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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

GOD WARNS HIS PEOPLE

Rev 18:4-8 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

Whether this voice from heaven was that of another angelic messenger of God, or the true voice of God, Himself, we are not assured from the context of this verse. Either way it is understood, carries the authority of our Heavenly Father. The message is a warning to God's children - those whom God, after obedient water baptism, added to the church of Christ just as He did on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). In the lesson text the warning to Christians was to Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. As Timothy was instructed by the apostle Paul to abstain from partaking of other men's sins in order to keep thyself pure (1 Tim. 5:2), so the children of God were told not to associate with, nor participate in the sinful acts of Roman Catholicism, under the leadership of its apostate popes, symbolically depicted as spiritual Babylon (Vs. 2). Why were they to disassociate themselves from spiritually depraved Roman Catholicism? It was to avoid the plagues, or judgmental punishments, that they would suffer if they were willingly misled and strayed from God's pure, unaltered New Testament gospel of salvation.

Referring to sinful Babylon of old, Jeremiah instructed the Israelites to forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies (Jer. 51:9). Similar to this, as noted inverses 4 and 5, Christians were warned not to be misled by the erring doctrine of papal-mandated Catholicism, which was founded in Rome, or symbolic Babylon. For Christians to follow their apostate teachings would cause them to receive God's punishment to the same extent as that promised to the Roman papacy. Their sinful, anti-scriptural teachings have reached unto heaven. That is, her iniquities were so openly prevalent, that God, having remembered, or witnessed, the spiritual harm they had throughout the world, was determined to limit their Satan-inspired influence, and eventually to stamp them out.

Verse 6 seems to refer to God's just reward (punishment) to those who inflicted death and persecution upon His obedient children - the church of Christ. This just punishment would be exercised against, not only the papal leaders of the Roman church, but to all civil governments, and individual people of the world who have willingly joined themselves to this apostate religion, and carried out papal edicts to destroy true New Testament Christianity. The degree of God's vengeance can be seen in the fact that a double degree of punishment will be administered to the persecutors of His church. A double portion of God's wrath will be contained in the cup of anguish and retribution, which the enemies of Christ will be made to drink - a just punishment for all the enemies of God and His Son Christ Jesus.

The revelation continues with "she," the harlot of Rome, being boastfully described in self-glorifying terms as prideful, haughty, and even arrogant. We know from previous verses that this symbolic woman was, indeed, papal Rome, which was revealed as the mystical city of Babylon. She lived deliciously, that is she lived in pompous, self-important luxury. Because of these life-style characteristics, and because of the unrelenting persecution of the church of Christ, by the Roman papacy and their armies, we learn that their just punishment would be much torment and sorrow. Filled with conceited pride, the ruling popes of Roman Catholicism saw themselves as a stately queen, filled with confidence, rather than the dejected sorrow of a widow. Nevertheless, because of the arrogant self-pride and tortuous persecution of God's children, the time was to come when God's wrath would be justly poured out upon her. She would be rewarded with death, and mourning, and famine. In other words, she, that is papal Rome, will be utterly destroyed. The anti-Christian powers of Rome would crumble into a heap of ashes as a city being utterly burned with fire. The strong, omnipotent powers of God would ultimately defeat all the anti-Christian powers of Satan.