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After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 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! 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.’
Back in chapter 14, you will remember that God sent forth his proclaiming angel to circumvent the globe and cry out to all Earth-dwellers, Babylon the great, is fallen, is fallen (14:8). The angel’s prophecy has now come to pass and we come here in chapter 18, to the striking description of the destroyed Babylon System epitomized by the smoking ruins of its capital city, Jerusalem. The chapter begins with the familiar and significant words, after these things, mετὰ ταῦτα (meta touta). This tells us that this is a distinct new vision following the interlude of chapter 17. Chapter 17, dealt with the historic origin and development of false religion in the world and how it will reach its peak in Antichrist's kingdom. Here, in chapter 18, we come to its end and utter demise. Here we will visually see the end of the great harlot, false religion, along with the complete annihilation of Babylon, as embodied in Antichrist’s capital city and center of man-worship at Jerusalem.
John says, I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. Notice here that God's angel came forth to illuminate the scene as well as to proclaim a message. By this point in time, Earth's atmosphere will doubtless be filled with megatons of pollutants from the devastating effects of the Seal, Trumpet and Bowl judgments. Due to the aftermath of those previous twenty-one judgments, it will be surprising if those who survive are able to see much beyond the end of their noses. Not too long ago, I recall a major forest fire in southern Mexico that resulted in a substantial reduction of visibility over the entire eastern half of the United States. That was nothing compared to the atmospheric conditions that will exist by the end of the Great Tribulation. The seventh Bowl alone will cause major fires in every town and city on Earth. I suspect that this angel of great authority and glory will be sent by God just so John will be able to see what has happened to Antichrist's Babylon!
Having illumined the earth, the mighty angel proceeded to announce, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hated bird. His declaration parallels the words of the proclaiming angel back in 14:8. Now, however, his words are no longer prophetic, they have become reality. Nothing is left of Babylon but debris, birds of prey, and a hornet's nest of demons. What a picture is set before us here. The angel continues, All nations have drunk of the wrath of her fornication. The wrath of God through his seventh Bowl judgment has completely annihilated Antichrist's capital, Babylon, along with all the other cities of the whole earth! Next, like a prosecuting attorney at a murder trial, the angel presents his indictment. He says, 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. They had all greedily shared in Babylon's spiritual whoredom, immorality and materialism. They all had prospered and waxed rich because of her. Everyone, from kings to street venders, had grown fat together through Antichrist’s Babylon.
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. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 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. 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.' 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 [NU changes judges to has judged] her.
John says he 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.’ There is much in the book of Revelation that is addressed to the people who will actually be living during the dark days that it describes. This, I believe, is a very pointed warning to them. Especially to the Jews of that day not to make their home in Babylon (Jerusalem). It is good advice. For a Jew, or any child of God, to reside in Babylon during during the last three and a half years of the Tribulation (the Great Tribulation), will be a foolish decision indeed. To do so would be to subject one's self to great pressure to share in her sins as well as to put one’s self in harm’s way when she is judged by God. I have always wanted to visit Jerusalem, but I must confess, I wouldn’t want to live there, even today. It is a place marked for misery, destruction and Gentile domination … until Shiloh comes. Her present troubles with Islamists, Arabs and Palestinians clearly attest to this.
May we step aside for a moment? There is a very important spiritual application that can be made here. Take care, child of God. Don’t allow yourself to be entangled in this world's system. It will seriously injure you, both spiritually and physically. We live in the kingdom of darkness down here. It is a kingdom wherein the essence of Antichrist’s Babylon system already thrives. As you have it in First John 2:15-16,
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world.
Far too often, believers become entangled in the world and, like these merchants and kings, are easily consumed with its money and materialism, immorality and flesh, pride and selfishness, position and advancement and even the deceptions of its cults and counterfeit religions. Walking hand in hand with the world is dancing with the beast. Someone has said, Sin will take you where you don't want to go. Sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay. Sin will make you pay more than you wanted to pay. Guard yourself against the lures of this present dark kingdom, dear saint. God hates it and you and I need to hate it as well. It produces nothing but misery, bondage and death to all those who succumb to its enticements.
Now, let’s look further at this illuminating angel's indictment of Babylon. He says:
…her sins have reached to Heaven. Sin, in the Babylon system, will reach such a point of worldwide saturation and sophistication that God will no longer tolerate it. It will become so bad that its stench will literally fill the nostrils of God up in the Heaven of Heavens. Keep in mind here, that there is a great deal of difference between the way God deals with individuals concerning sin and the way he deals with nations concerning sin. He is not in the judgment business today in relation to individuals and their sins. He does, however, judge nations for theirs. This is a very important distinction. Here are two scriptures to consider in this regard:
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Second Corinthians 5:18-19
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. Psalm 19:17
…Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works. Babylon will attack God and his laws at every turn and in every way possible. It will do so through Antichrist worship, unjust laws, immorality, abominations and murders. Therefore, God’s angel calls for her to be paid back in her own coin and according to her own deeds. As she has so lavishly dished out her evil … now she must be paid back … double.
…she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Babylon's pride will make her … oh, so cocky. She will proclaim that nothing can touch her but, as Proverbs 16:18, declares,
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
…her plagues will come in one day. Babylon's judgment will come all at once and with amazing swiftness. Like the dropping of a great millstone into the sea, she will sink in one day because, the angel says, strong is the Lord who has judged her.
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, 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.’
