Sunday, December 30, 2012
Where would you find yourself?
Rev. 18:10 they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
“Alas, alas, the great city,
Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgment has come.”
Rev. 18:11 ¶ And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore,
Rev. 18:12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble,
Rev. 18:13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.
Rev. 18:24 And in you was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slaughtered on earth.”
In this Chapter of Revelation we find the fall of Babylon the great. The timelessness of the Bible is revealed in the fact that through the years people have identified their "Babylon." During the time of John, Babylon truly was an amazing city. It was a trade center where all those associated with her work and trade became immensely wealthy. That's why the merchants of the world wept for her demise! It wasn't that they loved her -- they loved what she provided for them. The people of the world worshiped Babylon and were willing to do her dirty deeds because they loved being rich. Look at the list of items in their cargo! They were involved in the sale of luxury items, not the least of which was human lives!
John Wesley believed that this passage of scripture referred to Rome and the Roman Catholic Church. He was not alone in this. For a number of years following the Reformation these scriptures were directly applied to the corruption of Rome. For them it was clear that this was what the prophesy was talking about.
So, what does Babylon mean for us today? Obviously people throughout history have tried to discern the exact place or time -- or is this truly a timeless prophesy? Could it be true that in every generation we find ourselves selling our souls to the powers and authorities of this earth? Do we become enthralled with the wealth that participating in the world has to offer? Might we be standing at the edge of a "fiscal cliff" and mourning over the "stuff" that we will no longer have?
This story begins and ends with two different groups of people. At the beginning you have those who are weeping over the demise of Babylon. All of the things to which they had given their lives are suddenly destroyed. The wealth of this world is gone! The systems that they had understood have all disappeared and in light of eternity, they are left with nothing. They grieve the loss of their "stuff."
The second group of people are found in verse 24. They are the people who also lived within the kingdom of Babylon but who did not become a part of the system. They were not wealthy. They refused to sell their souls to participate in the wealth of this world . These were the prophets and the saints. The people who were willing to continue to speak and to preach the Truth which is found in the word of God. Among them were also found the saints -- not just a select handful of ultra-spiritual people, but all of those who had been transformed by the power of Christ to be his holy people. They had also lived in the city -- but they had also died by the city.
So, where would we find ourselves today? Are we active participants in the life of Babylon? Are we enjoying all that we can get from her? Or, are we willing to be God's holy people, his prophetic voice in the midst of society and as such, are we willing to be martyred, whether physically or socially, to be his faithful few?
Lord, being faithful within the world is not an easy thing -- and it's only by your strength that it's possible. Please, lead and guide me today. Amen.