Come Out Of Her - Revelation Bible Guide Day 23 - Reservoir Church
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Come Out Of Her – Revelation Bible Guide Day 23

March 21, 2018

Previously in Revelation

18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”

Day 23 – 5th Wednesday

Revelation 18:1-24

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendor. He called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
It has become a dwelling place of demons,
a haunt of every foul spirit,
a haunt of every foul bird,
a haunt of every foul and hateful beast.
For all the nations have drunk
of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,
and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury.”

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,
so that you do not take part in her sins,
and so that you do not share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.
Render to her as she herself has rendered,
and repay her double for her deeds;
mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously,
so give her a like measure of torment and grief.
Since in her heart she says,
‘I rule as a queen;
I am no widow,
and I will never see grief,’
therefore her plagues will come in a single day—
pestilence and mourning and famine—
and she will be burned with fire;
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.”

And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; 10 they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

“Alas, alas, the great city,
Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgment has come.”

11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.

14 “The fruit for which your soul longed
has gone from you,
and all your dainties and your splendor
are lost to you,
never to be found again!”

15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

16 “Alas, alas, the great city,
clothed in fine linen,
in purple and scarlet,
adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!
17 For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!”

And all shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

“What city was like the great city?”

19 And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out,

“Alas, alas, the great city,
where all who had ships at sea
grew rich by her wealth!
For in one hour she has been laid waste.”

20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets! For God has given judgment for you against her.

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

“With such violence Babylon the great city
will be thrown down,
and will be found no more;
22 and the sound of harpists and minstrels and of flutists and trumpeters
will be heard in you no more;
and an artisan of any trade
will be found in you no more;
and the sound of the millstone
will be heard in you no more;
23 and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more;
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more;
for your merchants were the magnates of the earth,
and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
24 And in you was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slaughtered on earth.”

Points of Interest

  • “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great” – John invites us to a funeral, sung in a series of seven laments and songs. The one who has died is Babylon. In real history, Rome wouldn’t fall until 410 AD, when King Alaric and his Visigoths would attack from the North. As far as John is concerned, though, its destruction is sealed, as is the judgment and death of every Babylon that dares to pretend to be good like God while using its power and wealth to manipulate and harm the many while enriching the few.
  • “Come out of her” – Since Babylon is dying, we might want to keep our distance, lest we catch her fatal disease. This is the call for people in empire – live there, do your thing, but notice the evil, and don’t do it.
  • “I am no widow, and I will never see grief” – Classic pride-before-the-fall Babylonian line, quoted during its funeral dirge.
  • “And the merchants of the earth” – The people who are most upset about Babylon’s end are the people who made the most profit from it. At the deepest level, we all win when justice is done. But in the near term, it hurts those who have profited from it.
  • “slaves – and human lives” – The weeping merchants include the slave traders. As with American history, Rome’s was chock full of slaves. By the end of the first century, slaves were about half the population of the city of Rome.
  • “Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets” – Those who love and worship God can always celebrate God’s justice being done. I’ve been imagining as I write this how I would respond to a world economic shake-up that left me less privileged. What if I sensed that this was part of God’s justice? I am among the top ten percent, maybe higher, of the world’s wealthiest people. Would I be able to celebrate a change in the world’s economy? Truth is, I don’t know.
  • “in you was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slaughtered on earth” – Empires look shiny on the outside and have great propaganda, but they hold not very well kept secrets in their historical cores. Where there is blood at the roots, God grieves and promises justice will be done.
  • As we wrap up John’s perspective on Babylon, a final quotation. “Revelation has a warning for believers down through the years. Babylon is allegorical of the idolatry that any nation commits when it elevates material abundance, military prowess, technological sophistication, imperial grandeur, racial pride, and any other glorification of the creature over the Creator…. The message of the book of Revelation concerns the character and timeliness of God’s judgment not only of persons, but also of nations and, in fact, of all principalities and powers – which is to say, all authorities, corporations, institutions, structures, bureaucracies, and the like.” (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 88)

Spiritual Exercise

This week, in light of the judgment on all human systems that resist God and God’s good and humane ways on earth, we consider the command to, “Come out” and turn away from the evil baked into human societies, our own included. Today, consider how you have benefitted from the American consumer economy. Ask God to reveal where your wealth or consumption have come at the expense of other people, societies, or God’s earth. Consider what change might look like.

A Direction for Prayer

Pray for your six, that they would cultivate lives that love God’s justice. If any of them are hungering for more justice, pray that they would be encouraged that God shares their longing and will bring it to pass.

The Bible Guide

This blog post is part of a Lenten journey through the book of Revelation. Every year during the season of Lent, we take a focused look at a portion of Scripture as part of our communal spiritual practice. This year, we are exploring what it means to be Children of God in a Fractured World, with Revelation as our lens. On Sundays, we’re exploring this with our sermons; on weekdays, we’re doing so with our bible guide. The bible guide series starts here.