Revelation 057 – The Myth of InvincibilityRevelation 18:1-8 • Dr. Andy Woods • October 27, 2019 • Revelation
The Myth of Invincibility
Revelation 18:1-8 Lesson 57
Good morning everybody. The title of our message this morning is The Myth of Invincibility. And as you’re turning there one of the things that we strive for here at Sugar Land Bible Church is not just to be a internally focused Bible teaching church, we want to teach the Bible, but we don’t want to forget our calling to be evangelists and witnesses outside the four walls of the church. So there’s a couple of things coming up that are going to help us there with that ladder, understanding that we are evangelists as well as Bible teaching. This afternoon, I think it’s at 3:00 o’clock we’re going to have a baptism and we’ve got give people, if I have that right, that are going to be baptized this afternoon at Wayne Pitman’s home; if you’ve ever been over there for one of our baptisms there you kind of feel like you’re on the Sea of Galilee, it’s just a wonderful place to do that. And we’re going to be doing that at 3:00 p.m. and I’m hoping that we have maps in the foyer available. It’s at 3:00 p.m. and I want to get there a little bit earlier just to get a parking space.
But what is baptism? Baptism is an outward expression of an inward reality. So baptism doesn’t save but it’s a testimony to the world in front of witnesses that you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so it’s kind of hard to do that unless you have witnesses so the more witnesses we can get there this afternoon the better. So we invite you to that at 3:00 p.m.
And there’s also a ministry that we have taken on here in terms of supporting called DM2 and it’s run by a friend of mine, Brett Nazworth who has come up with a method of intense Bible teaching and he takes this method, not only does he take it all over the country in terms of evangelism but he takes it really all over the world, into Latin America, and countless places. When I look at Brett Nazworth’s website and Facebook page and twitter and all that, I get tired just figuring out where the guy is, he’s doing so much evangelism and work. And you might be saying to yourself, well, you know, I feel really called to get more involved in evangelism and maybe get more involved into the teaching of [can’t understand words].
And so we actually have a training session that we’re going to be putting on here Friday the 8th (if I have that right) and Saturday the 9th, Friday evening, all day Saturday and he is basically going to be training people on how to do the kind of ministry that he does, which I can guarantee is very special and it’s very unique. So if you have an interest in that, a calling for that, we would ask you to sign up for that; there’s a signup sheet there on the table in the foyer. And these are things that we do just so we don’t become so internally focused that we forget the world out there that needs Jesus. So just a couple of opportunities in that regard.
So taking a look at Revelation chapter 18 and verse 1, and the title of our message this morning is The Myth of Invincibility. You know, a lot of people the very last thing they think about is death; they think they’re going to be here forever. They think their health is going to last forever. They think their resources are going to last forever. And we can see very clearly in our passage this morning concerning the things of God, how God condemns that attitude and He wants us to remember that our lives are like mist, as the Book of James says, chapter 4, verse 14, which is here for a little while and then it’s gone. [James 4:14, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”]
What a deception or a delusion it is into thinking that we are somehow invincible. That’s what Babylon thought. And we’ve been taking a look at Babylon because the seventh bowl judgment has been poured out, Revelation 16, resulting in the destruction of Babylon. In fact, Revelation 16:19 says this: “… Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” So since Babylon has been destroyed in our chronological sequence of the Book of Revelation we read these words in chapter 17, verse 1. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came to me” that’s John, “and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.”
So Babylon has been destroyed but there are times in the Book of Revelation where the chronology will pause momentarily to give us more insight into something happening in the chronology. This happens in the Book of Revelation five times where there’s a momentary halt to give additional information and we are in the fifth and final, what I would call non chronological parenthetical insertion in the Book of Revelation, the most in depth discussion that you get anywhere in the Bible and in Bible prophecy concerning the role and ultimate destruction of future Babylon. That’s what’s happening in chapters 17 and 18.
In chapter 17 we saw the woman, who was the city of Babylon, riding the beast. And here we get the description of exactly how Babylon is going to be destroyed. You get to the end of chapter 16 you know that Babylon is going to be destroyed, you just don’t know how she’s going to be destroyed. And in chapter 17 we learn that God is actually going to put it into the heart of the beast to turn on Babylon, the beast resenting Babylon’s influence in the last days. And in fact last week we saw that it was actually God that put that ambition to destroy Babylon in the heart of the beast or the antichrist.
And in the process we got a wonderful, I don’t know if I’d want to call it wonderful, but in depth to say the least, prophetic treatment of the city of Babylon on the Euphrates in the last days. And what was highlighted for us is the religious aspect of that city. This city is going to be the headquarters of a religious system that will have influence over the entire world. And that’s what we saw in chapter 17.
And now this morning we move into chapter 18 which is not a different city, it’s the identical city and identical destruction of that city that’s described but it’s narrating the same story from a slightly different angle. And the angle that’s coming out here in Revelation 18 is the commercial side of the city, the business side of the city, the industrial side of the city.
