Wealth and Worship: Unveiling the Allure of Babylon

April 15, 2024

In Revelation 18, we delve back into the symbolic portrayal of Babylon, a city emblematic of worldly rebellion against God. Babylon is portrayed as a prostitute attempting to allure us into believing that life with her is more enticing than life with God. She calls and wants to be noticed, and one of her most powerful draws is worldly wealth. For week two of our “In the End” sermon series, our big idea was: Wealth powerfully draws our hearts toward Babylon.


Sermon Recap: The Power and Peril of Wealth


I would encourage you to read the entirety of Revelation 18. Verses 1-3 in the text show that Babylon has fallen, and there is a call to come out of what is being destroyed. Look now at verses 4-8:

“Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.’”

In verse 4 there is a call to the Church to come out of Babylon. Practically speaking, the call to the Church, and the call to us today, is this: If you don’t come out of Babylon, you will take part in her sins. Think about who you’re spending time with. Where are you making your home? Are you playing with fire today?

Open your Bible again, and examine verses 11-18:

“And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. ‘The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!’ The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, ‘Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.’ And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, ‘What city was like the great city?’”

Looking at the text, we see that there are two great reactions to the fall of Babylon. The first is the reaction of the world. As Babylon falls, the world is mourning, crying out, and weeping. “What city is like the great city?” they wailed. That cry is a reference from Exodus 15 where God’s people are supposed to cry out, “Who is like our God?” (Johnson, 2001, Triumph of the Lamb). The people of Babylon’s god was the wealth their city afforded. The luxury, the experiences, the material possessions, the respect, the purpose that was all bound up in worldly wealth…these things gave them life and held them up. Unfortunately, when the worldly wealth crumbled, they too were crushed. They worshiped money like it was a god, and as it turns out, humans aren’t built to have their god ever leave them. This is plain teaching on idolatry. An idol is anything we worship that isn’t God, and money mimics God better than anything else on earth.

Through this text we must see the power of money. Money isn’t bad, but it is powerful. Wealth is not wrong, but it is dangerous in knitting our heart to the world rather than God’s kingdom. Look at Matthew 19:24, for example. “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Contrary to the world’s lament, the Church is called to rejoice in God’s judgment upon Babylon. Look at verses 20 and 21:

“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more.”


Application: Worship God, and Be Drawn to His Kingdom


For the Christian, I urge you to examine your relationship with wealth through the lens of God’s kingdom. Are you ensnared by the allure of worldly treasures, or do you prioritize the enduring riches of His grace and love? Consider one question today: “Can you handle what God will bring you in terms of wealth without confusing it with God Himself?” If your wealth is entrapping you, heed the call to come out of Babylon today. Repent of worldly attachments, and fight to see through worldly wealth to the greater treasure found in Christ.

In the gospel, you are a son or daughter of the King. His love for you doesn’t rise or fall with a number in a bank account, and He wants for you an eternal wealth. God has proven His love for you and the goodness of His kingdom by sending His Son to live a perfect life in our place. When Babylon is cast in the sea, we deserve to sink with it! But Jesus lifted us from our sinking to grant us standing in His family and Kingdom. He died on the cross to save us out of Babylon and to bring us into His city.

For the unbeliever in Babylon, the call is the same as for believers: Come out of Babylon today! Jesus is beckoning to you to save you and bring you into His kingdom. His love and His kingdom surpass the perishing wealth of the world. Repent, and call out to God that His kingdom is better!

-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)

Watch the full sermon from week two here!


Additional Resources:


Generosity Resources

Desiring God: At Least As Dangerous As Porn

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