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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Revelation 18

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-24

FALL OF BABYLON

THE name of this angel is not given. The wonderful light of his glory would lead to the suspicion, at least, that it was Michael. Gabriel and Michael are the only archangels whose names are given. The former always comes in the interest of humanity, and the latter in the interest of divinity. We must remember we are now in the tribulation. The Ancient of Days — i.e., the Father — is here executing the awful premillennial judgments. Hence the world is full of divine interventions, in every way necessary to the fulfillment of prophecy. What stupendous miracles will be wrought in the universal destruction of Babylon, we cannot anticipate. Of course this proclamation is anticipatory of the speedy fall. Such will be the wonders of Omnipotence in this notable event, that counterfeit religions will all perish from the earth. Babylon will be utterly spoilated of her sorceries and enchantments, so that henceforth she will no longer be able to delude a human soul, but will be occupied by devils only.

3. The infliction of these terrible castigatory judgments will utterly destroy and exterminate false religion from the earth. A just retribution supervenes because all nations have fallen (Greek) by the wines of her fornication. All religion intoxicates. The people thought the apostles were drunk when filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. It is equally true that false religion intoxicates — the one with the Spirit of God, sanctifying you and making you holy like God; the other with the spirit of Satan, filling you with lying delusions, making you dream you are on your way to heaven when you are on a bee-line to hell, inspiring you with Satan’s false faith, vain and carnal love, all of which but ripen you for hell and lead you into it. “The age of miracles is past” is as gratuitous as it is unscriptural. It favors that modern infidelity called “evolution,” which takes God out of the world’s government and turns it over to man. I anticipate greater miracles to attend our Lord’s second coming than the ages have ever known. Rest assured, when the time comes, Babylon will fall, her spiritual power be utterly annihilated, and her temporal dominions exterminated. What is included in Babylon? Romanism, with all her temporal and spiritual power. Besides, it certainly will include all forms of human ecclesiasticisms. God made religion, but Satan made sectarianism. While the papacy is the mother of harlots, she is very prolific, and has many daughters. Human government is political and ecclesiastical. It must all go down before the King of kings, who is coming to reign in righteousness forever. The tribulation revolutions will effect these results, and thus prepare the way for the coming King. The terrible antagonisms and retributions inflicted on the fallen Church by the State will doubtless prove an important precursor in her final ruin.

CONVOCATION OF GOD’S PEOPLE

4. Come out of her, my people.” This call is largely anticipatory. It contemplates the savable, rather than the saved. When the Lord spoke to Paul. in the night vision at Corinth, saying, “I have much people in this city,” it is to he understood prospectively, as the whole city was in idolatry at that time. The crushing catastrophes of the tribulation, both political and ecclesiastical, will sweep from the earth the incorrigible and unsavable popular elements. The terrible bloody revolutions attending the fall of the time-honored kingdoms will he used by a gracious Providence as political purifiers, while the fall of Babylon will prove the greatest religious purifier the world has ever seen. We must remember that the world is to be inhabited again after the great tribulation. Daniel pronounces a great blessing on those who survive the tribulation. (Daniel 12:12.) According to this prophecy, the tribulation will be (1335 minus 1290) 45 prophetic years.

When the mighty cyclones of premillennial judgments shall have expended their forces, and the kings of the earth shall have been shaken from their thrones, and Babylon shall have been smashed into debris, then our King, descending in His glory, will receive the salutations of an obsequious world, disencumbered of human yokes and prejudices, and ready to fall in line with the new administration. Some good people have doubtless made an innocent mistake in coming out prematurely, thus leaving an unfinished work in Babylon. We are to remain among the warring sects of Babylon, faithfully preaching the everlasting gospel, till she falls. Certainly we have not yet reached that historical epoch, though evidently very rapidly approaching it. Two hundred millions of God’s saints have shed their blood in Babylon.

2-4. Certainly we can afford to be steadfast. We see from this prophecy that Babylon is to be the recipient of the seven last plagues unto her utter extermination. This is given as a reason why the Lord’s people shall make their escape.

5. Here we learn that the sins of Babylon have actually reached their maturity, when she, with her multiplied millions encompassing the globe, is fully ripe for doom and damnation. We here see from this verse that God never forgets anything. Every tear shed and groan uttered by His martyrs, in all bygone ages, is as fresh in His memory as the events of yesterday. We see from this Scripture that He assuredly pays back with compound interest.

