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Revelation 18 Online Small Group Bible Study – The Fall of Babylon
I. The History and Meaning of Babylon (1-2)
II. The Allure of Babylon (3-16)
III. The Destruction of Babylon (17-24)
I. The History and Meaning of Babylon (1-2)
- What did John see?
- When will these things take place?
- What is Babylon the great?
- Is the description that it is a “dwelling place of demons” figurative or literal?
- What does that teach us about the spiritual warfare we are involved in?
- How should knowing Babylon will fall affect us today?
James 4:4 – You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Revelation 18:1 – Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.
1. The history and background of Babylon – This chapter is all about the fall of Babylon the great. To fully understand the significance of this, we need to go back and trace the history of this city and its meaning in the Bible.
It was started by Nimrod.
Genesis 10:8-10 – Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
The name “Nimrod” means “Let Us Revolt” or “Let Us Rebel.” And the city lived up to its founder’s name.
God commanded people to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28)
But the people of Babel had a different idea.
Genesis 11:4 – Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
They made up their minds to do exactly the opposite of what God had commanded. In their rebellion, they wanted to gather together under one united banner of mankind and make a statement that they would not submit to God. They would do things their own way. They were independent. Man was boss, not God.
This was the first attempt at a one-world government. They built a Ziggurat (Tower) in defiance of worshiping God and setting up false religion.
Thus Babylon represents the world system that sets itself up in opposition to God. That system includes man’s religious, political, and economic self-will. Babylon the religion was dealt with in Revelation 17. And Babylon the political and economic entity is dealt with here in Revelation 18.
Babylon is wicked, filled with demons and the influence of demons. Much like Jerusalem is the city of God, Babylon is the city of the devil.
Babylon is mentioned 260 times in the Bible. From the beginning, it has opposed God. It was also the empire that first came and conquered Jerusalem, taking its inhabitants as exiles away from the Promised Land.
Here in Revelation 18, we see the climax of this battle between two systems. Throughout the whole Bible and all of human history, Satan has been trying to use the world’s system to entice people to join his kingdom with the enticement of wealth, power, and sex.
So we see three things about Babylon historically.
A. It begins as the place of man’s rebellion through a united world effort which God judged by the confusion of languages.
B. It is the instrument that seeks to take away the land promised by God to His people, the Israelites.
C. It is a worldly system of politics and economics, which is influenced by Satan and sets itself up in opposition to God.
His goal for this system is to lure people away from God’s design for them, which is what he has tried to do from the beginning.
II. The Allure of Babylon (3-16)
- What is the allure of Babylon?
- What does “Babylon” offer?
- Why is what Babylon offers so attractive to so many people?
- How can you see this system working in the world today?
- In light of this chapter, can/should a believer ever enjoy a luxury? Why or why not?
- What is the danger of riches?
- What is one area that you have been pressured to conform to the world’s way rather than God’s? What did you learn from this?
- How will most people react when Babylon falls? Why will they react like this?
- What does this teach you about loving the world?
Proverbs 30:8-9 – Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
1. Satan is currently active in the world –
We are not yet in the time that this final version of Babylon has been revealed. But Satan is nonetheless active in this world. He is not just sitting around waiting for his end to come. He and his demons seek to lure, seduce, and tempt people away from God. They target the church. They target families. They target children. They target students. They use every tool at their disposal: especially the world system all around us.
2. Ways the world tries to lure us away from God –
Here we see four key temptations used to lure people away from God and to the world.
A. Wealth – The words “wealth” or “riches” appear five times in this passage. One of the ways Satan tries to entice is through money.
Revelation 18:3b – And the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.
Here are a few questions you can think about to evaluate your own attitude toward money:
- Do you spend much time thinking about money?
- Do you spend much time talking about money?
- How often do you check your investments or bank account?
- Are you willing to sin to get more money? (For example, avoiding taxes)
Many people give their lives to the pursuit of making money.
Application: Brothers and sisters, this is not the way. God has not called us to pursue worldly riches. Let us instead use any resources He gives us for building His kingdom.
B. Immorality –
Revelation 18:3 – For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her.
One of the things Satan offers is immorality. Of course, he doesn’t call it immorality. He calls it pleasure, innocent fun, romance, a thrill. He promises happiness, and free sex with no consequences.
From Old Testament times, many false religions were built upon immorality. Many temples were filled with prostitutes and sexual immorality was even an integral aspect of worshiping that deity.
