Revelation 18:1-10

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

THE FALL OF BABYLON

INTRODUCTION:

The phrase after these things in verse 1 indicates that the events found in chapter 18 occurs later than the events of chapter 17.

Whereas Revelation of Jesus Christ 17 describes the destruction of ecclesiastical Babylon or the world church near the end of the first half of the tribulation, Revelation of Jesus Christ 18 describes the destruction of political and commercial Babylon near the end of the great tribulation; so Revelation of Jesus Christ 18 occurs approximately 3 1/2 years after the end of chapter 17.

We see -

I. THE FALL OF BABYLON ANNOUNCED - 18:1-3

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:1-3 - (1) And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. (2) And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. (3) For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

After these things suggests after the events recorded in chapter 17.

I saw is I (i.e. John) beheld.

Another angel is another angel of the same kind as the one mentioned in chapter 17 who was one of the angels who held the seven bowls in their hands and who poured them out upon the earth in chapter 16.

Come down from heaven is coming down out of heaven or descending out of heaven and indicates what this angel was doing at the time John saw him. Since he was coming down from heaven, he was apparently in heaven before he began his descent. This is made clear by the fact that the word translated from implies out of rather than away from. He was not just near heaven and came away from heaven; he was in heaven and came out of heaven.

Having great power indicates that this angel possessed great ability or capability. He was a mighty and powerful angel.

As a result of his descending out of heaven, the earth was lightened [i.e. was illuminated] with his glory [i.e. with this angel's glory, which suggests either by his glory or because of his glory].

By glory John means the angel's brightness, splendor, or radiance.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

He [i.e. this angel descending from heaven] cried and means he called or he called out.

Mightily is literally with might, with power, or with strength.

With a strong voice is literally with a great voice and suggests with a loud voice.

Saying introduces what this angel cried out: Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

Babylon the great or the great Babylon is the identical wording used in reference to ecclesiastical Babylon in 17:5, but the context in chapter 18 makes it clear that this is political and commercial Babylon rather than ecclesiastical Babylon.

Is fallen is literally fell, but it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. Even though it has not yet happened, it is so certain of fulfillment that it can be spoken of as though it were an already-accomplished fact.

Is fallen is repeated for emphasis.

And is become is literally and became, but it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

The habitation of devils is a dwelling place and suggests a place where demons (or evil spirits) are living.

Babylon has also become the hold of every foul spirit.

A hold is a place of guarding or a prison. It might even be understood in the sense of a haunt.

Of every foul spirit is of every unclean spirit.

Babylon has also become a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. The same word translated hold is now translated cage. Again it speaks of a place of guarding or a prison or, perhaps, a haunt.

Of every unclean and hateful bird indicates what will be kept in this cage or living in this haunt.

An unclean . . . bird is an impure bird. It suggests those birds which were regarded as ceremonially unclean in the Old Testament.

Hateful is hated, detested, or abhorred. They are the kinds of birds that people hate.

Whether these unclean and hateful birds are actual birds or are symbolic of demons is not clear. However, it seems likely that they are symbolic of demons.

The threefold description of the inhabitants of fallen Babylon seems to refer to fallen angels in their various characteristics as demons and evil spirits, symbolized by the bird.

This abandonment of destroyed Babylon to demons is a divine judgment stemming from the utter wickedness of its inhabitants described in verse 3.

Isaiah predicted something similar in Isaiah 34:11-15 . Note that the specific meaning of some of the animals mentioned in these verses is not clear.

Isaiah 34:11-15 - (11) But the cormorant [i.e. the pelican] and the bittern [i.e. the porcupine] shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. (12) They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. (13) And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation [or haunt] of dragons [i.e. jackals], and a court [i.e. home] for owls [i.e. ostriches]. (14) The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island [i.e. jackals or hyenas], and the satyr shall cry [i.e. the wild goat will bleat] to his fellow [i.e. to its companion]; the screech owl [i.e. night creature] also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. (15) There shall the great owl [i.e. arrow snake] make her nest, and lay [suggesting lay her eggs], and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures [i.e. hawks] also be gathered, every one with her mate.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:3 For [i.e. because] all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication suggests that the sum total of all nations worldwide have experienced the wrath of God because of their relationship with Babylon.

Have drunk indicates the state in which they now find themselves. Its tense suggests action completed in the past with the result continuing.

Have drunk of the wine is picturesque language used to compare one who is adversely affected by his consumption of fermented wine with someone who has been adversely affected by experiencing God's wrath. Have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication suggests that they have consumed the wine of the wrath of her fornication, i.e. that they have experienced God's wrath poured out on Babylon because of her fornication.

Of the wrath of her fornication is of the wrath which her fornication has produced.

