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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 18

Keathley's Commentary on RevelationKeathley on Revelation

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Verses 1-24

Revelation 18:1-24 (See the Book Comments for the Introductory chapters and Appendices)

Lesson 27: Destruction of Commercial Babylon ( Rev 18:1-24 )


The Babylon of this chapter undoubtedly includes an actual city that will be rebuilt on the Euphrates and a politico - commercial system that becomes the means and basis of a new worldwide religious system by which the beast will be worshipped ( Rev 13:1-18 ). If you recall, the beast brings about his own worship by his control of commerce, or buying and selling.

The chief element of Babylon emphasized in this chapter is commerce on a worldwide scale, i.e., international or multinational organizations.

In chapter 17 the beast and his allies in politico - commercial Babylon destroy religious Babylon, or apostate Christendom. Today there are a multitude of worldwide organizations already devoted to the concept of antichrist and are also already speaking of the overthrow of the present religious systems including Judaism, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism. But by contrast in this chapter it is God who overthrows commercial Babylon.

The Announcement of Judgment ( Rev 18:1-3 )

1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. 2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality."

The announcement is made by another angel. Please note four things about this angel. First, he is "another" angel. "Another" is allos meaning another of the same kind as those angels that preceded him. This is not the Lord nor is there any reason to see this as the Lord since angels do have great power and often display great glory. Second, that "he comes down from heaven" points to the fact this judgment comes from God. Third, he has "great authority." "Authority" is exousia which means "liberty, or authority" and then "power to act." As an angel and messenger of God, he comes possessing supernatural auth-ority and power to execute judgment on behalf of God. Fourth, "the earth was illumined with his glory." Literally the Greek says "and the earth was made bright from or out of the source of his glory." Grammatically it may also mean "by his glory." The word "illumined" is the Greek pho„tizo„ , a causative verb meaning to "illuminate or make bright."


(1) God is absolute light, perfect holiness or righteousness and justice. In Him there can be no darkness ( 1Jn 1:5 ).

(2) The angel’s glory and splendor is a derived glory. He comes expressing God’s glory and holy wrath against sin.

(3) The earth is now under Satan and the beast which is the epitome of evil and darkness.

(4) The coming of the angel from heaven illumined with glory symbolizes what God is doing. In His holiness, God is making the world fit to live in by removing the prime source of evil and darkness, commercial Babylon.

In Rev 18:2 the fall of Babylon is repeated. He says "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great." This is done primarily for emphasis, but as mentioned before, it may also represent the fall of Babylon religiously ( Rev 17:1-18 ) and then commer-cially ( Rev 18:1-24 ).

In the second part of Rev 18:2 we are told that Babylon is demonic to the core. This is stressed in three statements: (1) "The dwelling place of demons" (the Greek stresses this as a permanent place). (2) "A prison of every unclean spirit" (cf. Ephesians 2:2 ; 1Jn 4:6 where demons are called spirits), (3) "and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird." This third description is probably an allusion to Mat 13:31-32 where birds may refer to demonic leaders operating in the apostate church.


In Rev 18:2 we get a clear picture of the demonic source, power, and con-trol of this system as it rises up in the last days. The worldwide movement and conspiracy of the last days will involve a multitude of organizations, the super rich in many countries, but it will not be the product of mere human ingenuity, but of satanic agency.

In Revelation 18:3 a specific charge is made against Babylon concerning her spiritual prostitution and intoxicating activity. But note that Rev 18:3 is connected with Rev 18:2 by the word "for" which shows the connection be-tween the demonic activity (the cause) and the charges of Revelation 18:3 (the results).

First, we are told all the nations are involved. This is worldwide. Every nation has turned away from God for the almighty dollar and the luxuries it can buy--peace and affluence at any price.

"Have drunk" is a perfect tense which focuses our attention on the abiding results of Babylon’s evil influence, specifically, her spiritual, moral, political and national stupor. The world is already drunk and getting more so every day on materialism and the commercial mania of the times. The Tribulation will be ab-solutely unbelievable.