7. She says in her heart, I sit a queen, am no widow, and see no sorrow.” The true Church, consisting of the invisible children of God, has mourned, a widow, prophesying in sackcloth because of her absent Lord, ever since He left her and flew up to heaven. She will remain unknown, misjudged, and persecuted, till her Divine Spouse rides down on a cloud and takes her to Himself. The reason why the fallen Church — i.e., Babylon — is no widow, is because she has forsaken her ascended Husband and married antichrist. You can well discriminate the Babylonian Churches, because they all claim that their sect is the true Church, thus confessing judgment against themselves. Colossians 3:3-4 :

“Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”

Here Paul positively teaches the invisibility and entire sanctification of the true Church. Never will the true Church on earth be visible till her Head returns and becomes visible again. Thus we see how the belligerent parties of Babylonian ecclesiasticism have ignorantly signed their own death- warrant in their pertinacious controversies to vindicate themselves.

8. We see from this verse that the fall of Babylon will mark a distinct epoch in history. Doubtless, like all other great events, it will be preceded by a progressive series of preparatory developments, and followed by a grand sweep of wonderful consequences. The burning with fire may be literally verified in the conflagration of Rome; but fire, throughout the Bible, is the constant figure of utter destruction. For this reason, fire is the constant type of sanctification, because sin is thereby utterly exterminated. “The Lord God who condemneth her is mighty.” In a mysterious way, Babylon has been a powerful factor in the probationary scheme. Multiplied millions, beguiled by her lies and intoxicated with her adulterous wine of wealth, fame, carnal pleasures, and secular aggrandizement, have toppled into hell. These twelve hundred years, she has been Satan’s greatest temptation. She is exceedingly prominent in the all things that “work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). Only the blood-washed, fire-baptized pilgrim, who gladly forsook all for Christ, has been able to withstand her wiles. I am so glad all the prophecies culminate in the verdict that her race is about run. The hand- writing announcing her doom is even now legible to spiritual eyes on the walls of the magnificent cathedrals from which the Holy Ghost has long since retreated. You must not look too much to human agencies in the destruction of Babylon, as you see this scripture imputes it to God alone. When she has run her race, and her cup is full, then will the hand of God lift the flood-gate of doom.

9, 10. The wailing of the kings over the fall of Babylon may strongly contrast with the scene of the preceding chapter, when they were all goring her with their “horns,” thus doubtless somewhat preparing the way for her downfall. Daniel (12:12) gives the tribulation period forty-five years. This will be one unbroken revolutionary cyclone. Consequently we need not be surprised at anything. Daniel (12:1) says:

“It will be a time of trouble, such as the world has never seen.”

Christ says :” It will he a time of trouble, such as the world never saw and never will” (Matthew 24:21). It is peculiar to the caprices of war that the victor, reveling in blood and slaughter, will stop and weep over a fallen rival.

UNIVERSAL BANKRUPTCY

12-14. The fall of Babylon will doubtless occur far out amid the flood-tide of the tribulation. The bankruptcy will come as a normal consequence of universal revolution. However, it is pertinent to observe that the fallen Church is the autocrat of style, fashion, pomposity, buncombe, and phantasmagoria infinitesimal. The world is more disposed to run on utilitarian lines. Romanism has amassed billions by fraudulent sales of candles, heads, crucifixes, et cetera, at enormous prices, for magical value. The whole world has long followed Satan’s gewgaws, expending their money for imaginary emolument. During the tribulation, all of Satan’s delusions will he unearthed to the eye of the world. National finances are generally on a bogus foundation. All intrigue, externality, and pomposity must fade before the coming King. The millennium will he a world of realities. From an analysis of the bogus condition of the world’s commerce and finances, and the wonderful incantatory influence of Babylon among the nations, we readily see how her sudden and utter destruction would bring a universal financial panic, culminating in worldwide bankruptcy.

As Noah’s Flood swept away the institutions of the Antediluvian world, leaving not a vestige, so the great tribulation will rack, topple, turn, overturn, and smash all the institutions of the present age, leaving the world a blank, with its new population so divested of the Satanic institutions that now fill the earth that they will constitute a de nova element, out of which the King of kings will lay the foundation of the millennial world.

15, 16. Gilded with gold, precious stones, and diamonds.” When I was in Rome last summer, I was much reminded of this language of inspiration. St. Paul’s Cathedral, on the spot where he was beheaded, has already cost fifty millions of dollars, and will take five millions more to finish it. Internally it exhibits in gigantic mosaic all the popes (287), and all of the apostles in gigantic stature. In the altar they allege the remains of Paul are deposited. It is environed by every species of rubies, precious stones, and diamonds, whose sparkling radiance, amid the constantly burning candles, exhibits every conceivable tint and hue of the rainbow at all times, night and day. St. Peter’s Cathedral at the Vatican palace cost two hundred millions of dollars, and occupied two hundred years in building, thus expending sufficient money to put the Bible in every home on the earth. It is 835 feet long, 330 feet wide, and 447 feet high — the largest building in the world, not even excepting the Coliseum. It is certainly the grandest monument of idolatry on the globe. John Tetzel, Luther’s antagonist, and others, raised money to erect this superstructure by the sale of indulgences. Thus the faces of all nations were ground two hundred years to erect this mammoth temple of idolatry. “In one hour so great wealth was laid waste.” We learn in Revelation 16:19 Rome will be divided into three parts by the great earthquake at the beginning of the tribulation. We see, further on, that she is to be utterly destroyed in a moment. This will constitute the salient epoch in the fall of Babylon.

17, 18. No wonder the ship-masters will weep and wail. The Roman superstition has brought multiplied millions of money to seamen. In a single month, quite recently, one hundred thousand pilgrims came to Rome. Ship companies make immense sums of money. On my first trip across the Atlantic, our ship carried fifteen hundred passengers, besides immense quantities of freight. The passengers alone, at forty dollars per capita, would bring the company sixty thousand dollars. The seamen of every nation have been enriched by Babylon. Hence they weep and wail when she goes down to rise no more.

20. Rejoice over her, O heaven, saints, apostles, and prophets, because God hath judged your judgment from her.” Rome has outraged the saints, apostles, and prophets, and insulted heaven, by idolizing them. What an insult to Peter, the humble fisherman, to build to his memory an idolatrous monument at the paradoxical cost of two hundred millions of dollars, which should have been used to save the world What an insult to humble Paul, who lived a tramp and died a martyr, to erect a fifty-five-million- dollar mausoleum over his dust in which to worship idols, of which they have made him chief. In the destruction of Babylon, God truly vindicates the martyrs, with whose blood she has been drunken for ages.

21-24. We see from these verses the final doom of Rome. She is to sink into the sea and never be seen again. Having been terribly shocked and divided into three parts by the earthquake early in the tribulation (16:19), she is finally to receive another shock, so terrible as to bury her so deep in the sea that not a spire nor monument will ever be seen again. On that enchanted spot, where sat the world’s ruler two thousand years, naught shall be seen but the mighty, thundering billows of the dark, deep sea. From the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus, B.C. 753, she has been cruel as the grave and despotic as Diabolus. She deluged the world with blood and whitened it with bones, to make her way to the summit of despotic power. Under pagan rule, for three hundred years, she fattened her lions on Christians, till she fed out one hundred millions. Under papal rule, she has martyred a hundred millions more. “In her, the blood of prophets, saints, and all of those slain upon the earth, is found.” Babylon was the persecuting power under the former dispensation, and Rome, her successor, under the latter. It is a significant fact that this wicked world has never martyred God’s saints; but this odious diabolism has always devolved on the votaries of false religion. Rome began her bloody catalogue with the Son of God; the Jews not having the power of capital punishment, it devolved on the Romans, the rulers of the world. When I was in Rome I saw the finest monuments of ancient art, having been transported from Egypt. Rome is to this day the monumental city of the world, still abounding in the mementos of her former grandeur, when she dictated law to all nations. Amid all her boasted grandeur and glory, she simply ruled by wild-beast power. She is the grand ultimatum of human rule, both political and ecclesiastical. Her best achievements in the former consisted in the terror inspired by her ferocious brutality; in the latter, those dark superstitions which gave sanction to all the blood and slaughter of popery, prelacy, and priestcraft. So black is the record of Rome that she cannot survive the tribulation, lest she darken the escutcheon of the millennial world.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 18:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-18.html.

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Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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