Wavering Between Two Opinions
Revelation 18:20-24 Lesson 59
Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, Revelation 18:20, looking this morning at verses 20-24. The title of our message this morning is Wavering Between Two Opinions. And as you’re turning there concerning DM2 and Bret Nazworth who was just up here a short time ago, just a fast reminder the sessions that he did for us Friday evening and all day Saturday, there must be upwards of ten sessions at least there, are available on the Sugar Land Bible Church website in audio and visual form. And as he was teaching basically what he does is he presents it as a Bible study; you notice how he came up and read and spoke out of the Bible and that’s what he did basically for most if not all of his sessions [can’t understand word]. I encourage you to take advantage of the those archives, if you didn’t have a chance to participate the last couple of days.
We continue to move through the Book of Revelation, sort of coming near (believe it or not) the end of chapter 18 which means it’s going to be very fast and I won’t be able to babble on about Babylon anymore. [Laughter] I love the subject of Babylon, I did my doctoral work on the whole issue of Babylon and you really need to be in prayer that I don’t tell you everything I know about Babylon. But I don’t know if you’re enjoying this, I’m having a great time.
The seventh bowl has just been poured out and part of the seventh bowl judgment is the destruction of Babylon. Revelation 15:19 says, “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” And it’s in chapter 17 where we read these words immediately following. “Then one of the angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.” Since Babylon has been destroyed what you have here in chapter 17 and 18 is sort of a halt, if you will, in the sequence, a halt in the chronology in order to fill in information concerning the destruction of Babylon.
You might be saying to yourself, wow, I’d really like to learn more about Babylon and that’s what that angel is doing with John, filling in details about something that happened in the chronology. This, or course, happens, as we pointed out, five times total in the Book of Revelation. It’s a lot like looking at Genesis 2 relative to Genesis 1. Genesis 1 gives you basically the creation week, in six twenty-four days God created the heavens and the earth, He rested on the seventh day. The sixth day being very significant because day six is the creation of man. And you might be reading through Genesis 1 and you might be saying to yourself well, I’d like to know a little bit more about day six. I’d like to know a little bit more about God’s creation of humanity on day six. And so Genesis 2 sort of stops the chronology and focuses in on day six.
And that’s sort of what you have happening many times in the Book of Revelation. The chronology will stop and sort of put on the microscope a little bit and the eyeglass and to get a greater perspective on something that just happened in a sequence. And that, in essence, is what’s happening with Babylon in chapters 17 and 18. Chapter 17 is the destruction of Babylon from the angle of God putting His purpose in the heart of the beast to destroy the city of Babylon, and in the process you get a tremendous description of the city of Babylon from the religious angle. This is the influence that that city will one day wield over planet earth religiously.
Chapter 18 continues on and it’s talking about the exact same city, the exact same destruction but now the angle is let’s give, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit some information concerning Babylon from the commercial side. So you look at any city in the world and it has different facets to it. You might look at a religious side of the city, a political side of the city, a commercial side of the city, and that’s sort of the thing that’s happening here in chapter 18.
So what we can do is we can take chapter 18 and we can sort of divide it into four parts. Number one, the prediction of Babylon’s fall, verses 1-3. Number two, since Babylon is destined to fall God’s people living on the earth at the time are told to separate themselves from that city, verses 4-8. Number three, and this is where we were last week, you see the reaction to Babylon’s fall. And then number four, which we’ll get into today, you actually see a description of Babylon’s fall, verse 21-24.
So this is where we are; we’re looking at the reaction to the fall of Babylon and we’ve seen the reactions of the world, those that love this city because this city has made them wealthy. The kings are weeping, verses 9 and 10, the merchants are weeping, verses 11-16, and then a more specific group of merchants, called the sea merchants, are weeping, verses 17-19. And as the world is weeping concerning the destruction of Babylon you get a polar opposite reaction in verse 20 where heaven itself rejoices.
Isn’t it interesting that what the world hates God loves and what God hates the world loves. Look, if you will, at Revelation 18 and notice if you will verse 20, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” It is interesting as you go through the Book of Revelation, really as you go through the whole Bible you see humanity jubilant over the very things that God mourns over. In fact, when the two witnesses are killed in the city streets of Jerusalem, Revelation 11:10, obviously a tragic event from the heavenly perspective. [Revelation 11:10, “ And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”]
The world is so happy about the death of these two witnesses that they begin to have sort of a Christmas party (if we could put it that way), a satanic Christmas as I like to call it, where the world actually begins to exchange gifts with one another. And I find the polar reactions, opposite reactions, polar opposite, very instructive for us because many of us as disciples of Christ sort of become astonished when we don’t seem to fit in with the world system. There’s a reason we don’t fit in with the world system; the world system is marching to the drumbeat of Satan himself.
