The preceding chapter recorded the fall of the great harlot, Babylon the Great.
It is likely that this event takes place in the middle of the Tribulation, for the fall of the harlot is the destruction of the false system of religion which Satan has supported through the centuries.
It is the destruction of the ecumenical church, the one-world church, after Antichrist no longer needs it.
In chapter 18, we have more information about this fall of political or governmental Babylon. The difference in emphasis between the two chapters is this:
In chapter 17 it was the Beast and his ten nation confederacy who destroyed religious Babylon. In chapter 18 political Babylon is destroyed by God Himself in preparation for the coming of the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
1. ¶ And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
“And after these things” – refers to the things in chapter 17. It means after the political side of the revived Roman empire destroys the religious side of the revived Roman empire.
In this chapter we see commercial Babylon destroyed.
“I saw” – This is John, a panoramic view of the end time.
“Another angel come down from heaven having great power.” The sixth vial was the Armageddon campaign and the seventh vial was the destruction of religion.
This angel was introduced back in Revelation 16:17 and was heard saying “It is done.”
“Having great power and with great light.” – The glory of God has always been described as a light brighter than the light of the sun, so here we meet the glory of God’s presence.
Religion has long been one of the great evil forces in our nation, and is one of the forces leading to our national decay and decline. Religion is the reason we are in the trouble we are in.
Chapter 18 presents us a preview of the final destruction of Satan’s government system and its sudden destruction.
This satanic system will dominate all peoples, nations at this point in history.
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.
“He cried mightily” – means the angel sounded a very loud voice.
“With a strong voice” – means loud and clear.
“Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.” – This is the announcement of judgement upon this pagan system. The angel is shouting this message.
“Is fallen, is fallen” is an aorist tense and means that in a point of time, when the system was at its peak, the destruction finally fell.
Babylon is guilty of all the corruption, violence and shame that has darkened the history of the human race.
The city of Babylon does not exist, but the spirit of the wicked system of Babylon does exist.
The last few words of this verse gives us a picture of things when God brings judgment on the wicked system of the revived Roman empire.
Read Isaiah 13:21 and Jeremiah 50:39.
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.
“All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” – means that all nations of that time joined in the false religious system.
“Drunk of the wine of her wrath” – refers to the success of religious internationalism in gaining converts in every nation of the earth.
“Merchants…of her delicacies” – refers to a fat, rich and corrupt religious combination means you play ball with me and I will give you contracts. Or, you vote for me and I will dance to your music.
The great harlot is fallen, Babylon as a system of religion is demonic. She is unfaithful to God and has spiritually fornicated with the nations of the world, soiling the message of true religion.
This is a perfect picture of the union of the church and state. They are so entwined, you cannot tell one from the other.
Babylon is intoxicating and drags down with her the nations which align themselves with this false church. They have an easy form of religion with the harlot; a few dollars can make the church look the other way. It is no wonder they weep over her destruction.
“Abundance of her delicacies” refers to luxury.
It is evident that with the corruption of this end-time system of religion many people will become wealthy. There is much business transacted in the church of the great harlot. She has accumulated great wealth and is a powerful force in business.
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 from heaven” – meant another different from the angel in verse 1.
John is permitted to hear still another voice from heaven. The message given by his voice is reminiscent of God’s call to Lot begging him to leave worldly Sodom before total judgment (Gen 19:15-22).
“Come out of her my people.” – This is a call for separated living.
Here men and women of the Tribulation Period are urged by God to come out of ecclesiastical Babylon just as the children of Israel were urged to come out of ancient Babylon (Jer 51:45).
“Be not partakers of her sins.” Her speaks of the false religious system, and the voice is commanding not to fall in her trap.
The last part of this verse is saying get away from her and don’t receive her judgments.
And why? Because by separating themselves from this apostate form of Christianity they will not partake of her sin and will not have the plagues inflicted on them that are certain to afflict ecclesiastical Babylon (18:6-8).
5. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
“Her sins have reached unto heaven.” – This verse lets us know God is very aware of what is going on here on earth.
“God hath remembered her iniquities.” – This lets us know God is keeping the records and He doesn’t miss a thing.
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.
“Reward her even as she rewarded you.” This refers to the sure judgment of God and the justice that prevails in His judgment.
Also, it means the system will be judged with the same judgement as she used.
The indictment against Babylon calls for retributive judgment that is doubled, because the enormity of her sin can require nothing but double severity in judgment.
“Double” – means two judgements. They will be judged here at the Great White Throne Judgement.
Notice the judgement of works, no salvation.
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.
Whereas Babylon had lived “deliciously” now the judgment of God falls on her and delicate living gives way to disastrous plagues.
Whereas she anticipated seeing no sorrow, now she sees nothing but sorrow.
“How much she hath glorified herself.” – This speaks of the pride this system had.
“Lived deliciously” – means she lived as she liked with no regard for morals, respect for life.
“Am no widow” – means she has plenty of friends.
“Shall see no sorrows” – means she thinks she is above God.
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.
There is no reason not to understand her final destruction as coming in one day (vs. 8). It happened before with another Babylon (Dan. 5:1, 3-5, 30), and it often occurs with individuals (Lk 12:19-20).
Isn’t it ironic that the city which once burned Christians for having allegedly burned it, will itself be burned with literal fire?
“Death, and mourning and famine” – describes her judgment.
“mourning” – here means mental regret.
This is where religion died.
“Utterly burned with fire” – refers to the second part of the double judgment back in verse 6 and this refers to be burned in the fire of hell and destruction.
“Fire” here speaks of hell.
9. ¶ 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,
Political and economic Babylon now comes into view. With the destruction of the false church comes the collapse of the financial association between the ecumenical church and the nations.
Now the economic and political city, symbolized by Babylon, is destroyed.
“Kings of the earth” – refers to the nations comprising the revived Roman empire.
“Who have committed fornication with her.” This speaks of those who participated with her in religious business.
“Lived deliciously” – means those that lived in luxury at the death, and destruction of others.
“Shall bewail her, and lament for her.” This means they weep and watch as the judgment comes and the bottom falls out of the system they have participated in.
“When they shall see the smoke of her burning.” This speaks of the destruction of this false religious system.
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.
The kings of the earth lament because of the collapse of the false church.
This is the wail of the ten nation league of the revived Roman empire.
“Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city.” – This speaks of the alarm as the great and mighty system fell.
“For in one hour is thy judgment come” – speaks of how sudden the judgment came, one hour.
“Thy” in this verse speaks of God.
11. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
“Merchants” – speaks of business men on earth.
“Weep and mourn over her.” – They are crying because their business is gone, their greed caused them to weep and mourn.
“No man buyeth their merchandise any more.” – This means they have lost their business and the world economy has gone to pieces.
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,
Here we see the continued wail of the economic leaders of this system and their wail will continue through verse 19.
This is the breakdown of the economic system of this vast empire.
Wealth is always a false foundation of life, whether it be an individual or nation.
Notice in this verse “thyine wood” and it is only found in North Africa. It is a citrus tree and its wood makes beautiful table tops and fine furniture. This indicated that at the end of the Tribulation period, Africa will still be an industrial nation.
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.
This verse describes the dainties of the earth. This is a picture of the wealthy lording over the poor.
Notice here that slavery is still in existence in the Tribulation.
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.
Wealth, position and leadership all vanished overnight (one hour) in this collapse.
This is an amazing picture of financial disaster.
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,
Here is the collapse of the stock market.
The collapse of the entire religious empire.
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!
We see people of wealth losing their entire fortunes in a day. This verse speaks of the elite folks.
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,
This is the collapse of transportation in the Tribulation. International trade is over with.
This includes trucks, planes, ships, and rails.
18. And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
This speaks of their crying and concern. They trusted in the powers of this system, and now it has fallen and they watch and cry in amazement.
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.
Here we see the merchant and cargo ships are out of business. They watch as their wealth and riches go up in judgment. In one hour, they are made desolate.
20. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
Here we see God’s attitude toward this. The born again believers attitude toward this is the same and is expressed in the term “rejoice”.
The rejoicing comes from the fact that God has finally triumphed over the world wide system of evil.
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.
This is an illustration of how God will judge the whole system. The millstone is a picture of God’s sudden destruction of all evil.
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;
Here the musical world goes to pieces.
“Craftsman” names for mechanics and engineers.
The whole system is coming apart at the seams.
“Sound of a millstone shall be heard no more.” This refers to all manufacturing industry coming to a halt.
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.
“Light of a candle” – refers to the entertainment world falling apart.
The theaters will all close down.
“Voice of the bridegroom” is a reference to all social activities coming apart.
“Bride shall be heard no more” – no more celebrations.
“For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” – This refers to Satan and his demonic power over men and nations.
Evil spirits led in this worldwide deception and destruction.
We see that their economic, religious and political system controlled every area of life and it fell in one day.
24. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
This verse reveals the true nature of these religious leaders. They slaughtered God’s believers.
Millions of believers will be killed. This is the worst period in human history.
Chapter 18 is a photograph of religion and all her system of deception.
Satan has a free hand to deceive, but he finally runs out of gas.
This is a challenge to believers to study and learn Bible doctrine and thereby avoid religion and such things as tongues, healings, emotionalism, liberalism and do-goodism.
Let me remind you that God will bring every sin, every evil and every unbeliever to judgement.
Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.