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Revelation 18:1-24



After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendour. With a mighty voice he shouted:

“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! …”


Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

“Come out of her, my people,

so that you will not share in her sins,

so that you will not receive any of her plagues;

for her sins are piled up to heaven,

and God has remembered her crimes.”

(verses 1-2, 4-5)

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“Fallen is Babylon,” is a direct quote from Isaiah 21:9. At that point, Isaiah would have had his sights on the literal city of Babylon. Likely John, in his day, had his sights on what was currently the centre of anti-God power in the world, namely the city of Rome. As we read this prophecy, both those cities have long since lost their influence, but the forces of anti-God evil and corruption in the world continue, all of it symbolized for us in this sighting of “Babylon.”


Two things are clear in this passage. The first is that the system of evil in the world, permeating politics and economics and culture, a system which has seemed so powerful and all-pervasive, will finally come to an end. It will be brought down, fallen in a single hour. “Woe! Woe, O great city … In one hour your doom has come! … In one hour she has been brought to ruin!” (verses 10, 17, 19). Those who have benefited from this anti-God system will mourn – those with political power (verse 9), those in economics and commerce (verse 15), those who serviced its operations and greased the wheels of its influence (verse 17), and those enmeshed in its daily life (verses 22-23).


The second clear sighting is that God’s people are called to “come out of her … so that you will not share in her sins” (verse 4). This is reminiscent of Paul’s instruction to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, an admonition that he sums up with an Old Testament quotation: “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing” ((2 Corinthians 6:17).

It seems to me that in both cases believers are not being urged to disengage from any and all activity in the world system. Paul elsewhere gives instructions to slaves and masters alike who are engaged in the economic system of the day, expecting they will do so in a Christ-like way. Jesus himself prays to the Father for his disciples (and us), saying, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). This later point highlights the central issue. Babylon and all its anti-God influence is motivated by the evil one, the Adversary, the enemy of our souls. “Come out of her,” the voice from heaven says, calling us to guard our hearts from being enmeshed in the world’s perspective, calling us to live all of the moments of our lives under the lordship of Christ, rather than the sway of Babylon.


Until the end, followers of Jesus will continue, under his calling, to be engaged in government and politics and commerce and trade and employment and engagement of every kind. But we are to do so without giving our heart away. We are to do so within “the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15), that his name may be honoured.


“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever”

(Revelation 5:13).

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Lord Jesus, thank you that while calling me to be your faithful follower in this world, you remind me that you have in fact overcome the world. Guard my heart. Protect me from the evil one. And strengthen me to live out your calling, right here – to your glory. Amen.

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Reflect:

Is there a part of this fallen world system that has a tendency to particularly grab your heart? Talk it over with the Lord. Invite his lordship afresh into that area of life.

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Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash


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