Well, we are getting close to concluding our series on the Book of Revelation. Today’s message is what just might be the next to last message as we get into the rise & fall of Babylon, the Beast, and God’s judgment of the sin contained in the world.
So, let’s quickly review what we have covered thus far:
A GOD OF JUDGMENT?
So, as we pick up in the end of Revelation chapter 14, we see the angel’s reaping of the earth’s harvest and the grapes of God’s wrath. Then in chapters 15 & 16, we see what is described as the Bowl Judgments, which are the last seven judgments to be poured out on the earth before the end will come.
Now the judgment and wrath of God is certainly something that we see saturating the Book of Revelation, isn’t it? It is inescapable—for Revelation’s pages are filled with plagues that are sent by Him and his anger towards the sin & unrighteousness that will be present on the earth in the last days.
In fact, this part of Revelation about judgment & plagues has actually been a tool used by many well-meaning evangelists to convert people and see them repent from their sins. Yes, Revelation is probably the greatest evangelical tool that has been used to see people saved.
However, I see a wrong mentality present in the way many people understand these truths about the wrath of God and His judgment. What I think many people don’t understand is that it is not His will to be angry and judge people. No, I don’t believe that is our Father’s heart at all!
Now is there a wrath towards sin? Yes! Is He going to judge the world? Absolutely! But the thing we need to understand is that this is not His heart. God never has desired to judge people. Yet He does it because He has to, not because He wants to.
Now the chastening of the Lord is different. Back in their day, children were raised differently than the world raises its kids today. They would let their children go through difficult situations in order to see them grow up by making good, correct decisions through the adversity. But that is not what this is referring to. What we see here is a judgment of sin and unrighteousness which is by far the most common cause of God’s judgment people are exposed to.
In fact, when we study the Old Testament, we see the children of Israel being judged time and time again. But in the vast majority of all of these “judgments” we do not find them obeying God, following after righteousness, etc. No, the judgements came as a result of their failure to obey Him and heed His voice.
THE WAGES OF BABYLON
Which leads us to chapter 17 where we see another vision that the apostle John had—that being of a harlot riding on the back of a beast. Many see this as “Babylon”—a symbol of a religious system and/or government that will be carried and led by the antichrist. In other words, we are seeing here the reign of the antichrist in the Last Days through his one world government and religion.
Now as we’ve made the point of throughout this study, this does not mean that this is how this one world government will appear. I highly doubt it will be called “Babylon,” but what it symbolizes is that ancient city of Babylonia that the Bible speaks much of. So, “Babylon” represents the epitome of a godless society—which is obviously what the antichrist will reign over.
But as we move on to chapter 18, we see the Fall of Babylon—which we learned will be close to the time that the antichrist and his false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire. This will be around that third strike called on the devil where he will be “out” for good. Amen!
But what I want you to see from all of these judgments & plagues that will be poured out in these last days is that God’s wrath is not reserved for the righteous and holy. It is reserved for the devil, his angels, and all of those who serve him. In other words, hell is not reserved for servants of the Lord; it is reserved for the devil and his angels.
For example, in Matthew 25:31-46, when Jesus explained how the Son of Man will judge the nations, He described it as a shepherd dividing his sheep from the goats. And Jesus then clearly teaches us what the conversation will be in that day between the shepherd and his sheep/goats. But what I want you to notice is what He said to each one …
Notice first verse 34— “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’” Then He goes on to describe why they were considered His sheep and were placed on His right hand. But notice that Jesus said they would “inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.” That means that God’s plan from the very beginning was for a kingdom to be prepared for mankind. But notice what Jesus said when addressing the goats that were gathered on His left hand. Verse 41 says, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” Notice this judgement was not prepared for them, but for the devil and his angels. So, when we compare what Jesus said to both the sheep and the goats, we see that God Himself has prepared for us an everlasting kingdom. But the judgment of everlasting fire was not prepared for us. It was reserved for the devil and his angels. But based on this passage of Scripture, we see that the goats will be sent there nonetheless, even though the judgment, punishment, and wrath was never intended for them.
You see, we learned earlier in this series from First Thessalonians 5:8 that you and I are not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation. But that does not mean that you and I cannot experience the judgement that we were never appointed to.
This is why I believe that question of “How can a good God ever send someone to hell?” is not based on correct thinking. The truth is things like judgment, punishment, hell, etc. are not what God appoints people to. People make choices that determines those things. This is why the Lord told His people in Deuteronomy 30:19-20— “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
So, the choice is ultimately ours! We are the one who choose life or death, blessing or cursing. It’s not God choosing that for us. Sure, He had to choose to make those things available for us to choose. But He will not force it on us. So, if someone persists in making poor choices, He will let them.
So, in a lot of ways, our lives are a product of the choices we make—the choice to do things God’s way or our own way. We know what Proverbs says, right? “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). So, this means that there are Scriptural principles that are laid out to us by the Lord, and by embracing them in our lives, we choose the life God has prepared for us. In other words, there are spiritual laws that will consistently produce the same results if we take heed to them.
THE FALL OF PRIDE
Let’s look at a specific Biblical principle that illustrates what I am saying that’s along the lines of what we are looking at in Revelation today:
Revelation chapter 18 describes to us the “Fall” of Babylon, right? Well, I would venture to say that we all have heard the following statement from the Book of Proverbs— “Pride goes before a fall.” This comes from Proverbs 16:18 that says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Now how many of you know that this “Babylon” that we are reading about—since it was a city built by the devil himself—was likely built on pride since the is a distinguishing characteristic of Satan. So, should it surprise us that Babylon will fall? Absolutely not! Why? It is because this is a law, a principle, and is just the way it works.
Like we say because of the law of gravity— “What goes up, must come down.” Likewise, a person or a people who lift themselves up, will come down. We need look no further than the Babylon of old to discover this:
We all know that the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, suffered from the sin of pride and lost his kingdom for it. No more than twelve months after being warned by Daniel the prophet of God's displeasure with him, Nebuchadnezzar looked out across the great city of Babylon and said in his pride, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30)
But noticed what happened in verses 31-32: “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”
Then in verse 33 we see the fruit of his fall: “That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.”
Now this example of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and subsequent fall is probably one of the most extreme examples of this principle we have the entire Bible. Of course, other than the fall of Lucifer as a result of his pride. But my point is—This is a law, and it’s not that God had planned for Nebuchadnezzar to be brought to this low place. In fact, we know it wasn’t because in the proceeding verses, we see that he humbled himself, gave glory to God, and apparently experienced a restoration in certain areas. He just simply fell as a result of his own choice to think more highly of himself than he ought to have thought.
So, my point is there are spiritual laws & principles that will yield specific fruit—whether towards life or death.
THE WAGES OF SIN
Now let’s pick up in Revelation chapter 18 where we see further evidence of this by God’s judgment upon Babylon: It begins with angel coming down from heaven with great authority pronouncing judgment over the great city falling.
Then verse 4 says something very interesting: After the angel makes his statements, we read this: “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’”
Notice the angel referred to the judgment that would come upon Babylon as “her plagues,” not “your plagues.” In other words, they are not for His people, but are strictly reserved for sin. But this verse also indicates that if His people do not “come out of her” (i.e. remain enveloped in her ways and choices) and share in her sins, then they can and will (unless they repent, of course) receive of her plagues.
But, again, this is not God’s choice; it’s the choice of each and every one of us as to who we are going to serve and what we will share in. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! Amen?
Now if you continue reading in Revelation chapter 18, you will see the following statements regarding sinful Babylon— “render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works” (verse 6) and “In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow” (verse 7). All of this sounds a lot like a New Testament principle that we see from the pen of the apostle Paul …
You see, the Bible is crystal clear that the wages of sin is death. The apostle Paul said in Romans 6:23— “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now if the gift of eternal life is not forced upon us, but must be received by our choice to receive it by faith, then why would the wages of sin—that being death—be forced on us? It’s not. It too is a choice.
Now I understand that everyone will die—for that choice was made for us by Adam in the garden. But I’m talking about “death” has the absence of God, His promises, and His blessing on our lives. That part is in our control. And when one persists in choosing sin over righteousness, the same death principle applies to all of us.
Let me explain: Paul was teaching in Romans chapter 3-6 of the free gift of righteousness and how everyone who receives the Way of this free gift—the Lord Jesus Christ—has been redeemed, forgiven, and sanctified in Him. But a question came up in Paul’s teaching, and a legitimate one in that, that can we continue in sin then if we are made righteous by His grace and the sin-issue has been taken care of? Paul’s response to his own question was— “Certainly not!” Then in verses 16-23, he begins to explain how if someone presents themselves as a slave of sin then they are that one’s servant. And if sin becomes our master, then we can expect the wages that our master administers. This is what led to his statement in verse 23 that the wages of sin is death.
So, I say all of this to say that sin demands judgment. Death is its offspring. It doesn’t matter you or who’s you are. If you or I choose to the way of unrighteousness, death will eventually follow if we do not repent. That is why it is on us to choose life and choose blessing! We choose them by faith—a faith that follows the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen?
So, all of the death and judgment that we see in the end times is not because God delights in pouring out His wrath—for He is not an angry God, but One who delights in grace & mercy. However, the sin that will permeate the world in the last days demands the completely righteous judgment of God. And this is why we will see the wrath of God poured out on the earth. But, again, when you see God judging folks in the Bible, you do not see God judging righteousness. It’s sin, transgression, and iniquity that the Lord punishes, not holiness, righteousness, and obedience.
WE REAP WHAT WE SOW!
But let me end today’s teaching by flipping the script: Just because it is true that the wages of sin is death and there will be judgment on the sin of the world, this is not to just be taken negatively. You see, just as it is true that the wages of sin is death, the wages of righteousness is life! And just as it is true that there will be negative judgments, there will be positive ones too!
You see, only see the judgment at the end of Revelation as being negative, but we have a lot of other Scriptures that talk about rewards being dealt in that Day See Second Corinthians 5:10. In fact, the word that’s used in many cases to describe the judgment seat of Christ is the Greek word bema which was oftentimes used to describe how someone was rewarded for winning some athletic competition. This wasn’t a somber time, was it? No, this was an exciting time for the winner!
Saints, we are called to be the winners! We just need to run in such a way that we obtain the prize! Then that day won’t be a day to dread, but a day to look forward to!
So, church, while the tendency is to only hear these truths from the negative slant, we need to understand that just as this works against people who make wrong choices, it also works for people who make right choices! Amen!
For example, we talk about the law of sowing & reaping, and most of the time people only refer to that negatively like— “You know, brother. You will reap what you sow.” Totally emphasizing that if you sow bad seed, you will reap bad fruit. What should our response be if someone says that to us? We should respond with— “Praise God!” Why? It’s because it is just as simple to make good choices and sow good seed as it is to make bad choices and sow bad seed—and we have chosen to sow good seed!
If I will sow unto righteousness, I will reap a righteous reward. I can absolutely expect that in my life. So, let’s not take this only from the perspective of— “Oh, I better not make a mistake and open myself up to the wages of sin.” No, let’s focus on following God’s principles and doing what He said!
So, in light of all of this, who is it that will eat from the bowls of wrath? It’s not the wise, the righteous or the holy, it’s the world and those who persist in unrighteousness that are partaking of God’s wrath. In other words, the death, plagues, and destruction that are to come are coming for sin’s sake, not for righteousness’ sake.