Monday, January 19, 2009

 

REVELATION CHAPTER 18 VERSE BY VERSE

A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE

Revelation 18: 1 - 24

In the next twenty-four verses, we shall witness the destruction of political Babylon. This Babylon is different from the one just discussed. Chapter 17 concerned religious Babylon, whereas chapter 18 pictures political, or commercial, Babylon. Religious Babylon was called mystery Babylon, but commercial Babylon is referred to as Babylon the great. Religious Babylon was presented as a woman or a mother, while commercial Babylon is portrayed as a cityùa great city, a mighty city, and eventually a burning city. Religious Babylon was situated on seven hills, whereas political Babylon is visible from the sea (see verses 17, 18, and 21). Religious Babylon was destroyed by the kings of the earth (17:16), but political Babylon will be destroyed by horrendous judgments from the hand of God. When religious Babylon was destroyed, the kings rejoiced. When political Babylon is demolished, however, the kings and merchants of the earth lament [and weep] for her (18:9,15). Let's study political Babylon.

Verse 1: And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

John says, after these things. After what things? After the fulfillment of religious Babylon's destruction. John's statement is further proof that the two Babylons are entirely different and distinctive of one another. Only after the events of chapter 17 does John see God's judgment upon political Babylon in the verses that follow.The angel bringing the warning of impending judgment is powerful and glorious. His appearance lightens the entire globe. Quite possibly, this is a christophany or appearance of Christ, as He is the light of the world (John 8:12).

Verse 2: And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

God's judgment of commercial Babylon has begun. The angel's cry is, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. Why? She has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every [evil] spirit imaginable. She is a cage containing every vicious, filthy, and hateful bird in existence.A walk through New York City, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Hollywood, or San Francisco would be helpful at this point. America's major citiesùand minor ones as wellùare loaded with lust-ridden sinners seeking sex thrills through prostitutes, R- and X-rated movies, and pornographic bookstores. Our beloved America could possibly fit the description of political Babylon as a cage [containing] every unclean and hateful bird controlled by foul spirits and demons who inhabit the land and its people. God help us to have an old-fashioned, Holy Spirit-empowered revival in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Otherwise, God's judgment may soon fall.

Verse 3: For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

Just like religious Babylon, this political system has turned to idolatry and fornication. As we saw in chapter 17, these terms refer to the worship of strange gods and a love of this world's material goods. Seeking prestige and power, commercial or political Babylon has promoted and joined ungodly world alliances. The text states that the nations of earth have partaken of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed [spiritual] fornication with her for gain. Hence, the merchants of the earth have become exceedingly wealthy by wheeling and dealing with this nation who is super-abundantly loaded with delicacies.

Verse 4: And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Verse 5: For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

The believers of the Tribulation hourùthose who trusted in the shed blood of the Lamb and refused the mark of the beastùare told to come out of her [and partake not] of her [evil deeds]. They are to live holy lives in the midst of a cage [full of] unclean and hateful bird[s] whose sins have reached unto heaven and caused an abominable stench in the nostrils of the Almighty. They are to be careful of materialism and to refrain from illegal gain through the love of the delicacies of this world.

Verse 6: Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

Verse 7: How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

Here we see God's law of sowing and reaping coming into effect: They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same (Job 4:8). Humanity cannot get away with sin forever. God hates sin. It is inconsistent with His holiness. Except for God's mercy, most of us would have been dead and in hell long ago. His grace, however, passes all human understanding. The Lord is...longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Still God cannot tolerate sin forever, and the reaping of political Babylon' s iniquity must finally take place.What a terrible experience as Babylon receives a double portion of judgment. Literally, the verse should say, The double is to be doubled. This was the punishment under the law of Moses (see Exodus 22:4,7). Now God says, Double the judgment upon Babylon according to her works. Reward her even as she rewarded you. Babylon has glorified herself and lived deliciously. Her wealthy became wealthier and her poor became poorer. As a nation, she did not care about the poor, for she said, I am a queen. I shall see no sorrow. I do not want to look at the needs of the impoverished.There is a possibility that James 5:1-6 predicted the judgment administered in Revelation 18:1,7: Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped [the poor] are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.The end of the age will not see communism enthroned. Instead, capitalism will be the ruling power as ten western nations bleed the world's inhabitants of their possessions. Now, don't misunderstand. I hate the atheistic, godless monstrosity called communism. It will be destroyed, as will Russia, in the Middle East (see Ezekiel 39:1,2). However, double trouble is also coming for those exploiters of the massesùthe rich who starve the poorùaccording to the verses just investigated. Their judgment takes place as Babylon is burned.

Verse 8: Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

Verse 9: And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

Verse 10: Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

When the news of Babylon's destruction is received, earth's kings, monarchs, potentates, and presidents immediately begin to weep. Their source of wealth has been disintegrated. They are joined by members of the Chamber of Commerce as we will see in our next newsletter.

Revelation 18: 11 - 24

Verse 11: And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.

Let's view the commodities. Not a single item is really necessary. In fact, the entire display may be classified as luxurious worldly baubles used to impress high society. Imagine, even the mark of the beast won't hinder wealth in the western world! Just look at the expensive dainties listed in the following portion of Scripture.

Verse 12: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls [for investment portfolios], and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet [for fashionable dress], and all thyme wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble [for high-class furniture],

Verse 13: And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense [for sensuousness. Also, a stockpile of] wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses [for the satisfying of flesh], and chariots [for the getaway], and slaves [for labour to increase wealth], and [finally the] souls of men [for lust and other demeaning practices].But judgment must come. The treasures of the Tribulation enterprises do not last. Neither will they last for you, if this is all you want out of life. Why?

Verse 14: And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

They will be destroyed in one hour (verses 10 and 17).

Verse 15: The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

Verse 16: And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

Verse 17: For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

Verse 18: And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

Verse 19: And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

No comment is needed at this point, for the preceding texts are self-explanatory. As the world weeps over the destruction of political Babylon, all heaven breaks forth in praise.

Verse 20: Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

To this point there has only been one other command to rejoice recorded in the Book of Revelation. All has been solemn and sad. At the overthrow of Babylon, however, the cherubim, seraphim, and other angelic orders are told to praise the Lord. The holy apostles and prophets-representatives of all Old and New Testament saints-are instructed to join them. Why? The chief enemy of the people has been destroyed.The world persecuted the prophets, apostles, and saints of God during every age. Oftentimes great suffering was inflicted upon them: [Some] were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:35-38). Now such oppression is finished forever! Babylon...is fallen, is fallen. Praise the Lord! The world can no longer touch God's people for God hath avenged you on her-or from the Greek, which is stronger: God hath judged your judgment on her.

Verse 21: And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

Some Bible scholars identify this stone as Christ. Acts 4:11 states: [Christ] is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.The stone strikes at the end time when ten toes or ten western nations are aligned. Daniel 2:34 states: Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet [composed of ten toes] that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.This explanation is repeated in Daniel 2:44 and 45: And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.The Lord Jesus Christ may well be the stone that pulverizes Babylon. So thorough is the stone's destruction that Babylon is finished forever.

Verse 22: And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

Entertainment ceases in this laugh-a-minute commercial empire. All music and hilarity is forever silenced. The craftsmen-including tool and die makers, auto mechanics, and machinists-are put out of business as all production is halted in Babylon, once the international center of commerce.

Verse 23: And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bride-groom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Lights are extinguished, possibly through energy deficiencies. Marriages cease, and heartbreak inundates the land. No longer is there time for mirth, joy, love, and romance.

Verse 24: And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

The closing verses of this chapter reveal three reasons for God's judgment of Babylon: (1) her love of wealth and riches-[her] merchants were the great men of earth; (2) her abusive usage of drugs-for by [her] sorceries were all nations deceived. (The word sorceries in this text again comes from the Greek word pharmakeia, translated pharmacy in English. The term connotes getting high on or getting kicks out of drugs.); and (3) her hatred, abuse, and persecution of the people of God-for in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.Who is Babylon? Certain scholars think that the term refers to the ancient city of Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq. Interestingly, the city is currently being rebuilt. Others, including such prophecy scholars as Dr. S. Franklin Logsden, believe Babylon to be the United States of America-a leader of the western world aligned with the Antichrist's ten-toed kingdom.Some great scholars believe that America and Babylon the great are one and the same because of the information presented in the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, plus the words of John the seer in Revelation, chapter 18.

Consider the following momentarily. Isaiah 18:1,2 depicts a latter-day nation that amazingly resembles modern America. This nation (1) has the insignia of wings-similar to our national emblem, the bald eagle; (2) is a land that is beyond the sea from Israel; (3) is scattered and peeled-meaning it is widely spread out or has great land areas; (4) is meted out- or staked out-by acres and miles; and (5) is a land whose rivers are spoiled-or polluted.Likewise, in chapters 50 and 51 of the book bearing his name, Jeremiah presents conclusive evidence that a latter-day Babylon-far different from and superior to ancient Babylon-will spring into existence. As one studies Jeremiah's remarks, he is amazed to see that modern America seems to be the fulfillment of these predictions because: (1) she is a nation of mingled people (Jeremiah 50:37); (2) she is a nation whose mother shall be sorely confounded and who coexists with the mother at the hour of her decline (50:12); (3) she dwellest upon many waters (51:13); (4) her wealth plagues the nations of the earth to the point of insane jealousy (51:7); (5) her space exploits are so utterly fantastic that she tries to mount up to heaven (51:53); and (6) she exists when Israel is back in her land.

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