Broadcasting now. Watch Live.

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 18


A BBC article I read this last week on the fire in Maui recorded these sobering words:

Taken together, the accounts from Lahaina told of a seemingly instantaneous transformation from a sunny beach town into a site of near total devastation. Dense black smoke descended as the fire barreled toward the water, turning day into night. The smoke was so thick and so dark, residents could not see more than a few feet in front of them. Nothing but bright red embers blowing through the air, burning their skin and everything around them. "You couldn't see through it, people were crashing into each other trying to drive out," said Richard Tenison. More than 2,200 buildings were razed, the houses, shops, and churches that line Lahaina streets reduced to molten metal and ash.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green said, "That fire traveled one mile every minute. A fire hurricane was the ultimate reason that so many people perished." Our hearts go out to those people.

We can't even begin to imagine that kind of instantaneous devastation. But in Revelation, chapter 18, in the passage we study tonight, John describes the destruction of not a community, but of the world's greatest city during the future tribulation. Just to remind you, the coming seven-year tribulation will end with seven intense rapid-fire judgments that come at the very end of that period immediately preceding, and ushering in, Christ's return. And those final intense judgments are described as the pouring out of seven bowls of wrath, shallow bowls or saucers, in which the contents are quickly and summarily dumped. According to Revelation 16, the seventh bowl will produce the worst, most devastating disaster the world has ever known. It will include not only the world's greatest storm, but also its greatest earthquake, followed by worldwide devastation.

Chapters 17 and 18, where we find ourselves, step away from the chronological flow of the events at the end of the tribulation. The chronology ended at the end of chapter 16, where we had the seventh seal, or seventh bowl rather. And now, in chapter 17 and 18, John enlarges on a theme that is mentioned in the seventh bowl.

Go back to [Revelation] 16:19. Here's what happens. "The great city," this is Jerusalem, "was split into three parts." That's actually in preparation for the second coming and the millennial reign of Christ. But in addition to that, "the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great," the capital city of antichrist, "was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath."

So, what you have then, after that's mentioned in chapter 16, in chapters 17 and 18 we learn in detail of the destruction of antichrist's false religious system, his political empire and his capital city. So chapters 17 and 18, then, describe in detail the destruction of Babylon the great. Chapter 17 is the destruction of religious Babylon, which happens at the midpoint of the seven years, and ironically, it's caused by antichrist and the kings that support him as he destroys all other religion and sets himself up as the one object of worship.

Chapter 18 describes the destruction of political-commercial Babylon, which will happen at the very end of the tribulation, in conjunction with the seventh bowl and immediately preceding the second coming of Jesus Christ. Now, we've examined already chapter 17, and there we saw the destruction of religious Babylon. The focus of that chapter is on the false religion that is based in antichrist's capital city and characterizes his entire empire.

Last time that we studied revelation together, we [began] chapter 18 and the destruction of political-commercial Babylon. Chapter 18 focuses on the political side and the commercial or economic aspect of antichrist's empire, which is also centered in the same capital city as the religious part of his empire. It is called Babylon the great. It's called that because it may be the city on the very site of the ancient city on the Euphrates that becomes the capital of antichrist's empire; some believe that. Or Babylon may simply be used metaphorically to refer to another of the world's great cities. But either way, [chapter 18 focuses on] the destruction of that city with its political-commercial power.

Last time, we studied the first eight verses of chapter 18, where that destruction is announced by God. God's people are warned. Those who live at the time are warned that it's coming, to get themselves out of it. Tonight, as we continue our study of the destruction of political-commercial Babylon, here in chapter 18, John begins by telling us that Babylon's destruction will be mourned by sinners. It will be mourned by sinners. This is the message of verses 9 to 20. It is more than ironic to realize that by this time in the tribulation, for almost seven long years, God will have poured out his wrath on this planet. And during those years, and after enduring unspeakable suffering, mankind will still refuse to mourn over his sin. But when God destroys Babylon, the capital city of antichrist's empire, people across this planet will mourn. Undoubtedly, that's the response of all fallen humanity. But in verses 9 to 20, the angel singles out three specific groups.

