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Come Out of Her, My People
Revelation 18:1. After the presentation of Babylon as a woman (harlot) and the judgment over her, Babylon is presented in this chapter as a city and we also see the judgment over it. Babylon is presented as a religious system under the symbol of a woman. The aspect of ‘harlot’ connects her unfaithfulness and apostasy from God to that. Under the symbol of a city Babylon is presented as a political, cultural and economic power and that’s what this chapter deals with.
With the words “after these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven” a new period starts (“after these things”) with thereby the announcement of a new judgment by “another angel”. The magnificence of his appearance is reinforced by the addition “having great authority”. By the way, it seems that it is not just an angel. It is possible that this angel is a hidden form of appearance of the Lord Jesus, because of the phenomena that accompany this angel (cf. Revelation 8:3 – Priest; Revelation 10:1 – King; here – Judge). Of which other being could it be said that his glory illuminated the earth (cf. Ezekiel 43:2)?
Revelation 18:2. This verse describes the condition of Babylon after the events of chapter 17 (Revelation 17:16), when Babylon as a false church is robbed from her religious power and both beasts are in charge of the ‘Christian’ western world. The angel speaks with a powerful voice about the fall of Babylon. Everyone should know. With a repeated “fallen” the angel tells to the world that the great, magnificent Babylon is no longer standing, but has fallen off her pedestal.
The word ‘fallen’ indicates a sudden and instant fall and that it is once and for all (cf. Isaiah 21:9). She will never rise again. How great and rich she may have been, she has fallen. Nothing could have prevented or stopped her from falling.
The perfect tense of the word ‘fallen’ shows the absolute assurance of the prophecy. The moment that John is watching this, there is nothing visible yet of a fall of Babylon. But to God the future is now, or like here, already happened, so past tense.
“Bird” here is called, like it happens more often, in an unfavorable sense (Matthew 13:32; Isaiah 34:11-Ezra :; Jeremiah 5:27; Daniel 4:12). The word for “dwelling place” that is used here, appears only in Ephesians 2 once more where it refers to the dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). Here it concerns the dwelling place of the spirit of the enemy of God. Besides a dwelling place it is also “a prison”. If the demons and all kinds of uncleanness have a dwelling place there, this system must be thoroughly evil. How evil it is, is better shown in the next verse.
Revelation 18:3. There is, as you have seen before, not only mention of religious fornication, but there is also an economic connection with the world. Babylon is not only a false religious system, but it is also a great politic and economic power in the world. That’s what has tempted the nations to drink from the twinkling cup of wine that she offered. The wine is brought here in relation with “passion” and “immorality”. It is the cunning deception of the harlot who pretends that trading with her delivers benefit and joy, while in reality she has wicked intentions.
The nations have not seen through her treacherous purpose and have eagerly accepted the trade that she offered. In that way the leaders of the nations have related themselves with her in an unacceptable way. She did not disguise her nature of harlot, but the merchants have eagerly related themselves with her. A great power came out of her luxury. The merchants of the world have seen the big money in her and wanted to benefit from that as much as they possibly could.
Babylon (or Rome) has gained her luxury for a great part by offering for sale the redemption of the soul. Many billions have been paid to the roman-catholic church by people who believed that they could buy their beloved ones into heaven. Dave Hunt writes in his book ‘A woman Rides the Beast’ besides such shameful distortions of the gospel that has deceived many hundreds of millions of people, about a lot more of ignominies. He informs us about corrupt financial transactions, money laundering from drug trafficking, trafficking with counterfeit securities and cooperation with the mafia (documented in police reports) that for a long period of time have received their orders across the globe from the Vatican.
Also the value of the art treasures that are in the possession of Rome, are not to be estimated. The roman-catholic church is by far the richest institution of the world. And then to think that Christ and His disciples were living in poverty. Christ has told His disciples not to lay up for themselves treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19). The roman-catholic church does not care about that, but it has laid up for itself a fullness of wealth which is unmatchable and over which the pope has the highest management and the greatest access.
Revelation 18:4. This ungodly system which is corrupted to the very core can in no way be a dwelling place of God’s people. How kindly the pope or his subordinates may speak, those are voices from the bottomless pit. To God’s people there comes a voice from heaven that appeals to come out of this system. It is not possible to stay there without sharing her sins. Staying there also means sharing in the plagues that will strike her. It is the last appeal in the Scripture to come out of that what will soon be judged, because the people have not given the Christ of the Scriptures His true place. The reason for coming out of her is to be a pure bride for the Lord.
Here every believer is reminded of the necessity to separate himself from every religious system that maintains an impure relationship with the ungodly world. Literally the order to come out had come in the past to Judah, that was in exile in Babel (Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11; Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6Jeremiah 51:9). Separation from the evil has been necessary for the believers at all times and that will remain so, also after the rapture of the church, like here. For us it is about separation in a spiritual sense and specifically in three relations. We are called to separate ourselves from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17), from Judaism that rejects Christ (Hebrews 13:13) and from the false Christians (2 Timothy 2:19-Song of Solomon :).
In the time wherein the fall of Babylon will take place, the church will have already be taken up to heaven. That does not mean that there will be no believers of the false church that will still exist. God’s people who are called here to come out of her, are believers whom have converted after the rapture of the church by the absolute power of God’s Spirit. But staying there is absolutely not possible. God cannot be there and He will surely judge the system. Even though a person may possibly have no part in the prevailing evil in that system, he still defiles himself by staying there. That happens by staying in such a system, because it means contributing to maintaining and in that way promoting the evil (2 John 1:11).
Revelation 18:5. The plagues that will strike the Vatican are so rightly deserved that it may be considered a miracle that God has tolerated it that long. But God judges only when the measure of unrighteousness has been completed (cf. Genesis 15:16). In the case of the Vatican, with all her treasures obtained by shady practices, the judgment will come when her sins “have piled up as high as heaven”. ‘Have piled up’ literally means ‘glued together or cemented together like bricks in a building’. God remembers her iniquities when her sins have reached that height and that gravity. That does not mean that God has forgotten them for a while, but it means that He will take action.
Revelation 18:6. The double measure of avenge is in accordance with her own double practice. Her works were characterized by a horrible wickedness. Her double practice includes that she pretended to be righteous and faithful, but she was unrighteous and unfaithful. She dissembled in all areas. Her cup which she offered was therefore a “cup which she has mixed”. She mixed the truth with lies, benefit with greed. She presented heaven but she made it to be a financial source of profit. It is exactly this mixture that makes her to be hated by God. God hates every sin, but He mostly hates the sins that were committed under the appearance of Godliness.
Revelation 18:7. With all her charms and appeals to the world to treat one another peacefully, she has only been seeking to glorify herself. Whatever she has preached of the truth, its purpose was not the glorification of God but the glorification of herself. When the pope writes a book about Jesus, a book that is praised by theologians, even by orthodox theologians, it is a trick of satan. It strengthens the position of the pope even more.
He may theologically write many right things about Jesus, but if he does not condemn his position and the system that he represents, he has absolutely not written the whole truth of God about Jesus. He remains to go on with his luxurious life. If he stays there, he will receive the plagues and will share in the torment and mourning that will strike the Vatican. At the moment every thought of mourning is strange to him. After all he expects to possess the world domination. In his heart he holds on to his position of government. He also holds on to his claim that the roman-catholic church is the bride of Christ. And what to say about the arrogance that he is called ‘substitute of Christ and shepherd over the whole church’.
Revelation 18:8. “In one day her plagues will come”, fast and inevitable. The ten kings will deliver her a devastating blow in full force, for they are used by God for this judgment, as you have seen at the end of the previous chapter. Nothing could soften the judgment that strikes her. It will be merciless, without compassion. She has to do with the Ruler of the universe, with the almighty God under Whose avenging hand all her appearances of glory will turn into “pestilence and mourning and famine”. She gave the impression that she could give life, happiness and saturation in exchange for money and goods. Now she receives what she has done to numerous defenseless victims. She has fallen through the mighty Lord and God against Whom every thought of resistance is plainly ridiculous.
In His glory and excellence He throws this widow down, whereby He uses the means which He in His sovereignty chooses for that purpose as the most suitable. Through the use of this means, namely the ten kings, the plagues come over her in the most horrible way. She had never expected that the beast on which she was riding, would turn itself against her. But the political, economic and cultural power of Babylon will be judged in a way according to God’s will. Therefore it is a definite judgment. She will “be burned up with fire”. There will be nothing left of her on earth than her ashes. It will be impossible for her to rise up again from the ashes, for her eternal fate is the eternal fire in which she will end up and which will rule over her forever.