And what we can do is we can take this chapter and we can divide it into four parts. Verses 1-3 is the prediction of Babylon’s fall, followed by number 2, the appeal to separate from Babylon, verses 4-8, and if we’re fortunate we’ll get through perhaps verse 8 today. And then we’ll move next week into Roman numeral III, the reactions to Babylon’s fall, verses 9-20, as the merchants of the earth weep while heaven itself celebrates. Isn’t it interesting that God celebrates the very thing that the world weeps over and you see that very clearly in verses 9-20. And then finally at the very end of the chapter, chapter 18:21-24 we’ll get a prophetic description of the destruction of this city and her commercial side.
But notice first of all chapter 18 verses 1-3, notice the prediction that is given of Babylon’s fall. We can divide these verses as follows: the proclamation or prediction itself, Babylon is going to fall. And then we get a description, the second part of verse 2 into verse 3 four reasons why God is going to bring down this city. And I have to tell you reading this chapter this week, studying this chapter this week, seeing the trends in our own culture and in our own civilization how we are essentially flirting with the very sins that will bring Babylon down in the last days. I really have to begin to wonder about the future of the United States and wonder if fifty years from now the United States will even be here because to a very large extent history is repeating itself.
But notice, if you will, the proclamation of Babylon’s fall. Notice, if you will Revelation 18:1, it says, “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority and the earth was illumined with His glory.” Now the dominant view that’s taught in our circles concerning Babylon is we have two Babylon’s here; Revelation 17 is a religious system that is destroyed midway through the tribulation period. Revelation 18 is a completely different entity, it’s a commercial city destroyed at the end of the tribulation period.
In fact, I’m reading here from the Ryrie Study Bible and he says this in chapter 18. He says, “A different event from chapter 17 verse 16 where the political power destroys religious Babylon in the middle of the tribulation period. Here the kings of the earth lament of this destruction which will apparently occur at the end of the tribulation period.” The two Babylon’s view.
This is a view also taught by Dr. John Walvoord in his Revelation commentary. He will take the “city” in chapter 17, as allegorical or non-literal or symbolic of a religious system, but then he’ll turn around and take the identical word “city” in chapter 18 as a literal city. You probably have heard this view, the two Babylon’s view.
One of the things I’ve tried to communicate as we’ve entered this somewhat controversial section of the Bible as I’ve tried to communicate that there are not two Babylon’s here. Both chapters are talking about the same event, the destruction of Babylon in the seventh bowl judgment and both chapters are talking about the identical city that’s destroyed. Chapter 17 is a literal city with the religious side explained. Chapter 18 is the same city with the commercial side explained.
And one of the things I’ll do as we go through these chapters together, I won’t be able to get through all of these arguments today but I’ll make you aware of some of the arguments that people use to drive a wedge in between these two chapters. One of the arguments that they use, I have a list of six, I’m not going to give you all six here but I’ll give you a couple. They say well, there’s a chapter division here, it no longer says Revelation 17, it now says Revelation chapter 18 and obviously the chapter division signals the fact that you’re dealing with a different Babylon here.
My response in the right-hand column is simply this: God didn’t put that chapter division there! I know that’s sort of is unsettling for people to learn but when the Bible was originally written there were no chapter divisions in the Bible. These chapter divisions were created by a man named Stephen Langton in the 1600’s who took a long and bumpy carriage ride, horse and carriage, and that’s where our chapter divisions come from. And many times the chapter divisions in the Bible are very helpful but other times I think they’re not helpful because they bifurcate unnaturally in our minds one section from another. And this is one such case.
I don’t think this chapter division should be here because as I’ll try to explain it’s talking about the identical city. Another argument that’s used here is this expression “after these things” meta touta, “after these things” and people say well, every time that that expression “after these things” is used it’s used to describe a different event. That’s not necessarily the case. If you’ll look under number two, you may be able to see this, hopefully you can, on the right hand side of the screen I’ve got many examples where the phrase “after these things” meta touta, is used in the Greek text but it doesn’t signal a different event. What it signals is a new facet of the same event that John is now being shown.
And you know that the latter is in play because it will say “I saw and I heard.” So whenever you see the expression meta touta, “after these things,” with a verb of perception “I saw and I heard,” John is not describing something different that is going to take place eschatologically, he’s simply showing a different facet if the same vision, a different angle.
Another argument that people use to bifurcate these chapters is it says there “another angel.” And they say well every time it says “another angel” in the Book of Revelation you’ve got a new scene. That’s not necessarily the case though. The bottom right hand side of the screen, there are many examples where another angel is used and it’s the exact same scene; it doesn’t signal automatically the beginning of a brand new scene.