James 4:4, James says, “You adulteresses, do you now know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God, therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. John 15:18-19, Christ in the Upper Room put it this way: “If the world hates you,” as He was sending out His disciples, “If the world hates you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”  “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
1 John 2:15-17 says, “ 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.” We’re told in Luke 4:5-7 that Satan himself offered to Jesus on a silver platter all the kingdoms of the world.
[Luke 4:5-7, “And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”]
Satan said it has been given to me, and I give them to whoever I want. And if that’s true and Christ never contested that statement’s veracity, if that’s true and it is we understand that this world temporarily is under the control, it’s under the influence, it’s under the value system of God’s archenemy, Satan himself. And that’s why when you have trusted in Jesus Christ by grace alone and you begin to grow in that walk and you begin to submit to the discipleship of Jesus Christ it should not be shocking or surprising that the world system finds itself at odds with you and you at odds with the world system.
Even just this week we received a phone call from somebody struggling with that particular issue. This person is taking a stand on this issue, a stand on that issue, a stand on that issue, biblically struggling with the idea that this person was finding themselves out of sorts with their own family, even their own circle of friends. In some circumstances (God forbid) even their own church. And as this particular story was being narrated to me I finally said well, you know, it sounds like you’re marching the walk of discipleship to me; it sounds like exactly what the New Testament says would happen to you is happening so rejoice.
And many times we find ourselves thinking well, I must be out of the will of God when in reality of the situation you could be directly in the will of God, simply by submitting to the authority and the discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t expect the world to applaud. The world is operating by a different value system. And the tragedy of our day is so many believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are trying to have a foot in both camps. I’m reminded of Elijah and what he said about that in 1 Kings 18:21, “ Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions?” Hence the title of this sermon. “If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” And I like how that verse concludes, it says, “But the people did not answer him a word.”
Why? Because he was stating the obvious; at some point as a Christian, as we like to say, you’ve got to put your big boy pants on, you’re saved by grace, faith alone, praise the Lord, but Jesus didn’t just save you by grace alone so you could compromise with the world. He says move on now into adulthood, move on into maturity and grow up and we start to walk that direction and suddenly we’re sort of surprised, oh my goodness, I’m out of sorts with this group, and that group and this person and that person and this philosophy and that philosophy and yet we shouldn’t be surprised at all. That’s why Jesus in the Upper Room says “Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you.” [1 John 3:13]
In fact, the world hated Jesus so severely that they nailed Him to a cruel Roman wooden cross two thousand years ago and Jesus is very clear that a servant is not greater than his master. If the world system hated the guts of Jesus Christ why would we think that somehow we are going to get along in this world system? Babylon is falling, the world is weeping, and if you look very carefully at verse 20, heaven herself is rejoicing because heaven and the world are polar opposites in terms of a value system. Now why is heaven rejoicing? Because of three groups here. Number one, the saints, whom Babylon persecuted. Number two, the apostles whom Babylon persecuted. And number three, the prophets whom Babylon persecuted.
Now one of the things I like to bring up when we get sections of the Bible like this is you’ll notice the repetition of the word “saints.” At Sugar Land Bible Church we hold to a biblical belief of the pre-tribulational rapture; we in no way shape or form are marketing or promoting or communicating that Christianity is an easy life, to the disciple it’s never easy. And we are candidates for the wrath of this world system but we do not believe that we are candidates for the wrath of God . And consequently we believe that the church will be removed from the earth via the rapture before the tribulation period that we’re reading about in the Book of Revelation takes place.
And one of the things that’s very interesting in this whole discussion is Revelation 1:19 which is, as we’ve explained it, an outline of the Book of Revelation. John was told to write down the things which he had seen, that’s chapter 1, write down the things that are, that’s chapter 2-3, write down the things which that will take place after these things,” that’s the tribulation period. So it’s a nice three part division or outline of the Book of Revelation. And it is quite interesting that the word “church” or the Greek word ecclesia shows up 19 times, that’s an awful lot of occurrences, isn’t it, in chapters 1-3. And then suddenly you get into that final part of it, the futuristic section of it and the word “church” stops being used and it refers to God’s people on the earth through other names, like in this case the word “saints.”
And you say well, isn’t a saint a member of the church? Yes and no. What you’ll discover as you study the word “saint,” and I like the way J. Vernon McGee put it, “you’re either a saint or you’re an ain’t.” But the word saint is recognized as a technical word; it’s used sometimes as a church but not always. Psalm 50:5, those in Old Testament times roughly a thousand years before the church was ever born are called saints. [Psalm 50:5, “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”] You see the same thing in Psalm 149:1. [Psalm 149:1, “Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of the saints.”] The word “saints” therefore does not necessarily describe the church.
