Sun, Oct 22, 2000

The Commercial Babylon: Revelation 18

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

COMMERCIAL BABYLON FALLS

REVELATION 18

Please turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 18, as we continue our study through the book of Revelation. And as you are turning there, listen to this story from the Milwaukee Journal:

A Milwaukee teacher took her first-grade class to a dairy where a guide showed the children through the entire plant, explaining the whole process. The tour over, the guide asked if anyone had any questions. One little girl raised her hand.

"Did you notice," she asked, "that I’ve got on my new snow suit?"

- Milwaukee Journal

As cute as that story is, the reality of it all is that many people never grow out of that self-centered mentality. You see, a life outside of Christ must be focused on something, and it usually is focused on self. That is what we will see here in Revelation chapter 18, as cataclysmic events, as destruction is coming upon this commercial center of the world, the people are more concerned on how this event will affect their own lives!

As we study the end time world system, it can be broken down into three ways: political, religious and commercial. We saw back in Revelation chapter 13 that the political world system will be headed by the Antichrist. The world religious system, spoken of in Revelation chapter 17 as the Great Harlot, this false religious system is headed by the false prophet. And now this commercial world system is represented by Babylon. You see, not only was Babylon associated with a false religious system, but it was also a powerful commercial system.

Now some would like to teach that Revelation chapters 17 and 18 are speaking of the same thing. That chapter 18 just describes the destruction of this false religious system. But I have to disagree with that. You see, Revelation 17 is speaking about religious Babylon during the last days. And even though this false religious system is very wealthy, it is not the commercial Babylon that is spoken of in chapter 18.

The reason I say that is because who will destroy religious Babylon, and how the world will respond, and then who destroys commercial Babylon, and how the world responds to its destruction.

In Revelation 17:16-17, in speaking of religious Babylon, we read "And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled." The apostate church is hated by the kings of the earth and is destroyed by them after they get from her what they want, power. This false religious system which helped to bring the political system to power, is now destroyed by that system. Religious Babylon, that Great Harlot, is now destroyed and the world is worshiping the Antichrist. And this occurs around the 3½ year mark of the 7 year tribulation period.

Now the fall of commercial Babylon is far different from religious Babylon. In Revelation 18:8-9 we read of commercial Babylon being destroyed. It says "Therefore her plagues will come in one day-- death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning." The commercial financial world empire is loved by the kings of the earth and when God judges her, the people lament over her destruction.

Thus, I see religious Babylon and commercial Babylon as two separate entities, although they feed off each other for a time.

As I read stories of the stock market crash of the 1920's here in America, I see the devastating effects it had on society. People lost everything, all their earthly possessions. People were jumping out of buildings to their death because of the money they lost. And yet that was nothing when compared to the fall of the last days monetary system. We will not just see a local financial collapse, but the world’s financial empire, commercial Babylon, will come crashing to the ground! With that in mind, lets look at these verses here in Revelation chapter 18.

REVELATION 18

VERSES 1-3

I believe this financial fall will come towards the end of the tribulation period. The question that many wonder about is this, "Is this literal Babylon that is being rebuilt, or is this figurative?" In Isaiah chapter 13 we read of the fall of Babylon by the Medes and the Persians, beginning in verse 17, "Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, who will not regard silver; and as for gold, they will not delight in it. Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces, and they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye will not spare children." Isaiah 13:17-18.

And that is exactly what happened as the Medo-Persian army came through the gates of the city without difficulty. The Babylonians were caught unaware as their king, Belshazzar was throwing a party over the security of their great kingdom. And as the drinks flowed and the people became drunk, the hand writing on the wall, written by the finger of God, said "...Godhas numbered your kingdom, and finished it...You have been weighed in the balances, andfound wanting...Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes andPersians...That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius theMede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old." Daniel 5.

In this victory, the city was not destroyed, for they overtook them without having to knock down the walls to get in, for Isaiah 45:1-3 tells us the gates of the city were left unlocked. So what is the point that I am getting at here? Simply this, I don’t think Babylon was ever completely destroyed, at least not the way God spoke of. Notice back in Isaiah chapter 13, starting in verse 19, where we read "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation; nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, and their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches will dwell there, and wild goats will caper there. The hyenas will howl in their citadels, and jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, and her days will not be prolonged." Isaiah 13:19-22.

How was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed? With fire and brimstone. The Medo-Persian army did not destroy Babylon with fire and brimstone, so could this be speaking of a future rebuilt Babylon that is destroyed? Not until 1973 did anyone believe that Babylon would be rebuilt. But in 1973 we had an oil crunch that made the Arab nations in the Middle East very, very wealthy! So much so that they don’t even know what to do with their money.