The first group of mourners are the kings of the earth, verse 9: "And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her" — stop there for a moment. John again pictures antichrist's capital city as a great harlot. All the leaders of the earth have committed spiritual immorality with her and have indulged in her many luxuries. The kings here include not only the ten kings who serve under antichrist and rule over his empire, but also include the rest of the kings and prime ministers and presidents of the nations of the earth. Verse 9 goes on to say these kings "will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning." All the great men and women who lead the nations of the world will, the word is, sob. They will sob, and they will mourn the destruction of Babylon like lovers mourn a prostitute.

Revelation 16 says that the seventh bowl will affect all of the earth's cities. But in spite of the problems in their own nations and cities, some of earth's rulers may either be nearby, or travel to be close enough, to actually see in person the smoke of the fires that destroy the city after the earthquake. Some of them may already be gathering for Armageddon, the next event to come. But certainly, as in our day, those who aren't immediately nearby, wherever this city is at the time, will be glued to their devices, watching the future's versions of CNN and Fox News. But regardless, though they are mesmerized by the enraging inferno, they're careful not to get too close, verse 10, "standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment." They will intentionally keep their distance in case the resulting explosions or the windswept fires engulf them.

And as they watch this magnificent city, think of New York City in a very short period of time, the entire city, being reduced to rubble. Think of Los Angeles with its twelve, thirteen million people. Suddenly, the entire city disappears from the globe. That's what we're talking about. That's the order of magnitude of what will transpire. As they watch her burn, the kings of the earth will mourn, verse 10 says, "saying, 'Woe, woe.'" That's a cry of sorrow and grief. "'Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city!'" After all, this city will have endured the seven years of all of the events of the seal judgments and the trumpet judgments and even the bowl judgments. So, the perception is it's a strong city.

But now they look on in dismay. Verse 10 says, "'For in one hour, your judgment has come,'" just like verse 8 predicted. Go back to verse 8: "In one day," the angel said, "her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong." The city may be a strong city, but God is stronger. And in a single hour when the earthquake hits, and in a single day when the earthquake is followed by a raging fire that sweeps through the city, God's judgment has come. And it comes certainly, and it comes suddenly.

There's a second group that will mourn, not only the kings of the earth, but in verses 11 to 20, the merchants of the earth. He begins by talking about those who have invested in goods in merchandise, verse 11: "And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her." Just like the kings, all the businessmen and women who have heavily invested their resources in the merchandise bought and sold in that great city will weep and mourn over its destruction. But their weeping is entirely selfish. Notice in verse 11, it's "because no one buys their cargoes any more." The seventh bowl, with its worldwide storm and its planetwide earthquake, as we're told in chapter 16, an earthquake like there's never been since the beginning of the world, that earthquake will suddenly bring the world's businesses, its stock exchanges, its industries to a screeching halt. All sense of normalcy that they have worked so hard to preserve through the seven years of tribulation will suddenly be gone. The economic epicenter of the earth will just suddenly be destroyed. Robert Thomas, in his commentary, writes, "They had made money their god, using unscrupulous means to accumulate material goods and placing their whole confidence on the center of commerce." And in an hour, it's gone.

In verses 12 and 13, there is a list of commodities, and here's the point. From the vantage point of his vision, John sees, and the angel tells him, of the luxuries and necessities that sit in warehouses, that are stockpiled on ships and on other transportation, but undelivered and unsold because of what's happened to Babylon. The list here includes 28 different kinds of merchandise. These items were common in the ancient world. In fact, many of them are on a similar list in Ezekiel 27. These are the material goods that the world treasures and that sinners sell their souls for. The Holy Spirit's point is to represent the great wealth that will mark the future commercial empire of antichrist. Some of these items are ubiquitous across time, regardless of the era in which you live. Some of them are representative, undoubtedly, of things that are yet to exist, but will be just as treasured.

