The breakdown of the 18th chapter is as follows:
1. Continuation and Completion of the Seventh Vial – Revelation 18:1-3
2. Verdict of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:4-8
3. Lamentation Over the Destruction of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:9-10
4. The Commercial World of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:11-16
5. Lamentation by the Maritime World – Revelation 18:17-18
6. Rejoicing Over the Destruction of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:20
7. The Cause and Utter Doom of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:21-24
Scripture is in BLACK FONT
Words of Jesus in RED FONT
Notes in BLUE FONT
The Book of Revelation
Continuation and Completion of the Seventh Vial – Revelation 18:1-3
The destruction of literal Babylon, which will take place in one hour, will be the completion of the seventh vial. The horror of the Great Tribulation period is now coming to a conclusion. It seems the destruction of this great city will take place on the eve of the battle of Armageddon. The 17th chapter of Revelation deals with mystery Babylon, while the 18th chapter deals with literal Babylon. The contrast between the two are as follows:
1. Mystery Babylon of Revelation 17 is symbolic. Literal Babylon of Revelation 18:1-24 is not.
2. One is a mystery (Revelation 17:7), the other is not (Revelation 18:1-24).
3. Everything in Revelation 17 is explained by the angel. However, Revelation 18 is clear.
4. John wondered at mystery Babylon according to Revelation 17:6 but not at literal Babylon (Revelation 18:1-24).
5. In Revelation 17, the woman rides the beast. In Revelation 18, this does not happen.
6. Mystery Babylon was something new to John in Revelation 17:1-7. Literal Babylon was not.
7. One is not mentioned by the prophets (the 17th chapter). The other (literal Babylon) is many times.
8. Mystical Babylon is destroyed by man. Literal Babylon is destroyed by God.
9. Thirty articles of commerce are mentioned in Literal Babylon Chapter 18:11-24. None are mentioned in mystery Babylon.
10. One is a mystery religion (Revelation 17). The other is a literal city (Revelation 18).
Babylon will become the chief center of demon operations after the Rapture. This will be the main cause of her fall. The third verse indicates that most nations will have become involved with the commercial and spiritual activity of literal Babylon. Statements such as “…the wrath of her fornication,…” and “…committed fornication with her,…” support this.
Demons operating through men will control much of the activity of the city. Many powerful people will become even richer through her commerce. The world has just witnessed the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s military forces. Thus, the following will ultimately happen in the Euphrates valley, the country will change from military expansionism to commercial activity. Babylon will be rebuilt and will quickly become one of the great trading and commercial areas of the world. With the gulf area controlling nearly 60% of the world’s known oil reserves, there is no limit to the commercial possibilities. Isaiah 14:4 indicates that the antichrist will, at the beginning, make his headquarters in rebuilt Babylon. “That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!” (Isaiah 14:4) This passage is a triumph song over the king of Babylon, the antichrist. Since a future generation of Israel would not be taking up a triumph song against a past king, who has not oppressed them, the passage must picture some future event to be fulfilled in the closing days of the Great Tribulation period and brought to total fruition in the Millennium.
Verdict of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:4-8
The call to come out of Babylon (my people) implies the voice of Christ. The purpose of this warning is that God’s people should be free from partaking of her sins, so that they may not receive of her plagues. Demon activity will have such a powerful sway on the city of Babylon and its commercial, as well as religious, activities that millions will be seduced. Her iniquities will be so great that God said, “…her sins have reached unto heaven,…” The latter portion of this chapter will tell what some of these sins are.
In the 7th verse, Babylon is personified as the queen and chief of all cities. Isaiah spoke in this same fashion almost two hundred years before Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar, laid seize to Judah and Jerusalem using the same terminology. The Holy Spirit, through Isaiah, called Babylon, “…The lady of kingdoms.” (Isaiah 47:5).
In the 9th verse, Isaiah mentioned two things that would come to Babylon in a moment in one day. He also spoke of the multitudes of her sorceries and the abundance of her enchantments (Isaiah 47:9).
The suddenness of the judgment of Babylon as Isaiah indicated, spoke of a latter-day fulfillment when God would destroy her under the seventh vial at the Second Coming of Christ. It was to be done in a moment in one day and suddenly. This has never happened to Babylon. It took many days for the Medes and the Persians to take the city, and even then, it was not destroyed. It existed for many hundreds of years after that. Peter wrote the two books that bear his name from the city of Babylon in about AD 63. Isaiah prophesied that Babylon was to be destroyed suddenly, in a moment, something which had not yet come to pass. So, it remains to be fulfilled in the future as described by John in Chapter 18.
