that they do not suffer the same judgment.

There must be a balance. We cannot help but be in the world but Jesus has called us to be not of the world. John said that the world was filled with the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He tells us these things are of the world and not of God.

Sharing in her sins (18:4). The sins of Babylon are sins of worldliness, which 1 John 2:15-17 graphically describes: a craving to satisfy one's passions, a desire to possess the material things seen by the eyes, an arrogance that is based on what a person has and does. When Christians become materialistic and oriented to this world they share in the sins of Babylon--and are in danger of receiving some of her plagues! The Bible Reader's Companion; Copyright 1991 SP Publications, Inc. Author: Richards, Lawrence O.

Lev. 20:22-26 22'You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. 23And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them. 24But I have said to you, "You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey." I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples. 25You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. 26And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.

The call to holiness again emphasizes the fact that Israel is to be different from other peoples and "set apart" to God. One key O.T. term, badal, means to remove something from something else, so making a distinction between them. This thought is clearly seen in verses 24-25. In O.T. times separation was carried out by isolation of God's people as a separate nation.

It was maintained by ritual and moral standards that differentiated the Israelites from all pagan peoples, and supported by bans against intermarriage and other close contact with non-Israelites.

Yet underlying separation from others was the dynamic of separation to God. Only complete commitment to Him could maintain God's people as a holy nation. For only God could make His people holy in the dynamic, positive sense of holiness seen here in Lev.

{5} "For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

The question is often asked, how long will God allow the injustice to continue in this world? We do not know the answer but we do know that there is coming a time when God will bring it all to an end. Walvoord say, "The fact that her sins have reached (Gr. kollal, literally 'glued' or 'welded together,' i.e. piled one on another as bricks in a building) unto heaven is an allusion to the tower of Babel which began the wicked career of ancient Babylon (Gen. 11:5-9)."

It would also indicate that God's longsuffering in allowing these iniquities to mount continually for a long time without executing judgment on Babylon.

{6} "Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. {7} "In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.' {8} "Therefore her plagues will come in one day; death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.

Some think that the command is here to the believers, but I think that it refers to those angels who hold the bowls of wrath. Christians are never called on to bring vengeful retribution against anyone. Vengeance belongs to God and He can well take care of it without our help.

We notice the great destruction that will take place upon her at the end time. It will all be in accordance with the iniquity she has know but it is doubled. She was indestructible, without sorrow or grief but only knew luxury. There is nothing wrong with enjoying those blessings that God has given us, but it is wrong to take the things of others for our own luxurious pleasures. Therefore we see that God will bring devastation to her in a short period of time, as one day and will utterly destroy her with fire.



{9} "The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning,

We find that the world will morn the loss of this great economic power. For by it they have been made rich. "Some believe that ancient Babylon is to be rebuilt as the capital of the world empire in the great tribulation period and that Babylon in this chapter refers to ancient Babylon rather that to Rome. ... It is held that Babylon will be rebuilt and then destroyed by Christ at His second coming." Walvoord p 262 "Babylon, politically symbolized by the great city of Revelation 18, attempts to achieve its domination of the world common market and a world government." Walvoord p 267.

This is an indication that chapters 17 and 18 are talking about different Babylons. For in chapter 17 the ten kings are the ones who being her to an end. In chapter 18 the kings of the earth, which would include more than the ten kings morn the destruction of this economic power by which they have become rich.



{10} "standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.' {11} "And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: {12} "merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; {13} "and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. {14} "The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all.

It is in this section that we clearly see the purpose of this economic system. It was in trading and selling all the things that they had become rich. Everything is listed from the most precious gold to the spices valued greatly in those days to even the bodies and souls of men.

God constantly warned Israel against the snare of riches. They were not to multiply their gold and silver, their horses and chariots. They were to be dependent on God. Wealth has made it so that people do not need to depend on God. Has the fact that 20% of the world population has 80% of the world wealth affect our dependance on God. People do not depend on God, they depend on themselves. Jesus said it was harder for a rich man to get into the kingdom than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Or do we no longer think that principle no longer applies.



{15} "The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, {16} "and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! {17} 'For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.' Every ship master, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance {18} "and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What is like this great city?' {19} "They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.'

The people that were made rich by transporting these vast amounts of wealth are also brought to morning, for now their trade has come to an end.

The merchants having lost their way of riches are set to mourn, alas, alas.

Newell in his commentary goes into great depth setting forth that commerce is not of God, and is itself sinful. I kind of agree. It seems to me that the people who labor to raise and harvest grain should make more than those who buy and sell it. Those who labor in the steel mills should make more than those who buy and sell it. No I understand, that money makes the world go round but it should never make Christians go round.

{20} "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!"

But what causes the world to morn causes the saints to rejoice. The idea that the saints are somehow avenged by the destruction of this city is seen it that commerce and those who would make their millions often make them by breaking the backs of the poor. They are also not always sympathetic to the spread of the Gospel. It was the people of commerce who opposed the work of Carey in India more that any other. In the south it was considered wrong to teach the slaves to read and write.

{21} Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, "Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.

We are told that the destruction of Babylon will be very violent, very swift and also quite final

{22} "The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore. {23} "The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. {24} "And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth."

The city is so destroyed that the general sounds of joy will no longer be heard there. Also the sound of productiveness will not be found there any more. No more will the lamps be lit there nor will the voice of the bridegroom be there. The merchants will have been the great men of the earth. They were the important people, the shakers and the makers. They were the ones who had power that money can buy. They dealt corruptly to advance their own scheme.

