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Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 18

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-24

  1. Intro:
    1. Babylon symbolizes the whole godless world system that caters to the appetites of sinful men & women. “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.” 1 Jn.2:15
      1. According to the ancient mythology, when Hercules wrestled with Antaeus, every time he was thrown, he jumped up again stronger than ever, gaining fresh power from every contact with the earth. Hercules conquered him at last only by holding him in the air away from the source of his strength, until he grew weaker and weaker and finally became exhausted.
    2. Both the Harlot & the Bride are identified with a “city”!
      1. The Harlot’s city = Babylon; Her home is destroyed!
      2. The Brides city = New Jerusalem; Becomes her home for eternity!
    2. All the kings horses & all the kings men couldn’t put Babylon back together again!
    3. (2) Is fallen, is fallen - 2 Fold fall:
      1. [1] Religious Babylon (ch.17);
      2. [2] Political Babylon (ch.18)
    4. (3) Read #862 (BP) “Butterfly”
    5. (4) The Principle of Separation runs throughout the Bible:
      1. God separated light from darkness; And the waters under the firmament from those above; He commanded Israel to be separate from the other nations; He commanded the church to be separate from the world; When God called Abraham to found the Jewish nation, He separated him from the heathen around him; God promises to bless when His people are separated from sin!
    6. In every age the Church must identify its Babylon & separate from it. (Warren Wiersbe; With The Word; pg.860.)
      1. Q: How do we insulate our lives, w/o isolating ourselves?
      2. Q: How do we move in the midst of evil, & remain untouched by it?
      3. Q: How do I maintain contact w/o contamination?
      4. Q: How do I become a Daniel in Babylon, & not a Lot in Sodom?
    7. A lad in Texas lived out his short life inside a bubble because he had no immune system to fight disease. For more than 10 years he lived in the plastic dome, isolated from the infectious agents that others live with which could prove fatal to him. He breathed filtered air, ate sterile food, and until his final days was touched only by hands wearing sterile rubber gloves. Some Christians believe isolation is the only way they can keep from “being polluted by the world” {Amish}
    8. Jesus was “holy, harmless, undefiled, & separate from sinners Heb.7:26; And yet He was, “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” Luke 7:34.
    9. Like a skillful physician we must practice “Contact w/o Contamination”!
    10. Read 2 Cor.6:14-7:1
      1. It is not forbidding associations or friendships w/unbelievers!
      2. Such separation does not mean having no contact at all with unbelievers, “for then you would need to go out of the world” I Cor5:10
      3. Jesus commanded: “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” Mark 16:15
      4. Jesus also prayed to the Father “not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil” Jn.17:15
    13. (14) Unequally yoked - comes from Deuteronomy 22:10, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.”
    14. Is this speaking of marriage? It’s speaking to “any” relationship that would fall under its command!
      1. Marriage; business partnership; dating; friendships; major doctrinal differences (I believe even a strong Christian dating a weak Christian)
        1. There will be differences in lifestyles, differences in philosophies, differences in morals & values.
      2. But often times a person yearns for “relationship” & will settle for what the world has to offer.
        1. It could be as damaging & as frightening down the road as…a runaway child looking for the warmth of a relationship, but wanders down a wrong alley, trying to find that warmth!
    15. The ox was a clean animal to the Jews, but the donkey was not.
      1. They have two opposite natures and wouldn’t work well together.
      2. There are certain things which are fundamentally incompatible & were never meant to be brought together.
      3. “It is impossible for the purity of the Christian & the pollution of the pagan to run in double harness.” (William Barclay; pg.221.)
        1. They’ll be out of step w/each other.
        2. Chances are the row they plow together is going to be crooked.
    16. Time magazine reported (1/22/95) that the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, occurred when two plates on a fault line fifteen miles offshore suddenly shifted against each other, violently lurching 6 to 10 feet in opposite directions. The result was the worst Japanese earthquake since 1923. Thousands died. More than 46,000 buildings lay in ruins. One-fifth of the city's population was left instantly homeless. The destruction unleashed by those two tectonic plates depicts what happens when a Christian bonds unequally with a non-Christian. Two people committed to each other but going in different directions, can only lead to trouble.” (Farnum, Rochester, New York. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.)
    17. (14-16a) Note: fellowship, communion, accord(harmony), part, agreement.
      1. Each of these words speaks of having something in common.
      2. The word accord gives us our English word “symphony,” and it speaks of beautiful music that comes when the players are reading the same music, and following the same leader.
    18. (16b) We are not only, “not a good bond together”, but we are different in that we are the Temple of the living God, meaning “the very residence where God lives”.
      1. Webster defines temple as “a place devoted to a special purpose”.
    19. (17) Come out! (means, “Go out” or “Get out”!)
      1. To Abraham - “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.” Gen.12:1
        To Lot - “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” Gen.19:14
        To Jacob - “Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.” Gen.31:13
      2. “Come out” - implies a definite act on our part.
      3. “Be separate” - suggests devotion to God for a special purpose.
      4. “Do not touch what is unclean” - a warning against defilement.
      5. “I will, receive you” - Not cold Isolation! - Whatever you separate yourself from, puts you right into the arms of God, near to his heart!
      6. “I will be a Father to you” - A Father takes care of his children.
    20. Be separate! – There are things in the world w/which the Christian cannot & dare not associate himself with.
      1. Work Life – Often in business you’re faced with taking jobs (or being asked to do a job) that consist of things against your conscience.
