Revelation 18:20

Thursday, 24 June 2021

“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” Revelation 18:20

With the desolation of Babylon the great complete, words of victory over her come forth, saying, “Rejoice over her, O heaven.”

The meaning is that heaven itself will rejoice over the fall of this city. Thus, there is a stark contrast between the worldly reaction over her to that of the heavenly one. The kings of the earth, the merchants of the earth, and those engaged in sea trade all mourn and lament over her. They had become enriched through their dealings with her, and all they could feel was the sadness of the loss that accompanied her fall because of it.

Heaven, however, is filled with the saints of the ages who had been persecuted and martyred by her. And more, her message has been contrary to the gospel itself, relying on works in order to be saved. But the gospel is of faith and not of works. Therefore, this enemy of the pure gospel is destroyed, and heaven will rejoice over that.

And more, it next says, “and you holy apostles and prophets.” Here, some manuscripts state “and the saints, and the apostles, and the prophets.” The difference in the Greek means either an accidental insertion or an accidental drop of a couple words probably occurred. Either way, by naming the various categories, it is a way of saying that not only will there be a general rejoicing in heaven over her, but that each category will find itself vindicated over her.

Rome’s authority killed prophets, such as John the Baptist. Rome’s authority martyred apostles. And Rome martyred innumerable saints over the centuries as well. The mixing of Christianity with the authority of Rome did not end the persecution, it just made it state-sanctioned persecution of those who rejected Rome’s view of the presentation of the faith. But all of that has come to an end. As the verse says, “for God has avenged you on her!”

The Greek could have several meanings. It literally reads, “for God has judged your judgment on (or out of) her. This could mean the judgment that she is due for the treatment of you. It could mean the judgment which is your due. It could mean the judgment that she has judged concerning you. Or, it could even mean God has taken your cause out of her authority and assumed it as his own.

Whichever is the case, God is the one to ultimately decide. As these words follow after the thought of heaven and its occupants rejoicing over her, it certainly involves the idea that her destruction is fully in accord with the plans and purposes of God, and that His plans and purposes have remembered all of His faithful who were harmed by her.

Life application:  Quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, Paul says in Romans 12:19, “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” After saying this, he then quotes Proverbs 25:21–

“Therefore,
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’”

This is the calling of the believer because God would rather have a lost soul turn to Him than for him to continue on in his wayward life and be eternally separated from Him. Once a believer is saved, nothing can separate him from an eternity in God’s presence. Therefore, we are to consider our own lives as less important than others and be willing to expend ourselves even for our enemies.

At the same time though, there is the human weakness of wanting immediate justice for offenses against us. God asks us to put those on hold because all wrongs will be righted, and all offenses will be repaid. Babylon the great, the one who has oppressed God’s people all along, will receive her punishment in full.

At that time, the heavens, the apostles, and the prophets will rejoice because of what will come upon her. The vengeance we are now asked to restrain ourselves from will be realized. God will personally ensure that the destruction this great harlot is set for will come about. All wrongs will be avenged, and all offenses will be repaid.

Until that day, it is our job to share the gospel. As hard as it is to share it with some people, this is what we should always strive to do. Our Lord hung on a cross for man’s reconciliation to God. Therefore, let us speak about this great deed. Let us tell the world about JESUS!

Lord God Almighty, when we face hardships, slanders, and personal offense by those who are enemies of Your truth, it sure is hard to not take revenge on them. In our natural selves, it is just not normal to turn around and offer them a blessing. So, Lord, please stir up our spirits to do as You have asked and give us the strength to follow through with it. Thank You and amen.

 

 

Revelation 18:19

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

“They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.’ Revelation 18:19

John continues with the words concerning those who mourn over the destruction of Babylon the great, saying, “They threw dust on their heads.” The word “They” is referring to “Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea,” as is found in verse 18:17.

