Revelation 18 - Outline of Revelation (MENU page)
18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven,
having great power
{ie., authority}; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
after these things- ie., following the 7 Seals, 7 Trumpets, 7 Bowls and the judgment of the harlot.
another {GK= allos, another of the same kind} angel- This is not Christ, but
an angel like those seen before, given great authority in God's service. cp. 14:8,15; 17:1
lightened- lit., made bright, with {GK= ek, out of} his glory (the light source).
18:2 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
{ie., unclean} spirit,
and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
Babylon is fallen- The long foretold destruction has come. Isa 13:19-22; Rev 14:8
hold...cage...- the same GK word is used for both words, meaning "prison."
The "wild beasts," of Isa 13, are seen here to represent evil spiritual beings.
18:3 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.
Here is Commercial Babylon. Commercialism has seductive popular appeal
which is parallel to the seductive errors of Religious Babylon. (cp. 17:1,2)
Both sides of Babylon promote idolatry. But the faces of the false gods differ.
In humanistic religion, false gods & false doctrine displace the True & Living God.
In humanistic government & business, the economy displaces the Giver of all things.
Her delicacies {ie., luxuries} will be described in detail beginning at v.11.
18:4 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.
another voice- Christ speaks.
Come out of her, my people- Some interpreters attempt to place the Rapture of
the Church at this point, just prior to the final actions of the wrath of God.
However, in a strongly parallel passage (Jer 51:5-10,45), these words are a command to God's people, who live in the world, to separate themselves from the wickedness of the world.
The separation intended is-
  • first, spiritual and moral (''be not partakers of her sin'')- cp. 1Cor 11:31,32; 2Cor 6:16-18
  • then, physical (''receive not of her plagues'')- God's people are to distance themselves,
    as Lot fled from Sodom, to escape the fire and brimstone. cp. Jer 51:6,45
plagues- The word is used of the Bowl judgments (15:1; 16:9)
which are directed against great Babylon (16:19).
18:5 For her sins have reached unto heaven,
This describes the enormity of her sin. (cp. Jer 51:9)
The phrase reminds us of Babel's tower "whose top may reach into heaven." (Gen 11:4)
and God hath remembered {ie., called to mind} her iniquities.
When God remembers sin, He acts in judgment. Jer 14:10; Eze 21:24; Hos 9:9; Psa 79:8
18:6 Reward {render to} her even as she rewarded {has rendered to} you,
and double unto her double according to her works:
in the cup which she hath filled
{mixed} fill {mix} to her double.
Who is the one offended? Who will give Babylon what she deserves?
It is the Lord: Jer 50:15,29.
double...- OT justice usually required one for one, 'an eye for an eye...'
But extreme sin requires extreme measures.
Therefore, just as Israel receives double for her sins, so, the world system which oppresses Israel and steals her land receives double. cp. Isa 40:2; Jer 16:18; 17:18
18:7 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.
The prosperity of ancient Babylon blinded her to the judgment of God. cp. Isa 47:1-10
So, commercial Babylon considers itself rich, self-sufficient, and secure.
It is business as usual up to the closing Day.
18:8 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.
in one day- The GK word order is emphatic: Her plagues "in one day come."
cp. other instances of swift judgment:
Belshazzar (Dan 5:1,3-5,30), and the Rich Fool (Luk 12:19,20).
her plagues- are listed in reverse order for emphasis.
Death must come last. It is the end, to which each of these elements leads.
The Lord God brings this swift and full destruction.
Reaction to this judgment is the subject of the remainder of ch 18.
On earth- mourning. Three distinct Lamentations of 'earth dwellers' are recorded in v.9-19.
In heaven- joy. (18:20-24; 19:1-6)
Lamentation #1 - from the kings of the earth (v. 9,10)
18:9 And the kings of the earth,
who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her,
shall bewail
{wail for} her, and lament {lit., beat their breasts} for her,
when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
The kings, who hated the Harlot, Ecclesiastical Babylon (17:16),
loved Commercial Babylon.
have committed fornication- To pursue money and materialism,
they have aligned themselves with the beast and given themselves to follow the lie. Rev 13:16,17; 2Thes 2:8-12
18:10 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.
standing afar off- Though they love her, they are powerless to aid her.
alas, alas- GK= ouai, ouai. "Woe, woe."
