Exhortations and Woes

Revelation 18:4-20

Come out of her, my people

The voice of the Lord sounds from heaven calling His people out of Babylon in light of her impending doom, in verses 4-5, reminding us of the Lord’s admonition to Israel in Jer. 51:45 before He punished the Babylon of old. The Lord continues in 6-8 by pronouncing His righteous judgment on Babylon.

Verses 9-20 continue His pronouncement by showing a series of pictures of the destruction of Babylon. We see a group of people standing “far off” viewing the smoke rising from the destruction of God’s judgment, reminiscent of Abraham in Gen. 19:28 as he gazed upon the smoke rising from the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah. As the scene continues, we must recognize who is speaking: In 9-10 the “kings of the earth” speak, in 11-17a it is the “merchants of the earth” and in 12-19 it is mariners. Each cries “Woe, woe” indicating anger, sadness and impending doom.

The harlot Babylon is all about sensual indulgence, including excessive luxuries and great wealth, and while there is nothing inherently evil about wealth, it often becomes a person’s “god” and even if it doesn’t rise to that level, it can easily become a distraction for anyone. In any case, it is easy to see why the destruction of wealth through divine judgment would present merchants with a sense of woe.

In John’s day, commerce was closely related to the emperor cult, and as we have already seen, those who don’t follow along with the crowd may be cut off from all trade; God has taken due note of this in His judgments (cf. Rev. 13:17). Notice the reference to slave trading in verse 13; those mariners who carried the luxuries and wealth of empires along with human beings for sale to the highest bidders will have their day of woe as the great day of the Lord approaches. God will surely pour out His wrath on the systems of this evil age as described in chapter 16; what is the Christian to do?

Come out of her, my people!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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4 Responses to Exhortations and Woes

  1. One of my adopted ministries is a group who works all over our nation and the world to deliver people out of human trafficking. As Christians we can pray for these ministries, victims, workers and donate much needed funds to provide housing, counseling, and job training to those who choose to be delivered. We cannot turn a blind eye to evil. We all have gifts, callings, and resources. I encourage everyone to search their heart for what the Holy Spirit is putting a burden and calling for and follow through to do His will and help bring the Kingdom of God here on earth as it shall be in Heaven.

  2. There is so much in this passage of scripture that relates to the time in which we are living. I can’t help but also, relate it to the warning to the church of Laodicea who thought herself rich but in reality, is poor, blind, and naked. Much of the American Institutionalized church fits this description. We have too much stuff. We need to sell it and buy eye salve so our spiritual eyes are restored and we can recognize our true condition and spiritual need…WAKE UP CHURCH!

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