The Fall Of Religious Babylon

Steve Viars April 25, 1990 Revelation 17:

- tonight we want to look at some of the events at the end of

  the tribulation

- we'll be in Rev. 17

 

- I'd like to take a moment and set the context of this

  chapter chronologically

- if you remember back to one of our first messages on

  Revelation, we looked at one of the possible ways of

  outlining the book based on 1:19 (things which thou hast

  see, the things which are, the things which shall be

  hereafter)

 

- there's another way of dividing the book that may be

  helpful for our purposes tonight

- you know that the book of Revelation is a series of visions

  where Christ reveals himself and his plan to the apostle

  John

 

- if you count the visions, you'll find that there are four

  primary visions, and John begins each one by using the

  phrase "in the spirit"

- what he means by that phrase is, here's what the spirit of

  God revealed to me through supernatural means

 

- those four occasions are:

    - 1:10 - I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day - vision

                of Christ and His church

    - 4:2 - Straightway I was in the spirit - vision of

                Christ and His world

    - 17:3 - and he carried me away in the spirit - vision of

                Christ and His enemy

    - 21:10 - and he carried me away in the spirit - vision

                of Christ and his victory

 

- tonight's passage is the third great vision, where Christ

  tells us some important things about what will during the

  tribulation

 

- from a chronological perspective, John has just about told

  us everything that is going to happen before the second

  coming of Christ and the Battle of Armageddon

- what's happening in these final chapters is that the angel

  that God has directed to reveal these trues to John is

  showing John some of the final things he needs to know

- as you read the verses, its as if the angel is saying,

  before you go, you need to understand this

- before you write to the Revelation churches, you need to

  understand this

- its best to place the things happening in these chapters in

  the first half of the tribulation

 

- I think as we look at this passage it will become evident

  why John needed to know these things, why the Revelation

  churches needed to know them, and why you nd I need to know

  them

 

- before we start reading these verses, we also need to talk

  about one more introductory matter

- that is, John is going to be talking to us about Babylon

- we've titled chaps. 17-18 the fall of religious and

  economic Babylon

 

-I doubt that that will hit us the way it would have hit his

  original readers

- when John wrote to the original Revelation churches and

  mentioned Babylon, his readers would have thought about two

  things

 

  1)  historically

 

        - remember, the first time the city of babel is

          mentioned in the Bible is in Gen. 11 where the

          people defied God and sought to build a city that

          would reach up to the heavens, lest they be

          scattered

 

        - of course that was in direct rebellion against God

          who had told them twice (once at creation and once

          after the flood) to scatter themselves, be

          fruitful, and multiply

 

        - so Babel right from the beginning was associated

          with rebellion, defiance, self-sufficiency, and

          pride

 

        - of course also from a historical perspective, the

          Jews also hated the Babylonians because the

          babylonians had taken the Jews into captivity and

          destroyed Jerusalem

 

        - that self-sufficiency and pride was seen in kings

          like Nebuchadnezzar, who Daniel says, looked around

          at Babylon and said, "Is not this great Babylon,

          which I have built for a royal dwelling place, by

          the might of my power and for the glory of my

          majesty?"

 

        - so Babylon in the Scripture often represents that

          anti-God philosophy characterized by rebellion,

          defiance, self-sufficiency, and pride

 

        - also we need to say this about Babylon, it often

          refers to more than a geographical location

 

        - like Wall Street - refers to a literal place but

          refers to much more than that at the same time

 

- John's original hearers also would have thought about

  Babylon:

 

    2)  geographically

 

        - to a person in Bible days - Babylon was Rome

        - cf. I Peter 5:13 - closed his letter with "she who

                          is in babylon sends you greetings"

                 - the book was written from Rome

 

        - the significance of that point should become more

            apparent later

 

- lets see what God reveals to John about this subject

 

- read 17:1-6

 

I.  Religious Babylon

 

    A.  symbolized as a harlot

 

        1.  significance

 

        when we talk about religious babylon, we're talking

        about the apostate church which flourishes for a time

        during the tribulation

 

        - to be sure this is clear - we're not talking about

          the true church - we're talking about unbelievers

          who have some snese of religiosity

 

        - they'll be called the church in that day - but they

          won't be regenerate

        - this chapter is going to make it clear that they

          will have a worldwide religious organization going,

          completely filled with unbelievers

 

        - symbolizing this group as a harlot wouldn't be

          unusual at all

        - God had told Israel on a number of occasions that

          they were behaving like harlots because they had

          left him and gone after idols

 

        - its also not surprising that God would symbolize

          this group as a harlot since they are exactly

          opposite of whom?  (the church, the bride of

          Christ)

 

        2.  descriptions

 

            a.  sits on many waters

 

                - read vs. 17 - waters are people who have

                       been deceived by this religious system

 

                - the end of verse 2 expands that - she's

                  made the inhabitants drunk with her

                  fornications

 

                - just like wine deceives a person and makes

                  him think he's invincible and all the rest,

                  many on earth have been deceived by the

                  ways of this harlot

 

 

            b.  sinful connections with the government

 

                - not that the church should never have any

                  impact on government, but its clear that

                  the relationship with the harlot and the

                  government is fornicatious, in that they

                  are using each other to sinful ends

 

 

            c.  wearing costly array (so even though she was

                a pictured as a harlot - wicked on the inside

                -impressive on the outside - at least from

                 the perspective of how se dressed)

 

            e.  cup full of abominations, filtiness,

                blasphemy

 

            f.  mother of harlots

 

                - so this anti-God religious system is

                  reproducing itself

 

        - now you might ask this question -where are all

          these religious leaders going to come from?