Here are the categories of the wealth of that great city. First of all, there are gemstones, verse 12, "cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls." Then there are luxury fabrics, "and fine linen and purple and silk, and scarlet." There are manufacturing materials, "every kind of citron wood." That's a north African wood with an unusual color that, in the first century, was used for expensive doors and expensive dining tables. In fact, in the first century, a single table made of this wood was of the same value as a large estate. It was luxury upon luxury. Verse 12 goes on to say, "and every article of ivory." In Rome, it was imported and used as a wealthy replacement for wood in furniture for the elite. Then there are finished goods. Verse 12 goes on to say, "and every article made from very costly wood." That would include maple, cedar, and cypress; possibly ebony from Africa and India. "And bronze," used for works of art, "and iron," used for cutlery, swords, and other weapons in the first century. "And marble," which was used in public buildings and expensive private homes. Again, some of these things are always desirable across time, others of them representative. There are spices and perfumes, verse 13, "and cinnamon." Again, in the first century, it was used as a spice. It was used for incense, for medicine and perfume. And then spice, that word actually was used for a perfume for the hair. "And incense," that was for room fragrance, and perfume, sweet-smelling fragrance. "And frankincense," that was perfume for the body and also was added to wine at special occasions.

Then in verse 13, you also have food and food ingredients: "And wine and olive oil and fine flour" — that last expression is the finest grade of flour — "and wheat." And then there's livestock and the related equipment and supplies, and cattle. Cattle were working animals and provided milk. And sheep for wool, "and cargoes of horses and chariots." In the first century, there were four-wheel chariots for the rich, often decorated with silver. So, whatever the really expensive transportation is of the future, it'll be there.

And then, tragically, notice human slaves. Verse 13 says, "And slaves and human lives," literally, bodies and human souls. Sadly, our world today still traffics in human slavery, whether it's for low-level workers or even trained and educated workers. Especially, tragically, for children and sex slaves. Antichrist's empire and city will traffic in human lives. Perhaps, like us in our culture, it will be technically illegal, but a hidden part of everyday life. Or perhaps slavery will again be widely accepted. Regardless, it will be ever present in his world.

Commenting on this long list of merchandise, John Phillips writes this:

What a catalog of opulence. What a vivid picture of a great commercial city trafficking in every luxury the heart desires. This is the world's great vanity fair. It offers articles of adornment and display, beautiful things to grace the mansions of the world's millionaires. It deals in exotic spices and perfumes, in delicacies for the table and provisions, for banquets, in slaves and in the souls of men. And Babylon imported all these things. Babylon's demand for this world's goods was insatiable. Ever it clamored for more and more.

As they lament the destruction of the economic capital of the world, the merchants of the earth actually speak to the city in verse 14, notice: "The fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you." Literally, the fruit of the lust of your soul has gone from you. All the possessions you craved are gone, "and men will no longer find them." In Greek, that is a doubled double negative. In no way, any longer; these things are gone forever.

Verse 15: "The merchants of these things, who became rich from her" — notice the reason these merchants will weep is not out of concern for the city, or even for the inhabitants of the city who've been destroyed in this earthquake and fire, but rather the loss of the source of their own wealth. They became rich from her, and they "will stand," verse 15, "at a distance because of the fear of her torment." Again, they'll keep their distance for fear of their own safety, "weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet,'" that's obviously a figure of speech. They're describing the capital city of antichrist's empire, to be like an extremely successful prostitute to the rich and famous, clothed in the finest-quality, most luxuriant clothes. Verse 16 says, "'and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.'" The city will be so successful in the goods that it markets and exports and that it imports, it will be adorned with gemstones. The public buildings in that city will be built with granite and marble and decorated with gold and silver. But its grandeur, its luxurious opulence, will be gone in a moment, verse 17: "'For in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!'"

But it's not only those who invested in the merchandise bought and sold in Babylon that mourn, but notice also in verses 17 through 19, those who invested in the transportation of all of those goods. Verse 17 says, "And every shipmaster." Apparently, this city will be, wherever it is, near a significant enough source of water that it will be a major hub for shipping, transportation and distribution. The Greek word for shipmaster is the pilot of a ship, one who serves under the ship's commander. "And every passenger," these are not likely cruise passengers. These are business travelers, passengers traveling along with their exported goods. And sailors, these are the ordinary seamen who man the ship. And then he adds, "and as many as make their living by the sea." This would include the businessmen and women who own the great shipping companies, or the owners and operators of individual ships. Now again, of course, John uses ships because they were the common means of intercontinental transport in the ancient world, as they still are today. But of course, this passage doesn't exclude other forms of transportation, such as, in our day, trucks and trains and planes and any future forms of transport that may come. All of those who engage in whatever way in the transportation of the world's goods, verse 17, "stood at a distance," like the kings and merchants, "and they were crying out," verse 18, "as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What city is like the great city?'" They're shocked and dismayed that such a strong and magnificent city has been so suddenly destroyed, reduced to ashes.