So all of that to say this is the same destruction, it is the same event that’s described in chapter 17, however we’re being given a different lens, if you will, in chapter 18 of the identical event that we just read about in chapter 17 and these things are given to us as an expression of the seventh bowl judgment. You have to keep the chronology of the Book of Revelation clear in your mind. We’re at the seventh bowl judgment, Babylon has been destroyed, and now we’re given a description of Babylon and how she will be destroyed, chapter 17 bringing out the religious side of the city; chapter 18 bringing out the commercial side of the identical city. So as much as I respect Charles Ryrie and John Walvoord and many others I think this is an area where they’re interpretation is not exactly accurate. Both chapters are an explanation of the seventh bowl judgment.
So having said all that what does this angel say here. “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority and the earth was illumined with His glory.” [Revelation 18:1] So here comes an angel, not to describe a different event but a different facet of the same scene; the angel is descending, this angel doesn’t have a little bit of authority, this angel has great authority and this angel has he shows up in John’s vision appears to illuminate the entire earth.
And having said that, take a look at verse 2. “And he” that’s the angel, “cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “ Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!” That is a direct quote from Isaiah 21:9. Isaiah 21:9 say this: “Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs.” And one said, “ Fallen, fallen is Babylon; [And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground.]” Isaiah 21, the whole chapter is about the destruction of Babylon and since Babylon means Babylon, as we’ve tried to argue, the literal city that will emerge one day on the banks of the Euphrates River, as Babylon is about to meet her demise it’s not accident that Isaiah 21:9 is referenced here.
And in fact as you go through this you’ll see clue after clue after clue after clue that John is pulling Scriptures in his vision together as he’s being given these Scriptures by the Holy Spirit to describe, and if you look at the original meaning of these Scriptures you’ll see John is not describing Jerusalem, he’s not describing Rome, he’s not describing Las Vegas, he’s not describing the United States of America. He’s describing literal Babylon and that’s why he’s quoting here Isaiah 21:9, the whole chapter concerns literal Babylon. So we have a reference to Isaiah 21:9 that Babylon is going to be destroyed.
Now this becomes very interesting; why is God going to destroy this city, the headquarters of a religious system and a political system in the last days. Why is God doing this? And what we have at the end of verse 2 into verse 2 are four reasons for this coming destruction. Number one, Babylon is involved with demons or the realm of the demonic. Notice verse 2, [Revelation 18:2] “And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “ Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!” That’s Isaiah 21:9, “She has become a dwelling place of demons” plural, “and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.” Notice the reference to demons and spirits. That is a tremendous description of Babylon as it existed in Nebuchadnezzar’s time period.
Nebuchadnezzar presided over it one time, over Babylon. And he one night, according to Daniel 2:1-3 had a dream from God. [Daniel 2:1, “Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him.”] The giant dazzling statue that we studied and read about in Daniel 2. And he is troubled by this particular dream to the point where his sleep left him, it caused him anxiety and you always know what spiritual caliber people are when they’re troubled. Who do they turn to for assistance? When an emergency or a difficulty hits someone’s life I’ll tell you exactly what their spiritual caliber is and their spiritual quality is based on who they turn to immediately for help. Do they turn to the God of the Bible? Do they turn to Jesus Christ? Do they draw upon the riches and wealth of the Holy Spirit? Or do they turn to some other foreign source for insight.
Who does Nebuchadnezzar turn to? It says in Daniel 2:2, “Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king.  The king said to them, “I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.” Nebuchadnezzar immediately turns to the dark side, the realm of the demonic, perhaps not even knowing it’s the dark side because Satan masquerades as an angel of light.
You look today at the United States of America and you see things people turn to for assistance and help. It’s amazing to me how the paranormal has now been normalized. Horoscopes, palm readers, all of these kinds of things are the things that people turn to when difficulty hits their lives. I was watching some detective shows not too long ago and I was astonished at how many of these detective shows about missing persons and missing children and unsolved murders, how many of these shows revolve around people turning to the dark side, sorcerers, psychics, the psychic hotline for assistance and help. And when a society goes so far in its rejection of the things of God that it begins to tap into the dark side in moments of emergency you know that that society and you know that culture is ripe for destruction. And this is the first reason that God is going to bring Babylon down.
It describes demons and spirits and it describes unclean and hateful birds. And you might cross reference that with Daniel 4:12 when Nebuchadnezzar was shown a tree of the Neo Babylonian Empire that he presided over and it says in Daniel 4:12, “Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, and all living creatures fed themselves from it.” Clue after clue after clue after clue (as you move through these chapters) point back to literal Babylon on the Euphrates River.
Why else is God going to destroy Babylon? Number two, she has corrupted the nations. Look at verse 3, “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.” Why is God going to destroy Babylon? It’s very simple, she has corrupted the nations. She’s intoxicated with the nations. Now that expression “intoxication of the nations” you’ll find it in Jeremiah’s prophecies, Jeremiah 50 and 51, also dealing with the future destruction of Babylon. Jeremiah 51:7 says, “Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are going mad.”
By the way, that same concept of intoxicating the nations through drunkenness is used in Revelation 17:2. [Revelation 17:2,” with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.”’] So you’ll notice once again that the forces that unite these two chapters are greater than the forces that bifurcate these two chapters. You’ll notice that Babylon is intoxicating all the nations.
