The Unveiling of Jesus Christ
The Concordant Version
THE COMMERCIAL CAPITAL
OF THE WORLD
COMMERCE controls the modern world. The trader has displaced the politician. Wars are waged for traffic lanes and economic concessions. The policies of cabinets are dictated by the merchants of great cities. Once international commerce, as well as international finance, is brought into one great controlling combine, it will usurp the major functions of all government and will have "a kingdom over the kings of the earth." This is the place accorded to the great city Babylon, at the time of the end (Rev.17:18). The description of Babylon is most "modern" in its implications. Rome was a military dictatorship. Commerce was not developed. Men needed little but what was at hand. Today, the civilized nations draw their supplies from the whole world. Transportation is nearly as important as production. Commerce and capital are kings.
How anyone can read the eighteenth chapter of the Unveiling and fail to see that it portrays the destruction of a literal commercial metropolis passes comprehension. Any attempt to spiritualize such things as gold and silver and precious stones and pearls must recognize their true worth. These substances are symbols of the highest and most glorious spiritual values. If Babylon is the apostate church, it is represented as richly and lavishly endowed with the very graces which deny its apostasy. Literal gold and silver and precious stones to deck the persons of the opulent fits the picture perfectly. It is evidence of the false millennial bliss enjoyed by apostate Israel before Christ comes. Faith, not ingenuity, is needed to see this.
In many ways, the city which was named Our Lady the Queen of the Angels (now shortened to Los Angeles) may serve as an example of what Babylon will be. Just as the Jews will go there with immense wealth, and use it to pander to their souls, so many come here to spend what they have gained elsewhere. This leads to an immense traffic in many of the things listed as purchased by luxurious Babylon. "Gold and silver and precious stones and pearls" (Rev.18:12) are bought in abundance. Indeed, they are not confined to the wealthy. "Purple and silk and scarlet" are well represented by the marvelous and costly clothing worn by multitudes who can well afford it. Fine woods are everywhere, though, of course, citron wood and ivory are more suited to an oriental city. Copper and iron are used in large quantities, especially in fine buildings and their trim. Marble is imported for the most magnificent interiors.
The spices used in Babylon are not common in the west, but there was a time, before the advent of prohibition, when wine flowed freely. Olive oil is still a staple. The means of sustenance, flour and wheat and beasts are, of course, imported in immense quantities.
The last two items, bodies, and souls (18:13), are significant. Each wealthy family calls for a retinue of servants. They are wanted for their bodies and their souls. Their spirits are not paid for or desired. Their labor and weariness are purchased for the pleasure of their opulent masters. This list seems to include almost everything which men may desire or money can obtain. It represents a city swollen with wealth and able to provide all the soulish delights which it craves.
The forerunner of Babylon is the moving picture capital of the world. This business is largely in the hands of the Jews. Much of the world's wealth flows to Los Angeles by this means. It is a typical example, and shows clearly how Babylon will get and spend her enormous income. Moving pictures are, in themselves, quite neutral. They need not be any worse than printed illustrations. But I am told that their average moral tone is very low. They are an influence for evil. The sole criterion of their worth is the box office receipts. Thus the gentile is paying the Jew to degrade him. The money is partly spent in extravagant luxury, such as will characterize Babylon, the commercial capital of the future.
The account of Babylon's importations occurs in the midst of a description of its destruction. The merchants who supplied these things are graphically represented as standing at a distance, mourning the loss of their best customer, for Babylon will wallow in such wealth that she will enrich all with whom she trades. They are principally concerned with her luxuries. All her apparel will be imported. It is described in terms which connote the utmost magnificence to the oriental mind. Purple and scarlet are not merely colors, but cloth confined to kings' courts and those who can afford the costliest clothing. Gold and precious stones and pearls are only for those whose excessive wealth leads them to indulge in extravagant display. None of this is produced in Babylon. It becomes the word's best purchaser of the precious produce of the earth.
In the midst of the description of her sudden destruction, we get a glimpse of the social delights of Babylon. It will be filled with music. Lyre singers and entertainers, and flutists and trumpeters will fill the air with the concord of sweet sounds. Not only the ears, but the eyes are satiated with brilliant and beautiful lights. The nights are bright with electric bulbs. The streets are gorgeous with colored signs which shine and disappear and shine again. Some seem to fall in cascades of fire. The steady glow of neon lights in artistic designs indicate some of the marvels possible to such a city as Babylon. It will banish the night with its brilliance. It will satiate the ear with its symphonies (Rev.18:22,23).
