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Sermon #63 — Isaiah Series

 

Title:                           The Burden of Babylon

 

Text:                            Isaiah 21:1-10

Subject:                     The Judgment of God upon Babylon

Readings:     Mark Medley and Rex Bartley

Introduction:

 

The Title of my message is — The Burden of Babylon. — Our text will be Isaiah 21:1-10. In this short chapter God’s prophet faithfully declares…

  • The Burden of Babylon (vv. 1-10),
  • The Burden of Dumah (vv. 11-12), and
  • The Burden of Arabia (vv. 13-17).

 

The Burden of Babylon is described as a grievous vison of treachery and theft. Do not be so foolish as to read the prophet’s words as no more than the historic account of God’s judgment upon an ancient people far removed from us. Rather read this divinely inspired word from God as God’s message to us, God’s message to his church today, the message we must faithfully deliver to our generation just as Isaiah was required to deliver it to his generation.

  • For God’s elect, for his church, this is a message of assured victory over a relentless foe.
  • To all who oppose Christ and his gospel, to all who oppose his church and kingdom, this is a message of certain judgment and utter destruction under the wrath of God.

Read the prophet’s words and tremble.

 

(Isaiah 21:1-10) “The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land. (2) A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease. (3) Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it. (4) My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me. (5) Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield. (6) For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. (7) And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed: (8) And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights: (9) And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. (10) O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.”

 

Preparation for Trouble

 

The prophecy begins with a word from God preparing his church for trouble. How gracious, how wise, how good our heavenly Father is to his children! Before trouble comes, he prepares comfort. Long before the children of Israel were taken into Babylonian captivity, the Lord God graciously assured them of the destruction of their captors and of their glorious deliverance. That’s the message of verses 1 and 2.

 

The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land. (2) A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof (The Sighing of Israel in Babylon) have I made to cease.” (vv. 1-2)

 

The desert of the sea” refers to Babylon, as we are told in verse 9. Elam and Media are the ancient names of the people of Persia, modern day Iran. Isaiah here declared that the Persian Empire would conquer the Babylonian Empire. With the God given eye of prophecy, Isaiah sees the Persian armies marching against Babylon.

 

God often uses one tyrant to punish another. Here we see him stirring up the Persians to plunder the Babylonians. Imagine that! — Iranians marching against Iraqis to deliver Israel!

  • Romans 8:28
  • The powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). No matter how evil, no matter how cruel, no matter how viciously those powers oppose and persecute his church, the rulers of this world are ordained of God for the everlasting salvation of his elect. — Blessed consolation for our souls in days of darkness like these!

 

When Darius the Median took the rule of Babylon (Daniel 5:31), Daniel and the faithful with him in Babylon must have remembered this prophecy of Isaiah with joy.

 

Heartbroken Prophet

 

Though this burden of Babylon was a declaration of the assured deliverance of God’s chosen people, though the Babylonians fully deserved the judgment coming upon them for their treachery, cruelty, and idolatry, God’s prophet was brokenhearted as he delivered God’s word of judgment against them. In verses 3-5, he speaks as if the judgment were against himself. — O Spirit of God, give me such grace! Make me such a preacher! — “As soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8).

 

“Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it. (4) My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me. (5) Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.” (vv. 3-5)

 

It seems to me that Isaiah put himself in the place of Belshazzar. He seems to have had terror in his very soul for the king of Babylon under the judgment of God (Daniel 5:1-30).

 

(Daniel 5:1-30) “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. (2) Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. (3) Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. (4) They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. (5) In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. (6) Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. — (30) In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.”

 

  • How great, how terrifying are the alarms of a screaming, guilty conscience in the hour of death and judgment!
  • How broken our hearts ought to be at the thought of sinners perishing under the wrath of God!

 

(Romans 9:1-3) “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, (2) That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. (3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”

 

(Matthew 23:37-38) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (38) Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

 

God’s Watchman

 

In verses 6-8 the prophet speaks of God’s watchman set upon the walls of Zion.

