What decisions do you need to make today so that you are not being weighed down by the spirit of this world which tempts you with ‘fruit longed for’, ‘luxury and splendour’, ‘fine linen’, ‘glittering’, ‘great wealth’? Not that these things are wrong in themselves but at the start of John’s vision we saw how some Christians were following not only Jesus but also pursuing emperor worship and banqueting in local temples centred on the imperial cult. Christians who were once sold out for Jesus were now followers of Him plus other things. They did so for gain and for acceptance. Here towards the end of this vision we see what happens to this desire for a freedom that I paint for myself. Commodities whether physical or spiritual can have untold damage on you.
“They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendour have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16 and cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! 17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19 They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!” (Revelation 18 v 14-19)
In this vision of amazing imagery, Babylon is not a city or a prostitute but an ideology that has gripped the world, its governments, commerce and down to the citizen on the street. This may not be a one world-bank or government but it is definitely a system that traps and controls all who are in it.
Can you see this ‘spirit’ during the Christmas period? The advertisements will tempt people to spend on average £430 per person in the UK this year on buying gifts for others.
In a world where people are scrimping on meagre rations others are living a luxurious lifestyle. There are always people with money who want more in order to feel better, look great and be important. But when everything collapses, they are just ordinary human beings.
When Babylon falls along with the kings of the world they will also ‘stand far off’ (v14, 15).
They do nothing to help.
They never really loved the Great Whore.
She used them and they used her. There was never a relationship.
However at the time standing far off will do no good. At the time saying you were never of the world will be useless even if you say it with tears.
Till the very end these people still love only themselves. They are weeping and mourning not for Babylon but for their lives they once had which is no more. Everything is ruined including their lives.
They wail not only for what they have lost but out of fear for their own future. Will they be judged too? Will they be no more also?
They know Babylon will bring them down with her. Even those who are connected to her third-hand will be in fear for their own safety (v17). It is not only those directly connected to Babylon but those who sold their goods to the merchants who benefited from Babylon. There are many caught up with the system.
That is why John heard the cry to ‘get out’. The question for us is how do we live in this world but not of it?
One Reply to “We have to find a way to live in this world but not be of it. It starts by asking about our connections or compromise.”
Deeply challenging – thank you.