At some point you have to ask yourself what city in world history has, in the past at least, intoxicated the entire world? And it has to do with the tower of Babel, built in the lines of Shinar, built between the Euphrates and the Tigris. Because when the tower of Babel was coming together it says in Genesis 11:1, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.”
So the sin that took place at the tower of Babel, and we in prior sermons have identified that sin as the mother/child cult or the mother/child system. If you don’t have much of an understanding of what that is please go back and review some of the material we’ve covered on this. But it was a very real religious system that existed at the tower of Babel and when God confounded the languages that system went into every single culture that followed because all cultures, all ethnicities owe their root and their origin back to the tower of Babel. The tower of Babel was sort of like taking a rock and throwing it into a placid pond with the wake reverberating outward in all directions.
That’s what the tower of Babel did, it was a global impact, and the mother-child system that existed there went everywhere. Rome can’t claim to be that system, she absorbed it, she didn’t create it. Jerusalem can’t claim to be that system, she absorbed it and didn’t create it. But the tower of Babel could easily claim this mantle of intoxicating all the nations. And so because of this intoxicating influence the nations had become drunk it says, they have in essence lost their rational faculties.
That’s what happens to people when they come under the influence of false teaching, and let me tell you folks, there’s a lot of it out there to come under the influence of. When we, as God’s people, are no longer absorbing God’s truth but we turn to alternative spiritualties, twisted Scripture, and you start to buy into that twisted Scripture it’s like you’re stumbling around, you’re reeling around as a drunk person. You’ve lost your ability to rationalize, just like alcohol’s inebriating influence causes people to not think clearly. That’s what happens to human beings, and even the Christians when they come under the sway of false doctrine or false teaching.
It’s also analogized here to immorality. We are the bride, Christ is the groom. When I come under another form of teaching, other than that of Christ, and I’m no longer walking in orthodoxy, correct belief, and orthopraxy, correct practice, the Lord looks at me as His bride that is supposed to be in white, he looks at me as if I actually committed the act of sexual immorality against Him. How would the spouse that’s cheated on feel when their fiancé or their husband or their wife wanders away and becomes involved with somebody else? Think of the pain that inflicts on the human heart of the non-transgressing party. That’s how God feels when we embrace false teachings and false ideas.
Babylon also is under the judgment of God because she has corrupted the kings.
You see there in verse 3 something very interesting, I’ve been studying this for a long time and yet I didn’t see this until this week. “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality.” In fact, there in verse 3 it says “her,” the pronoun “her,” feminine in Greek is used three times. When you drop down to chapter 18:24 it says, “And in her was found the blood of the prophets [and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.]” They keep saying her over and over again. Why do they keep saying her? Because it’s connecting this city to the woman that we saw in chapter 17. It wouldn’t keep saying her, her, her, her over and over again unless these two chapters are united, chapter 18 and chapter 17, same event but a slightly different angle, this time bringing up the commercial side of Babylon.
The concept of Babylon fornicating with kings is found, not just in chapter 18 verse 3 but it’s also found in chapter 17, verse 2, further solidifying these two chapters as a unit. [Revelation 17:2, “with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.”] And why else is God going to destroy Babylon? Because she not only has corrupted kings and corrupted the nations but she’s actually corrupted the merchants. The merchants actually play center stage in this chapter. It says, “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.”
The reason that Babylon was so popular and will be so popular over the peoples of the earth is she provided materialism, greed, that people began to worship. People love and will love Babylon because Babylon has allowed people to make their money god. The Bible is not against owning possessions; the issue is do your possessions own you? The Bible is not against having goods; the issue is do your goods have you? Have they become sort of an idol? Have they become sort of a false god? Are they something that you turn to for identity or security instead of the living God.
And money itself and the pursuit of money and the love of money actually can become a god which dethrones the real God, Jesus Christ, in your life. This teaching is very clear in the ministry of Jesus. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” It’s an impossibility.
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6 which deals specifically with this issue of materialism. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” It’s sort of interesting to look at the studies that are done of people across the economic spectrum, the poor, the middle class, the super-rich, and the question in these studies is how much more do you need or do you want to make you happy? And it’s interesting to look at the results of these surveys because everybody, regardless of their socioeconomic status quotes a sum or a figure about ten percent greater than what they currently have. The poor just want ten percent more; the middle class just want ten percent more, the super rich just want ten percent or more.
And I wish we would read verse 6 of 1Timothy 6 which says “godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” Verse 7, “For we have brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out it either.” Have you noticed that there are no U-hauls behind a hearse. You’re going to take absolutely nothing with you, not if you die, when you die! Verse 8 says, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” The apostle are the basics, the essentials of life covered, has God met our needs, then we’re happy with that, we’re content with that. That’s not the heart of Babylon though; that’s not the heart of the United States. Everybody seems to want just a little bit more.