It is also said that in her is found the blood of the prophets and saints. Eternity will only tell the destruction that this world system has brought upon mankind.

A Call to Separation

Revelation 18

1After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 2And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3For 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."

4And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

This morning we want to look primarily at verse 4. The angel comes with the message that Babylon has fallen. This is kind of a prophetic past perfect tense. That is, the event is still future but it is considered finished. It is on that basis that God's message to His people is that they come out of this worldly system and be separated to Him.

Last week we said that the church is to be dedicated to God and not prostitute itself to the world. But you see that is sort of general. This verse gets it down to individuals. Churches are made up of individuals. The church will be what the individuals are who make it up.

This verse 4 is probably a quotation from Jeremiah 50:8; 51:6, 45

8 "Move from the midst of Babylon, Go out of the land of the Chaldeans; And be like the rams before the flocks.

6 Flee from the midst of Babylon, And every one save his life! Do not be cut off in her iniquity, For this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; He shall recompense her.

45 "My people, go out of the midst of her! And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the LORD.

Babylon had taken Jerusalem captive and transported them to Babylon. God used this as a judgment against Israel because of their sin and their idolatry. But many of the Jews who were thus transported to Babylon had settled down there and had no intention of going back to Judah when the captivity was over. They had bought into the Babylonian system and were enjoying the good life. But they had forgotten that God wanted them to be a separate people. This all goes back to Lev. 20 where God had called Israel out of Egypt to be his special people.

22'You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. 23And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them. 24But I have said to you, "You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey." I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples. 25You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. 26And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.

In the Old Testament God's people were known for the things that they abstained from. But Jesus taught that we would be known as God's people by the things we do.

Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with a list of characteristics of His people.

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn For they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We can see that Jesus moved separation to a much higher realm than simply what people did to the condition of the heart. It is a love thing. We as God's people are to have a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When we love God as we should we will of natural consequence not love the world or the things in the world.

1 John 2:15-17

15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. 17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Do we understand this passage? It is telling us that to love God is to not love the world and to love the world is to not love God. You cannot do both. God and this world system are poles apart and you cannot embrace both at the same time.

Now let us get back to Revelation 18. We want to answer three questions. What does this Babylon in Rev. 18 represent? Why are we to be separate for it? And what would that separation look like in daily life?

  1. What does the Babylon in Rev. 18 represent?
    1. It is not strictly the same as chapter 17
      1. In 17 we see ecclesiastical Babylon that will be the final world religion before the Antichrist takes over the world religion.
      2. But in chapter 18 we see the final world economic system that is left over from ecclesiastical Babylon.
      3. Although the Antichrist has no more use for the world's religions, he continues to use the world market to accomplish his plans of world domination.
    2. It seems to represent an economic system.
      1. Give quote from Seiss
      2. Think for a moment, for there is such a power; a power that is everywhere clamoring for a common code, a common currency, common weights and measures; and which is not likely to be silenced or to stop until it has secured a common center on its own independent basis, whence to dictate to all countries and to exercise its own special rule on all the kings and nations of the earth. That power is COMMERCE; the power of the ephah and the talent-- the power borne by the winged women, the one with her hand on the sea and the other with her hand on the land-- the power which even in its present dismemberment is mightier than any pope, any throne, any government, or any other one human power on the face of the globe. Let it go on as it has been going, and will go, in spite of everything that earth can interpose to hinder, dissolving every tie of nationality, every bond of family or kindred, every principle of right and religion which it cannot bend and render subservient to its own ends and interests; and the time must come when it will settle itself down somewhere on its own independent base, and where Judaism and Paganism, Romanism and Protestantism, Mohammedanism and Buddhism, and every distinction of nationality-- English, German, French, Italian, Greek, Turk, Hindu, Arab, Chinese, Japanese, or what not-- shall be sunk in one great universal fellowship and kingdom of commerce. (from Seiss' Apocalypse)
    3. It represents a self indulgent world system that is never satisfied but is always looking for more.
      1. As Christians we are to be content, Paul says, with the things that we have.
      2. All of us struggle with this thing we call materialism.
      3. There always seems to be some new trinket or gadget we just have to have.
      4. And they get more expensive all the time.
      5. But to be caught up in all of these things is often is to be drawn away from God.
  2. Why are we to be separate for it?
    1. We might become partakers of its sin.
      1. There is the sin of covetousness.
        1. It is the only one of the ten commandments we do not like to talk about because we know that we are guilty.
        2. Just wait till the neighbor buy a new car.
        3. Wait till they take that Caribbean Cruise.
        4. I think you get the point.
      2. But there is also sin in that things and riches draw our hearts away from God.
        1. I remember hearing people talk about having to work on Sunday and next hoping to get asked to work on Sunday.
        2. That new boat needs to be in the water on Sunday, after all that is the only time we have after we have filled the rest of our week so full that neither God nor family could be squeezed into it.
    2. We might find ourselves injured by the judgment that will come upon it.
  3. What would that separation look like in daily life?
    1. Loving God to the extent that we allow nothing else to get between us and God.
      1. Neither people or things.
      2. Neither employment or recreation.
    2. The children's song, Loving people and using things, not Loving things and using people.

A reality check:

Where do you feel the most comfortable, with God's people or the world's people.

Is the music you listen to, the world's music or God's music.

Do you spend time talking to God?

Is God the center or your life or just an interruption?

Jesus want to be the center of your life.

 

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com