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The Fall of Babylon - 46

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
June 4, 2023 7:00 pm

The Fall of Babylon - 46

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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June 4, 2023 7:00 pm

Pastor Mike Karns continues his expositional teaching series in the book of Revelation.

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This may seem like a small thing to you.

It's not a small thing, really, because it's just God showing Himself again and again. Dolly Benesh is the person responsible of putting together and formatting our bulletin week to week. She does a wonderful job. And I gave her no input on what would be on the front of the bulletin. If there's a theme, she'll find pictures and stuff to go with that. So it's graduation Sunday, but she included 1 John 2 verses 15-17. And before I saw those verses on the front of the bulletin, in my introduction for this sermon, I had these very words written down.

Of all the places I could have gone in the Scriptures to begin, so for me as a preacher, that encourages me and probably ought to encourage Dolly, too, to think, wow, thinking alike. But again, on the front of your bulletin, do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him for all that is in the world. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever. The world is passing away, and not as the environmental alarmists want to tell us, the world is passing away because God is going to judge this world.

Listen to what Peter says. This is 2 Peter chapter 3. But the day of the Lord, verse 10, will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? God is going to judge this world and its evildoers at the end of the age with a cataclysmic judgment that will be just and thorough, so much so that the heavens will pass away, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up, ushering in, what? A new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth perfect righteousness. Beloved, this is the decreed end that all that is going on in our world is marching towards. We better get that fixed in our minds, and we better adjust our living in accordance with what God has revealed. Lost people who are living for this world and the accumulation of this world, we don't fault them because they don't have a world view like we do.

They don't know. They're not living for eternity, but we are. So there ought to be a distinct difference between the way we're living our lives and the way the world is living out their lives. As we challenged in this passage this morning, we're going to concentrate on the first eight verses. We'll look a little bit beyond that, but for the most part, the first eight verses. And as we examine these verses in Revelation chapter 18, I want to consider four truths with you. I want to consider, number one, the identity of Babylon, number two, the fall of Babylon, number three, the cause of her fall, and then number four, I want us to see the truth of an admonition to believers in light of her fall.

Chapter 18 is an expansion of what began in chapter 17. John is going to give us more detail about what he spoke of and introduced in chapter 17. We're going to see the nature of Babylon. We're going to know something more about the evil of Babylon and about the downfall of Babylon.

But for our purposes this morning, let's follow that outline that I gave you, the identity of Babylon. The identity of Babylon, and I have a seven-fold description that helps us identify what John is making reference to. Number one, the Babylon of chapter 18 is the great harlot of chapter 17 in verse 1 that says, Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters. So John introduces us to the judgment of the great harlot.

Number two, Babylon is also the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth. That's the last verse of chapter 17. Notice the connection between verse 1 and verse 2.

And the woman, what woman are we talking about? We're talking about the great harlot of chapter 17 verse 1. And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.

That's our second identifying marker. She's number one, the great harlot of chapter 17 in verse 1 that seduces and beguiles and corrupts. But she's number two, the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth, verse 18.

Number three, this is not a history lesson per se. This isn't digging around in the dust of antiquity and trying to learn what we can learn about this ancient city of Babylon and see how it might apply to us today. No, Babylon is a descriptive word here for the world.

It's not just some ancient city in which we have no identification with. Babylon is synonymous with the world. She is all that is contrary and hostile toward God and His authority. Number four, Babylon is not a city per se, but a belief system and a worldview that is contrary to and at enmity with a Christian worldview. It is what Paul had in mind when he exhorted the church in Rome in his letter to them in chapter 12 and verse 1.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Identifying mark number five, I want you to see in verse three the universal scope of her. Notice how it begins, for all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.

Universal in scope, it's a reminder that the vices and the temptations and the struggles and the enemies of the cross and of the gospel, they're really not much different here than they are in Zimbabwe, which is eight, nine, ten thousand miles away. False teachers there, health and prosperity gospel there. You say, really? How does that work? How does that work in a country with 90% unemployment? Deceit, that's how it works.

It's all over the world. Don Johnson, in his devotional commentary, and Mark Webb put me on to this man. He asked me, well we got together and talked, he asked me what I was doing, preaching, I told him the book of Revelation. He asked me if I had Don Johnson's devotional commentary, I said that I did, but I didn't know where it was.

And so I found it, blew the dust off of it, and have been using that in my study. Listen to what Don Johnson has to say about this aspect, about the universal scope of the nations here in terms of identifying Babylon. He says, all nations are infected with her ideas and values. It is a place where people fornicate, live in pure and unwholesome lives, and drink down false doctrines. The universal behavior is wicked, unchaste, foul, and unfaithful to God and His truth.

Universal. The sixth aspect of Babylon's identity is her worship of and obsession with money and luxury and material prosperity. I don't know if you noticed as I read the passage this morning in your hearing, the mention of luxuriously, verse 7, in the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously. Verse 9, the kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously. And when God brings judgment on this world, all the things that people outside of Christ have lived for, and sweated and toiled for, and accumulated, will be worth nothing. It'll be worth nothing. Notice there's a list there. When God brings judgment, listen to what it says there in verse 9.

The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, alas, alas, that great city of Babylon, that great city, for in one hour your judgment has come, and the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, notice, for no one buys their merchandise anymore. Nobody buys their merchandise anymore. It has no value. Now listen to the list. There's this long list of assets and things that the world count as valuable, and what is the first thing on the list? Merchandise of gold and silver at the very top of the list, and then the long, long, long list.

Let me finish with verse 13 as we come to the end of that list. Fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots and bodies and souls of men. Now some commentators have noted that the first thing on this list is gold because it was valued the most highly, and the last thing on the list is the souls of men, the things valued the least in this world. And again, it reminds us of how the priorities and the values of this world are utterly inverted. What is the most valuable thing in the world? It is the souls of men. So the sixth aspect of Babylon's identity is her worship of and obsession with money, luxury, and material prosperity. At the very heart of Babylon, this world is the worship of material prosperity and self-indulgent luxury.

This world does documentaries of what? The rich and famous, not on the selfless and godly. They're devalued. They are marginalized. They are ridiculed. They are shamed. But the rich and famous?

Oh. Chapter 18 makes clear the futility of living for pleasure, for luxury, and for material prosperity because it's all going up in smoke. All of it is going to perish, and those who have made them their life's pursuit are going to perish. And how long will it take for them to perish? Three times in this passage, it said, verse 10, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city, for in one hour, one hour your judgment has come, verse 17, for in one hour such great riches came to nothing, the end of verse 19, for in one hour she is made desolate.

Now, I don't think that means 60 minutes, but I mean when we see one hour, we're talking about a very brief period of time. It's all going up in smoke. It's all going to be destroyed. And what lessons should we derive here? Number one, wealth cannot save from the wrath of God. It cannot. And wealth will desert those who have looked to her for security in the hour of their greatest need.

They will stand at a distance and watch the judgment, the wrath of God being poured out. In one hour, great riches came to nothing. The world is dominated by the excess of the five senses of seeing and hearing and feeling and tasting and smelling. And with that in your mind, that excess, observe what's around you this week and see how that manifests itself.

Seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling. It's all around us. Poor stewardesses on an airplane.

Seventeen hour flight. They're up and down the aisles four or five times. Wanting to keep you hydrated, wanting to give you water, wanting to give you this, wanting to give you that.

Well, then they come and they've got options. Would you like a Coke? Would you like Sprite? Would you like this?

Would you like that? And over and over and over again, what do they encounter? They encounter some person sitting in their seat with earplugs in their ears. And the poor stewardess comes up alongside and says, what would you like to drink? What was that again?

I don't know how they keep that job. Well, that flight back from Johannesburg was seventeen hours. And patience was getting a bit thin toward the end of that trip. The seventh identifying mark of Babylon is that it is a place marked for utter destruction. It is a place we must escape from. It is a world with all of its lusts and pleasures. And God says it is marked out for destruction.

Why? Because it is opposed to and it is against Christ and his followers. This world hates God.

This world hates holiness. It is found in all places and in all ages, both ancient and modern. It was true of Assyria. It was true of Babylon. It was true of Rome. It's true of Paris. It's true of New York.

It's true even of our beloved cities of Burlington and Graham and Mebane or whatever city you might live in. It's all around us. Well, that's Babylon's identity. Now consider with me her fall, the fall of Babylon, the fall of this world. Beginning at verse one, we have the angel's announcement. John says, after these things, I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. Well, if you're in a place of glory, then that glory is going to be manifest in you when you leave that place of glory. And that's why this angel was illuminated with glory.

But notice the message that the angel has come to announce. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every false spirit and a cage for every unclean and hated bird. The fall of Babylon, the fall of this world is going to be so great that it is compared to a completely destroyed and deserted city where unclean animals and demons have moved in to take up residence. And when I read that, the word picture that came to my mind is of a ghost town. Deserted, no life, wind is broken, shutters banging in the breeze, dust devils down the streets, buzzards living in deserted buildings.

That's the picture. And in contrast to what was there previous, luxury and gold and fine linen and all the rest. But this world will become like a ghost town when God judges it. Now, notice how this announcement is given. There again, in verse 2, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every false spirit and a cage for every unclean and hated bird. Now, as John wrote, Babylon's prophesied destruction and fall was future to him. And from our vantage point, it is still future, some 2,000 years removed from John's day.

But, let me point something out to you. So certain is the fall of Babylon, this world, in the future, the angel proclaims its fall as having already occurred. Babylon is fallen, is fallen, repetition for emphasis. And in Greek grammar, this is what is known as the prophetic heiress, tense.

What does that mean? It means this, the prophetic heiress is when something is so certain to occur in the future, it's stated in the present as though it has already taken place. It's already a past event. Do not entertain any thought that God's going to change his mind, that God is going to avert. God has a plan. God has revealed his plan. This world is marked for destruction. It is as certain as if it has already happened.

Let's not be lulled to sleep. Let's not disbelieve what the Bible says. We've seen two things so far. We've seen the identity of Babylon and we have seen her fall.

Notice with me number three, the cause of her fall. Verse three, For, that's a causal word, because all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury. Why is this world marked for destruction? Because of her fornication, spiritual fornication, of forsaking the true God and engaging in the worship of another God, namely the God of money and wealth. It's the violation of the first commandment. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

It is the violation of this commandment that brings the wrath of God on anti-Christian society and all who participate in her idolatry. I learned about a man out in Oregon who's written a two-volume set commentary on the book of Revelation, and I purchased it on Amazon. It cost me a fair amount. And within three weeks, a pastor friend of mine sent me a link. He said, hey, have you ever heard of this man named Max Donor? I said, well, matter of fact, I've got his two-set volume of the book of Revelation on my desk. He said, well, he just sent out this note.

Anybody who's in ministry, if you'll link to this site, he'll send both copies to you for free. A dollar late, a day late and a dollar short, right? I said, well, I missed that, but I'm thankful that I've got it. Listen to what Max Donor says at this point. When you sacrifice loyalty to God in order to obtain economic advancement, when you sacrifice obedience to God in order to obtain economic security, when you sacrifice Christian principles in order to obtain material wealth, then you have committed fornication with Babylon. In a word, you have sold your soul for a mess of pottage, he says. Kings and nations and merchants will violate any principle of morality if it means they can multiply their wealth. Money becomes the justification for every behavior, no matter how wicked, and money is the goal of every policy, no matter how evil. The idolatry of wealth and all it can purchase is what constitutes the fornication of Babylon. It is serving money rather than God. And then he says, remember this, behind the facade of luxury and wealth lies the certainty of the impending judgment of Almighty God.

It's precarious, isn't it? When God saved us, he didn't rescue us out of this world. He left us in this world. We're to be in the world and not of the world. He rescued us out of the world. And how do you navigate this world without becoming a victim to its allurements and to its deceptions?

We all wrestle, I think, if we're serious-minded believers, with the tension, right? It's not a problem to own money. It's not a problem to have wealth. The problem is if wealth owns you. The Proverb says a wise man provides an inheritance for his grandchildren. So it doesn't sound like we're just to carefully monitor our life so all of our resources are gone when we leave this world, make sure everything we have, everything we're a steward of, we send on ahead before we breathe our last breath. See, that doesn't seem like the answer. But listen, hoarding all of our stuff thinking that we're going to be here forever isn't right either, right? That's the way the world lives.

Yes. The cause of her fall. Notice verse 5 says, For her sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered her iniquities. When you see evil being committed and wrong going unchecked and violation after violation being swept under the rug, there's a tendency to get just a bit jaundice. Like, where is there justice in this world?

Why is there such wrong? Listen. For her sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered her iniquities. Not one act of rebellion, of defiance, of sin will go unnoticed by God.

Not one. They will be remembered by Him. And that will be the cause of her fall. I heard verse 4 and I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her my people lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues. The judgment is because of her sins. When God is carefully monitoring and observing and recording everything that's transpiring on this earth that He created. Let's consider the fourth truth in our passage this morning. We've seen a sevenfold description of this world, of Babylon. We have seen the fall of this world, Babylon.

We have seen the cause of her fall. Note with me number 4, the admonition to believers in verse 4. John says, And I heard another voice from heaven. Another voice.

Unlike the angel in verse 1. Whose voice is this? Whose voice did John hear? Well, the voice seems to be the voice of God Himself. You say, well, what's the evidence of that?

Well, read on. I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her my people. My people. God Himself is addressing His people. And the admonition is, Come out of her. God has a message for His people. God has a message for believers. God has a message for the church of Jesus Christ. God has a message for you this morning if you belong to Him through the redeeming grace of God. And what is this message to you, His people?