"Of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" is a reference to the world ideol-ogies of Babylon, which will prostitute the divine institutions God has establish for man’s protection like: volition, freedom, marriage and the family, and nationalism. Some of these intoxicant agents are humanism, the unisex idea promoted so strongly even today by the ERA movement (strongly represented by the National Organization for Women), the New Age movement, internationalism, commercialism, multinational corporations, demon worship, gross immorality, and idolatry (cf. Revelation 9:20-21 ; Revelation 13:5-6 ; Rev 13:16-17 ).

The last half of the verse speaks of both the kings of the earth and the merchants. "Merchants" is the Greek emporos , "trader, merchant." Emporia means "commerce, business, trade." An emporos is a person engaged in commerce. Behind this sell out by the kings are the super rich merchants, the billion-aires, and great corporations working for world control. Money is king. It controls kings, people, and nations.

We are told "the merchants…have become rich by the wealth of her (commercial Babylon’s) sensuality." "Wealth" is the Greek dunamis , a noun which means "power, strength, ability." Here it refers to the power and strength of her sensuality that controls the world of mankind.

"Sensuality" is the Greek stre„nos , a word meaning "arrogant or unrestrained luxury." Here is an important lesson. Commercial Babylon, with its worship of money and power, will promote and push unrestrained luxury, sensuality, and pleasure designed to develop an all-consuming power over the masses via their uncontrolled lust patterns. Babylon will promote the philosophy that happiness, significance, security, and fulfillment are attained by the abundance of the things people possess, in travel and luxury, in comfort and pleasure, etc. Frankly, this sounds exactly like America and much of the world today.

In The Aquarian Conspiracy the author says in essence, "folks we are getting ready to take over, but don’t worry, you’ll love it." The logo on the cover is 666. In other words the beast is going to provide peace, affluence, prosperity, luxury, etc., so everyone is going to love it.

Note the following concerning the commercialism of the world:

(1) It is man made though satanically inspired. Clearly, it is not of God because it has an independent and arrogant spirit that seeks its security and happiness apart from God. It is not because the details of life and its luxuries are wrong, but because they are allowed to usurp God’s place in the hearts of men (Revelation 18:7 ; 1 Timothy 6:5-11 ; 1 Timothy 6:17-19 ; Luk 12:15 ).

(2) Israel’s kings were warned against multiplying horses, gold, and silver through commerce with Egypt because it resulted in in-dependence and preoccupation with luxury rather than with the Lord ( Deu 17:16-17 ).

(3) Special judgment was pronounced on Tyre, and one of the reasons was that she was the great commercial center of the day and corrupted other na-tions through her commercialism as well as herself (Ezekiel 26:1-21 ; Ezekiel 27:1-36 ; Ezekiel 28:1-26 , especially 27). Trade with Tyre was the source of Solomon’s extravagance and preoccupation with the details of life (apes, peacocks, and stock piles of silver, gold and a six - stepped throne) (1 Kings 10:19 f).

(4) Zec 14:21 closes his prophecy concerning the millennium and says "in that day there shall be no more a Canaanite." This was a nickname for merchants. There will be business in the millennium which is legi-timate but not the spirit of commercialism. International commerce tries to unify humanity through internationalism and promotes a spirit of self--confidence, independence, and rebellion against God as it existed in Babel in the time of Nimrod. Rev-elation 18:5, "for her sins have piled up as high as heaven" seems to be a clear reference to the tower and the spirit of Babylon. Like the early tower of Babel, Babylon’s commercial and political sins of independence and arrogance have reached up into heaven in man’s attempt to be like God. Babylon’s iniquities will have become full.

(5) The spirit of commercialism causes cities to become swollen with people which increases crime, violence, negative volition, and ironically, poverty.

