Revelation 18:20

Revelation 18:20

Rev. 18:20 … “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.”

Chapter 18 describes the destruction of the primary enemies of God and His kingdom. The adversary, like most other things in this book, is presented in symbolic form. The symbol used is the great city of Babylon, the ancient capital of Mesopotamia, where Nebuchadnezzar and other famous kings had ruled. It was from this city and its empire that a powerful army had marched to destroy Jerusalem, and it was to this city and its environs that the Jews had been taken captive (586 BC). Several of the Old Testament prophets had spoken against Babylon because of its gross idolatry, extreme worldliness, and wicked political aggression. They foretold its eventual destruction and consequent perpetual desolation. These prophecies have all been fulfilled to the letter.

In Revelation, Babylon is used as a symbol for the world as a place of godless materialism and determined opposition to the church as a body and Christians as individuals. In v.3 she is accused of immorality, political evil, and economic corruption. In v.7 she is charged with sinful pride over her successes in polluting human enterprises; and in vs. 14 and 16 her lust for wealth and pleasure are emphasized. Furthermore, v.24 points out her zeal in killing Christians in particular and causing death in general through widespread wars and destruction.

As Christians suffer from the efforts of Babylon to turn men away from God to the worship of materialism, to the lust for pleasure, to pride in human ingenuity, and finally to avowed enmity to God, we must not be made to worry or driven to despair. Neither must we adopt the same tactics as Babylon and respond with aggressive force through political and economic channels. We must rather apply the Lord’s instruction in Rom. 12:19, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

This is not to say that Christians should stand silent and passive while Babylon permeates society, controlling politics, economics, and education. It simply means that it is not our place to wage war in the political arena with political weapons, or go to combat on economic fields with economic implements of battle. If we do this, we shall lose. It is not given to Christians to fight evil with the weapons and tactics developed by evil. We are instructed in II Cor 10:3-5, “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Therefore, the correct response by Christians to Babylon is to live by faith in the Gospel way and to preach the truth from God boldly and without compromise.

Revelation 18 assures us that God Himself will take vengeance upon Babylon. The cry of His mighty angel in v.2, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit … and hateful bird.” God Himself will judge and punish terribly those in society who promote immorality, corrupt political processes, and manipulate economics to their own selfish ends. He will overthrow those who enter into every human activity to defile it, who worship wealth, and who spend their energy lusting for pleasure. With the prospect of His judgment of Babylon in view, God warns Christians in v.4 to “Come out of her, My people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues.” We must, therefore, draw a line between us and the worldly pollution of Babylon.

-Burton Whited


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