It's impossible for us to fully comprehend what they will experience. But I think if you want some glimpse of it, for many of us, we had this same feeling on September 11th of 2001 as we were glued to our television sets, watching the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapse into Manhattan. But imagine if, instead of watching two great buildings fall, we were watching the entire city of New York disappear from the map. That's what they're witnessing.

Verse 19: "And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning." In John's vision, those who invested their lives in the transportation of all of the goods manufactured in, and exported to and from, Babylon use an ancient expression of grief. They throw dust on their heads, and across the world people will do whatever they normally do to express grief in their culture. Verse 19 says, "Saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth.'" Again, you'll notice this is not repentance. It's the pain of personal loss, personal economic loss. Their concern isn't for the city, but for themselves, because without goods to transport, their own wealth will quickly disappear, and their luxurious lifestyles will vanish. And it all happens so suddenly. Verse 19 says "'for in one hour she has been laid waste!'" The world will mourn.

But not everyone will mourn the destruction of Babylon. In fact, we discover in verse 20 that it will be celebrated in heaven. The response in heaven is the opposite of that on the earth. The angel introduced in verse 4, who's been describing the response of the people on earth, now turns his attention to the redeemed in heaven, and to them, notice in verse 20, he says, "Rejoice over her." The Greek word translated rejoice is literally celebrate; it's not the normal word for rejoice, [it] means to celebrate. It's the same word used of the response of all of the unbelievers on this planet when the two witnesses are killed in chapter 11. It's the same word: Let's party. Let's celebrate. "Rejoice over her, O heaven." The angel calls all the inhabitants of heaven to celebrate the destruction of the city of Babylon.

Now, be careful here. Don't misunderstand. This is not a sadistic call to delight in the downfall of others for personal or vindictive reasons. Proverbs is still true, Proverbs 24:17-18: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the Lord will see it and be displeased." So, this isn't a call to take pleasure in the death or damnation of sinners. The Lord Himself tells us He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Instead, this is a call to celebrate God's victory over those who have stubbornly set themselves against Him. Those who, for seven long years, have responded to His judgments with an upraised fist and defiance. Those who, for seven years, have refused His many amazing offers of grace and mercy in the gospel preached by angels and preached by witnesses and the 144,000 and countless believers. They have spurned it all. It's a call for believers to celebrate the triumph of righteousness. It's a call to celebrate the soon return and exaltation of Jesus Christ. This is His planet. He's earned it, and He's coming to take it. It's a call to celebrate the establishment of His millennial kingdom.

The angel calls believers to celebrate with the rest of heaven. Notice verse 20: "And you saints" — that's a general word for all believers — "and apostles and prophets," those whom God used to lay the foundation for the church in their teaching. Why should they celebrate? Verse 20: "Because God has pronounced judgment for you against her." You know what the angel is saying? He's saying, finally, God has answered the prayers of those slaughtered by antichrist and his henchmen during the tribulation.

Go back to chapter 6. Look at chapter 6 of Revelation, and verses 9 and 10: "When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained." Later, we learned that these are those killed during the great tribulation: "And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'" The angel says, this long; today it happens.

So far, we have seen the destruction of political-commercial Babylon announced by God, mourned by sinners and celebrated by heaven. In verses 21 to 24, we see its destruction pictured as a stone. Notice, when we look at this picture, first of all, the ruin that's pictured here, verse 21: "Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone." Yet another strong angel appears in John's vision, and this angel provides a powerful visual of what the future destruction of the capital city of antichrist's empire will be like. This angel picks up a stone that's like a great millstone. Millstone, of course, was used to grind grain. Some of them were small and could be operated by a single person. Others, like this one, were very large. The large ones were typically between four to five feet in diameter, and a foot or more thick, and weighed thousands of pounds. They can only be moved by several people, or by an ox, or by a donkey. This angel picks up a huge stone, like a millstone, verse 21 says, "and threw it into the sea." He just throws this massive stone into the ocean, saying, "So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence." The picture is certainly a graphic one. The destruction of the city will be sudden, and it will be violent, in the same way that a heavy stone thrown into the ocean quickly disappears and the water soon settles over it.