(6) The spirit of commercialism begets universal covetousness, which is a form of idolatry, and is in contrast to the principle of 1 Timothy 6:5-19 . Business, trade, making the almighty dollar, etc., becomes more important than God (Isaiah 2:5-7 ; Hosea 12:1 ; Hosea 12:7-8 ; Jam 4:13 ).

(7) The ultimate power and wickedness of commercialism is seen in the mark of the beast of Rev 13:1-18 by which he attempts to control the world through manipulation and slavery.

(8) By its basic aims and nature, the spirit of commercialism blots out the divine institutions of volition or human freedom, marriage, family, country, and the love, adoration and dependence upon God through living in His Word as God’s servants and people.

A good illustration of this move against God’s divine institutions such as the family is a comment made by a radical feminist who wrote, "Childrearing to the extent to which it is necessary is the responsibility of all. Children are part of society but they should not be possessed by anyone…marriage and the family must be eliminated." [Note: Sheila Cronan, Radical Feminism, pp. 375-376.]

The Appeal for Separation ( Rev 18:4-8 )

4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 "Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. 7 "To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’8 "For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.

As John was undoubtedly thinking on the announcement ofRevelation 18:1-3; Revelation 18:1-3 , another voice is heard from heaven calling believers to separation from Babylon both as a city and as a materialistic and godless system of commercialism.

The Appeal ( Rev 18:4 )

"Another" is allos which implies this is another angelic being acting as God’s messenger with God’s Word to believers. Ryrie points out:

In its primary interpretation this appeal will be addressed to those believers who will be living in the Tribulation days and who like believers in every age will be tempted to compromise. In its appli-cation it is a relevant call to believers in every day to avoid compromise with Satan’s world system in its every form--religious and commercial. SeeGenesis 19:12-14; Genesis 19:12-14 ; Numbers 16:23-26 ; Isa 48:20 ; 2Co 6:14-17 ; 1 Jn 1:15-17 ). [Note: Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation, Moody Press: Chicago, 1968, p. 106.]

"Come out of her my people." "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 separation from materialism as a way of life and as a source of security, significance, and happiness.

"So that" points to the purpose and reason for separation which is two-fold:

(1) "So that you may not participate in her sins." "Participate" is the verb, sunkoino„neo„ , "to fellowship with, partake, be connected with," or even, "be a partner with." The simple noun form, koino„nos , is used in Luk 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, des-truction of the divine institutions, increase in crime, violence, and the 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. Walvoord writes:

Seiss explains the phrase "come out of her," citing Jer 50:4-9 where the children of Israel are urged to "remove out of the midst of Babylon" ( Jer 50:8 ), and the command "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul" ( Jer 51:6 ). (Joseph A. Seiss, The Apocalypse , p. 408). Alford compares the command to come out of Babylon to the warning to Lot to leave Sodom ( Gen 10:15-22 ) (Henry Alford, The Greek New Testament , IV, p. 715). The purpose of leaving Babylon is twofold: first, by separation from her they will not partake of her sin, and second, they will not have her plagues inflicted on them. The reference to plagues refers to the vials of chapter 16, especially the seventh vial which falls upon Babylon itself ( Rev 16:17-21 ). This is further evidence that the event of chapter 18 is subsequent to the seventh vial and therefore in contrast to the destruction of the harlot in chapter 17. [Note: John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press: Chicago, 1966, p. 260.]

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 Basis of the Appeal ( Rev 18:5-8 )

This appeal is substantiated upon three spiritual laws or principles:

(1) The Law of Remembrance ( Rev 18:5 ). God’s actions in history with Babylon teach us this system cannot escape--judgment must come. The principle is God does not ignore or forget 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 ( Gen 11:4 ); this last Babylon conspiracy piles up her sins to heaven in defiance of God and God remembers. Judgment is inevitable and so believers must flee.

(2) The Law of Retribution ( Rev 18:6 ). 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 20:1-15 .

(3) The Law of Retaliation ( Rev 18:7-8 ). 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.

"I set" is a present tense of a continuous condition. Both she and her leaders think nothing can upset this mighty system.

