Life often brings sudden unexpected turns for the worse. Fortunes lost, a test result from the doctor, a folded flag, an “I don’t love you anymore.”
One of the greatest turns for the worse brought in life occurred on a day known infamously as Black Thursday. It was October 24th, 1929, and Wall Street watched helplessly as 13 million shares of stock were sold in one day, effectively crashing the stock market. Five days later things went from as bad as it could be to worse as investor confidence plunged further into an abyss and 16 million shares of stock were sold. That day became known as Black Tuesday. For a decade, known as the Roaring 20’s, our fellow Americans enjoyed the rapidly growing prosperity, only to find it wiped out. America saw her spacious skies overtaken by the black cloud of the Great depression, and her amber waves of grain and fruited plains began to wither under the darkness of the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world.
America is not the first to see such catastrophic, sudden and unexpected turns for the worse. God has seen fit in His righteousness to turn a person or a nation’s life upside down many times in history. At times it is His righteous wrath breaking out against unparallelled wickedness – wickedness, we hasten to add, that He patiently puts up with and warns to turn from. But when His patience ends, and it always does, people’s lives turn in catastrophic and sudden ways.
- There was a day, you’ll remember, when all of a sudden it started to rain. And it didn’t stop for 40 days. And the earth was flooded and wiped out all of mankind except for Noah.
- You’ll remember the sudden day when Lot and his family were seen by his neighbors sprinting out of the city of Sodom and they shook their heads wondering what that crazy God-guy was up to. While they wondered about Lot they started to smell rotten eggs as the first bit of burning sulfur began to fall.
- Or remember the infamous day when the city of Jericho woke up feeling like they always do: safe behind their walls. Only to find out that on this day their wall were going to crash to the ground and the Israelites were coming in with their God Jehovah.
Biblical history is full of unexpected and catastrophic turns. Revelation 18 is another one of them. It will be, arguably, the most stunning in history too. Babylon is an ancient city and an ancient system of pagan religious worship. Her tentacles have stretched from the beginning of human civilization all the way down to the end of time in Revelation. This is the city that won’t go away. Energized and masterminded by Satan himself, Babylon as a city and as a system of worship will be brought to a final and devastating end.
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 is 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.
Review: the first voice was that of the luminous angel. The second was an unknown voice from heaven.
The Voice of the Kings (v9-10)
The third voice we hear at the fall of Babylon is that of the kings of the world. Notice verses 9-10 with me, “…..”
This woman will be destroyed by the Antichrist and his federation of 10 kings. They will hate this woman, this city of Babylon, and will have had enough of her. Antichrist will no longer feel the need for her partnership, and no longer tolerate her exploitation of him and his power. So, chapter 17:16 says, “the beast you saw and the ten kings will hate the prostitute and they will bring her to ruin”. And what a ruin it will be. The visual of the complete devastation of Babylon at the furious hands of Antichrist is what chapter 18 is all about.
The mourners at her funeral will include the kings of the earth – not the 10 that destroy her, but, the rest of the world’s kings. It says they committed adultery with her. What does that mean? Adultery is betrayal. It is unfaithfulness in the worst way.
But who are these kings betraying? Let me suggest that it means they are betraying God. The idea of kingship among men is based on the ultimate kingship of God over all His creation. Kings and kingdoms are not invented by Satan or men, they are the design of God in His created order. Government, authorities and the arrangement of civilizations in a structured way with those who govern and those who are governed all finds its conception in God. And as the Creator all kings – human and angelic – are all ultimately accountable to Him. But these kings will rebel against God, they will not worship Him. They will worship demons, the Antichrist and even Satan. They will traffic not in righteousness but in wickedness. They will commit adultery against God for they will betray him in their role as kings, and they will be unfaithful to Him by worshiping and serving another: the woman.
This partnership will bring them great wealth and great power. But, by partnering with her they will further her wicked agenda throughout the world. Together, as the highest authorities in their respective nations, these kings will be able to spread her poison and corruption around the globe. At the highest levels of government will be men possessed by greed, evil, murder, idolatry and immorality. The worst of men will be in the loftiest positions. But, in dealing with the woman they will make the wrong deal. For in dealing with the mother of all prostitutes, that most notorious woman Babylon, for partnering with that wicked city they will be dealt with by God. Remember the verses right before this? (Read 4-8).