In a moment, the entire city of Babylon will disappear, verse 21 says, "and will not be found any longer." Its destruction will not be temporary; it won't be rebuilt; it's permanent. Notice the results of that in verse 22. As a result of her sudden destruction, all of the normal activities of life will vanish. The moment that the earth stops shaking, the moment the fires break out, nothing will be normal again in that massive city, the greatest, largest city on the planet.

Notice in verse 22, first of all, there'll be no more music: "And the sounds of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer." And there'll be no more work. So, there'll be no more entertainment, there'll be no more work. Verse 22: "And no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer." There'll be no food preparation: "The sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer." There won't even be light, verse 23: "And the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer." This city will be so utterly destroyed, there won't even be a single light bulb burning.

No more human relationships, normal human relationships, verse 23: "And the voice of the bridegroom and the bride will not be heard in you any longer." Life has been radically transformed for everyone connected to that city in a moment. The city that symbolized rebellion against God will be annihilated. It will be razed to the ground. It will never rise again.

Can I make this personal for a moment? If you are living your life in rebellion against the God of heaven, you will face His judgment just as surely, and it will come suddenly. And when it comes, it will be permanent. You cannot play games with the God of heaven. He is a just God. And your sins will find you out. And He will punish them as they deserve. Your only hope is to flee to the only refuge, that's Jesus Christ, the One who lived the life you were supposed to have lived, who lived in perfect obedience to your creator, to His God. And the one who then offered His life on the cross as the sacrifice for sin so that God could forgive your sin and accept you into His presence. Then God raised Him from the dead to show that He had accepted Him. Friend, that is your only hope to avoid the coming personal judgment of God against you. We're going to see it when we get to chapter 20. If you die or the Lord comes before you embrace Jesus Christ, you will stand at the great white throne of judgment, and you will face the judgment you deserve from God as this city did, or will.

So, when we come back to the city, what are the reasons that it's destroyed? There are three reasons given here in the text. First of all, Babylon was marked by abusive wealth. Not just wealth. That's not the idea, and we'll talk about that in a moment, but for abusive wealth, verse 23: "For your merchants were the great men of the earth." We've already seen it earlier in this chapter, and even back in chapter 17. The power brokers of Babylon will use their wealth and influence not only to advance themselves, but they will even abuse others in the process. They'll be just like the arrogant and abusive rich in the rest of Scripture. James 2:6: "Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?" They use their money to get what they want. James 5:4-6:

Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

And James says God sees when the wealth that people accumulate becomes a weapon that they use to get their way and to abuse others. God sees, and God saw it in Babylon, and that's part of the reason for its destruction.

A second reason for its destruction is Babylon deceived the nations, verse 23: "Because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery." Sorcery is actually the Greek word pharmakeia, which we get our word pharmaceuticals from. It refers, though, in the New Testament, to magic and to the occult. Babylon will deceive all of the nations by dark magic, not by sleight of hand, but by practices linked to the occult, by satanic and demonic influence. We've seen it already in the book of Revelation, how demons deceive.

A third reason for its total destruction is that Babylon killed the saints, verse 24: "And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." Now, don't misunderstand what's being said here. Although God's people will, during the tribulation, be slaughtered across the globe, it'll happen in every village and hamlet across the world. Wherever God's people are, they will be hunted down by antichrist and his henchmen, and those who support him, and killed. But the orders and the influence behind that great slaughter will all originate in antichrist and in his capital city in Babylon the great. So that city then bears the guilt for the worldwide martyrdom of the saints. This is part of what's said in the celebration hymn of chapter 19. Look at Revelation 19:1: "After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, 'Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality" — and watch this — "and he has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her."

You see, God loves His people. He loves them so much that He sent His own Son to die for them. And when they are abused by Satan and humans who follow him, God not only sees, but God keeps a record, and God will address it. I've told you before, there aren't many songs that are available in the Christian world about God's justice. There need to be more. But I love the one Andrew Peterson wrote, and that verse where he says, he's talking about God noticing what's going on in this planet, noticing how His people are being attacked and abused. And it says, "If the thief had come to plunder when the children were alone, if he ravaged every daughter and murdered every son, would not the Father see this? Would not His anger burn, and would He not repay the tyrant in the day of His return? Await. Await the day of His return." God sees and God cares. He loves his people, and He will deal with those who abuse them. That's really the end of this story. His love is set on us, and He will not allow anyone to take advantage of His own.

