Friday, December 21, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 43 - Revelation 18:1-8

After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality."

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.' For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.” (NASB)

Another Angel


Review Rev 8:3, 10:1, 14:6, 17. What is unique about these angels? How do they reflect God’s glory? 
 

Each time we have seen another angel, we have also seen a different manifestation of angelic splendor. In each of these cases, another angel was mentioned. Yet these are not the seven angels that stand before God in Rev 8:2. However, they all reflect the endless glory of God; for He has created these beings in such variety and splendor that there is no end to their differences. Yet they all serve Him and bring glory to Him. None seeks his own self-satisfaction but seeks to bring the messages of God to men and carry out His will upon the earth.

This angel has great authority. The manifestation of that authority is seen in his splendor illuminating the earth. If you can imagine a “mere” angel sending forth this much light, think how much light must come from God Himself. No wonder the Scripture says that He lives in unapproachable light.

… The blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Tim 6:15-16 RSV)  

In this case, it takes great authority to inform John exactly why this city called Babylon will receive God’s wrath.

Babylon


The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. (Jer 51:35-37 KJV) 

Why did God destroy Babylon the first time and why will He destroy it again? What are the common reasons?
 

What He declared about the nation applied to the capital city also known as Babylon. Since the city was destroyed, it has never been rebuilt to its former glory. As we’ve discussed before, many people think that the city of Babylon must be rebuilt as a central location of sin and perhaps the new center of government for the Antichrist. They look at the Babylon of Revelation as a city in the same place as the ancient city.

In Jeremiah 51, we can see parallels with the ancient Babylon and the one in Revelation. Throughout the chapter, the destruction is referred to as taking place in a day. The future Babylon will be destroyed in an hour (Rev 18:10) of a single day (Rev 18:8). God’s judgment is swift. When the time comes, He will not delay.

The reason that God destroyed Babylon the first time was to repay her for the wrong done to Jerusalem. Likewise, there will be repayment to the future Babylon for the way she has treated the saints (Rev 18:6).

Heaven and earth rejoiced over the falling of Babylon (Jer 51:48) and will rejoice again when the modern Babylon falls (Rev 18:20).

Fallen


The cry that Babylon the Great is fallen is a declaration of its spiritual condition, not only its physical destruction. This is noted by three conditions.  

How does Babylon becoming a home for demons and unclean spirits depict its spiritual decay? What are the similarities to the world today? 
 

The one-world religion has provided the basis for the free run of demonic influences. In the past few years, we have seen people in America grow so accustomed to demonic influences that they are accepted as normal religious experiences. People were not shocked when channelers openly let demons control them. Spirit guides have been openly portrayed as positive means of spiritual enlightenment. As we grow toward a one-world religion that embraces every type of religion, it won’t be surprising that demons and evil spirits will be running the whole thing.  

Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (Lev 19:31 KJV)

And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. (Lev 20:6 KJV)

And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. (2 Kings 21:6 KJV)

The Word is quite clear about this kind of activity. If we turn to any kind of demons for help, we will be defiled – we will become unholy. Also, God will bring His anger against anyone who does this. The final outcome is shown by King Manasseh who carried this to the extreme of sacrificing his own son to these false gods. I wouldn’t be surprised to see human sacrifices common during the end times even beyond the abortions that are now done simply by taking a pill. 

How would becoming a haunt (NIV) for unclean birds demonstrate the wickedness of Babylon? 
 

Lev 11:13-19 lists unclean birds that were forbidden to be eaten. Many of these birds have one thing in common; they eat rodents or are scavengers. It is very possible that the spiritual depravity will wreak consequences, yielding a city that is on one hand incredibly rich and on the other hand with unbelievable squalor that provides a breeding ground for vermin and the birds that feed on them.

This can already be seen in cities in India. As people become more affluent (with western countries outsourcing work to them), people naturally waste more. Next to modern campuses for these workers, you can find sewers overflowing, vacant lots turned into illegal landfills. Religion also hampers sanitation as sacred animals are allowed to roam and leave their droppings. 

