Most of us are curious about the current state of world economic affairs. People are anxious about energy, both its cost and supply. Food supply chains have been disrupted by labor issues and past pandemic shut-downs. Investments are about as stable as a game of Jenga on family fun night. Healthcare and prescription drug costs impact household budgets for young and old alike. And don't get me started about rising higher education costs along with the supremely foolish student loan forgiveness adventure. Sometimes it seems like the current administration is being run by a collective of middle school debates teams, university gender studies program graduates, and dreamers of unicorns and rainbows.
I know nothing about Bitcoin or Non-Fungible Tokens or blockchain or cryptocurrency. I couldn't fight my way through day trading. I have no clue about what it means to sell short or go long on a stock. And the only
reason I think the Federal Reserve should be dismantled is because Ron
Paul thinks it should be dismantled, and that's good enough for me.
I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I am a free market capitalist/
libertarian at heart. There is absolutely nothing wrong with money or economic growth or providing for your family and community. Money is morality-neutral. The only value it has is the value we attach to it. The Bible is often misquoted when people say money is the root of all evil. What is the correct quote? Right…for the love of money is the root of all evil.
Here are two quandaries for gauging how one feels about money:
There's one button to press. You have a 99% chance of getting $10 million and a 1% chance of turning into a frog. Would you press it?
There's one button to press. You get $10 million. But somewhere in the world, an innocent person will die. You will never know who and you will never suffer any legal consequences. You get $10 million dollars but someone, somewhere, dies as a direct
consequence of you pushing that button. Would you press it?
Those are good ways of determining a person's relationship with money.
People have always been interested in money. More than anything else, money ties the world together. And as foreseen by The Book of Revelation, we are moving inexorably toward a single-world economy. For better or for worse, we are all tied together. We have a global economy.
In light of all this, I wonder about a recent trend in American Christianity. Do you think the devil is using the prosperity gospel to pull people away from the one, true gospel?
As we move into chapter eighteen of The Revelation to John, it makes sense to do a brief review. I would never assume that we're all caught up through the first seventeen chapters. A lot has happened, and some of the story has not been told in chronological order.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, who was crucified and rose again and
ascended into heaven, will return to earth one day. And Jesus will return to judge sinners, to destroy the wicked, and to set up his kingdom on earth. Jesus will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. The kingdom will comprise those whose names have been written in the Lamb's Book of Life. All others…those who have wickedly pursued cosmic treason against God… will be cast into outer darkness.
As Jesus' first time on earth came to a close, he wore a crown of thorns. He was tortured and mocked. His next time on earth, he will be crowned with majesty. In his earthly life, Jesus reigned against sin and death from a tree. When Jesus returns, he will reign from a throne. Make no mistake. Jesus will return as the risen Lord and Savior, in great power and great glory.
Here's a thumbnail chronological breakdown of these events:
Chapter 19 Describes the Return of Jesus Christ.
Chapters 20 - 22 Describe What Happens After His Return.
Chapters 6- 18 Describe What Happens Before His Return.
Last week, with chapter 17, we saw the fall of Religious Babylon.
Today, with chapter 18, we will see the fall of Economic Babylon.
Let's read Revelation 18:1-8:
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”
Prior to chapter seventeen, we saw all the opportunities God gave the
rebellious wicked to repent. Over and over again. The Bible is filled with
words of God's grace and mercy. Here are but a few:
Hebrews 10:17 - “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Hebrews 8:12 - "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:34 - "And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Over and over again, God reaches out to lost people. We've seen how, throughout human history, Satan has tried to keep people from God's grace and mercy. Here, in these waning chapters of The Book of Revelation, we see Satan setting up political and economic kingdoms to draw people to rebel against God. And we've seen how it has worked. Even when God sends judgment after judgment after judgment on this fallen world, the reaction of the wicked is negative. In fact, we saw how, even in the midst of punishment, people continued to blaspheme against God. It is a level of sin from which there will be no return.
Verse three describes the appeal to wanton sinfulness in an understandable way. "The merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living." That is the world economic system. Think nothing of God. Only think about yourself, and your prosperity, and your comfort. The Greek word used for luxurious living means, "Self-indulgence with accompanying arrogance and wanton exercise of strength." I'm reminded of that television series from decades ago, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," which was nothing but a celebration of debauchery. Babylon will fall.
So, what are we to do? Whether it's incompetent occupiers of the seats of government or wolves of Wall Street, where do we fit in with all this?
In a final countdown twist, a voice from heaven said that now God will remember people's iniquities. And so, as God's wrath is about to flow freely, He calls out, "Come out of her, my people." It is a warning cry. It is a call for separation from the evil of this world. Throughout history, the church has faced temptation to compromise with the world. It's easy to go along to get along. Especially when living in a hostile environment, which we certainly are. We can understand religious sects like the Amish. But while most of us don't opt in for total physical separation, we certainly strive for ideological separation. 2 Corinthians 6:17 puts it this way:
Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you.
As much as we can, in our imperfect lives, we disconnect from the political and economic attractions of Babylon. Saint Augustine put down the challenge like this:
"WE MUST RENOUNCE OUR RIGHTS AS CITIZENS OF THIS WORLD, AND FLEE UNTO GOD ON THE WINGS OF FAITH."
So, the goal of believers is to remain unstained by the culture. The corrupt world is going to fall away, and fall away fast. This is the period called "the great tribulation." Here's something you might want to write down. The
great tribulation is that time period when:
God's fiery judgments begin to escalate in terrifying ways, as the Lord begins to judge this evil world system.
This is a good place to stop. The Antichrist is building a world system of materialism to draw people away from God. Remember, everybody has a desire to worship something, and Babylon represents wealth and prosperity. Even people far from God have spiritual hunger and emotional longing. We especially see that need met through materialism. But God has sent an angel to shine His glory on this dark world. While the world falls into a materialistic stupor, we have not been blinded by Satan's power and deception. We have the assurance that God's kingdom will prevail.
Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! What a reassurance. What a promise. No matter what happens in the world, Jesus Christ will triumph in the end. God gives us the assurance that in the end, Christ will reign. Do you remember from chapter six when the martyrs asked God when their blood would be avenged? Here is the answer. With confidence and assurance they know that Christ will reign.
What a beautiful truth this is. The wretchedness and wickedness of this fallen world will end. And the cry of our hearts for justice and equity and purity and righteousness and goodness will be fulfilled.
Lord, thank You for speaking confidence and assurance into our lives. In Christ, we are on the side of victory. And so we can rejoice. We know that, no matter how bad it is in this world, Jesus is coming and he will establish his glory. Sin will be destroyed and righteousness will reign. We pray, Father, that as the world grows darker and darker, we will reflect the light of the coming King of kings and Lord of lords. It's in that hope we pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.