Verse 9, “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” Example, Judas Iscariot who sold out the Son of God for thirty pieces of silver. Foolishness! Verse 10, “For the love of money,” now notice this, it doesn’t say money, it says “love of money.” “For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some people by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many griefs.” And then later on in the chapter, verses 17-19 read, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,  storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”
We’re not demonizing money and wealth; we’re advocating as the Bible is instructing us is to hold onto those things with a very loose grip because number one, you’re not going to be here forever and number two, you don’t want your grip on those things to become so tight that there’s no longer room in your life and in your heart for the living God.
And consequently God says Babylon is going to come down. Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great, she’s involved with demons, she’s corrupted the nations, she’s corrupted the kings and she’s corrupted the merchants because of crass materialism. And so consequently verse 4-8 is an appeal for people that are living on the earth during this time period to separate themselves from Babylon; come out from among her my people, because the very city in which your hopes rest is about to be destroyed by God.
So what we have in verses 4-8 is the appeal for separation, that’s in verse 4, and then verses 5-8 are the reasons God’s people should separate themselves from this city and this system, Notice first of the appeal, take a look at [Revelation 18] verse 4, notice what is said here. “I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;” now if you’re a student of the Old Testament and you’re a student of the prophecies of the Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 50 and 51, also being a prophecy about Babylon’s destruction, what you’ll see in Jeremiah’s writing is the need for God’s people to “come out” of Babylon.
Jeremiah 50:8, “”Wander away from the midst of Babylon And go forth from the land of the Chaldeans….” Jeremiah 51:6, “Flee from the midst of Babylon, and each of you save his life and do not be destroyed in her punishment.” Jeremiah 51:45, “Come forth from her midst, My people, And each of you save yourselves [from the fierce anger of the LORD.]” The reality of the situation is Jeremiah’s prophecies have never been fulfilled. There are many people today that will tell you that Jeremiah 51:6 and Jeremiah 51:45 was already fulfilled in the ancient past when the Persians overthrew Babylon in the handwriting on the wall chapter, Daniel chapter 5. That’s when the head of gold was replaced by the chest and arms of silver happening about 539 B.C. and people say that’s when Jeremiah’s prophecies were fulfilled. They were not fulfilled then. How do I know that? Because Jeremiah specifically says, under God’s anointing and message that God’s people are to come out of Babylon because Babylon is about to be destroyed.
We’ve studied the Book of Daniel, haven’t we, in this church? You probably know more about the Book of Daniel than you’ll ever want to know, ever about it, we were in it so long. And you recall Daniel chapter 5, you recall when the Persians got the upper hand over the Babylonians. Can I just ask you a very simple question? When that happened did God’s people flee out of Babylon? No they did not! Daniel himself in 539 B.C. stayed behind in the empire of Persia and he served under Cyrus, Darius I, Cyrus, Persian kings. Daniel’s ministry goes through two administrations, two empires, four successive administrations. Daniel served under Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Belteshazzar of Babylon, and then the title wave took place politically where the Persians, Daniel 5, handwriting on the wall chapter, 539 B.C. when the Persians defeated the Babylonians in a single night Daniel did not flee. Daniel continued to serve in the empire of Persian, first under Darius, secondly under Cyrus.
You can try to massage Jeremiah’s prophecies all you want to try to make it sound like they’ve already happened but Jeremiah prophecies themselves when literally understood demand that Babylon be brought back to life so she can be destroyed exactly as those prophecies entail. That’s why I keep referring to this chart where so much of Jeremiah’s prophecies keep showing up in the Book of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18 right down to the people fleeing. Revelation 18:4 is found in Jeremiah’s prophecies. [Revelation 18:4 , “I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;”]
Why is it that God’s people are called to come out of Babylon in the events of the tribulation period? You’ll notice in verse 4 the word “participate.” In that word “participate” when you study it in Geek you’ll find the following word, the noun form is koinonia; koinonia means fellowship. And we are not living in the tribulation period itself so this command does not directly apply to us but you can sure make an application from it, can’t you. God’s people are not to put themselves in a position where they are participating in sin.
The Bible is very clear that we are to be in the world but we are certainly not of the world. And if I find myself in some sort of relationship where I am intimately involved with somebody, a business decision, a marriage, countless things we can think of, I’m not to put myself in that position because we go into those intimate relationships thinking that we’re going to save the other person or be a good influence on the other person but generally what happens is the other person, that’s ungodly, starts to influence us away from the things of God. If you sleep with dogs too much you’re eventually going to get fleas. And that’s the warning in Scripture and that’s the application that comes to us from this specific passage.
Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man,” why? “Or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.”  A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.”] You know, if I’m standing on a chair, let’s say I’m standing on a chair right up here in front and I ask Eric Wasik to pull me off the chair, he’s standing on the ground, I’m a little bit bigger than Eric Wasik but the reality of the situation is who is going to win that contest; who is going to win the battle? He’s going to win because the law of gravity is on his side. And this is what happens when we become intimately involved in some sense with the unbelieving world around us; we think we’re going to influence them but they end up negatively influencing us. That’s why God says come out, don’t fellowship with that, don’t participate with that..
Jesus said in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Genesis 19:26 says, “ But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” This is the problem with sojourning too long in Sodom; you can take people out of Sodom but you can’t necessarily take Sodom and Gomorrah out of people after they leave the city. So we’re not to sojourn in that direction to begin with.
1 Corinthians 5:9-10 Paul says, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;  I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.” I mean you have to have some contact with people or you couldn’t circulate in society, you couldn’t go to the store, you couldn’t go to the bank, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. The Bible is not unrealistic; it doesn’t say cut yourself off from society and go live out in a cabin somewhere in the wilderness. That’s not what the Bible is teaching. What it’s warning us against is becoming intimately involved. Friendship wise, dating wise, marriage wise, business wise with the unsaved world. Be careful about those types of unions and those types of connections.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived, “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Ephesians 5:11 says “Do not participate,” now that’s the same word used here in Revelation 18:4, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness but instead even expose them.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-17, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?  Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?  Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you.”
1 John 2:15-17, same exhortation, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” Same idea here, why are you involved with Babylon, she’s going to be destroyed? She’s going to be destroyed on account of her many sins.
And I think so much grief that we experience in life we despair ourselves from simply by being cautious and careful regarding who exactly we are partnering with. You talk to young people today, those that are dating in hopes of future marriage, and some of them are involved tragically in what we used to call missionary dating, getting involved with an unbeliever. People that are church goers, people that are Christians, people that have the Holy Spirit inside of them yet they’re making a decision that’s going to affect them their whole lives and they don’t even realize it. And you say well, you’re a Christian. Yes I am, and why are you dating so and so, is he a Christian? No he’s not. Well then why are you dating? Well, we have so much in common. Really? You’re a sheep, he’s a goat, [laughter], you’re weak, he’s a terror, you’re going to heaven, he’s going to hell, you’re a son of an heir of God; he is a child of the devil. You’ve got the Holy Spirit inside of you, he doesn’t. What exactly do you have in common? Do you like the same crossword puzzles?
The reality is you have nothing in common with an unbeliever. You have absolutely nothing in common with an unbeliever!!! And so think twice about partnering with such a person. “Come out from among them” the Bible says, “and be ye separate.”
We now run into the reasons why God calls for this separation, first of all Babylon’s sins. Look at Revelation 18 and notice if you will verse 5. “For her sins have piled up as high as heaven.” Now I don’t know how that imagery strikes you but it reminds me of the tower of Babel which was a stairway to heaven, was it not? They said, come, let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, built there in the land of Shinar on the banks of the Euphrates River, and that’s what Babylon represents. In fact, this word Callao that’s used here means to increase enormously the number of something with the implication of reaching or calling the attention of God. It’s just like the builders were building that tower into heaven to such a point that it finally got God’s attention; the sins of Babylon are stacking up and finally it calls for the attention of God.
And what does it say there in verse 5? It says, “…and God has remembered her iniquities.” Revelation 16:19 you’ll recall says this: “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” Every time Babylon is described in Scripture God keeps saying I remember. Babylon represents the time in history where man engaged in his first formal revolt against God, building a one world system, we call it the New World Order, of economics, politics, and religion whereby God’s judgment was invoked. That’s the imagery that’s described here. It’s almost like God is saying I remember what you did on the plains of Shinar in Genesis 11; I haven’t forgotten it, and now that you’re trying it again the judgment of God is coming, the long awaited overdue judgment of God on the city of Babylon tracking back to the days of the tower of Babel.
And so why would a child of God have anything to do with that? They should just come out of that system, separate themselves from that city. Not only are they to remove themselves from Babylon because of Babylon’s sin but because of her coming retribution. Look at verse 6, “Pay her back even as she has been paid.” The concept of retribution you’ll see in Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning Babylon. Jeremiah 50:15 says, “For this is the vengeance of God, take vengeance on her as she has done to others so do unto her.” Jeremiah 50:29, “Repay her according to her work, according to all that she has done so do to her.”
And it is interesting here in verse 6 it talks not just about recompense but about double recompense. “Pay her back even as she has been paid and give back to her double according to her deeds.” Everything Babylon has done in the world in terms of rebellion against God and deception and deceiving others God says I’m paying you back double. God sometimes did this with ancient Israel as He severely disciplined His people. Jeremiah 16:18, God says, “I will first doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, [because they have polluted My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable idols and with their abominations.”]
It’s interesting at the end of verse 6 it talks about Babylon’s cup, “in the cup which she has mixed, mixed twice as much for her.” [Revelation 18:6, “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.”] You might recall the cup, the cup also is found in Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning Babylon. Jeremiah 51:7 says, “Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the LORD, Intoxicating all the earth. [The nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are going mad.”]