Revelation 18:9. The ten kings that were ruled by Rome, but which turned against her and through whom God judged her, are not the only kings. There are also “kings of the earth” who have particularly profited from her. They have had intimate relationships with her and swam in the luxury that it delivered them. Due to the judgment over Babylon this disappears completely. That’s what makes them very mournful. It is not a mourning because of what happened to her, but because of what they have lost by it. The kings see the judgment, but they have no compassion with her. Their selfishness is the cause of the tears over their cheeks and of their lamentation. When they “see the smoke of her burning”, they realize that it is definitely the end.
Revelation 18:10. The kings do not try to help her, but they remain at a distance. Besides the selfish sorrow there is also fear, for they notice that the city is being tormented. They stay away from her. They rather stand “at a distance” and see what is left of Babylon. In that way they see that nothing is left of that great, mighty, economic stronghold. The fierceness, the speed and the suddenness of the judgment that has struck her, makes clear to them that a greater power is at work.
Now read Revelation 18:1-10 again.
Revelation: Why is it necessary to separate from evil?
The Wealth of Babylon Destroyed
Revelation 18:11. The economic world has become dependent on her in such a way that all prosperity disappears together with her. From all over the earth merchants have traded with her. “Merchants of the earth” may include top executives of international companies. They owe their riches also to their merchandize with the Vatican.
Revelation 18:12-1 Chronicles :. The fabulous riches of the Vatican have been gained through a fabulous extent of merchandize. A summary of twenty eight kinds of merchandize follows that are roughly to be divided in seven market areas:
1. mineral resources as a basis of all securities = the market for investments;
2. fine clothing materials = the textile market;
3. precious objects of wood, metal and stone = the (luxurious) housing market;
4. spices and incenses = the market of luxurious goods;
5. drinks and food = the food market;
6. means of transport = the transport market
7. bodies and souls of men = the labor market.
In the summary “slaves and human lives” are mentioned the last. That is typical for the value that men had in the eyes of Rome. They were considered to be less than all previous merchandize. With the merchandize in “human lives” we may think of the selling of indulgences.
Revelation 18:14. Of Rome itself there is nothing left, but also of any other thing of hers nothing is left. Everything the soul was seeking (“the fruit you long for”) has departed from her. She has lost control over it, she cannot grasp it anymore, it has gone from her. She has also lost everything in which her eyes found pleasure (“all things that were luxurious and splendid”), she does not see it anymore. Every try, if there possibly was one actually, to bring it back, will be in vain (“[men] will no longer find them”). It has all been evaporated, vanished, not to be gathered anymore.
Everything she had longed for and what she has enjoyed has been taken away from her. She definitely has lost everything. This is what happens with all riches of a person who uses these riches for his own pleasure and honor. We may think of private aircrafts, luxurious yachts, large villas, expensive cars.
Revelation 18:15. With “the merchants” we may think of the directors and supervisory boards of the multinationals that had the monopoly “of these things”. The reaction of these people is just like that of the kings (Revelation 18:9). Even their sorrow (“weeping and mourning”) is purely selfish (Revelation 18:10). The judgment over Babylon causes fear. They do not dare to approach her anymore, because they realize that it is not about just a natural disaster, but about an intervention from above.
Revelation 18:16. The merchants cry out a double “woe”, because they absolutely have not expected it. It was after all “the great city”. They thought that nothing could go wrong with it. She survived every economic recession. Her supplies seemed inexhaustible. The city was not only great and mighty, she was also attractive. Her total appearance was glamorous. Now everything has turned into ashes. All of a sudden everything has disappeared, the riches have made themselves wings (Proverbs 23:5) and those who have profited from it are the losers.
They are amazed that everything happened that fast. There had been no time to make a plan for help first. Unlike the judgment over the harlot, which happens in stages (Revelation 17:16), the judgment over the city happens at once. The merchants are very sorry that the great city has been destroyed, but only because of the downfall of “such great wealth”.
Revelation 18:17. There are still other categories that were struck by the downfall of the city. Not only the merchants, but also all transportation companies of the materials of the city are watching their profit to be disappearing. The consequences of God’s judgment over the city will be noticed to the ends of the earth.