It is to come out of her. Do not be seduced by the allurements of this world. Do not be partakers of her sins, her worldview. Live a separated life.

We sang about that just a moment ago. Live holy, devoted to Him and to His cause. When I'm preaching, when I'm teaching, when I'm listening, I'm trying to get in my mind word pictures. I try and think about how truth can be illustrated to help people grasp what's being communicated.

Let me try this. If you knew with absolute certainty that a business was going to fail in the future, let me ask you a question. Knowing that, would you buy stock in that company?

If you knew with absolute certainty that a business was going to fail in the future, would you buy stock in that company? And I know what you're thinking. Duh. No. Okay.

In a similar way. Since you know this world is certain to fall under the wrath of God, should you be living your life for this world and for the accumulation of things that everybody around you is living their life for? Should you participate in the world's amusement and its worship of wealth? Hear the words of Jesus. Jesus said, lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth.

Why? Where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Here's the challenge and it's very, very simple. Do not forsake the eternal riches that we have in Christ for temporal riches that will perish. Do not forsake the eternal riches of heaven that we have in Christ for temporal riches that will perish. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and what?

All these things will be added unto you. We believe the lie. We're gullible. We believe that we need certain things in order for life to be manageable, for us to be content, for us to be happy. I wish I could put you on a plane and go with me to Zimbabwe to a bunch of people who have nothing. I mean, literally, they have next to nothing. But they have the riches of Christ. And they're happy. They're content. They're satisfied. They're not clamoring for things. They're not saying, oh, if I could just get the latest iPhone, trade in this i12 I've got for the new one.

I could just, man, I got this boat that will go out there and run 60 miles an hour and I love to go out there and get on the water and pull people and ski, but, man, if I had a boat that could go 70 miles an hour, I'll sell this one, I'll get that one. That's the way people think. We believe the lie. Our happiness is in Christ. It's in the pursuit of righteousness. It's in the pursuit of seeking Him and His glory and living for Him in this world.

That's what true happiness has found. The letter that I brought back to you written by Annas, this young man in his 30s, he is absolutely thrilled to have been called to the pastorate in this church. I said, well, how far away is it? He said, well, it's probably better to tell you how long it takes me to get there. And I learned that, Carla and I learned that, because Laverne left her car at the bed and breakfast where we stayed and the first day she drove, so we paid careful attention how to get where we were going. It's about 15, 16 miles, but it takes you an hour to get there.

That's how bad the roads are. So he says, it's not how far it is, it's how long it takes. He says, if I ride my bicycle, and if I leave at 5.30 in the morning, I can get there in three hours. He says, but if my wife goes with me, he says, we have to walk.

I didn't even ask him. I didn't see his bicycle, but I assume it has two wheels and a set of handlebars. So I assume he can get there faster on a bicycle than he can walking.

But if it took him three hours to get there riding a bicycle, how long does it take him to walk? It's no obstacle to him. He's thrilled. He is absolutely thrilled that God has entrusted a little flock of people to him, 20, 25 adults, they're children, and he's willing to get up on Sunday morning and ride a bicycle for three hours and probably walk four or five hours one way in order to shepherd them. That man is not clamoring for things.

Why? Because he has Christ. He's sold everything he's got to have the pearl of great price.

Right? Is not Christ the pearl of great price? Jesus told that parable. A man was walking in a field and he came across, he came into this field and he found this treasure. No, he didn't own the field. He covered up the treasure.

He went back, inquired about the field. He was willing to sell everything he had in order to buy that field in order to take possession of that treasure. And that treasure in that parable is Christ. We so easily forget, don't we? We're the richest people on the planet. Because our Father is God.

Right? Our Father is God. And we have an inheritance. We're joint heirs with God and with His Son, Jesus Christ. And following Christ would be worth everything, even if, but on top of it all, we've got the warning that this world is doomed for destruction. That's why John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress.

You open the opening pages of the book. And what's Pilgrim told? Flee the wrath to come. Flee the city.

It's on fire. And he was wise. That's what he did, despite those who came to him and tried to convince him to turn around.

No. Well, this is the message. Do not forsake eternal riches that we have in Christ for temporal riches that will perish. Let's pray. Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for its clarity.

Thank you for its warnings. We pray, our God, that you will cause your word to bear fruit in our lives, that it would provoke change, that we would be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We confess that we're too easily duped, deceived by the seduction of this world. Rescue us, our God, from it. Open our blinded eyes. Help us to see clearly the reality that is set before us. Thank you for Christ. Thank you that he is all that we need in life and in death. We pray in his wonderful, glorious name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-06 23:31:24 / 2023-06-06 23:43:39 / 12

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