A Tale of Two Cities by Pastor Dave
“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
Revelation 17: 4
Revelation 17-18 (Psalm 46)
I encourage you to watch the Bible Project Video (click here) and listen to Lynne’s sermon (click here).
Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, deals (unsurprisingly), with two cities and key themes such as revolution and resurrection. If we look at today’s chapters, and take a sneaky peek at chapter 21, we see two cities: Babylon; the New Jerusalem (21: 2, 9); and similar themes. By the time John writes this book, Babylon has gone, he is speaking figuratively. Babylon represents all that is worldly, all that is idolatrous, all that is in revolt and opposition to God. It may well be that he has Rome in mind but when we read 17: 8-9 we realise that revolt and opposition against God, comes in each age, and in different guises. Humanity is seduced by sexual immorality, luxuries and consumerism; the latter linking to profit in trade and exploitation in slavery (17: 2, 4; 18: 3, 9, 13). Eventually these foundations of revolt against God will fall (18: 2, 17, 21); along with these collapses are consequences. Practically there is impact on people’s lives (18:22-24), and in these circumstances it is nearly always the poor and marginalized that suffer most. Spiritually there is an accounting and judgement.
Those that stay true to God and are not seduced (18: 4) and will be victorious (17: 14). Judgement will come (18: 20), which will bring joy for the Lamb’s faithful followers. Resurrection will take place and a New Jerusalem will be born, a place of perfection for the bride of the Lamb (21: 2, 9).
Our age offers many seductions that can lure us away from the truth of God: satisfaction in material wealth through consumerism; liberalism in sexuality; freedom to define our own truth; and an inexhaustible supply of information that supposedly promotes knowledge. As with most matters, truth and blessing can be found to some degree in these areas, (in others words it is not all bad). Where they are not founded on Christ (God’s truth) however, they lead us away from God and will harm us. The pandemic is showing the fragility of such foundations. Looking at the examples I have given we have to agree that: wealth cannot save us and consumerism can harm others; our true identity is found in who we are in Jesus; not ALL 'truths' can be true, only Christ as truth; and so much knowledge requires wisdom to discern truth. God’s call upon our lives is to remain true to Him, to hold fast and to keep an eternal perspective. Our age too will come to an end, as will our lives; how will we fair when we finally stand before our Almighty God? As faithful followers of Christ we will be able to rejoice in the Lord and look forward to an eternity of joy, fulfilment, worship and purpose.
The Question of Application
In which city do we find our hearts most at home: Babylon or the New Jerusalem? Are we living in revolution against God, or resurrection in a new life?
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, bring us to the dwelling which your Son is preparing for all who love you; give us the will each day to live life eternal; let our citizenship be in heaven with the blessed, with the whole company of the redeemed and with countless angels, praising, worshiping and adoring your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who sits on the throne for ever and ever. Amen
Holy – The City Harmonic
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.