Where earth and heaven’s borders meet God has lifted a flag. His message is the same: I am coming.
Metula is a town in northern Israel where the country borders Lebanon. Finding small red-tiled houses, green hills and apple orchards tourists make it a popular destination for vacationing. Metula offers more than charming beauty though too. There’s fun to be had. The Canada Center has an Olympic size ice rink and and pool with entertainment for the family. The little town of 1500 is also proudly the home of Olga Danilov, the Olympic speed skater.
But there are not so charming aspects of living in Metula. You live with the memory of the Lebanon War in 2006 when you had to flee to escape the rockets being fired at your home from Hezbollah.
As a reminder that your enemies are just over the hill, and, that they are planning to come over the hill someday to exterminate you, they have erected a flag and a billboard for your viewing displeasure. However, flying only a few feet over the border is not the red and white striped flag of Lebanon. Instead, it is a red, white and green striped flag. It is the flag of Iran. The same Iran that does not have any physical border with Israel. So why is Iran’s flag flying up against the Israeli border? The billboard explains, for beneath a menacing face of Iran’s Ayatollah Komenei in both Arabic and Hebrew are the words: “We are coming”.
This is not an immigration threat for Israel, but, an existential threat. It is Iran’s goal to complete the Jewish Holocaust that Hitler started. To kill every last Jew and take the land of Israel for the possession of Islam drives the terrorist state of Iran. From the pursuit of nuclear weapons to use against Israel and the West to funding terrorist organizations like Hezbollah – the party in control of Lebanon’s government. Too many times to count the call has gone forth from Iran’s presidents for genocide of the Jewish people. But the Jewish people have always faced genocide and it is only by the faithfulness of the God of Abraham that they have not yet been wiped off the map or driven into the Mediterranean Sea.
But God not only has promised the nation of Israel would endure, and would be exalted in the 1,000 reign of Jesus Christ over the earth. God has promised to destroy those nations who have sought to destroy His beloved people, His people who belong on that piece of Real Estate He has promised them. Where earth and heaven’s borders meet God has lifted a flag. His message is the same: I am coming. And it is just as much a threat to the rebellious nations of this world as Iran’s is a threat to Israel. The difference is that the Persians will be coming against God and are doomed to fail. As for the earth, it rightfully belongs to the King of kings and Lord of lords – and He is coming for it.
The Merchants and the Sea Merchants (v9-19)
We are going to combine the 4th and 5th voices together: the merchants and the sea merchants. Read verses 9-19.
From Revelation 14 we know that the only people allowed to do business in that future economy will be those who have taken the mark of the beast. If you want to buy or sell anything you must take his mark. These merchants are all part of the system. They all bear the mark of the beast. In doing so they have subscribed to the whole system of that day – a system that is not purely economical. It is a system in which the religion, politics and economy are all connected. You cannot be part of the economy and refuse to be part of the worship. The Antichrist will allow you to do business on the basis that you acknowledge him as god. Therefore, these merchants were not innocent before God you see. With eager determination for gain they have rejected the God of heaven to worship Antichrist and Satan. Their benefit is their right to do business. But God is coming and will do business with their customer Babylon and put her out of business. He will destroy all who take the mark of the Beast.
Do you see why they are dismayed? because business with Babylon has just gone bust. If you think the dismay over Hillary Clinton losing the election has been intense, wait til Babylon loses. These tears are shed over the financial losses they have just suffered. Their greatest customer who has enriched them beyond imagination has just gone out of business suddenly, violently and permanently. Now they have ships stuffed full of excess inventory and no one to sell it to. A dramatic downsizing of their wealth is about to occur. And they are terrified.
It is profitable for us to take notice that in all their mourning not one tear is shed in repentance. What we are not seeing is any godly remorse regarding the evil things they’ve done in business with Babylon. Anguish does not twist their hearts over their criminality before God. They climbed into bed with Babylon the wicked to get rich and none of them are even reflecting on the moral repugnancy of it. They sold their souls to get rich off Babylon. No, as the Persian Gulf fills up with the tears of those sea merchants it has nothing to do with any pain for the red blood they’ve spilled and everything to do with the red ink on their financial statements.
What brought them such immense wealth? What drove the Babylonian economy? The list here includes 28 items. In this list we see two things. First we see that Babylon lived luxuriously. The city enjoyed the finest things (17:4).