"A queen" is one who is very powerful, self sufficient and in need of nothing, i.e., absolutely sovereign.

"And am not a widow and will (thus) see no mourning." A widow is one who mourns because of a loss. She has illicit love affairs with all the kings so how can she become a widow? They are all madly in love with her, but not really. Why? Because she is only a harlot who sells herself. They love her not for herself but for what they can get out of her.

"For this reason," i.e., because of her arrogance, her spirit of independence and false security, her judgment comes in one day (i.e., suddenly). This stresses the fallacy of all false security. Remember therefore, the following principles (cf. Luk 12:16-20 ; 1Ti 6:6-19 ):

(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 be-lievers.

(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 Isa 55:1-13 and note especially Rev 18:1-2 ).

The Anguish of the Kings ( Rev 18:9-10 )

9 "And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’

The kings here refer to a wider group of kings than the ten nation con-federation of Revelation 17:12-16 . This reaches out to all the other kings of the earth who are caught up in the web of the commercialism of the day. They all mourn because of the destruction of Babylon. Why? Because her commercialism means the control of the people and luxury in their courts, all of which is now lost.

The acts of immorality refers to their spiritual and political apostasy which rejects the divine standards of God and which accepts instead the material-ism of commercial Babylon as well as its humanism.

"Will weep and lament over her." By word order, this phrase is very emphatic in the Greek. Literally it says "and they shall weep and lament over her, the kings…" "Weep" and "lament" both mean "to cry aloud vocally." The point is, when they see the object of their trust and the source of their happiness go up in smoke, they come unglued. The details of life just can’t give happiness!

"When they see the smoke of her burning." The time of this burning is the bowl or vial judgment at the end of the Tribulation, very close to the return of Jesus Christ.

"Standing at a distance because of fear…" It appears they will hear of her destruction and either come to see or view the shouldering remains by TV or perhaps they will be assembled in this area for some international conference when this judgment occurs.

"Woe, Woe." This word, even in our language, has a mournful sound, but this is especially true in Greek ( ouai ). Ouai is an onomatopoetic term, the "formation or use of words such as buzz or murmur that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to." [Note: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.]

The emphatic repetition of ouai portrays the hopeless wailing of a Christ rejecting world. Dr. Walvoord writes: "How sad is the hour of judgment when it is too late for mercy." [Note: Walvoord, p. 263.] They stand afar in fear because they are afraid of being a part of it, but very shortly there will be no escape, for they will be gathered together with their armies in Palestine against the Lord who will slay them ( Rev 19:13 ).

"The great city, Babylon, the strong city." This, as we have seen, refers to the rebuilt city of Babylon on the Euphrates which literally fulfills Old Testament Scripture as well as this passage. The burning of the city is symbolical of the fall of the whole powerful commercial system. Rebuilt Babylon will be its control center. When the kings see its fall, they know it means the fall of the whole system and in this they are amazed because of its great strength, worldwide rule, and mighty accomplishments.

But there is only one who is Mighty and Great, and that is the Lord!!! This warns us to never put our trust in what man can build, for no matter how great, God can destroy it in less than an hour ( Rev 18:10 b, cf. Revelation 18:8 ; Rev 18:17 ).

The Anguish of the Merchants and Mariners of the Earth ( Rev 18:11-19 )

11 "And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more; 12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, 13 and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. 14 "And the fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them. 15 "The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 16 saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; 17 for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, 18 and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’ 19 "And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’

The economic character and commercialism of Babylon with its materialistic emphasis on consumerism is clearly seen from this passage by the reference to "merchants who weep" and by the reference to the luxury items that are mentioned. Their grief is occasioned by the loss of their trade and from the luxury items that their trade provided, but not by their love for Babylon. The extreme luxury of their merchandise is itemized in Revelation 18:12-13 . Nearly 30 items are listed and it is a story of luxury, indulgence, and extravagance.

(1) Jewelry items --precious stones and costly metals.