One can well imagine the evil that will take place in this city, thereby going out to the whole earth when one considers that satan will come to the earth in the last 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation period, having great wrath because he knows he has but a short time. No doubt, rebuilt Babylon will be his spiritual headquarters. However, as a spirit-being, he will not be visible, so the judgment of God will come down hard upon this city. God says, “…in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.” The suddenness and completeness of the destruction of Babylon, as emphasized in the 9th verse, proves that this judgment is yet to come because, as stated, ancient Babylon was not destroyed suddenly and completely.
Lamentation Over the Destruction of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:9-10
As described in the 16th chapter of Revelation, Babylon will be destroyed in one day by a severe earthquake. Verses 9 and 10 prove that the mystery Babylon of Revelation 17 is totally different than the commercial Babylon of Revelation 18. The kings of the earth will thoroughly destroy mystery Babylon (17:12-17). Here, they lament the destruction of literal Babylon. The kings of the earth will have nothing to do with the destruction of literal Babylon. That will be done by God with the earthquake.
The Commercial World of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:11-16
It is obvious, even to the casual reader, that the commercial activity described in detail, taking place in Babylon, constitutes this a literal city. And once again, John prophesying on the island of Patmos several hundred years after Babylon had been taken over by the Medes and the Persians, would not at all be speaking of the Babylon that existed those several hundreds of years earlier (actually, Babylon was still in existence in John’s day). Furthermore, everything in Revelation Chapter 6 though Chapter 19 pertains to the Great Tribulation period, which had not come about in John’s day and actually has not even come about at the time of this writing. So, it should be obvious to all that ,with the explicit detail given by John in the 18th chapter, this could not be symbolic of some spiritual empire that will be destroyed. John is speaking of a literal city.
Lamentation by the Maritime World – Revelation 18:17-18
When Babylon is destroyed by the great earthquake, ships will stand offshore in the Persian Gulf observing the destruction of this great city. They will lament her fall. This proves Babylon is a literal commercial center and is not a religious system as mystery Babylon of Revelation 17. Actually, the antichrist will have control of the great riches in the last days and will, no doubt, derive much of his revenues from this great commercial center.
Rejoicing Over the Destruction of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:20
There are three times that Heaven is told to rejoice:
1. When satan is cast out – Revelation 12:12
2. When Babylon is destroyed – Revelation 18:20
3. When the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife is made ready – Revelation 19:7
From the Biblical description, it seems that rebuilt Babylon will become the center of all evil activity in the last days. She will spread her evil to the entire globe. This city will not only be a center of commercial activity but also a great center of activity against all that is righteous, holy, and true. Consequently, when it falls, it will be the occasion of tremendous rejoicing in Heaven.
The Cause and Utter Doom of Literal Babylon – Revelation 18:21-24
We mentioned that the earthquake will destroy the city of Babylon under the seventh and final vial. The mighty angel, in order to illustrate with which this city will be destroyed, took a millstone and cast it into the sea and announced that Babylon will be destroyed with violence. He also stated, “…and shall be found no more…”
As we know, ancient Babylon was not destroyed in this fashion. So, it could not fulfill these prophecies. The ruins of ancient Babylon can still be found today after hundreds of years. However, the rebuilt Babylon that John speaks of in this chapter will not be found any more at all. There is a very interesting statement in verse 23 that gives us another indication of the evil of this city, “…by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” The word “sorceries” is the same word from which we get our present word for drugs. The word “sorceries” means witchcrafts, enchantments, and divinations. However, the primary meaning of the word speaks of drugs. Rebuilt Babylon will not only be a center of merchandise and commercial activity, but she will become the “dope” capital of the world. This, no doubt, will be the source of much of her riches.
This chapter completes the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials. There are other parenthetical passages inserted among these 21 events. They are explanations of other events not contained in the seals, trumpets, and vials. They are fulfilled in the order and time given.
The last verse implies that Babylon will be the final concentration of martyrdoms and reigns of terror. She will be responsible in the same sense that the pharisees, living at the time of Christ, will be held accountable for all the blood from Abel to Zechariah (Matthew 23:35-36). The idea is that of cumulative sins in judgment. God will punish Babylon with the destruction and wrath equal to what she would receive if responsible for all who were slain upon the earth. Her destruction will culminate the wrath of God started under the sixth seal in the first 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week.
1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven,
-This angel seems to be different from the angels of Revelation 17:1.
having great power;
-He is greater than any one of the seven.
and the earth was lightened with his glory.
-represents the fact that this angel who immediately precedes the coming of Christ must, of necessity, be one of, if not the greatest angel in the creation of God due to the magnificence of that Coming and especially of the One Who is coming. It could be either Gabriel or Michael.
2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen,
-He is speaking of literal Babylon, the city and as well, of mystery Babylon, the religion.
and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
-proclaims the city, in the last of the last days, as an infestation of demon spirits of every sort. In other words, it will be the capital of evil in all the world. Vultures and such like are used at times in the Word of God as symbolic for demon spirits (Matthew 13:32).
