Friday, April 26, 2013

Babylon’s Wickedness

   G)      The Great City


   
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. 18:3-8   







Naturally, history overlaps.  One piece of history does not completely finish before the next section starts.  So we cannot believe that all of history, up to the Battle of Armageddon happened before this part about Babylon began taking shape.  The Revelation has much to say about Babylon, and what the writer, or writers, wrote about Babylon does not fall into the order it is given in The Apocalypse

Of course the history of Babylon started long before the kings of the East engaged Israel in the Battle of Armageddon, but it is during that battle that Babylon will finally be overthrown for the last time.

The name Babylon, in the Bible, represents captivity and sin.  John writes, For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.   As we study more about Babylon we will understand that the fornication mentioned here is not sexual fornication only, (although that is a by-product of the idea that we can have anything we want whenever we want it), but rather, it means an inordinate love of comforts, material things and riches.  Selfishness and love for things has been growing for thousands of years.  

When I was much younger, preachers told us that Babylon referred to the Roman Catholic Church.  Then, when Protestants realized that the Protestant churches were not exactly "the cat's meow" either, they changed their tune to include many Protestant churches, but, of course, never their own.  My opinion now is that world wide selfishness and an unholy lifestyle, whether in the church our out of it, is here equated with the Babylon of The Apocalypse.  This Babylon includes the selfishness of all individuals, regardless of their background, ethnicity, or religion.  Babylon is the mother of harlots, 17:5, selfishness is the ruler of kings. 17:8. 

The merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.  The American Standard has translated this as, the merchants of the earth are waxed rich by the power of her wantonness.  The Living Bible reads, businessmen throughout the world have grown rich from all her luxurious living.  The love for comfort and ease among Christians is an abomination to our Lord.  We jokingly say we must shop to keep the economy strong.  This, of course, is not our reason for shopping; we shop because we love things and comforts.  Wasn't it Christ who said, take up the cross, and follow Me? Mark 10:21.  One of our songs so pointedly says, must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease?  No, there's a cross for everyone, and there's a cross for me”.  We are so deeply entrenched in the comforts of carnal Babylon, that we do not even feel embarrassed there, anymore.

Because of the luxuries, the citizens of Babylon are used to having, the business men of the world become wealthy, and all of us together forget that there are starving, hurting people all over the world; people without food, homes, medicine or hope that anything will ever be better.  We would rather live in, and pay taxes on, our four bedroom mansions than share with those in need.

     Immediately, after John saw the selfish pleasures of sinful Babylon, he heard a voice from heaven say, Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.  As God called Lot out of Sodom, Abram out of Ur and Israel's sons out of Egypt, so our God, in mercy, before it is too late, is calling to us, Come out of her.  He is saying to us, Come out from among them And be separate…Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters. 2 Cor. 6:17-18.  Is our love for pleasures and comfort so great that we willingly ignore our Lord, our Redeemer?

It was in Babylon that man first built a tower to reach into heaven, now, near the end of time, our materialistic, selfish, Godless society has finished that tower.  It is a tower of sin, for Babylon’s sins have reached to heaven. 18:5.  The cup of iniquity is full, the tower of sin is finished and God "has had it" with the corrupt life style of the people of the twenty-first century.  It is deplorable that we, the church at large, have become so hopelessly entangled in the same selfish web in which non-Christians find themselves.  Note the mansions, the toys and vehicles of many Christians.  Note, how Christians “do” Christmas, all the while forgetting that there are starving children all around the world, including Canada.  At Christmastime, 2012, it was reported that 33% of the children in Canada's largest city, Toronto, live in poverty.

Who is speaking verses 17:6-7?  Is it the Christian Church praying to God for justice?  Is she asking God to punish Babylon, after Babylon has lived in luxury at the same time she was killing Christians?  If so, then in their prayers, they say, as much pride and selfishness as she had, that is how much torment and sorrow she should receive.  

    Yet 17:6, does not sound like a prayer of the saints, rather it sounds as if Jehovah, (or the mighty angel of 17:1), is saying, Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works.  If this is right, this command would be for the Christians who are to rule the world with a rod of iron, 2:27, since it was the Christians, who suffered at the hands of Babylon (the carnal, selfish, religious lifestyle of society).  The cup of wrath, 18:3, that is to be mixed for Babylon is to be of double strength; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her.

She, in her pride, says, I sit a queen over all the kings of the earth, 17:18, I will see no sorrow, 18:7.  In these words, the queen, the ruler of selfishness, foreshadows the state of the final carnal church?  The fact that Babylon is the Mother of Harlots, indicates that she has offspring; her children are the harlots.  According to Mr. Smith this picture is the Roman Catholic Church, the Mother, and her offspring, the carnal Protestant churches which grew out of the Roman Church.  According to Mr. Smith this, of course, does not include the Seventh Day Adventists.  All of them together, the mother and her Protestant offspring, are so involved with pleasures that they cannot, or will not look into the future to see their doom.  

Her plague shall come in one day.  Vine says concerning the word day, that it can mean a period of undefined length marked by certain characteristics as it is used in Ephesians 6:13, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day.  The day of the plague will come just before the re-appearing of Jesus Christ; the return of Christ will not be all wonderfully glorious.  The judgment for Christians and non-Christians is inherent in Christ's return.