Fallen! Fallen Is Babylon The Great!
Key Verse 18:20
“Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.”
The Scripture we read in the book of Revelation mostly tells of events that will come about in the last times, at the end of the age. But by the grace of God, we have avoided delving deeply into the mysteries of Revelation that we cannot possibly explain or come to understand. And by the grace of God we have managed to glean from each chapter may truths that are as much applicable in the end times as they are this very day. But at the heart of the matter we come to understand that the book of Revelation translates into God’s victory, a victory of good over evil. That truth is made very clear in every chapter we study in Revelation. In the end what will matter the most is that the Lord Jesus, who is the author of this book, will fulfill the last of great prophesies spelled out repeatedly in the Bible— the coming of the Kingdom Of God and the reign of the Lord Christ over all his creation. Why then is it of such importance to repeat the same teaching regarding this truth in the study of Scripture, particularly in the study of this final Scripture called Revelation? I think its because we live in a world fallen to sin. And the prospect of reversing this tragedy— this catastrophe which has impaled the human race is a concept almost impossible to believe. The world keeps getting darker and darker by the day. The notion that some day “good” will return to abolish the “evil” is hard comprehend. But impossible to believe or not, does not change the fact that it will happen. And since there is no shred of doubt that it will happen, then it is only proper and necessary to keep telling the story of God’s victory so that this truth may be etched deeply upon our hearts such that we never give up the good fight of faith until this truth also comes to pass just as all the other prophesies have been fulfilled.
Chapter 18 continues the story of the events of the last days. It is once again a story of victory of good over evil, the triumph of God and his Lamb over all the dark forces that have for generations devastated the earth and plunged it into darkness. This chapter however, seems to be a climax in the events that shape up the final victory. In particular it seems to be a picture of one victorious event that would stand out on its own— the fall of Babylon the Great! Babylon the Great has been speculated among the interpreters to be many things. But whatever it may be, we are certain that it represents everything that is evil and vile in the sight of the Lord our God. From this chapter we can see that this “Babylon the Great!” has been great in the history of the world, but it has also been a source of great evil. An evil that has for generations been as poison slowly working to plunge the world into total darkness. It has been a cauldron of sin slowly working in hearts and nations until it has reached its climax in the end of time and has bubbled over. Babylon the Great, whatever it is speculated to be, is now ripe for the plucking, for God is now ready to deal it its final judgment for the devastation it has wrought in the hearts of men and of nations.
When we consider the words of accusation which the Living God speaks out against this “Babylon the Great” in this chapter are words of judgment. And in this judgment we see the sins that have been the poison with which the devil had ensnared the hearts of men and nations with. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, it amazes us to see that the sins for which this Babylon has been guilty of are for the most part twofold. They are two most heinous and hideous sins having their roots all the way back to the beginning of time. They are “materialism” and “immorality”! These two sins have invited what we read would happen in the last days to the world we live in, in verse 2.
Let’s read verses 1 & 2. “After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.’” The world we are looking at through the eyes of the Revelation is no longer the world in which God Almighty had given to his son Adam to steward and shepherd as God’s representative on earth. By the working of the evil one, and by the submission of all humanity to the enticements and temptations of sin, the world has now become a haunt for demons and devils. They would run wild in the world and bring to ruin everything that is now cherished by men. But that is not the end picture God would have us see. While the world will one day become the playground of the devil’s evil minions, judgment would also come upon the world. Verse 2 is a heavenly announcement of God’s judgment upon it, for the angel declares: “Fallen, fallen in Babylon the great!”
Why has the world and the human race been turned over to such creatures of the dark, to the devil’s rule? Verse 3 tells us as the Angel pronounces the sins of those living in the world. He says: “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” The sins that have swallowed up the world and had made Babylon so great are immorality and materialism. It seems that no nation under the heavens has ever been immune from these temptations. The temptations of comfort and ease, and those of carnal pleasure have been temptations that have lured men and nations from the beginning of time. Perhaps the world and its people consider their achievements progress. But we cannot escape the reality that the Almighty God does not see the world and its achievements as progress, rather God calls most progress and excessive luxury. The sin of Babylon the Great is the lure of money and of power and of greed. In the last days, we witness that the world and its people are reduced from those created in the image of God, to those who run after material comforts and fall to the temptation of the easy going life. But we should not fall into such temptations. Our Jesus when he was tempted with the sin of materialism, fought against it with the word of God. He left us these gracious words: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” it is good for us to follow his example.
Look at verses 4-8. “Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.’ 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.” This is God’s warning— his exhortation to his people of all time to give up the world. We wonder sometimes how to escape from the lure of materialism and that of immorality. But from the beginning of time, God has helped us to follow a simple truth. God has not given us any special powers to fight against the such temptations. Strong as they may be, God has give us simply to resist them. Even with the advent of the Holy Spirit, we cannot and should consider that the Holy Spirit will miraculously guide us out of harm’s way. Even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we know that God simply gives us his word to follow. Look what he has give us to heed in 1 John 2:15-17. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” These words are simple. “Do not love the world.” There is no power on earth or in heaven that can impress this with force upon our hearts. God leaves our hearts alone. He would have us make up our own mind regarding what we love. And he exhorts us not to love the world but to love him instead. With that we can conquer all things, even the most vicious of our temptations. Listen again to what God tells us to do in 2 Cor. 6:14. “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” One again we see what God tells us in the regard of these terrible temptations. He simply says to come out of them.
