Saturday, January 27, 2024

Last Call for Grace and Mercy

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Last Call for Grace and Mercy"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Finality has come. In recent chapters we have read that “Babylon is fallen, is fallen,” in the Old Testament as well as the New. Her end has been coming for a long time. The final warnings of chapter 15; judgment for the Beast, antichrist in 16; judgment for the False Prophet in 17, and now in chapter 18, we hear of God’s great mercy and grace to the remnant of His people. To Jews, yes, but also to apostate Believers. In fact, to any who have honored God’s presence in their lives, they are being called upon to “come out” of Babylon. The evidence of her lies is being exposed. Take advantage of God’s disgust with Babylon, and His love for His own! Our gracious Jesus gives Believers with only a mustard seed sized faith another chance to hear, and to follow Him.

As the end of Babylon comes, the words of Joshua 24:15 echo in our minds, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Decisively, we will serve the Lord!

To the Believer, the only rational choice is obvious. But not everyone left on the Earth at this time will be rational! Jesus is asking each for a decision, just the same. There are many gods of this world, but a Believer will see that the gods of this world are failing, and they will choose the God of Heaven instead. As Babylon’s finality becomes obvious, only those whose hearts are hardened will go down with Babylon, rejecting the truth, and still hoping in the lies of the Dragon (Satan).

From Joshua 24:16b -

“…God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;”

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message
Revelation 18:1-21 - "Last Call for Grace and Mercy"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes

To review, the bowl judgments have already been poured out (chapter 16). Both last week and this week's teaching reveals the future end of the satanic religious, political and economic system of Babylon, and the beast who leads it.

The mighty system of the Babylon of old is not really dead.  
Babylon’s first mention in the Bible was as a place of rebellion against God (Genesis 11). The ancient nation of Babylon was a dominating power throughout the later centuries of the Old Testament. Babylon was the nation God used to judge Israel, sending them into exile beginning in 605 BC and destroying the temple in 586 BC. Babylon was arguably the first kingdom to have a global influence, a system very much alive today through the world financial institutes. Even after its fall in roughly 539 BC, Babylon continued to be seen as a place of evil (see Zechariah 5:5–11).

In Revelation 17, the angel identifies Babylon the Great as “that great city that rules over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18). The angel also provides some detail of the events leading up to the fall of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17:1–5). At the conclusion of this vision, the angel provides an interpretation of the vision and the events it relates (Revelation 17:7–18).

The vision describes a woman, or harlot, sitting upon a scarlet beast covered in blasphemous names (see notes from Revelation 17). The woman is immoral and corrupt, leading others down the same path of corruption. This woman is dressed in expensive, fine apparel, and the beast she rides has seven heads and ten horns. On the woman’s forehead is her identity, 
“Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.” (Revelation 17:5).

From John’s vision, we draw several conclusions about Babylon the Great:
  • Babylon in the end times will have influence over all “peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” (Revelation 17:15).
  • Babylon the Great will promote religious heresy, indicated by its association with blasphemy (Revelation 17:3) and its depiction as a prostitute (see Psalm 106:39; Leviticus 17:7; Judges 2:17).
  • Babylon will brutally kill the true followers of God: the woman is “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus:” (Revelation 17:6; cf. 18:24).
  • Babylon in the end times will once again be a place of luxury, wealth, and opulence - the center of world finances (Revelation 18:7, 11–17).
  • Babylon the Great will be a center of worldwide merchandising (Revelation 18:19, 23).
  • Babylon will actively lead people astray into corruption (Revelation 18:23; 19:2).
  • Babylon the Great will be associated with a federation of ten kings, plus the beast (Revelation 17:12; cf. 13:4).
  • End-times Babylon will thrive for a time, but then the beast and the ten kings will conclude that such a financial, religious, and political system is no longer needed. They will proceed to dispose of it: “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” (Revelation 17:16-17).
  • The fall of Babylon the Great is the result of God’s judgment as He works through the ten kings to accomplish His will (Revelation 17:17).
This week we learn the details of the final destruction of "Babylon" and the beast's vast economic and political system.

The sins of Babylon are enormous, and her judgment from God will be in proportion to that sin. The rapid nature of this judgment is first mentioned here, then further noted in later verses (Revelation 18:4–8).

John hears another voice warning "my people" to flee the city. This parallels the Old Testament warning given to Lot to evacuate Sodom in advance of God's judgment (Genesis 19:12–13). Not only does God want "His people" to avoid being caught up in the sins of Babylon, but He also warns them that tangible judgment is coming, and they need to flee.

Today, as we look at Revelation 18, John has recorded a vision of a mighty angel descending from heaven to announce the fall of Babylon the Great. Babylon the Great is not only the last human empire this world will ever know, but it is utterly evil.  It is a world system, associated with the Antichrist of the end times, and is pictured as a prostitute committing fornication with the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:1–2). The “whore of Babylon” or “mystery Babylon” makes war against the true saints of God (verse 6) and is best interpreted as an ungodly, end-times religious system.