(2) Apparel --fine fabrics used in their clothing composed of linen and silk in luxurious colors of purple and scarlet. (In ancient times these were the colors and fabrics of the extremely wealthy.)

(3) Luxurious furnishings --furniture made of "citron" ( thuinos ) a costly and frag-rant scented wood comparable to cyprus or cedar and used only in ex-pensive furniture. Other expensive materials were ivory, brass, iron, and marble.

(4) Perfumes and Spices --Cinnamon, spice, incense, perfume and frankincense. Again these were things which could only be afforded by the ultra--wealthy.

(5) Food stuffs --Wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep.

(6) Transportation items --horses, chariots (comparable to our planes, autos, boats, motorcycles, etc.).

(7) Slaves --"slaves and human lives," literally the Greek has, "body and souls of men," an idiom for a person who was owned body and soul.

Rev 18:14 gives us a striking spiritual description of these details of life: they are described as "the fruit of the desires or lusts of the soul." The soul here may well refer to the sinful nature within the soul which always seeks to dominate the life. In other words, this heaping up of the details of life is from the sin nature which seeks its happiness apart from God.

Revelation 18:14 b emphasizes the fleeting and temporary nature of these details. "Will no longer find them" is somewhat emphatic by the word order used here. Literally the text reads, "no longer by any means, them (the details listed) will they find."

Rev 18:15-19 calls our attention to the great unhappiness that comes when men put their trust in things or seek their happiness in the details of life.

As mentioned, the merchants mourn not because they love the city, but because their wealth which is derived from the city and its system is now lost. This is a commentary on the world today. When the people of this nation fail to live by faith and the principles of God’s Word, they will also fail to love their nation and the biblical principles upon which this nation was founded. When that happens, they will love America only for what they can get out of it; truly, this is a commentary on the America today. So we are seeing the decay of a nation.

The Lord warned against such coveting of wealth in Mat 6:19-21 where the transitory wealth and glory of this world is set in contrast to the true riches of faith and blessings that men have in Christ (cf.1 Timothy 6:11; 1 Timothy 6:11 ; 1Ti 6:19 )

The Acclaim of Heaven Over the Fall of Babylon ( Rev 18:20-24 )

20 "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her." 21 And a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, "Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer. 22 "And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; 23 and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. 24 "And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth."

In these verses we see a tremendous contrast and one that should strike a note of warning and alarm as we conduct our lives in a world that is already so dominated by the mental attitude of commercial Babylon. This mental attitude and control is going to increase, its enticements and pulls will get worse. We definitely need the perspective of these verses ( Rev 18:20-24 ) along with obedience toRevelation 18:4; Revelation 18:4 .

The world weeps over the destruction of Babylon and the loss of its material luxuries. For the worldling, this is all he has; he thinks of life as consisting not only in the abundance of the details of life but also in possessing the luxuries of those details. By contrast, the believer must come out of the system, that is, he must not be controlled by Satan’s system, or by his own lust patterns. We can use the world, enjoy the blessings God gives, but God forbid that such things become our source of security and happiness. Further, the believer must rejoice over the prospect of the fall of commercial Babylon because of what this means to God and to all mankind in the coming kingdom with God’s rule on earth.

So the kings, the merchants, and the mariners wail over the passing of Babylon, but heaven and its people rejoice and find strength over the prospect of its fall.

Rev 18:20-24 divide up into four sections:

(1) The command to rejoice (Revelation 18:20 , the divine viewpoint).

(2) The portrayal of Babylon’s fall ( Rev 18:21 ).

(3) The extent and nature of Babylon’s fall (Revelation 18:22-23 a).

(4) The reason or justification for Babylon’s fall (Revelation 18:23-24; Revelation 18:23-24Revelation 18:23-24; Revelation 18:23-24 ).

