The EIGHT mysteries of Babylon “on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” Rev 17: 5
A FOUR PART MYSTERY: Part 4 (See the previous posts which discusses MYSTERIES NO. 1-8: Where Is Babylon? Is She the Apostate Church? What Does a Prostitute Symbolize in the Bible? Why are there so many references to Babylon’s Luxuries? How is Babylon a Mother? Babylon the Megalopolis! How Does Babylon’s Greed Shed Innocent Blood? How Does Babylon Ride the Beast?
The Poverty of Babylon’s Riches.
Researchers have discovered that many well-to-do people actually feel poor. The cause, they found, is they compare themselves with others, especially those in TV ads and media darlings. They grow envious. These experts have found folks like this are focused on material goals and struggle more than others with emotional and physical ills. This confirms the old notion that envy or coveting is a devouring green monster.
Is a Little Greed so Bad?
If we think it isn’t, we agree with financier Ivan Boesky who said “Greed is all right…it’s healthy.” Boesky was tried for cheating, imprisoned and fined $100 million. Here is God’s view on that matter: The wicked brag about their desires. Greedy people hate and curse you, O Lord. (Ps 10:3) We may start off with a little envy–just a little, but once that monster gets a foot in the door, it’s hard to kick out. We could end up on the wrong side of paradise.
In their desire for riches, some have left the faith and brought ruin to themselves. I Tim. 6:10
How do we know when we are coveting?
This sin creeps in almost unnoticed, but once it takes root, we will wake up one day and find our preoccupations with and desire for food, drink, and a thousand things, has become more and more, while love for God has grown less and less.
God loves a cheerful giver…. You are rich in every way when you are generous (Rev 9:7, 16)
Planning for the Future.
“Don’t worry about what you will eat or drink or wear…Your heavenly Father knows all your needs. …Seek His Kingdom and His goodness and he will provide you with all you need.” Matt. 6:24 The lust for more we know is wrong. But is there another type of greed that escapes us? If we fear not having enough, we may be resisting Jesus’ clear promise to provide for us. While we must be smart about planning ahead for emergencies and retirement, in a materialistic society like ours, we can easily become overly concerned about finances. Babylon plays on these fears. Advertisers shamefully fan the fires of fear. Many ads by financial firms, for example, are scary. They warn of poverty in later life if we don’t buy their product now.
Two kinds of Idolatry?
This subtle form of greed may lead to compromising one’s values. We saw how ordinary Germans fell into this trap. Each of us much examine our own heart. We may ask ourselves three questions when it comes to managing money: a) “Am I motivated by anxiety or by faith?” b) “Do I struggle to trust God to provide?” c) “Am I generous with the money God entrusted to me or do I feel the need to hold on to it?”
Greed verses Faith.
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things enter in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Mark 4:19 We tend to believe worry about finances is normal and healthy, certainly not idolatry. Let’s be mindful of this particular trap of the enemy and not overlook the 10th command. The key is to realize that trust is the principle that guides us. The just shall live by faith. Here is a paraphrase: “If you have been put right with God, you will live your life by trusting in God.”
The riches of eternity outweigh everything. “..you will have riches in heaven. Then come and be my follower.” Matt 19:21. Jesus loves us and wants our best. That’s why he warns us against Babylon’s fatal error. The riches Jesus promises includes peace now and hope for a glorious future. We can trust him for faith in his promises to overcome Babylon’s lure. Whether it’s fear of not having enough or the desire for more. May we flee her snares and practice the joy and discipline of giving.
“Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues”. (Rev. 18: 4) The angel’s urgent plea echoes Jesus’ teaching of the dangers of Mammon. The apostle John reinforced that teaching when he wrote, ”Love not this world nor it’s things. If you do, God’s love is not in you.” 1 John 2:15 Let us take this to heart and flee from what Jesus called….
The Leaven of the Pharisees.
Jesus exposed this elite Jewish group’s guilt as avarice. Here are some questions to ask ourselves. Do we feel the need to keep up with others spending wise? Do we live beyond our means? Do we rationalize that today luxuries are necessities? Do we indulge our fears about the future by selfishly socking away big bucks for a luxurious retirement?
We think a little indulgence of our needs and wants, like a little white lie, isn‘t so bad, but….“It only takes a little leaven to take over the whole batch.” (Gal 5:9) We are surrounded on every side by the insidious leaven of Babylon. Let’s be aware of her subtle, deceptive lure. Let’s be ready for her when she comes knocking. If we don’t, like the mythical “frog in the pot,” we could find ourselves slowly being cooked to death in that lovely golden cup of hers, forged in the fires of hell.