Summary: The rise of two ancient world powers, Rome and Babylon, during the Great Tribulation, only to be destroyed by Christ when He comes again, presents us with a choice. We can choose to pursue this world, which is passing away, or Christ, who reigns forever.
Once upon a time, a really cool young man bought one of the best cars around: a Ferrari GTO. He took it out for a spin and stopped at a red light.
An old man on a moped pulled up next to him. The old man looked over at the sleek, shiny car and asked, “What kind of car ya' got there, sonny?”
“A Ferrari GTO. It cost half a million dollars.”
“That's a lot of money,” said the old man. “Why does it cost so much?”
“Because this car can do up to 320 miles an hour!” stated the young man proudly.
The moped driver asked, “Mind if I take a look inside?”
“No problem,” replied the owner.
So the old man poked his head in the window and looked around. Sitting back on his moped, the old man said, “That's a pretty nice car, all right!”
Just then the light changed, and the driver decided to show the old man just what his car could do. He floored it, and within 30 seconds the speedometer read 160 miles per hour. Suddenly he noticed a dot in his rear view mirror. It was getting closer! He slowed down to see what it could be, and – Whoosh – something whipped by him going much faster.
“What on earth could be going faster than my Ferrari?” the young man said to himself. Then, ahead of him, he saw a dot coming toward him. Whoosh! It went by again, heading the opposite direction – and it looked like the old man on the moped.
Couldn't be, he thought, how could a moped outrun a Ferrari?
Once more, though, he saw the dot in his rear view mirror, followed by a bang as the speeding object crashed into the back of his car.
The young man jumped out and saw the old man lying on the pavement. He ran to him and asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
The old man whispered, “Unhook… my suspenders… from your side-view mirror.” (Brett Kays, Brownstown, Michigan)
Be careful what you get attached to. It could destroy you in the end. That’s the way it is with the things of this world. That’s the way it is with possessions, pleasure and power. It is not wrong to have some of these things, but when they have you, you’re in trouble.
The worldly man boasts, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But the truth is, “He who dies with the most toys… dies!” 1 John 2:17 says, “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
What are you pursuing this morning – the pleasures of this world or the will of God? If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Revelation 17, Revelation 17, where we see what happens to those who choose to pursue this world’s pleasures.
Revelation 17:1-3 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. (ESV)
This beast is the revived roman empire, headed up by the antichrist, according to Revelation 13. There, we learned that the Roman Empire itself will rise again out of the ash heap of history in the form of a 7-headed, 10-horned beast. Here, in Revelation 17, we see a woman riding that beast.
Revelation 17:4-6 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 on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly. (ESV)
This is a wealthy, wicked woman, long known for her persecution of God’s people. She is identified as Babylon, the city of man that has always opposed the city of God.
In the opening pages of the Bible, we see all mankind gathered together in one place. God had told them to “fill the earth.” Instead, Genesis 11 tells us that they choose to band together and build a great tower which would reach heaven itself. They thought they could reach heaven’s glories through their own efforts, so they called their tower, “Babel,” which means “gate of God.” They were pursuing their own glory rather than the will of God, so God gave the Tower of Babel a different meaning. He confused their language so that their talk was only so much “babble,” and he scattered them all over the world. That’s how Babylon got its start in Genesis 11.