Enter onto the scene Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who likens himself to the reincarnation of king Nebuchadnezzar. He has taken on a building project of restoring Babylon and has put much of the countries money into this project and into his military, while the people are going hungry. The area of modern day Iraq is the area of ancient Babylon. With all the money that is located in the Middle East, due to its vast oil reserve, it could become the financial empire of the world.

Babylon could also be speaking of any financial empire in the last days which controls the world economy. Some say it is Rome, others say it might be the United States, but wherever, it does represent a specific location that I am not sure we can say with 100% accuracy of where John is speaking of at this point in time.

Now as the angel cries out that commercial Babylon is destroyed, he repeats it twice. He wants us to understand fully that its destruction is complete, never to rise again. This system has become totally corrupt with greed and you see the ugliness of the inhabitants - demons, foul spirits, unclean and hated birds - all representing demonic forces that congregate in this area, in this system.

And the merchants love it because they have become rich by it. They have become intoxicated by this system and thus are numb to its effects. They have no feelings of right or wrong, just greed, just self-centeredness. They just want to accumulate more and more wealth, which this system helps them to do. They are never satisfied. It is as Proverbs 27:20 tells us,

"Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied." You see, outside of Christ you will never be satisfied!

The sad thing today is the church wants those riches also, they are naming it and claiming it for themselves. But notice what God is calling His people to do in verse 4!

VERSE 4

God is calling for us to break our ties from the materialism of this world - it will weaken your faith. Notice what Paul warns Timothy of, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselvesthrough with many sorrows." I Timothy 6:10.

Money itself is not evil, but the love of money is. Why? Because our hearts are so wicked that we will come up with all kinds of schemes to make money. We will justify all sorts of reasons why we should be slightly dishonest. And as those desires grow and grow in your heart, you are moving farther and farther away from God. Your fellowship with God will be weakened. It is as Proverbs 17:23 says, "A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back to pervert the ways of justice."

Now Paul goes on to tell Timothy what he should do in verse 11 of I Timothy. He said, "But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which youwere also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." I Timothy 6:11-12.

We as Christians are to break ties from the materialism of this world. If that is our hearts desire, for monetary gain, then John says the love of the Father is not in us. That is a difficult one to swallow. But we must understand that this world system is passing away, thus we should focus on the eternal, on the Lord!

That is why God calls for us to come out, for if we remain in, we will "share in her sins" and stand the chance of receiving her judgments! You see, perspective is everything, and God wants us to clearly understand this point. In I John 2:15-17 we are told, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." I think the point is very clear - be obedient to the will of God, follow Him and you will be satisfied!

VERSES 5-8

The cup of her sins are full and now God will repay to her what she has done to others. She will reap what she has sown!

But even as this judgment was about to fall, she still boasted about her wealth, her security, her luxurious lifestyle. Just as Belshazzar felt secure in his kingdom, as the Medo-Persian army was outside the door, and that very night judgment fell upon him and his kingdom. So too will the fate be of commercial Babylon, it will fall!

Isaiah chapter 47 gives us insight to the fall of ancient Babylon that parallels the fall of commercial Babylon. In verse 7 we read "And you said, ‘I shall be a lady forever,’ so that you did not take these things to heart, nor remember the latter end of them. Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart,‘I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children’; But these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day: the loss of children, and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness because of themultitude of your sorceries, for the great abundance of your enchantments. For you havetrusted in your wickedness; you have said, ‘No one sees me’; your wisdom and yourknowledge have warped you; and you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no oneelse besides me.’ Therefore evil shall come upon you; you shall not know from where itarises. And trouble shall fall upon you; you will not be able to put it off. And desolationshall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know...Thus shall they be to you withwhom you have labored, your merchants from your youth; they shall wander each one tohis quarter. No one shall save you." Isaiah 47:7-11, 15.

In one day destruction will befall this financial empire of the world. But notice the boldness and its self glorification from verse 10, "...‘I am, and there is no one else besides me." And yet, with all its strength, nothing is able to stop its fall, for it is God who has judged her!

VERSES 9-10

Not until this last century have we been able to destroy a city in just one hour. But with the introduction of the atomic bomb, it can be done, and has been done. We even have a bomb that will destroy people but leave buildings alone so that after the people are wiped out, the victorious nation can come in and use the buildings for themselves. This bomb is called the neutron bomb. Talk about a mind-set of materialism and the worthlessness of life!

Now as the kings of the earth see this destruction and the fall of this empire, they weep and lament for her. And not just a silent weeping but a loud wailing. Why? Because they see their wealth, their lifestyles, going up in flames with this city! They don’t care about the people or anything else, but just how this judgment, this destruction will affect their lifestyles!

