Revelation Chapter 18
January 23, 2022
Chapter 17 deals with the destruction of “the false religion of Babylon”. It deals with the false religious system of the world that is destroyed by the Beast and the 10 horns (kings) at the midpoint of the Great Tribulation.
Chapter 18 deals with the destruction of “political and commercial Babylon”. It deals with the destruction of a literal city, most probably Rome because the literal city of Babylon was never part of the historic Roman Empire. Nowhere in the Scriptures is there ever a hint that the Beast will move his headquarters from western Europe to the ancient literal Babylon but rather to a city that was often referred to as Babylon (Rome). But this passage is more than a prophecy about a city. It is about a system, a culture and a world gone mad over WORLDLINESS!
THE TIME AND PROPHECY OF HER DESTRUCTION. 18:1-2
1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
18:1 “After these things”
Political and Commercial destruction come after the False Religious destruction.
18:1-2 “another angel…having great authority…cried mightily with a loud voice”
This is not Jesus but it teaches that being with God changes “our glow, know, go.”
THE REASON FOR HER DESTRUCTION. 18:3
3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
She has turned away from God and looks to the people of this world for support
Her relationship is with the world around her, not the One in the world above her.
She has committed spiritual adultery against God.
She thought that the relationships she established were permanent ones.
She thought she had complete control of her life and her future.
She was wrong. She is wrong. It cost her everything.
THE WARNING OF HER DESTRUCTION. 18:4
4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
18:4 Come out of her, my people.”
We must remind ourselves we are in an interlude which is a time where our chronological story stops and an angel takes John back to an earlier scene John has witnessed. John is given more clarity about what he earlier heard and witnessed.
That is why it seems out of place that there is a call and a warning for any surviving people that have been saved during the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation to “stay the course” and not believe the lies of Satan nor trust world systems.
“Come out” is an aorist imperative of urgency. It means “do it now, do not delay.”
Further, it speaks of a decisive act. This is not only a physical separation, but a mental and spiritual separation from materialism as a way of life and as a source of security, significance, and happiness. The warning applies to us RIGHT NOW TOO!
18:4 “Lest you” or “So that” points to the purpose and reason for separation as twofold:
(1) “So that you may not participate in her sins.”
“Participate” is the verb, sunkoinwnew, “to fellowship with, partake, be connected with,” or even, “be a partner with.” The simple noun form, koinwnos, is used in Luke 5:10 of those who were fishing partners with Simon in his fishing business.
Rather than becoming partners with the Babylonian world system, we are to be partners with the Lord Jesus in His enterprise on earth. Literally, the Greek says “the sins of her” pointing to particular or specific sins, the sins of commercialism, the things which caused universal covetousness, destruction of the divine institutions, increase in crime, violence, a search for happiness in luxurious living.
(2) “And that you might not receive of her plagues.”
“Plagues” has the article which points to some specific plagues, those of chapter 16 and the seventh bowl judgment. The warning is simply that those who fall in with the system will experience the results of misery and loss in their own lives. The phrase “come out of her,” citing Jeremiah 50:4-9 where the children of Israel are urged to “Remove out of the midst of Babylon” (Jeremiah 50:8), and the command “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul” (Jeremiah 51:6). In Genesis 19:15, notice the command to come out of Babylon to the warning to Lot to leave Sodom.
But of course, this has application for us today.
We reap what we sow. When we sow to the flesh and pursue the world, we reap of the flesh. But when we sow to the Spirit, we reap of the Spirit, peace, joy, happiness and meaning in life.
THE CALL FOR HER DESTRUCTION. 18:5-8
5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. 7 In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ 8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
THE BASIS OF THE APPEAL FROM THE WORLDLY TO THE WORLD (v7)
“For she says in her heart…” She is about to operate on emotion without the benefit of spiritual intellect due to no prayer seeking counsel for God who knows all.
“I sit…and am no…will see no…” as is a present tense of a continuous condition.
Both she and her leaders think nothing can upset this mighty system.
THE BASIS OF THE APPEAL FROM THE ANGEL TO GOD (v5-8)
This appeal is substantiated upon three spiritual laws or principles:
- The Law of Remembrance(verse 5).
God’s actions in history with Babylon teach us this system cannot escape—judgment must come. The principle: God does not ignore or forget unrepented sin. He permits the increment or build-up of sin, but eventually judgment must come. The first Babel conspiracy attempted to build a tower into the heavens (Genesis 11:4); this last Babylon conspiracy piles up her sins to heaven in defiance of God and God remembers these. Judgment is inevitable and so believers must flee.
- The Law of Retribution(verse 6).
Because of the enormity of her sin and because of the holy character of God—judgment is doubled. The thing judged here is the system. The final judgment of unbelievers does not come until the great white throne of Revelation 20.
- The Law of Retaliation(verses 7-8).
She has assumed the position of queen; she has glorified herself and so to the same degree that she has rebelled against God, He retaliates in holy and righteous indignation to dethrone her suddenly and completely with great certainty.
The accumulated sin, the mistreatment of God, the evil works and the world’s arrogance and pride thru self-glorification and self-exaltation will require payment.
THE REACTION TO HER DESTRUCTION. 18:9-20
9 “The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’
11 “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: 12 merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; 13 and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. 14 The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all. 15 The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 16 and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! 17 For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’ Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance 18 and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’
19 “They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour, she is made desolate.’
20 “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!”
The reaction of those left on earth including kings, merchants, ship owners, sailors:
At first, amazement, then sorrow, weeping, wailing, fear, disappointment
and depression which are by-products of the fallacy of false security.
The “fruit that your soul longed for is gone”
The reaction of those in heaven:
The prophets, apostles and martyred souls are called upon to rejoice because
Their blood, shed by Babylon, has been avenged.
THE COMPLETENESS OF HER DESTRUCTION. 18:21-24
21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found ANYMORE. 22 The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you ANYMORE. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you ANYMORE, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you ANYMORE. 23 The light of a lamp shall not shine in you ANYMORE, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you ANYMORE. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”
Remember therefore, the following principles: (cf. Luke 12:16-20; 1 Timothy 6:16-19):
(1) Riches or the details of life can never provide life eternal or the abundant life.
(2) Riches can be destroyed in a moment.
(3) Life can be snatched from us in a moment and we have either eternal separation as unbelievers, or loss of rewards as believers.
(4) Therefore, the appeal of God’s Word is for us to acquire happiness and eternal life through faith in the truths of God as revealed in the Word (see Isaiah 55:1-13 and note especially Isaiah 55:1-2).
1 Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk, Without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.