Application: Are you forfeiting your soul to gain this world? Jesus once said, “What does it profit someone to gain the whole world but forfeit their soul?” These kings will enjoy the best this world can offer for a short time. But then swiftly their own destruction will come down on them and for all eternity they will pay with their souls.
What about you today? Do you live for this world? Or will you decide to come to Jesus for the life He is offering you? Do not be swept away by God’s judgement. Do not turn away from His invitation. His love and mercy are being extended to you today. Turn to Him and believe in the Savior He has sent into this world. Believe that Jesus can save you from your sins. That He can save your soul for all eternity. All you have to do is believe on Him. Receive Him today.
Weak with All the Power in the World
Here the most powerful men in the world are going to be made to feel utterly weak and powerless. That’s why they “weep and mourn and why they are terrified at her torment”. Notice how fast Babylon is going to be ruined. Verse 10 says “In one hour your doom has come!” Verse 17 says, “In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin.” Then verse 19, “In one hour she has been brought to ruin!” Everyone who looks at Babylon burned to the ground will marvel not only at the fact that she could be ruined, but, how fast she was ruined. And any sense of security the kings of the earth had for aligning themselves with her will vanish. They looked upon Babylon as eternal, inconquerable, mightier than all, “O great city O Babylon, city of power!”
Illustration: It’s like the feeling the people of ancient Jericho must have had. Long ago the people of Jericho lived in safety behind their great walls. God however saw their wickedness and was bringing the Israelites to destroy them and take their land. The people taunted the Jews as they marched around their city. The Jerichoans felt safe behind their walls. Until the 7th day, after the Jews made their 7th march around the city. At that moment the Israelites let out a blast of trumpets, by God’s order, and those indestructable walls, which stood for years protecting the people, came crumbling down like the Twin Towers. Then for the first time the people of Jericho felt terror. Their protection was gone, and they were naked before a powerful enemy.
The kings of the earth will feel that way when they see their beloved Babylon burned to the ground:
“Woe! Woe, o great city, O Babylon, city of power!
In one hour your doom has come!”
And with that statement they know that so too their doom will come. Her judgment, they know, means their judgment. They did not heed the call to come out of her. They did not hate her wicked practices but joined them. They did not revile her greed but gained from it. They did not separate from her so they will know that they too will join her in her in death.
Listen to the voice calling you to escape! Babylon is Burning! Get out!
Illustration: A week before Christmas last month a dear pastor friend of mine received an urgent call in the middle of the night. It was the kind of call that would send terror in the heart of all parents and grandparents. On the phone at 2 in the morning his daughter was calling and said their house was burning down. Immediately he leapt out of bed and raced a couple miles away to where they lived from himself. When he got there he couldn’t believe what he saw: flames twice as high as the house and smoke billowing up into the dark sky. Emergency response teams were cramming the streets and scattered around the property were Paramedics, Firefighters, Police and neighbors. To my friend’s great relief his daughter and her husband and their three small children made it out safely.
He told me that as he was running up to the house and seeing all the commotion he could hear something blaring through everything else going on. When he got closer he could hear it clearly: “Your house is on fire! Get out now! Your house is on fire! Get out now!”. It was one of those talking fire alarms that they had installed and it had not been shut off yet so its voice just kept preaching “Get out! Your house is on fire! Get out your house is on fire! Get out!” The alarm was sounding. The alarm is sounding. The voice is heard: “Babylon is on fire! Get out! Babylon is burning! Get out! Sodom and Gomorroah are burning! Get out! Save yourself! Escape the destruction that is coming! Get out! “Come out of her! Get out of her! Do not burn with her!”
O hear the voice today and come to God. Turn to Jesus Christ who can save your soul. He can lead you out from death and give you life. Only He can lift you up from the dark pit you are in. Only He can make you new. Only He can rescue you from the fire to come. The would not listen to Noah but when the doors closed and the rain came it was too late. Listen to the voice calling you to salvation today. God is rich in mercy and will wash away all your sins. No man is too great a sinner to be saved. God’s grace is greater. But you must come helpless before God, acknowledging your sin to Him and confessing you can’t save yourself. You must feel that helplessness and then – listen – you must then see the One and Only One who can Help you: Jesus Christ.