Monday, 7 June 2021
For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” Revelation 18:3
John just heard the word of the Angel from heaven, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.” The Angel then gave a description of what it had become like, meaning a place of great desolation. Now the reason for this is given, saying, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
The word translated “For” signifies “because.” Also, the first use of “of” is the Greek word ek, meaning “out of.” Essentially, it says, “Because all the nations have drunk out of the wine.” This is now the third time this sentiment is seen in Revelation. The first was in verse 14:8 –
“And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’”
Again in 17:2 we read a similar note. We are reminded that “all the nations have drunk” from her cup and thus all nations are guilty of religious harlotry. The cup she holds includes idol worship, the worship of many gods, incorrect and twisted worship of the true God, etc.
Here, the reason why Babylon has become a desolate ruin is given. She had a cup of fornication, and she shared it with the nations. But, as Vincent’s Word Studies notes, “The wine of fornication has turned to wrath against herself.” Because of her own practices, she is destined to receive wrath for her actions, but what she shared with them will also affect them. In her actions, she does not bring them closer to God, but drives them away from Him.
As has been noted before, “fornication” is used in a spiritual sense here. Just as a person commits fornication with other people outside of a covenant marriage relationship, so people, institutions, and nations commit fornication with a religious expression not in line with the covenant between God and man. He is the Creator and, therefore, we are obligated to seek Him out and honor Him with true worship, adoration, and humility.
The Angel states that these nations had drunk the wine of the wrath of her fornication, but He then specifically says, “the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her.” It isn’t just that the nations, in general, had been influenced by this harlot, but that the kings of the nations have as well.
She, this harlot, is the one who has been instrumental in seducing them and leading them away from God. And more, the Angel next says, “and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
The word translated as “abundance” signifies power. The word translated as “luxury” is found only here in the Bible. It signifies self-indulgent luxury or wantonness. As the entire thought so far perfectly matches the condition of Rome, and specifically the Vatican, it should be considered that the words “become rich” may be taken literally to some extent because the reach of the Roman Catholic Church has enriched innumerable people throughout the years.
However, there is certainly a spiritual element to this as well. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown seems to have rightly stated, “The reference is not to earthly merchandise, but to spiritual wares, indulgences, idolatries, superstitions, worldly compromises, wherewith the harlot, that is, the apostate Church, has made merchandise of men.”
Obviously, this is not limited to the Roman Catholic Church, but it is a defining condition of it. The wantonness, in both physical and spiritual corruption, is on prominent display to anyone who will simply open their eyes and simply look.
Life application: It is true that as society prospers, then those who minister to the society will also prosper. Unfortunately, this prospering leads to indulgence instead of service; it leads to coveting instead of sharing; it leads to idolatry instead of thanks. This is the normal state of religion as it prospers.
In turn, the people see the accumulated wealth and power of these institutions, and they then turn and align themselves with them politically, through business, or even through sexual or physical exploitation of others. This in turn leads to status, position, and luxury for those who enjoin themselves to these apostatizing institutions. Eventually, nothing of true religious expression is left, but only a hunger and a lust for greater and greater increase.
It is a trap in any form, but when connected to religion, it is a corrupting influence even on those who would seek the truth. Precious souls are stolen away from the right mark. Such is the case throughout the religious world of the past and of our present day. In the future, it will lead to God’s final judgment and destruction.
Take heed not to fall into this trap. Instead, look unto the One who is pure and undefiled. Pursue Him and constantly realign your heart and thoughts on Him. Never cease looking unto JESUS.
Heavenly Father, how easy it is for us to be enticed by riches and ease. But you have called us to be servants and to carry our cross – not to lay idle, eating grapes and polishing gold. Help us to act out our faith in right religion and to bring the exalted name of Jesus the honor and glory that He is due. Surely in this You will be glorified. Amen.