It is evident that Babylon will not be satisfied with the sumptuous splendor and power it attains. We read that the fruition for which her soul yearned passed away from her (18:14). She will never reach the heights to which she aspires. There can be little doubt that Babylon aims at nothing less than the complete domination of the earth, politically as well as economically and financially. The stranglehold which they obtain is only a means to put the nations completely under their yoke. They may not be good students of prophecy, but Israel's ideal, of being the head, of subduing all the other nations, is the instinctive heritage of the apostate Jew as well as the devout follower of Moses. All that God has promised them in their holy writings, earth's suzerainty, is the fruition for which they wait.
In the original, the thought of fruition is expressed in a term of much significance. Literally, it is opoora, JUICE-HOUR. The kingdom of Israel is often represented under the figure of a fig tree. Indeed, the only miracle of doom wrought by our Lord was the cursing of the fig tree, to indicate the effect of Israel's apostasy. His word was, "No longer, by any means, may fruit come of you for the eon" (Matt.21:19). The kingdom cannot come in this eon. The "church" may call itself "the kingdom," and thus prove its own apostasy, apostate Jewry may seek to set up the kingdom by their own endeavors, but no one can inaugurate the kingdom except the King. All other efforts are futile failures, as well as an affront to His word.
Figs are peculiar in this, that, when fully ripe, they are filled with a syrup, sweet as honey, yet if plucked before the hour of ripeness, they exude a milk-white poisonous juice, unfit for food. The time of Israel's rule is very near when Babylon seeks to pluck the fruit, but they are too early. The juice is still bitter. They are before God's time. The fruition they yearn for cannot come in this eon. It cannot come without the coming of the Christ Whom they spurn, Who is the true king of Israel. It cannot come through the curse they have put upon the nations. It is insipid and bitter and poisonous, for the fruit is not quite ripe.
THE SIGN OF THE MILLSTONE
Seldom do we see a large city suddenly plunged into utter destruction. The nearest approach in my experience was the San Francisco earthquake, when, without a moment's warning, a large part of the Pacific metropolis was shaken and set on fire, and reduced to a pile of smoking ruins. Some such disaster will overtake Babylon. In the midst of high living and joy and revelry, within the compass of a single day, her life will be visited with death, her joy will be turned to mourning, her plenty will be displaced by famine, and fire will devour the debris that has not been previously destroyed (Rev.18:8).
The Jews of our Lord's generation were held guilty of crimes committed from the beginning up to their day (Matt.23:35). From the blood of Abel down to the latest victim of religious hatred--all were held against the generation that crucified our Lord. To some, the justice of this is not apparent at first glance. Why should they be charged with acts they did not commit? They do not see the depths of God's righteous judgment. Why did the Jews fail to do these unrighteous deeds? Simply because they lacked the opportunity. They would have done so had they lived at the time. While they built ornamental tombs for the prophets whom their progenitors have persecuted and killed, they followed their fathers in their treatment of God's messengers.
Of Babylon, we read: "in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth" (Rev. 18:24). It is not necessary to prove that Babylon literally murdered all of these, for Jerusalem, in the passage we have just been considering, was also charged with the same. Babylon was not in existence when Abel was slain. But Babylon is guilty of all, just as the crucifiers of our Lord were charged with all. Babylon completes the sum of Jewish apostasy. It will have a heart to murder all who are true to Yahweh. All the prophets and saints would be killed had she the opportunity. Hence it is most just to find their blood in her and judge her accordingly.
Such, indeed, is the opinion of the vast throng in heaven. They are fully satisfied with His indictment against her and the justice of His visitation upon her. Therefore, they cry, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power is of our God, for true and just are His judgments, for He judges the great prostitute who corrupts the earth with her prostitution, and avenges the blood of His slaves at her hand . . . Hallelujah! "(Rev.19:1-3). This is the end of apostate Israel. It is the consummation of this evil eon. It is the crisis of all the eons. Henceforth Israel will fulfill her God-given functions, and be a blessing to all the nations. Her iniquity culminates and closes with the destruction of Babylon. Hence the twenty-four elders and the animals echo the throng, saying, "Amen! Hallelujah!"
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