Rev. 18:3 – For all the nations have drunk the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath. The kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from her excessive luxury. (HCSB)
The angel spells out the reasons for the fall of Babylon the Great in verse 3: “For all the nations have drunk the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath. The kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from her excessive luxury.” The wickedness of the world system opposed to God has been exposed. Not only has Babylon the Great abandoned the one true and living God, but she has replaced Him with multiple false deities that lure the world’s inhabitants through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the sinful pride of one’s lifestyle (1 John 2:16).
How applicable is this indictment of Babylon on today’s society, which embraces “spiritualism” at the expense of true worship. As the apostle Paul warns, “But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
When we boast that we are spiritual but not religious; when we lament the addition of a fish to the endangered species list but celebrate the right to end the life of an unborn child for any reason; when we abrogate the responsibility of individuals and families to work hard and care for their own by increasing our dependency on government entitlements; when we insist that ethics are situational and reject absolute truth as a vestige of less-enlightened times; when we say all forms of religious expression are fine as long as the name of Jesus is excluded; when a 50th wedding anniversary between a man and a woman is rare but gay marriage is normative; and when a theory of origins based on time and chance is called an indisputable fact but a theory that points to intelligent design is considered rank scientific heresy – we have become the people who drink the wine of Babylon the Great’s sexual – that is, spiritual – immorality. And we have invited the wrath of God.
John notes that the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with Babylon the Great, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from her excessive luxury. Consider how one becomes a head of state these days: by offering people the equivalent of the Roman “bread and circus” to numb us to the reality of our selfish and destructive lifestyles; by feeding the flames of class warfare, which rejects the biblical teaching of contentment with our lot; by stoking the flames of resentment against others whose biblically based views of morality are caricatured as dangerous and out of style; by dumbing down absolute truth into political correctness derived from focus groups and exit polls; and by trading favors in the name of political expediency. It has always been this way, no doubt, and it may be exaggeration to say it’s worse today than ever before. But there is little doubt that political power is currency that may only be traded in the marketplace of Satan’s world system, which John calls Babylon the Great.
And then, consider what John writes about the excessive luxury of Babylon. While it’s true that many godly men and women are blessed with financial wealth, the world’s economic engine operates largely to satisfy our lust for things we don’t need – and probably don’t even want. There is nothing wrong with money and things. Paul did not write that money is the root of all evil, but the love of money. “But godliness with contentment is a great gain,” Paul writes. “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Tim. 6:6-10).
The merchants of Babylon have fallen into the trap, as Paul warns. They have found their treasure in earthly possessions at the expense of heavenly ones. Jesus urges us, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21). The one whose focus is on bigger barns will take nothing with him into eternity. That’s the message the angel is giving us in Revelation 18. Those who become drunk on the wine of worldliness will miss the great treasure in heaven God is storing up for us. It is payday for the world system. But first, God has a message for believers living in this sinful and fallen world.
Next: Come out of her – Revelation 18:4-5