|The World laments over Babylon,
Verses 9-19 (NASB)
The religious leadership by this time has become so entwined with economic needs to keep their churches, synagogues, and mosques going that they have ignored how God can supply every need. For protestant denominations, in particular, the leadership has become very good at "marketing" religious programs that are tailored to every age group. Sadly, the inner spiritual needs of the attendees often go unmet.
* committed acts of IMMORALITY and
Symbolically, the religious leaders have learned how to
capitalistic materialism to "grow" the church. Instead of depending
upon God's vast resources,
these religious leaders have devised one program/promotion after the
to grow the church. Amazingly, this was one area that really irked
2:13-25 and Mark
11:15-19). Many churches and denominations will collapse when
global economy collapses. And even worse, these religious leaders DID
NOT TRAIN their
followers how to survive in God's economic system (Matthew
Symbolically, religious organizations have become so entwined with the global economy just to survive, they think, that they, too, see their income disappear. Their "weeping and mourning" may be even louder when they realize how faithless they were in God's providence (Matthew 6:24-33-34).
Spiritually, the CARGOES are people's lives who are turned to RIGHTEOUSNESS. By this time, religious organizations have become so program driven that all they know are fund-raisers to support the LUXURIOUS THINGS listed in the next two verses. They have forgotten or maybe never learned how to operate in God's economy - Matthew 25:31-46.
Having said this, the greatest challenge of the gathering of believers today is to extricate themselves ENTIRELY from Babylon (verse 4) and the global economy. They must become like the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:45-46). (It is no coincidence that the above references are from Matthew; he was the former tax-collector-turned-disciple - Matthew 9:9-13. Matthew was one of the "economists" among the disciples.)
The CARGOES can be broken down into 8 market groups1. While they clearly have the physical groupings, they also have a spiritual/symbolic meaning. The discussion will try to show these meanings.
J. Allen "What the Bible Teaches - Revelation", pages 448-449
One notices that the Energy Market(s), the Information/Knowledge Market(s)s, and Homeland Protection Market(s), to name a few, are missing. This implies that Babylon's fall will be a total collapse of the global economy with its many "high technology" innovations. Similarly, religious organization(s), still active at that time, will collapse because they have become so intertwined with and dependent upon these hi-tech gadgets. If you or your church are heavy into these technologies, be aware that they should NOT be a "necessity". All of these things will disappear in one hour (verse 19). If you are among the "saints and apostles and prophets", then you are to rejoice when this happens (verse 20) because the global economy has passed away forever (verse 21). Now the eternal economy truly can come into being (Revelation 19:1-9). Please prayerfully consider, in light of this, what you and your church's mission is!
Symbolically, there is a kind of SPIRITUAL FRUIT all mankind longs for. Native Americans sought after the Great Spirit, orientals seek to please Buddha, moslems try to make pilgrimages to Mecca, and modern man seeks to find spiritual meaning in self fulfillment and self gratification (Isaiah 2:6-8-11). It is not clear how this spiritual FRUIT longing/seeking will be removed, but it will be removed. Probably in anticipation of the millennial period (Revelation 20:4) when there will be no need to long for spiritual FRUIT as long as Christ is the world president.
Symbolically, the spiritual side of man, while it shouldn't, often does much in the way of SHOW too. Consider that almost any city or town you come to, the places of worship are usually very recognizable. Compare this to how "unseen" the economy of God works (Matthew 25:31-46).
Apparently by this time, the scriptural "seek, and you shall find" principle (Matthew 7:7-12) has been set aside. Given that this chapter (verse 21) is the forever end of Babylon (ALL THINGS), this principle, too, no longer is needed. It explains, in part also, why the whole of the spiritual side (verse 20) are to REJOICE over this termination. Babylon (and global economy with its inherent greed, lust, and all that accompanies those desires) has been martyring prophets and saints for all preceding time (verse 24). One gets the sense, though, that this chapter isn't really the end of the story; for after the millennial reign of Christ, the devil is loosed for a time (Revelation 20:8). That he is able to deceive so many among the nations indicates that the "LONGING FOR" has made a revival among the populace.
Symbolically, these MERCHANTS (leaders of religious organizations) had their priorities turned around (Mark 8:31-36-38 and verse 13). They are or will be strong on organizational skills and weak on evangelism skills.
Symbolically, religious organization leaders were so busy with THESE THINGS (plans, structures, marketing, and programs), that they forgot to prepare the souls entrusted to them for their future life. Sadly, these leaders probably participated in the TORMENTS of the 5th trumpet judgment (Revelation 9:5) while under the control of one or several of Abaddon's (Revelation 9:11) locusts (Revelation 9:3). Here, turnabout is fair play, one could say.
Symbolically, true believer's are content no matter whether they have abundance or lack (Philippians 4:10-12-20). Their organizations are focused on REVEALING JESUS CHRIST, and will do this in spite of poverty conditions, destroyed sanctuaries, or persecution. When the global economy fails, religious organizations that made their existence dependent upon Babylon (global economy) will be found WEEPING and MOURNING. One must ask the question, "How intertwined has my church/denomination become with the harlot Babylon (verses 4 and 5)?"