What kinds of immoralities do the kings of the earth commit with Babylon? 
 

Excessive Luxuries


The kings of the earth are wrapped up in this city, its religious system, and also its economic system. Merchants have grown rich at the expense of human suffering while indulging in excessive luxuries.

Ex 22:22-27 list the common abuses that the wealthy impose on the poor. They afflict widows and orphans. How hard is it for working single moms to cope in our economy? They abuse people by lending money at inflated rates. You may get a good rate on a house, but not on a credit card. They take away the essentials of life as collateral. The recent abuse of housing lending and foreclosures are a good example.

The Lord says that when people do these things, His wrath will be hot and He will kill the offenders when the afflicted cry out to Him.

This sets the tone for God’s people. When we are kind and sympathetic to people, He rewards us. When people are looking for excessive luxuries, they are out for everything they can get. They have no consideration for the needs of others or who they are. As a society, we hide behind corporate walls and say that we don’t have a choice because our stockholders require a profit so we have to treat all people the same.

Years ago, people would get a raise because they got married or had another child. Now a company wouldn’t even think about such a thing. God’s plan is not for us to look for exceptional gains, especially when we are lending our money. This prohibition on lending with excessive interest is repeated five more times in Scripture. 

Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. (Ezek 18:12-13)  

In this Scripture it is interesting to note that lending money at usury is only one of the characteristics of a person who has put things above people. In a way it seems to depict just what happens with the merchants of Babylon.  

If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. (Lev 25:35-37 ESV)

Jews were not even allowed to sell food to a poor person for a profit. This related to their countrymen, other Jews, but it says to help him just as if he were an alien. How far we have come from this in the treatment of other Christians and people in general. If we truly took these words to heart, our society would be much different. The verse that says to love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself, truly would cover all of these circumstances. Obviously, the new Babylon will be as far from the Christian ideal as possible. 

What part does the Church play in a world that takes excessive gain and keeps poor people poor?  
 

We in the Church do not practice among ourselves what we should be doing. Instead we imitate the world to the point that many churches are selling building bonds to their congregations to raise money. People are actually taking interest on their money from the Lord instead of giving sacrificially. This is just one symptom of what is happening.

When the church molds itself after political or economic “isms” instead of the Bible we become ineffective and unproductive. Conservatism, liberalism, capitalism, and socialism are not what Christianity is about. 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:3-4 NIV) 

While liberalism and socialism sound much closer to this ideal, they deny other aspects of God’s commands ignoring mankind’s sinful nature. Capitalism and conservatism also ignore man’s sinful nature and produce greed and the basic materialism of the world system. Conservatives praise Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged[1] and the movie even though it teaches blatant selfishness and immorality.

We don’t treat one another as someone that Christ bought, just as the Israelites forgot to treat one another as someone that God brought out of bondage in Egypt. We need to treat each other as God’s own possessions.

Warning


Who is God addressing at this time in verse 4, what is His warning? 
 

If we are right about the timing of the rapture, then all of God’s people have been removed from the earth. So this warning isn’t for the future but for us. We will see this religious and economic system before the rapture occurs. It will persecute and torment real Christians. God is clear; He doesn’t want us to partake of this system. We are not to share its sins.  

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18 KJV)

John 15:18-25 is probably the clearest and simplest to understand reason why Christians are persecuted. Even before He started to explain why, Jesus reminds us that we are not to lose sight of the fact that the world has hated Him first. When we start crying the poor-me-blues, we need to remember this. The world’s hatred of Jesus took Him to the cross.

If we are acceptable to the major portion of the world, then there is something wrong. We are not witnessing or we are not living lives that are distinguishable from the rest of the world. They think that we are no different from them. Our witness and our lives have not convicted them (through the Holy Spirit) that they are different, and lost. They only love us when we don’t expose their sins to them. Sometimes the only way we can show the difference is to consciously and even physically separate ourselves from them. But Paul says in 1 Co 5:9-11 that we are still to associate with them. This is a difficult task to balance separation with association in order to be a witness. 

