PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
What You Need to Know About God's Coming Judgment (Part A)
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Sunday, December 5, 2010 -

Revelation 18:1-24 - “After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. [2] And he called out with a mighty voice, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. [3] For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living."[4] Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,"Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; [5] for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. [6] Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. [7] As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, 'I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.'[8] For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her."[9] And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. [10] They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, "Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come."[11] And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, [12] cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, [13] cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.[14] "The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!"[15] The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,[16] "Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls![17] For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste."And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off [18] and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, "What city was like the great city?"

[19] “And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,"Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste.[20] Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!"[21] Then a mighty 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 be found no more; [22] and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, [23] and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. [24] And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth."

This chapter continues the theme of the judgment of Babylon. The angel had announced to John that he would show him the coming judgment on “the great prostitute who is seated on many waters” (17:1). Now John will see both the fall of Babylon and the reaction of those who witness it. First, John will show the reaction of the kings and merchants of the earth. Then he will show the reaction of the people of God.

I underscored once again last week the fact that these three agencies of the great dragon, Satan, line themselves up against God in the last days. There will come antichrist and his political kingdom. Then, the false prophet will have enormous influence over the religion of the last days. Finally, Babylon represents this world’s agenda, under the influence of antichrist, to seduce and lead the people of the earth into materialism and idolatry.

These three agencies, or powers, function so closely together that I don’t believe it is always possible to know where one begins and another leaves off. And I don’t think we are intended to cookie cut the book of Revelation that way. John is painting pictures in these visions, not writing sequential editorials. That’s why chapter seventeen can treat the fall of Babylon as an already accomplished fact, while chapter eighteen picks up the story of Babylon and depicts its fall as yet to come. Unlike us, John isn’t so much interested in chronology as theology. It’s not the timing of the events that we’re meant to focus our attention on, but the meaning of the times and how we can avoid being deceived by the world around us.

1) THE JUDGMENT OF BABYLON AND ITS REASON

Revelation 18:1-3 - “After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. [2] And he called out with a mighty voice, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.[3] For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living."

John’s vision unfolds a picture of Babylon, not in her present splendor, but as she looks after judgment. John sees the future as though it were already present. He can’t believe the contrast between the might and splendor of Babylon before - 17:4 - “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality....” - and the way she looks after God has dealt with her - 18:2 - “And he called out with a mighty voice,"Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.”

But the real thrust of John’s vision is the reason for such destruction and judgment - Revelation 18:3 - “For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living."

This verse repeats the sin of Babylon already mentioned in Revelation 14:8 - “Another angel, a second, followed, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality." Not only is Babylon rich and excessive in her material and sensual pursuits, she actively engages others in her own sins. First and foremost, Babylon is a recruiter of others in the cause of idolatry and materialism. This is the primary nature of her sin. This is why she is repeatedly called a “prostitute.” It is her very business to feed on the sinful inclinations of others.

Also, and very importantly, John pinpoints those most vulnerable to Babylon’s temptations. He specifically sites the kings of the earth (that is, the political leaders) and the merchants of the earth (those who align themselves with Babylon to advance their own economic might) - vs. 3. These two groups will be most naturally aligned with antichrist in his end-time kingdom. They will also be the first to fall with Babylon in judgment.

2) A PLEA FOR SEPARATION GIVEN TO THE GODLY

Revelation 18:4-5 - “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; [5] for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”

As you read through the visions of Revelation you see an interesting thing happening. All of the future works of God in either judgment or deliverance are framed in reference to past works of God in Israel’s history.

For example, we’ve already seen how those around the throne sing the “song of Moses and the song of the Lamb” (15:3). And we’ve already seen how the final plagues of God’s judgment are almost exact duplicates of the plagues poured out on Pharaoh and Egypt (Revelation 15 and 16). In other words, God’s final judgment and deliverance will be after the likeness of the Exodus.