Summary: Since the day God promised Satan's head would be crushed, God has been weaving together His plan for over-coming the power and forces of evil.
“The Great Unveiling: I Hate To Say, ‘I Told You So,’ But . . .”
Revelation 18:1 – 19:5
I stand in awe of Scripture. I’m overwhelmed by the way it lays out the plans and workings of God. Consider, for example, this fall of Babylon. In Jeremiah 51:59-64 Seraiah is told to go to Babylon and read an oracle against her, then bind that oracle to a stone and cast it into the Euphrates saying, “So will Babylon sink to rise no more.” In Isaiah 21:9 the prophet claims, “Babylon, has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground.” And now we hear these words in Revelation concerning another Babylon – the world system that opposes God. Not only does she fall, but she shall be no more!
What a picture of God’s planning and working! Since the day He promised that Satan’s head would be crushed, God has been weaving together His plan for over-coming the power and forces of evil. In this 18th chapter God’s plan is unveiled again. The angel announces that once again Satan’s head has been crushed.
We encounter first A COMMANDING (4-8). God once again calls His people to be holy, set apart from the ways of the world. “COME OUT OF HER.” Even as a young nation Israel was to be different from the nations around her. So to make her distinct God gave her an elaborate system of memorials, temple rites, and laws. But there were times when that uniqueness required that she flee evil so as not be overcome by it. 7 times in Scripture – in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and Revelation – she is told to flee Babylon.
Paul told the new Israel, the Church, the same thing. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (II Cor. 6:14-18).
Now here in Revelation John hears the same call to God’s people; “DO NOT COMPROMISE the uniqueness of the Christian lifestyle.” In the center of the world’s traffic, where we live each day, let us be in but not of the culture, separated though present, godly and Christ-like in an ungodly world. It raises the question, “Is there been a difference between the way we live and the way the non-followers of Christ live?”
But why is it so important to come out? First, SO WE DO NOT SHARE BABYLON’S SINS AND PLAGUES. If we are in a city or country when an epidemic breaks out, we want to get out so we do not catch it. Similarly, we do not want to catch Babylon’s sins and plagues. The description given in the first 3 verses of chapter 18 tell us that Babylon felt self-sufficient and therefore saw no need for Christ; she was willing to sell her soul for personal pleasure and power. The phrase about sins reaching to heaven literally says “glued together” into heaven. Get the picture? Here we have A TOWER NOT OF STONES BUT OF SINS. And it reaches into heaven; God has kept the record and glued one sin to another, and heaven has been reached. But reaching heaven is like plugging in the plug that will send down destruction!
The truth is that Rome was so rich that she thought she was self-sufficient. She was obsessed with greed, materialism, and wealth. For example, people even had slaves to answer people who greeted them as they walked along the road. Her comfort in her wealth gave her a false sense of security. Filled with pride and self-gratification she believed she was invincible. But her power was sapped. John does not say that all the wealth was bad in and of itself. But 18:13 gives us the clue as to the problem: after listing many particulars of the wealth they possessed, John added, “and bodies and souls of men.” To get their wealth they needed slaves, they needed to use others for their own good. Building up their own wealth, status, and power was more important than caring for and sharing with others. As N. T. Wright pointed out, when you worship idols, the idols demand sacrifices. (1) Babylon had no problem sacrificing, using, and abusing people to gain and maintain her own wealth, status, and power. We are not to build our personal kingdoms and the backs and souls of others.