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The Fallen City

Zac Rigsby - 7/7/2024

Scripture: Revelation 17-18


Revelation reveals to us that there will always be twisted economic power luring Christ's followers away from the ways of Jesus. This idea is summarized in Revelation 17 and 18 by the prostitute/city Babylon. Babylon persecutes the saints and intoxicates those who do not follow Jesus. Babylon, though, is puppeted by corrupt systems of Empire. Making our world like John's world, one where fallen economic and political power wages war against God and his Church. However, these corrupted realities will not last. They will be destroyed. Their way of life results in destruction because it is contrary to God. Nothing contrary to God can stand, and no matter how many distorted economic systems and empires exist, they all will fall. We are reminded that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords. He reigns. Thankfully, because he reigns, the church has victory with him. These chapters ask the fundamental question, do you live in Babylon and its idolatrous luxury, autonomy, and violence? Or the kingdom of God? 


“Everything in the Revelation can be found in the previous sixty-five books of the Bible. The Revelation adds nothing of substance to what we already know. The truth of the gospel is already complete, revealed in Jesus Christ. There is nothing new to say on the subject. But there is a new way to say it. I read the Revelation not to get more information but to revive my imagination. St. John uses words the way poets do, recombining them in fresh ways so that old truth is freshly perceived. He takes truth that has been eroded to platitude by endless usage and sets it in motion before us in an “animated impassioned dance of ideas.” - Eugene Peterson

Our time in Revelation 17 & 18 shows us that:

  • Babylon is the earthly reality that hates God and God’s people.
  • Babylon is selling a life of:
    • Opulence — an idolization of wealth wherein you find your security and value.
    • Sexuality — warped to become an identity and the ultimate fulfiller of happiness.
    • Autonomy — or self-law with man as God, echoing the original sin of creation.
    • Violence — worshiped as a solution and as a safeguard offering both security and entertainment.
    • Comfort — compromises the people of God from the purposes of God because it is just easier. 

    • Babylon has intoxicated and compromised not only the kings of many nations but those who dwell on the Earth.
    • The beast, that empowers Babylon is a spiritual reality and earthly reality that has strength and authority. It has existed before, it exists now, and it will continue to exist until the final day when Jesus returns.
    • There is spiritual adultery that happens when the state uses economic power, like wealth, luxury, and sensuality, to compromise and consume the world and the people of God. This was true of Rome and is true today.

    Our question was: How do we live as faithful followers of the Lamb with Babylon falling all around us? 

    Our answer is: We remain faithful to the Lamb by trusting in the victory of the Lamb and not participating in the sins of Babylon. 

    This answer has two parts. 

    1. Jesus is on the throne, and because of that, his chosen, called, and faithful people have victory with him.
    2. Trusting in this victory means that we do not participate in Babylon’s sins.
      • We should be a people of peace, not of violence.
      • We are to have our sexuality defined by God and his design, not this world and its subjectivity.
      • We are to see our wealth and resources as kingdom tools for God’s kingdom purpose, not as a means of comfortable compromise.
      • We live in humble dependence on Jesus Christ. Autonomy is the lie of the garden, we were made for more than fallen autonomy. 

    Here are the questions for reflection that help us live in light of Revelation 17 & 18. 

    • If you look at your life today, where are you living? Are you living in the city of Babylon?
    • Is your life built around accumulating economic power, thus placing your security in the material things of this Earth?
    • How is your view of sexuality defined, by God’s design for you or your desire for yourself?
    • Last one, where in your life are the idols of Babylon: opulence, autonomy, violence, sensuality, and comfort growing?

    *We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.