LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

Home   About Us   Holiness Library   Bible Prophecy   Listen to Sermons  History of the Holiness Movement   Early English Bibles   Bible Studies

 

 

 

BABYLON IS DESTROYED

 

And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore. Revelation 18:11

 

We have just heard from the voice of God that Babylon is fallen and His judgement has come. The remainder of chapter 18 describes the destruction of religious Babylon.

The hour of God’s judgement on Babylon causes a great deal of destruction affecting every aspect of Babylon’s influence over God’s people that false and apostate religions have held captive. First we see that the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn. These are the leaders, priests, chiefs, and promotors of Religious Babylon. What is pictured here is not a cessation of Babylon’s ministries but rather the impact of God’s people leaving Babylon. God’s people have turned away from Babylon; they have no use for its religions and they will no longer accept or sympathize with her doctrines and practices.

Verses 12–13 describe these doctrines and practices using terms of very valuable merchandise. “Merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.”

These were extremely valuable trade goods at the time Revelation was written—and still are today. I suppose we might be able to use each of these goods as a symbol of something, but perhaps it is better to say that these are the doctrines and practices of religious Babylon that appeal to people according to their individual likes and dislikes. Some religions promote materialism and some promote asceticism, the exact opposite. Some promote spirituality and mysticism and some promote pragmatism and logic, the exact opposites. Some promote legalism and restrictions while others promote liberty and licentiousness, the exact opposites. These opposites show us that each of the thousands of religions in the world appeals to some people and repulses others. Babylon offers anything anyone can want in religion other than the truth. Remember, Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God except through Him. (John 14:6) So, all these expensive and attractive merchandises mentioned are Babylon’s beliefs and teachings that lead people away from the truth as it is in Jesus.

Verse 11 closes saying, “No one buys their merchandise any more.” When God’s people in Babylon hear the everlasting gospel as brought by the angel with great authority and they hear God calling them out of Babylon, they will have no use for any of the false doctrines and practices that were forced on them by Babylon’s ministers and teachers. They will know precisely why they are leaving the Babylon in which they have been held.

Verse 13 lists a few more articles of merchandise that can definitely represent spiritual elements but at the top of the list and the most important things mentioned are bodies and souls. Here is the true motive and purpose of religious Babylon in all its representations. The Devil, the enemy of all souls, is behind the spirits of unbelief and apostasy that motivate all of religious Babylon. Through these religions he offers mankind anything and everything a person can want or use to replace God in his life. Some people want a god that is angry and difficult to please. This is found in religions involving self-castigation where people believe they must continually be punished for their sins and wrongdoings. Some people want a god that is worshipped through sensuality and pleasure. Some people want a god that is essentially unconcerned about mankind and leaves man to his own devises. Some want a god that is intrinsically evil to be feared and placated through rituals and sacrifices. Some want a god that is mystical and vague that must be implored to reveal himself and must be begged to do good things for them. Some want a powerful creator god that is distant and can be reached only through priests and sacraments. Some want a god that is all about judgment and wrath who rules over human life by means of legalism that cannot be lived out. Some want a god that really doesn’t believe in anything and sides with anything people can come up with in the name of religion. And there are those that want a god that, to them, looks like the true God and is perhaps historically accurate but just wants to be everyone’s best friend—they want a buddy god.

We could go on endlessly dreaming up Babylon concepts of gods, but the devil’s purpose in religious Babylon is to divert people from the true God and hold them in bondage to a religion that will not produce the spiritual and moral change God makes possible through the everlasting gospel. The end result of Babylon religion is to keep people in a state of spiritual death and drag them down to an eternal hell apart from God.

The end-time revival provokes a response from religious Babylon. We read in verses 14–16, “The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!”

Babylon takes notice of God’s people leaving during this end-time revival. The people God reaches in Babylon with the everlasting gospel are people that are actually searching for Him. These are people that have been sincere and faithful in their religious practices and are conscious of true morality, even in the Christ-less religions. These are people that are internally driven to seek more of God than they are able to experience in their religions. And these are the ones Babylon values more than others because of their penchant for faithfulness.

These people make Babylon religions appear rich and splendid because of their personal virtues and their sense of the true God they may not yet know. And when these precious souls follow God’s call to come out, Babylon will weep and wail because its best is gone and it is left with the dregs.

Notice the complaint of Babylon’s merchants in verse 16, “Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!” The everlasting gospel strips Babylon of its religious pretensions so that God’s people can see its nakedness. What once appeared to be valuable teaching and views of divinity have been debunked and exposed for the errors they really are. God’s people have no use for them and Babylon’s merchants are grieved because they cannot win them back.

The end-time revival will not be a prolonged event. Verse 17 says this destruction of Babylon happens in one hour. This one hour is a symbol, not an actual measure of time. Verse 8 says that Babylon’s plagues will come in one day; in verse 10 the message from God is that in one hour judgment has come on Babylon. The idea behind the day and hour symbols for the end-time revival is that it will take place over a very short period of time compared to the preceding centuries of church history. From this we can assume that the end-time revival leads to the second coming of Christ and the end of time.

When the seven bowls of wrath of chapter 16 are poured out—that is, when the everlasting gospel is finally preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit—Babylon will be exposed for what it is, people will respond to the message of salvation and leave whatever excuse for religion they were in, and will come together to serve God and preach the message of salvation from sin to the world for one last time.

Verses 18–19 depict the grief of Babylon as it stands exposed for the false religions it really is. They “cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’ They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.’”

There is a great sense of historical joy and validation in their hearts as God’s people leave Babylon and come to the body of Christ, the true church as Jesus built it. Verse 20, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” This language suggests that the rejoicing will not be confined to the church on earth at this time, but even in heaven there will be a shared joy in the presence of God in eternity. God has vindicated Himself and the gospel He has so graciously given to fallen mankind.

Verses 21–24 depict the smoldering remains of Babylon in the wake of the end-time revival.

 

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore. The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore. The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”

 

The words of the mighty angel, the ministry of the end-time revival, bring to mind what Jesus taught in Matthew 18:6, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” The influence of all forms of religious Babylon perpetuates some degree of continuing sin in the lives of its people. Even God’s people caught up in Babylon are influenced in this way even though in their hearts they do not want to continue in sin. Babylon does not offer a real hope of holiness and instead teaches people to settle for an experience less than holiness. The wrath of God is upon Babylon because it injures the children of God with false teaching and wrong influence that keeps them away from the real holiness God has for them.

The influence of Babylon will finally be destroyed in the hearts of God’s people in this end-time revival. However, here we see that Babylon in any and all of its forms will not cease to exist; it will still be here on earth and no light from God’s word will shine in it because everything that is part of God’s church has left it.

God’s people that were in Babylon are finally out and are free to worship God in spirit and in truth. They have found the joy of God’s grace given through the atonement in Christ to both know God and to live a life in the holiness of Christ. The redeemed will look back on the rubble of Babylon that had been part of their religious lives and they will understand the gravity and evil of Babylon: “And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”

The message of the everlasting gospel in this end-time revival gives them to understand that Christ-less religion and apostate Christianity have been the enemy all along and have actively worked throughout history to destroy the work of the Church as Jesus built it.