Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Revelation 18:1-3

Revelation 18:1-3
After this I saw another angel who comes down out of heaven who has great authority, and the earth was being illuminated out of his glory.  And he cried out in a strong voice, “Babylon the great fell!  She fell!  And she became a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, every unclean bird, and of every unclean beast also having been abhorred.  Since all the nations have drank out of the wine of her strong passions of fornication, the kings of the earth fornicated with her, and the sea-faring merchants of the earth became rich out of her wanton power.” 

Thoughts for Today


First Thought:

We open today with what is typically referred to as a doom song.  Doom songs are quite common in prophetic and apocalyptic literature.  For people who are focused entirely on grace, they seem out of place.  It is quite easy to find ourselves falling into the trap of asking, “What place is there in Christianity for celebrating the fall and judgment of the enemy?”  However, doom songs play an important role in identifying with the victim – or even more importantly, giving the victim a place with which they identify!  No, there is no grace extended to the woman (Babylon) as she falls into judgment.  But John isn’t writing to Babylon, is he?  John is writing to the people who are being persecuted for their faith.  John is writing to the people whose lives are being torn apart and whose loved ones are dying because they believe in God.  When those people hear the celebration of the fall of Babylon, they will know that they can identify with God.  They will feel welcome in God, as though they have a place to belong forever.  It isn’t about forcing grace upon the one who seeks to refuse it!  It is about extending hope to the one who is willing to embrace it.

Where has grace been extended to you in your time of persecution?  Do you ever feel in conflict as you celebrate inside knowing that a person got their due?  In what way can this be righteous?  In what way can this lead to sin if we are not careful?

Second Thought:

If we take this thought even further to its limit, realize what this doom song is about.  This doom song is about the celebration of the fall of the unclean things.  This doom song is about the fall of people who refused God.  It is about the fall of human sinfulness.  It is about the conquest of those who oppose God.  In its heart, this song is about the victory that God will ultimately have over His fallen creation.  This song is not about an all-inclusive open love.  This song is about warfare and bitter struggle and taking sides and knowing that God’s side will come out to be the victor.  This song is about knowing that life is a constant fight against the temptations of our heart.  But this song is about the fact that this fight is very much worth it.

Where do you live out this fight?  Have you ever celebrated in your victory over sin and human rebellion?  How quick are you to give glory to God at those moments?

Third Thought:

There is a very hidden point that I think is quite important to not overlook.  We are not told about the identity of the angel who delivers this doom song.  But I think the identity is there for those who care to look for it.  This message is delivered by a messenger of God who comes down from heaven with great authority.  This messenger is said to illuminate all of the earth.  In other words, doesn’t it sound like John is calling this messenger the light of the world?  The identity is hidden, but I believe there are enough clues for us to take a pretty good guess that this doom song is delivered to us by none other than Jesus Christ Himself.  It is Jesus who celebrates His victory over sin and those who chose sin.  It is Jesus who celebrates the fall of the woman (Babylon).  And why shouldn’t He?  Didn’t Jesus come to earth to conquer death by dying on the cross?  Why shouldn’t he celebrate the final completion of that victory?

Are you surprised to think that the identity of this messenger may be none other than Jesus Christ?  What does it say to you to realize that Jesus celebrates His victories over those who genuinely oppose Him?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 18:4-8
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