One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Wednesday, December 26, 2012: Revelation 17:1-18
And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth. Revelation 17:18 (NKJV)
In 426 A.D., St. Augustine completed one of the greatest books of history. He called it The City of God. In this massive work, he dealt with nearly every subject conceivable but placed them in the context of two cities - the two basic cities that constitute all of history. They are the city of man and the city of God.
Beginning in the earliest pages of Genesis and flowing forward to the end of all things, man has chosen between two paths - two cities. The city of God is characterised by LOVE FOR GOD. The city of man is characterised by LOVE FOR SELF.
These two cities correspond spiritually and symbolically to Jerusalem and Babylon. Here in Revelation 17, Babylon is described as a harlot, a prostitute. Much has been written and said seeking to expose the true identity of this evil entity in our world. It becomes highly speculative for us to go very far down that road. We should instead deal here with that which is clear.
Babylon is THE WORLD ORGANISED AND OPERATING APART FROM GOD. Jesus spoke to us about this in His high priestly prayer found in John 17. There He says that we are IN THE WORLD (John 17:11), but we are NOT OF THE WORLD (John 17:14,16).
Three things we can conclude about this spiritual Babylon:
1. It is SEDUCTIVE by nature. It is like a prostitute seeking to seduce. It does not seek first to use strong-arm tactics or violent force. Rather, Babylon's method is to break your commitment by playing upon your lusts.
2. The world operating apart from God is not neutral. It is POWERED BY THE BEAST. In that sense, there can never be such a thing as a secular state. The city of man is focused on self, but the power underneath is Satanic in nature.
3. Babylon's aim is the DEATH OF THE SAINTS (vs. 6). These are certainly dramatic words. It is not my intention to incite a "persecution mentality". We need not suffer from paranoia. These are simply the statements of the Word of God. The world (Babylon) is not our friend.
But JESUS IS OUR FRIEND! And He wins. St. Augustine described an age-long conflict between two cities. The city of God will ultimately prevail. We are citizens of a new creation - heirs of an eternal kingdom. Though kings and kingdoms may rise and fall, God's Kingdom shall never fail.