Revelation 18

Revelation 18

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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.”

(ESV)


Revelation 18 Commentary

by Hank Workman

The persecuted church has always faced the temptation to compromise with the world hoping to ease the tension that is faced while living here.  This was evident when the mark of the beast was given and to buy and sell you had to have that mark – and it is evident today within the countries where being a Believer is against the law where death is a threat.  Believers must determine where their allegiance falls.  As the end times unfold – this allegiance will be tested.  Your allegiance will be brought into question.  The persecution and hardship will show upon which Rock we’ve built our lives.

This voice in the opening of Revelation 18 is a warning.  It is calling out not to associate with, not become enmeshed in the attitudes and lifestyle of Queen Babylon.  It’s a voice counseling not to compromise.  For you see, to do so betrays the values of the Lamb and of His Kingdom.  Yet more importantly is the realization as this says that by compromising there will be punishment.

We’ve really seen this aspect over and over in this book as the punishment that came against those who were not sealed with the Holy Spirit, not sealed in Jesus.

Believers in John’s time struggled with making a clean break from the idol worshiping culture in which they lived.  That struggle has not changed today.  We all can struggle so much with living the right life in the times as these; not compromising with things that would seem ‘okay’ and yet are not.  Paul wrote of this struggle.

“With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

Ephesians 4:17-24

Consider King Saul. This man was the first King of Israel and had so much going for him.  Yet, through direct disobedience, direct determination to do things his way; a bullheaded arrogant man – God removed his blessing from him; His hand was lifted.  His Spirit removed.  Consequently from this, darkness filled his thought, his heart became hardened, his mind was absolutely closed off to the ways of God.  Ultimately, Saul wandered very far from the life God had planned for him.  He died a horrific and sad death.

It’s a tragic but interesting story nonetheless that fits here.  You see for Saul, and really for anyone, our struggle can be the wrestling with our old ways and not allowing the Spirit of God to help us through what we face.  Not allowing the Spirit to renew our thoughts and attitudes about much.  And without the Spirit, our hearts and minds become hardened to God and His ways.  Without the Spirit of God actively involved in our lives.  We are dead.  Literally.

In the same letter Paul wrote:

“Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:6-10

We know what God is pleased with and what He’s not.  We know.  These are key words of warning and challenge to live beyond what the world dictates.  To live beyond the excuses of our lives and history.  To live in a way that pleases God.  To live in the fullness of the Spirit.

Yet, isn’t it funny how the pull and the sway of this life muddles things?  The draw of the world and the life we live becomes so strong as the reality of eternity gets sidelined.  We can so quickly lose the eternal perspective.

We have one life.  One chance.  How much in step are you with the Spirit and the ways of God?

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”

1 John 2:15-17

These things of this world are not from the Father.  The ways we get distracted, the ways we get invested here to this human life – are not from the Father – they are from the world.  This on some levels is all so overwhelming – because how can we make it?  How can we survive?  The pull of this world is great.  You know it.  I know it. 

The key – the absolute key – is that of the Holy Spirit and His role in our lives and being an active part of everything we do.  This is why we should all be in tune, in step with the Spirit of God in our lives.  We must allow Him to transform our thoughts and attitudes.  Otherwise, we will become Saul.

This will not happen unless we are committed, absolutely committed to Jesus.  We must tend to, engage in our relationship with Him daily.  Without having Him be the foundation of our life and our ways, we will give in, we will succumb and will not have the love of the Father in us, nor have the assurance of the life that truly matters.


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

Additional Resources

Revelation 18 Sermon
The Boxcutter Podcast – Revelation 17 & 18: A Dirge for A Drunken Harlot

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