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Fall of Babylon (18:1-8)
The overthrow of human society in its worldwide opposition to God is announced as if it were the fall of the great and proud city of Babylon. The announcement, in the form of a funeral song, gives Christians a vivid picture of the world system in which they live. As they see the world as God sees it, they should want to avoid its dangers and live according to the principles of God’s kingdom.
Once the commercial centre of the world, the city is now ruined and deserted, inhabited only by unclean spirits and foul birds. Human organization and commercial activity that ignore God lead in the end to destruction and death. They are likened to unlawful sexual acts, since they are guided by selfish lust without any thought for God’s standards (18:1-3).
Christians, on the other hand, are guided by different values, ones that are based on their understanding of God. Their refusal to follow the ways of the ungodly may bring persecution and economic hardship (see 13:17), but at least it keeps them morally pure (4-5). In their proud self-satisfaction, the people of the world boast of their advanced civilization and impressive achievements. But their progress leads them only to assert a greater independence of God, and therefore will lead in the end to a greater punishment (6-8).
Reactions to Babylon’s fall (18:9-19:5)
Those who grew prosperous through their commerce with the city weep and mourn at its destruction. The rulers of the nations stand afar off, watching the destruction but doing nothing to help the city in its distress (9-10). Merchants and businessmen mourn for the burning city, not because they have any love for it, but because they have no more market for their goods. Like the rulers they are guided by motives that are entirely selfish. They are distressed only because of their loss of profits (11-16). Ship-owners and others who profit from international trade likewise mourn because their source of gain has suddenly been cut off (17-19).
Christians see the city differently. Because they stood firm for God and refused to follow the ways of the world, they rejoice that Babylon has been overthrown. For them the occasion is one of victory (20).
With the destruction of Babylon, sinful human society exists no more. All activities cease, whether connected with recreation, work, or the everyday affairs of life. Merchants and businessmen are especially condemned, since they are the ones who, through their greed, corrupted the city (21-23). But the main reason for the city’s destruction is that it attacked God’s people (24).
The scene then shifts to heaven, where there is much rejoicing and praise. God’s justice has been demonstrated in the fitting punishment of those who rebelled against his rule and persecuted his people (19:1-3). Although the Christians have triumphed, the one who has given them victory is God. He alone is the object of worship, whether offered by heavenly beings or his redeemed people (4-5).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Revelation 18". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent