Nations Built on Human Souls

There’s an odd passage in Revelation that most would skip like a boring genealogy. But if you hold in there, the last 5 words will definitely get your attention.

“And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.”

Revelation 18:11-13

What is the fuel that makes any Babylon go ’round? Slavery. All Babylons gain their wealth and pleasures at the expense of another and God despises it, calling John to mention it directly in a time where slavery was commonplace.

America cannot repent of its great sins of slavery if it tries to ignore it, cover it up, write it away, or justify it. Nor can America clearly see its racial sin in the present (be it found outright in a parade of white supremacists or hidden in the production line of every other product we buy at the store) if it cannot see it in the past.

When we realize we did something wrong, be it past or present or cultural or not, we repent and we make amends. This is not wrong. This is not weird. This is not even a bold idea—it is a very human one, not to mention a Biblical one. When Zacchaeus met Jesus, he was compelled not only to give half of his riches to the poor, but to also give those he had robbed four times their money back.

Yes, we are all held responsible for our own personal sins, but throughout the Bible, entire nations are also held responsible by God for their collected sins and are liable to judgment for what they’ve done. God always has his eyes on the lowly as well as our sins against them. We must own up. For repentance is perhaps one of the few corporate movements that can begin to unbabylize a Babylon.

Like John’s Rome, Moses’ Egypt, and countless other nations throughout history, America was built on the back of slaves. No nation needs to attempt to “restore understanding of its greatness” in order to combat those who point out its sin. Instead, we repent. We make amends. We make restitution. This is not wrong. This is not weird. This is not even a bold idea—it is a very human one, not to mention a Biblical one.

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