        - after all - the rapture has occurred - all the

          believers are taken away

             - where are all these religious people going to

               come from who will make up this religious

               system?

 

             - INPUT? (from all the poeple who would consider

                themselves religious but have never trusted

                Christ as Savior and Lord)

                   - you realize that there are many, many

                     groups that long ago denied:

                      - the deity of Christ

                      - the virgin birth of Christ

                      - the inspiration of the Scriptures,

                      - the reality of Christ's miracles

             - thats what the fundamentalist/modernist

               controversy was about 60 years ago

 

        - frankly, there are some whole denominations that

          won't be affected much at all by the rapture

        - it will be business as usual for them

        - everyone will be in their place the next Sunday

          morning

        - I think we need to say this - not everyone who

          calls Faith Baptist Church their home is going to

          be raptured either

        - only those who have truly trusted Christ as Lord

          and Savior will be going

 

        - so there will be all kinds of "religious" people

          around

 

        - its interesting that in many of those groups, the

          big buzzword is ecumenism, and the ecumenical

          spirit

        - forget doctrinal differences, lets just love one

          another - lets just co-operate and get along

        - (we'll talk about that more later)

    - so religious babylon is symbolized as a harlot

 

    B.  supported (borne along) by the beast and his

        confederacy

 

        - its important to notice that this harlot is riding

          a beast

 

        1.  identity of the beast

 

            read 7-8

 

            - its not hard to identify this beast

            - INPUT - who is it?  (the Antichrist)

 

            - INPUT - what is the significance of the fact

               that the harlot is riding the beast?

               (the harlot and the Antichrist are working

               together - they're in "co-hoots")

            - they are using one another

 

        2.  identity of his confederacy

 

            - you might remember the ten horns and the little

              horn from the book of Daniel

            - the ten horns are the rulers of a sort of

              "United States of Europe" which unite uner the

               Antichrist

            - we won't take time to read verse 9-12, but they

              describe the confederation in some detail

 

            - I would like us to note verses 13-14 (read)

 

            - INPUT - what do these verses tell us about the

                      confederacy?  (united together against

                      Christ and against the believers)

 

            - so we're talking about an established religious

              system that actually is supported by the

              Antichrist and is therefore againstChrist and

              the true believers

 

        - now, ironically, the same group that gives the

          harlot power destroys her

 

        - read verses 16-17

 

- we're not going to take time to look at in tonight, but let

  me just point out that chapter 18 describes the fall of

  economic babylon

- you might say - what does the economic system have to do

  with it?

 

- answer is - in the end times - its all one big system

   - you might say it this way - its a new age of a global

     society

   - the world's not getting smaller, its getting closer!

 

   - the AntiChrist will actually have religion under his

     control and the economy under his control

 

 

- I've given a brief outline of chapter 18 from Warren

  Wiersbe if you'd like to do some special study on this

  subject

      

II.  Economic Babylon - chapter 18      

 

    A.  Voice of condemnation - 1-3

 

    B.  Voice of separation - 4-8

 

    C.  Voice of lamentation - 9-19

 

    D.  Voice of celebration - 20-21

 

III.  Implications

 

    A.  Importance of "saved church members"

 

        - I think one of the results of studying these verses

          is seeing the importance of having church members

          who are truly regenerate

        - its frightening to think about an entire religious

          system that is so spiritually bankrupt that they

          would actually be in league with the AntiChrist

 

        - we're not talking about a few doctrinal deviations,

          we're talking about a group that would call

          themselves religious yet actively and aggressively

          war against Christ

        - we need to think about how if the rapture took

          place tonight, that group would be up and

          functioning early in the tribulation

        - in other words, if that were to happen, the

          Antichrist could find plenty of people to use right

          here and now

 

        - when you think about it, thats a sad commentary on

          the state of the "church"

 

        - one of the distinctives that Baptists have

          historically stood for is saved church members

        - that means that historically, as long as Baptists

          have been around, a church that was truly a Baptist

          church required that an individual say that he was

          saved before he could be allowed into the

          membership of the church

 

        - thats why we ask folks to give their testimony

          before they are voted into the church

        - I'm sure there are folks from time to time who

          don't care for that practice - but I wouldn't be

          for making it any easier to become a member of our

          church, would you?

