(Part 2, yesterday)
It’s through the culture Babylon creates that it attempts to wreck the Church. So can we know what to look out for, then?
The next two chapters in Revelation give us clues to the methods Babylon uses. It either swamps the Church with its culture, so we’re too weak and infected to resist – or it slowly and sneakily injects its culture into the Church, so we don’t even notice it’s happening.
But Jesus loves his Church (Revelation 1:5), so he has angels pass on personal messages from himself to each of seven churches in existence at the time. And each message is tailored to the church it’s sent to, with a mixture of encouragement, correction, warnings and promises, to equip the churches with weapons to fight off Babylon.
Jesus knew what his Church was in for, having faced the opposition of Babylon himself. But he also knew what resisting and beating the opposition did for him. It “perfected” him, Hebrews 5:9. Up against the cunning and influence of Babylon he “learned obedience,” verse 8. He learnt as a human that the way to defeat Babylon was keeping his eyes and heart firmly fixed on his Father’s wishes and commands. So in the book of Revelation he passes that on to his Church, that the way for us to defeat Babylon is to keep our eyes and heart firmly fixed on him, because he’s the one who “holds the keys of death and Hades,” Revelation 1:18, not Babylon.
Babylon may give the impression it’s all powerful and it governs our lives, because for now it fills every part of our culture. There is no escaping it. It permeates and poisons everything. Witness what happened to the whole world in the pandemic. Even the brightest and the best got caught up in lies, willing ignorance, propaganda, fraud, power, greed, divisive vitriol, and even when proved wrong they refused to admit it. Talk about a “revelation” – because it gave us real and personal experience as to what Babylon is like, and the oppressive and sneaky power it wields.
And it’s that same revelation the book of Revelation is about, all of it designed to warn and equip the Church as to who our enemy is, how to recognize it, and how to fend off its influence. It’s a personal message for his beloved Church from Jesus, and does he ever know what we need, as we see coming up in chapters 2 and 3. (Part 4 in a couple of weeks…)