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The Gospel From Patmos
Everyday Insights For Living
From The Last Book Of The Bible
Daily Devotional
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

            After these things I saw another angel coming down out of heaven, having great authority. The earth was illuminated with his glory. He cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the Great has fallen! It has fallen! It has become a dwelling place for demons, and a cage for every kind of unclean spirit and every kind of unclean and hateful bird. Rev 18:1-2.



            Babylon is more than just an End-time power. As the “great city” it symbolizes all the evil powers that have ever dominated the earth. In the Greek of Rev 17:18, Babylon “is” the great city which “has rulership” over the kings of the earth. This combination of a present tense verb with a present participle (“has rulership”) is one of the most continuous expressions possible in the Greek. It means that Babylon rules continuously over the kings of the earth. The principles of Babylon lie behind all the powers in earth’s history that try to coerce and exploit people.
            Babylon can rear its ugly head in surprising places. Israelite law required slave holders to provide freed slaves with resources so they could build their own lives (Deut 15:13-14). But freed slaves in America never received the promised “forty acres and a mule.” While the Northern states ended slavery through the Civil War, the freed slaves themselves lacked the land to become self-sufficient in the agricultural South. Many freed slaves became virtual debt slaves on the same estates where they had once worked in bondage.
            In the early Twentieth Century millions of rural southern blacks moved to northern cities, hoping to find employment and a lack of segregation. What they met instead was a new kind of segregation known as “white flight.” As the whites left the inner city they took their money with them, resulting in today’s urban ghettoes. While slavery ended nearly 150 years ago, those born into the ghetto have automatic educational and economic disadvantages. These disadvantages are rooted in conscious choices made by our ancestors on economic rather than ethical grounds.
            Am I responsible for the sins of my ancestors? The Bible seems to answer “yes” (Rev 18:4-7; Matt 23:29-36). To ignore these disparities because “I had nothing to do with it” is like a baseball team cheating into the ninth inning and then saying, “OK, we’ll play fair for the rest of the game!” Christians must be willing to do something, but what is it?
            Race-based reparations may not be the answer. As John Perkins (an African-American preacher) jokes, “Many poor people would immediately buy an expensive car and the rich people would have their money back!” But we can invest our time and money in needy communities. We can find ways to empower the poor to build their own lives.1



            Lord, give me a heart to see the need of others the way You see it. Give me the courage and the sacrificial willingness to do something about it. 



1Based on Keener, 438-439.


 
 
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