 

“For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. (7) And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed: (8) And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights.” (vv. 6-8)

 

  • Faithful gospel preachers are God’s watchmen.
  • Each one is set in his place by the Lord God himself.
  • The faithful watchman never leaves his watchtower. By day and by night, he labors in the Word, in doctrine, and in prayer, watching over immortal souls as one that must give account (Ezekiel 3:15-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

 

(Ezekiel 3:15-21) “Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. (16) And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, (17) Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. (18) When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. (19) Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. (20) Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. (21) Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.”

 

God’s faithful watchman faithfully declares what he sees. He faithfully declares the Word of God. — “Let him declare what he seeth.” (v. 6). Now, look at what Isaiah saw.

  • He saw the chariots of the approaching armies of the Medes and Persians, sent by God to destroy Babylon for the deliverance of Israel (v. 7). — But he saw more than that…
  • Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, coming to save his people. — “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed!” (Revelation 5:5)

 

Babylon’s Fall

 

In verses 9 and 10 Isaiah declares the certainty of Babylon’s fall and the destruction of all idolatry.

 

“And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. (10) O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.”

 

The Lord God assured his prophet that at his appointed time he would send his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to redeem and save his people, and that at God’s appointed time he will destroy Babylon and make his people triumphant over her. That is Isaiah’s message in our text. That is the burden of Babylon.

 

Proposition: The Lord God assured his prophet and assured his people by his prophet that Babylon was cursed and would be destroyed.

 

Let me elaborate just a little, and I will be done. — Babylon’s ruin is sure. Her judgment is just. Habakkuk gives us the very same message (Habakkuk 2:1-19).

 

But who is the Isaiah describing? Is he merely describing the ruin of Nebuchadnezzar and his empire? Is he talking about no more than the overthrow of a wicked nation? — Certainly not! That ancient city and kingdom over which Nebuchadnezzar once sat as king by God’s decree, whom the Lord God raised up to carry Israel into captivity, was typical of another city and another kingdom called Babylon.

 

Revelation 17

 

Turn with me to Revelation 17, and I will show you the Holy Spirit’s inspired commentary on Isaiah’s burden of Babylon’s fall. — “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!

 

(Jeremiah 50:2) “Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.”

 

Here in Revelation 17 God the Holy Spirit identifies Babylon. Here he tells us what every Old Testament reference to Babel and Babylon ultimately refers to. The historic references are references to historic events; but those events were allegorical. All of them refer, ultimately, to that which is described in Revelation 17.

 

(Revelation 17:1-18) “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.”

 

“7 ¶ And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. 9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. 10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.”

 

“14 ¶ These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. 15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. 18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”

 

A Wilderness

 

When John was carried away to see “the judgment of the great whore, he was carried away “in the spirit into the wilderness, the desert of the sea” (vv. 1, 3; Isaiah 21:1). Wherever false religion occupies the place of the true worship of God there is desolation and emptiness (Amos 8:11-12). There may be great worldly wealth and glory; there may be a fulness of power, influence, and approval; there may be purple and scarlet, gems and gold, pomp and luxury, and everything to gratify the sensual desires of the heart; there may even be worldwide acceptance and dominion; yet, where the Word of God, the gospel of his grace, and the worship of Christ in all the fulness of his redemptive glory are despised and trampled underfoot, there is a bleak, barren, empty, desolate wilderness.

 

This great harlot is all false religion, all free will/works religion. She is called by the name, “Babylon the Great.” Turn back a few pages to Revelation 14:8, and you will see another reference to Babylon and God’s judgment upon her. — “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Look at chapter 16, verse 19, and you will see the same thing. — “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.”

 

Babylon is always under the judgment of God. She always has been and always will be the object of Jehovah’s fury. In Revelation 17, 18, and 19 John describes in detail that judgment that Isaiah speaks of in Isaiah 21:1-10, assuring us of the fact that all false religion, here represented by Babylon, will be destroyed and the truth of God shall prevail to the glory of Christ.

 

The Great Whore

 

1stWho is this woman? Without question, there is in this vision a representation of Rome, its pagan culture, government, and worship. Certainly, Roman Catholicism, the superstitious, idolatrous religion of papacy, is also involved in the picture before us. But it would be a serious mistake to limit the picture to Rome and Romanism. This woman is called — the great whore that sitteth upon many waters...And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth(vv. 1, 5). I repeat myself deliberately. I don’t want you to mistake what I am saying. This woman, Babylon, the great harlot represents all false religion in this world, no matter what name that religion wears.

 

Two Religions

 

There are only two religions in this world. All religions, when reduced to their essential elements, must be categorized under one of these two: Free-grace or free-will, the religion of God or the religion of man, the church of God or the synagogue of Satan.

 

These two religions are represented to us in the book of Revelation by two women. In chapter 12 we see the Church of God, the religion of free-grace, which proclaims salvation by the blood and righteousness of Christ alone, who is the Man Child, represented by “a woman clothed with the sun.” Here, in Revelation 17, we see the religion of Satan, free-willism, man centered, works religion, represented by “The Great Whore...Babylon.”

 

The character of all false religion is described in John’s vision of the great harlot. Remember, the picture is a symbol of false religion. Do not try to get a literal picture in your mind. Try to grasp the spiritual meaning of the whole picture. Notice the features of this woman, by which we are instructed and warned, lest we be deceived by the great harlot, who “with her much fair speech” and “the flattering of her lips” has caused so many to follow her “as an ox goeth to the slaughter” (Proverbs 7:21-22).

 

The angel calls her “the great whore.” Not only is she a harlot, she is the mother of all spiritual harlots and abominations in the world. This is the standing symbol in the Word of God for false religion (Jeremiah 3:6-9; Ezekiel 16:28-37; Hosea 1-2; Revelation 2:22). This woman is called the great whore and the mother of harlots, because she is the embodiment and representative of all idolatry, false worship and false doctrine in the world.

 

To give an indication of her age and her vileness, she is given the name, Babylon the Great (v. 5). This is not a prophecy that the ancient city of Babylon will be resurrected and rebuilt. God destroyed that ancient city in his wrath; and he will destroy mystical Babylon in his fury (Isaiah 13:19-20).

 

(Isaiah 13:19-20) “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.”

 

This Babylon is any and all religious systems that are opposed to God. Babylon is the religion of man. It is that religion which teaches salvation by the works of man’s hands and the power of man’s will. Though it is seen in the sacrifice of Cain, it began as an organized religion, an organized system of worship in opposition to God, in the fourth generation after Noah, with Nimrod, the cursed son of Noah’s cursed son Ham (Genesis 10:8-11). The Bible tells us that Nimrod was “a mighty hunter before the Lord.” But our translation is a very poor translation of the text. Literally, it means, “Nimrod was a mighty rebel before the Lord, the mightiest rebel before the Lord in the earth.” His name, Nimrod, means “a rebellious panther.” It was this “rebellious panther,” Nimrod, who built the city of Babel, or Babylon, and began the religion of confusion (Genesis 11:1-9).

 

Idolatry is not a gradual decline from truth by well-meaning, but unenlightened men. Idolatry began at Babel in intentional rebellion.

  • It was the invention of a proud race who refused to come to God by faith in a Substitute and refused to trust God’s grace alone.
  • Babylon was born in defiance of God and his Word.
  • The men of Babel despised God’s sovereignty, blood atonement, and salvation by grace.
  • They attempted to build a tower to heaven by the works of their hands, with no regard for the glory of God.

God scattered those men and brought their religion to confusion.

 

Yet, wherever these idolaters spread through the earth, their religion is essentially the same. All the pagan mythologies, idolatrous images, and religious rituals of the world, no matter how much they differ, have an underlying sameness, which proves that they are all from one original source. That source is Babel, or Babylon, Nimrod’s plan to defeat the purposes of the God of Noah. The one foundational tenet that is always the same in the worldwide religions of Babylon is this: Man’s salvation ultimately depends upon and is determined by man himself!

 

This woman has made the inhabitants of the earth drunk with the wine of her fornication (Habakkuk 2:15; Revelation 17:2). The religion of old Babylon is not limited to one race, one time, one place, or even one religious order. It encompasses all. All the kings, and merchants, and inhabitants of the earth, from one generation to another, commit fornication with her and drink from her cup until they are thoroughly drunk, beyond the reach of reason.

 

The cup which she holds out is a golden cup (v. 4). To the carnal, sensual heart, the world’s religion is very appealing. It is bright, glittering, and full of blessings, promising happiness, health, peace, and prosperity to all who drink from its cup.

 

But the cup is full of abominations, filthiness and fornication. This is a fact that cannot be disputed. — Wherever false religion gains popularity, wherever free will/works religion is embraced, wherever men are deluded into thinking that righteousness is to be obtained by their good works, moral corruption and decadence always follow. Idolatry produces baseness. Will-worship produces perversity of the most hideous description (Romans 1:18-32). The doctrines of self-righteousness, free-willism, and works salvation always produce moral degradation. The cup is always the same. The old harlot has only one cup. It is always filled with the same, head-spinning wine of free-will, self-righteousness, and good works. Babylon’s wine always produces a drunkenness that causes men and women to

  • glory in their shame,
  • expose their nakedness,
  • and uncover their foreskins,
  • showing themselves to be reprobate (Philippians 3:3).

 

Notice this too: — The woman is also drunk (v. 6). She is drunk “with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” — “In her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (18:24). — Throughout history, persecution and the murder of God’s saints and prophets have been the work of this great harlot. It is old Nimrod trying still to destroy the kingdom of God. Persecution is not the work of God’s church. It is the work of Babylon.

 

This woman sits upon many waters (v. 1). The angel tells us plainly that these waters are not literal bodies of water. They are “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (v. 15). That is to say, The false religion signified by this great harlot is universal in its acceptance. The prostitution of Divine Truth is supported and accepted by the fallen sons of Adam wherever they are found upon the earth. While the false religions of the world may fight among themselves at times, they will always be found united in their opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of the grace of God revealed in him. In this they all “have one mind” (Revelation 17:13).

 

Seven Heads and Ten Horns

 

2nd — Then John describes this woman as one sitting upon a scarlet beast, full of the names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns (v. 3). The beast is the same one we see in chapter 13. John is telling us that this woman, the religion of this world, is inspired by and empowered by Satan himself (v. 8). (See 2 Corinthians 11:1-5, 13-15).

 

The seven heads of the beast are the kingdoms and empires of this world, by which false religion is both protected and advanced (vv. 9-10). The number seven may be merely a symbolical, figurative number, implying the complete, universal acceptance of false religion, all under the demonic influence of the beast (v. 11). William Hendriksen suggests that, the seventh head might be the collective title for all antichristian governments from the fall of Rome unto the second coming of Christ, existing in that short space of time we call ‘The Gospel Age’” (Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5).

 

The ten horns of the beast are kings, rulers of the world, raised up by Satan for brief periods of time to make war with Christ and his church (vv. 12-14). They are not mighty emperors, just little presidents, senators, congressmen, governors, legislators, prime ministers, etc., to whom Satan gives a brief time of power to oppose the cause of Christ. This woman, the great harlot, is the religion of this world, which reigns over the kings, people, and nations of the earth in opposition to Christ and his church (vv. 14, 18).

 

Babylon’s End

 

3rd — What shall become of the woman? When John saw this great harlot, this great antichrist religious system, ruling over the people and nations of the earth, making the kings of the earth drunk with her will worship idolatry, he was astonished. He says, “When I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (v. 6). A better reading would be, “I was astonished with great terror.” And well he might be! But he is comforted and encouraged by the realization that this great harlot shall be brought to destruction by the will of God and that even she is under the dominion of our great God and Savior and shall serve his purpose (vv. 16-17).

 

(Revelation 17:16-17) “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”

 

Take courage. Christ shall prevail! And in him we shall prevail too. We are, in Christ Jesus, more than conquerors. This great harlot, with all her hellish power, shall have no influence over the church of God’s elect (vv. 8, 14).

 

(Revelation 17:8) “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”

 

(Revelation 17:14) “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”

 

Though all the world is deceived by the charms of false religion, the mother of harlots cannot deceive or destroy any of God’s elect. Our names were written, immutably, in the Book of Life before the world began (Revelation 13:8). We are called of God; and the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29). We have been chosen as the objects of God’s mercy, love, and grace; and the purpose of God in election must stand. God makes his elect faithful to Christ by the power of his grace; and faithful men and women cannot be turned away from their Master. Our Redeemer and Savior is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who is the almighty Lord of lords and King of kings (2 Timothy 1:12).

 

In the end, by the will of God, this woman shall be destroyed (vv. 16-17). It seems at times that antichrist will prevail. But as our God sent confusion to the people of Babel and turned them against one another, as he overthrew Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and Rome, he will utterly destroy all false religion, and make the great harlot desolate in the end, so that even those who once carried her upon their shoulders shall despise her and devour her. In God’s time, Babylon shall fall. And even Babylon shall prove, in the last great day, to have been the servant of God to perform his will in the earth (1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-14; Psalm 76:10).

 

Four Lessons

 

4th — What are we to learn from Isaiah’s prophecy and John’s vision? There are many, many things taught in the picture before us. But I want to give you just four things to remember for the comfort and strength of your soul.

 

1.    The Lord our God is sovereign over all things. He is in control. He is performing his will.

 

2.    Popularity is no indication of the will of God or the truth of God. If you would follow Christ, you must be prepared to swim against the tide, always be in the minority, and always face bitter opposition from the world.

 

3.    God’s elect are secure at all times, being kept by the power of his grace (Romans 8:28-39).

 

4.    The religion of this world will prove to be empty, frustrating, and loathsome in the end. Those who revel in it today will despise it at the last. But it will be too late! There will be nothing but hatred in that day, when the lost mother meets her lost son, the lost wife meets her lost husband, and the lost preacher meets his lost hearers in hell! In eternity, all who have served Babylon shall despise her and shall themselves be despised.

 

Application

 

(Revelation 18:4) “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

 

This is a call which the Lord our God repeatedly issues to his church in all ages. It is an urgent call to separation. — “Come out of her, my people!” (See Isaiah 48:20; 52:11; Jeremiah 50:8; 51:54; Zechariah 2:7). The Lord does not say, “Stay in Babylon and heal her.” He does not say, “Find a way to get along with Babylon.” He does not say, “Love Babylon, pray for Babylon, and try to help Babylon.” God says, “Come out of her, my people!” (Jeremiah 51:7-10). And all of God’s people will deliberately come out of Babylon (2 Corinthians 6:16-18). To remain a part of any church or denomination that denies the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ is to line up with the Lord’s enemies and court eternal damnation. To come out of her is to have no fellowship with her, give no support to her, offer no hope to her, and publicly repudiate her doctrines and practices by identifying with Christ, his gospel and his church.

 

(2 Corinthians 6:14-:71) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. —— (7:1) Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

 

God give us grace to preach the gospel of his grace passionately, with fire in our bones, and watch Babylon fall before our Christ, “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah!Soon, the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall yet fill the earth (Habakkuk 2:14).

 

(Habakkuk 2:14) “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

 

(Habakkuk 2:20) “The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”

 

(Isaiah 21:10) “That which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.”

 

That is the burden of Babylon.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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