Then secondly we also see that Babylon treated men as merchandise. People will be counted for nothing more than products. The bodies and souls of men. This is human trafficking and this will be a booming business in Babylon. Men, women and children will be bought and sold by those with the mark of the beast.
- People will be forced to work in camps or factories or fields.
- People will become labor-slaves who work their owner’s business or take care of the home.
- People will also be forced into sex-slavery. As always, anywhere pagan religion flourishes prostitution in the pagan temples abounds. The sexual degradation of the human body always accompanies pagan idolatrous worship. This stuff goes on now. (Amy Carmichael’s orphanage in India to rescue children sold to the temple for prostitution)
- Many slaves could be bought for satanic rituals and sacrifices – something that has always happened within Luciferian circles and Black Magic cults. The Isrealites were condemned by God for adopting the practices of the Canaanites before them: sacrificing their children to the fire.
- No doubt the sale of body parts of the unborn going on now by Planned Parenthood will continue, and
- so will the practice of organ theft that happens today.
Understand this: it is not God who diminishes the dignity of human beings. Contrary to the spirit of the age and modern thinking, believing in God and submitting to Him is not suppressing any human potential and greatness. It is when mankind departs from God that mankind is degraded. It is when men reject their Creator that they begin to treat their fellow men as less than men made in the image of God. Absent of God, the world of men becomes most dangerous to the dignity of other men. No longer do they see others as image bearers of God who are created special by God and endowed with honor as the highest creatures God created. Instead, men become nothing more than animals, machines – no more dignity than a cow or an iPhone. If you listen to people talk today we have less dignity! Once we become nothing more than animals or machines we are nothing more than merchandise to be traded for profit by other men who are more powerful.
It is God who gives glory to man. Man as God created man is a royal being. Nothing is more perfect than the glory of a man who gives glory to God. All human potential is found in a right relationship with the “All-Potent” One. Don’t be intimidated by people who blather about human liberation from the chains of a “God”. They’re slaves already. True freedom is found in Jesus Christ: “If the Son sets you free you will be free indeed” (John 8:36)
The Voices in Heaven (v20-24)
Next we see the voices in heaven. There are two here. Verse 19 finished the voice of the merchants and verse 20 seems to be a continuation of the unknown voice from earlier in verses 4-8. Take note of this verse, “….” These verses show us the Party and the Portent
First we see the Party (v20). On earth there is despair over Babylon’s ruin, but in heaven there is jubilation. Celebration breaks out. People erupt in praise and gladness. Babylon celebrated the blood of each witness for Jesus, and now those martyrs will celebrate the death of their murderer. The souls under the altar from Chapter 6 will rejoice for their requests to God to bring judgment on their killers has come. The songs heard in Babylon will never be sung again. New songs are going to be written by her victims to memorialize the joyous moment of her death. They will praise God as the Righteous One and Almighty Lord for bringing Justice. Babylon will never be again but her destruction will be perpetuated in song and tales for eternity.
Celebrating when the wicked are destroyed is a constant theme in Scripture. Turning around to see the massive cleavage in the Red Sea melted back together Moses wrote a song celebrating the fact that God had just drowned their Egyptian enemies: “The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone.” (Ex 15:3-5)
Affirming the “rightness” of God to violently put an end to evil people is actually the right thing for us to do. It shows our perspective is aligned with God’s and we see evil for what it is and we see righteousness for what it is. We hate what God hates and love what God loves (Psalm 31:6; 119:126-128). When we are righteous we value righteousness and abhor unrighteousness. We have no taste for it and despise it. So, we are “with” God in full support of Him when He takes just action to destroy the wicked on this earth. “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophet….Yes Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” (Rev. 16:5-7)
This rejoicing is not only permitted, but, it is proper in light of justice. IF we are anguished when evil prevails then conversely we ought to celebrate when evil is punished. When justice is leveled against evil it is perhaps the greatest reason to celebrate. Remember when we started this section of God’s judgments we said that unless we properly see God’s righteousness and man’s heinousness, and unless we see the right and obligation the Almighty has to judge the earth for its sins, because He is holy and righteous, then we will struggle with the fact of God’s judgment and we will struggle with the fact there is rejoicing over it.
