How the Righteous Pine for a Different City
The Book of Revelation is good for showing the stark contrast between the righteous and the wicked. It is seen primarily in their desires and affections. Yesterday, we saw how the wicked groaned over the destruction of Babylon, over the death of the Prostitute. Their lust for her was insatiable, and then they were left with nothing but an unabated craving. There are few things more insufferable than a burning passion that cannot be quenched and will not be extinguished.
But notice the manner of the righteous. Not only do they not pine for Babylon; indeed, they rejoice in her demise. And why shouldn’t they? For we read that “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.” As Christians, we must understand that the world is not our friend. Therefore, John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). And James tells us, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). For us, the world is a prostitute, seeking to lure us under her spell. “But,” you say, “the world has slain none of us. This speaks of another day, another time.” Not at all. True, in some places believers are literally slain and fall under the sword. But everywhere and at all times the world seeks to conquer us, either by might or by seduction. It is the devil’s domain, and so he is called “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:1-2).
The people of God have desires, to be sure, but they are far different. When we come to saving faith in Christ Jesus, we trade the passions of the flesh and pride in possessions for desires of godliness and holiness – in short, we are given a passion for God, which we then cultivate. It is a godly passion with which He gifts us, so that we may desire Him who desires us, for “He yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us” (James 4:5). We love what God loves and despise what He despises. So we rejoice in the ultimate and final overthrow of Babylon, mistress of Satan, for her destruction signals the beginning of the manifest and visible reign of our God. Our betrothal will soon come to an end and our nuptials begun as we are adorned in the fine linen our Groom desires. We will have cast off the last relics of the old nature and be completely swallowed up in the new. Our desires and passions will be finally purified, and “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).