In Revelation 18:4, God commands His people to "come out of her."  It is the last call of God's grace and mercy to God's people, a warning to escape the judgment and utter ruin of Babylon the Great. This is the False Prophet's false religious system, as well as the Beast's Economic and Political system.  The false religious system had her time of influence, when
“...all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” (verse 3). But she is the subject of God’s wrath, and she will be judged: “For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (verse 5). She will suffer a quick demise: “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” (verse 8), and “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” (verse 21).

The message the angel proclaims is for God's people to disentangle themselves from the world system.  The first reason they must "come out of 
her” or quite literally, "flee Babylon" is so they "will not participate in her sins" (Revelation 18:4). The materialistic Babylon will exert an almost irresistible influence on Believers to participate in her sins.  Have nothing to do with the false system of the Antichrist. Separate from the enemies of God.  (See Jeremiah 51:6-9)

Second, God's people must flee so they do not "receive any of her plagues." To share in the sin is to share in the guilt. God wants His people to maintain their purity and to be free from judgment. Finally, believers must flee Babylon because "her sins have piled up as high as heaven."  Piled is from a Greek word that literally means "to glue together" or "to join."  The angel proclaims that, "God has remembered her iniquities" (verse 5).  Although God is long-suffering, He does not turn a blind eye to sin.  He is holy and righteous, and sin will be judged.  He does not forget, and he knows that the measure of her wickedness is full.  Babylon's rebellion has been long, and deep, and wide, and the time has come to drink of God's cup of wrath.

The question for us to really ponder is this, why should any believer be living in "Babylon" in the first place?  Babylon is the very hub of wickedness, anti-Christianity.  They should already know they do not belong; for LIGHT cannot dwell in darkness!  This is the slippery slope of compromise, the compromise of God's written Word, and the compromise with the world's system and all if its snares.

Warning after warning throughout the Old Testament and the New, yet God's warnings go unheeded. From the beginning of this book to the end, they will not yield to God.  They reject God and His Word!

While God's people are told to separate from spiritual Babylon (Revelation 18:4), in the Old Testament, God's people were told to separate from physical Babylon.  Israel had been held captive in Babylon for seventy years as judgment for sin and idolatry.  At the end of this captivity, God told them to flee: 
“Flee (literally, run for your lives) out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. . . We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. . . My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD” (Jeremiah 51:6, 9, 45; see also: Isaiah 52:11 and Jeremiah 50:8).

God always separates His people from His wrath: 
  • Abraham/Sodom and Gomorrah - Genesis 18:25 
  • God's judment upon the Egyptians with plagues, (Exodus 8:22–23; 9:4–6, 26; 10:23; 11:7).
  • Moses commanded the Israelites to separate themselves from the family of Korah. Just before God’s judgment of the rebels, Moses “warned the assembly, ‘Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.’ So, they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram” (Numbers 16:26–27). Immediately following, the earth opened up and swallowed Korah and the other rebels alive (verses 31–33).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, scripture tells us that "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

The call every believer is to separate themselves from the wickedness of the world. We are to “come out of her” and be separate (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-17). 

Here in chapter 18 of Revelation, we see 
God's judgment pronounced (vs. 1-3); avoided (vs 4-5); defined (vs 6-8); lamented (vs. 9-19); exalted and praised (vs. 20); completed (vs. 21-23a); and lastly, justified (vs. 23b-24).

Earth Lightened with His Glory (18:1) - The fifth bowl judgment (16:10) will have plunged the world into darkness.  Against that backdrop, the sudden, blazing appearance of another angel, a being of great power and luminous energy as to illumine the whole earth.  The light and Glory of God! It is His light alone that dispels darkness.  Jesus is the Light of the World.  His light is in every believer, and as His followers, we are to shine the light of His glory in this spiritually darkened world. (Romans 1).

Babylon the Great is Fallen (18:2) - The entire evil religious, political and economic system of the beast in the last of days will be destroyed. This is the future event; mankind's last great empire will face the wrath of God.  Such devastation and annihilation will leave the place to demons and evil spirits.

Wine of Her Fornication (18:3) - Religious Babylon (chapter 17) lures the nations into spiritual drunkenness and fornication with false gods (17:2, 4); commercial Babylon (chapter 18) seduces the unbelieving world into a materialistic stupor, so that the people of the world will become drunk with passion because of their relationship with Babylon. The Babylon's of Revelation 14, 17 and 18 are all the same thing, it is the one great system of the Antichrist, yet there are differences.  There is a religious Babylon, the great whore, and an economic/political Babylon, the scarlet beast, but they are two sides of the same coin, their roles all support the same thing. Here the whole world drank of the filth of Babylon, and thus the wine of God's wrath.
  • spiritual fornication
  • idolatry
  • ]corruption and greed
  • unspeakable sinfulness
Kings...Merchants (18:3) - Political rulers and corporate leaders alike are swept up in this worldwide system of commerce (14:8; 17:2).  So easy to see this, even now.