So, what are the lessons from this chapter? There are many that I could have drawn out, but let me just give you two. First of all, if you're not a Christian, this passage is a powerful illustration and reminder of Jesus' warning in Mark[KB1] 8:36, where He said this: "'[For] what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?'" That is a remarkable statement. Jesus' point is this: Whatever it costs to follow Him as His disciple, whatever it costs you, it is a brilliant investment that will be proven true in eternity. Jesus says, I want you to assume for a moment that the unthinkable is possible, that you could truly put the entire world in your bank account, in your asset column. By world He's not talking about the creation. He's talking about the organized system run by Satan.

Let me put it to you this way; I want you to really answer this question in your soul: If there were really never going to be any consequences, and you could have whatever you want, what would it be? That's a soul-searching question. Would it be fame, wealth, pleasure, sexual gratification, personal peace, a nice house, a loving spouse, several vacation homes, an early retirement, all the luxury that money can buy? Listen, whatever it is that you would say, that's it. Jesus says, if you had that and everything else you wanted in this life, but you ended up losing your soul for eternity, it's a fool's bargain if you forfeit your soul, if you end up lost forever, suffering the wrath of God in eternal hell. My plea with you today is to think about Jesus' words. There are a lot of people in our world who live for what Babylon lived for. You're not going to take any of it with you.

When I was in seminary, I worked in a funeral home, actually lived there. Answered the phones before cell phones, so I had to answer the phone at night so I could call the mortician on duty. It's a great job for a seminary student because it was really quiet, and they paid me to live there. I didn't have to pay to live somewhere. They paid me to live there. And as a seminary student, that was like from heaven. I worked, sometimes, the visitations in the evening, watch families come in. And after the visitations were done, it was my responsibility to go through the funeral home and close the caskets. Let me tell you something. Nobody ever took anything with them. If you forfeit your soul, you lose everything. My plea with you is to recognize what Jesus says and come to Him, whatever it costs you, and it will cost you everything to come to Him. You've got to be willing to give up everything. He may not ask you to give up everything, but you have to be willing. That's what He said. You have to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. But He says it's more than worth it, because on the other side of the column, you forfeit your soul.

What about believers? What's the application for us? As believers living in the U.S., let's just make sure we're honest about this. None of us feel wealthy but compared to the seven plus billion people on this planet, whatever the latest number is, every single one of us is wealthy. I did the comparison at some point. I think every person who is in our area here in north Texas, every person, is in the top ten percent of the world's wealthiest people. So how are we to think about our wealth in light of what we've just read and studied? Well, the Lord tells us. Turn to 1 Timothy, chapter 6. Here's how we're to think about our wealth. First of all, be content with what God has provided, 1 Timothy 6:6. He's talking about, you know there are false teachers who suppose, verse 5, that they can use religion as a means of gain. He says the truth is [that]

Godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Listen, if God gives you wealth, we're going to talk about how you respond to that. But whatever God gives you, whatever He uses your work to accomplish, be content.

Secondly, trust in God and not in your wealth. Look at verse 17: "Instruct those who are rich in this present world" — that's us — "not to be conceited." In other words, don't think it's because you're so smart. There are people who are smarter than you are, and better in your field than you are, who haven't excelled as you've excelled. So don't be conceited. See God's providence, his goodness. Tell them not "to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches." Don't trust in your bank account, your retirement income, "but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy." If you have those things, don't put your trust in them. Recognize that here today, gone tomorrow, but God is always with you.

Thirdly, be generous, verse 18: "Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share."

And then finally, invest your resources in kingdom work, verse 19: "Storing up for themselves the treasure," he's obviously borrowing from our Lord's words where He says invest your resources where thieves can't break in and steal. "Storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." You want to know how not to be overcome by wealth and materialism like all of those who will inhabit that great future city that God will destroy? Be content with what God has provided. Trust in Him and not in what He's provided. Be generous with others with what He's given. And invest your resources in kingdom work, storing up a future for eternity. You see, wealth and money isn't the problem. It's the heart.