Revelation 18:18. Despite the fact that these merchants see the result of the judgment, they cry out their uncovered admiration for the city (cf. Ezekiel 27:32). The profits that this city has brought them are not to be compared with any other city. Harbors like Rotterdam and New York are in the shadow of the Vatican as an economic power center.
Revelation 18:19. Out of an old habit they express their desperation by throwing dust on their heads (Job 2:12; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 27:30). The symbolic meaning of dust is death. And that is indeed the only thing that has left for them. The cause of their mourning does not go further than mourning about the missing of profit and riches. They speak about “her wealth”, which means that this city had the most precious things that the world may harbor. They are also amazed about the rapid and radical judgment that has struck the city.
From the mourning the great power becomes apparent of this degenerated Christian system in the present world. Kings (Revelation 18:9), merchants (Revelation 18:11) and sailors (Revelation 18:17) from all over the world have had relations with her.
Revelation 18:20. It is not said who is talking here. It is likely that Christ Himself is making this appeal to burst out into joy. In contrast to the mourning about the destruction of the city by those who have profited from it, is the joy of those who have suffered because of it. They see that God has done justice. The exercise of justice is God’s business and not ours (Romans 12:19). God’s right will appear to all of those saints who have suffered injustice on earth (Revelation 17:6). That is what happens here.
The “prophets” are the New Testament prophets. Apostles and prophets are the founders of the church (Ephesians 2:20). In that way all who have been built up together as the church by their teachings in the Scripture and have behaved themselves as strangers on earth, have drawn the wrath of Rome over themselves. They have kept distance from her pursuit of riches and therefore did not contribute to it. Therefore Rome raged against them.
Revelation 18:21. For the third time you read about “a strong angel”. The first time it is in relation to the book with the seven seals (Revelation 5:2). There it is about the judgment over the Roman empire. The second time is in relation to the little book (Revelation 10:1). There it is about the judgment over Israel. This time it is about the definite judgment over the great Babylon (Jeremiah 51:58; Jeremiah 51:61-3 John :).
Babylon is compared to “a great millstone”. That reminds us of a warning of the Lord addressed to someone who causes a little child to stumble in his faith. He says that it would be better for such a person if a millstone was hung around his neck, and he was drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:6). Babylon has caused a lot of people to stumble in their faith by threatening and murdering those who tried to escape her control by faith in the Lord Jesus. Her deceiving practices are definitely over by this judgment that is being executed with violence.
Revelation 18:22. With the downfall of the city all elements of culture and merchandize, which have made the residence in the city that pleasant, have definitely disappeared. In that place of entertainment and noise a deathly silence has risen that will never be broken. There will never ever be a sign of life to be observed anymore, such a system of wickedness will never arise again ever. The music has been brought to silence. Once a descendant of Cain introduced music into the world, in order to make the world a pleasant place without God (Genesis 4:21). It has become an industry, the entertainment industry, with which people have made a lot of money.
The artists or craftsmen have decorated Rome and have made it a magnificent and attractive system. The sound of a mill is that of a hand mill with which grain is ground for baking bread. But that sound will not be and never be heard ever. Therefore there will in no way be any household activity anymore.
These consequences of the judgment over Babylon are also the consequences of the judgment that will strike the unfaithful Jerusalem (Jeremiah 25:10-1 Kings :).
Revelation 18:23. Beside the deathly silence there is also pitch black darkness. The light will never shine there anymore, for Babylon has been clothed in darkness forever. Neither will there be any mention of marriage ceremonies she held nor the joy that went together with it. She has always falsely represented marriage as the relation that she herself had with Christ. But an end is made to this appearance with the false joy that was included.
The merchants are here called “your merchants”. She has been involved with the bank directors, with those who ruled over the financial markets and in that way guided the economy and she has exercised her deceiving influence on it. In that way she has ruled in and over the world that has the character of rejecting Christ and of living in rebellion against Him. In order to exercise her influence she even made use of occultism by consulting demons.
Revelation 18:24. This verse gives once again the clear ground of her judgment. In her judgment her history will be visible forever. All the crimes that she has committed will then be found in her, will be brought to the surface and be exposed. Up to that moment she has exercised through the ages her murderous practices under a Christian mask. Then the blood will be revealed that she has shed of those who have been killed by her.
Now read Revelation 18:11-24 again.
Reflection: Which lessons can you draw from the destruction of the riches of the city of Babylon?
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Revelation 18". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany