THE BOOK OF REVELATION
THE CHURCH'S TRIUMPH THROUGH CHRIST
Sermon #56 - Babylon the Great Is Fallen! - Revelation 18
INTRODUCTION - The past chapters of Revelation have been dealing specifically with the judgment of God about to be poured forth on Jerusalem in 70 AD. As Israel had broken covenant with God, so the Lord would pour forth the covenantal curses on the nation which trampled His grace. In this next chapter, we shall once again see the downfall of Israel, as God comes to judge "Babylon" and as the world looks on at this terrible judgment.
1) THE DECLARATION OF THE FALL OF JERUSALEM - Revelation 18:1,2 - The proclamation of Jerusalem's fall is given in the present tense, yet the city was still standing as John wrote these words. God, on the other hand, sees the destruction as complete, and uses the present tense to underline the certainty of her overthrow. As the people of God hear this, one could imagine their comfort, for the church was undergoing great persecution at the hands of the Jews. All that was soon to come to an end. Jerusalem is also described in Old Testament language as the city will become a haunt for demons and wicked spirits. Babylon and Edom were both described this way (see Isaiah 13:21; 34:10-14) and now Jerusalem joins them in this devastation. She who had once housed the Temple of God, who had once been the dwelling place of Jehovah, would now be given over to demons, for the Lord no longer dwelt in that place. Like her enemies before her, she is given up to her wickedness.
2) JERUSALEM IS JUDGED FOR HER HARLOTRY WITH THE NATIONS - Revelation 18:3 - Jerusalem had become the great harlot of the world. She was meant to stand as the City of the Lord and the one place where the Gospel might be heard. Instead, she turned from God's grace and led the nations around her into her wickedness. The Covenant of Grace was not heard in Jerusalem, instead, idolatry and wickedness flourished and the nations found evil instead of grace. Here is a good warning to the church today. We must beware of not becoming like first century Jerusalem. Instead, we are to be a people who are set apart to the Lord, loving holiness and not iniquity, worshipping God in truth, and loving His doctrines and teaching them. We must beware of not trampling the grace of God as Jerusalem did and becoming a reproach to the nations around us.
3) THE COMMAND FOR GOD'S TRUE PEOPLE TO DEPART FROM JERUSALEM - Revelation 18:4,5 - We know that Christ had warned His disciples to flee Jerusalem when the sounds of judgment were heard, and this is precisely what they did. Here we see that command repeated and because Christians heeded the voice of God, not one of them perished in Jerusalem's overthrow. Yet we should realize that the command to leave Jerusalem is more than just escaping the city. The first century Christian, as well as the twentieth century Christian, was not to go back to Jerusalem. No longer was worship centered in Jerusalem and no longer did God abide there. The New Jerusalem and the New Temple have taken its place. The New Covenant is now the focus of God's people. Thus, we should beware of magnifying Jerusalem and Israel today, for they have been forsaken of God and the church has taken her place.
4) JERUSALEM'S PAYMENT FOR HER INIQUITY - Revelation 18:6-8 - Jerusalem's payment for her sin would be a double portion, according to Old Testament law. She had murdered the saints and prophets of God, and now she would be called to pay back for her sins. She is again displayed in this passage as a queen, but it is a pitiful sight. She has degraded herself to harlotry and the glory of God has departed from her. The Lord speaks of her judgment coming "in a day" or coming quickly and suddenly.
5) FOUR RESPONSES TO THE FALL OF JERUSALEM - Three groups mourn for the loss of Jerusalem while the last group is commanded to rejoice at her fall. The first response comes from -
A) THE KINGS OF THE EARTH - Revelation 18:9,10 - Those who united with Israel in her wickedness now stand back in fear as the Lord judges her. Jerusalem has become a fearful sign to the nations, a sign of their own impending judgment if they did not repent. Christ has ascended to the throne of sovereignty and here we see Him ruling over all the nations with His rod of iron.
B) THE MERCHANTS OF THE EARTH - Revelation 8:11-17 - Those who had once traded with Jerusalem and who had become rich off of her commerce also stand back in terror as the city is destroyed. All of those blessings had been given through the covenant. Yet now God had turned His blessings into curse, and all the earthly prosperity of the covenant dried up. The merchants, like the kings, see the hand of God behind all of this and they tremble in fear.
C) THE SAILORS WHO TRADE ON THE SEA - Revelation 18:17-19 - Like the merchants, the sailors who had become rich from the trade with Jerusalem stand back in fear as the judgment falls. They are like mourners at a funeral The entire world was affected by God's overthrow of Jerusalem.
Yet in all of these responses, we see a typical response of the world. Each of them cower in fear as the great city is overthrown. It acted like a warning shot by God. Yet kings go back to ruling, and merchants as well as sailors find trade in other cities. The lesson could easily be lost. So it is for men today who hear about the judgments of God, who fear for a little while, but then go back to their work without thinking that they may be the next ones to fall. The destruction of Jerusalem calls for repentance and faith from the world.
D) THE CHURCH'S RESPONSE TO THE FALL OF JERUSALEM - Revelation 18:20 - Instead of mourning over Jerusalem's fall, the church is called to rejoice, for vengeance had come to her enemies. Such should be the prayer of the saints even to this day - the overthrow of the enemies of God. In this supplication, we are asking God to overthrow sin and every rebellious heart that vaunts itself against God and His righteousness. There is nothing evil in this prayer, as long as a child of God has the honor of the Lord as the supreme reason for judgment. God can overthrow enemies in different ways. He might convert that heart by breaking down the hardness and conquering it in the name of Christ. Or, He may send His judgments, as He does with Israel. It is up to God to respond, it is up to us to pray that righteousness would prevail throughout the world. The question is: Do we love righteousness that much?
6) JERUSALEM IS THROWN DOWN LIKE A MILLSTONE INTO THE SEA - Revelation 18:21-23 - Jerusalem is likened to a millstone thrown into the sea from where she will rise no more. How can this be seeing there is a Jerusalem in existence today? We should realize that the same was said of Old Testament enemies of God's people (Edom, Babylon, and Egypt), though these places still exist today. This is the language of finality, and in Jerusalem's case, it meant that no longer would she be the Holy City of God. She had lost the kingdom. She had lost covenantal blessing. Israel as a special nation ceased to exist as the church took its place. Now a Jew must enter the church, for this is the new nation of God in Christ Jesus. Old Jerusalem is replaced by the New Jerusalem, and the Old Temple has been replaced with the new one - the Church.
7) THE FINAL INDICTMENT AGAINST THE UNHOLY CITY OF JERUSALEM - Revelation 18:24 - This was the crime which the Lord Jesus Christ laid against this city in Matthew 23:34-38. Jerusalem is overthrown because she had shed the blood of God's prophets, apostles, saints, and His Son. She is guilty of all of this blood and now is the time of her judgment. She is Babylon and her house is left to her desolate!