Lamentation #2 - from the merchants of the earth (v. 11-17a)
18:11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her;
for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
The list of luxuries which once made merchants rich (cp. v.3) follows:
18:12 The merchandise of
gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls,
{fine jewelry}
and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, {fine clothing}
and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, {fine furnishings}
and all manner vessels of most precious wood,
and of brass, and iron, and marble,
{fine houseware} 18:13 And cinnamon, and odours, {costly perfumes, cosmetics}
and ointments, and frankincense,
and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat,
{costly foods, cp. 6:5,6}
and beasts {cattle}, and sheep, and
horses, and chariots,
{costly conveyances}
and slaves {lit., bodies}, and souls of men. {costly chattel, includes sex slaves}
18:14 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.
no more at all- These words form a sad refrain repeated 6x in v.22,23.
The final bell has rung over world markets.
The effect resounds, as does the lament:
18:15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her,
shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
The merchants were "the great men of the earth" (v.23).
Their prominence accounts for the extra space given to their lament.
18:16 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!
The description is almost identical to that of the Harlot (17:4). Therefore,
some see Religious & Commercial Babylon as occupying the same city.
However, if the harlot is destroyed at mid-Tribulation (see note 17:16),
another city must be the center of commercial Babylonianism.
18:17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.
The bottom line, of the merchants' lament, is financial loss.
Lamentation #3 - from the shipmasters on the sea (v. 17b-19)
And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors,
and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
The economy of Babylon fueled the transportation industry.
18:18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying,
What [city is] like unto this great city!
18:19 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.
made desolate- lit., desolated with desolation, or, ruined with ruin.
Would it break your heart if all your earthly luxuries went up in smoke?
Upon what is your affection set? Col 3:1-4; Mat 6:19-21
"One needs to see the awful contrast described in these verses. [v.18 & v.19]
A once great city, prosperous, gorgeous to behold, glittering in the sun, influential around the world, suddenly comes to utter ruin in a single hour. Against the sky are billows of smoke. Intense heat keeps the onlookers at a distance. Nothing can be rescued. All must perish. A complete desolation is wrought. One would wish that all living now and then would turn to the God of heaven in penitence and plead His mercy to escape the 'anger of His wrath.' "
[J.O.Yoder, editor of JBSmith's work on Rev.]
Rejoicing in heaven -
18:20 Rejoice over her, [thou] heaven, and [ye] holy {ie., ye saints, and} apostles
and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
The death throes of worldly wickedness are reason for joy to the righteous.
God has avenged- lit., 'God has judged your judgment (your case) against her.'
God remembers the patience of the saints. (13:10; 14:12)
An angel's Dirge over Babylon (v. 21-24):
18:21 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.
stone...into the sea- This speaks of the certainty & the finality of this judgment.
cp. Jer 51:63,64
with violence- or, with a rush. Like a stone that makes a big splash,
but then disappears beneath the waves. [McGee]
no more at all- The repetition of this refrain emphasizes the finality of judgment.
18:22 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
{lit., no more at all} in thee;
and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
18:23 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:
Seven specific sounds are silenced. These can be categorized as the sounds-
  • of entertainment (the music of Babylon),
  • of industry (the bustle of business), and
  • of homelife (bride & groom).
The city is quiet. The lights have gone out. Permanently.
for thy merchants were the great men of the earth;
for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints,
and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Judgment falls on Commercial Babylon because:
  • The great men (those responsible) were the commercial interests.
  • Their sorceries had deceived the nations.
    Sorceries= GK pharmakeia, used elsewhere in reference to drugs,
    and also in reference to magic & the seductions of idolatry.
    'Virtual reality' (in many forms) is big business.
    But truth (proclaimed by true prophets) is bad for profits.
  • Their actions had promoted the martyrdom of the saints, through direct persecution & through economic exclusion of believers. (13:15-17)

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