Dancing With The Devil

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God desires for us to seek holiness instead of worldly desires.

Revelation(52) (Part of the Jesus Unveiled(51) series)
by Stuart Johns(70) on December 9, 2018 (Sunday Morning(89))

God's glory(1), Holiness(3)

Jesus Unveiled

Dancing With The Devil

(Revelation 18:1-8)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Most people have heard of the "five second rule"—that if food spends just a few seconds on the floor, dirt and germs won't have enough time to contaminate it. Parents sometimes apply the rule to pacifiers (after their first child of course). The history of the five-second rule is difficult to trace. One legend attributes the rule to Genghis Khan, who declared that food could be on the ground for five hours and still be safe to eat.

 

But a 2016 experiment should permanently debunk the five second rule. Professor Donald W. Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University, reported that a two-year study concluded that no matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it. You can check it out for yourself in his journal article "Is the Five-Second Rule Real?" found in the always exciting journal for Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

 

Professor Schaffner tested four surfaces—stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet—and four different foods: cut watermelon, bread, buttered bread, and strawberry gummy candy. They were dropped from a height of five inches onto surfaces treated with a bacteria. The researchers tested four contact times—less than one second and five, 30 and 300 seconds. A total of 128 possible combinations of surface, food, and seconds were replicated 20 times each, yielding 2,560 measurements. So after those 2,560 drops they found that no fallen food escaped contamination, leading Professor Schaffner to conclude, "Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously." In other words, they debunked the legendary five second rule.” ​​ [Adapted from Christopher Mele, "'Five-Second Rule' for Food on Floor Is Untrue, Study Finds," The New York Times (9-19-16)]

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2016/october/2101716.html].

 

It doesn’t matter how long the food’s been on the floor, it has been contaminated by bacteria if touches the floor.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Five-second rule

        • I have to admit that I have lived by the Five-Second rule in my own life

        • I have done it with our boys also

        • This may be surprising, because I am somewhat of a germaphobe

    • Germaphobe

        • Just this week I’ve experienced some germaphobic situations

        • Levi has been dealing with a sinus infection and cold

        • Wade was off work for two days with a stomach virus

        • I have washed my hands with soap and water more frequently this week, because or the germs in the house

        • Levi knows that I’m a germaphobe, so he was messing around with me one day

          • I had my phone laying around by me and he walked up to me and acted like he was going to touch my phone

          • I gave him the “Dad look” that Jason mentioned several weeks ago

          • It was that look that said, “Don’t even think about touching my phone.”

          • He didn’t touch my phone, but he knew he could get a reaction out of me, just by acting like he was going to

        • Sometimes we have to separate ourselves from various circumstances in order to remain healthy, safe, or above reproach

 

  • WE

    • Addictions

        • Individuals who are addicted to anything have to separate themselves from those things

        • An alcoholic may not be able to even smell alcohol without being tempted to drink

        • A drug addict may be triggered by going down a certain road or area of town, because that’s where they used to buy their drugs

        • Someone addicted to pornography may have to have extra protection place on their computers and electronic devices in order to keep them from viewing pornographic images

        • Whatever addictions we struggle with (shopping, food, gossip, etc.) may require us to separate ourselves from those places, items, or individuals that cause us to give in

    • Contaminated with one touch

        • I’ve heard from individuals, time-and-time again, who believe that they are strong enough to handle their temptations or addictions on their own, admit that they need someone to hold them accountable

        • All it takes sometimes in one touch with their addiction to cause them to fall back into the addiction full-time

        • We may not realize how one touch with the sin of this world contaminates us

 

John hears from one angel and another voice from heaven in the first eight verses of Revelation 18. ​​ The angel tells him that Babylon the Great has fallen. ​​ The voice from heaven explains that the reason for her fall is the sins that have piled up and her pride. ​​ She will be judged and punished according to her sins. ​​ God is the One who will judge her. ​​ In the middle of these two announcements is a command from the voice in heaven for the people of God to come out from Babylon the Great. ​​ What John wants us to understand is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God desires for us to seek holiness instead of worldly desires.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Revelation 18:1-8)

    • Chapter 18 as a whole

        • Funeral dirge and laments

          • In vv. 1-8 we’ll see two angels who are announcing the destruction and fall of Babylon the Great

          • In vv. 9-20 we’ll see the laments of three groups of people who had benefited from Babylon the Great (kings of the earth, merchants of the earth, and every sea captain)

          • Finally in vv. 21-24 we’ll see one final angel expressing the results of the fall of Babylon the Great – another funeral dirge

        • There is one major poetic feature in vv. 1-8 that is significant – there is the repetition of three lines found in vv. 2, 3, 6, and 8 [Mounce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 324]

          • Home for demons, haunt for every evil spirit, and haunt for every unclean and detestable bird (v. 2)

          • Nations drink her adulterous wine, kings commit adultery, merchants grow rich (v. 3)

          • Give back what she has given, pay back double, mix her a double portion (v. 6)

          • The plagues are death, mourning, and famine (v. 8)

        • John saw everything that was happening in chapter 17, but now in chapter 18 he is hearing what is being said

    • Angel from heaven (vv. 1-3)

        • Transition to a new section

          • The statement, “After this I saw . . .” is a literary indicator that a transition is taking place in the text

          • After John saw the beast and the ten kings bring the woman to ruin by leaving her naked, eating her flesh, and burning her with fire, he sees another angel come down from heaven

        • Another angel

          • This angel is not one of the seven-bowl angels, like John experienced in chapter 17, rather it is a totally different angel that has been in the presence of God

          • Great authority

            • This is the first evidence that the angel had been in the presence of the Lord

            • He does not have his own authority, but has been given authority by God to announce the fall of Babylon the Great

          • Reflected glory

            • The second evidence that the angel had been in the presence of the Lord is that the earth is illuminated by his splendor

            • The Greek word used for “splendor” is doxa which is normally translated as “glory”

            • It is God’s glory that this angel is reflecting as he comes down from heaven to earth

            • PRINCIPLE – God’s glory is seen in those who have been with Him.

              • This is my prayer for us as a body of believers here in the greater Idaville area

              • I want those in our neighborhoods to see God’s glory on our faces as a result of us having been with Him

              • Our being with God is manifested in multiple ways

                • Believers gathering together, corporate worship

                • Small groups meeting in homes, like the early church, to study God’s Word

                • Personal worship, Bible study, and prayer

                • Corporate prayer meetings

                • One-on-one discipleship

                • Evangelism events

                • Service projects in our community

                • The list can go on and on

                • Any time we pursue, grow, and multiply disciples, we can and do reflect the glory of God

              • Too often we reflect the dirt and filth of this world, instead of the glory of God, by what we choose to say and do outside of church

                • We put on our church face and speech when we come here

                • We embrace the speech and actions of the world when we’re not here (gossip, talking badly about someone behind their back, swearing, coarse joking, adultery, sexual immorality, idolatry, etc.)

                • God desires for us to seek holiness instead of worldly desires.

                • He wants us to be set apart – to be in the world, but not of it

              • As we seek holiness we will reflect God’s glory

            • As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas, I’m reminded of God’s glory being displayed, as another angel comes from heaven to earth

              • Luke 2:8-9, And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

              • I’d be terrified too, if I was sitting in the field with only a small fire to light up the darkness and suddenly the glory of God surrounded me and made it like day time

            • So, this angel has come from the presence of the Lord with God’s authority and glory, to share his message

          • Angel’s message

            • Destroyed

              • The angel from heaven cries out with a mighty voice

              • He repeats the word “fallen”

              • The repetition of words, in ancient times, was part of the funeral dirge pattern, but it also emphasizes how complete the fall of Babylon is [Patterson, The New American Commentary, Revelation, 330]

              • This is the second time an angel has cried out about Babylon the Great, A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! ​​ Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” ​​ (Rev. 14:8)

              • “From this judgment of God there is no redemption. ​​ The overthrow is decimating.” ​​ [Patterson, 330]

              • We see how decimating God’s judgment is in the first three-line repetition

            • Desolate

              • Babylon the Great is completely desolate – no one is left there

              • With no one around there are three things that have taken up residence there

                • Demons

                  • Demons have made their home there

                  • This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since this great city was characterized as engaging in all kinds of immoral and godless acts

                  • Now that the human beings have been destroyed it leaves only the demons and evil spirits

                • Evil spirits

                  • While the demons have made it their home, it is a “prison” for evil spirits

                  • That’s what’s meant by “haunt”

                  • It gives the idea of being imprisoned there, not being able to leave

                • Unclean birds

                  • It’s also a prison for every kind of unclean bird

                  • Perhaps you consider all birds unclean

                  • What’s in view here is probably scavenger birds (vultures, condors, and carrion)

                  • Patterson includes pelicans, hawks, owls ravens, and ostriches [Patterson, 330]

                  • Easley includes bats, which I would include with the unclean and detestable beasts [Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary, Revelation, 327]

                • Unclean and detestable beasts

                  • The fall of ancient Babylon is recorded in Isaiah and Jeremiah, which is perhaps the background for what John is hearing in this part of his vision

                  • Isaiah 13:20-22, She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there. ​​ But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. ​​ Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. ​​ Her time is at hand and her days will not be prolonged.

                  • The unclean and detestable beasts would include jackals, wild goats, and hyenas

              • Movie (2007) – “I Am Legend” [Actor Will Smith]

                • Plot – Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable, and man-made. ​​ Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and maybe the world

                • Alone after the worldwide apocalypse, Neville does a couple things in the desolate city

                  • He hunts deer that have taken over the city

                  • He hits golf balls into the city off the wing of fighter jet that is on an aircraft carrier

              • VIDEO – 1960’s Postcards In Real Life Then VS Now (stop playing the video at the 2:02 mark) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nHgwDAVKlg&t=39s]

            • Reasons why it had to be destroyed

              • We’ve already been introduced to two of the three reasons

              • The nations or inhabitants of the earth that have gotten drunk with the wine of her adulteries (Rev. 14:8 and 17:2)

                • All the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated and then seduced into immorality

                • It’s the idea of a corrupt religious system

              • The kings of the earth who committed adultery with her

                • There was an “unholy union between religion and politics.” ​​ [Patterson, 331]

                • How often have Christian politicians had to compromise their beliefs in order to function in the political arena

                • It is very difficult to hold onto traditional Judeo-Christian values while being a public servant

              • We’re now introduced to another group, the merchants of the earth

                • They share a lament as we’ll see in two weeks in Rev. 18:16-17

                • They became rich by providing the great city with every luxury she desired

                • The rare Greek work (strēnos) isn’t speaking of just accumulating wealth, but rather the obsession with wealth [Patterson, 331]

                • It’s the desire to have more and more, never being content

                  • Having to have the newest cell phone

                  • Spending money to get the newest items as soon as they come out

                  • Waiting in long lines to purchase the newest items

                  • A never ending appetite for the newest and best items available

              • We see then, the reasons why the great city must be destroyed and will be desolate

        • When the angel from heaven finishes speaking, John hears another voice from heaven

    • Voice from heaven (v. 4-8)

        • Some scholars believe that the voice from heaven is another angel, but most identify the voice as either God or Jesus

        • Command

          • The Greek verb is an imperative – a command that needs to be followed

          • God is calling His people to come out

            • This means that there are followers of Jesus Christ still on the earth at this point

            • Perhaps they are the ones who have accepted Jesus during the tribulation period

            • This speaks again of God’s grace and mercy, because He is warning them to flee prior to His judgment being poured out on Babylon the Great

            • PRINCIPLE – God desires for us to seek holiness instead of worldly desires.

              • “The saints/holy ones are to separate themselves (the very meaning of ‘holiness’) from the things of the world.” ​​ [Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 638]

              • For John’s readers to separate themselves from the great city (Rome) could include withdrawing from business transactions that would cause them to participate in emperor worship or other forms of idolatry [Keener, The NIV Application Commentary, Revelation, 424]

              • God may require us to sometimes physically separate ourselves from our culture, but He always wants us to separate ourselves from the ideologies of our culture, especially when they are in opposition to Him and His Word [Mounce, 327]

                • Universalism – every religion is basically the same and leads to heaven

                • Abortion – it is alright for humans to determine when life begins and whether or not it’s appropriate to kill a baby in utero

                • Same-sex marriage/Homosexuality – it’s alright to live with and marry someone of the same sex, even though God’s Word says it’s a sin

                • Greed, Pride, Pornography, Addictions, etc.

                • We have to separate ourselves from those cultural/worldly desires

              • Scriptural backing

                • Isaiah (52:11) and Jeremiah (51:45) shared God’s message to the Israelites about leaving Babylon

                • God instructed Abram to leave his country (Gen. 12:1)

                • 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. ​​ For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? ​​ Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? ​​ What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? ​​ What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? ​​ What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? ​​ For we are the temple of the living God.

                • Ephesians 5:11, Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

                • We have all heard and or used the phrase that as followers of Jesus Christ we are to be in the world, but not of it

                  • This concept comes from John 17:14-19 where Jesus is praying to God for His disciples

                  • He states that His disciples are not of this world, just as He is not of this world

                  • Next He says that He is sending them into the world to transform it by the power of the Gospel

                  • David Mathis suggests revising the phrase to, not of this world, but sent into it. ​​ [https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lets-revise-the-popular-phrase-in-but-not-of]

                  • Patterson captures the intent of this idea beautifully, “Compassion rather than condescension for sinners is the only appropriate posture for a believer. ​​ But this compassion must be exercised from a position of holiness and separation to God, his purposes, and his ways.” ​​ [Patterson, 331]

              • Application

                • What this means for us is that we find truth from God’s Word and not our culture

                • We don’t make our own truth

                • It requires us as followers of Jesus Christ to love those in our culture who believe and practice things that are in opposition to God and His Word

                • We are not to look down on or ignore those who are struggling to understand God’s truth

              • Two challenges for us

                • Are there areas of your life where you’re connected to this world in an unhealthy way?

                  • Addictions, ideologies, etc.

                  • Are there worldly desires that you are hesitant or unwilling to sacrifice and separate yourself from, so you can be set apart for God?

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to help me seek holiness instead of worldly desires.

                • Are you loving those who believe and/or practice things that are in opposition to God and His Word?

                  • For some of us it’s easy to set yourself apart for God and seek personal holiness, but we can become very condemning and critical of those who are struggling to be set apart

                  • We expect others to be where we’re at in our spirituality or understanding of God’s truths

                  • We live in a culture that has sold us the lie that we make our own truth, that we are in control of our lives, that there are not moral absolutes

                  • We have to loving embrace those who are struggling to find real truth and not alienate them from the body of Christ

                  • That has happened too often in the past and has created animosity towards Christians

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Love those, in my sphere of influence, who are struggling with the truths of God’s Word.

            • John hears this command for the believers to come out of the great city, but he also hears the reasons why

          • Reasons why they are to come out

            • So they won’t share in her sins

              • The Greek word for “share” is a compound word joining koinōnia and sun (sygkoinōneō)

                • Koinōnia is a Greek word many of us are familiar with – it means “fellowship”

                • The fellowship it’s referring to is more than a friendship or acquaintance, it’s much deeper than that

                • This Greek word is also used to describe the marriage relationship

                • Sun is translated as “with”

                • So it literally means “with fellowship”

                • Rogers & Rogers translate it as “to be a partner, to be a co-partner with” [Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, 644]

              • We already know what her sins are (adultery, both physically and spiritually; idolatry; pride; greed)

                • The great city has continued to participate in these sins to the point that they have piled up to heaven

                • The Greek word for piled up literally means “to stick to, to join to” ​​ [Rogers & Rogers, 644]

                • There is the idea that the sins here are related to one another, which is why they stick together [Patterson, 332]

                • God hasn’t forgotten what the inhabitants of the earth have done to His children – He has remembered their crimes

                • He is about to repay the inhabitants of the earth for their evil against His people

              • Believers can become ensnared in the sins of this world – they can compromise their values and beliefs to allow them to continue to do what they know God’s Word says is wrong

              • When that happens, the law of divine justice is enacted – if you share in the sins, you’ll also share in the punishment for those sins, unless you repent and flee

            • So they won’t receive any of her plagues

              • The second reason they are to come out from the great city is so they won’t receive any of her plagues

              • We’ve already seen what those plagues are in Revelation 16 (ugly and painful sores; sea turned to blood; rivers and springs turned to blood; sun scorched the people; complete darkness; Euphrates dried up; severe earthquake)

              • Perhaps the most familiar Biblical record of someone who struggled with sharing in the sins of a city and then receiving the punishment of the city is Lot’s wife

                • Genesis 19:15-17, With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! ​​ Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” ​​ When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. ​​ As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! ​​ Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! ​​ Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"

                • We see that Lot, his wife, and his daughters are hesitant to leave the city, even though they knew what was happening there was sinful (the men wanted to sleep with the angels who were staying with Lot)

                • They had probably compromised and should have left the city sooner, but now they were emotionally attached (Lot’s two daughters were engaged/pledged to be married)

                • We see the draw of worldly desires in what happens with Lot’s wife

                • Genesis 19:26, But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

                • Her heart was obviously still in the city, her desire was to be there – she has become a partner in the sins of the city and received the “plagues” (punishment)

              • We have to come out from the desires of this world, so we won’t receive the punishment destined for this world

              • God desires for us to seek holiness instead of worldly desires.

          • What John hears next is the punishment the great city will experience

        • Punishment

          • PRINCIPLE – God’s punishment of evil will be just and equitable.

            • We see the biblical law of justice handed out here – “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” (Exod. 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21)

            • In Latin it’s called lex talionis

            • John hears it in one of the repeated three-line poetic features

            • God is saying that the great city will be given back what it has dished out

              • The background for this is found in Jeremiah’s prophecy of the original Babylon

              • Jeremiah 50:29, “Summon archers against Babylon, all those who draw the bow. ​​ Encamp all around her; let no one escape. ​​ Repay her for her deeds; do to her as she has done. ​​ For she has defied the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.

            • The reference to receiving back double and mixing her a double portion is simply meaning that the great city will receive their punishment in full measure

              • This is in keeping with Rev. 14:10, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.

              • Jeremiah 16:18, I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled my inheritance with their detestable idols.

            • Divine requital

              • We continue to see divine equitable justice being handed down

              • She is to receive torture and grief to the same degree that she gave herself glory and luxury

                • These are the twin sins she has committed

                • She has glorified herself instead of God

                • She has lived in sensual luxury (meaning both immoral and greedy living – not content)

              • She is also prideful

                • It’s another three-line repetition

                  • Easley expresses it well [Easley, 329]

                  • She sits as queen (she was mistress of the world, the finest city of all times)

                  • She is not a widow (she had all the kings of the world as her lovers)

                  • She will never mourn (she believes she’s in complete control of her destiny)

                • While she believes these three things about herself, God is ultimately in control and will judge her justly and quickly

          • Quick punishment

            • The reference to her plagues overtaking her in one day, simply means that God’s justice and punishment will not be delayed

            • Her punishment will be death, mourning, and famine

              • What the great city has boasted in will come to pass

              • She is not in control of her destiny and will therefore mourn, she will no longer be queen, she will be a widow

            • The fact that she will be consumed by fire means that her punishment will be complete and total

 

CONCLUSION

“God warns his people to ‘come out’ of Babylon (18:4). ​​ This is a call to holiness, but we must not misunderstand holiness. ​​ Holiness is not simply a matter of avoiding certain kinds of activities, as some traditional churches have emphasized; holiness is separation from the world to God. Thus one can express holiness by immersing oneself in God’s Word rather than in the world’s values emphasized on television; or by turning down a better-paying job because someone felt God wanted him or her to work in a different place, perhaps among the poor. ​​ Such holiness may cost us our place in Babylon and much more. ​​ One Christian I have called ‘Stephen’ used to pray two hours a day and began to tell God passionately that he loved God so much that nothing else mattered. ​​ Then, in 1987, Stephen lost his wife. ​​ Now when he says, ‘God, I love you more than anything,’ he understands what he is saying. ​​ Ultimately, if we are truly Jesus’ disciples, our very lives are forfeit (Mark 8:34-38).” ​​ [Keener, 436]

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