Fornication is a general term which includes all sorts of unlawful sexual intercourse. In the case of this woman, Babylon, it is spiritual fornication. Rather than pursuing after God, these nations have pursued after all that Babylon could offer. Here it is the political and commercial side of the counterfeit system headed up by Satan.

And introduces another statement which is very similar to the last one and may be emphatic in the sense of indeed, in fact, yea, verily, or certainly.

The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her.

The kings of the earth are the world leaders or rulers. The use of the before kings suggests that it is referring to the entire class of persons known as kings or rulers. None are excepted.

Have committed fornication with her suggests that there has been an illicit relationship or partnership of these kings with Babylon as a state that is anti-God and anti-Christ and that has involved itself in the worship of the beast and his image.

Furthermore, the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

The merchants of the earth suggests those who engage in buying and selling as a business. They are the wholesale dealers from around the world.

Are waxed rich is became rich or have become rich, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Through the abundance of her delicacies is by the resources of her luxuries or by the wealth of her luxuries.

Next, we see -

II. A CALL TO SEPARATION FROM BABYLON - 18:4-5

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:4-5 - (4) And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (5) For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

I heard refers to John.

What John heard was another voice, i.e. another voice of the same kind. It is not the same voice, but it is of the same sort as the voice of the mighty angel in 18:1-2.

From heaven is literally out of the heaven and indicates that the one speaking was in heaven. This is the heaven where God dwells and is to be distinguished from the atmospheric and stellar heavens.

Saying again introduces what was said: Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Come out implies that some are mixed in with her and need to get out, thereby separating themselves from her.

Of her suggests out of Babylon, whether in reference to the city of Babylon, or to the system known as Babylon, or to both.

My people are the people of God and indicates that this statement is addressed to saved people.

My makes it clear that the angel is speaking on behalf of God in delivering God's message to God's people.

That ye be not partakers of her sins means lest you participate in Babylon's sins or in order that you not be connected with Babylon's sins.

And that you receive not of her plagues implies and in order that you not receive of her punishments for her sins. The warning is clear. If any of the Lord's people fail to come out of Babylon, they will join her in her sins as well as in her punishments. God is preparing to pour out His plagues upon Babylon. As a result, when He does, it will be announced that she has fallen. This warning comes before Babylon's destruction mentioned in verse 2. Disobedient believers may experience some of Babylon's punishment though not her eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:5 For [i.e. because] her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

Her sins have reached is Babylon's sins have joined closely together or have united and has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Unto heaven indicates how far Babylon's sins have reached and is literally as far as the heaven, i.e. the heaven where God dwells. The picture is of each of Babylon's many sins represented by a block and the blocks stacked one on top of another until the stack has reached as high as heaven.

God hath remembered is simply God remembered or God kept in mind. It has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

What God has remembered is her iniquities, i.e. Babylon's wrongs, Babylon's crimes, or Babylon's misdeeds.

The sins of Babylon are declared to reach to the heavens with the result that God remembers, i.e. judges her iniquities.

Although God permits sin to increase, its ultimate divine judgment is inescapable.

As we continue, we see -

III. THE INDICTMENT AGAINST BABYLON - 18:6-8

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:6-8 - (6) Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. (7) How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. (8) Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

In keeping with the enormity of Babylon's sin, the voice from heaven now calls on God to reward her even as she rewarded the people of God.

Reward her (i.e. reward Babylon), which is apparently addressed to God, means give back to her, recompense to her, repay her, or pay her back; and its tense indicates that its action is to be undertaken at once and without delay.

Even as she [i.e. Babylon] rewarded you [(by which he means Israel)] indicates how God is to reward Babylon. As Babylon has destroyed God's people, God is being called upon to destroy Babylon.

Another thing that is to be done to Babylon: double unto her double according to her works, which means that this voice is asking God that Babylon be repaid with twice as much as she has done. The normal law of retribution is doubled in recognition of the enormity of Babylon's sin.

Double . . . double is emphatic. The first double is a command. The second double means two fold.

Unto her refers to political and commercial Babylon.

According to her works suggests that Babylon is to be repaid for what she has actually done as is indicated by her works.

In the cup which she hath filled fill to her double is at first glance a bit confusing in English, but it is saying the same thing that double unto her double according to her works is saying although using different words to say it. It would help you to understand it if you would place a comma after the word filled; or it would help you to understand it if you would change the word order so that it reads, fill to her two-fold in the cup which she has filled.

In the cup speaks of a drinking cup from which Babylon is about to drink.

Which she hath filled suggests that Babylon herself has filled or mixed her own cup. It means that she has brought her own ruin upon herself. When God gives her this cup full of His wrath to drink, she will be the one who is actually responsible for her own demise. She can't blame it on someone else.

Fill to her is a command, and the command is entreating God to take this action of filling for Babylon.

Double is two-fold, and suggests give her twice as much as she has coming. It is a cry for vengeance.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

How much is to be connected with so much in the next phrase. Taken together how much and so much mean to the degree that and to the same degree.

