Revelation 6: The fall of Babylon

July 30, 2017

Revelation 6: The fall of Babylon

 

Key Text: Revelation 17:1-19:10

 

Often the outcome of something makes it easier to endure, and often when we simply focus on the negative aspects we find now hope and power to endure. For example, contrast the preparation for a wedding; now for ladies this might be an engaging and exciting time; however, for most men, and I am generalizing picking plates and flowers etc. is beyond tedious. However, you have the power to endure it because you know that the wedding will be amazing; that you will be married to the love of your life; so you suck it up and look at thousands of plates (up until this point of your life a plate was a plate), you find out that flowers consist of more than just roses; and you discover that Robbins Egg is a colour and not a weird starter.

 

Now contrast this with a diet; which after the first 2 hours you have not lost anything, so what is the point of resisting that cake? Honestly?

 

Well tonight John gives us the end picture to help us endure. As we will see as we look at Revelation we now come across a lengthy description of the fall of Babylon and the end of the Beastly kingdoms of the earth; John contrasts this with the wedding between the Lamb and his bride; and it becomes an incredible encouragement to those who are struggling now under the burden of the beastly empires of men.

 

So how we are going to do tonight; we will read a significant portion of these passage and reflect and then move on to another as we progress.

 

So let’s dive in

  1. The Warning of Judgment

The passage I want us to read is 17:4-6, 18:4-8, turn there in your Bibles and let’s read;

 

Revelation 17:4-6 (NIV)

4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery:

babylon the great

the mother of prostitutes

and of the abominations of the earth.

6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.

When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.

 

Revelation 18:4-8 (NIV)

Warning to Escape Babylon’s Judgment

4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

“‘Come out of her, my people,’[a]
    so that you will not share in her sins,
    so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5 for her sins are piled up to heaven,
    and God has remembered her crimes.
6 Give back to her as she has given;
    pay her back double for what she has done.
    Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
7 Give her as much torment and grief
    as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
    ‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;[b]
    I will never mourn.’
8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
    death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
    for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

 

 

John in his opening of this portion gives an incredible contrast of realities; a woman who looks beautiful and who holds a golden cup she glittered with gold; and yet when you looked closer her cup was filled with “abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.”

 

This in the Greek is connected to idolatry; and the picture is a beautiful chalice shiny on the outside; yet when you look inside it is filled with human waste! John is displaying Rome for all she is; alluring on the outside yet rotten to the core!

 

And isn’t that what empires are; on the surface they seem inviting and filled with hope; but the deeper you go into her inner workings you see how rotten it is.

 

John shows that all she is destined for is rightfully deserved punishment, and in fact John shows us the reader that as much as she enjoyed because of her injustice; so she will receive double punishment!  

 

Not a sin will be missed! Justice, full and complete will come upon her!

 

In contrast we have the call to the followers of the Lamb…

 

  1. A call to the followers of the Lamb

 

Let us read 17:6, 14 and 18:4

 

Revelation 17:6 (NKJV)

6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

 

Revelation 17:14New International Version (NIV)

14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

 

Revelation 18:4 (NIV)

Warning to Escape Babylon’s Judgment

4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

“‘Come out of her, my people,’[a]
    so that you will not share in her sins,
    so that you will not receive any of her plagues;

 

 

John gives us a warning as Babylon falls she will put all her hatred on the Lamb and His followers. And this has been a product of history and was a reality in the Day that John was writing.

 

It is common knowledge that Emperor Nero (who we have established in this study was not a nice guy and was most probably insane) was the one who started the great fires of Rome on the 18 June 64 AD.

 

These fires were devastating and caused widespread loss. Nero took this an opportunity to blame the problems on a growing minority that was becoming a pain to him and his empire; the Christians. He blamed the Christians and this opened up widespread and horrific persecution of Christians throughout the Roman empire.

 

As Rome was crumbling under her own perversions and poor leadership; Nero used the fires of Rome to use Christians as his scape goat; and we see this being used by terrible dictators and Empires around the world.

 

How do we cope with this? How do we stand against evil men scapegoating us for their poor leadership and evil?

 

Well what is interesting throughout the book we never see a call to arms, we never see a call to defend ourselves! Rather it is to flee from her systems, to not be a part of her corruptions and to not love our lives unto death.

 

Jesus’ words come to mind when he says to His disciples in John 17:15-18,

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

 

 The call, Church, is therefore, to live in the world, but not let it own you, don’t live according to the worlds standards! Yours are higher, and don’t slip into her ways of doing things; because although it seems like everyone is doing it; these things are heading towards judgment!

 

Here we see what is to be endured, but what is the outcome, what gives us the hope to stand, the convictions to not compromise? To allow ourselves to be the enemy?

 

We John beautifully contrasts this destruction, of what he calls the Harlot, with the beauty of the wedding of the Lamb.

 

  1. The contrast of destruction and a wedding

 

Turn with me to Revelation 18:9-11 and then 19:1-10

 

Revelation 18:9-11 (NIV)

Threefold Woe Over Babylon’s Fall

9 “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.10 Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
    you mighty city of Babylon!
In one hour your doom has come!’

11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore—

 

Revelation 19 (NIV)

Threefold Hallelujah Over Babylon’s Fall

19 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:

“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2     for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
    who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

3 And again they shouted:

“Hallelujah!
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:

“Amen, Hallelujah!”

5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:

“Praise our God,
    all you his servants,
you who fear him,
    both great and small!”

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing water and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

 

John calls Babylon the Harlot multiple times in this passage; and yet contrasts that with an image of a bride.

 

The contrast is brutal; the empire – Rome – is whorish in terms of how she has sold herself to her gods, her power and money. And let’s be real, when we are in the systems of this world we feel like sell outs; like we are selling ourselves for profit.

 

How many politicians, business men and common people have sold out on their ethics, their values and their characters for the sake of the system, to make money, to further their career.

 

Come out! John calls us! Come out! Don’t let their ways be yours. Don’t let the system corrupt you. Come out! Not just because you will avoid punishment! I mean, yes, that is it. But that doesn’t give us the real motivation we need to endure. Come out because there is a better reality waiting; the marriage of the Lamb.

 

John writes; Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

 

You are not invited to a party, you are invited to the covenant-ly intimate marriage to your true love! The one who you long for in the depths of your soul; you were made for him and everything inside you (deep down) knows that!

 

So come out, because that is where you are going; your faith will be made sight; your longings fulfilled and you happiness secured. This is the end of the road; and it is not a destination; but the start of another journey a journey that stretches out for all eternity of us and him together!

 

John spend the last chapter of Revelation depicting this for us in great detail and it is beyond our wildest imagination.

 

Church how can we endure the temptation of Babylon? How can we stand out when everyone else is conforming? How can we endure the suffering and hatred, and marginalisation?

 

Not simply because we know it ends in destruction, more than that, we know that it is not worth it as something much better awaits!

 

Who would spoil their appetite on tree bark if they knew that a perfect Sunday roast was coming!

 

Why corrupt yourself with the temporary and ultimately enslaving thrills of this world and the systems of this world when a world of perfect fulfilment and perfect freedom awaits?

 

And I would argue as the New Testament argues that those who have experienced the gospel not only know this is coming but are starting to taste even now what it will be like!

 

So Come out of Babylon! Avoid her destruction and discover life; real life in the bride of Christ!

 

Let’s pray!

 

 

 

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