And I think one of the reasons you have this dramatic shift from church, two different terms like saints is because the church isn’t on the earth. And it’s so interesting to me that it would be so easy for John, under the Holy Spirit to say the church, the church, the church. He says that over and over again in the earlier parts of the Book of Revelation. He doesn’t do it anymore! And it’s not just the word “church” it’s the whole concept of the church is missing. What is the church? The church is this new man, spiritual man, a new body, the body of Christ of Jew, believing Jew and Gentile joined together spiritually in one new man, one new body called the church.
You see this developed very clearly in the writings of the Apostle Paul, Ephesians 2-3 if you want to read about it. And in the age of the church there’s neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, nor male nor female, you are all one in Christ Jesus. National distinctions are removed in terms of our position. Galatians 3:28. [Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”]
And I just find it very interesting that that whole concept, not just the word, it’s a concept, is not found anywhere on the earth during the events of the tribulation period. And I think there’s an answer to that. The answer to it is Sugar Land Bible Church was right in its doctrine. Forget Sugar Land Bible Church, God was right in His doctrine that the church is not appointed unto wrath but is promised a way of escape before the flood waters, metaphorically speaking, break forth upon the earth. That’s just a little clue that we can read about.
Now you’ll notice also heaven is celebrated because Babylon persecuted the prophets and you should have in the back of your mind, when you study Revelation 17 and18 Jeremiah 50 and 51 and as we’ve gone through this I’ve shown you place after place after place after place where John, in the Book of Revelation is indicating that Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning Babylon are being fulfilled. One of those prophecies is found in Jeremiah 51:49 where is speaks of Babylon falling for the slaying of Israel. [Jeremiah 51:49 says, “Indeed Babylon is to fall for the slain of Israel, [As also for Babylon the slain of all the earth have fallen.”] In other words, God kept a record of Israel’s Babylon’s mistreatment of Israel’s prophets.
That’s what you see there in verse 20, “Heaven is rejoicing because Babylon is falling and Babylon mistreated the prophets and you should have in the back of your mind Jeremiah 51:49 because that’s exactly what Jeremiah predicted. Babylon one day would fall because she mistreated the prophets and did she ever! It was under Neo Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar, that he came into the land of Israel and destroyed the city, destroyed the sanctuary. This is where you get so much information about Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, who actually wrote a book in your Bible called Lamentations, where the tears were flowing over the destruction of the temple and the prophets and everything else that was sacred to God because of Babylon.
And God all these centuries, all these years, all of these millennials kept a mental remembrance of that. That’s why earlier in chapter 16:19 is the word “remembrance.” God remembers what Babylon did to the prophets and did to the nation of Israel. And now that Babylon has resurged in the last days God keeps a record of that and brings this judgment upon Babylon. You’ll notice also that heaven rejoices over Babylon’s destruction because Babylon mistreated the apostles. And this is why there is so much confusion today; people think well, Babylon’s got to be Rome because Rome persecuted the apostles Babylon must mean Jerusalem because Jerusalem persecuted the apostles, and you have to be very, very careful with this word “apostles.”
Sometimes, and most of the time the word apostle, when it’s used is used in a very technical sense referring to the twelve. You’ll see apostles used that way in Acts 1:21-22. You’ll see the word apostle being used that way in Ephesians 2:20, Jesus having built the church on the apostles. [Ephesians 2:20, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,”  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,  in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”]
But the thing to understand is yes, apostles physically means the twelve, the original eyewitnesses to the things of Jesus Christ in His first coming, but it doesn’t mean that every time. Sometimes an apostle is just more than a common sent one. That’s what the word apostle means. And you’ll notice in your Bible that Barnabas, who was not one of the original twelve, is called an apostle in the Greek text in Acts 14:14. [Acts 14:14, “But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out.”]
Titus is called an apostle. In the Greek text it’s translated messengers but in the Greek it’s apostles in 2 Corinthians 8:23. [2 Corinthians 8:23, “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.”]
And then there’s someone named Epaphroditus who is called an apostle in Philippians 2:25, even though Barnabas and Titus and Epaphroditus were never formally part of the original twelve.
[Philippians 2:25, “But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;”] So sometimes the word apostle is used in a less technical meaning. And that’s the way I think it’s being used here. Babylon is falling because the sent ones have been persecuted by Babylon. And I bring that up because many people say this has to be Rome because the apostles died in Rome. Not necessarily if you understand the broad semantic range of apostles. Babylon would have to be Jerusalem because the apostles died in Jerusalem… not necessarily if you understand the broad Semantic range of this word “apostle.”
So heaven itself is rejoicing while the earth is weeping because Babylon has fallen and the reason heaven itself is rejoicing if because of Babylon’s historic mystery of three groups, the saints, not necessarily the church but believers in the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth at the time. Number two, the apostles, nontechnical meaning of the word being used here, I think. And number three, the prophets and that could be a reference to the prophets of old, like Jeremiah and others that were mistreated by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
And so heaven itself is celebrating while the world itself is weeping. And you say well, I’m kind of tired of all of this heavenly celebration stuff. Well, I’m sorry to hear that because when we get to chapter 19:1-6 heaven keeps on celebrating. I mean, you just can’t shut them up in heaven. I mean, everybody, the angels, the twenty-four elders, they’re just in praise that this wicked city on the banks of the Euphrates River that has caused so much trouble in world history and continues to cause trouble in the tribulation period has finally tumbled and finally fallen.
And we move now into the final part of the chapter, verses 21-24 where you sort of get a description of Babylon’s destruction. How exactly is this city going to fall? So we have a description of it, verse 21. You have a description of the nine groups that will be directly affected by Babylon’s destruction, verses 22-23. And then finally at the end of the chapter you get a two-fold cause as to why God can’t allow Babylon to get away with things any more. There’s two reasons for her destruction.
But notice first of all the description of Babylon’s fall. Take a look at verse 21, it says, “Then a strong angel” look at that, not just an angel, “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.” [Revelation 18:21] You’ll notice that Babylon is thrown down with violence. Again you probably should be thinking of Jeremiah 51:49 where it says, “Indeed Babylon is to fall for the slain of Israel, As also for Babylon the slain of all the earth have fallen.” God says you treated My people in violence, Babylon, you treated my servants on the earth at the time of the tribulation period with violence, you treated my prophets of old with violence, now it’s your turn to have violence. And she’s thrown down here with great violence. And you’ll notice that her fall is analogized to a millstone sinking into the Euphrates.
Now this is very interesting because once again that concept of a millstone sinking into the Euphrates is directly taken from Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning the destruction of Babylon. Back in Jeremiah 51:63-64 we read these words and tell me if you don’t think these ring a bell. “And as soon as you finish reading this scroll, you will tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates,  and say, ‘Just so shall Babylon sink down and not rise again because of the calamity that I am going to bring upon her; and they will become exhausted.’ Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.” That’s Jeremiah 51:63-64.
Jeremiah, all the way back in the sixth century, when he had his oracles against Babylon and wrote about it in those two chapters, John is bringing out that information about the stones sinking into the water because he’s saying now is the time in history when Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning the destruction of Babylon are being fulfilled.
This millstone being thrown into a sea that rings a bell too, doesn’t it? Didn’t Jesus talk about that in Matthew 18:6, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” How big was a millstone? Thomas Constable, in his online notes says this: “Millstone in John’s day often measured four or five feet in diameter and were one foot thick and weighed thousands of pounds.” And you think of a millstone like that being thrown into a body of water like an ocean or the Euphrates River you think about how a millstone of that magnitude plummets so quickly to the bottom and that’s how fast Babylon will fall. And as it’s falling it’s fulfilling something Jeremiah said back in Jeremiah 50 and 51.
You’ll notice here that the angel that has to lift this stone is a strong angel; I mean, this guy’s got his biceps built up, he’s been doing his workouts, I mean, an angel would be strong enough but not even an angel can handle this one, we’ve got to have a strong angel. And this imagery is being used to describe how fast Babylon will be destroyed. Earlier, last week we saw she’ll be destroyed in a day and then an hour.
Now this becomes very important because we have today people like R. C. Sproul, Hank Hanegraaff, and others truing to communicate the idea that what this is about is about the destruction of the nation of Israel in A.D. 70. It’s a viewpoint called preterism where Babylon equals Jerusalem and just as the Romans overthrew Jerusalem in A. D. 70 that’s what is being described here. There’s no future Babylon, there’s no future antichrist, that all happened in the past—preterism.
Hank Hanegraaff wrote an entire full length book on the subject as did the late R. C. Sproul. This is a viewpoint that’s being aggressively pushed many, many places. And they try to argue that the Book of Revelation was written in the 60’s and it was fulfilled in the events of A. D. 70. That in and of itself is problematic because John says, as tradition is handed down, that that book was written in the 90’s. In fact, the entire church for the first five centuries believed that the Book of Revelation was written in the 90’s. So if it’s written in the 90’s how could it be a prophecy about A.D. 70; it’s written 20 years too late.
Beyond that what you see here is this could not be describing the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 for this very simple reason; the scholars refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as the Jewish War that went from A.D. 66 to 70. That’s four years. In other words, it took at least four years for the Romans to finally get the upper hand over the nation of Israel. It was a prolonged series of events spanning at least four years, a war. That’s not what’s being described here. What’s being described here is a destruction that happened so fast it’s analogized to a giant millstone sinking into the Euphrates. A millstone doesn’t take four years to go to the bottom, it takes place in an instant.
It’s interesting here that it says in verse 21 that “when Babylon falls she will not be found any longer.” [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.”] This is speaking of the permanent destruction of Babylon. Again, that is a resuscitation if you will, a reference if you will, to the ancient prophecies concerning Babylon’s destruction.
Isaiah 13 and 14, and other chapters speaking of this event, it says in Isaiah 13:20, “It will never” concerning Babylon, “be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; Nor will the Arab pitch his tent there, nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there.” Jeremiah’s prophecies continue on with the permanent destruction of Babylon. He says in Jeremiah 50:3 there will not be an inhabitant in it. Both man and beast have wandered off, they have gone away!” [Jeremiah 50:3, “ For a nation has come up against her out of the north; it will make her land an object of horror, and there will be no inhabitant in it. Both man and beast have wandered off, they have gone away!”]
Jeremiah 50:13, she will not be inhabited but she will be completely desolate. [Jeremiah 50:13, “Because of the indignation of the Lord she will not be inhabited, but she will be completely desolate; everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified and will hiss because of all her wounds.”
Jeremiah 50:26, “Let nothing be left to her. [Jeremiah 50:26, “ ‘Come to her from the farthest border;
open up her barns, pile her up like heaps and utterly destroy her. Let nothing be left to her.”]
Jeremiah 50:39-40, “[Therefore the desert creatures will live there along with the jackals; the ostriches also will live in it, and] it will never again be inhabited or dwelt in from generation to generation as when Sodom and Gomorrah with its neighbors declares the LORD, no man will live there, nor will any son of man reside in it.” Jeremiah 51:29, “To make the land of Babylon a desolation with its inhabitants.
Jeremiah 51:43, “Her cities have become an object of horror, a parched land and a desert, a land in which no man lives and through which no son of man passes.”
Jeremiah 51:62, “…‘You, O Lord, have promised concerning this place to cut it off, so that there will be nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast, but it will be a perpetual desolation.” That’s why it says here in verse 21 never to be found again. Everything that was in it will not be found any longer. It’s the time in history where God’s prophecies found in Jeremiah and also in Isaiah will reach their fulfillment, will reach their realization.
In fact, it’s very interesting to look at this in Greek. When it says “nothing will be found in it any longer,” in fact as you read that in verse 21 and you go down to verse 22 and you go down to verse 23 just circle the times it says “nothing will dwell in it any longer. It says it at least five times. And when you study this in Greek what you’ll see is it’s a double negative; two negatives together which is the strongest negation you can possibly have in the Greek language. Not just one negation but two. It’s like when my 13 year old says can I borrow the keys to the car I say ABSOLUTELY NOT! At least not for a few years, but at the present time ABSOLUTELY NOT! I’m not just saying no, I’m saying NO!!!!! exclamation point with exclamation point repeated. See that, that’s what God is saying here, when it falls it will NEVER AGAIN be inhabited, NEVER AGAIN be rebuilt! Exclamation point over and over and over and over and over again, at least five instances of this, these double negations.
Revelation 18:21 says, she will be uninhabitable. [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.”] And I’m here to tell you folks, these prophecies have never been fulfilled because I could take you to Babylon today and show you people living inside of it, and shepherds and so forth dwelling in it. There’s been an active life in the ancient city of Babylon going all the way back to when she was… everybody says she was destroyed in 539 B.C. I’m here to tell you that these prophecies… if words mean anything and language means anything, this has never happened.
And obviously what has to happen then for this to become a reality is Babylon (as we’ve tried to argue) must come back to life, must become the center of world-wide government and opinion. It’s the exact place where Nimrod built the tower of Babel, between the rivers, modern day Iraq, the Euphrates and the Tigris. That whole city and system comes back to life so it could be destroyed like God said it would be destroyed. And if you don’t believe that you’ve got to get into a lot of monkey business with the language. You’ve got to get your “white out” out, the millennials don’t know what I mean by “white out” [laughter] erasers, and say well, God really doesn’t mean that, doesn’t mean that, doesn’t mean that, doesn’t mean that.
There’s a problem with that. When you study Bible prophecy God’s prophecies come to pass exactly like He said would happen. Isaiah predicted that God would raise up a man named Cyrus who would deliver the nation of Israel from the captivity. And so what happened 200 years later? God raises up a man named Cyrus, you can read about him in your Bible, a Persian that was instrumental in delivering the nation of Israel from captivity. I could show you prophecy after prophecy which doesn’t get sort of fulfilled in an approximate sense, in a sort of kind of way, but in uncanny mind-numbing detail and precision.
And that’s why John, as he’s writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he’s referencing Jeremiah 50 and 51. When Babylon falls the fall will be so severe that the city throughout the ages of time will never be inhabited again. Now Mr. R. C. Sproul… or Hank Hanegraaff, how in the world could that be the city of Jerusalem when God is very clear that in the millennial kingdom Jerusalem is going to enjoy being the capital city of the whole world. Isaiah 2:2-3.
[Isaiah 2:2-3, “Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”]
In fact, the entire world is going to travel in the thousand years, which happens after this destruction, to Jerusalem to worship the King. Zechariah 14:16-18. [Zechariah 14:16-18, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them.  If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.”]
How could you take this as Jerusalem when the prophecy is very clear that she will never be inhabited again and yet your Bible is filled with predictions that the city of Jerusalem has a future, a millennial future in God. In fact, when Satan is released out of his abyss at the end of the thousand year kingdom he immediately attacks Revelation 20:9, the city that God loved. [Revelation 20:9, “And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.” The beloved city; now who might that be? The city of Jerusalem. I would say that at the end of the thousand years attack the city of Jerusalem because it’s the headquarters of the millennial kingdom. It’s the capital of the millennial kingdom; it’s the nerve center of the millennial kingdom.
Robert Thomas says at the end of the millennium that city, Jerusalem, will be Satan’s prime objective with his rebel army because Israel will be the leader again among the nations. Do we understand this? Do we understand that the nation of Israel doesn’t just have “a” future”? The nation of Israel is THE future. Everything that God will do yet future revolves around the nation of Israel and yet this prophecy is saying when Babylon falls it will never be inhabited again.
We continue on and we learn in verse 22 and 23 all of the groups living in Babylon that are affected by this judgment. Notice what it says there in verses 22 and 23. “And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer;’ Greek text, double negation, “and no craftsman or any craft will be found in you any longer;” Greek text double negation, “ and the sound of a mill will not be heard in her any longer;” do I need to say it again, Greek text, double negation,  “and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer;” Greek text, double negation, can I get an “Amen” out there? Double negation, we can do audience participation if you want, you can be interactive here, “and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard any longer;” Greek text, double negation, and you guys are good, I mean, this is cutting edge stuff. There it says, “for your merchants were the great merchants of the earth,” harpists gone, musicians gone, flute players gone, trumpeters gone, mill operators gone, light of the lamp gone, even something as common as marriage, the voice of the bridegroom and the bride, ordinary life, marriage ceremonies won’t be there any longer. And it talks here about the merchants, verse 23 is very instructive, it says, “for your merchants were the great men of the earth [because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.” [Revelation 18:2-23, NASB]
Not that they are the great men of the earth, they were the great men of the earth. Another way of saying it is this; all of the heroes are now zeroes. It’s kind of like going to your high school reunion, all the superstars and all the guys that got all the acclaim, all the heroes are not zeros and not the class nerd is a billionaire. [Laughter] Everything gets reversed. And it is interesting to me all of the things in this world that generate popularity, you know even just this week what was the big story?
Donald Trump Jr. appears on The View as if I really care about that, but that’s all anybody can talk about, The View, and this happened and that happened and everybody is talking about it, everybody is posting about it, tweeting about it. The View becomes a thing of the past. But you know, we’ve got to keep up with the Kardashians. I mean, it’s amazing to me how people can become so popular. And I don’t want to go any further than that. [Laughter]
The Kardashians are a thing of the past, The View is a thing of the past, the merchants, the world, it’s all gone and that’s what’s being described here in verse 23. And why? Why is God bringing such a violent judgment to the end of this city? You’ve got two reasons given here for the cause. The first one is at the end of verse 23, the second one is in verse 24. Look at the end of verse 23, notice what he says there; “because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery [Revelation 18:2-23, NASB]
As you read through these chapters, if you’ve read the Old Testament you have certain Scriptures that come right into your mind. One of them is in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 47 verses 9-13. The whole chapter is about Babylon’s destruction.
And why is God going to bring this destruction? Because it’s something called sorcery. And you’ll see the background of it very clearly in the Isaiah passage, chapter 47:9-13. This is what the prophet Isaiah says. “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,” there’s our word, “in spite of the great power of your spells.  “Yet 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.’  “But evil will come on you which you will not know how to charm away [disaster]; and disaster will fall on you for which do not know will come on you suddenly.  “Stand fast now in your spells and in your many sorceries with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you will be able to profit, perhaps you may cause trembling.  “You are wearied with your many counsels; let now the astrologers, those who prophesy by the stars,” let me say that again, “those who prophesy by the stars, those who predict by the new moons, stand up and save you from what will come upon you.”
It is very apparent that God is upset about something in the Isaiah passage and in Revelation 18:23, something called “sorcery.” [Revelation 18:23, heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.”] And it is quite troubling to me to observe our society as we’re moving away from a biblical worldview and understanding how open people are to the supernatural. Not only understanding but Satan is in the supernatural business, just like God is in the supernatural business and we’re not being given a teaching in our evangelical churches concerning the counterfeit supernatural. If it makes me feel good, people think, it gets me through the day people think, so what if I’m looking at a few stars. So what if I track my horoscope, a little bit of palm reading, Ouija boards, whatever it is it’s just amazing me an openness to this.
And even (I’ve shared this with you before) even watching some of the detective shows that are playing today how in a whodunit and an unsolved murder suddenly the police in these various shows are dialing into the psychics and the supernatural to solve the crime and the crime gets solved, so the psychic must be good. And so there’s just an astounding amazing openness to the very thing that God says is going to bring the destruction upon the city of Babylon.
