Revelation 18: Faithful with Joy
December 21, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
We are still in the section when John is describing Babylon. Babylon is symbolic of the military and economic might, of the Roman Empire and other nations in rebellion against God. Babylon is opposed to the work of Christ and to his people, killing God’s prophets and people:
“In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”
And now in this chapter John describes the fall of Babylon. Over and over again he accords to Babylon the ultimate woe that comes from heaven against Babylon.
“‘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!’”
John is encouraging us that when the great might of the nations and powers around – even the might of a Rome, a great Empire, is turned against us as God’s people – then we should look ahead to that moment and time when woe will be pronounced on these evil powers that kill the innocent and the godly. We are even told to rejoice:
“Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets! For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you.”
As politically incorrect as it may sound today, when you read the stories of the martyrs from the past, when you become aware of the persecution facing many many Christians today in the Middle East, you realize anew that a sense of justice and judgment can give us a joy and a sustaining faith in the midst of the greatest of trials.
“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’”
And because of this vision of God’s judgment, we are exhorted towards faithfulness and away from compromise with the military and economic powers of rebellious empires and nations.
“‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues”
You who are under persecution, and facing attack, remember that God will one day judge. And remain faithful, with joy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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