Better Treasure


Heavenly Father, let it become real to me the treasures that heaven holds for the faithful.



[1] After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. [2] With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. [3] For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” [4] Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; [5] for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. [6] Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her own cup. [7]Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn.’ [8] Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. [9] “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. [10] Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!’ [11] “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore- [12] cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; [13] cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves. [14] “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ [15] The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn [16] and cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! [17] In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. [18]When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ [19] They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’ [20] “Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets! For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you.” [21] 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. [22] The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No worker of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. [23] The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. [24] In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.” 



The downfall of evil has been predicted and now we see, in the fall of Babylon, what it looks like when the end comes. All that is left is a pervasive sense of remorse and regret. The remorse is for the loss of power and glory as a life defined in material terms crumbles to dust. The kings (9), the merchants (11) and the seafarers (17) watch helplessly as all they once held dear vanishes before their eyes. What a powerful vision for our own consumerist culture. If we are defined in terms of what we possess, then once that goes there is nothing left to anchor us. And then the regret: listen to the sad refrain of the closing verses: “never … again” (21–24).But it need not be so. “Come out of her, my people” (4). Our readings end with a warning and this bracing call to holiness. An invitation to escape from our barren earth dreams into the joy and creativity of God’s kingdom. The lure of the world and its riches have sought to entice, but here is better treasure, tasted now, and then to be enjoyed forever when Christ shall come again.



Lift your open hands before God and place in them all you possess and hold dear.



Holy God, penetrate my heart and my soul with this warning and change my life forever.



Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider