Revelation 18:11-24

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

THE FALL OF BABYLON

INTRODUCTION:

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 3 1/2 years later near the end of the great tribulation.

We have seen -

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.

We have also seen -

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.

Furthermore, we have seen -

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.

Finally, we have seen -

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.

Moving on, we see -

V. THE LAMENT OF THE MERCHANTS OF THE EARTH - 18:11-19

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:11-19 - (11) And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: (12) The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, (13) And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. (14) And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. (15) The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, (16) And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! (17) For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, (18) And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! (19) And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

The sudden judgment of Babylon will have a disastrous effect on the economy as is indicated by verse 11 which shows the reaction of the merchants of the earth, i.e. the entire class of those who buy and sell in order to make money. They are the wholesale dealers of the world. The economic character of the city of Babylon is indicated by the fact that the merchants also weep and mourn for her. Their grief is occasioned by the loss of their trade with the city.

Shall weep and mourn over her is are weeping and are mourning over Babylon. They know that they will soon be in financial ruin because their businesses were dependent on Babylon's existence and prosperity.

For [i.e. because] no man [i.e. no one or nobody] buyeth [i.e. purchases] their merchandise any more. This indicates the reason the merchants will weep and mourn over Babylon.

Their merchandise is their load, their freight, or their cargo.

No one is buying their merchandise [i.e. nobody is buying what they are selling] any more [i.e. any longer]. They are stuck with it in that they have paid for it (or owe for it) but cannot sell it. It is interesting that these merchants were part of the system which would not permit anyone without the mark of the beast to buy or sell. Now these merchants are no longer able to buy or sell.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble.

The merchandise is itemized in verses 12-13. All of the items characterize wealth and luxury.

The merchandise consists of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple [i.e. purple cloth or garments], and silk [i.e. silk cloth or garments], and scarlet (i.e. scarlet cloth or garments).

Their goods also consist of all thyine wood [i.e. all citron wood], and all manner vessels of ivory [i.e. all kinds of articles made of ivory], and all manner vessels [or articles] of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

Verse 13 continues the list of products these merchants or wholesale dealers have for sale begun in verse 12.

And cinnamon, and odours [i.e. incense], and ointments [or perfumes], and frankincense [i.e. a white resinous gum obtained from several kinds of a certain tree in Arabia], and wine, and oil [i.e. olive oil] and fine flour [i.e. the finest grade of wheat flour], and wheat [a term for grain generally], and beasts [i.e. domesticated animals, pets, pack-animals, or animals used for riding], and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves [literally bodies]. The list finishes with and souls of men.

Souls of men may well be another way of referring to bodies which has been translated slaves. If so, it is to be understood in the sense of bodies, indeed, souls of men.

Men is the generic term for human beings and includes females as well as males.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

Verse 14 tells of the sweeping removal of all these precious possessions described as the fruits that thy soul lusted after and all things which were dainty and goodly.

These statements in verse 14 are being addressed to Babylon as if Babylon were a person and could hear them.

The fruits that thy soul lusted after suggests the fruit for which your soul has longed.

Thy refers to Babylon.

Are departed from thee is literally went away from you (i.e. went away from Babylon).

In addition, all things which were dainty [the costly things, the rich things, or the luxuries] and goodly [i.e. splendorous] are departed from thee [i.e. from Babylon.].

Furthermore, thou [i.e. Babylon] shalt find them no more at all [i.e. you will never find them]. These things are gone and won't be coming back.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing.

The merchants of these things is the wholesale traders of these things mentioned in verses 12-14.

Which were made rich by her is who became rich from her (i.e. from Babylon).

Shall stand afar off is literally will stand far away.

For [i.e. because of] the fear of her torment. The merchants or wholesale dealers do not want to participate in Babylon's torment; so they stay at what they believe is a safe distance from her.

Weeping and wailing is crying and grieving, but it is not for Babylon they are crying and grieving; rather, it is for themselves because their great source of income is a thing of the past; and they know it.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

The tense of saying indicates that they will be continuously or repeatedly saying this.

What they are saying is, Alas, alas, that great city, which means Woe, woe, the city, the great one.

Alas denotes pain or displeasure and is doubled is for emphasis.

That great city is reminiscent of what is said in verse 1 regarding Babylon the great. Now it is abundantly clear that Babylon was not so great.

Babylon is further described as that city that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! This demonstrated her luxurious wealth. She had the finest things that money could buy.

Purple and scarlet are purple and scarlet garments.

Decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls is adorned with gold, and precious stone, and pearl.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:17 For [i.e. because] in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off.

In one hour suggests in a very short period of time and indicates how long it took for Babylon to be destroyed.

So great riches is literally so much wealth, the wealth such as this, or the riches such as this.

Is come to nought is is laid to waste or is ruined.

Every shipmaster is every steersman, every pilot, or every helmsman.

And all the company in ships suggests all the people aboard the ships in addition to the sailors because sailors are mentioned next. They may be passengers. Perhaps they had sailed out to see what was happening to Babylon.

Ships are rather large sea-faring ships. The term is used especially of merchant ships.

The sailors were those who were part of the ships' crews.

As many as trade by sea suggests all those who trade by sea or all those who work on the sea for a livelihood. Inasmuch as they are distinguished from the ships' pilots, crowds, and sailors, it seems that they might be working the sea to buy, sell, or trade things by sea or that they might be fishermen or divers. In some way they earn their living from the sea.

Stood afar off indicates that they stood still at a distance or far away where they apparently assumed they were safe from the destruction taking place at Babylon.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:18 And cried when they saw [i.e. and were crying upon seeing] the smoke of her burning [i.e. the smoke produced by her burning, which is a clear indication of Babylon's destruction], saying, What city is like unto [or similar to] this great city!

They realized that there is not another city like Babylon anywhere in the world.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

They cast dust on their heads as a sign of mourning.

Also, they cried [i.e. they were crying or they were calling out], weeping and wailing [i.e. crying and mourning].

Saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for [i.e. because] in one hour is she made desolate.

Alas, alas, that great city was also stated by the kings of the earth in verse 10 and again by the merchants in verse 16.

Wherein [i.e. in which] all the ones who have ships in the sea were made rich] indicates those who became rich due to their connection with Babylon.

By reason of her costliness suggests because of her abundance of costly things.

Because in one hour is she made desolate implies in a very short period of time she was laid waste or she was ruined.

In contrast to the wealth and glory of this world, which are here consumed by a great judgment from God, are the true riches of faith, devotion, and service for God laid up in heaven beyond the destructive hands of man and protected by the righteous power of God.

At this time there is -

VI. REJOICING IN HEAVEN OVER THE FALL OF BABYLON - 18:20

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

In contrast to the grief overtaking worldly rulers and merchants by the destruction of Babylon, those in heaven are called upon to rejoice at the righteous judgment of God.

Heaven is commanded to rejoice, which mean to be glad or to enjoy yourself.

Over her is over Babylon.

Thou heaven addresses heaven directly. Here it stands for the occupants in heaven.

Ye holy apostles and prophets are two groups on which the church is built according to Ephesians 2:20 .

Holy apostles refers to the twelve plus Paul, all of whom except John had been martyred for their faith.

They along with prophets are being addressed in this verse along with heaven. Because of their association with apostles in the context, the reference to prophets seems to be limited to those who were New Testament prophets.

The reason that heaven, the apostles, and the prophets are to rejoice is indicated by for God hath avenged you on her means because God the Father has pronounced a judgment for you against Babylon.

Finally, we see -

VII. THE UTTER DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON - 18:21-24

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:21-24 - (21) And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. (22) And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; (23) And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. (24) And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

A mighty angel is one mighty angel, one strong angel, or one powerful angel.

Took up [i.e. lifted up or picked up a stone like a great millstone [i.e. like a large millstone, the kind that is four to five feet in diameter and twelve inches thick turned by a donkey.

The mighty angel also cast it [i.e. this great (or large) millstone] into the sea.

Saying, [i.e. while saying] Thus [i.e. in the same way] with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

His throwing this large millstone into the sea portrays the violent downfall of the great city.

From this statement it is apparent that the actual fall of Babylon, although spoken of in verses 1-20 as an accomplished fact, was yet future at the time John wrote Revelation. However, this yet-future destruction of political and commercial Babylon is so certain of fulfillment that it could be spoken of as though it has already occurred.

And shall be found no more at all implies that it will never again be found.

The ultimate end of Babylon in all its forms (religious, political, and economic) will be accomplished by God's judgment at the end of the great tribulation. Babylon will be found no more at all. No more at all occurs seven times with minor variations in verses 14 and 21-23. This is done for emphasis.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee.

The very silence of the city is a testimony to God's devastating judgment.

There is an obvious parallel in the rise and fall of Babylon in its varied forms in Scripture.

As introduced in Genesis 11:1-9 , Babylon (Babel), historically symbolized by the tower reaching to heaven, proposed to maintain the union of the world through a common worship and a common tongue, but God defeated the purpose by confusing the language and scattering the people.

Babylon, ecclesiastically symbolized by the woman in Revelation of Jesus Christ 17 , proposes a common worship and a common religion through uniting in a world church.

This is destroyed by the antichrist in Revelation of Jesus Christ 17:16 , who by so doing fulfills the will of God (Rev. 17:17).

Babylon, politically and commercially symbolized by the great city of Revelation of Jesus Christ 18 , attempts to achieve its domination of the world by a common market and a world government.

These are destroyed by Christ at His second coming (Revelation of Jesus Christ 19:11-21 ).

The triumph of God is therefore witnessed historically in the scattering of the people and the unfinished tower of Genesis 11 and prophetically in the destruction of the world church by the killing of the harlot in Revelation of Jesus Christ 17 and in the destruction of the city of Babylon in Revelation of Jesus Christ 18 . With the graphic description of the fall of Babylon contained in chapters 17 and 18, 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.

If Babylon is going to be violently thrown down and will never again be found, what is said in verse 22 is not at all surprising.

The voice is simply a voice or a sound.

Harpers are harpists or lyre-players who play accompaniments to their own singing. They will never again be heard in Babylon.

Neither will musicians or pipers [i.e. flute-players] or trumpeters.

Furthermore, no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee.

A craftsman, of whatsoever craft is every craftsman of every craft, every artisan of every trade, or every craftsman of every skill.

Still another thing that will never again take place in Babylon is indicated by the sound of a millstone [i.e. the sound produced by a mill, where the millstone would be used] shall be heard no more at all in thee because Babylon will no longer exist.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:23 And the light of a candle [i.e. the light of a lamp] shall shine no more at all in thee [i.e. in Babylon]; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee [i.e. there will never be another wedding in Babylon.]: for [i.e. because] thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for [i.e. because] by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Thy merchants means Babylon's merchants (or wholesale dealers).

Were [but no longer are] the great men of the earth, i.e. the magnates (or important people) of the earth.

By thy sorceries were all nations deceived suggests the means by which the sum total of all the nations were misled. It was by Babylon's magic, which may well include the use of drugs.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Verse 24 continues the reasons why Babylon is going to be completely destroyed.

In her means in Babylon.

In her was found implies that something had to be in Babylon in order to be found there. What was found in Babylon is the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

The blood of prophets suggests the blood of the prophets which had been shed and indicates that Babylon was responsible for the murders of many prophets.

(The blood) of saints suggests the blood of believers which had been shed. Babylon was likewise responsible for the murders of many saved people.

(The blood) of all that were slain upon the earth suggests the blood of all who had been murdered upon the earth. God never intended for anyone ever to be murdered. However, Babylon as a system was responsible for all these murders over the course of history. Therefore, Babylon is going to be destroyed once and for all. Babylon's accumulated guilt is punished at the end of the great tribulation.