SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- This chapter is all about the fall of Babylon. Angels proclaim its collapse and lasting destruction, God states His judgment, and various groups mourn for their loss.
- But what is Babylon? This chapter depicts it as a city with a considerable economy. A place that made kings, merchants, and shippers wealthy. Conversely, the previous chapter depicted Babylon as despised, and it may represent something in addition to a city -- possibly a specific religious organization. Or it could symbolize sinful society in general. Regardless, Babylon was responsible for persecuting God’s people and earned itself God’s wrath.
- From a human vantage point it’s hard to understand how God can let evil persist. Babylon was allowed to prosper financially while at the same time murdering people who followed Jesus. God could’ve prevented this great violence but chooses instead to have the city destroyed at a later time.
- While God allows horrific events to take place in our world, he doesn’t give them the final word. We’ll see in the coming chapters that God has the final say in regards to the judgment of evil and institution of peace.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- One of the perplexing questions is why a God of love would allow evil to persist in the world he loves. There are answers - such as the fact that God gives humanity free will, and it's by our free will choices, not by God's doing, that evil enters the picture - but no answer will probably fully satisfy us. What we need to remember is that while evil may persist, it will not last. A day is coming when God will judge evil and where love will win. In the meantime, we need to trust God.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- It seems that there will always be evil in the world, but that doesn't mean we accept it. As representatives of a righteous God, and as agents of his love, we are to "overcome evil with good" (see Romans 12:21). How can you be an active part of God's ultimate victory? What can you do this week to overcome evil with good?