“Babylon is fallen,” the angel proclaims. For John’s contemporaries, they would see this referring to Rome. This vision would surely give them hope. At the time John writes this, Rome is alive and well, carrying out atrocities on God’s people. What was the motivation? Power. The sensuality of wealth. Dominion over all.
Rome did fall. Does this mean the message of Revelation is not for us? On the contrary. The book of Revelation concerns the character and timeliness of God’s judgment not only of persons who are “of the world,” but also nations and authority figures, companies, groups, etc., all who have chosen evil over grace.
There are still many evil powers at work in our world today. You may even be thinking of some as you’ve been reading through Revelation. I certainly have. For an example, I think of organized crime, the cartels, and those groups who are only focused on the greedy amassing of material possessions. Groups or individuals focused only on self promotion without caring for the rest of the world. Certainly any leaders who are not afraid to kill the saints of God while focusing on their own idols or agendas. The message of Revelation is most certainly for us. We need hope.
I like this quote from Bruce M. Metzger’s book, Breaking the Code. “Babylon is allegorical of the idolatry that any nation commits when it elevates material abundance, military prowess, technological sophistication, imperial grandeur, racial pride, and any other glorification of the creature over the Creator.“ Does that speak to you, too? You can reread this chapter with those thoughts in mind and it can give you a totally different perspective.
We have heard the call to repent and return to God. We also know those who have the seal of God may not be immune to suffering but are promised a future glory. We can celebrate with the saints at the victory of the Lamb!
Most of us find it difficult to resist social norms and expectations that are driven by the seduction of luxury, license, and power. It seems like everywhere we look we are bombarded with enticements to have more stuff and accumulate wealth. There is a meme that will always stay with me. It asked, “What if you woke up tomorrow with ONLY the things you thanked God for today?” That’s sobering to be sure, especially as I look around the room and see all the stuff. I’m sure I don’t thank God for my piano, my computer, or my clothes every day. What would you wake up to?
Perhaps we need to take a step back today and just examine our own hearts and motives. What are we seeking out of life? What relationships are important to us? Do we want more and more stuff to make us happy?Remember, in the end, you can’t take it with you.
Let’s pray. Lord, forgive me when my focus is on material possessions and not you. I know you have provided so many good things to help me be “comfortable,” and I give you thanks. I want to dig deeper and know you more. I want my relationship with you to be my first priority. Help me to rearrange my priorities. Thank you for the confidence I have that you are in control and standing beside me in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Amen.