What has been your experience when mentioning the name of Jesus to non-Christians? 
 

Another reason that they will persecute us is because of the name of Jesus. The very name of Jesus, not spoken in a curse, has power. In Acts 3, Peter told the cripple to walk in the name of Jesus. Several times after that, Peter affirmed that the healing was done in the name of Jesus. In Acts 16:18, in the name of Jesus, Paul commanded a demon to come out of a woman. 

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:9-11 KJV)  

We are told that every knee will bow before the name of Jesus and those who reject Him certainly don’t like this prospect. Most important about the name of Jesus is that there is no other name by which we are to be saved. (Acts 4:12)When we speak the name of Jesus, He honors His name. He provides power (as He promised in John 14:13) to accomplish what we ask. If all we ask is that His name be glorified as we speak it, then the persecution will come because they do not know the Father. 

What happens if we are really good people but don’t mention Jesus? 
 

Jesus let us know that if He had not done miracles among the people and spoke to them, then they would have not been convicted of sin and would have no gripe against Him (John 15:22-24). This was because His works all verified that the Father had sent Him and this convicted them of sin and made them angry because they rejected Jesus. Likewise, if we do nothing, we will not be persecuted. If all we do is good deeds, be nice and not speak the name of Jesus, then they will let us be. But Jesus said that He did what no one else did. Not only did He heal and perform miracles, but He also told them why. He told people their sins were forgiven. This freed people from the bondage of the religious system. Likewise, we need to speak and let people know what is going on. If we do, they too, can be freed from their religious bondage. If the system is powerful and oppressive as is described in Revelation 18, then there is no wonder that we will be persecuted. We will threaten its very existence, just as Jesus threatened the power and existence of the oppressive religious system of His day.

Come Out


Why does God call His people out? 
 

God asked Abraham to separate himself from his country and then his relatives. Lot should have followed Abraham’s example but became involved in Sodom and he eventually lost even the material things he so loved. Also, the whole nation of Israel was to remain separate. It was always this failure that caused problems for Israel; even from the day Joshua took over, there were separation problems. In Joshua 9, he was tricked by the world system. In verse 14, it says that they used their own devices to determine what was right or wrong instead of asking God. The result was a treaty where none should have existed.

We do not want to compromise ourselves and not experience the fullness of what the Lord has in store for us. The subtleties of the world later turn into overt sin and we suffer the consequences when we do not separate ourselves from the world.  

Rev 18:6 says that those involved in this world system will be paid back double for the evil they do, so what will happen to Christians who don’t “come out of Babylon"? 
 

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (2 Peter 2:21 KJV) 

The ones who are enlightened, and then turn back will be worse off than before. They will also suffer consequences if they don’t separate themselves, however it will not be an eternal punishment.

How do we apply God’s warning about Babylon’s living in luxury and sense of no doom to our own lives?
 

The people of this age or the future Babylon have become wealthy and have spent it on themselves. Jesus taught on this very subject of greed. 

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:15-21 KJV)  

When we seek only to spend our wealth on ourselves, we have turned the blessing of God into a tool of Satan. God is the One from whom all things come. To ignore this and only take from Him is one thing. But the attitude of the man in this parable and Babylon goes even further. He had an attitude that it was his own strength and ability that enabled him to acquire this wealth. This man’s poorness in attitude toward God is not just that he did not share the wealth that was provided, but that he took the credit for his riches.

This is another thing that is happening in our society. People have the overall attitude that their wealth is a direct result of their own abilities and give no glory to God, much less any of the wealth. The answer to them is that they will pay in measure for what they squandered on themselves. Their physical squandering is only a representative of their spiritual squandering. It is clear that it isn’t just their life, but their eternal life. 

While examining Babylon’s sinfulness, what dangers do we have to watch out for in our own lives? 
 

