By Connie W. Adams
Christians near the end of the century, especially those in Asia Minor, were undergoing severe persecution. Satan was behind it all and had found two allies to afflict God’s people. They were symbolized in Revelation 13 as a beast rising out of the sea exercising a great political power and as a beast coming off the land, symbolizing false religion. The two powers merged in emperor worship and used false wonders to deceive people. The saints did not and could not receive the mark of this beast. Under such trying circumstances they needed instruction and hope. The book of Revelation was intended to pro-vide both.
As the visions unfold, John is allowed to see the ultimate fall of these two beasts who are to be cast into the lake of fire where Satan himself would finally be cast. The persecuting power is symbolized as Babylon the great because that had been the great power which led God’s people into captivity in Old Testament times. As God brought down that Babylon, so he would bring down this Babylon which afflicted his New Covenant people.
Revelation 18 describes the fall of these evil powers and sounds a warning to the people of God of that day not to be caught up in the sins which characterized the citizens of Rome. “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye not be partakers of her sins, and that ye not receive her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). The spirit of the world has often infiltrated the lives of God’s people. That spirit is seductive. Sin and rebellion against God is made to look attractive. It sparkles and sizzles. It shimmers and shines. It promises real living and delivers death. We are warned, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 In. 2:15-17). We are commanded to “come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:17). “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshy lusts, which war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11).
The reason God would judge that great harlot was that “her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (v.5). She had become arrogant and said, “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (v.7). But God said, “she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her” (v.8). God judged ancient Tyre and brought it down. It was a center of commerce and of great immorality. Her sins reached unto heaven and God said, “Enough!” God judged Nineveh and brought it down. Her sins had reached unto heaven. God judged ancient Babylon which thought it was invincible. It also said there is “none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow” only to be told by God that “they shall be as stubble” (Isa. 47:7-15). Her sins had reached unto heaven. Through the prophet Daniel, Belshazzar was told “the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men” (Dan. 5:21).
In the case of Rome, John saw in vision the kings of earth, the merchants, the shipmen all mourning the fall of this vast giant of power and evil. Theirs was not the mourning of patriots. They saw the hope of their gain lost. Revelation 18 closed with the silence of the tomb. The bustle of commerce, the sound of music, the noise of the craftsmen, the quaint scenes of home and hearth and the light of the candle, and the excitement of the wedding feast all of this is stilled forever.
I thought of this when I visited the Rome Forum. What once was the boulevard of an empire, which witnessed the triumphant processions of the legions of Rome as they returned with slaves and the plunder of conquest, where elaborate and ornate temples to the gods dazzled the eye, was now a sad spectacle of crumbled ruins. You see, her sins reached unto heaven and God, who was stronger, judged her. Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, came in remembrance before God.
What About Our Sins
The downward plunge of our own nation is cause for deep concern for all who have learned from the word of God that God will not tolerate evil in a nation forever. We once spoke of “trends” toward national decay. But now the evidence of such national rot are stamped across the stage of action as we watch with disbelief. Disdain for God’s marriage law is rampant. Murder, arson, rape, malfeasance of public officials, children passing through metal detectors at school to screen out knives and guns, these and more are the staples of daily news in the U.S.A. Raw language and explicit scenes are becoming common place of the evening news both locally and nationally. TV shows like Phil Donahue, Joan Rivers, Geraldo, and Sally Jesse Raphael feature every form of aberrent behavior. Any moral objection or statement based on biblical principles is held up to ridicule. What passes for entertainment in prime time television is an exercise in moral debauchery. We have a president who said in his election campaign that he would make abortion a litmus test for any appointee to the Supreme Court of this nation. His official act was to remove the “gag rule” at federally funded abortion clinics. Our nation has seen 28 million legal abortions (translate that murders) since the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision handed down by the highest court in the land. The blood of the innocents cries out for vindication. The president is trying to change the rules about homosexuals in the military. Many denominational churches are on record as endorsing homosexuality even among the “clergy.” Public schools have become public enemy number one when it comes to morals and family values. Every subject of study has been subjected to a humanistic approach which desensitizes the rising generation to sin. Moral judgments are being neutralized. Every form of perversion has become “an alternate lifestyle.” Public schools are becoming distribution centers for condoms and sex education classes have become crash courses in how to commit fornication without shame, without contracting some disease and without getting pregnant. Shall I go on?
How Long, Oh Lord?
The longsuffering of the Lord does not endure forever. He has judged Egypt, the Amorites, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Israel, Rome, the empires of Napoleon and Hitler. God has always allowed space for repentance. But the time comes when God has seen enough and has had enough. He is still the governor among the nations.
The hope of the millions of lost souls in this land is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16-17). But what if the salt loses its savor? What if the light of righteous people is under a bushel? What if preachers of the gospel wink at sin and dilute the message? What if elders seek out preachers to scratch itching ears? What if Christians prefer fables to truth? What if Christians are themselves seduced by the siren call of the sins of the age and are overcome by the temptations? We must not lose this battle, folks! We are going to have to work harder just to save our own children. We are a definite minority. Our voice sounds so strange to the ears of so many. Our children are made to feel out of step with the spirit of the age and if they are pleasing God, they are out of step.
But we are not without strength and influence. Who knows but that we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? It is a time to watch and pray. It is also a time to boldly, clearly and faithfully proclaim the good news that a Saviour came from heaven, died for our sins, was raised from the dead, and sent the gospel message into all the world that the lost might be saved. His disciples have marching orders and we must be about our Father’s business. There is no time to waste. Let’s get on with it!
In the home. What tone of voice do I want my mate to use in speaking to me? If I want her to have the “law of kindness” on her tongue (Prov. 31:26), then I should speak kindly to her. What would I want her to do for me if she saw me busy with a hundred chores? If I would want her to get up and help me, then I should get up and help her with her chores instead of sitting in my Lazy-boy and drinking Diet Pepsi. What role would I want her to play in the discipline of our children? If I do not want to always to come across as the “heavy,” then I should be sure to take an active part in the correction of our children so that she does not come across as the one constantly condemning and criticizing.
On the job. Sometimes I have to hire someone to repair a washing machine or refrigerator. He starts charging me $35-40 an hour from the time he leaves his office. I would be angry if he stopped at McDonalds and got a cup of coffee while he read the paper, intentionally prolonged his job for whatever reason, or in any other caused my bill to be higher than it had to be. I expect him to do his work efficiently and as quickly as he can. If this is what I expect from those who work for me, then this is the kind of work I should give to my employer.
If I do not want someone to come into my garage and steal my tools, I should not steal the tools which my employer provides. If I would desire everyone to cooperate with me, if I were the supervisor of the shop, I should cooperate with my supervisor.
In personal relationships. Sometimes a person goes around the country telling lies about his brother, maliciously slandering his name and character. If I do not want others to gossip and slander me, then I should not be guilty of doing that to them (Lev. 19:16; Prov. 18:8; 26:22). Many church problems have been created by those who did not practice the Golden Rule. If there are some things which have occurred to me that I do not wish to have broadcast to everyone, then I should not broadcast ever juicy tidbit of gossip I hear about others.
Many churches are troubled by self-willed brethren who are so bent on having their own way that they are willing to disrupt the peace and harmony of the local church to get their way. In matters of personal judgment, do I want to work with a group of self-willed men (Tit. 1:7; 2 Pet. 2:10; 2 Tim. 3:4)? If not, I should learn to be as flexible as possible on matters of personal judgment.
Sometimes brethren make severe, harsh judgments on one another. They are censorious, guilty of evil surmising in the meticulous examination of every word written or spoken. If I do not want brethren to use such harsh, severe, critical judgments of my every move, then I should not do that to them.
In ministering to the needs of others. There are some fine examples of saints who have ministered to the needs of suffering saints (such as Dorcas, Acts 9:36-39). What would 1 want my brethren to do if I were so sick that I could not work for 2-3 months and had no income? If I would want them to help me financially, stop by to visit me, help me with my chores, and otherwise show concern for me, then I should react in the same way when announcements are made about those who are sick in the congregation.
What would I want brethren to do for me if I lost a child or mate in death? Would I want to be ignored and neglected? Would I want someone coming to me when I was depressed and harshly saying, “You’ve got to toughen up”? However I would want to be treated should be the measuring stick I use to gauge how 1 should treat those in the local congregation who need comfort and consolation.
In teaching others. I am thankful to God for my Mother and Father who lived a good example before us children, taught us the word of God, took us to church, worked with us through our problems, and otherwise helped us to start on the road of life in obedience to the will of God. If that is what I wanted for myself, then this is what I should pro-vide for my children.
I am thankful for the gospel preachers who drove from Lufkin and Houston, Texas to Groveton to teach us the gospel. They sacrificed their time, energies, and money to be sure that young folks like me heard the gospel. If I appreciate their efforts to teach me, I should make similar efforts to teach others.
What would I want others to do for me when I stumble into sin and error? If I wish that they could come to me in the spirit of brotherly kindness and show me my error, that should be my conduct toward them. If I desire to go to heaven so much that I would prefer the pain of being corrected over going to hell, then I should assume that they have the same intense desire to go to heaven and would prefer the rebuke of their friend rather than continuing in sin which eventually would lead to eternal death. I would no more deprive a spiritually hungry person of the bread of life than I would deprive the physically hungry person of bread.
This Is The Law and the Prophets
Jesus said that the Golden Rule summarizes the Law and the Prophets. He did not mean that practicing the Golden Rule releases one from obedience to the law of sacrifices; rather, what he said was that much of the Law, such as “Thou shalt not kill, . . . steal, . . . commit adultery, .. . bear false witness, . . . covet,” would be obeyed if one simply followed the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is a clear, concise, and simple summation of Christian ethics; it restrains our evil actions and demands positive conduct toward others. Let us learn to live by its demands on our lives.
“Without Are Dogs”
A few weeks ago, one of our families was having car trouble. Unable to drive their car, the Shane Hall family had no choice but to drive their pickup. The pickup is one of those which is so high off the ground that a person needs a small step ladder to get into it. This is the pickup which Shane drives when he is working around the home place. Every time he cranks the pickup, their pet dog Feller jumps in the back, whether invited or not. You guessed it! Feller came to church. We had been encouraging our members to bring their friends and neighbors to church with them, but this was not one of the “creatures” to whom the gospel was sent (Mk. 16:15). About the only Scripture I could think of which had application to these circumstances was Revelation 22:15 “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
As I was introducing my sermon that evening, I asked Shane if he had brought Feller back for evening services.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 9, p. 3-4
May 6, 1993