Mystery Babylon: “The Merchants Have Waxed Rich”
How are we to interpret passages which state that these merchants have waxed rich?
“… and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” (Revelation 18:3)
“The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing.” (Revelation 18:15)
“… wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness…” (Revelation 18:19)
“For in one hour so great riches is come to nought…” (Revelation 18:17)
We have seen thus far in thisstudy that these merchants deal in spiritual merchandise, therefore it is doubtful that scripture is suggesting that these merchants have become materially rich as a result of their marketing. Many, however, believe that this is the conclusive thought behind the teaching of these merchants. In other words, the world laments over its own destruction because they will no longer be able to enjoy their luxurious and sumptuous material goods. This idea is foreign to scripture, since the Bible focuses on eternal matters. The Bible provides us with plenty of clues concerning these spiritual matters. The proclamation of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is that Jesus Christ is our one and only way into the Kingdom of Heaven. This same proclamation holds true when we study Revelation chapters seventeen and eighteen.
Scripture warns of the dangers of being materially rich in this world. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition,” I Timothy 6:9. Christ’s desire for all believers is to be rich in spiritual matters. For example, we read in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews that Moses cherished or “esteemed” the reproach of Christ as greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, verse 26. Moses, who was taken into Egyptian royalty as an infant, grew up in Pharaoh’s household. Years later he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Heb. 11:24), and he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, (verse 25). The writer of the Book of Hebrews declares this of Moses: “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt…, (verse 26). This should be a great example to every true believer in Christ. God declares in Luke 12:20-21 that men are fools who lay up treasures for themselves, and are not “rich” toward God.
“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same LORD over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” (Romans 10:12)
(I Timothy 6:17-19):
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”
“That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”
“Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
God’s desire is that we are rich in His Word!
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou are rich)…,” (Revelation 2:9)
“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich…,” (Revelation 3:18)
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5)
The Old Testament, in many areas, teaches material wealth being distributed to followers of God. King Solomon, for example, possessed a vast amount of physical wealth. These riches need to be understood in their proper biblical perspective. God granted material riches to some of the Old Testament kings of Judah and Israel, and even Daniel and Joseph, for the sole purpose of picturing the “child of God” as being spiritually rich. Yes, and as a matter of fact these Old Testament commodities were all listed as descriptions (word synonyms) of varying items which spiritually represented the Gospel of Christ. For example we read in Genesis 13:2 of Abram’s riches:
“…Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.”
Hezekial, a king of Judah, whose name means “strength of God” was said to possess many riches. II Chronicles 32:27 records his riches:
“And Hezekial had exceeding much riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels.”
The above riches, displayed as material riches, are ultimately the spiritual riches of the Gospel of Christ. Hezekiah was a good king of Judah and therefore a “type” of Christ.
King Solomon also was an Old Testament “type” or representation of Christ, therefore his material goods were also pictures of the gospel. We read of these riches in the following verses:
“And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom,” (II Chronicles 9:22).
Notice particularly that God equates Solomon’s riches to his wisdom. King Solomon had much Godly wisdom, and yet was rich in material wealth. Material riches are a hindrance to the New Testament teachings on faith, and are contrary to the New Testament warnings concerning the “deceitfulness of riches.” King Solomon’s riches were again pictures of being spiritually rich in Christ. His riches surpassed all of the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom, (II Chronicles 9:22). We also read in II Chronicles 9:23:
“… all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.”
The phrase kings of the earth is not without its spiritual significance. Scripture tells us that every true child of God is called to the title of “king.”
“… the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:1)
“It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness,” (Proverbs 16:12)
“… Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Isreal, and he shall choose thee,” (Isaiah 49:7).
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising,” (Isaiah 60:3).
“All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth, ” (Psalm 138:4)
“It is he that giveth salvation unto kings…,” (Psalm 144:10)
We can easily go on and on with scripture after scripture that portrays the child of God as a “king” or even “kings of the earth.” But let us sum up the matter by putting a New Testament cap or seal on this idea:
“And hath made us kings and priests unto his father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen,” (Revelation 1:6).
“And the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it,” (Revelation 21:24).
Indeed, the true child of God is perceived by God as a spiritual “king of the earth.” We don’t possess the material wealth that a literal king of the earth would possess. Our inheritance is something altogether foreign to what any earthly king or royalty would possess. Our inheritance is spiritual and everlasting life. This same idea is true in that as a spiritual king our inheritance is spiritual riches (not material goods), stored up in heaven.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:”
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
Not surprisingly, scripture records that there are false kings of the earth as well.
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed…,” (Psalm 2:2)
As there are wheat and tares together in the corporate church, likewise there are true and false merchants as there are true and false kings within the church. These are all metaphors or symbols of true and false Christians (wheat and tares) within the corporate church. Therefore, when scripture records that king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom, it may well be allegorically depicting king Solomon as a picture of Christ. He held the spiritual rule in the earth, as does Christ. He was rich materially, which pointed to the spiritual richness of Christ and all who would inherit His eternal kingdom.
King Solomon was commissioned by God the Father to literally build the Temple of God in the literal city of Jerusalem. He typified Christ, as our LORD was commissioned by God the Father to build the spiritual Temple of God in the spiritual city of Jerusalem. The word “Jerusalem” means “the habitation of peace.” Therefore, much of what king Solomon stood for and did was in shadowing the mission of Christ, the builder of God’s final Temple.
It is the opinion of this study that the merchants mentioned in Revelation chapter eighteen are representative of true believers, since they have waxed spiritually rich “through the abundance of her delicacies,” Revelation 18:3.