She hath glorified herself is she (i.e. Babylon) glorified herself. It has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

And lived deliciously is and lived in luxury or and lived sensuously and indicates something else Babylon did.

God is being called upon to give Babylon torment [i.e. the severe pain experienced through torture] and sorrow [i.e. grief, sadness, or mourning].

Give is a command whose tense indicates that its action is to be undertaken at once, and her refers to Babylon. To the degree that Babylon has glorified herself and lived luxuriously, to the same degree God is being asked to give her torment and grief.

For [i.e. because] introduces the reason Babylon deserves torment and grief: she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

She saith in her heart is she is saying in her heart and implies that this is the way she is thinking or that this is her attitude. She is saying it continuously or repeatedly in her heart, thereby demonstrating her pride or arrogance.

I sit a queen suggests that she had a very high opinion of herself.

And am no widow further suggests that she is not at all desolate as most widows were. Her claim to being no widow refers to her illicit love affairs with the kings of the earth.

And shall see no sorrow is I will absolutely never see (or experience) sorrow, i.e. grief, sadness, or mourning.

The voice in this verse is calling upon God to give Babylon the sorrow she thought she would never see.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for [i.e. because] strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

Therefore is literally because of this where this refers to the statement from verse 7, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

Shall . . . come is predictive of future things which will definitely occur. It is only a matter of time before they take place.

What will come are her plagues, i.e. her misfortunes or her calamities.

In one day is emphatic and suggests that her plagues, misfortunes, or calamities will all come at once and will be unexpected. The fact that her judgment comes in one day reminds the reader of the fall of Babylon in Daniel 5 where Belshazzar saw the handwriting on the wall and died the same night. When it is time for God's judgment, it descends very quickly.

Her plagues are death, and mourning, and famine.

Death suggests that she will die and exist no more.

Mourning is the same word twice translated sorrow in verse 7, meaning grief or sadness.

Famine indicates that there will not be enough food to go around for people to eat.

Something else which will happen to Babylon is she shall be utterly burned with fire.

She shall be utterly burned is intensive and means that she will be thoroughly consumed or completely destroyed with fire or in fire.

Because strong is the Lord God who judgeth her indicates why Babylon's judgment is certain. There is no way she can escape.

Strong is mighty or powerful.

The Lord God who judgeth her indicates that it is God, the One Who is sovereign over all the creation, Who is judging Babylon or Who is administering justice to Babylon. No one will be able to thwart His judgment and justice. It is apparently a reference to God the Father rather than to Christ.

Next, we see -

IV. THE LAMENT OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH - 18:9-10

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:9-10 - (9) And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, (10) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

The kings of the earth refers to the world rulers.

Who have committed fornication . . . with her is the ones who prostituted themselves with Babylon, the ones who practiced prostitution with Babylon, or the ones who practiced sexual immorality with Babylon.

With her limits the kings of the earth to the ones who have committed spiritual immorality with Babylon.

And lived deliciously is and lived in luxury or and lived sensually.

Shall bewail her is shall cry for her or shall weep for her. It is predictive of a future event which is definitely going to happen.

(Shall) lament for her is shall beat (their breasts) for her or shall mourn greatly for her. It is likewise predictive of a future event which is definitely going to happen.

When [i.e. whenever] they shall see the smoke of her burning indicates the time when the kings of the earth who have committed fornication with Babylon will bewail and lament for her. It is when it is already too late. It is certain that they will see this, but the time when they will actually see it is not certain.

What they will eventually see is the smoke of her burning, i.e. the smoke produced by her burning.

The time is just before the second coming of Christ at the end of the great tribulation.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

Standing afar off is standing from a distance or standing from far away and describes the kings of the earth who are bewailing and lamenting for Babylon.

For the fear of her torment is because of the fear of her torment or on account of the fear of her torment. Their mourning is also characterized by fear lest they experience the same judgment which has overcome the city, and for this reason they stand at what they believe is a safe distance.

Saying indicates what they did while they were standing at a distance watching Babylon burn: Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

Alas, alas is woe, woe. Alas denotes pain or displeasure, and its doubling is for emphasis.

That great city Babylon is literally the city, the great Babylon. It is reminiscent of what was said in verse 2 regarding Babylon the great. Only Babylon was not so great.

That mighty city is the city, the mighty one; the city, the powerful one; or the city, the strong one.

For [i.e. because] in one hour is thy judgment come provides the reason for the kings of the earth saying, Alas, alas.

In one hour does not necessarily mean in a sixty-minute period of time. It may instead mean in a very short time.

Is . . . come is literally came, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

Thy judgment is Babylon's judgment. The inclusion of thy judgment indicates that it is being said to Babylon as if Babylon were a person and able to hear it. Of course, by this time Babylon will have been destroyed and unable to hear anything.