Let's pray together. Father, we are sobered by what we have studied tonight. But Lord, our hearts also rejoice. They rejoice that You are a gracious God toward Your people, that You are a just God who will not allow evil to stand against those on whom You've set Your love. Lord, we thank You that You will deal with rebellion. Father, we're grateful for Your character. But above all of those things, we're grateful that out of all of that, You are a redeeming God who, as we have watched the tribulation period unfold in the book of Revelation, have watched You, again and again, save so many people, innumerable multitudes of people from this planet, even as You pour out Your wrath on it. You are a saving God. We thank You, O God, that You have saved us. Lord, I pray for those who may be here tonight, who still sit under Your judgment, Lord, sober them with what we've studied tonight. Wake them up in the night thinking about the reality that they individually, if they live in rebellion against You, they individually will face what this great city faced. May they never give something else in exchange for their soul. Father, may they trust in You. May they run to Christ even tonight. And, Lord, for the rest of us who are in Christ, help us to take the amazing resources that You've given to us and to use them as You've said. Lord, don't let us trust in those things, but in You who provided them. Help us to be content. Don't let us develop a love for money. Father, remind us of what the writer of Hebrews says, that we don't have to fret and worry and covet things, because You are always with us. Lord, help us to live as Your people in a world gone mad. And thank You that one day You will bring all of this to a great conclusion, and Your son will reign. Lord, in the meantime, help us to live as Your people, to be lights in a dark place by how we live. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.

[KB1]Originally "Matthew" in the sermon


Babylon Is Fallen! - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 18

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 18

The Rapture of the Church

Tom Pennington Selected Scriptures

More from this Series



The Revelation of Jesus Christ - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:1-3

The Revelation of Jesus Christ - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:1-3

Salutation & Dedication

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:4-6

The King is Coming!

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:7-8

A Vision of the Exalted Christ - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:9-20

A Vision of the Exalted Christ - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 1:9-20

Ephesus: Loveless Fidelity

Tom Pennington Revelation 2:1-7

Smyrna: Faithful in Suffering

Tom Pennington Revelation 2:8-11

Pergamum: Undiscerning Tolerance

Tom Pennington Revelation 2:12-17

Thyatira: Extra-Biblical Authority

Tom Pennington Revelation 2:18-29

Sardis: Dead Christianity

Tom Pennington Revelation 3:1-6

Philadelphia: Enduring Faithfulness

Tom Pennington Revelation 3:7-13

Laodicea: A False Gospel

Tom Pennington Revelation 3:14-22

He is Worthy! - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-5

He is Worthy! - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-5

He is Worthy! - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-5

He is Worthy! - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-5

The First Six Seals: The Tribulation Begins - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 6:1-17

The First Six Seals: The Tribulation Begins - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 6:1-17

Tribulation Saints - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 7:1-17

Tribulation Saints - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 7:1-17

The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Little Book

Tom Pennington Revelation 10:1-11

The Two Witnesses - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 11:1-13

The Two Witnesses - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 11:1-13

The Seventh Trumpet: The Beginning of the End

Tom Pennington Rev. 11:14-19

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

Antichrist - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 13:1-10

Antichrist - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 13:1-10

The False Prophet

Tom Pennington Revelation 13:11-18

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

Heaven Prepares for the End

Tom Pennington Revelation 15:1-8

Seven Bowls of Wrath - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 16:1-21

Seven Bowls of Wrath - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 16:1-21

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 17:1-18:24

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 17:1-18:24

Babylon Is Fallen! - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 18

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 18

The Rapture of the Church

Tom Pennington Selected Scriptures

The Future Tribulation

Tom Pennington Revelation 4-18

Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus! - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 19:1-10

Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 19:1-10

The Glorious Return of Jesus Christ

Tom Pennington Revelation 19:11-16


Tom Pennington Revelation 19:17-21

The Real Binding of Satan

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:1-3

The Millennium: Christ's Future Reign on Earth - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:1-10

The Millennium: Christ's Future Reign on Earth - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:1-10

The Millennium: Christ’s Future Reign on Earth - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:1-10

The Last Judgment

Tom Pennington Revelation 20:11-15

Our Eternal Home - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:1-8

Our Eternal Home - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:1-8

The Eternal City - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:9-22:5

The Eternal City - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:9-22:5

The Eternal City - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 21:9-22:5

How Should We Then Live? - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 22:6-21