When Babylon falls in a single hour

Last week I concluded an 8-week class on the book of Revelation at my church. Near the book’s end is the fall of commercial Babylon. (I encourage you to read Chapter 18).

Babylon’s economic collapse will mark the near end of the Great Tribulation period. Babylon falls after 3 ½ years of devastating plagues. (God also uses “42 months” and “1,260 days” to make clear the duration of this plague-filled season).

Babylon doesn’t fall in just one day. It falls in a single hour. 

“Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.” (18:10)

Computer screens will display nothing but red arrows – the color of the oceans and rivers that God turns to blood. Assets will become worthless. The people will weep and mourn.

“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. ” (18:15-17).

From both a health and economic perspective, what we’re experiencing with today’s coronavirus is not fun. It will surely be historic. Still, it’s but a foreshadow of what God has planned on a much wider scale. 

Jesus calls these events “birth pains” (Matthew 24:8). Just as today’s forest fires and earthquakes foreshadow something much greater in the future, the impact of the coronavirus is a foreshadow of something much more extreme.

In the seal judgments, the last of the four horsemen delivers death for a fourth of mankind (roughly two billion based on current day population). On a pale-colored horse, the rider named “Death” is given authority to “kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” (6:8).

The coronavirus is helping our generation to understand what a pestilence can really do – we’ve not really seen one up close. And while Covid-19 has my respect, relatively speaking, it’s a tiny virus.

No, this isn’t latter day Babylon. We’re not there yet. We will rebound from the coronavirus. (And besides, depending on one’s eschatology, those names in the Lamb’s book of life will not be tested in this tribulation period.)

So what’s the point? Is this supposed to make us feel any better?

For the Christian, it’s all about knowledge and perspective. It’s about making sense of the present, and understanding what lies ahead. 

As for today – the health risk concerns might disappear much faster than the economic impact that lingers. But it (economy) too will likely recover.

But a day is coming when there will be no recovery. And along with oceans turned to blood, a sun that scorches mankind, darkening of the days, bodily pains and sores – the financial markets will crash…completely.

Ultimately what makes financial markets crash is uncertainty. This will be the case especially in the tribulation. God’s eventual judgment will be so harsh, bringing even the wicked face to face with their demise. Once people see there is no hope for a future, the bottom will fall out.

Back to our virus watch – this too shall pass… perhaps quickly.

But its stains will remain – as a reminder to us that God’s coming judgments are “trustworthy and true” (21:5, 22:6). And that a new heavens and new earth await us (Revelation 21 & 22).