Last night I snagged The Big Short from redbox.
In the end I shook my head: Only ONE person went to prison?
I was a little bit sick: The bankers used the bailout money to give themselves BONUSES?
I already knew that. But it still made me sick. Again.
Oooooh I wanted to smack that smugness, that utter lack of concern for others. The fact that they weren’t held accountable, the fact that they are right back at it, same crookedness, new packaging, makes my head just about explode.
And then this morning I read Revelation 18, the fall of Babylon. Do you know Babylon?
I’ll give you a little history in case you don’t.
Except for Jerusalem, no other city is mentioned in the Bible more often than Babylon. Scripture refers to it 290 times. It represents the epitome of evil and rebellion against God. Throughout Scripture Babylon has been Satan’s headquarters and in the end it will again be the seat of his power.
Babylon is first mentioned in Genesis 10. It was the capital city of the first world ruler. His name was Nimrod.
When I was in high school, Nimrod was the name we gave to fools – as in, “What a nimrod.”
The first time I read his name in Scripture, I thought he was a good guy. I thought he was a mighty warrior for God.
“Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord…”
But then I took a closer look at his name. The name Nimrod comes from the Hebrew verb marad, meaning “to rebel.” Therefore, “a mighty hunter before the Lord” means he was a mighty hunter “in God’s face”.
The hub and I were driving through the Upper Peninsula a few summers ago. As we drove through one of its small towns, we were stopped at a traffic light right in front of the town’s high school. Emblazoned on the side of the school in HUGE letters was “Home of the Nimrods.” I’m guessing they didn’t do a word study before they chose their name.
So, Babylon was founded by a rebel.
And remember the tower of Babel?
“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves…”
They wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to make their own way to heaven. A way that didn’t involve The Way.
Babel became the city of Babylon.
What does Babylon have to do with The Big Short?
Revelation 17 called Babylon “The Mother of all Prostitutes.” She is where all the selling of souls began. And it was definitely the selling of souls that created that housing bubble; that enormous Ponzi scheme.
It reminded me of the Bernie Madoff movie I saw recently (with Richard Dreyfus) – of the smugness and glee on the faces of all those who thought they were getting rich, making easy money.
That smugness I wanted to smack last night? No need.
Because today I read this:
Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
She has become a dwelling for demons
a ghost town,
a haunt for every vulture,
rat and rodent.
Nations were taken in by her.
Kings have committed adultery with her.
A myriad of merchants have made a fortune off of her.
She thought she was the queen bee,
she thought she would get away with it,
she thought nothing could touch her
“the housing market has always been secure”…
but she was wrong. (my paraphrase)
God knew what she was up to all along.
“Get away from her,” He warned, “don’t get caught up in her demise.”
And just like that, plagues overtook her and she went up in smoke.
Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said,
“With such violence
the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
never to be found again.
Such a shame.
I like the what Eugene Peterson wrote about Revelation 18 in Reversed Thunder:
Whore-worship brings us great gain: we get what we want when we want it… Throughout the Revelation, the great scenes of worship show God being served – the people come to him, giving themselves in praise. At no place does he entice them with easy promises. In the great lament of Revelation  over the Great Whore’s demise, the longest and most detailed lament is from the merchants and sea traders (Rev.18:11-19): in Whore-worship they got everything they wanted, their lives overflowed with things, and now it is gone, wasted, up in smoke. They are bereft of everything they were promised and invested in and enjoyed. It is not their businesses that have collapsed but their religion, a religion of self-indulgence, of getting. Now it is gone: salvation by checkbook is gone, god-on-demand is gone, meaning-by-money is gone, religion-as-feeling is gone, self-as-(temporary)-god is gone. They are left with nothing but themselves, of whom after a lifetime in the whorehouse they know nothing.”
The laments of Revelation 18 fade out as the hallelujahs of chapter 19 begin to build.
The Whore is gone, the Bride has come.
Hallelujah! My head doesn’t have to explode.