How was the peasant worker in Guatemala, who makes $6 a day, affected by the American economic crisis in 2008-2009? Were the bank accounts and property values of the masses of people in the Sudan affected by it? Do you think those struggling to survive in the slums of Sao Polo, Brazil are concerned about America’s GDP and GNP? Were there tears in the eyes of those on the streets of Calcutta because the stock market plunged to near Great Depression numbers? Was there job loss in the war-torn Congo? America is having economic problems and the poor of the world don’t care. They are not crying about it. They are unaffected. What we call financial crisis, they see as great wealth. Abundant wealth. Obscene wealth. Who are the one’s that care and are crying? Well, the American people for one. Many have lost their jobs and their homes and their hopes. But we still have enough money to trample one another on Black Friday at Walmart.
We see a similar portrait in Revelation 18. Babylon the Great is fallen. The empire is in ruins. Who cares and who cries for Babylon the Great? The kings of the earth, the money-grubbing merchants, the sea captains, sailors, and seamen who earned a living from the sea – they are the ones who lament, weep, and mourn. Why? It was they who participated in and benefited from the power, luxury, and prestige of Babylon the Great. They were the one’s who profited from the sales of goods and services. They made bundles of money carrying shiploads of cargo for consumers.
Who didn’t care that Babylon the Great lost her position in the world, her military might, her luxury and wealth, her splendor? The poor, oppressed, and enslaved (it is estimated the half the population in Rome at the time of John’s writing were slaves). Also, the Christians being boycotted, persecuted, and killed didn’t shed a tear for Babylon the Great. Instead, the heavens, the people of God, the apostles, and prophets are called to a three-fold rejoicing. The mighty angel of God casts a large boulder into the sea as a prophetic act of God’s judgment because Babylon the NOT-SO-GREAT spilled the blood of God’s prophets and people and slaughtered others on the earth to make itself great, to protect the values of the Roman Empire.
Do you ever wonder why the rest hates the west, America in particular? Could it be that we are the new Babylon the Great? We buy allegiance from kings and nations around the earth who profit from their relationship to the USA. We have the merchants of the earth busy importing and selling large cargos of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth, every sort of wood, oil, and natural resources that the earth possesses. We are the one’s purchasing every kind of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cargoes of cinnamon and spice (and coffee!), of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour (and sugar!) and wheat, cattle (for steaks and hamburgers!) and sheep, horses and carriages (foreign cars!), and human beings sold as slaves. All these luxuries are at the cost of slave labor. Corporations send our jobs overseas to have the poor make our products for pennies.
So why is it that the Church in America and the west are not persecuted like the ancient Christians in Rome? Could it be that the Church in America has been seduced by the Beast? Could it be that American Christians are committing fornication with the idolatries of the national commitment to material abundance, military prowess, technological sophistication, imperial grandeur, racial pride, and the glorification of the creature over the Creator? All world empires have had their end. What makes us Americans think that we will avoid the same fate? When the end of the American empire ensues, who will be signing the blues?