For those joining us for this New Year, here is a brief summary of where we have been in Revelation. This is actually a good time to jump in, for we are beginning the final section which is full of hope and wonder.
There are several views of Revelation, but we have been studying the Idealist wiew with the help of David Campbell and his commentary Mystery Explained. (Available on kindle or paperback from Amazon.) He makes a strong case for the pictures in Revelation being symbolic rather than literal, and for the tribulation beginning at the ascension of Christ and ending at His return. The Idealist view does not subscribe to a Rapture. But that’s not a big deal, for whether you believe He is coming to take believers away or simply coming to reign in the New Earth and New Heaven, we need to be ready. Both views believe tribulation will increase in intensity at the end.
We have seen how God is judging the world and purifying true believers through four “judgments” described in Revelation which the Idealist view sees not as happening consecutively, but are four different perspectives (like the four gospels) of the same judgment. We have finished those and are now given a view of what will happen at the very end of time as we know it.
Babylon symbolizes the counterfeit church and the whole evil world system which has “cast a spell” on earth dwellers so that wrong seems right, and chaos increases. Plagues instead of being just in pockets of the earth, are world-wide. She has influenced all nations, and indeed, it seems the world has gone mad.
Now we come to the point where we see the events that will happen just before Christ’s return. The “spell” of Babylon is broken and she is thrown down to earth.
We will finish the eighteenth chapter this week and then have four to go after this week which will take us right up to the end of February, and the beginning of Lent, when we will begin a new study. My tentative plan is to take us on a Journey to the Cross with the help of Paul David Tripp, who has a devotional by that name. (Feel free to give input!)
Here is where we are this week. We have seen two songs, two women, and now we will see two cities. Before the “New Jerusalem” can come down out of heaven, the City of Babylon must be destroyed. She has cast a magic spell earth dwellers and will be thrown down in “one hour,” which portrays a short time, interpreting this symbolically rather than literally. At the close of Revelation 18, in verses 23-24, we see that she will be judged by God for three things:
- Pursuing the idol of worldly wealth (think of money gained through abortion, pornography, drugs, corruption, greed…)
- Sorcery (a magic spell of lies, calling evil good)
- Persecution of the saints (she is drunk with their blood)
John is given this vision, so sure that it seems like it has already happened. “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.”
The 7 Seals, Trumpets, Visions, and Bowls, four perspectives of God’s 7 judgments, are over. Now, just before Christ returns, Babylon (the evil world systerm) falls speedily.
The magic spell, which we certainly have seen grow at unimaginable speed in the last decade, is broken.
I’ve been reading The Madness of Crowds by Robert Murray. I believe he has unusual insight, especially for an unbeliever, on why the world has gone mad. He explains that once individuals found their meaning through religion, but when they turned away from that, since “nature abhors a vacuum,” people began to find their meaning in their gender or race or political view — that became their IDENTITY, rather than God being their identity. It also became their purpose in life, their cause of justice (social, rather than biblical). Anyone “who seems to be on the wrong side of a question which may itself have just been reframed” is abhorred. It is “a new religion, if you will.” Intriguingly, Murray is both gay and atheist, yet I believe God is using him, as he used Cyrus (though he does not know Me – Isaiah said) to be a force for good. I believe Murray speaks sanity into this madness. He shows how scientific evidence has yet to back up many gender claims, and historical evidence disputes many political beliefs, yet that doesn’t matter in the madness. He also, as a gay, gives enormous insight into that community. He is thankful that persecution has lessened, but feels the LGBT+ is madness. He does not understand Christianity, for he calls himself a Christian atheist, which is certainly an oxymoron, but he does so because he has great respect for the good works Christians have done.
He is against the silencing of Christians and quotes John Stuart Mill, whom my own earthly father often quoted to me: “There is always hope when people are forced to listen to both sides of an argument, for when they attend only to one, errors harden into prejucide, and truth itself ceases to be truth.”
But God’s Word is sure, and this spell will be broken in “an hour” and Babylon will fall, as surely as the earthly Babylon of Isaiah’s day fell.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: Review Revelation 18:1-8
2. Review Revelation 18:1-8
A. What has Babylon (the whole evil world system) become according to verses 1-2?
B. On what have the merchants of the world grown rich according to verse 3? Can you think of examples?
C. Though it may mean loss of money, power, and popularity, what are we told to do in verse 4? How might God be calling you to sacrifice worldly gain?
D. How might we support Christians who are facing loss through court battles, loss of jobs, or slander because they are standing with God?
E. How was Babylon proud and confident, and what will God do, according to verses 5-8?
Tuesday: Kings, Merchants, and Mariners Mourn
3. Read Revelation 18:9-19 aloud to yourself.
A. What stands out to you upon this reading and why?
B. How and why will the kings weep according to verses 9-10?
C. In Mystery Explained, under THE MOURNING OF KINGS…read up to “the second group” of mourners and share what you learn.
D. Who are the next group of mourners and describe how and why they are mourning. (verses 11-17)
E. In Mystery Explained, read from “The second group of mourners” to “the third group” and share what you learn.
F. Who mourns in verses 17-20?
G. Read Campbell’s final paragraph before THE PRONOUNCING OF GOD’S JUDGMENT. What do you learn?
The picture of a millstone being thrown into the sea indicates that like a millstone, Babylon will never rise again. Campbell says, in addition, it mayalludes to Jesus warning that it would be better to be tied to a millstone and thrown in the sea than to lead little ones astray. We’ll talk about both!
4. Read Revelation 18:20-23
A. What is the cry in verse 20? Does this seem strange orright to you? Explain.
B. What does the angel do, and what does it represent in verse 21?
C. What do you think it will be like to have the sinful world system gone in the new heaven and new earth? Try to imagine.
D. What will be gone from the lives of those hostile to God according to verses 22-23?
5. Under THE PRONOUNCEMENT OF GOD’S JUDGMENT ON BABYLON, read the paragraph up to “the angel’s announcement” and share what stands out to you and why?
6. Read Matthew 18:6
A. What does Jesus say?
B. How might this apply to “Babylon?”
C. How might this apply to us?
Thursday: Justice for 3 Specific Sins
7. Read Revelation 18:23b-24 and list the 3 sins Babylon is being judged for – then, next to it, give an illustration of how you see this.
8. Do you have any propensity toward any of the above?
9. Read the paragraph that begins with “The angel’s announcement” up to Rejoicing in Heaven and share what stands out to you and why.
Friday: Optional Sermon
Norm Funk on Revelation 18
10 Share your notes and comments.
11. What is your take-a-way and why?