Come Out of Her, My People (18:4) - God will call His own to disentangle themselves from this evil system.  It is a sad commentary on Christian men and women, that throughout history, their greed and desire for acceptance by the world has made them so willing to compromise with the spirit of Babylon. Babylon in all its forms has always been the enemy of God.  Still there will be a number of new Christians choosing to live in Babylon falsely believing they will be safe, even under the terrible judgments and repeated warnings and pleas of the Lord's witnesses during the early years of the tribulation.  As always, God warns His People not to compromise with the Babylonian system but to separate from it (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).  The message is to abandon the system before it is destroyed.  The judgment of God on that society living in sinful arrogant self-indulgence must be avoided.

Remembered (18:5) - God remembers all the willful rebellious sin against Him from the Tower of Babel through today.  Scientific technology, and the gross pride of man who usurp the glory of God for themselves.  It is a comfort to know that God does not remember the iniquities of His people (Jeremiah 31:34) but does remember to protect them (Malachi 3:16-4:2).  BUT... for the unrepentant, they will face the wine of His wrath, and it will destroy them.

Reward (or repay) (18:6-7) - The angel calls for God to recompense wrath to Babylon in her own cup to repay her according to her deeds (see 17:4).  This is an echo of the Old Testament law of retaliation (Exodus 21:24), which will be implemented by God (Romans 12:17-21). 

Cup (18:6) - The cup of wickedness from which so many have drunk (14:8; 17:2, 4, 6) will call for the cup of wrath (14:10; 16:19).

Am No Widow (18:7) - A proud, but empty, boast of self-sufficiency.  This is pride at its worst!

Her Plagues (18:8) - These could include those of 16:1-21 but must be the special destruction of the city as well, described as "death, mourning and famine."

In One Day (18:8) - The special judgment of Babylon will take place in a very brief period of time (see verses 10, 17.).

Kings (18:9) - The political leaders of the world will weep because of the loss of this capital city will signal the doom of the Antichrist's empire, and with it, the source of their power (see verse 3, 17:2).

Bewail (weep) and Lament for Her (18:9) - "Bewail" means "to sob openly."  "Lament" translates the same Greek word used to express the despair of the unbelieving world at the return of Christ (1:7).

Alas, Alas (18:10) - The same Greek word "ovai" as translated "woe" in Revelation 8:13.

Slaves and Souls of Men (18:13) - The slave trade, long banned by the civilized nations of the world, will reappear in Antichrist's debauched commercial system. 

Dust on Their Heads (18:19) - An ancient expression of grief (see Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 15:32; Job 2:12). Here we see the extremity of their despair. This is the hopeless lament of souls who know they are lost and doomed but are unable even to acknowledge or care about the sin of unrepenting unbelief which put them there.  Their only thought is one of loss of wealth and power.  

In One Hour (18:19) - One brief period of swift judgment (see vs. 8).

The message for this morning stops here, but included are some notes for the last few verses of this chapter:

God Hath Avenged You on Her (18:20) - Though all of heaven are included in the exhortation, as well as the apostles and prophets, the angel will exhort the tribulation martyrs (6:9-11) to rejoice, not over the deaths of those doomed to eternal hell, but because God's righteousness and justice will have prevailed.

Great Millstone (18:21) - Millstones were very large, heavy stones used to grind grain.  This metaphor portrays the violence of Babylon's overthrow. 

Shall Not Be Heard (18:22-23) -The fall of Babylon ends whatever semblance of normalcy will still exist in the world after all the judgments.  Life will be totally disrupted and the end near.  No more music, entertainment, peace, industry, supply, no more power for light, no more weddings... because God will destroy the deceivers and the deceived.  All of man's prideful accomplishments will be destroyed, they will lament and will never know real peace.  

Sorceries (18:23) - The "sorceries" comes from the Greek "pharmakeia" indicating the widespread use of drugs as well as occult arts in this great New Age metropolis.

Blood of Prophets and Saints (18:24) - The religious/economic and political systems embodied in "Babylon" will commit unspeakable atrocities against God's people (see 6:10; 11:7; 13:7,15; 17:6; 19:2).  God will avenge that slaughter of His people (19:2). 
"Throughout history the kingdoms and empires built by proud, arrogant, God-rejecting people have come and gone.  The spirit of humanism first expressed at Babel has permeated human history ever since.  Unshakable optimistic despite centuries of war, slaughter, injustice, and cruelty, people will seek a utopia, to be brought about by humanity's upward scientific progress.  Having taken control (so they think) of their "own destiny," sinners have no use for God and haughtily replace Him as self-styled gods devoted to their own sovereignty.

Compared to the glorious, indescribable majesty of the omnipotent God, all of man's vaunted empires are a mere "drop from a bucket" (Isaiah 40:15), and God "has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed" (Acts 17:31).  Nowhere in Scripture is there a more detailed description of the coming judgment than in Revelation 6-18.  With the destruction of the last and greatest human empire, the stage is set for the triumphant return of the Lord Jesus Christ." 

2007 - Because the Time is Near - "The Business of Babylon" - J.Mac

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