“Come out of her” is as serious a challenge as any. He commands that men come out so that they will not share in her sins. Even if men do not participate in the life the world lives, if they choose to stay, as Lot chose to stay, just the fact that they have one foot in the world and the other in faith does not absolve them of such sins. The sin of immorality and that of materialism is so great in the sight of God that God calls his people to completely sever themselves from anything to tempts them in that direction. Once there was a man Abraham who was called to live by faith. He had a nephew Lot who shared with Abraham everything except Abraham’s conviction that he must live the simple life of faith away from the world’s lure of luxury and flesh desires. Lot was deeply intrigued by Egypt’s wealth and in that way he became secretly materialistic, believing that there is nothing wrong with living with a little ease and comfort. But he did that at the cost of God’s call to live a life of influence. Still Lot did not stop with materialism. He became numb to the world’s immorality until he could even tolerate it. Lot figured that if he lives in Sodom but does not participate in its immorality he would be okay. But God did not see it that way. He was deemed as guilty as those who had been living and participating in the sin of immorality. Finally God rescued him because Abraham prayed for him. Otherwise, Lot would have perished in that old Babylon called Sodom.
One of her blind-spots of Christians living in the lap of luxury and comfort midst of what the Bible considers immoral behavior, is the fact that they have a false sense of security that as long as they do not participate in the sins of others, yet enjoying the convenience of a life on the edge of sin, that they will not be considered guilty. But God commands us, “come out of her”. There is a sense of urgency always in such words: “Come out of her”. We must make every effort to flee from sin, avoid it, walk away from it. And we have to do that not forcibly but with all our heats. We have to do that because we love God more than the world, because we love the Lord more than we love our comforts and pleasures. For this reason God does not force anyone to abandon the life of sin. God only tells us: “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, carry his cross and follow me.” Jesus was never more clear than this. Denying ourselves out of our love for him should be the most important thing on our hearts. That is the most powerful way to walk away from such sins, willingly, lovingly and purposely for the sake our Lord.
Look at verses 9-19. These are very sad words to read. They speak of destruction of all things that the world loves, the comforts of material living as well as the pleasures they seek in their immoral hearts. All such things will be judged for God will pronounce one day that the Babylon has fallen, and the people who had thrived in the Babylons of life will witness the destruction of their most terrible of lives and lifestyles. But surprisingly, even while they witness the destructing of all that they had hoped for and worked hard to obtain, they will neither regret following after such things nor will they repent of their sins and for causing God and the world such pain. Instead surprisingly they will mourn for the loss of their pleasures and comforts. They remind us of what the great apostle Paul had said would happen to men’s hearts when they embrace sin with all their hearts. These are his words: “They have become senseless, heartless ruthless and faithless.” Indeed when we see the reaction of those who will lose their comforts and pleasures in a moment of God’s wrath we are amazed at how senseless they would be. They had been faithless, and ruthless in their pursuit of happiness. They had been heartless in gaining what they want even at the cost of others’ lives. In these verses one of the commodities they will lose is slavery and the trade of human flesh and souls. Such people deserve all that they will get for they cared nothing for others but only cared for themselves and followed their own desires.
These verses speak of the luxuries that men will mourn the loss of at the time of the fall of Babylon. It is amazing how addicted men become to the luxuries of life. When people taste the luxuries of life and continue to consume all that brings them pleasure and ease, they eventually lose their humanity. Their greater sin is that such things become more important and worth to them than what is truly important in life. When the world gives more attention to the materialism and the pleasures of the body than to what God has given us to care for, the world is surely too deep in sin to recover. There is no way that men can recover when they are no longer able to see that human beings are more precious than material goods. And when they no longer have a shred of decency in them such that immorality is a primary concern of their day to day life. In the same way, we see purity disappearing from our society even now. We live in times when there is no sense of what is pure anymore. The lust of the flesh is something normal and inviting. Even some Christians seem to care little about what they consider trivial, and plunge into immoral relationships while justifying what they do with lies. Besides the issue of immorality, the issue of materialism is also slowly being lost. Men seem to think that what we have and what we go after does not affect our faith and what we believe in. But slowly what they are pursuing begins to take the place of what is more important in their lives— God and God’s grace and mission.
Read verses 20-24. “’Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.’ Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: ‘With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth’”. The destruction and judgment of Babylon the Great is sure. While it has devastated men and nations with its vile immoralities and materialism, its end will come when the Lord calls it to judgment. What are God’s people to do even while they suffer living in a world of inverted values and powerful temptations? They must rejoice! “Rejoice” because the Lord is victorious in the end against such an evil that has corrupted the hearts of men and has sent nations to destruction. It is the victory of our Lord over all evil. That in itself is cause for rejoicing. We have a command from God to rejoice, even while we suffer, because our rejoicing testifies to our faith. Rejoicing testifies that we are the Lord’s people and that we abhor the things He abhors. May God give us the strength to come out of materialism and of immorality. And may he give us the heart to rejoice by faith as we pray for his kingdom to come. Amen.