Avoid Sin, Rejoice in Justice

Revelation 18

Revelation 18 4 NIV
 
Yesterday our focus was on the identity of this Babylon the Great. Today our focus is on the destruction of Babylon. 
Babylon (Rome and other anti-God systems of the world) falls. The beast and the heads turn against her and devour her in the end of chapter 17. The nations, kings, and merchants of the world weep over the fallen city. They will no longer have the power, authority, or wealth she provided to them, and they are sorrowful for their loss, not really her destruction. All this happens in “one hour”, or an instantaneously short time. She will be brought low, but heaven is told to rejoice. 
What do we learn from this chapter? Those nations and systems that oppose God (like Babylon and Rome) will not last forever. Revelation shows us that God will bring them down. But what are we called to DO with that information? Two actions seem to be demanded of us in Revelation 18. In verse 4, the people of God are called to “come out of her”. Did this mean literally pack your bags and move? Maybe. But it most definitely meant to not participate in her sin. Don’t act like the ones who don’t know God in Babylon. Today, that is still the case. In the words of Jesus, we are in the world (that is, the world apart from God), and have not been taken out of it. We do business with those who don’t know God, we work with them, and go to school with them, and even try to love them. But we don’t act like them, we don’t participate in the sins the world, we are not “of” the world. So firstly, we must behave in such a way that we are more like Christ than our neighbors, more like Jesus than the Joneses. (Compare to John 15:19, 17:15)
Secondly, we are called to rejoice over the judgement of God. Many times the justice and severity of God makes me sad. I want all people to be saved and God wants that too! (1 Tim. 2:4) In the case of Babylon the Great, though, we are talking about a city that drank the blood of saints, and persecutes the people of God. Rejoice that God will not allow that to continue. God will not sit idly by forever, ignoring the cries of his people. There will come a day when justice will be poured out on to the heads of those who righteously deserve it. In the way that Babylon “paid” (by torturing, tormenting, murdering), that is the way she will be “paid”, the author says in 18:6. Wickedness will be eradicated, and only righteousness will remain. Praise God!
 
Avoid Sin, Rejoice in Justice. This is the calling of Revelation 18 upon the believer.
Jake Ballard

Me Against the World

John 15

John 15 19

Does it feel like some days everyone hates you?

We’ve all been there; we say or do something different and it blows up in our faces.
Sometimes, this is probably justified. When we say or do something bad, it may be good for the people in our lives to call us out. While there are many things wrong with political movements like #blacklivesmatter or #metoo, their goal is admirable: there ARE times when those in power, like police, need to be held accountable; there are some people who are victims of sexual assault and harassment that are afraid to speak out due to the backlash. While you have not done anything like those called out in these movements, I’m sure you’ve had moments when your friends turned against you when you did something to hurt a mutual friendship, or maybe bullied a kid. And we can see that this is justice, in a way. We feel like (and on some level, know) we deserve it.
But there are days when you say what you believe is truth and it backfires. There are days when you are asked what you believe and everyone around you mocks you and belittles you for it, or tells you that you are on a dangerous path for not agreeing with their view of God. There are days when you do the right and righteous thing, and it seems like people around you think you have done something terrible…
Jesus lets us know this won’t be uncommon. He teaches in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you.” In our day, we can see this is true in a small scale. On some issues, we love people, but hate sinful actions performed. When a man believes that he can’t make a wedding cake for a gay couple, he is sued and taken to court. In many circles, he is considered a bigot. Very recently, another Christian political commentator gave a speech entitled “Men are not women.” That speech created a protest movement, and he was assaulted with liquid that smelled like bleach. While these are hotly charged political issues, both of these men were standing on what they believed were biblical, moral principles, and were hated for their views.
This is because we are not of the world. We don’t go along with the system the world offers. Christ calls us to live in love differently. One could argue that if these men had just lived like Jesus, then they wouldn’t have encountered any problem. Love wins, right? But Jesus points out that he is hated by the system of the world, AND HE WAS PERFECT. Christ lived a life full of grace and truth (John 1). But that did not endear him to the world.
When it seem the world is against you, stop and think:
Did I do something wrong? If so, fix it.
If not, is the world against you and it is not related to the Bible? Maybe it is wise to think about what they are saying.
However, if the world is against you and you are standing on Scripture, then stand strong. Don’t be shocked, because they first hated Jesus. Stand strong, in truth and love, and God will stand with you.
(For a throw back, watch this clip … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_o6QHdIG4I // For some rock, listen to this … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kiwluGZdJQ )
-Jake Ballard
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