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,
-pertains to the time of the antichrist, but as well, to all that Babylon has represented from the very beginning of time, i.e., “false religions”
and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
-From his headquarters in Babylon, the antichrist will make it possible for many to get rich during the time of the Great Tribulation, therefore, ingratiating himself to many nations of the world.
4 And I heard another voice from heaven,
-presents that which is different from the angel in the first verse
saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins,
-The short phrase, “my people” refers to all believers all over the world for all time, but the primary thrust is Israel. In fact, the entire book of Revelation, even though broadly addressing itself to the entirety of mankind, is primarily for Israel. This is the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) and is designed to bring Israel back to God.
and that ye receive not of her plagues.
-If believers fail to come out from among the world, i.e., the “world’s system”, we will experience judgment the same as unbelievers.
5 For her sins have reached unto heaven,
-carries the idea of rebellion against God which is the ruin of mankind. Indeed, rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.
and God hath remembered her iniquities.
-The only way God will forget sins and iniquities is by man placing his faith and trust in Christ and The Cross (Hebrews 8:6,12).
6 Reward her even as she rewarded you,
-Saints are not called to render vengeance but rather the statement is made that God will do such. The idea is that every act of hurt by the world or the apostate church against God’s people will be answered in kind, but in this case, it pertains more to the Jews than anything else according to Genesis 12:3.
and double unto her double according to her works:
-in a sense, pertains to the fact that the future rebuilt city of Babylon will suffer the judgment of the ages. The effort by President Bush to change the government in Iraq, which in fact, was the right thing to do, is a part of the process which will enable Babylon to be rebuilt.
in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
-God’s answer to man’s rebellion is the destruction of Babylon and in a cataclysmic way.
7 How much she hath glorified herself,
-pertains to the characteristics of religion
and lived deliciously,
-refers to the earthly rewards of religion. At its base, one will always find “money.”
so much torment and sorrow give her:
-refers to the fact that judgment has been laid up for the city of Babylon, symbolic of man’s system, which is a system without God. We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).
for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
-She calls herself a “queen” while The Lord refers to her as “the great whore”, which pronounces her doom.
8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine;
-points to the great earthquake of Revelation 16:18
and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
-The idea is that satan, through the antichrist, will boast of his great strength. So, The Lord will, in effect, show the antichrist and the world what strength really is.
9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication
-speaks of “spiritual adultery.” The worship of anything other than God, and trust placed in anything except Christ and Him Crucified, is “spiritual adultery.”
and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her,
-Babylon, and we speak of the system, is their god, so they lament for their god.
when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
-signals far more than the destruction of one city. It is the end of a system, a way, a false way, a terrible way and will be carried out at the very conclusion of The Great Tribulation, which will usher in the Second Coming.
10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment,
-The destruction of this city will, no doubt, be televised all over the world. As well, much of the world will fear the same judgment is coming upon them, knowing that God has done this.
saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!
-proclaims the lament, knowing that her destruction signals the end of satan’s rule and reign
for in one hour is thy judgment come.
-Ancient Babylon gradually decayed, but this Babylon will be totally destroyed “…in one hour...” providing that this city must be rebuilt.
11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
-Those who have sold their souls to the system will now weep and mourn over her destruction.
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.
-The last phrase probably refers to the drug business.
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.
-This proclaims the fallacy of investing in a system of this world instead of the things of God (Matthew 6:19-21).
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 idea is that the system of this world, symbolized by rebuilt Babylon, is about to end, with another system taking its place, which will be the Kingdom of Our Lord.
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!
-This points to a conclusion regarding the word “great” which is not shared by The Lord.
17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.
-should serve as a warning to all who put their trust in such things
And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
-God took out, in one hour, what men took many many years to build.
18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
-They cried over their financial loss but seemed to show no concern for their lost souls.
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 casting of dust on their heads does not point to repentance, but rather, to sorrow of their financial loss.
20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
-While men cry over the destruction of Babylon, The Lord tells believers to rejoice.
21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea,
-is a fulfillment of Matthew 18:6
saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
-proclaims the manner in which the era of evil will end. It will be with “violence”, which, in effect, speaks more of the Second Coming of Christ than anything else.
22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee;
-the merriment has ended
and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee;
-refers to the way business is normally done. A few get filthy rich on the backs of the helpless poor.
and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
-refers to grinding poverty which characterizes much of the world. It is not that poverty will characterize Babylon but that much of its riches will come from ill-gotten gains.
23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee;
-satan’s false light will shine no more
and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee:
-refers to a false foundation exactly as the false light. In fact, everything about the system of the world is false, built on a lie.
for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
-Witchcraft and the drug business, referred to by “sorceries”, constitute the foundation of this commercial enterprise which will be totally destroyed.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
-The literal city of Babylon is symbolic of the Babylonian spirit which has oppressed the work of God from the beginning until now.