SEPARATE yourself from this EVIL CULTURE of AFFLUENCE: And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day--death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.” (Rev. 18:4-8)
Bible scholars are of the opinion that in the book of Revelation, Babylon probably represents an entire world cultural system in rebellion against God. In fact, Babylon can be alluded to the Tower of Babel, which all the people living in that time in history united in a building project when the whole earth had one language and one speech. Instead of working in tandem with the purposes of God for this world, this was what they had proposed: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:4) Their underlying desire was to reach the heights of God’s throne - probably instigated by Lucifer (Satan) who had also wanted to ascend into heaven and exalt his throne above the stars of God (Isa. 14:13) – and also make a name for themselves. Eventually, God had confused their language and had scattered them over the face of all the earth (Gen. 11:5-9).
On another viewpoint, Babylon was the capital of an empire that had destroyed Jerusalem and had carried away God’s people into captivity, and very often, the Old Testament prophets had prophesied the fall of Babylon. Babylon represents a society that persecutes believers due to conflicting culture but which God will ultimately destroy. Babylon was trapped in the “deceitfulness of riches” (Matt. 13:22), which had delude the people into spiritual carelessness, greed, and ultimate ruin. Historically, Babylon had achieved wealth, power, and dominance through constant warfare, oppression, and deception. It was known throughout the ancient world for plundering others for its own gain!
In Revelation, Babylon is probably a symbol of an evil culture of affluence that operates in open rebellion against God (14:8). In fact, chapter 18 goes into great detail concerning the fall of Babylon (vv. 1-8); the mourning of the world at the fall of Babylon (vv. 9-20); and the finality of Babylon’s fall (vv. 21-24). Babylon becomes a dwelling place for demons (v. 2), luxury and promiscuity (v. 3), denial of any wrongdoing (vv. 4-8), and a broken down economic system (vv. 11–18, 22–23) that finally leads to destitution, depravity and desolation (v. 19). Thus, Babylon is a symbol of sinful humanity and its capacity for self-delusion, ambition, and sinful pride, thus representing a world culture in total rebellion against God. Babylon stands in contrast to the church as a society that persecutes God’s people and thus inevitably will be destroyed!
Let us understand that the dire future of Babylon provides a learning lesson to all Christian believers, especially as we live in a culture of affluence that denies and disparages everything that had to do God’s laws and His intentions for our world today. We are instructed not to ‘love the world’ for what it represents: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
Today, let us separate ourselves from this evil culture of affluence that we live today. We are actually commanded to morally separate ourselves from the iniquities of our world so that we are not condemned with the world when God judges it one day (see Isa. 48:20; 51:11; 52:11; Jer. 50:8; 51:6, 45). In every age, the church has had to identify its Babylon and separate from it. In the words of Vance Havner: “In our well-intentioned identification with the world, we do not mold it—it molds us. We are not to be isolated but insulated, moving in the midst of evil but untouched by it.”