This coming Sunday, we will come together to Revelation 18. This passage is a bit different from the other chapters we have studied. It is poetry. John’s recording is an echo of prophetic literature about the fall of evil empires (symbolized in Babylon). While we might consider these words for a distant time and place, they are incredibly applicable to our world in 2019. Join us on Sunday as we explore them together. Let me invite you to read the chapter as you prepare for worship. I will include it below in the NTE version.
(Revelation 18 NTE) After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven with great authority; the earth was flooded with the light of his glory. He shouted out in a strong voice, and this is what he said: “Babylon the great has fallen! She has fallen! She has become a place for demons to live, a refuge for every unclean spirit, a refuge for every unclean bird, a refuge for every unclean, hateful monster. All the nations drank from the wine of the wrath of her fornication; the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the traders of the earth became rich from the power of her luxury.” Then I heard another voice from heaven, and this is what it said: “Come out of her, my people, so that you don’t become embroiled in her sins, and so that you don’t receive any of her plagues. Her sins are piled up to the sky, and God has remembered her wickedness. Pay her back as she has paid others; give her double again for all her deeds. Mix her a double dose in her own cup – the cup in which she mixed her poisons. She made herself glorious and lived in luxury; balance that by giving her torture and sorrow! She said in her heart, “I”m the queen! I”m on the throne! I”m not a widow! I”m never going to be a mourner!” Therefore her plagues will come in a single day, death, mourning and famine, and she will be burned with fire, because God the Lord, who judges her, is strong.” The kings of the earth who committed fornication with her and shared her luxury will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke from her fire. They will stand far off, fearful of her tortures. “Alas, alas,” they will say, “the great city! Babylon the powerful city! Your judgment has come in a single hour.” The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, because nobody will buy their cargo any more, their cargo of gold and silver, of precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, all the sweet-smelling wood, carved ivory, vessels of expensive wood, brass, iron, marble, cinnamon, oriental spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, chariots and bodies . . . yes, human lives. All the fruit for which you longed has gone from you; all your luxuries and sparkling objects have been destroyed; you won’t find them any more. The merchants who sold these things, and who made themselves rich from her, will stand a long way off for fear of her tortures. They will weep and mourn, and say, “Alas, alas! The great city! It was clothed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, decked out in gold, precious stones and pearls – but in a single hour such great wealth has been destroyed! “All the master mariners, all those who ply their ships to and fro, all sailors, and all who do business on the sea, stood a long way off and shouted out when they saw the smoke of her fire. “Who is like the great city?” they said. They threw dust on their heads and shouted out, weeping and mourning. “Alas, alas,” they said, “the great city! Everyone who had ships on the sea could get rich from her wealth, but in a single hour she has become a desert.” Celebrate over her, heaven, and you holy ones, apostles and prophets, because God has passed against her the sentence she passed against you. Then a strong angel picked up a rock like a huge millstone and hurled it into the sea, with these words: “Babylon the great city will be thrown down like that with a splash, and will never be seen again! Never again will people hear the sound of harps, musicians, flute players and trumpeters in you. Never again will there be any skilled workmen plying their trade in you. Never again will people hear the sound of the mill in you. Never again will anyone see the light of a lamp in you. Never again will anyone hear the voice of bridegroom and bride in you. Your merchants were the mighty ones of the earth; all the nations were deceived by your magic.” In her has been found the blood of prophets and God’s holy ones, and all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.