Babylon’s second problem: She was a baddie
When I first read through verses 6-8 I sort of lumped all the badness together, but as I came back through it another picture developed. See the first phrase of verse 6 is one that deals with vengeance, but the second phrase interjects a further problem. That problem was Babylon’s own misdeeds. It is not as though Babylon was a righteous place with a vengeance issue. No, Babylon was a place of self-service. It was a place that looked out for its own interests and not for the interests of others.
The deeds that accrued to her account were bitter and anti-God. Self-motivation was the mode of her existence and in that mode she trampled many under her feet.
Beginning with the second phrase of verse 6 we see God’s proclamation that she will be judged. When others slighted her she slighted them. Babylon was not just about payback she slighted and harmed the world time and again. God did not miss that and God said that she will be called to account over that.
The rule of doubles
Grace and mercy is given to us and by definition far exceeds what we deserve1. The same math works for the haughty, for the ruthlessly self-advancing crowd. Babylon is of that genre. She is proud, self-deciding that she is beyond mourning. No mortifying tragedy is on the calendar she keeps for herself.
What does God say about that? “Pay her back double,” and “mix a double portion for her.” To rise while treading on the backs of the downtrodden is a sure method to self-destruction. “Weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you,” is how James put it in James 5:1.
Justice does not tarry forever
So, “pay her back as she herself has paid back others.” That is the pronouncement from heaven. There is another passage in the book of James which says, “Judgment without mercy will be shown to all who have not been merciful.” On God’s plan “what goes around comes around,” but how it does that is God’s to mete out.
So for those who think that Christianity is merely a religion of meekness there are other verses, verses like this which they need to process. There is a time for meekness and often people are to express that to even their enemies. That time, though, that manner is not the only vantage point that occurs on fallen earth. When the sins are heaped so high and the time of God’s judgment draws nigh he will make arrangements to balance the scales.