The idea of throwing dust on one’s head signifies great mourning and lamentation. In Joshua 7, after being defeated by an army of insignificant size, Joshua and Israel’s elders mourned at the loss –

“Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.” Joshua 7:6

This type of mourning is recorded elsewhere in Scripture such as in the comparable verses about Tyre in Ezekiel 27:30. It is an outward display that is not without meaning. The idea goes back to the very creation of man where the Bible says in Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

The idea conveyed is that the distress or sadness is so great that returning to the dust would be preferable to what is being felt. All one can think of, in such a state of distress, is about the time when he didn’t exist. He mourns as if he could return to that state. In this terrible mourning, it next says, “and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying ‘Alas, alas, that great city.’”

This is the same terminology, found in verses 15 and 16 of this chapter, that was uttered by the merchants of the earth. Just as the merchants were distressed over the loss of revenue in the selling of their goods, so these people are equally affected in the same manner and for the same reason. As it next says, “in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth!”

To them, there is personal loss over the city’s destruction. They had financially benefited from trade in her, and that has ended. The goods they send upon the seas will arrive at a port, and when they do, there will be no trucks heading in that direction any longer. There was once bustling trade coming in and going out of her, but that has ceased forever. Babylon the great has fallen, “For in one hour she is made desolate.”

This is similar in thought to verse 17, which said, “For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.” The world’s system of trade and commerce has been violently upheaved at the destruction of this great harlot, and the people who are a part of it will mourn greatly at the loss they have suffered.

Life application: In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says – “If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he” (Ecclesiastes 6:3).

This reflects the state of those who see the destruction of Babylon. They cry out, they weep, and they wail at the loss. But it is a sadness that is actually directed inward, at their personal loss. The city’s fall means that they will no longer be able to conduct trade and commerce. Their sadness has less to do with the city or the people than it does for their own sad situation.

The shock of this enormous empire falling in such a short time has them beside themselves with grief. But this is exactly what Jesus warned about when speaking to Israel in Matthew 6:19-21 –

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The love of money and the things of the world will only bring sadness in the end. It has caused once-wealthy businessmen to dive out of high rises, sports figures to point a gun back at themselves, and lovers to devise ways of disposing of each other in hopes of obtaining what they desire. When our eyes, affections, and lusts look to the creation for satisfaction, they will only consume us in misery. But when we direct our eyes to the Creator, we will find the Source of every good blessing we could ever desire.

This is one main premise of the Bible that goes from its very first pages to its very last. Only in the Creator is found true joy and contentment. In order to help us more fully understand this, He sent Christ into the world to lead us back to Himself. It is through Him alone that this state of peace and everlasting joy can be found. Redirect your eyes away from this world and to the Christ of God, our Lord JESUS.

O God, forgive us for placing idols in our hearts and before our eyes. Help us always to direct our attention and affections to You alone, and help us to be strong in the conviction that only You can truly satisfy our deepest needs and desires. Thank You, O God, for looking out for us and filling us with blessings from Your open hand of grace. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 18:18

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’  Revelation 18:18

The shipmasters, sea travelers, sailors, and sea traders all cry out now, just as it is said that the kings of the earth and the merchants of the earth have cried out – mourning over the destruction of Babylon the great. As it says, “and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning.”

As noted, this will be an event seen around the world. This is certain because of the various categories of people that are said to lament over her as they witness her destruction. For all of them to see this, it means that they must have the ability to do so via TV/internet. This is unlike Tyre of Ezekiel’s prophecy that speaks in similar terms concerning her destruction, but nothing is said of these people being personal eyewitnesses of the events.

But with the coming of modern technology, the prophesied destruction of Rome will be – like the coming of the two witnesses to testify – a worldwide event. Of these people, and when they see her burning, they will say, “What is like this great city?” The words are reflective of the question concerning Tyre from Ezekiel –

“In their wailing for you
They will take up a lamentation,
And lament for you:
‘What city is like Tyre,
Destroyed in the midst of the sea?’” Ezekiel 27:32

Rome has been around for millennia. It has been the center of the world at times. The old saying, “all roads lead to Rome,” is based on that fact. It is an international hub of trade, and its wares include the apostate trade in Roman Catholicism. Babylon the great will be judged, and it will bring Rome to utter destruction.

Life application: The people of the world will look at the vast devastation of Babylon the great and cry out in horror. In other words, if this devastation can come upon her, then what hope is there at all? It is the feeling many Americans had in 2001 as they saw the twin towers fall.