Let me just tell you something about all of this occultic stuff and witchcraft; you look at what the early church did in Acts 19, when they got saved out of all that stuff. As they began to grow in Christ they took all of that stuff, all of their books, all of their paraphernalia, all of their things that they can use to traffic in the dark side, so to speak, not understanding it was the dark side they took all of that stuff and they burned it. And it’s been a while since I’ve studied Acts 19, you can read it for yourself but it gives the amount of money that was lost because they did that. And it has to do with wages upon wages upon wages that it would take over a lifetime to accumulate. That’s how much they lost financially in burning all of those things.
And so the Christian has absolutely no business flirting with any of that stuff. The Bible is sufficient, the Holy Spirit inside of you is sufficient, you don’t have to feel like you have to traffic in some kind of dark side to really get the full spiritual picture in your life. You have all that you need in faith and godliness, faith and practice. The Scriptures, 2 Timothy 3:17, are capable of equipping us for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:17, “so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”] I don’t need all of these other things, in fact, all of these other things are a distraction. They are destructive, get rid of them, get them out of your house. If you want to come by the church and have a giant bonfire party we might be able to work that into sunset, maybe a little bit afterwards, of course I’m being a little bit jovial about it but this is serious stuff. This is what’s bringing the destruction upon Babylon.
And through this sorcery and this witchcraft Babylon deceived all of the nations. What other city in history human history has had a negative effect on everybody? The only city I can think of is the city of Babylon because as we have explained in Genesis 11:1-4 at one time the earth spoke the same language and when God divided the language in judgment, preventing the builders from cooperating with each other the sin of the mother/child system, which we’ve explained also in this series, went into the whole world. The paganism at Babel went everywhere! Jerusalem absorbed the system but she was never the progenitor of it. Rome absorbed the system but she was never the progenitor of it.
And when it says here that this sorcery has deceived all of the nations the only city with such a universal impact is not Rome, it’s not Jerusalem, but it’s Babylon on the Euphrates River destined to enjoy a resurgence for a time. And God takes that whole city, because of its sorcery and it’s seduction over the whole earth and He destroys it so fast that it’s analogized to a millstone sinking into the Euphrates. And as that happens Isaiah’s prophecies are being fulfilled and Jeremiah’s prophecies are being fulfilled. And now God can get to work with the real city, the city of Jerusalem, which will bless the world universally, just as Babylon has cursed the world universally.
And one more verse, verse 24, one other cause of this destruction is the martyrdom that Babylon has caused. You look at verse 24 and it says, “In her was found the blood of the prophets,” and look at this, “of the saints,” haven’t we seen that before? “…and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.” [Revelation 18:24] It is very interesting how God in remembrance, chapter 16 verse 19 you see the word remembrance, has always kept a record of what this city has done to His people. [Revelation 16:19, “that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.”]
Jesus spoke of that in Luke 17:27, “they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, [until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.]” And it goes on in Matthew 24:34-35, “Therefore behold I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,  so that upon you may fall the guilt of blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the righteous son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”
All these centuries you mean God has kept a record of martyrdom; that’s what Jesus is saying concerning the city of Jerusalem because it’s the coming events of A.D. 70, now He’s making the same sort of comments concerning the city of Babylon. God remembers all of it, all of the treachery. This is why the background of verse 24, once again, is Jeremiah 51:49, “…for the slain of Israel, as also for Babylon the slain of all the earth have fallen.”
You’ll notice again the reference to saints in that church. Why the strange shift in language? It’s because of what we explained a little earlier that the church won’t be here on the earth during this time period. And if I’m right on this and this may be the last time in this series I have a chance to advocate that I think I’m right, I’ve got to say something about it, if Babylon is not going to be in Rome and Babylon is not going be in Jerusalem and Babylon is not going to be in San Francisco or Las Vegas or Washington D.C., now Washington D.C. is a close second [laughter]. But it’s actually going to be in the city of Iraq; would that not make sense concerning the martyrdom? I mean, look at how Islam treats Christians worldwide.
I don’t know about you but when I start seeing Muslims getting elected to office in the United States it scares the absolute daylight out of me for the very simple reason that I don’t think their belief system has any compatibility whatsoever with the United States Constitution and it’s free exercise of religion. They don’t know anything about that; it’s murder, kill, crucify, burn, it’s like being back in medieval times. That’s what happens to Christians in Islamic countries of the earth. And the blood of the prophets that’s described here would be a perfect description of Islam’s role through this city in the last days.
There’s one other thing I didn’t mention concerning sorcery, if we can just back up to verse 23 for a nanosecond, and with that we’re finished. I find the word sorcery to be interesting because it’s the Greek word pharmakeia. In fact, we have run into that word or a very near derivative of it in Revelation 9:21 where sorcery is described there in the Greek as pharmakeia. Now think about this for a minute; what English word do you get from pharmakeia? You get the word pharmacy from it. What do you get at a pharmacy? You get drugs! So part of people opening themselves up to the paranormal is the abuse of drugs, the abuse of aliens and foreign substances.
