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Be Careful How You Build - The Book of Revelation
Week 13, 2018
Next we will cover Revelation 18:1-10, which focuses on the fall of “Babylon the great”:
After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.
And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury."
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her.
In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.'
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,
standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come' (NKJV).
Throughout Scripture, the word often translated as “angel” could be translated as “messenger.” Sometimes they are angelic beings, and sometimes the messengers are prophets. In this case, it seems likely that it is a prophet that the Lord raises up with a worldwide platform to declare that Babylon has fallen. Although there have been prophets with a worldwide influence, there does not seem to have been one with this message.
The rest of Chapter 18 describes the collapse of Babylon. It gives instructions for how to react to it, and also how the world will react to it. Again, the devastating sin that led to such a devastating consequence is implied in the description of the great “harlot.” The church is called to be a pure, chaste virgin betrothed to the Lord Jesus, but she fell into a spiritually adulterous relationship with the powers of this world instead. We are called to be salt and light in this world and love the world as the Lord does, but not to marry its systems or its ways.
If we link this to the original sin of the tower of Babel that the name Babylon is derived from, we get further insight:
And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.
Then they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.
And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:2-4 NKJV).
The key motives here were that they wanted to 1) make a name for themselves and 2) use a project to gather people and keep them united. How many projects, ministries, churches, movements, and denominations have been founded on these same motives? We may preach the gospel in the name of Jesus but really be using this, and other things, to make a name for ourselves and to excite people instead of leading them to a personal relationship with the Lord. This may work for a little while, but if this root will ultimately bring division and scattering, just like the tower of Babel.
In Revelation 3:20, we see Jesus standing outside of the door of His own church and knocking to see if any will open to Him. Does He truly inhabit our churches? Is He the Main Attraction? If the Lord is in His temple, it will not be the temple that gets your attention regardless of how great it is. Do the people who come leave marveling at the temple, or at the Lord whom they encountered there?
As the Apostle Paul warned, “Be careful how you build” (see I Corinthians 3:10). We can have many good motives, but if the root of our work is really an attempt to make a name for ourselves, or to gather people around what we are building, we are only building what will ultimately scatter the people and add to the confusion that is Babylon.
next week 14