There is an ocean that separates America from her enemies. There is the greatest military on earth to protect her from them. There is wealth and power, ease, and security… and yet sudden destruction came upon the very symbols of her power and wealth. And this was merely a few buildings, not an entire city and system. As incomprehensible as was the destruction on 9/11, it will be minuscule in comparison to the fall of Babylon the great.

In a similar cry of perceived power, we saw in Revelation 13:4 this question asked by the people of the earth, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” Suddenly, their marvel at the power of the great beast is turned into cries of “Alas!” What was thought incomparable has been leveled by something far greater. The question the people should have asked when all this started is the question asked by Moses and the children of Israel at the Exodus –

“Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Exodus 15:11.

You see, there is only one God and there is only one ultimate power. Anything else is a part of what He has created. No matter how splendid, powerful, rich, or terrible, it is only a part of the creation, and it is therefore subject to His awesome hand of direction and judgment. Thus is the fall of Babylon in the eyes of those who look upon her in horror and dread.

For true safety and security that transcends this temporary and perishing world, look to what God offers. He promises eternal security and eternal life for all who come to Him through JESUS.

Yes Lord! There is none like You. You are above all the “gods” for they are not gods at all, but the deceptive lies of our imaginations and the boastings of those who do not perceive the truth. Help us, O God, to rightly look to You alone and to proclaim Your glory to those around us. Praises belong to You, O God. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 18:17

Monday, 21 June 2021

For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’ Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance Revelation 18:17

The words now continue the cry of woe called out by the merchants. That continued cry says, “For in one hour.”

This phrase, like verses 17:12 and 18:10, is an idiom meaning, “In a very short time.” It does not necessarily signify the sixty minutes on a clock. We might say, “I’ll be there in ten seconds,” meaning “in a jiffy.” These are expressions signifying shortness of time.  This is certain because the term “in one day” is spoken of concerning the same event in verse 18:8. For Babylon the great, in this very short amount of time, “such great riches came to nothing.”

One can see the utter destruction of the city. It gives the hint of being completely overrun by the enemy, a great natural disaster, or even a nuclear blast. Whatever will come upon her, it will be sudden and cataclysmic. This will be so much the case that it next refers to, “Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea.”

The “kings of the earth” were mentioned in verse 18:9. The “merchants of the earth” were mentioned in verse 18:11. Now it is those who are on the sea, where each class is named. The “shipmaster” is a designation found only in Acts 27:11 and here. It signifies a steersman or a pilot. Those “who travel by ship” are passengers. The “sailors” are those who work as seamen on ships. The word is found twice in Acts and then again here. And finally, “as many as trade on the sea” refers to those who get their livelihood by the sea, such as dockworkers and so on.

The terminology here is a broad brushstroke of the state of the world at the destruction of Babylon, and – like the two other categories, meaning the kings and the merchants – it seems to presuppose television. The words here do not mean that Babylon the great is a port city. Rather, just as the “kings of the earth” reflect any king in any given kingdom – even one on the other side of the world – so those who trade or travel by sea could be anywhere in the world and watch the complete destruction of the city.

The event will be seen globally. Hence the final words of the verse, these people “stood at a distance.” It is the same basic words used in verses 18:10 and 18:15. It signifies that they have seen the event but have no power to intervene in what occurs. Again, if the words are to be taken as a true depiction of what occurs, television and/or the internet is presupposed.

Life application: This great city was functioning normally when sudden and cataclysmic upheaval ended it and brought it to nothing. Such is the futility of having one’s hopes in any physical commodity.

People who store up gold in hopes of being secure during an economic collapse are also setting themselves up for an added dose of sadness when the gold doesn’t help. This isn’t to say that saving for the future is unwise, but when one’s trust is in such savings, it is sure to disappoint at the time it is expected to provide the intended security.

This is the lesson that we fail to learn in generation after generation, and it will again be noted by those who watch the fall of Babylon the great. The world’s hope of complete security and stability will be dashed. Those who stand at a distance will realize this.

With the end of this wicked city will also be the end of their means of prosperity. There is only one place where hope meets up with surety. That is found in God. And as God has revealed Himself in and through His Son, we can have the absolute surety of His word will come true. What can man do to us? What can separate us from the love of God in Christ? In Him, we are safe, and in Him, we are secure. He is our Keeper. He is JESUS.

Lord Jesus, only in You will we ever have true riches. Help us to realize this and to never put our trust or hopes in anything which is a part of the creation. Instead, help us to keep our thoughts, hopes, and desires in You alone. Because you are the Source of all things, then in You is found true and complete satisfaction – even throughout all eternity! Amen.

 

 

Revelation 18:16

Sunday, 20 June 2021

and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! Revelation 18:16

In verse 18:10, the kings of the earth were “standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon…” Now almost the same words are again said by the merchants of the earth. Beginning in the previous verse, it says that the merchants of the earth “will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 16 and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city…’”

Like the kings of the earth, these merchants will mourn over Babylon the great. However, the kings called out an exclamation that was fitting of the office of a king, meaning judgment. They exclaimed, “For in one hour your judgment has come.” On the other hand, the merchants call out an exclamation that is fitting of their trade, noting its finery. They begin this by saying, “that great city that was clothed in fine linen.”

This was one of their cargoes as noted in 18:12. They mourn over the city as if she were a woman dressed in the linen which they had adorned her with through their sales. As noted, fine linen is used elsewhere in the Bible to indicate righteousness. For Babylon the great, it is only self-righteousness.

Along with that, they note, “purple.” As seen in 18:12, purple signifies power and/or wealth, even royal status. Proverbs 31:22 links this color with godliness in a woman. For Babylon the great, these were only earthly in nature, but they failed to reflect the true inner self.

The merchants next call out, “and scarlet.” As seen in 18:12, the color is used elsewhere to signify substitutionary atonement. However, Babylon the great failed to receive this, and the scarlet (red) will speak of the judgment of her own sins.

It next says, “and adorned with gold.” Verse 18:12 explained that gold is the royal metal. It is a symbol of wealth and purchasing power. But for Babylon the great, she will find that she cannot buy her way out of her sentence of judgment. Her royal states will be stripped from her, and she will be left abandoned.

The verse next says, “and precious stones.” The Greek is singular, “stone.” The jewel-encrusted items found in Babylon the great will have no value when her judgment comes. Men in her will reach out for them as if they can save, and they will die with these clasped in their hands.

Finally, the verse ends with, “and pearls!” As seen in 18:12, Jesus equates the precious teachings of the gospel to the pearl. For Babylon the great, there is only a false gospel, which is no gospel at all. The pearls of Babylon the great will perish with her. Like what happened to the fine things of Jerusalem when it was destroyed by Babylon, so will happen to the fine things of Babylon the great. This will come when it is judged by the Lord –

‘How the gold has become dim!
How changed the fine gold!
The stones of the sanctuary are scattered
At the head of every street.” Lamentations 4:1

Life application: The things of this world are all destined to pass away, but the beauty of the soul who loves and follows God is everlasting. Here is what Peter admonishes the women of God in order for them to have an everlasting remembrance –

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3, 4

God looks for the “hidden person of the heart” and the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,” not a woman as shallow as a saucer who is only externally beautiful. Again, Paul addresses the same concept in his first letter to Timothy –

“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10

Some of the very things these apostles warned about are the things for which those in Babylon the great are noted for having been adorned with. If we look to Hollywood actresses or the wives of politicians, we generally see people that are beautiful, shallow, and have low morals. They are fawned over because of their physical beauty, but that will fade quickly as the years pass.

Babylon the great has all the outward appeal of false religion and spiritual enlightenment, but it has no substance. Only when faith is built upon the truth of God in Christ, is there anything of lasting value. Come to the firm Foundation, come to the Rock, come to JESUS!

Here we are Lord, Your creatures. But we reject You, and we go after every false spiritual teaching we can find. It is so much easier to listen to easy messages of false enlightenment than it is to pick up our Bible. How pleasing it is to listen to a sermon-lite by a fancy prosperity preacher than it is to read the Bible and be made aware of our sinful state and our need for Your redemption. Help us to just get it right. Help us to follow Jesus. Amen.