The fall of Babylon – Revelation 18

 

Babylon is a reference to the empire of the antichrist during the tribulation period. In chapter 17 we saw the religious aspect of that empire and here in chapter 18 we see the political aspect of the empire. Babylon is mentioned as a city. However, Old Testament prophecy shows us that the actual ancient city of Babylon will not be rebuilt (Isaiah 13:19-22 ; Jeremiah 51:24-26). I believe that there will be a literal city that will be the capital of the world empire of the antichrist, perhaps, as many believe, that city is Rome. In this chapter, John hears four voices giving four important announcements.

The voice of judgment. Notice what the text says in verses 1-3. “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, And is become the habitation of devils, And the hold of every foul spirit, And a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, And the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, And the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” [1]An angel from heaven announces the doom of Babylon. “This judgment has come because the Babylonian “system” has polluted the whole world. As in the judgment of “the harlot,” the sin is that of “fornication” or idolatry. The system intoxicated the people of the world with all the riches and pleasures it had to offer. It catered to those who were ‘lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God’(2 Tim. 3:4).”[2] This reminds us of the warning given to us in 1 John 2:15-17. “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. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” [3]The world system has been a temptation to us as believers. It is easy to get caught up in the trappings of this world. However, there is no satisfaction in the things of the world. Satisfaction only comes through knowing Jesus. We are to be satisfied in Him and not in the pleasures of the world. Judgment is coming to the Babylonian world system. The world system will fail, it will be destroyed; it will not last.

The voice of reason. In verses 4-8 another angel cries out to the people of the world to come out of Babylon and to repent of their ways. “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.” [4]A call is going forth. It is a call to repentance. This, once again, is proof that God is a loving God who is not willing that any should perish. Once again, He is giving the followers of the antichrist a chance to come out of their sin and turn to Jesus for salvation. This same call is going forth into all the world today. In this age of grace, God is using the church as His messenger through which the call to salvation goes out. We have a responsibility to proclaim the good news of the Gospel to the far reaches of the world.

The voice of sorrow. In verses 9-19, we have the third voice, the voice of sorrow. “And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.” 11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 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, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. 14 “The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!” 15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, 16 “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! 17 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?” 19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste.” [5]This long paragraph describes the mourning of the merchants as they see Babylon go up in smoke and all their wealth destroyed. The image here is that of a prosperous ancient city that is visited by many ships. The wealth of the city provides for many nations and employs many people. It is worth noting that not only do the merchants lament the fall of Babylon (Rev. 18:11), but also the kings of the earth (Rev. 18:9). Business and government are so intertwined that what affects one affects the other.”[6] Sadly, this lamenting over their loss is the same sorrow that will be felt by all those who are trusting in the riches of the world. This is a challenge to us today. We must take heed and make sure we are not caught up in the pleasures of this world. All that we have, will one day be gone. These material riches that we have will not last. Don’t trust in the ‘things’ that you have, trust in the One that you know.

The voice of joy. Notice the joy that is expressed in verses 20-24. “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” 21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; 22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, 23 and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.” [7]As believers, there is cause for rejoicing at the fall of Babylon. The world has entrapped us for too long. The curse of sin has gripped this world far too long. When Babylon is destroyed and that curse of sin is lifted, there will be great cause for celebration. It is a day that we long for. What a day that will be!

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 18:1–3). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 614). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Jn 2:15–17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 18:4–8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 18:9–19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 615). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 18:20–24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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