 

        - of course that doesn't mean that the church can

          truly determine whether the person is really saved,

          but at least everyone knows that they have to say

          they are saved before they would be allowed to be

          members

        - I think thats part of our heritage to be thankful

          for

 

        - you may not have been around churches that did it

          any other way, but some of you have been at

          churches where getting a membership was kind of

          like joining the YMCA - you sign here, pay your

          money and you're in

 

        - if you've ever been in a situation like that, you

          know that the church isn't much different than the

          world, because the church is filled with

          unbelievers

        - its not surprising that a group of religious people

          will be primed and ready when the Antichrist comes

 

        - I think we need to say this about that as well

        - part of the responsibility for this problem falls

          on the shoulders of pastors - I'm thinking of

          liberal pastors

        - . . . who give people the impression that

          everybody's going to heaven

        - you go to a funeral, and you know the person who

          died never had any time for God, never was in

          church, never claimed to be saved and certainly had

          no evidence of it - -

            - yet by time the pastor got done with the

              funeral, you thought you were at the funeral of

              the apostle Paul

            - not only did he have that guy preached into

              heaven, but he had everyone in the room

              preached into heaven as well

 

            - I'm sure many folks in here have been in

              that situation as well, and it makes you angry

            - it also helps you to understand this passage a

              little, because there are a lot of unsaved

              religious people around

 

    B.  Have an "understanding of the times"

 

        - God commended the children of Issacahar in I Chron.

          12:32 because they had an understanding of the

          times, and they knew what Israel ought to do

 

        - I'm not trying to make some sort of eschatological

          prediction, but when you look at the events around

          us, you have to believe that conditions have never

          been better for the return of Christ

 

        - of course we believe that Christ could have

          returned at any point in history, but at least in

          my lifetime, conditions have never been better for

          the return of Christ and a quick transition to the

          way the Bible describes the tribulation conditions

 

        - if these aren't the last day, things today are

          certainly are like what the last days will be

 

        - let me give you a couple of examples

        - you probably know today that one of the great moves

          in education is toward producing the "global

          student"

 

 

        - Dr. Chester Pierce said to a group of 2000

          teachers:

           - "Every child who enters school at the age of

        five is mentally ill, because he comes to school with

        allegience toward our elected officials, toward our

        founding fathers, toward our institutions, toward

        this form of government we have...patriotism,

        nationalism, sovereignty.  .  . all this proves the

        children are sick, because the truly well individual

        is one who has rejected all those things and is what

        I would call the true international child of the

        future"

 

        - those kind of statements shouldn't surprise us

          since the introduction to the 2nd humanist

          manifesto stated:

            "The ultimate goal should be the fulfillment of

             the potential for growth in each human

             personality-not for the favored few, but for all

             mankind.  Only a shared world and global measure

             will suffice"

 

        - we're not saying that every public school teacher

          is a card carrying humanist

        - but certainly the public policy of the NEA, along

          with actions of administrators and especially those

          in curriculum are pushing the "global child" idea

        - what comes with that is:

            - equal distribution of wealth

            - democratic socialism

            - lack of individualism

            - the idea that nationalism is wrong

            - you could hold whatever religious beliefs you

              want, but you should never think yours are

              better than anyone else's

            - total support of the United Nations

 

        - the fact that that's happening in many aspects of

          education and society out to make us ask at least

          two questions:

            1) what's wrong with that?

            2) what should our response be?

 

        - 1) what's wrong with that?

 

        - a lot of these things are very slippery to deal

          with because their are aspects that are right

        - there's nothing wrong with telling a college

          student that he should pick up a foreign language

          so that he can compete better in a foreign market

 

        - but some educators have crossed way over that line

        - we're not just talking about understanding more

          about another country

             - they would have us become just like other

               countries

             - get rid of that notion that your beliefs,

               standards, way of doing things are more

               superior

             - get rid of this nationalism, this loyalty to

               America and her ways of doing things

 

        - instead, lets sit around and talk about what it

          must have been like to be living in Hiroshema when

          America dropped the atomic bomb instead of talking

          about all the reasons that led up to it

 

        - we will have to become more adept at understanding

          the subtle nuances of this global mentality and how

          we are going to keep our children from it

 

        - where that will really affect us, I think, is the

          issue of Christianity

        - see, when the person says - you believe in the God

          of the Bible but I believe in Buddha, and to get

          along in this global community, you believe what

          you want to and I'll believe what I want to--

             NEITHER ONE IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER

 

        - then we're going to have problems, because if the

          belief that faith in Christ is the only way to God

          is to going to hinder a move toward globalism, then

          so be it

 

        2)  what should our response be

 

        in addition to what we've already mentioned, we ought

        to be more convinced than ever that, Christ's return

        could happen at any day

 

        - 20 years ago when pastors talked about one world

          government and a united Europe and some of those

          things, people would laugh

 

        - but no ones laughing any more

 

        - and if there was ever a time to believe that Jesus

          is coming soon - this is it

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video