Revelation 18


Revelation uses metaphors and similies

Jesus described as a lion, slain lamb, rider on a whitehorse
When on earth Jesus did similar "I AM resurrection, good shepherd, the gate, the way, the life"

Church is also spoken of using metaphors.
Paul did similar - family, body, bride
Revelation introduces new metaphors by borrowing from the Old Testament
  The 144,000, two witnesses, womans offspring, great multitude, having name of God on forehead, new Jerusalem.

Why does Revelation do this?
Same reason a song moves you more than a lecture.
Same reason Jesus used parables - metaphors cause us to pause and ponder a deeper meaning
Revelation touches parts Paul does not touch in Romans.

What imagery comes to mind when a golden lampstand spoken of?
  Purity, clean, holy, light.

The plans & purposes of God spoken of as seals, trumpets, bowls.

Another metaphor - Satan's throne, Satan's synagogue, the dragon, the beast, great city of Babylon.

In John's day Babylon was Rome, built on 7 hills.
Babylon is not only Rome, it is any empire / ideology which stands in defiance of God and His people.
Babylon is referred to as the mother of prostitutes.
Babylon is a code word for Babel - a place to make a name for ourselves, not why we were created.
Similar modern codewords - Hollywood, Wall Street ...

Through history various empires have been described as "Babylon".
We live in age of Babylon - "It is the last hour now".

In Revelation we have two cities which are used metaphorically to speak of the only two categories of people who exist in the cosmos for all time and in all places.
Babylon - those who belong to the beast.
New Jerusalem - those who belong to the lamb.

Babylon's Destruction

In the Revelation 17 we touched on Babylon's lies.
In Revelation 18 we can see three reasons for Babylon's destruction.

(1) Self glorification Revelation 18:7-8
Her destruction comes quickly - reminds us of the seals, trumpets and bowls.

Brash arrogance. Delusion of self-rule and control.
This mindset is foreshadowed in various places in scripture.
Compare with Daniel 4:30 which is one of the most prominent examples.
The spirit of Babylon is prominent today.
In Revelation 13:5 the beast was given a mouth.

A word repeated through Revelation 18 is the word GREAT.
It is used to describe Babylon.
In John's day Rome was definitely great and its influence is still felt today.
Rome was innovative, internally competitive, disciplined, focused, aggressive, fearless.
It was great in all meanings of the word and the people garnered their sense of worth from Rome.
If you bowed to Rome your life was good, you lived in peace - but stand against her ...

Compare with how people promote themselves in modern elections.
Promising to make their city / nation great again.
Babylon is calling us to seek our esteem, identity at the feet of the state.
Contrast with the Church "Hallowed be your name". Glory of God gives us light.
Babylon is calling us to rob God of praise Isaiah 42:8
Idols come in all forms - people, nations, empires.

(2) Deceipt and delusion
Revelation 18 starts with a funeral and we see three people groups mourning Babylon's death.
1. Kings (v9) 2. Merchants (v11) 3. Seafarers (v17)

Why do they mourn? We see the reason in v3.
They have bought into the lie of Babylon.

Babylon does not exist in a vacuum, its power and deception come by way of an enemy.
He will use any means to attract us - Jesus described such in Mark 4:19.
Riches deceive us - they promise us so much, but instead of serving us they become the master.

But there is something we see here more alluring than money - that is power.
Leads to self righteousness, can accomplish anything.

We need accountability and word outside of ourselves.
Babylon deceives us into thinking power and riches is all we require.

(3) Oppression and murder
Revelation 18:11-13 is a list of what Babylon traded - "... and slaves" i.e. human souls.
This is also a full list of what was traded with Rome - it is decadent.
It is built on cruelty, unfair practices, unfair taxes - luxury and power whatever the cost.

Some suggest that Rome's fall was because of its reliance on slavery.
They had no one left to conquer and their slaves died out.
We see this wealth built on slaves repeated through history - at its height the West Indies slave trade employed 5,500 sailors with 160 ships bringing in £1.5m a year (£1,5b equivalent).

But Babylon's sin did not end with slavery - it shed the blood of prophets and saints.

This is horrific, but the three people groups mentioned above still mourn Babylon's death.
Why did they mourn?
They were more enamoured by their power and luxury than by how it came.
This is the spirit of Babylon. This is the spirit prevalent today.

How certain is Babylon's destruction?
John writes this (c95AD) as if Rome had already fallen - its fall is certain, although delayed (c400AD).

What's the application to us?
We live in the age of Babylon.

What are we to do - Revelation 18:4-5
We see the same call in Jeremiah 5:6

Babylon's destruction is certain, how do we come out?
There are eight ways we can approach this...

(1) Realise this is not a call to isolation or separation.
John 17:15, 18 - we are in but not part of.

(2) Be aware of the deceipt and seduction.
John 17:16-17 Be sanctified by the truth
Romans 12 Think differently.

(3) Be people of justice / salt
Be manure where we live.
We need to measure not only how much we give but how we earned it in the first place.
Has our power and position come at the expense of another?

(4) Be people of generousity
Live lives showing that we really believe it is more blessed to give than receive.
We must ensure we do not confuse hoarding with saving.
Hoarding is foolishness Luke 12:16-21, Matthew 25:25

Jesus applauds extravagence in His name, not the burying of our treasure.
We are not to equate a lack of generousity with stewardship.
We need to party well when we can John 12:3 - there will be times when we can't.
In 1 Timothy 6 we read that God richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

Do we need to be more focused on doing good with our money than simply being good with our money?

(5) We need to change how we measure our value and worth
Recall the self-deception of the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:17)
Self-assessment versus Jesus' view.
All of us are refugees. We are all adopted in Christ.
Nothing we have that we have not received.

(6) We are not to retaliate
Leave room for God's vengeance.
Pray for our enemies in return.
We are not people of the sword, we must live in a way Babylon does not understand.

(7) We will experience judgement but not judgement
We may share in the judgements on Babylon even though we have been personally forgiven.
The seals are being taken off, the trumpets are being blown and the bowls are being poured out.
This is already happening.

See Mannasseh in 2 Kings 24:3-4
Abortion - blood being shed for financial gain and demands for personal choice.

(8) We can come out because we have a better city
See Revelation 21:1-4
We are not those who mourn over her fall - we can rejoice Revelation 18:20!

Are you coming out - its a daily call.
Are you rejoicing?
Empires come and go, God's Kingdom is eternal - Your Kingdom come

Further Reading

Revelation 17:1-8
Isaiah 23:1-18
Revelation 17:9-18; Daniel 7
Isaiah 21
Revelation 2:10-13