That hasn’t changed today. Modern-day movies and TV shows are increasingly filled with immorality. Access to pornography is far more widespread. What used to be done secretly in the dark is more and more done in the open. Through media, the allure of immorality can be broadcast straight into the home.
In Revelation 18, we see that the world has mostly bought what Satan is selling. They don’t just dabble in it a little bit. They don’t do it secretly or try to hide it. They have become completely drunk, intoxicated with sexual immorality. They do it brazenly without any shame.
We see the world quickly moving toward the rampant immorality depicted here in Revelation 18.
People are not content to do it themselves. They praise and exalt others who engage in the same immoral behavior. They glorify it and attack any who point out the sin.
So in the end times, people will embrace the government and leaders who support, even celebrate their sin.
Application: Brothers and sisters, this is not the way. God places certain boundaries on us for our own good. Let us dedicate ourselves to purity and faithfulness.
Revelation 18:7 – As she glorified herself and lived in luxury.
Revelation 18:16 – “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls!
Babylon promotes indulgence and luxurious living. Merchants who do business with her reap great wealth. This wealth is not used to help others. There is no thought of frugality or generosity.
People make money in order to spend it on lavish living. In such a world with no restraint, the more grandiose and absurd the purchase the better. Vain people will compete with each other for new ludicrous ways to spend money.
Absurd scribbles of art sell for vast amounts of money. I have seen “art” pieces that were literally scribbled circles of chalk on a blackboard sold for seventy-million dollars.
Why do people spend money like this? I believe it is vanity. What better way to prove how rich you are than the ability to waste a large amount? (Like two rich guys burning two piles of money).
People zealously pursue lavish lifestyles, caring not how much money is wasted. It brings them pleasure.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei for example owns over 5000 luxury cars valued at 2.3 trillion.
Others buy yachts, mansions, and fashion clothes. One of my previous students who I taught English to told me that her purse cost over $10,000. And she was quite proud of it.
It is not only the rich who seek luxury. People with less money face the same trap of always wanting more.
Application: Brothers and sisters, this is not the way. God does not call us to pursue a lavish lifestyle. He doesn’t call us to chase the world. Let us use all of the resources He has given us for His glory.
Revelation 18:22 – And the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more.
Another way that this worldly system comes against God is through culture. Think about how many cultural things in history glorify sin.
- Gladiators. UFC fighting?
- Drunkenness (drinking is part of our culture!)
- Certain kinds of art (Many artists paint and display nudity. It is all for appreciating the human body they say. And yet God commands modesty and clothed Adam and Eve. Why are so many statues and art pieces of naked people?)
- Music – Many types of music dishonor God.
- Films – Many modern films glorify sin. Grotesque violence, drugs, sex. But “it’s art,” they say. Yes, it is a corrupted form of art from a corrupted system that is against God.
Many sinful practices are excused by the phrase “it’s culture” or “it’s art.” Culture is fallen and depraved.
Application: Brothers and sisters, this is not the way. God does not call us to follow the culture around us. He calls us to redeem it. We can redeem music and use it to honor God. We can redeem films and use them to share the good news. There is even a site called Redeem TV and they have good, Christian films like The Chosen, Courageous, and Torchlighters for kids. You can redeem art and use your artistic gift to glorify God. You can redeem sports and use them as an outreach tool. Let us redeem the culture around us.
III. The Destruction of Babylon (17-24)
- What can you learn from this passage about worldly wealth?
- Why do so many people work so hard for something that is so temporary?
- What is it about wealth that has such a strong appeal even to believers?
- How would this city be destroyed? To what extent will it be destroyed?
- How will unbelievers feel?
- How will believers feel?
- How will businesses be affected?
- How will culture, entertainment, and the arts be affected?
- Why were people deceived? How can believers make sure we are not deceived in the same manner?
- Share some ways you can redeem the community/culture around you rather than yoking yourself to it.
Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Deuteronomy 8:18 – You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
Revelation 18:17 – For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”
Revelation 18:21-24 – “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
and will be found no more;
and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
will be heard in you no more,
and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slain on earth.”
1. The destruction of Babylon – The capital of this economic, commercial, and political system which sets itself up against God is going to be destroyed. When it happens, it will happen quickly. In a single day. In a single hour. God is going to destroy it, burning it up with fire.