The Command to Rejoice Over Babylon’s Fall ( Rev 18:20 )

"Rejoice" is a command. God’s people are to find joy in the prospects of Babylon’s overthrow and in the actual occurrence when it is brought to pass at the end of the Tribulation. The verb is euphraino„ and means "to cheer, gladden," but in the passive voice as it is here, it means "be happy, rejoice, make merry." The passive voice means "allow yourself to receive happiness, joy, from the truth of God’s Word about Babylon and its destruction." This is what God’s Word should do for the believer when it is known and believed.

"O heaven" represents the broad address to the occupants in heaven--both angels and men. "You saints and apostles and prophets" narrows the address. "Saints," literally "set apart ones," refers to all believers who, as those set apart positionally and experientially, are to have such a response to Babylon’s fall. The "apostles and prophets" refer to those of the early church period, many of whom lost their lives to the Babylonian system.

But God’s commands are never without reason. So we read next "because God has pronounced judgment for you." The idea is that God has judged your case against her and executed from her a just penalty. Babylon has been the cause of much misery and pain for the people of God, but they can rejoice because God has not forgotten His people nor Babylon’s evil.

The Portrayal of Babylon’s Fall ( Rev 18:21 )

In his vision, John sees a mighty angel throw a stone, one like a great millstone, into the sea. This picture is designed to portray the downfall of the great city and its system as:

(1) Sudden. It will be sudden as when a stone falls into the sea, suddenly, with a splash.

(2) Violent, Catastrophic. Such a great stone (like a meteor) would cause tidal waves which move across land destroying everything in their path. The destruction of Babylon leads to the destruction of the rest of its system.

(3) Complete, Total. Like a stone which is cast into the sea and sinks out of sight, so the destruction of Babylon will be so complete that it will be found no more, never to rise again ( Jer 51:61-64 ). This is the primary emphasis. Babylon will be found no more, not in any form. This is stressed seven times in chapter 18. Remember that seven is used over and over to stress the concept of completeness. Note this emphasis in the following verses:Revelation 18:14; Revelation 18:14 (once), Revelation 18:21 (once), Revelation 18:22 (three times), and Revelation 18:23 (twice). Further, in each case the negative "no" or "not" in the Greek text is the very emphatic ou me„ , a double negative that means "by no means."

The Extent and Nature of Babylon’s Fall (Revelation 18:22-23 a)

Revelation 18:22-23 a enlarge on the extent of the cessation of Babylon and her activity which characterizes her life and luxurious living.

(1) No more music and entertainers (Revelation 18:22 a). The commercial and business world often seeks escape in the jive and jazz, the rock and roll of its music world in the various places of night entertainment. Consider the hotels, motels, bars, lounges, and other establishments in every city where music is provided for the commercial world and its participants.

(2) No more craftsmen. The tools of the craftsmen who furnished the items of luxury will suddenly be as silent as a tomb. This means that the wheels of industry and the pens which write the orders for merchandise will come to a halt.

(3) No more grinding of grain. The millstones which grind the grain for flour will also stop. The food supply, which at that point is already in short supply, will now disappear altogether.

(4) The lights will go out. The lamp which lights the home and business will be put permanently out. Darkness, symbolizing the spiritual state of the world and the system of the beast, will now engulf everything. How awe-some this experience will be--total blackness.

(5) The merry voices of bride and bridegroom and their wedding parties will cease. From this reference it appears that Babylon will become a virtual Riviera or Niagara Falls, famous for weddings and honeymooners, gambling, and gay times. But it will also be much like Reno, Nevada. Marriage will mean little more than a license for prostitution, a temporary contract. As Christ prophesied, men and women will be marrying and remarrying without any real concern for marriage as a divine institution of God. When marriage is entered into it will be a mere convenience if they bother to marry at all ( Mat 24:38 ). Life during the Tribulation will go on as usual in spite of its judgments, which shows just how callused man will become and how much he will be enslaved in the luxuries and pleasures of the world. But then, suddenly it is all over ( 2Pe 3:3-11 ).

The Reason or Justification for Babylon’s Fall ( Rev 18:23-24 )

Three reasons are now given for Babylon’s fall, and the reasons (especially the first) are both instructive and exhortative. They provide a commentary on the world today.