In fact you say this cup that Babylon has I remember it and you’d be correct on that; it’s also in Revelation 17:14, it’s connected to the woman riding the beast, holding a golden cup. We see the cup in chapter 17 verse 4. The cup is in chapter 18 verse 6, arguing that there are greater forces that unite these chapters together than divide them, sort of here seeing the sarcasm of God. [Revelation 17:14, “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 18:6, “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.”]
You like the cup? You like the cup that causes intoxication? I’m going to give it to you double back in judgment. And so why would God’s people have anything to do with this wicked system and this wicked city? Why should they separate? Babylon’s sins, Babylon’s retribution, number three, they should separate because of Babylon’s arrogance. And that’s why I entitled this sermon The Myth of Invincibility. Look at verse 7, “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 I will never see mourning’”
It’s interesting what Babylon has done here, she has glorified herself. She’s not a city and a system that glorifies God; she’s into self-glorification and that puts a person on very dangerous grounds because Isaiah 42:8 God says, “I will not give My glory to another.” [Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.”] The greatest sin a person can ever commit is eclipsing the glory of God, taking unto one’s self the glory that God rightfully deserves. This is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon did, Daniel 4:30-31, “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’” This guy has a bad case of the “I’s” doesn’t he.  While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.”
He couldn’t get the words out of his mouth before God moved in with discipline and this is what is happening with this city of Babylon. God is opposed to the proud but He gives grace to the humble.
[James 4:6, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”]
Notice it says, verse 7, “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 I will never see mourning.’” It’s interesting what Babylon has done here; she has glorified herself. She’s not a city in a system that glorifies God; she’s into self-glorification, and that’s when the person is on very dangerous ground, because Isaiah 42:8 God says, “I will not give My glory to another.” [Isaiah 42:8, “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to [ a ] graven images.”]
The greatest sin a person can ever commit is eclipsing the glory of God, taking unto one’s self the glory that God rightfully deserves. This is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon did, Daniel 4:30-31, “ The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’” This guy has a bad case of the “I’s” doesn’t he.  While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.” He couldn’t even get the words out of his mouth before God moved in with discipline and this is what’s happening with this city of Babylon. God is opposed to the proud but He gives grace to the humble. [James 4:6, “ But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”]
You’ll notice it says, “To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning…” lived sensuously, what does that mean? It means really to live for the wanton pleasures of life, the basic desires of the sin nature and in the process live a life that excludes the Creator of the universe. People think that’s the meaning of life, live for sensuality. And yet 1 Timothy 5:6 says, “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.” And it’s interesting here in verse 7 you get a quote from Isaiah 47:7-9. You go back home today and you read Isaiah 47 and you’ll see that that whole chapter, like Isaiah 21, is aimed at the city of Babylon.
[Isaiah 41:7, “Yet you said, ‘I will be a queen forever.’ These things you did not consider nor remember the outcome of them.  “Now, then, hear this, you sensual one, who dwells securely,
who says in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me. I will not sit as a widow, nor know loss of children.’  “But these two things will come on you suddenly in one day: Loss of children and widowhood. They will come on you in full measure in spite of your many sorceries, in spite of the great power of your spells.” (NASB)]
In fact, when the queen is saying I won’t see morning, I won’t see widowhood, that’s a direct citation from Isaiah 47:7-9. She sees herself as invincible, I’m getting ahead, I’ve prospered, I have power, I am going to live forever. Many people are like that aren’t they? They just think their lives are going to go on and on and on and on and on without the intervention of God.
Jesus told a story about this, didn’t He, in Luke 12:16-21. “And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.  And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’
And you know, it’s the verses stopped right there I would think this guy would probably be featured in Forbes Magazine. I mean, here’s a guy that has achieved the American dream. He had so much wealth and he had so much opportunity that he didn’t know what to do with himself; his mind was not on the things of God. He thought he was going to live forever, just like Babylon thought that she would live forever but the story doesn’t end there. Verse 20 of Luke 12 says this: “But God said to him, ‘You fool!” Isn’t it interesting that the people that we celebrate most in the culture are the most foolish in the eyes of God. “But God said to him, ‘You fool!” This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’” You didn’t count on that did you? You didn’t count on your life being suddenly terminated. Verse 21 says, “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” This is why God is bringing down Babylon; this is why God’s people are to separate from Babylon.
And finally we end here, verse 8, with her anticipated destruction. Look at verse 8, it says, “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.” You’ll notice that she’s coming down in a day it says. Revelation 18:8 says a day; verse 10 says an hour. [Revelation 18:10, “standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’”] Verse 21 says, Babylon’s destruction is like taking a millstone and throwing it into the Euphrates. [Revelation 18:21, “Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.”]
