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Summary: When God flexes His muscle it does not look like Rambo or the Terminator; it looks like Calvary.{Gregory Boyd}

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Revelation 17:1 - 18:8

Big Idea: When God flexes His muscle it does not look like Rambo or the Terminator; it looks like Calvary. {Gregory Boyd}

Supporting Scripture: Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount; Luke 17:20-21; John 13:14-15; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 10:24-33; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 5:1-2; Ephesians 6:12; Philippians 2:1-5; 1 John 2:15-17;

INTRO:

The Book of the Revelation is a contrast of Kingdoms. It reveals the values, agendas, and origins of two realms; they are in striking contrast to each other. In fact, it would suggest the two realms cannot both reign or co-exist within the heart of the Christ-follower. We are continuously being called to decide which Kingdom we will serve.

It’s not as easy as just saying you’ll side with one or the other. The real evidence is seen by which side is transforming you … your actions “mark” you as a follower of the Lamb or a follower of the world (referred to in the latter portion of the book as “Babylon”).

“Babylon” is what I will call a “meta-image.” It is an overarching metaphor designed to span and transcend a particular place or time. The Biblical scholar Robert Mounce explained this well, “[T]he symbol reaches beyond the unique historical situation and becomes a criterion valid for all ages. It runs parallel with the process of history … it harbors within it the real event behind any event” (Robert Mounce, “The Book of the Revelation”).

Babylon is, simply put, a symbol of the world and world system – the system that the Bible teaches consistently (no matter what empire you live in) runs counter-value to the Gospel’s Kingdom of God. “Babylon” is any and every earthly kingdom. John was referring to the empire of his day (his description makes that clear) but it is not static. The Revelation is designed to speak to us in our place in time.

Revelation teaches that:

• All “Babylons” seek to rule over and impose expectations on God’s people.

• All “Babylons” defy the values of God.

• All “Babylons” assume sovereignty.

• All “Babylons” use political, economic, and religious influence to seductively compete for allegiance.

• All “Babylons” are idolatry.

This is seen very vividly in Chapter 17 and 18.

We are told very clearly to “come out” of Babylon (18:4) and just as clearly to “come into” the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:17).

Again, the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world are oil and water. They cannot / do not mix. Even the best of earthly kingdoms are sinful.

There are a lot of ways that The Revelation illustrates the differences between the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of God.

• A whore versus a bride.

• A dragon verses a Lamb.

• Babylon verses the New Jerusalem.

• War verses worship.

The list could certainly go on. I might, in the future give you a contrast between some of these other images; they all teach us about the differences in the two realms. They are all tales of two cities, so to speak; the city of man and the city of God.

Let’s read from chapters 17 and 18.

REVELATION 17:1-18 (ESV)

1Then 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, 2with 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." 3And 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. 4The 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. 5And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations." 6And 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. 7But the angel said to me, "Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful."

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