Does God remember your sins? It’s not like God can forget something in the sense that He no longer knows something or is aware of something.
Seven seals have come and gone. Seven Trumpets have come and gone. Seven Bowls have now come and gone. That brought us to chapter 17. Chapter 17, 18 and 19 are a section most interesting. For the duration of the Tribulation a partnership will exist between the Dragon and the Prostitute. The Dragon is the Beast’s government and the Prostitute is the evil religious system that empowers and exploits that government. Together they will spill incalculable amounts of blood, and amass even more incalculable amounts of wealth and power. That partnership are described in chapter 17. At the end of chapter 17 we learn that by God’s will the Beast’s government will turn on the woman and destroy her. That destruction is described in chapter 18 in great detail. Then, in chapter 19 the greatest battle in the history of mankind will take place: the battle of Armageddon. The Beast will align all the armies of the world in the valley of Meggido (“Har-Meggido”, aka, “Armageddon”) to prepare for war against the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter 19 shows the total annihilation of those armies by the glorious appearing and power of our Lord. Just as the beast utterly destroyed the woman Jesus Christ the Son of God will destroy the Beast.
Today we study chapter 18 and survey the destruction of the woman. There will be 6 voices heard in this chapter, each responding as witnesses of Babylon’s death.
VOICE #1: The Luminous Angel (v1-3)
The first voice we hear from is a gloriously luminous angel. Read verses 1-3 with me, “…”
This magnificent angel descends from heaven in the aftermath of Babylon’s destruction. This angel is a holy angel – he comes down from heaven. Only holy angels are left in heaven at this point because back in chapter 12 Michael the archangel and his army violently expelled Satan and all his demons from heaven. Before we listen to what this luminous angel says let’s look at his person.
First notice his authority. He is said to have “great authority”. The Greek word for authority here is “exousia”, which means “the right to rule and have dominion” or “great power in the sense of governing”. This angel is no minion, no low-level bureaucrat in the heavenlies. God has dispatched a highly-placed angelic ruler of great prominence in heaven. One whose sphere of authority and power extends to great lengths in the realm of heaven. We might even wonder if he was personally involved at the war against Satan back in chapter 12.
Second notice his appearance. Notice next that his authority is matched by his radiance. It says he illuminated the whole earth by his splendor. “Splendor” is the Greek word “doxa”, meaning “glory, brilliance, or awesome light radiating”. He was not coming incognito to this earth. He was coming with the full force of his luminosity beaming around this globe and seizing this dark world’s attention. How magnificent his sight will be! Even more so, His own brightness pales in comparison to the brightness of our Lord at His own coming – not too far behind now.
Third, we now come to his audibility. Verse 2 says, “with a mighty voice he shouted”. His power is matched by his radiance and matching those are his incredible voice. What does he say? His declaration is a summary statement of the state of Babylon.
First he declares her downfall, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!”
Second he summarizes her sins, which were both spiritual and economical: read verse 2 and 3.
VOICE #2: The Unknown Voice from Heaven (v4-8)
Now we come to the 2nd voice, the Unknown Voice from Heaven. Read verses 4-8, “…”
Who is this? We don’t know. Throughout Revelation we’ve come across mysterious voices before from heaven. There was the voice from the midst of the 4 living creatures in chapter 6 verse 6 during the seal judgments. Then in 10:4 John was about to write down what he heard from the 7 thunders when a voice from heaven stopped him. There was the voice that commanded the two resurrected witnesses of God to return to heaven in 11:12. Then we read in 12:10, “Now I heard a loud voice in heaven say:…” and that voice goes on to declare the establishment of the Lord’s Kingdom and the destruction of Satan. Then in 14:13 another unidentified heavenly voice proclaimed a beatitude: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” Finally, there is our verse today.
Does it stand out to you that the first words from this voice are a call to consecration? “Come out of her my people so that you will not share in her sins”. God is going to judge Babylon for her sins and the last thing God wants is for His own people to be indulging in the same sins that are making Him judge the world. God always calls His people to consecration. He always summons His saints to separation. Live like you know God! “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Tim. 2:19). First Corinthians 6:17 says, “Therefore come out from them and be separate says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters.”
It is the call to stand apart from that evil system. Get out of it. Like Lot got out of Sodham and Gommorha, get out of those sinful activities that Babylon is leading the whole world in. Flee. Be disgusted with and repulsed by those deeds of darkness (1 Cor. 6:18; Jude 23; Eph. 5:11-12). Consecrating yourself means setting yourself apart to God by the purity and holiness of your life. THat means severing your devotion to the world’s way of thinking and acting. Those faithful during the Tribulation will be called to consecration just as God has been calling people who call on Him to consecrate themselves throughout history.
Then we see the unknown voice declare God’s remembrance of her sins, “for her sins are piled up to heaven and God has remembered her crimes.” This is such an ironic way for the Holy Spirit to speak, that Babylon’s “sins are piled up to heaven.” You’ll remember back in Genesis 11 that after the flood, mankind congregated in the ancient city of Babylon to build a tower that would reach to heaven. They wanted to build for their own glory something that would reach up to where God was. Just like Satan, isn’t it? Well, before they could complete the task God came down, scrambled their languages and scattered them around the globe. Their building was incomplete. It didn’t reach to heaven. That was Babylon in the beginning. Babylon in the end will build something else that will reach to heaven: a record of sins. Like a mountain bursting up and reaching higher and higher all the way to the heavens is the mountain of innumerable sins Babylon will be guilty of.
Let’s pause and ask a question here: Does God remember your sins? It’s not like God can forget something in the sense that He no longer knows something or is aware of something. He is omniscient. He knows everything and is aware of everything – at all times. When God remembers something it means that that something is the governing factor in how He is going to act. The Bible will say things like “And the LORD remembered His promise…” It means that God was now going to act according to His promise. His promise was the governing factor in His own actions. When God remembers someone’s sins it means He is looking at someone and treating them with their sins in view. Remembering their sins means He’s going to treat them according to their sins. And that is bad news. But, the Bible also talks about God remembering no more. And that always is a reference to His forgiveness. Hebrews 10:18 says something very important about what it means to be saved: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these [sins] have been forgiven there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” That is telling us that the sacrifice of Jesus put an end to our sins in God’s mind and He no longer sees us in light of our sins. They don’t come into His mind, you might say, when He looks at us. They no longer are a factor for Him in how He treats us because Jesus has subtracted our sins from our relationship with God through His own death on the cross.