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14 KJV)

This parable hits us with the realization that we can have overconfidence in ourselves from a spiritual aspect as well as from physical blessings. We can even end up exalting ourselves for how spiritual we are. There is a fine line here. We know and thank God that He has saved us and rescued us from the pits of sin and depravity. We even are asked to remember where we came from so that we won’t get prideful. What we don’t want to do is somehow get the idea that God decided to rescue us because it had something to do with ourselves. We don’t want to compare ourselves to others and get the idea that we aren’t as bad as they are in order to cut ourselves some slack or elevate ourselves. It is this mentality that leads us to say that we are special and exempt from God’s prohibitions, that there is a sin that is OK for us, or that God owes us something. This can lead right down the tube to self-indulgence. 

You felt secure in your wickedness and said, “No one sees me,” Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” (Isa 47:10 NASU) 

What does Isa 47:10 and Rev 18:7 reveal about false religious systems?  
 

Isa 47:8-15 is a good description of why Babylon thinks that no disaster will happen to her. This is a pattern for all false religious systems. They start as a lie from Satan but after a while, the people that participate in them begin to believe that it is true. This is probably the most fearsome aspect of cults and other religions. They indeed believe that that their system is real and true. Many times the leaders are charlatans to start, out to make a buck off someone. Then they begin to believe they have power or an inside track to God. They probably see Satan work though their charms to do things. But when the Lord moves, Satan’s efforts are in vain. The disaster will overcome them. 

What would you say is one of the most grievous sins of selfishness in our society? 
 

It is very sad to look at the luxuries and the self-indulgence of today and to think that it is to this degree that our society will be repaid with torture and grief. Abortion is a very self-serving indulgence, putting ourselves above the needs of another to the point of killing the other. There are about 46 million abortions a year worldwide.

Reasons Women Choose Abortion (U.S.)[2]
·         Wants to postpone childbearing:  25.5%
·         Wants no (more) children:  7.9%
·         Cannot afford a baby:  21.3%
·         Having a child will disrupt education or job: 10.8%
·         Has relationship problem or partner does not want pregnancy: 14.1%
·         Too young; parent(s) or other(s) object to pregnancy: 12.2%
·         Risk to maternal health: 2.8%
·         Risk to fetal health: 3.3%
·         Other: 2.1%

These statistics show that abortions are more for convenience than for any risk to the mother or even rape. Note that rape wasn’t counted enough to justify its own category. More recent follow up studies continue to reveal the same results.[3]

What eye-opener has there been for you in this study? What do you need to differently? What do you think the Church needs to do differently? 
 

How patient God has been with us! How terrible will be our punishment if we don’t completely remove ourselves from this and other horrendous sins that are rampant in the world today. How terrible will be the punishment of the world system that Babylon embodies. 

The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” (Obad 3 NKJV)  

Pride is the answer to why this occurs. The pride of our hearts does not let us admit that what we have done is wrong. Our accomplishments are too much for us to give up.

When we die to ourselves God gives us more than enough to make up for the loss of any temporal things. First of all, He paid the price that we would have had to pay for all our self. Instead of torture and grief, He has lavished His grace on us (Eph 1:7-8). Not only that, but He has promised us an inheritance in the saints. This is so marvelous that Paul says we must have the eyes of our hearts enlightened just to begin to understand it (Eph 1:18-19). What a contrast to the results of self-indulgence.

Considering the riches of God’s grace and His incomparably great power for us, let us come out of Babylon and live our lives in holiness.


[1] Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House, 1957. Print.
[2] Source:Bankole, Akinrinola; Singh, Susheela; Haas, Taylor.  Reasons Why Women Have Induced Abortions: Evidence from 27 Countries.  International Family Planning Perspectives, 1998, 24(3):117–127 & 152 As reported by: The Alan Guttmacher Institute Online:
[3] Johnston, Wm. Robert. "Reasons given for Having Abortions in the United States", 26 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Dec. 2012. http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/abreasons.html.

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