      2. Time & time again in the early church the choice came to a man between security of his job, & his loyalty to Jesus Christ.
      3. It is told that a man came to Tertullian. He told him his problem & then he said, “But after all I must live.” “Must you?” said Tertullian.
      4. Bottom Line: No man is keeper of another mans conscience. Every man must decide for himself if he can take his daily work to Christ, & if he can take Christ with him to his daily work!
    21. Daniel came out from among the “pray only when it’s convenient crowd!”
    22. Shad, Mesh, & Abednego came out from among the “it’s OK to bow down to Neb.’s statue crowd.”
    23. (7:1) Cleanse ourselves from ALL filthiness of the flesh & spirit! - A certain man in a poor country wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn't afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door. After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So first the owner went out found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail. "If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ's habitation."
    24. (5) Reached - “heaped up”. Stacked up its sin one by one till it reached heaven.
      1. Interesting, “the 1st Babel confederacy build up a Tower to heaven; The last Babylon built up Transgressions to heaven.”
    25. KINGS, BUSINESS MEN, & SAILORS! (9-20)
    26. (13) Bodies & souls of men - human livestock, men treated like livestock (rickshaw men in China).
      1. During John’s day they say 1/3 of Rome’s population was enslaved, (approx. 60 million throughout the Empire!)
      2. They were treated like used furniture; bought & sold; used & abused.
    27. Q: What would it change in your relationship w/God if in 1 hour your riches came to nothing?
      1. Would you pass the Job test ??? Job 1:11,12 “But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person."
      2. Materialism has nothing to do with Amount, it has everything to do with Attitude! - Q: How’s your attitude?
    28. THE ANGELS “SPIKE”!(like an end-zone spike!) (21-24)
    29. Note “anymore” 6 x’s (21-24)
      1. No more Babylon; no more sound of music; No more industry; no more light; No more joyous weddings.
    30. Cause of death? (23,24)
      1. It has become a den of demons (2).
      2. It is filled with immorality (3a).
      3. It is materialistic to the core (3b).
      4. Its sins are as high as the heavens (5).
      5. It is totally proud and arrogant (7).
      6. It has deceived the nations and killed the saints (23c–24).
      7. It is buying and selling human slaves (13b). (Willmington, H. L. (1999). The Outline Bible (Re 18:2). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.)
      8. This destruction is payback & justice for long years of abuse of God’s people.
    31. Lessons from the Life of Lot!
      1. Remember we are told to “come out of her my people” – Did Lot?
      2. See Gen.13 {overview; land lay out; separation; }
    32. His choice that day…was it for: himself, his family, Sodom, prosperity?
      1. [1] Himself – 2 Pet.2:7-9 (What did this do to his soul every day?)
      2. [2] His family – Gen.19:12,14(What was his influence on them?)
        1. How often has a father/mother thought “what do I want of my son/daughter?” And then providing “the best school” for them.
        2. And forgetting about their soul! – Is that where they’ll best prosper spiritually? – Where will his/her character be kept right & pure? [Not building a case for Christian education only! – I’m asking the rt question]
        3. Our 1st responsibility is to best secure their eternal interests.
        4. I once told Zach, “you could be anything you want to be”(GPA)
          1. inner thoughts were of possible financial struggles of being a worship leader, doubts of God’s provision for him. I was thinking Doctor/Lawyer salary(even suggested it) & wasn’t thinking of his calling & gifting.
      3. [3] Sodom – Gen.18:32 (Not even to the making of even 5 righteous in the city!)
      4. [4] Prosperity – Gen.19:15 (Nope, all up in smoke; only escaped w/ 2 daughters & wife{almost})
    33. If you’re going to pitch your tent toward Sodom, you might as well pitch in Sodom! (Because you’ll end up there!)
      1. You’re looking to move – you decide on the best neighborhood, best school, best employment opportunity (none of these are bad) - But, where are you going to worship? Gen.13:18.
      2. How many friends have we heard of that move away & didn’t think about their spiritual health.
    34. Lastly, Let God choose!
      1. Lot – Gen.13:10,11 – The man who chooses for himself loses all he chooses.
      2. Abraham – Gen.13:14,18 – Which way? North, South, East & West… “wait that’s Lot’s!” “Only temporarily. It will soon be yours.”

Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, language or customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange dialect, or have some peculiar lifestyle.

This teaching of theirs has not been contrived by the invention and speculation of inquisitive men; nor are they propagating mere human teaching as some people do. They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them. They follow local customs in clothing, food and the other aspects of life. But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the wonderful and certainly unusual form of their own citizenship.

They live in their own native lands, but as aliens; as citizens, they share all things with others; but like aliens, suffer all things. Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native land as a foreign country.

They marry and have children just like every one else; but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed.

They are at present "in the flesh" but they do not live "according to the flesh". They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws, and go beyond the laws in their own lives.

They love every one, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are short of everything and yet have plenty of all things. They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor.

Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens, and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any Reason for their hostility.

To put it simply -- the soul is to the body as Christians are to the world. The soul is spread through all parts of the body and Christians through all the cities of the world. The soul is in the body but is not of the body; Christians are in the world but not of the world.

From an anonymous letter to Diognetus, possibly dating from the 2nd century.

Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Revelation 18". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/revelation-18.html. 2017.
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