False Fronts

“He called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!  It has become a dwelling place of demons” (Revelation 18:2 NRSV)

A few weeks ago I made mention in a sermon about some of the Art exhibits I saw at the Toledo Art Museum.  One of those being an exhibit of the “Art of Star Wars” which featured actual models and costumes from the movies.  If you grew up when I did this was a “no brainer, we have to go” exhibit.

What I didn’t say was how disappointed I was in the exhibit. Oh ti was fine, as far as that goes. Lot’s of stuff from the movies. Tie fighters and x wings, Vader’s uniform.  No it wasn’t  the volume of exhibit pieces I had a problem with.  It was the cheapness of it all. The magic of Hollywood is just that.  Its able to take something built on the cheap and make it look like something spectacular on the screen. But up close one can see its simply a cheap facade, a facsimile of the real thing.

I was reminded of that a few weeks ago touring another building that also had plenty  of movie memorabilia to it. Some of it was fantastic, some of it, not so much so. One of the pieces, was a set from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It was a section of the crowd from the famous pod racing scene. It was nothing more than a very small set of stands with multi colored q tips tucked into it.  It looks pretty cheap, but run a camera by it very fast and it gives the impression of a large crowd  watching a race that is hurtling past them.  Note to George Lucas and his lawyers should any of them think I am picking on your fine product and wish to sue me, I’m marveling at your creativity, nothing more.

But again it’s a facade it’s something made to look the real thing and it can fool the eye.  But in the end it s cheap intimation of the real thing. It won’t stand up to the scrutiny.  It’s like one of those false front towns they used to put up when making old Westerns. They were no more than a few pieces of wood made up to look like a real building. Walk around to the other side and you saw they were nothing but a picture of a building, propped up by a couple of 2x4s.

This is the image John is given in Revelation concerning the world around him. The church was under great persecution.  It seemed that the evil powers of the world held all the cards. Many wondered if the church would survive.  Many wondered where is God in the middle of all of this.

In many ways  its no different than our would today. The church remains under great persecution. Evil seems to be winning the battle as we hear almost daily or mass murders and on going brutality. Depending on who you listen to the church is rapidly losing cultural ground and threatens to fall into irrelevance.

But into John’s world, and into ours, comes God’s voice crying out Babylon is fallen! It’s God’s reminder to us not to believe all that we see. In truth, while evil is still powerful our word is merely a false front for the real world to come.  While it may seem that the church is in danger of being persecuted to death, We are still the bride of Christ and He has promised us a wedding.  While evil may seem to have the upper hand, God says do not be fooled. The redemption of the world is coming and all will be set right again. I’ve already written the last chapter in evil’s book. It will be vanquished.   The church will not slip into obscurity. God has placed His mark on the church and it will be protected.

While we’ve been looking at this on  more eternal scale, it’s good for us to know this also is mean for us personally. Many of you are struggling to live out a Christian lifestyle in a world that is often antagonistic.  You are facing all sorts of evil in your own life. And your struggles are real. They are real, but they are, in the end powerless. God has already decreed that the Babylon in which you find yourself to have fallen.  God is with you.

In the end our great hope is that the cry of evil will not have the last word. Rather we will join the angelic host crying out “Hallelujah, for the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult, and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7 NRSV)

In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><

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