Revelation 18

Whatever Babylon represents it definitely includes an economic system.  We see this by how the merchants weep at her downfall.  This could be that Babylon is just a large economic power, like the United States or China, or it could be that Babylon is a system like free market capitalism or consumerism.  In today’s world many look for security in trade and the stock market is a main feature in the daily news.  The day-to-day volatility of the stock market leads to global gitters and insecurity.  In fact global issues affect stock holders and stocks effect global issues.  Consumerism has led to a world that wants more.  We are fed lies about needing to do things quicker so that we will rest more.  What we have seen is that gadgets and inventions that have made us more efficient have not led to rest or freedom but to more frenzied activity.  People medicate away the pain of living by keeping themselves busy and without deep thought.  How will the world suddenly deal with a terrible reality if the financial security and the material comforts that we have grown to love are stripped away? 

Christians in North America are so immersed in consumerism that many are unaware of their surroundings.  Christians think that they need more to be happy when the happy saints of old took vows of simplicity and poverty.  Riches are a burden or a blessing.  James 1 seems to indicate that both riches and poverty are a kind of trial.  Poverty tends to draw one to dependence on God.  Riches lead to self-sufficiency and entitlement.  Like spoiled children who have had their toys taken away, Babylon and her friends will wail and scream in the end times.

Revelation 18

 1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2With a mighty voice he shouted:

   “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’[a]
   She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
   a haunt for every unclean bird,
   a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
3 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.”

Warning to Escape Babylon’s Judgment

 4Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

   “‘Come out of her, my people,’[b]
   so that you will not share in her sins,
   so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5 for her sins are piled up to heaven,
   and God has remembered her crimes.
6 Give back to her as she has given;
   pay her back double for what she has done.
   Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
7 Give her as much torment and grief
   as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
   ‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;[c]
   I will never mourn.’
8 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.

Threefold Woe Over Babylon’s Fall

 9 “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. 10Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:

   “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
   you mighty city of Babylon!
In one hour your doom has come!’

 11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

 14 “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16and cry out:

   “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
   dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
   and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’

   “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:

   “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
   where all who had ships on the sea
   became rich through her wealth!
In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’

 20 “Rejoice over her, you heavens!
   Rejoice, you people of God!
   Rejoice, apostles and prophets!
For God has judged her
   with the judgment she imposed on you.”

The Finality of Babylon’s Doom

 21Then 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.
22 The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters,
   will never be heard in you again.
No worker of any trade
   will ever be found in you again.
The sound of a millstone
   will never be heard in you again.
23 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 important people.
   By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people,
   of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”

Questions

  1. What things can you tell for sure in Revelation 18 about Babylon?
  2. What characteristics do you know about Babylon from the Bible?
  3. Do you think that Babylon is representative of a system or a nation?
  4. How do economics affect your life?
  5. How would you be more dependent on God if you could push money issues aside?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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