REVELATION CHAPTER EIGHTEEN:
In chapter seventeen, the focus was upon the relationship of an apostate religious system to government, during the seven-year tribulation period. Besides the integration of church and state, we discover the third relationship not previously mentioned in chapter seventeen but is obvious in the chapter under consideration. We are considering the commercial aspect under the control of the religious and political environment of that period.
During the time of the tribulation, a business will flourish and people will buy and sell (except for those who refuse the mark of the beast). Now that the apostate religion and the corrupt government are overthrown, what is going to happen to the economy? That is the subject of this chapter. Chapter eighteen serves as a lamentation by those affected by the destruction of Babylon. We might compare it to the stock market crash of 1929, except there will be no recovery and the blackness will be permanent. Just as Wall Street identifies a location relating to a specific activity, so Babylon represents a fallen system that spells destruction to everything it touches. Chapter eighteen describes the horrible effects that the fall of Mystery Babylon will have upon those who find security in her.
I. THE DECLARATION OF HER DESTRUCTION. VS. 1-
A. The prophecy fulfilled Vs. 1, 2
The chapter begins with the appearance of a mighty angel whose appearance was accompanied by power and great glory. This angel has a message concerning the destruction of Babylon. His message describes, in precise terminology, what was predicted by God to his prophets in the Old Testament.
Consider what the angel says and compares it to what was prophesied before. In the book of Jeremiah (chapter 51: 8, 9) these words were spoken to Babylon. “And behold there cometh a chariot of men with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, and all the graven images of her Gods He hath broken into the ground.” Consider the words of the prophet Isaiah in Chapter 13: 19- 22 concerning Babylon’s desolation “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah”. It shall never be and future desolation as described in vs. 1, 2. As a reminder, these references to Babylon encompass more than a literal Babylon. The prophecies refer to a system that is without God and, thus, is morally corrupt and spiritually bankrupt. Her influence has corrupted the surrounding nations and now is coming to an end. Her destruction is not limited to her past and present activities. It has a rippling effect on her.
B. The reason for her judgment. Vs. 3-5
“For all nations, have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” the extent of her influence has infiltrated the nations to the point that they shall now be partakers in her judgment.
The first reason was given for her judgment is the widespread effects of her evil upon the nations. She abused the Authority given to her for her selfish ends and has been a poor example to the nations who were influenced by her actions.
Then the second reason for her judgment was that she enticed
the nations in holding to a materialistic value system based upon the desire for pleasure, possessions, and power that shall eventually perish due to their transitory nature. In verse 4, we have a call to depart from all things associated with this system. The point is, that the faithful followers of Christ have no business in that lifestyle. The command to depart represents a word of encouragement, announcing that the destruction is inevitable. The call is not necessarily a physical one, but it constitutes a call to depart from that which would result in there being tainted by Babylon’s impurity.
In verse 5, we are given a third reason for her destruction. “For her sins, have reached unto heaven and God hath remembered her iniquities.” This verse recalls a former experience, when on the plains of Shinar, (Babylon) men tried to build a tower to Heaven, with the result being, that God confused their language. What happened then is being repeated. Now it is not their man-made religion, but it is their sins that have reached the heavens leaving a stench in the nostrils of a holy God. We might try to forget and cover our sins, but God does not forget and only His covering can avail. (Proverbs 28:13)
C. The extent of her judgment Vs. 6, 7
Her sin is remembered and rewarded two-fold. Now the promise of God is coming to fruition as seen in Chapter 13:10. “He that led into captivity shall go into captivity and he that killed with the sword shall be killed with the sword. This is the patience and faith of the saints.” In Jeremiah 50: 15, 29, these words of prophecy are spoken. “Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of the Lord: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.” Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her per all her work; per all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the Holy One of Israel.” The judgment of Babylon has been determined long before the events of Revelation 13-18. Their fulfillment prophesied long ago, are now at hand. Evil surely will be rewarded but it will come from God at His appointed time. The idea can best be understood by realizing that because her sin is doubled, therefore the cup of her judgment will be measured in the same way. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man swath, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6: 7) Sin is linked to many miseries that we face. Man, cannot arrest the purpose of God by saying “let us break His bands asunder and cast away His cords from us. Surely, He o sits in the heavens shall laugh.” (Psalm 2: 3, 4) The ruin of Babylon comes as a violation of the law of eternal retribution. “It is a law, silent in its operations, resistless in its force, and inevitable in its consequences”
In verse 7, we are confronted with the false security in which her faith was founded. It was based upon her outward attraction, her abundant treasures, and her power and authority allowed by God for her to have. Her beauty will change with time, moths and rust shall eat away at her treasure, and greedy men will rob her of her authority. (Notice chapter 17:16)
II. THE CONSEQUENCES OF HER FOLLY VS. 8-10
A. Consider her fall. Vs.8
Her fall shall come quickly with devastating results. Consider the extent of her desolation as it occurs in one day. It is hard to imagine, short of a hydrogen bomb explosion, which would destroy such a great city. In one day, her fall will take place and it will be accompanied by death, mourning, fire, and fear. (Once again, a reference to 17:16 gives clarity to this event.) All of this will take place because it is the Lord who judges her and His power is immeasurable.
Consider this: For her prospective scorn toward widowhood (vs.7), she shall receive the second death: For her inordinate dwelling in false joy, she shall receive mourning: For her abundance, she shall experience famine: For her
fornication, she shall receive fire. Someone has remarked, “that when judgment comes upon a corrupt society, the horrors involved transcend one’s ability to imagine.” Considering all of this, there is an application we cannot allow to escape our notice. Every corrupt soul is a “Moral Babylon” in whom the judgment “is fallen, is fallen” applies. Such a sentence is cause for serious consideration. Our text declares that everyone who shares in her sin will also share in her destruction.
The question we must address is, “will this fall, concerning this great city, continue forever?” The choices we make have eternal consequences, but there is still time. The descent continues outside the Grace of God, but His hand still extends in mercy toward those who truly repent and seek for His salvation. The history of the church is filled with testimonies of those who have received new life through faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I Timothy 2:4, declares that He “would have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” If you are without Christ, it is not His Fault. His hand of mercy extends to you today. Why not receive Him?
B. Consider also, Her Destruction of Hope. Vs.
9 (conferred upon others)
And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her when they shall see the smoke of her burning.” The rulers of the earth who partook of her evil are going to have their pleasures and powers were taken away from them. Their eyes have been opened and what they now understand has caused them great fear as they face their resources and expectations, in which they placed great trust, is gone up in smoke as they watch the great city burn. What does it take for men to see, that the only solid foundation in which to build our hope is the never-failing integrity of God and the assurance of Eternity in heaven; all else like Babylon, is smoke and fire. Oh, that we might have compassion toward those who have Babylons in their lives that they trust in; that gives them false hope and leave them with an absence of true peace, joy, and the hope of eternal life.
C. Consider, Finally, Their desolation of Grief Vs.10
Standing afar off, her destruction is still seen by her followers. Their cry describes how they saw her. (As great). That is what they thought her to be, and what they expected her to remain. They also recognized that the centuries that made Babylon great, has been destroyed in one hour. It can happen that fast; the one hour appears to have a symbolic reference as a comparison is made between the centuries of building and the shortness of destruction. Although we call it symbolic, in this case, and since the event is yet future, it is not beyond the power of God to destroy it in one hour.
III. THE LAMENTATION OVER THEIR LOSS VS. 11-19
In verses 9, 10 we saw the kings grieving over the destruction of the city regarding the loss of their power
In verses 11-17, we observe the merchant grieving over the loss of their merchandise and the marketing of their goods They have merchandise to sell but no-one to sell it to. In verse 17, we are introduced to the third category of merchants affected by this loss. They are the shipmasters, including everyone that makes
their living from the use of the sea. These merchants include ships that sail, divers seeking after jewels, fishermen, sailors, and boatmen. One statement predominates, to explain the grief over their loss: “no man buys their merchandise any more.” Wealth has become their God. It can happen today and very frequently does when we make money and wealth our primary goal for living. It involves sacrificing our time, our close relationships, our moral values, our physical health, and most of all, our faith in God. With that wealth, we become slaves to various addictions, to purchases we cannot afford to pay for. Men will steal, lie, abuse others, and sometimes commit murder to please this God that controls them.
Many have spent their lives working at a job that they despise because the pay is good, and wind up at the end of their days dying an early death and never being able to enjoy that which they worked so hard to have for their retirement years. Terrible, beyond words, it must be, for a man who has lived this life for earthly gain, to discover, too late, that it is gone forever. Now that his God has failed him, he must now face the God that he has neglected to find. In verse19, the pain and loss that these merchants have found are described. We find them crying in deep pain and agony. They cast dust upon their heads. Feelings of hopelessness prevailed along with no purpose for living. Everything that they had was gone, and all hope was destroyed. Pity the man who must face such agony. We are all creatures of the earth, and our desire for things is natural. Our union with Christ develops; we discover that the
things of this earth are lent to us by God. When we put Him first, we can enjoy the blessing that He has bestowed upon us whether great or small. Gratitude must be the theme song of every child of God. “Seeking first the kingdom of God and all His righteousness” will assure us of the promise “and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6: 33) When things get scarce we can take comfort in the words of Job when he discovered everything he had was gone. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
IV. THE COMFORT OF GOD EXPRESSED. VS.20-24
In verse 20 the words “it is done” summarizes all that the apostles, prophets, and faithful followers have lived and died for. Payment of retribution has been accomplished and their patience has been rewarded. In these final verses the words, “no more” are found six times. Consider:
1. The city is to be no more.
2. Her music is to be no more.
3. Her trade shall be no more
4. Her food supplies shall be no more. Her
5. Her lamp-feasts shall be no more along with her marriage feasts.
6. Her memory will be no more.
Satan’s seat and dominance are on the brink of extinction as is the memory of Babylon. The overthrow of Babylon is symbolized by the casting of a great stone into the sea by the angel. It is Hurled into the sea; never to be seen, never to be restored. This action by the angel describes the finality of Babylon’s fall.