BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN
In this study we will see that the judgment of God will be upon the evil political-economic government of the world empire, God’s grace in warning His people to flee from her, and that we are to rejoice in the judgment of God upon evil.NOTE: The woman on the “scarlet colored beast” of chapter 17 is referred to as “the great whore” which implies religious apostasy and spiritual adultery, thus chapter 17 is dealing with religious Babylon shown by the use of symbolism.
Chapter 18 is more literal and seems to be dealing with a literal city, probaby Rome since that is what Christians of John’s day would have seen as Babylon.
Please note the differences in the two. In chapter 17 the kings rejoice in her death by causing it. In chapter 18 the kings and merchants mourn the destruction of the city.
Religious Babylon is established, by the world ruler, of all the world religions, only to be thrown down by him to establish himself as god (2 Thes. 2:4; Daniel 11:37), thus, making it illegal for the people to worship any god but him.
Chapter 18 is political – economic Babylon, described by the trading in verses 11-13.
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. 18:1-3 (KJV).
“Another angel”, a different angel from 17:1 is identified as “having great power” and being very brilliant in appearance.
Great power in which to exact punishment upon the wicked city.
“Glory” which exposes all that is hid in the darkness.
This angel declares the same cry of another angel (or is it?) in 14:8. It seems as though there are Old Testament prophecies which would forbid the idea of the rebuilding of literal Babylon (Isaiah 13:19-22; Jeremiah 50), so we must, to a certain extent, believe this to be Rome. Rome is probably what the Christians of John’s day would have understood Babylon to be. Babylon is symbolic of apostasy, evil powers, and greed.
Since the Babylonian system will fall it becomes the habitation of every kind of unclean and evil thing (v. 2). See Daniel 4:4-27 and compare Matthew 13:31-33, “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. 33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (KJV).
The city has been a source of great wealth, because of her commerce. Others around the world flock to her to become wealthy as well. Selling their souls to obtain wealth that the moth and rust can corrupt.
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. vv. 4-6 (KJV).
There is “another voice from heaven” crying out in mercy, “Come out…” The invitation is to those who are God’s to flee from the great city.
The call to flee has a twofold purpose:
1. By separation from her they will not partake of her sin;
2. They, also, will not be inflicted with the plagues of judgment.
There is an allusion to the Genesis 11 account of Babylon. Her sins are stacking up like brick and mortar; building a tower of self-righteousness. In the piling up of her righteousness, which is “filthy rags”, she only heaps up judgment on herself.
For every stone of self-righteousness they are exalting themselves over God’s righteousness and He remembers every such sin.
The reward of the city of Babylon will be double what she did unto the saints of God. The same cup she used to seduce the nations to commit fornication with her, is the cup from which she herself will drink damnation.
How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. vv. 7-8 (KJV).
She is seen as self-satisfied. She says she has no need. She is so full of pride she takes no thought of God or His judgment.
She is rich. Notice the similarities between the church of Laodicea and the city of Babylon (see 3:17). How can she repent when she has no need.
Therefore, her judgment comes quickly, “in one day”. The day before she is prosperous and proud. The day after she is dead and despairing. “When it is time for God’s judgment it descends with unwavering directness”. JOHN WALVOORD from the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Look at some other times of God’s quick and direct judgment upon the frivolous and self-righteous:
1. Daniel 5:24-30 — Belshazzar is judged the same night that he defiled the cups of God’s temple;
2. Luke 12:16-20 — The foolish man’s soul is required “that same night” that he decided he was in charge of his life.
We can be sure when God’s judgment comes it comes quickly. The Lord God He is strong and mighty. No one; no government, religious institution, or power can stand against Him or avert His wrath. He will bring to pass what He has proclaimed.
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, 10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. vv. 9-10 (KJV).
As a contrast to chapter 17 in which the kings desolated the “great whore” and “burned her with fire” (17:16), here they are “bewail(ing) her” and they “lament for her”. They have great sorrow of heart. Their means of wealth has fallen. This in itself shows us this is the commercial or economic Babylon.
The “kings of the earth” are fearful. She had been strong, wealthy, and “beautiful” just a few hours before, now she is FALLEN, poor and desecrated. They stand “afar off” – at a distance – fearful of where their wealth will go, of what will become of them now; is there anyone to protect their losses.
Isn’t it great to know that when one knows and trusts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior our treasure is in Heaven, where thieves cannot break in and steal, whre moth and rust cannot corrupt, and that it is riches than can stand the fires of God’s judgment, even coming out of the fires of a purer sort.
The suddenness of judgment upon this economic empire could loosely be likened to the drash of the stock market that caused the Great Depression of the 1920’s and 1930’s. People lost wealth and threw themselves from windows, and committed suicide in various ways. Times like these are certainly times when we find out where our heart and treasure is (Matthew 6:19-21).
It seems that at the time of this judgment the nations of earth will have been prosperous. Great prosperity will abound in the last days of man’s rule on earth – economically. The banks and governments will be wealthy; the people, for the most part will be in slavery. Babylon, the city of wealth, has fallen. A sad day for the “kings of the earth”.
And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: 12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, 13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. 14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. 15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! 17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, 18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! 19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. vv. 11-19 (KJV).
Now, the “merchants of the earth” mourn her demise.
I think it would be fitting to make this statement; What the world rejoices in, God weeps upon, and what God rejoices in the world weeps upon.
A list is given of the merchants merchandise. Everything on the list is the objects only the wealthy could possess.
Let us look at that list;
1) Precious metals – gold and silver; 2) Precious stones – diamonds, rubies, pearls, etc.; 3) Fine materials for clothing – linen, silk, and scarlet; 4) Scented wood – like cedar fro lining closets; 5) Vessels – special made pieces of art from ivory, and wood; 6) Other metals; 7) Seasonings; 8) Perfumes; 9) Drinks; 10) Oil; 11) Livestock; 12) Chariots – which could very likely be automobiles (since it is a time yet to come); 13) Men made slaves – the government and the wealthy merchants probably enslave the common man, making them think that they (the banks and the government) will supply all their needs – shelter, clothing, food, health care; transportation, etc., only the common man will own nothing in order to have this, while capitalism thrives for the wealthy.
“And the souls of men” seems to be saying that the merchants are responsible for the deaths of many, or their enslavement.
The words “no more at all in thee” or its minor variations are found seven times from verse 14 through the end of the chapter. What the “merchants of the earth” have relied upon and trusted in has come to an abrupt end. The economy of man, no matter how prosperous it is, cannot give peace in times of calamity or times of peace.
The city burning almost sounds like the twin towers falling on September 11, 2001. There were many nations around the world who were grieved by this calamity. Thousands of people were killed in that attack by an evil people. Sad to say many were more concerned with the economic impact than they were with the thousands who died.
It not only seems that the city is destroyed, but all the wealth as well (v. 17). In verses 16-19 the merchants are weeping more over their economic ruin than they are over the eternal ruin of their soul.
You can sow your seed, but remember God does not give the harvest the next day. You do reap what you sow – good and/or bad (Gal. 6:7).
Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. v. 20 (KJV).
Remember what I said above about the world’s rejoicing and God’s rejoicing.
He is speaking here to all the saints of God (“holy apostles”). Rejoice because God’s righteousness is being vindicated. We rejoice not over the condemnation of a lost soul, but that God is glorified.
And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. 22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; 23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. vv. 21-24 (KJV).
Babylon – religious, economic, and political – is utterly destroyed, to rise no more.
She will sink like the “great millstone” never to rise again. There is a similar story in Jeremiah 51:61-64. Jeremiah wrote against Babylon, and had a young man read it to Babylon, and when finished reading the “book” to “bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates”. Jeremiah’s faith in God and His Word was sure. Babylon will fall. The Word of God continues.
The pronouncement of the angel, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” is in the past tense. Just as surely as God said it, it shall be done.
The merchants will buy “no more at all” (v. 14); the city “shall be found not more at all” (v. 21); music “shall be heard no more at all in thee”; “no craftsman… shall be found any more in thee”; the work of the mill “shall be heard no more at all… (v. 22); “the candle… no more at all…”; wedding ceremonies “…no more at all…” (v. 23). Seven times is complete and final. God’s Word is true.
In looking at these verses we could have a very convincing description of our own nation. Capitalism when not restrained by God’s Spirit can breed greed, selfishness and lust for power, yet, I believe it is the best economic system mankind has going, when kept in check by the Spirit of God. Babylon could be capitalism run amuck, because of the absence of God’s restraining influence.
Because some chose to stand for Christ the world of Babylon slew them. O, what a bloody city.
Here is a parallel to the Babylons of Scripture: The first is historical and found in Genesis 11 prepared to maintain the union of the world – overthrown by God through confusion of language and scattering of people. The second is ecclesiastical, symbolized by the woman of Revelation 17 proposes common worship and religion uniting all religions into one world church, and much advocated in our day by some of the EMERGENT church movement – destroyed by the beast in Revelation 17:16, thus fulfilling the will of God. The third is political, symbolized by the “great city” of Revelation 18, attempts domination of the world, by common market and world government. These are destroyed at Jesus’s second coming in power and great glory. EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS.
BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN – stop trusting in the “Babylonish garment” (Joshua 7:21), and trust the One who has already won the victory