What a vivid picture of Babylon’s utter ruin is put before us here. Standing fearfully at a distance, the remaining kings of the earth weep and wail as they look upon their once magnificent, but now decimated, darling … Babylon. The greatest Gentile, political, religious and commercial city that the world has ever seen lays before them as so much smoldering rubble … destroyed forever by the omnipotent hand of Almighty God! They cried, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! The fact that they refer to Jerusalem here by the name of Babylon, by the way, is proof positive that that will be her name in that future day.
And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: 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; 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. The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have [NU changes gone from you] been lost to you and you shall find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 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! For in one hour such great riches came to nothing…
This word, merchants, literally means one who travels. All the traveling salesmen of that day will also look on the devastated city and mourn for her as well. The huge and highly organized economy of the Babylon system, with her economic stranglehold on the world, will have been irretrievably shattered after the Lord lowers the boom on her with his final Bowl judgment. Like a head-on car crash, her crass commercialism will have come to a screeching and violent halt. Her merchants will weep. Our text says that she will no longer be able to traffic in:
…merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls … No more jewelry stores, Dr. McGee points out.
…fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet … no more of her dry goods stores.
…citron wood, ivory, precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble … no more of her luxury furniture stores.
…cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil, and frankincense … no more of her cosmetic departments.
…wine … no more of her liquor stores.
…oil, fine flour and wheat … no more of her grocery stores.
…cattle and sheep … no more of her slaughter houses and livestock yards.
…horses and chariots … no more of her transportation businesses.
…bodies and souls of men … no more of her brothels and slave markets. There is a great deal of prostitution and slavery going on in the world today, by the way. These two things are often inseparably linked. The Babylon system will be big on earning money by means of them. We first read about it back in 13:16,
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads…
Antichrist's Babylon was willing to do anything for a buck. This is one of the hallmarks of Satan's dark kingdom and his phony ministers. They are always busy as bees at their money-making schemes. As you have it in Second Peter 2:32,
they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their
judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
Dear saint, please be wary of religious promoters whose every effort is to make money. There are a lot of them around today. God will judge their crass, religious commercialism one day, as well as those who have built their lives upon it. Proverbs 11:4, says,
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death.
The only real riches worth having in this whole wide world are riches in Christ. Dr. McGee asks the question, Would it break your heart, like its breaking these fellows' hearts, if all of your material things went up in smoke? Or, is your treasure safe and sound in heaven with Christ? That is a great question. Jesus said,
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
Don’t let it be said of your life’s work what will be said of Babylon's someday ... namely, 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 and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What is like this great city?' 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.’
When Babylon is destroyed, all of its ministers of transportation will mourn. When Christ gets through with Babylon, there won't be anything left to ship. What a sight it will be when all the ship merchants are crying and mourning over Babylon in that day. To those fellows … it was all about profit.
Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you [NU changes holy apostles and prophets to saints and apostles] for God has avenged you on her! 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. 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. 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.’
The angel's words bring us to yet another great contrast between the realities of Heaven and the realities of Earth. While mourning for Babylon occupies the Earth-dwellers below, rejoicing will be the emotion of the day in Heaven. Have you noticed there seems to be a lot of that that goes on up there? When the call went forth to, Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles, I suspect that everyone in Heaven just started dancing! They had all suffered greatly at the hands of the Babylon system in their own day. Stephen was stoned to death by Babylon's forerunners (Acts 7); the Apostle James was put to the sword by her (Acts 12); tradition tells us that Peter was crucified upside down by her ... and all the rest of the apostles were put to death by her in one gruesome way or another. All the saints will join in this celebration. Saints like Jim Elliot, the twentieth century missionary who was speared to death by her in the jungles of South America. The list is endless. Heaven is really going to “rock” when Babylon finally gets her due!
What a graphic illustration John was provided when he saw the angel pick up a great millstone and cast it into the sea crying, Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore! In one fell swoop:
…her music will cease (verse 22).
…her greedy merchandising will come to a crashing halt (verse 22).
…her lights will literally be punched out (verse 23).
…her endless weddings will be no more (verse 23). Apparently, there will be an endless procession of weddings in the capital city of Babylon during Antichrist's reign. No doubt, they will come from all over the world to seek his blessing, much like those who travel to Rome today to be blessed by the Pope. But, in that day, they will be seeking to be married by the False Prophet so they can go home and brag about how they were married in Babylon by the big Poobah himself! Jesus spoke of these endless weddings as well, saying,
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Luke 17:26
And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.
The question arises here, Does she deserve this severe a judgment? Dr. McGee says, like searching the pockets of a dead murderer, the evidence of who Babylon really is … is discovered. And, it is found that her wicked influence dated all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Every murder of God’s prophets and saints is attributed to the Babylon system here. An amazing, and yet unfulfilled prophecy in this regard is found in Jeremiah 51:49-50. There, we read,
As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon the slain of all the earth shall fall. You who have escaped the sword, Get away! Do not stand still! Remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come to your mind.
Beloved, this matter concerning God's future dealing with Babylon is a done deal. Satan and his Antichrist will have their day, but it will be a brief one, and then will come their violent and devastating end. When the Lord Jesus Christ, the Judge of the whole earth, steps in ... Antichrist and his scurrilous Babylon will be a gonner!
This brings us to the end of this section. It has taken up the lion's share of the book ... all of chapters 4 through 18. This concludes THE VISION OF JESUS CHRIST IN JUDGMENT.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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