Next we see not only the Party, but now we see the Portent (v21-24)
The second voice from heaven now is another angel, the Millstone Angel. Read verses 21-24, “…”
We have seen the party in heaven and now we see a portent. A portent is a sign that something bad is going to happen. Here, just as easily and violently as the millstone was thrown into the sea and sank to the bottom so too is Babylon going to be hurled down never to come back.
God will see her ruin is thorough too. The sounds of bustling life will be utterly silenced.
- No culture and arts or entertainment will be heard (v22a). No concerts, no rock bands, no operas, symphonies, no Rolling Stones no Mozart, no Jay-Z and no Pavarotti. Instruments will lay lonely on the ground with no one to pick them up ever again.
- No sound of an economy will be heard either (v23b). No buzzers and pounding of factory machines, no burring of impact drills in the body shops; no nail guns snapping, power drills grinding or mitre saws screeching at construction sites; no sounds of salesmen negotiating, no roaring of semi’s on the highway, no clacking of keyboards and clicking of mice at computers and no gossip around office water-coolers anymore, no “we would like to offer you the position”’s anymore. People will say the silence on the floor of Babylon’s stock exchange was the loudest thing they’ve ever heard.
- No light (v23a) The One who had power to snuff the lamp of the 7 churches has the power to snuff out the lights in Babylon. Blackout. Just like the 5th Bowl plunged the antichrist’s kingdom into total darkness, and just like the 4th Trumpet caused ⅓ of the heavenly lights to go dark and ⅓ of the day to become dark, Babylon’s lights will go out. Never to be lit again. The spiritual darkness of that city will finally be matched by its physical darkness.
- No life (v23b). It’s interesting that marriage is mentioned here. I think one reason is because marriage symbolizes love. That’s life: people fall in love. Babylon will never exist again for that most magical of human experiences to happen there. Another reason, and I believe this to be more significant, is that marriage is the foundation of society. From marriage comes a family and these are what societies are built on. In saying no one will ever marry again the angels alludes to its desolation.
What a desolation it will be too. Silence will be oppressive. The occasional wind, the crackling of buildings still smoldering, the yipping of wild dogs and the hooting of owls – all the signs of a place utterly wasted.
The people of Babylon lived comfortably, happily and prosperously and they did so without even a pinch in their conscience. The slave-trading, the murdering, the idolatry, the immorality, the cess-pool of sin they inhabited never raised in their minds the slightest sense of remorse. They will live to the fullest as though God is dead. Under Antichrist’s approval and endorsement every form of wickedness will be indulged and it will not interrupt their enjoyment of life. But the life enjoyed apart from God will be short-lived and come to an abrupt end. God will not endure wickedness forever. The blessings God gives to all mankind will not be taken ungratefully. He will only endure the spit of those He has shown kindness to for so long before He aborts them. The life enjoyed apart from God
Take this again as a warning that if you are living life with all its enjoyments and you have no room for God in your life that you will soon be brought to your end. Why would God create you, bless you, invite you to Himself and be expected to put up with your rejection of Him for as long as you wish while you go on taking from Him but taking no notice of Him? No, like a withering flower your life is fading even as you enjoy your life without Him. And what you don’t even see is that your life and everything in it will be taken away until there will be only one thing left: the God who gave it all to you – your life, breath, enjoyments and blessings. The One you ignored for everything else in your life will be the only One left when He takes it all away. Then what will you do? What will you say when you are forced to face Him after shoving Him behind your back all your days?
In my opinion the safest place for a plane is on the ground. But, after what happened in Turkey 2 weeks ago I’ve specified that opinion even more: the safest place for a plane is on the ground having come to a controlled stop and with me safely off the plane! On January 15th, almost 2 weeks ago, 168 people experienced what has to be one of the most frightening experience that could be had on an commercial airplane. The incident happened just after the Pegasus Airlines pilot landed the Boeing 737 safely at the Trabzon Airport in Turkey. After touching down reports say passengers heard a loud bang, right after which the front of the plane fell to the ground while the back of the plane was still up on wheels. This forced the plane to turn off the runway onto muddy downward slope which led straight into the Black Sea only a hundred yards from the runway. The plane miraculously stopped with its nose mere feet from the icy waters. People said it was a miracle. People said God saved them.
Has you found your life has slidden off track? Are you finding you’ve lost control and you’re heading for a disaster? Maybe you’re nose-to-nose with icy waters and you don’t know how you’re going to stop it all. There is Someone who can rescue you. His name is Jesus. Call out to Him. He will save you.