The dimensions of those millstones in the ancient world were incredible. And think how long it would take a millstone to sink into the ocean. That’s how fast Babylon is coming down. It ought to remind us of ancient Babylon. Daniel 5:30 and verse 31, how long did it take for the Persians to overthrow Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. Daniel 5:30 says, “That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.  So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.” There’s Belshazzar at the end of Neo Babylonia drinking out of the vessels of God, partying as if there was no tomorrow, think his life would never end. And then he saw the handwriting on the wall! And it terrified him so greatly that his knees, the Bible says, started to melt together He didn’t know what the handwriting on the wall mean, and he brought Daniel, an 80 year old man, back to the forefront of the kingdom to interpret it. And Daniel said this very night you’re going to lose your kingdom.
Daniel 5:30-31 describe that very night, not only was the kingdom lost to the Persians but Belshazzar himself was slain. [Daniel 5:30-31, “That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.  So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.”] This is the imagery that we’re to be thinking about when we see these prophecies about Babylon’s destruction in a day, in an hour as God brings upon Babylon plagues and pestilences and mourning and famine and verse 8 says she is burnt by fire. [Revelation 18:8, “ 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.”]
Does that ring a bell? That’s in Jeremiah’s prophecy too. Jeremiah 51:31 of the destruction of Babylon, Jeremiah says, “Their dwelling places are set on fire.” [Jeremiah 51:31, “The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, They stay in the strongholds; Their strength is exhausted, They are becoming like women; Their dwelling places are set on fire,”] Does that ring a bell? Isn’t that how Babylon was destroyed, by fire, in Revelation 17:16. [Revelation 17:16, “And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.”] It’s not really surprising then if these two chapters are talking about the same city that she would be destroyed by fire.
Oh pastor, you’re just too literal with this, we all know it’s not a city, it’s just a religious system. Have you ever tried to light a religious system on fire? But lighting a city on fire, that makes sense doesn’t it? Here’s something I’ve learned in my years of trying to teach the Bible and understand the Bible. When I’m making a mistake with the Bible it’s because I don’t take God at His face value. The more symbolic, the more non-literal, the more allegorical I become the more I’m prone to mistakes in interpreting God’s message.
And how does this whole thing end? With this we’re finished. The end of verse 8, “…she will be burned with fire” watch this, “for the Lord God who judges here is stronger.” It doesn’t matter how big and how powerful and how popular Babylon becomes, and she will become that in these last days. God is always bigger, He’s always more powerful and He’s always stronger.
You say well, pastor, I’ve been sort of convicted by this message and I believe that if I pull back from this group or separate myself from that person I’m going to suffer. And no doubt when we do that kind of thing we do incur temporal suffering to s certain degree. But what you have to remember is the Lord is stronger than the person inflicting the suffering on you. That’s how you look at all of your problems—the Lord is stronger! And so next Lord’s day we will be taking a look at the reactions to the destruction of Babylon, basically emanating from four groups.
But you may be here today and under the conviction of God in some sense, and what we want to communicate it the reason you’re under the conviction of God is because that’s what the Holy Spirit does; that’s His job. He comes into the world, John 16:7-11 to convict us of sin, righteousness and judgment.
[John 16:7-11, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.  And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;  concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;  and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;  and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”]
In fact, being under the conviction of God is not necessarily a bad thing, an uncomfortable thing but it’s become a very good thing if you reach out for the cure. And what is the cure? The cure is the gospel; the cure is the good news that Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to bridge the gap between the sinfulness of humanity and the holiness of God. His final words on the cross were “It is finished!” Not it’s 95% done, you kick in the remaining 5%. IT IS FINISHED! Now what the Lord wants us to do to gain salvation is to rest exclusively, totally, only, Latin word sola, by itself, sola fide, faith by itself in Jesus. You at some point despair of your good works to gain admittance unto God but you trust in what God has done for you.
The story of the Bible is not man reaching upward to get to God, the story of the Bible is God reaching down to man in the person of Jesus Christ, through the gospel. And the Lord says trust in that, believe in that. Becoming a Christian is something you can do in the privacy of your own mind and the quietness of your own heart as the Spirit of God places you under conviction and you trust exclusively in what Jesus has done for you. That’s what makes you a Christian. It’s not a matter of joining a church, walking an aisle, filling out a form, trying to do better, that has NOTHING to do with it!
It has to do with trusting what Jesus has done and the moment you do that all of a sudden your ledger is filled with spiritual wealth and you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what you own; that’s how rich you are! And one of the things that you own is you’re a citizen of the kingdom that’s coming whose builder and maker is God that cannot be shaken. Babylon is going to be shaken; the world system is going to be shaken but not your kingdom. And we’ll be seeing that kingdom manifest itself on the earth when we get into Revelation 19 and 20 after a few more sermons (I can’t guarantee you how few) on Babylon. But that’s the deal, that’s as simple as I know how to make it; it’s the gospel! Trust in Christ, even where you are, for salvation. Even people listening online can trust in Christ and gain personal salvation. If it’s something you need more information I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray. Father, some of these passages are difficult for us to study but at the same time they revolutionize our priorities and remind us of how temporary this world is and how we need to not be foolish but to trust in things that are eternal and spiritual. Help us to walk these things out this week, live these things out this week. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!