While the actual physical merchandise will be affected, there is a deeper personal spiritual matter presented here. The word "CLOTHED", as opposed to naked - Revelation 3:18, is the catalyst word. There are many types of clothing in the scriptures including the fine linen listed here to sackcloth (e.g. 2 Samuel 3:31-39). Let's focus on three types of clothing found in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
First, WHITE ROBES are associated with the redeemed (and the redeemer, implied). See Revelation 1:13, Revelation 3:4, Revelation 3:18, Revelation 4:4, Revelation 6:11, and Revelation 7:13 to list a few verses. Christ's robe, while not specifically shown as white, is shown as dipped in the blood of Calvary (Revelation 19:13).
Second category is "fine linen, bright and clean". These are the garments worn by the bride to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:8) and are equated to the "righteous acts of the saints". These also are the garments worn by the 7 presence angels (Revelation 15:6). They had to be pure (righteous) to be able to pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath upon the earth.
Lastly, just plain "fine linen" denotes apparent righteousness. It embodies the common use of the term "Christian" as it is used today. In truth, "fine linen" is probably more like the clean cup in Matthew 23:25-28 and practitioners of lawlessness in Matthew 7:21-23. The merchants, thus, represent these hypocritical "Christians".
On a personal level, each of us must examine what kind of CLOTHES we are wearing. They must be "bright and clean" at a minimum. Worst of all, don't be caught NAKED ---- accept Jesus Christ right now as your Lord and Savior to get your white robe made of fine linen.
Next we have a two part discussion: the first part belongs to the merchants discussion, and the second part begins the seafaring discussion.
Symbolically, if GREAT WEALTH are the souls of men (see verse 13), then one could say evangelism will cease. The cause is unclear. Perhaps because of the intertwining of information sources, the radio/TV/newsprint resources are shutdown due to loss of Internet or satellite feeds. Christ warns us about putting too much emphasis on material things (even to augment ministry) if that emphasis detracts from the searching for souls (Mark 8:31-38).
Previously, in Revelation 17:15, we have seen that the harlot sits on many waters (SEA?), and that the many waters are really every living being with a soul. So from a spiritual sense (kings = religious leaders/orgs; merchants = evangelism; and seafarers = disciplerers), those people who derive income from believer discipleship will be just standing there. That is to say, the "departments of Christian education" that are a part of most religious organizations cease to function. In scripture, however, discipleship and training is a generational matter (Deuteronomy 4:1-9-14, Deuteronomy 6:1-7-9, Proverbs 22:4-6, and Ephesians 6:4). It is done in a very low tech way, by word of mouth! Of course, implied in those references, the parents and grandparents know what they are teaching about.
Sadly, the oldsters amongst us (including this author) have by and large failed to take on this responsibility and have left this process to someone else or some audio/visual CD to do. This is a partial explanation why the younger generation seems to have a poor understanding of moral bounds. They either haven't taken the time to learn morals and ethics or don't want to learn (chalk one up to the devil's deception...."you're a good person" syndrome).
The use of the phrase "SMOKE of her BURNING" implies that not only is the global wealth gone but also that the very principles of free trade have been scuttled (burned). Since this is the current model for global trade, apparently this model fails. Most likely it fails due to disparities in currency valuations.
The Revelation tells about two different kinds of SMOKE. The first is good SMOKE coming from the incense in the angel's hand and is mixed with the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:4). The second is the SMOKE from the bottomless pit when it is opened in the fifth trumpet judgment (Revelation 9:2). The SMOKE in this verse is like the latter SMOKE. How much greed, corruption, envy, and hatred has gone into building the global economies? Symbolically, what is the motivation behind what religious organizations do? Are they, as supposedly the true service organization, being built in similar manner? What kind of SMOKE is coming from your church and denomination?
As a side note, the reader probably has already caught how much this verse sounds like Revelation 13:3-4. While the "whole world's" CRY at that time was a prideful praise of the sea beast as he is coming into power, this CRY sounds like deep anguish.
Dust is the material we are created from (Genesis 2:4-7-9) and ultimately we return to DUST (Ecclesiastics 3:16-20-22). Thus throwing DUST ON THEIR HEADS is a way to acknowledge that death/burial, both physical and spiritual, is near (verse 21).
Many scholars believe this event (verses 17b-19) is what the Ezekiel 27:25-36 prophesy about Tyre is all about.
This is the last verse of the rather lengthy discussion of the global economy collapse (verses 9-19). On the surface and in the viewpoints of many commentaries, we are only witnessing the collapse from a global economy viewpoint. However, one must realize that the Revelation of Jesus Christ was written to seven churches (Revelation 1:4) and that just prior to this discussion, "my people" in verses 4 and 5 are to distance themselves from the materialistic influences of the harlot, Babylon. Looking at organized religion and Christianity, we wonder how much the playing with the harlot is taking place within these organizations? From this author's understanding, nearly all faiths have been taken in by the harlot.
That this passage (verses 9-19) is directed at religions and Christianity is confirmed in the next verse.
from the NEW
AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The
Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975,
1977, 1995 Used by permission."
References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only