"Babylon Has Fallen!"
In chapters 17-20 the theme is defeat, the defeat of Babylon and the defeat of Satan. The text helps us to see that God is greater than all evil. Not only will Rome fall, but there will come a day when Satan and all do not follow the Lamb will take part in the second death.
Babylon Has Fallen!
A. In nine short verses we read a story that has captivated many people in our western culture. Those nine verses are found in Gen. 11 and tell the story of the tower of Babel. But while those verses are the only biblical reference to the story many believe that the point of telling us the story is not simply to talk about the pride of man, but it really is most likely a story about the autonomy of man and building a tower to heaven – as those it was an attempt to storm God’s very dwelling place. While in Hebrew the word “bavel” means “confusion,” in the language of that time, the word “bav-il” meant “the Gate of God.”
B. While you may ask, why do I tell you that? The place where the tower was built, and its name, is believed by many to be the foundation of great city of Babylon which was one of the greatest cities of Mesopotamia. My point is Babylon is a city and the name of a great ancient nation. It was the seat of power at the time of Daniel. There is no doubt several of its leaders believed they were as great as gods or even greater than gods, because the gods of the defeated people could not stop the great Babylonian empire.
C. Why does Jesus use Babylon to describe the great city in which evil reigns? Because Babylon is the very idea of storming the gate of God. At the time of John, Rome was the seat of world domination. It had Caesars and religious cult leaders that declared the Caesars to be gods. Together they made up beast of the sea and the beast of the land. But their real power was dragon.
D. While chapter 16 gave us the big picture of the outpouring of the bowls of God’s wrath, chapters 17-20 give us more detail as to what happened as those final bowls were poured out from Heaven. To help John, an angel takes John and shows him a scene that caused John to marvel.
I. The Great Harlot
A. John sees a woman riding a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names and it had seven heads and ten horns. On the forehead of the woman was the name Babylon the Great. She was drunk, not on some strange alcohol, but drunk with the blood of the saints. This is a picture of pure human evil. The worst description you could give of a woman is given to this figure who again is called Babylon. The beast is the Roman Empire and the woman is the city of Rome.
B. Fornication in the book of Revelation is often used to describe how sick idolatry is in the eyes of God. Jesus needed to make sure John and his readers knew that God saw with great nation which was literally killing Christians as evil as could be written on paper.
C. The description is explained to John as the kings of that time who have ruled and are yet to rule. The desire was to have a one world government which will seek to make war on God and God’s people. As we studied earlier, that was Armageddon. Since we are getting a deeper look, the battle itself is yet to come. Remember, chapter 16 was the overview, now we are seeing the details.
II. The Picture of Defeat
A. At the time John was writing Revelation, Babylon was not defeated, yet, so certain was its defeat, that an angle comes and proclaims, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!”
B. In chapter 18 we find many nations mourning, probably not so much that Babylon has fallen, but what it’s fall means to them. Their loss of pleasure, wealth and what they thought was security. She, Babylon (Rome) was destroyed, not simply because of her sin, but because of her unwillingness to repent. There is a great difference between a person who sins and hates their sin, but struggles to overcome it, and a person who is unrepentant and even bold in living a sinful life. God takes no pleasure in pain and destruction, but righteousness is something to rejoice over.
C. Rev. 19:19-21. At that future time, the beast and the false prophet were destroyed. What once appeared to be impossible happened. The great battle called Armageddon was not much of a battle at all. The power of Jesus is so great, the enemies never had any chance. Yet, not all evil was defeated in that battle, we still need to deal with the dragon.
D. Rev. 20:1-3. There are a couple of things I want you to notice in this passage. First, Satan is bound, not destroyed. Satan has been stripped of power of using Rome to persecute the church. I do not believe he will ever again have such a power as the beast of the sea and the beast of the land. We read earlier that the dragon had been “allowed” to empower the two beasts to make war on the faithful children.
E. The loosing of Satan is more difficult for me to completely understand. Since the 1000 year binding and the 1000 year reigning of the beheaded saints are not literal years, we are left trying to figure out when was or will Satan be released from his prison? (Listen to Rev. 20:7-10)
F. That was not a second Armageddon, but it seemingly is the point after the 1000 years, after a time when Satan seeks to deceive the nations, when Satan is completely defeated and thrown into the same terrible lake of fire that the two beasts had been thrown.
A. We skipped over the marriage feast of the Lamb. But I want simply say that point of these chapters is to remind hurting Christians that the bully will one day fall. Bullies seek to take from you, Jesus seeks to empower you. Bullies want you live in fear, Jesus wants you to live in faith, hope and love. Bullies believe they are invincible, Jesus gives you life eternal.
B. The Lamb takes the hurt and brings healing. The Lamb takes the broken and binds their wounds. The Lamb takes the dead and brings them life. When it comes a war between the Lamb and his enemies, the Lamb wins. I want my robes washed in the blood of the Lamb who died and came to life so that I might die and live with him on high.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister