Have you heard people claim that God’s ways are just not knowable? Or maybe that they don’t understand why God does things? Sometimes these are expressions of heart that is aching, but other times of a heart that is rebelling. Or maybe they represent thoughts that God is just not good because of a thing which has happened.
God’s ways sometimes are not knowable, but other times they are. By the study of his word we can come to know his heart so that ours will have the right response when our individual lives are uncertain.
I have come to know that God always has his reasons though such a statement is not devoid of faith. I am comfortable with this, but have not always been. Many times God’s ways are too hard to figure out (just yet). Other times there are answers that can be discerned. Today’s passage is one of those where we see that permanent, violent, judgment on Babylon was not capricious. Let us open the hood and sort some of this out.
Let us again read the verses from last week so our minds may be refreshed in front of chapter 18’s closing words.
21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; 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, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, 23 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, (Revelation 18:21-23a–ESV)
Do you see the boulder-like stone thrown in an ocean? That stone was so large it made a violent splash and disappeared beneath the water. That was judgment on Babylon and the angel expounded upon it in a poem of loss. See Babylon had taken God-given, God-made good things like music, crafts, weddings and food and used them for her own ends. She was judged for that spiritual adultery, and God took his good things back. So no caprice there and we can see it upon studying it.
In today’s lesson we can see more deeply into the Babylonian situation. Babylon’s motives were not just slighting her creator. She also was destroying things near to the creator’s heart.
Judgment connected to human living
“…for your merchants were the great ones of the earth…” (Revelation 18:23b–ESV)
Don’t skip this tiny, three letter word. There is more to God’s judgment than people using God’s good things for their bad pleasures. “For” connects that demise to the things coming.
This is where we will begin. Following on the word “for” are two more words “your merchants.” By the time of Babylon’s destruction it will be the center of the world’s power. As a result located there will be headquarters of many multinational corporations. Think of the financial districts of our world. They even have an official index: the Global Financial Centers Index. In the early 21st Century New York City and London have vied for the top spot in the world followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, and on down a list.
Revelation tells us that Babylon will be the financial center of the end of our world. Some may scoff at such a conceptualization, but we will see. Perhaps the Bible’s use of Babylon represents another city than a resurrected Babylon, who knows. It would not have made sense for an angel to tell John of a future city like New York City in a vision on Patmos. I mentally figure that Babylon will in some manner rise to prominence again because of Satanic motivations.