"For your (the commercial system of Babylon) merchants were the great men of the earth." Wow! How this viewpoint has infiltrated the church of Jesus Christ ( Jam 2:1-9 ). The expression "great men" is the Greek word megistanes (plural), which means "the chief, noble, the magnates of society." These are the men who are looked up to, worshipped, honored, adored, and presented to everyone as the ultimate. They have power in society; they control the destinies of men, and live in the super luxury which everyone is supposed to want and that people think will give them happiness.

Note that it is because of this viewpoint that judgment comes. This viewpoint is a perversion and a prostitution of divine values and priorities ( 1Co 1:26-29 ). People worship and long for wealth and luxury and thereby compromise principles and priorities to play the harlot with the merchants of Babylon, the corporation heads of the system of Babylon. Money and luxury is god, and people with money are the one’s who become the chief men of society. Character, righteousness, integrity mean nothing.

"Because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery." The word "sor-cery" is singular and looks at a whole program of sorcery or deception, a world conspiracy by the merchants or super rich magnates in control of the commercial system of Babylon, the multinational corporation heads.

The Greek word for sorcery is pharmakeia , "the use of medicine, drugs or potions as in casting spells," and metaphorically, "to deceive and disorient." The word was used of poisoning and witchcraft, or trafficking in the demonic. This states in effect that the Babylonian system will use whatever method it can to poison the minds of men and to deceive them--demonism, drugs, and various forms of propaganda will be the norm.

"And in her was found the blood of the prophets…" The third and final reason is the murder and martyrdom of the people of God over the centuries of time. "Blood" is plural which stresses the many deaths and the magnitude of Babylon’s crimes against the people of God.

In the first reason we have a perversion of values portraying the moral degeneracy of the world. In the second reason we have the cause--sorcery, the demonic. In the third reason we have what amounts to a further effect of poisoned minds--the murder of the saints.

Joyless, dark, and silent, Babylon stands out as a monument to the utmost vengeance of God. Wickedness had sat enthroned in the midst of that professedly bearing the Name of Christ; but at last, when she had filled to the full her cup of iniquity, God rises in His fierce anger, His indignation burns, and Babylon falls to rise no more. Her destruction is irremediable. The chapter closes with a reiteration of the bloody character of the system. [Note: Walter Scott, Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Fleming H. Revel: Westwood, NJ, p. 373.]

There is an obvious parallel in the rise and fall of Babylon in its varied forms in Scripture. As introduced inGenesis 11:1-9; Genesis 11:1-9 , Babylon, historically symbolized by the tower reaching to heaven, proposed to maintain the union of the world through a common worship and a common tongue. God defeated this purpose by confusing the language and scattering the people. Babylon, ecclesiastically symbolized by the woman inRevelation 17:1-18; Revelation 17:1-18 , proposes a common worship and a common religion through uniting in a world church. This is destroyed by the beast in Rev 17:16 who thus fulfills the will of God ( Rev 17:17 ). Babylon, politically symbolized by the great city ofRevelation 18:1-24; Revelation 18:1-24 , attempts to achieve its domination of the world by a world common market and a world government. These are destroyed by Christ at His second coming ( Rev 19:11-12 ). The triumph of God is therefore witnessed historically in the scattering of the people and the unfinished tower of Gen 11:1-32 and prophetically in the destruction of the world church by the killing of the harlot of Rev 17:1-18 and in the destruction of the city ofRevelation 18:1-24; Revelation 18:1-24 . With the graphic description of the fall of Babylon contained inRevelation 17:1-18; Revelation 17:1-18 ; Revelation 18:1-24 , the way is cleared for the presentation of the major theme of the book of Revelation, the second coming of Christ and the establishment of His glorious kingdom. [Note: Walvoord, p. 267.]

Bibliographical Information
Keathley, J. Hampton. "Commentary on Revelation 18". "Keathley's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hkr/revelation-18.html.
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