Come Out of Her, My People!

Revelation 18:1-24

Throughout world history numerous events shaken societies to very foundations, effects felt far beyond city or nation where they started. In some cases, led to good outcome; others… not so much. e.g., American and French revolutions, World Wars 1 and 2, then 1929… stock market crash.

1929, October 28 & 29 stock market lost 25% value, about $30 bil. Before long – 12 million people out of work (1 in 10 people), 12,000 more being made unemployed every day; 20,000 companies had gone bankrupt; 160 banks had gone bankrupt, 1 farmer in 20 evicted; 23,000 people committed suicide in one year – the highest ever. Albert Wiggin, president of the Chase National Bank said at the time: “We are reaping the natural fruit of the orgy of speculation in which millions of people have indulged.”

Similar language used in text regarding mindset toward Babylon – portrayed here as unholy city, promising what holy city actually supplies… heaven on earth. Is apparent from description as well as real life: unrighteous cannot help being seduced by her promises. Is also evident righteous can be taken in as well – hence the warnings in last chapter and this. Chap. 17 serves to warn the unsuspecting, chap. 18 those already deceived and taken in. Warning surrounded by announcements of Babylon’s ultimate and complete overthrow, reactions of various kinds of people to her downfall.

A. announcement 1-3

makes plain to all the world: one at the top has come crashing down – clearly not chance, luck of the draw, simple miscalculation

downfall purposefully brought about by superior power and authority – made particularly plain later on in passage

taunt song – mockery, derision – kind of thing you hear when arrogant bully finally gets his due… “you thought you were such a big deal, now look at you”

actually thought because of her size and strength, really was too big to fail – not expecting bailout plan when times got tough, didn’t believe she needed one (7)

announcer not typical town crier, either – glorious figure shouting with powerful authoritative voice, not to be argued with

definitely messenger who came from heaven itself, radiant from being in very presence of God, glory exceeding that even of Moses when came down from Mt. Sinai

even though fall of Babylon has not yet occurred in time, is declared with divine certainty – “fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great”

if Babylon represents worldly power at its ultimate stage – in league with Satan and against Christ, his church – announcement cause for great encouragement

no matter how powerless Christians appear to be against forces of evil, God wins… evil powers and institutions will be overthrown

no matter how tattered and destitute Christ’s church appears in parts of world today… her mortal enemies will meet own doom

is not our task to take on Babylon – is reserved for one Warrior… he has only weapon that is sufficient to conquer, his Word of authority

our task to live godly, faithful witnesses of Gospel in situations where God places, seeking God’s glory in all things

doom not only certain, Babylon’s destruction will be complete – total uninhabitable wasteland with no possibility of recovery

next time God makes major move to deal with evil, will be decisive – was one fall into sin in Garden, will never be another

sin and evil in all forms will be overthrown, every perpetrator without exception banished to eternal punishment, never to trouble people of God again

remember: appearance of invincibility of human government, even when inspired by loyalty to dragon/beast/false prophet is only that… an appearance – God alone is invincible

Heb. 6:19-20This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Jesus has already gone this way; will bring us safely through all that lies between us and glory

B. warning 4-8

if Babylon is all you say it is, epitome of evil and rebellion against God, why would any of God’s people be in her, needing warning?

deception – taken in by things packaged to look safe, neutral, even Christian-like; using familiar terms but with alt. meanings

Hollywood makes movie about Bible theme; for-profit businesses advise the church; neighbor/co-worker uses lots of spiritual sounding words, incl. reasons for not being in church

drift – less of God’s word we hear and more of world’s words we hear, better the world sounds, esp. when catering to desire

happens more easily when are spiritually weak or lazy; tired of pushing against tide, make concessions on what seems non-essential

priorities start to get switched – peace with family overtakes peace from God, not offending friend overrules not offending God

distortion – distorted view/understanding of place of Christian in culture, what are legitimate means to evangelize lost

let’s be really cool biker dudes so we can reach other biker dudes for Jesus – can you say “playing with fire”; true for other endeavors, distorted mindset is problem

we need to put our Christian kids in public school so they can evangelize all their classmates; truth is Satan far more skilled evangelist than our children

flee the wrath to come – leave City of Destruction, don’t be deceived by Vanity Fair, sidetracked to Doubting Castle, overcome by Hill Difficulty or Valley of Shadow of Death

keep eyes fixed on Celestial City, do not stray from path no matter how tempting it appears; do not be deterred from following path no matter how difficult it appears

not the tower that reached to heaven but her sins (5)

this, utter sinfulness of Babylon is foremost why God’s people must keep distance; is reason why God’s judgment is warranted

matters not how amazing achievements are, how much good is accomplished, when are result of sin they have no eternal good for achiever

no more warning, no time

like to live as though can always finish what we start, will always have tomorrow – truth is, final judgment may come at any moment, will come without warning, will be over quickly

C. reactions 9-20

kings

those who made power their god – associating with those who made climb to power without regard for cost in human terms

kept their distance, wanted to believe they could maintain position even if Babylon didn’t; at same time, knowing if her treatment was just, they deserved the same… and feared it would come

merchants

had made incredible profit by catering to desire for luxury, possessions, saw all profits go up in smoke… along with future market

like with kings, could not bear thought of giving up their god, their sinful devotion to profit-making and to their desires

sailors

no category of person, no facet of society left out of those who mourn loss of their idol, the means to pursue appetite for sin

were so attached to their sin, could not imagine life without it… and had absolutely no desire to experience it

righteous

contrast could not be more profound – on one side utter despondency, feeling of total loss, mourning as at death of loved one

on other side great rejoicing that God has brought great glory to himself and his people by bringing perfect justice on evildoers – paying back double because sin was intentional and intended to deceive/destroy others

D. reiteration 21-24

only if millstones float can Babylon escape destruction

destruction would be complete – pleasure and entertainment (so important to Babylon) first to go; next, all industry ceased, nothing to support life; followed by complete darkness, no ability to reproduce and rebuild

picture of complete hopelessness for those in love with their sin, who stubbornly refuse to leave sin for hope in Christ

Lost will not hear God’s call, his people can and should heed. Know what will happen, been warned what to do. Yet, like those who watched Babylon burning and knew she was being judged while staying loyal, Christians struggle with right loyalties. To flee deception, to come out of Babylon has decided cost. Can be financial, material, relational, but is what Christ calls his followers to do – deny self, take up cross, follow Him. When you have heard Jesus’ call, are faced with hard choice of loyalty, how will you answer? How tightly will you hold on to things belonging to world? Story behind our closing hymn: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

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