The ramifications of this will be seen across the globe. Its political allies will weep and mourn. Its merchant partners will wail and despair. Supply chains across the world will be broken. Ships and cargo will be stranded with no buyers. Businesses will be wrecked.
One doesn’t have to use very much imagination to understand how this will affect the global economy. In 2008, when just one important financial firm in the US went bankrupt (The Lehman Brothers), the stock market crashed. Not just on Wall Street. Across the world, one by one as markets opened they all crashed. Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Dubai, Berlin, London. In a single day, the global economy crashed. Every person linked to this economy felt its effects.
On that day or reckoning for Babylon, the pain will be far worse. Every person who is connected to that evil system will feel it. The wailing and despair show how much they hope in and rely on that for their safety and security.
They chose the wrong way. And God’s Word says, “you reap what you sow.” They chose sin and pleasure and wealth and luxury instead of God. And in this chapter, we see that they will pay the price.
1 John 2:16-17 – For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Look around you for a moment. What is going to last? Nothing. Nothing that you can see is eternal. The only thing that will last around you is the souls of the people next to you. That is what God’s kingdom is made up of. And that is where we should invest!
The whole of Revelation and here in chapter 18 show us this epic battle between God and Satan, good and evil, the narrow road and the broad road. Here again we see that God wins.
Imagine you are a gambler and someone comes to you and is able to tell you in crystal clear detail how the match will go and who will win. Do you think that gambler will bet on the losing side? That would be insanity. And so it is insane to gamble one’s soul and bet on this world’s system. It is going to lose. We have seen the end of the path. Which path are you on?
Revelation 18 Key Lesson – Our Attitude Toward Babylon
What man sees:
What God sees:
- Dwelling place for demons
- A haunt for every unclean spirit
- A haunt for every unclean bird
- Her sins are heaped as high as heaven
When God looks at the world’s corrupted system, that is what He sees. And because He sees the truth about this world, He gives those who belong to Him a clear command.
Revelation 18:4 – Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.
The point is clear. God’s people must not align themselves with Babylon. From this, we can find our main application for today.
Two Ways – Choose The Right One!
Acts 24:14 – But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers
In New Testament times, the Christian faith was called “the Way.” It was called this because believers lived their life a different way from those in the world. Their faith affected how they live. The way they treated their family was different. The way they did business was different. And most importantly, they followed the true way to God through Jesus.
So in this passage we see a clear contrast. There are two ways. We can follow the crowd and live like the world or we can be different.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Here we see five contrasts between God’s way and the world’s way.
- Righteousness – Lawlessness
- Light – Darkness
- Christ – Belial (Satan)
- Believer – Unbeliever
- Tempe of God – Idols
What does He command?
- Do Not Be Unequally Yoked
- Go out.
- Be separate.
- Touch no unclean thing.
And God takes that idea of being separate and distinct very seriously. In the Old Testament, Jews were to be very different from others. Because they could not eat the same foods, do the same things, or even wear the same clothing, they were almost forced to be separate.
In the New Testament, the church is called to the Great Commission. We have all heard the phrase, be in the world, but not of the world. We don’t have to become monks in Inner Mongolia and confine ourselves to a monastery. But neither do we join in doing things the way the world does and say, “I am being in the world.”
We in the church are to be salt and light. Jesus said that when the salt loses its flavor, it is no good anymore. We are called to maintain our distinctiveness. The light of Christ through us is to penetrate the world in this dark hour.
In a very real sense, the Holy Spirit through the church is holding back the tide of evil in this world. Without the light from believers speaking the truth, the world would quickly spiral into more and more insane sin.
So the question is, are you joining the world? Or are you redeeming it?
Here in Corinthians, Paul commands believers to not be yoked together with an unbeliever. We must not be yoked together with Babylon, the corrupt world system which thumbs its nose at God.
- Do not marry unbelievers. There is nothing that allies yourself so closely to the world’s system than marriage!
- Consider where to send your kids to school. Would you send your child to Nimrod Babel High? If not, then should you send your child to school that is run by the same worldly system today? It may be that your child can go to Babylon University (like Daniel did) and share the gospel, and be salt and light. If that is what God is calling you to do, OK. If so, you must prepare them them first. Are your children prepared to face the immense pressure to conform from the system schools?
- Use your money to invest in God’s kingdom, not Babylon.
- Think of ways to redeem culture around you.
Key Verse To Remember
Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
More to Come Soon!
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