by Doy Moyer
Revelation 18:21-24 gives three reasons for the fall of Babylon:
- Merchants were great men, “nobility of the earth.”
- “Nations were deceived by your sorcery,” (Revelation 18:23), and
- “In her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all those slaughtered on the earth” (Revelation 18:24).
Points 2 and 3 are understandable, but why 1? Why would merchants being “great men” be a cause for judgment?
I believe this is in direct contrast to the way they saw God: the men were great (cf. Isaiah 23:8); God was not. Their own success and glory were great; God was pushed aside. Yet Revelation stresses the greatness of God (Revelation 4:11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 15:3-4; 16:9; 19:1,7), demonstrating that our purpose is to glorify Him. Only God is truly great and awesome, so describing the city as “great” in this context is showing its own hubris (Daniel 4:30; Revelation 11:8; 14:8; 16:19; 17:5,18; 18:2,10,16,19,21,23). The merchants may have been “great” or “men of renown” who controlled their economy (so they thought), but they perverted their purpose and instead of glorifying God, they were glorifying self. That never ends well. When we diminish God in favor of ourselves, we will fall.
Glorify God today. He alone is worthy of our worship.