Revelation 18

Revelation 18

The Fall of Babylon

18 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,

  “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
    She has become a dwelling place for demons,
  a haunt for every unclean spirit,
    a haunt for every unclean bird,
    a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
  For all nations have drunk
    the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
  and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
    and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

  “Come out of her, my people,
    lest you take part in her sins,
  lest you share in her plagues;
  for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
    and God has remembered her iniquities.
  Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
    and repay her double for her deeds;
    mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
  As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
    so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
  since in her heart she says,
    ‘I sit as a queen,
  I am no widow,
    and mourning I shall never see.’
  For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,
    death and mourning and famine,
  and she will be burned up with fire;
    for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

  “Alas! Alas! You great city,
    you mighty city, Babylon!
  For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

  “The fruit for which your soul longed
    has gone from you,
  and all your delicacies and your splendors
    are lost to you,
    never to be found again!”

The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

  “Alas, alas, for the great city
    that was clothed in fine linen,
      in purple and scarlet,
    adorned with gold,
      with jewels, and with pearls!
  For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”

And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,

  “What city was like the great city?”

And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,

  “Alas, alas, for the great city
    where all who had ships at sea
    grew rich by her wealth!
  For in a single hour she has been laid waste.
  Rejoice over her, O heaven,
    and you saints and apostles and prophets,
  for God has given judgment for you against her!”

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,

  “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence,
    and will be found no more;
  and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
    will be heard in you no more,
  and a craftsman of any craft
    will be found in you no more,
  and the sound of the mill
    will be heard in you no more,
  and the light of a lamp
    will shine in you no more,
  and the voice of bridegroom and bride
    will be heard in you no more,
  for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
    and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
  And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
    and of all who have been slain on earth.”


Revelation 18 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

Romans 12:19 NASB

Paul’s words ring true as we read Revelation 18. It’s hard to know exactly how we should feel about what is written here. Rome’s impending destruction would be carried out by God before the entire world just as the OT prophets had predicted about Babylon. It seems as if the narrative is drawing us toward mourning as well as celebration for this complete dismantling.

We see the similarities between OT (Babylon) and NT (Rome) when comparing Revelation 18 to Jeremiah.

So Jeremiah wrote in a single scroll all the calamity which would come upon Babylon, that is, all these words which have been written concerning Babylon.  61  Then Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “As soon as you come to Babylon, then see that you read all these words aloud,  62  and say, ‘You, O LORD, have promised concerning this place to cut it off, so that there will be nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast, but it will be a perpetual desolation.’  

63  “And as soon as you finish reading this scroll, you will tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates,  64  and say, ‘Just so shall Babylon sink down and not rise again because of the calamity that I am going to bring upon her; and they will become exhausted.'” Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 51:60-64 NASB

Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.

Revelation 18:21 NASB

Jeremiah writes the judgments on a scroll which is unraveled. The judgments of Revelation 18 open with a scroll that has its seals removed. However, this prophecy in Revelation is amplified in several ways. The object is not just a stone but a great millstone. It’s not just thrown in the Euphrates, but the sea. Though the language and visual may be borrowed from Jeremiah, these words stand on their own as a more severe and shocking judgment against Rome.

The only other time we read of a millstone being used was from the lips of Jesus.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.

Mark 9:42 NASB

The little ones in this passage are God’s children. As stated in the previous chapter, the most serious offense Rome committed was not their lack of personal morality, but rather, their reckless slaughtering of God’s children. If we read and apply this statement literally to Rome’s situation, they are actually receiving a gracious response from God as Jesus Himself states that “it would be better” to have a millstone hung around his neck and cast into the sea.

Most likely, Jesus’ words were an exaggeration describing the horrific consequences that await someone who causes spiritual injury to others. Rome not only caused spiritual injury but also physical assault. The encouragement is that Jesus loves His church and will defend her on His way to defeating His enemies once and for all.

We live in a world of unprecedented evil. It is a world that is overripe for God’s judgment and we are watching as Revelation (in some ways) seems to be unfolding before our very eyes. We must, as the Scripture says, separate ourselves from the temptation to worship anything other than Jesus Christ. All throughout history we have witnessed firsthand what happens when we place our hope, our trust, and our identity in the flawed systems of this world.

Jesus was a threat to the political powers of His time because when He came, He allowed for people to finally experience freedom. Immediately after his birth, one of the most powerful political leaders of that time, King Herod, tried to have this baby boy killed. Why is that? Why do the political and commercial entities seek to destroy Jesus? Because Jesus’ power set us free from their tyranny.

The people of Jesus’ time could leave Babylon because they didn’t need Babylon anymore. They had found something far greater. So I want to ask you today, what would it look like for you to leave Babylon? What are the commercial and political systems of this world that are weighing you down and stealing your joy? Where do you need to make adjustments to the time, priorities, and decisions of your life in order to find freedom, peace, and joy?

Then I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out, my people! Come out from her! You must not take part in her sins; you must not share in her punishment!

Revelation 18:4 GNB

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