Wickedness Defeated 3
Revelation chapter 18 continues the future saga of a wicked woman who personifies Babylon (Revelation 17:1-5). That city would remind the Early Church of Rome. But the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Rome of Nero and Domitian are just examples of the unrestrained evil which will dominate the world before Jesus returns. Babylon is a metaphor for an evil world power or globally accepted ideology. 'Global' does not just refer to the geography but to the universal impregnation of evil into every stratum of society: family life, education, industry, food production, commerce, environment, academia, law, finance, transport, IT, medicine, public utilities, government, military, and religion. Having seduced every national leader to accept her anti-Christ world-view as right and normal, they savage her to death - authorised by the Antichrist, which she thought was under her control (Revelation 17:16).
Today's passage is an angelic celebration of praise to God, that Babylon has fallen. Although the world leaders revolt against the ideology which systematically strangles any hope of functional society, its fate is really in the hand of God who will judge the evil, and those that perpetrate it (Revelation 18:8). Amid a morally dark world, the angel's announcement bursts with light, a prelude to the dazzling appearance of the Lord Jesus in heaven (Revelation 21:23). 'Mighty voice' in Greek gives us the word 'megaphone'. God says, 'Enough is enough' (Revelation 19:1-2). It echoes Isaiah 21:9, "Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!"
The fall of Babylon is like the fall of the wicked city of Tyre in Ezekiel 26-28; particularly in the portrayal of the king, which is also a description of Satan (Ezekiel 28:11-19). Deserted by human beings, demons and evil spirits gather over the once-proud 'new future for the world' like vultures over a dead animal in the desert (Matthew 8:28-32). And yet the world is still in chaos, having been intoxicated by power to distort God's created order (Revelation 17:2). Instead of being faithful to their Creator, they have committed adultery with Satanically inspired alternatives. Refusing to take the long-term path of holiness and righteousness to eternal life, they were seduced by the lure of more immediate satisfaction, wealth and lifestyle indulgences – which were all hollow promises to trap them.
We need these reminders of the terrible consequences of Babylon's spiritual adultery. It was Israel's recurrent problem leading them to plagues, defeat and exile. It is the world's problem, ignoring the way God has shaped creation, human relationships and functional society: despising His provision, they follow their lusts to their own destruction. It is also the church's problem if we ape the world and fail to learn from the Bible's accounts of Israel's mistakes. Jesus summarised the 'golden rule' for His followers in Matthew 22:37-39, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … and love your neighbour as yourself." Babylon's message is the opposite. Which one will you choose to commit to, because you cannot commit to both?
© Dr Paul Adams