Why are they standing at a distance watching this city burn? Could it be that this city is destroyed by an atomic bomb, and because of the radioactive fallout, they are standing at a distance? However God destroys this financial empire, it will be complete!

VERSES 11-19

As we look at the destruction of this world financial empire, we see it through the eyes of man. It is beautiful and wealthy. John lists some 28 items of luxury; gold, silver, precious stones, and-so-on. There is no way you can spiritualize this, it is a literal commercial system that is destroyed.

I like the way that Jon Courson describes this section, like a department store. Verse 12 speaks of the first floor, jewelry. Then you can move to the second floor, again in verse 12, clothing. The third floor, again in verse 12, home furnishings. As you move to the fourth floor, in verse 13, you come to cosmetics. Then on the fifth floor, again in verse 13, is the food court. On the sixth floor, from verse 13 with the horses and chariots we have the automotive section. And lastly, from verse 13, the souls of men, which is found in the basement, you might call it the adult bookstore. Jon says "Please note not one of the aforementioned deals with life’s necessities. They’re all luxuries. Babylon specializes in materialism gone mad." I would have to agree!

We can also see verse 13, as it speaks of the "bodies and souls of men," can speak of our enslavement into the material world. It is as Peter tells us "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption [depravity]; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage [slavery]." II Peter 2:19. We can become enslaved as we obtain more and more things and sink farther and farther into debt! There is no freedom in that and there is no satisfaction in that, there is always bigger, better, newer, faster, prettier, younger, and-so-on.

But I also think even more importantly, that these souls of men that are being enslaved is speaking of the bondage of sin and being condemned to Hell! You see, Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of sin, He has broken those chains that have us bound and all we must do to be set free is to receive the free gift of life that is found in Jesus. Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. But if you refuse the gift of life, you will remain in bondage to sin. You have sold your soul to the Devil! Jesus tells us this in John 8:34-36, as He says "Jesus answered them, ‘Mostassuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide inthe house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shallbe free indeed." The choice is yours, free in Christ, or in bondage to sin!

VERSES 20-21

We have seen this financial empire through the eyes of man, the beauty, the wealth, the luxury. But God see’s it far differently. It is an ugly, deadly empire that "...in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth." Revelation 18:24. And so as the earth dwellers mourn over her destruction, heaven rejoices, because this evil institution will be done away with. You see, what earthly man holds onto, loves, the lover of God sees as ugly, detestable, and wants nothing to do with it.

And her destruction will be complete, she will not get away with anything. She will rise up no more. Like a milestone that was thrown into the sea and sank to the dark depths, never to rise again, so too will commercial Babylon, as she is judged by God.

In Jeremiah chapter 51 we see this played out for us. We read beginning in verse 60,

"So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these wordsthat are written against Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, ‘When you arrive inBabylon and see it, and read all these words, then you shall say, "O LORD, You havespoken against this place to cut it off, so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever." Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. Then you shall say, "Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary."’ Thus far are the words of Jeremiah." That is what is in store for Babylon, this financial empire! It will be sunk!

VERSES 22-24

A city that was alive with life is now dead. No music, no industry, no joy, but a financial ruin. As we have seen with the stock market crash of the 1920's, joy was far from the hearts of the people. Society was in ruin. And during this time, it will be far worse. There will be no hope to resurrect this world financial institution, for this occurs at the end of the tribulation period.

And it is interesting to read that by "sorcery" or PHARMAKEA in the Greek the nations were deceived. By drugs and witchcraft the nations fall into this financial institutions enchantments until it was too late to turn back.

We have now seen the fall of the false religious system and the commercial system. All that is left is the political system, which will come crashing down in chapter 19.

As I close this morning, let me try to encourage you by saying this. You may look at the wealth of many today and be discouraged. You may look at the wicked and see them prosper and wonder why all these difficult times are coming upon your life. During the time of the depression, a Christian man hit some very hard times. He lost his job, his home and finally his wife. And he was depressed to say the least, and yet he did trust in the Lord. And as he was walking one day, he came upon this building project, and he saw this mason working on a small piece of stone, cutting this small triangular shape. And wondering what it was for, what he was doing, the man asked the mason. And he said to the man, "I must cut it and shape it down here so that it will fit up there," as he pointed to a triangular opening in the upper portion of the building.

At that point the man began to cry, for he realized that what God was doing down here, was to prepare him for up there, for heaven. God is molding and shaping us, don’t fight against it, allow Him to make you into a vessel of honor for Him! As Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21. Where is your heart this morning, focused on the material things of this world or on the kingdom of God and His righteousness? We will see next week that Jesus is coming back to right the wrong in this world and to establish His kingdom here on the earth, are you ready for Him?

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