The western world is greatly motivated by wealth. Of course some money is needed but Paul wrote, “Keep yourself free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).
It seems to us impossible to limit the final days of the judgements of God, when we read about, “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (17:5) – to the Roman Catholic Church. However, there is no doubt from the testimony of history from the third century onwards that the “prostitute” is “drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (verse 6) those who held fast to his teachings. The Catholic system spread over the whole earth and includes the Eastern and Russian Orthodox Churches – and is trying to attract other churches back.
In recent years great financial stress has occurred in the Eurozone, an area established by ‘The Treaty of Rome’ in 1957. The Greek word Babylon in the Hebrew language is “Babel” – and we remember the reputation of Babel in Genesis. The text in these chapters incline us to see this vision as also having a broader context with the whole world turning away from belief in the true God as at Babel.
In chapter 18 we read that Babylon is to “be thrown down with violence” (verse 21) in such a way that “merchants … who gained wealth from her, will stand far off in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud … for in a single hour all this great wealth has been laid waste” (verse 15). This incredible event affects “all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea” (verse 17). Today this includes all the ‘ships’ that fly through the air carrying cargo. People have made a god of money more than ever before, but Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money for … [you] will hate the one and love the other” (Matthew 6:24).
Money has no intrinsic value anymore, unlike gold or silver. It is not real money as in previous generations, today’s ‘money’ is borrowed and re-lent and borrowed again and has created an artificial prosperity – and “in a single hour” it will vanish like steam! When that happens our faith will be put to a final test, but then a “loud voice of a great multitude” will be heard “crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgements are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth …’” (19:1,2).
May we all make sure, by God’s grace, we are among that multitude who cry out.