KEY TEXT: Revelation 14:8-13 Another angel, a second, followed, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality." And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"
KEY THOT: The second angel announces the fall of Babylon the great. This Babylon is obviously a symbol of a great world power, for she "made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality" (v.8). Babylon's key characteristic mentioned here is "the passion of her sexual immorality". Through her influence, the nations of the world become sucked into its sexual immorality. (We will attempt to identify this nation when we return to the same topic in Revelation 18, where more details will be provided about Babylon). But it suffices to say that this Babylon is the root of global obsession with sex. She will collapse suddenly: "Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come." (Revelation 18:10).
The third angel announces the fate of those who worship the Beast. While the influence of Babylon is her obsession with sex, the power of the Beast is its control over money: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath" (vv.9-10). As mentioned in my earlier blog (Rev. 13:11-18), the mark of the Beast is likely to be some kind of microchip implant on our hand or forehead to facilitate electronic commerce. It will usher in a cashless society where cash or even credit card will become obsolete. Without this microchip implant on our hand or forehead with our unique 16-digit ID, it would not be possible to buy or sell.
The key spiritual lesson is this: Satan will use the power of sex and money to control the world. As believers, we have to be alert to this demonic seduction of lust and greed. As it now stands, the Church is already undermined by liberal and libertine ideas about sexual freedom and gender. And many Christians have also succumbed to the seduction of money and compromised their faith. Their love for God has been undermined by the deceptive God-wants-you-to-rich doctrine even as they reject the message of the self-denying cross.
The call for revival of the Church is nothing less than a call for return to the pursuit of holiness in place of the pursuit of happiness. May we as believers reject the seduction of sex and money for the sake of keeping ourselves untainted by the world: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27).
Abba-Father, deliver us from the seduction of lust and greed. In Jesus' name, Amen.