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The Gospel From Patmos
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From The Last Book Of The Bible
Daily Devotional
Monday, October 23, 2017

            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. For every nation has drunk from the wine of the wrath of her fornication. The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her and the merchants of the earth have become rich because of her large capacity for luxury.” Rev 18:1-3.



            It is easy to take a statement like this and project it into the past, the future, or some other part of the planet. Babylon is a dangerous outfit that is “over there” somewhere. We’re so glad that we are with the good guys! But at the risk of seeming unpatriotic, let me explore a few considerations that may bring this passage a little closer to home for Americans.
            The United States today is not an evil empire in the sense of a totalitarian or repressive state like Assyria or Nazi Germany. Such nations automatically invite judgment unless they repent. But there are other ways in which this text seems to apply to America. We live in a world today where the dominant trading partner of most countries in the world is the United States of America. And while many of the goods traded are fairly neutral in a spiritual sense, much of American trade contributes greatly to the evil in the world.
            America has become one of the primary exporters of immorality. The most widely watched television program in the world for many years was Baywatch. Is it any wonder that some Muslim nations, who try to guard against public exposure of the human body, have regarded the United States as the “Great Satan?” After all, American priorities in the Middle East seem quite clear. When the Saudi government demanded that the US embassy close down both worship services and nightclubs for American citizens, the embassy compromised. If they could keep the nightclubs open, they would close down the worship services.
            The export of American-style democracy seems like an improvement over oppression, but it is often accompanied by a dramatic rise in Mafia-style crime. Popular songs in newly-minted democracies glorify drugs and rape, courtesy of the American entertainment industry. Alarmed by a younger generation that is getting its values from Hollywood and MTV, Chinese officials have sought stricter controls on public morality.1
            If John were alive today, would he apply the term Babylon to the United States?



            Lord, give me eyesalve to see clearly the sin that lies in my own backyard. Help me to clear the beams in my own eyes before I criticize the specks in the eyes of others.



1Based on Keener, 416-417.


 
 
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