I’m not a medical doctor, I’m not in the business of telling people what to do or not do with prescriptions, even legal ones. It’s not my domain. What I’m saying is you’d better be thinking the Lord’s wisdom about that. You’re putting foreign substances into your body, whether it’s over the counter or not, legal or illegal, you’d better be on your knees before God asking Him is this your best for me? I know what Your Word says, and I know how Your Word literally says that kind of thing, pharmakeia opens up people to doors to people that without the grace of God can’t be shut. I just saw the video, the [can’t understand words] video, a young man who was a stellar basketball player coming out of the state of Massachusetts and how he went, I think it was to Boston University (not to condemn that whole university of course, he said he went into a dorm room where cocaine was available; a young woman convinced him to begin to inhale, snort cocaine.
And Chris says, and it’s words that are so chilling to me; he says that opened a door I could not close for thirteen years. I don’t know where he stands with the Lord at all, but you ought to watch that video. I think the title of it is Basketball Junkie, and how that led him into a spiral downward. Here this young man that eventually played for the Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics and over in Europe had the world at his fingertips in terms of success and yet he was a hostage to that. The wealth was gone… up his nose essentially. The family suffered, his wife suffered. The devil doesn’t tell you all that on the front end, does he? I mean, I guarantee you when Chris Haran went into that dorm room the last thing he was thinking of is the price he was going to pay; that’s pharmakeia. That’s what opens you up to sorcery.
It does disturb me to discover that in the United States the things that were once considered illegal have become legal. The things that were once considered culturally taboo are being mainstreamed. I got this from the website Citizens Count, written July 12, 2019, it says this: “As of July, 2019, a total of ten states, as well as Washington D. C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use.” You want the list? Here it comes: Massachusetts, that’s where Chris Haran came from, that I’m explaining. Maine, Vermont, Alaska, California (no big shock on that one) Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Michigan. The website says those are the states allowing both growing marijuana at home and selling it commercially. Do we not understand in this country that that is the very thing that’s going to destroy Babylon…pharmakeia. And how it opens you up into the paranormal.
And may God help us to understand these truths, next week beginning in chapter 19, verses 1-6. But here’s what’s so great about the Bible is Jesus said this: “Who the Son of Man sets free is free indeed.” I mean, you may have walked in here with the weight of the world on your shoulders, in bondage to this or that, and isn’t it interesting how receiving Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior indicates that greater is He that’s in you than he that’s in the world. Don’t you think we need to hear that message today.
And so how can that become a reality for you? You have to believe in what’s called the gospel. The gospel means good news. It’s good news because Jesus did everything that could be done to bridge the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God. His very final words on the cross as translated in English is “It is” what? “It is finished!” It comes from the Greek word telestai, which is an accounting term, which means paid in full. He didn’t say it’s 99% finished, [can’t understand word] the one percent. I did 95% but you’ve got to kick in 5% by doing what? Pray, pay and obey! That’s not the gospel.
The gospel is He did it all and we receive what He has done for us as a free gift. And there’s only one way to receive a gift from God according to God’s Word and that’s by faith. The Book of Hebrews, chapter 11 and verse 6 says, “without faith it is” what? “impossible to please God.” That’s how you get saved. That’s how you’re set free. And now as you wrestle with all of these issues and problems that we have been talking about in this sermon, you’re not wrestling with those things in your own power; you’ve got someone greater than yourself on the inside that can help you navigate your way through those things under His power. That’s what Christianity is.
And so our exhortation to you here at Sugar Land Bible Church as no doubt people are placed under conviction because that’s what the Spirit does. He won’t believe for you but He’ll sure convict you! If He’s placed you under conviction our exhortation to you is to respond to that convicting ministry of the Spirit by believing, which means trusting in what Jesus did! In the quietness of your own mind and though you can just place your full and complete trust and confidence, not in yourself, not in your religious system, not in your church, but in Jesus Christ for your eternity and the safe keeping of your soul and the forgiveness of sin and the moment you do that is the moment you are transferred from death unto life, in a nanosecond. And now God’s resources are inside of you. It’s not something you have to raise a hand to do, join a church to do, give money to do, fill out a card to do. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord. When you come under that conviction (I came under it at the age of 16) and you trust in that transaction and you receive all of these benefits. You can do it right now as I am speaking. And if it’s something you need more explanation I’m available after the service to talk. Bret Nazworth would love to talk to you as well (hopefully you don’t mind me throwing your name out there).
So let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for Your Word, Your truth, and how it speaks to our lives. We’re grateful for these 18 chapters which we have covered. Make us good stewards, Father, as we begin our journey into chapter 19 next 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!