The End of Godless World Dominion.
The Fall of Babylon. v1 - 3.
The fall of Babylon is referred to in Rev. 14:8 and 16:19 and in this chapter for the last time. In chapter 17:16 we saw that the confederation of nations destroyed the harlot (Babylon) by fire - referring to the apostate ecclesiastical order. Here we see the apostate social and commercial centre of the world being destroyed by God.
1. "After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory."
Following the vision of chapter 17, John sees an angel descend from heaven, who is described as having great authority. The radiance of his glory was such that it illuminated the whole earth.
2. "And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!"
This angel had come to forcefully proclaim that the city which held the whole world in the grip of its power - 'Babylon the great' - was destroyed. The ruins where it had once proudly stood had become possessed by demons - utterly desolate.
3. "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury."
All the nations were taken up with and addicted to her idolatry, so bringing wrath on themselves. All world leaders joined with her in this idolatry and business men became rich through the excessive luxury and wantonness she advocated.
The Call to Separation. v4 - 5.
4. "And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues."
John hears another voice from heaven. The call to "my people" suggests that it is the voice of God. Since the Church is already in heaven, those addressed here would be those Jews who had been sealed by God (Rev. 7:3 - 4). They are to separate themselves completely from every association with this idolatrous system. To fail to do so would be to consent to its sins. Those who were contaminated by the influence of the sin all around them would share the plagues that were to fall on it. However, this warning is applicable for believers in every generation. 2 Cor. 6:17.
5. "For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities."
The sins of the materialistic, money loving and pleasure seeking people of earth have piled so high as to almost touch heaven; the time has come for God to pour out His wrath on them.
Sin Punished. v6 - 8.
6. "Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her."
The executioners of God's wrath are told to treat Babylon in the same way that she had treated God's people; to repay her double for the atrocities she had committed.
7. "In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.'"
Just as she had arrogantly puffed herself up and lived a luxurious life so now, in equal measure, would sorrow and torment be hers. God would judge her because she believed herself invincible, trusting that her riches, rather than God, would shield her from suffering and destitution.
8. "Therefore her plagues will come in one day--death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her."
In consequence of her pride and luxury all the calamities of plague, death, sorrow and famine will come thick and fast in one day. She shall be completely destroyed by fire in such a way that demonstrates how mighty the Lord is who judges her.
The World Mourns for Babylon. v9 - 20.
9. "The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning."
Although it is the materialistic spirit of man that is to be judged, it is the literal destruction of the world centre of commerce that brings about total economic collapse, bringing abject poverty to hitherto rich nations. All world leaders, who had been unfaithful to God in their love of idolatry, immorality and luxury, see the destruction of Babylon. They will weep and lament for the destruction of all that their souls lusted after.
10. "Standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgement has come."
Standing at a distance for fear lest they be engulfed in her torment they will howl, "Alas! Alas!" They recognise God's hand of judgement in the destruction of the city, yet bewail it.
11. "And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore:"
Those business men who had made their fortune out of her shall weep and mourn. They do not mourn for the destruction or loss of life, nor in repentance of their sins but for the fact that they will not be able to add to their riches.
12, 13. "merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. "
These verses list all the merchandise they had traded in. Tatford lists them in eight classes:
1. Precious metals and stones (gold, silver, precious stones and pearls).
2. Costly clothing and textiles (fine linen, purple and scarlet garments, and silk).
3. Furniture materials (thyine wood, ivory).
4. Vessels (wood, brass, iron, marble)
5. Perfumes and spices (cinnamon, ointments, frankincense).
6. Food (wine, oil, flour, wheat, cattle,sheep).
7. Conveyances (horses and chariots)
8. Slaves (bodies and souls of men).
14. "The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all."
All the extravagant indulgence and wealth that their souls lusted after shall be taken away from them forever.
15. "The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing."
These business men like the world leaders will stand at a distance in terror of her doom and torment contemplating all that has happened.
16, 17. "And saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.' Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What is like this great city?'
They will bemoan its destruction only because of the personal loss to themselves. All those employed in maritime trade from captains to crews stood afar off exclaiming as they watched the smoke of her burning, what city can be compared with the great city.
19. "They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate."
As a sign of their mourning they threw dust on their heads and shrieked, wept and groaned over her desolation because of the great riches they had lost.
20. "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!"
While the whole world mourned over the destruction of Babylon so heaven and all the saints, apostles and prophets are exhorted to rejoice because God has executed vengeance on her for them.
The Final Destruction of Babylon. v21 - 24.
21. "Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, "Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore."
A powerful angel takes a large millstone and hurls it into the sea exclaiming that such will be the overthrow and complete ruination of Babylon; it will never be found again.
22. "The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore."
Never again will there be heard the sound of music in her streets. There will be no skilled worker, mechanic, builder, etc.. or trader of any kind be found there. Those who prepared and provided food shall cease to exist.
23. "The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore."
There will be total darkness as all the lights are extinguished for the last time and the joyful voice of newly married couples will be heard no more. This is a picture of complete and utter desolation.
23b, 24. "For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth."
The chapter ends by giving the reasons why God will pour out His wrath in judgement on the great city Babylon. The great and prominent business men of the world who dwelt in it and made their wealth had deceived the nations by their sorceries e.g. by drugs, occult power and magic. Through her corrupt, ruthless greed, idolatry and ungodliness she had slaughtered the prophets and saints of God and was responsible for the death of all those slain on the earth.
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Copyright (2012) Sharon Full Gospel Church, UK. Reg. Charity No. 1050642 www.sharonchurch.co.uk
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