After this I saw another angel… he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit… “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; 5 for her sins are piled up to heaven … 7 Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.’ 8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. (Parts of Rev 18)
I sometimes wonder just what we can learn from epitaphs. Here are a couple of examples:
Alexander the Great
A tomb now suffices for him
whom the world was not enough
Found In a cemetery in Thurmont, Maryland,
Here lies an Atheist
All dressed up
And no place to go.
Our passage today from Revelation 18 is another kind of epitaph, written for the death of a city that chose the wrong bridegroom.
But why will the city die? Why are they doomed? Looking at Jeremiah 2:
12Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, 13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Babylon, whoever she may be, has made two fatal errors.
Firstly, she has rejected Jesus as Lord and King, and secondly, has instead chosen sexual immorality, wealth, power, pride, iniquity, and luxury at the expense of others.
The consequences are dire indeed… desolation, demons, plagues, torment, mourning, famine, and fire. In short, despite Babylon claiming to never be a widow, will be alone forever – she has chosen a bridegroom that isn’t real. Indeed, her choice is worse than not real.
Compare this to the New Jerusalem:
9 Then came one of the seven angels… saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he… showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev 21:9-11, 22:3-5)
New Jerusalem chooses Jesus as its bride-groom and King, and the people are in glorious passionate bliss forever.
As an individual, a family, a community, and as a country, who do we want our bride-groom to be? Jesus, the source of living water, or something worse than nothing?
Lord God, may You truly be Lord to us, our Bridegroom, and our only Hope. Help us to discard all that is not worthy of You, and choose a relationship with You which carries through eternity. This we ask in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.