Nevermore [9-10-22]



Chapter seventeen witnessed the fall of the worldwide political system. It was marked by destruction befitting the descriptive, end times.


As we began looking at it last week, chapter eighteen witnessed God's judgment on the worldwide economic system. It, too, was marked by destruction befitting the descriptive, end times.


As we'll see, much of the commerce then is familiar to us now. In many ways, what was valuable two thousand years ago is just as valuable today. Technology has changed, but not much else.


Here's a little perspective, economically speaking.


The Book of Revelation was written during the height of Roman world dominance. Its extravagance was well known. At one emperor's banquet, the roses alone cost nearly $100,000. All of these amounts are in today's dollars. Another emperor had a penchant for peacock's brains and nightingales' tongues. In his reign, of less than one year, he spent $20,000,000 on food. That's a lot of brains. One Roman aristocrat, after squandering an immense fortune, committed suicide because he could not live on the stipend that remained - about $300,000 per year. There was an old Jewish saying, "Ten measures of wealth came down into the world: Rome received nine, and all the world one."


Does the cliché, "The more things change, the more they stay the same" apply here?


Romans had a passion for silver dishes. Wealthy Roman women would only bathe in silver bathtubs. Today, you watch House Hunters, and everybody wants granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Generals out in the field insisted upon dining on silver dishes. Julius Caesar once gave a young courtesan an $18,000 pearl.


The list goes on. On top of the excess, there was the horribleness. It has

been estimated that, at one point, there were 60,000,000 slaves through-out the Roman Empire. Among these were those whose fate was to fight for their lives and die for the entertainment of the Roman crowds in stadiums built for blood sport. In many ways, this was a horrible culture.


Everybody had a vested political and economic interest in the survival of Rome.


As we've already seen, these early believers had a difficult time navigating through a corrupt political and economic system. Life could be in danger because of one's faith in Jesus Christ. That's why perseverance is such a strong theme throughout The Revelation to John.


Let's start with verses 9 - 20:

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

"Alas! Alas! You great city,

you mighty city, Babylon!

For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

“The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!”

The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

“Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”

And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

“What city was like the great city?”

And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,

“Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste. Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!”


The judgments now flow. They flow through seven years described in a series of seals and a series of trumpets and a series of bowls, all cascading one out of another. We are at the culmination of these judgments.


What's the first thing you notice about verses nine and ten? The ruling

elite, who had no problem sharing the luxury of the ravenous beast, mourn from a distance. They couldn't get enough of her riches. But now they're afraid her stink is going to rub off on them. So they mourn from a distance. Boy, are they in for a big surprise. Right now, they mourn because their fortunes have changed. Remember, they wouldn't cry over their sin, but they'll cry over the loss of their city. Even though God gave them ample opportunity to repent, they shed not a tear of remorse. Judgment will rain down on them, but all they can do here is mourn their financial losses. What buffoonery. Proverbs 1:22-23 fits perfectly:

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you."


John is given a vision of the one world empire ruled by the Antichrist. There is widespread prosperity, debauchery, and pagan religious practice. And Babylon is the metaphorical heart and soul of that putrefying system. All the other wicked leaders and institutions are hard-wired into that system. And as Babylon falls, no one rushes to her rescue. Soon, even those standing off in the distance will be brought to ruin.


It seems like some sort of poetic justice that these wicked people are crying over what they've lost, rather than recognizing the fate awaiting them.


Compare back then to now. Much of this country is driven by the acquisition, accumulation, and possession of material wealth. Much of our politics is driven by the protection of these things, or, because of envy, devising a means of grabbing what others worked for. There really is not much distinction between the ruling class and the aristocracy. Do the similarities make us uncomfortable?


Here in chapter eighteen, the ruling class literally tied all their passions into this system. So when she burned, they lost what they loved above all others.


When will they realize this is a preview of what is to come?


To sum this section up, here's something you might want to write down:

THEY DON'T LAMENT THEIR LOST SOULS…THEY LAMENT THEIR LOST WALLETS.


Oh, and one last thing. Notice they are weeping and mourning not for

something that is necessary, but for something that is a luxury. As Jesus said in his parable about the Rich Fool {Luke 12:13-21}:

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

See how gracious and merciful our God is, giving sinners time to repent.

Let's finish up with verses twenty-one through twenty-four:

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”


This is such an awesome part. Someone called the mighty angel an "Apocalyptic Paul Bunyan." This is the promised vindication. This is the final judgment on the wicked of the world. Their end time has come.


Now, please don't misunderstand. This is not a celebration over bad things happening to people. It is simply joy over God fulfilling His promise. The wicked will suffer the consequence of their rebellion against God. They will pay the price for ignoring His gifts of grace and mercy. There is great rejoicing over the vindication of God's Holiness. See how God has rescued us. See how He has vanquished the wicked. There is not even a sound of their rebellion anywhere in His creation.


Make no mistake. These closing verses properly celebrate God's judgment on those lost in their evil. While commenting on another issue, Christian writer Joel Berry captures the heart of God's judgment this way:

"As Christians, we love everyone, even our enemies. We pray for everyone deceived by {wicked} ideology. We never take vengeance into our own hands. But it is a righteous thing to pray for God's terrible wrath to be poured out on the people {lost in

their evil}.


So, where is all this going? After God's terrible wrath is poured out on the wicked, we then turn to the glorious day of His vindication. With the crushing delivery of the great millstone, God will totally restructure the earth. Jesus will return. He will set up his eternal kingdom. That's where

these final chapters are going.


Here's one last thing you might want to write down:

A WORLD OF FOOLS PERISHES.

Remember what Jesus said in his Parable of the Rich Fool. "This night your soul is required of you." One way or another, that time will come for all of us. Either we will still be here when Jesus returns, or we will have our own personal end time. Are we ready for that day?


Let's Pray:

HEAVENLY FATHER, WE ARE ALMOST OVERWHELMED BY THESE VERSES. WE UNDERSTAND WHERE HISTORY IS MOVING. WE KNOW WHERE OUR WORLD IS GOING. WHILE THERE IS TIME, WHILE THERE IS OPPORTUNITY, MAKE US FAITHFUL IN SHARING YOUR SAVING GOSPEL. LORD, HELP US TO REACH OUT TO THOSE WHO PERISH. KEEP US FROM GETTING CAUGHT IN THE MATERIALISTIC PREOCCUPATIONS OF THIS CULTURE. LORD, MAY WE BE RICH TOWARD YOU. MAY OUR TREASURE BE IN HEAVEN. WE THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT OF OUR SAVIOR, IN

WHOSE NAME WE PRAY. AMEN.











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