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Revelation Eighteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Revelation 18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

Revelation 18:2 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.

Babylon the great. Even though Revelation 17 and 18 have the same city in view, she is no longer called “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,” since her ecclesiastical aspects have been destroyed (Revelation 17:16-18). At this point, approximately at the middle of the seven-year tribulation, all the ornate religious and cultural trappings of “the great whore” will have been destroyed by the ten-kingdom federation, and the beast will reign supreme in his great commercial and political capital, now called simply “Babylon the great.” This could not have referred to Babylon as it appeared in John's day. Even though Babylon still existed as a viable city at that time, there was little indication (except via many of its ruins) that it had ever been a city that could be called “great.” At this point, the religions of the world, even in their final syncretistic New Age aspect, will have lost all their prestige and power; the beast and his false prophet will have total control.

hateful bird. The ancient prophecies of Isaiah 13:19-22, fulfilled in part during the church age, will finally be completely fulfilled, although Babylon's status as a habitation of “wild beasts” and “hateful birds” will only endure for a brief period before it finally vanishes forever. Though many commentators have thought that the past precursive fulfillment of this prophecy was its ultimate fulfillment, this belief encounters several fatal flaws. The latter is to be consummated only during the ultimate “day of the Lord” (Isaiah 13:6, 9-10); Babylon has never yet become as barren “as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 50:40); it has never been completely devoid of human inhabitants (Isaiah 13:20; Jeremiah 51:62); its fall was not accompanied by either terrestrial or celestial catastrophes (Isaiah 13:10, 13); and it has never been thrown “into the midst of Euphrates” (Jeremiah 51:63). All these calamities therefore must overtake it after its future restoration to even greater opulence and power under the beast than it ever had in the past.

Revelation 18:3 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.

fornication with her. Note Jeremiah 51:7 and Revelation 17:4. This aspect of her wickedness applies mainly to her character as the “Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the earth,” with all her false evolutionary pantheistic religious systems and the ungodly practices of their cultures.

abundance of her delicacies. Ancient Babylon, beginning with Nimrod and brought to its zenith under Nebuchadnezzar, was also the mother of human covetousness and desire for wealth and luxuries. That same spirit infected many of the Jewish exiles there, as well as the trading partners of the Babylonians in other nations, and in every age and nation since, there have been some men who have been able to accumulate great wealth and even greater power than kings and emperors. Paul charged that covetousness was really idolatry (Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5), and warned that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Perhaps today, more so than ever in history, the real power of the nations rests in the hands of international financiers, industrial barons, shipping magnates and other men of great wealth who can manipulate governments almost like puppets. All of this wealth and power will finally be centered in Babylon the Great, after its installation as the world's great center—not only its geographical and population center, but also its center of finance, trade, communication, culture and government. See notes on Zechariah 5:5-11.

Revelation 18:4 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.

Come out of her. Note also Jeremiah 51:45. It is a sad commentary on Christian men and women throughout history, that their avarice and desire for acceptance by the world has made them so willing to compromise with the spirit of Babylon as it was manifested in their times. Even under the terrible judgments and repeated warnings and pleas of the Lord's witnesses during the early years of the tribulation, there will apparently be a number of new Christians choosing to live in Babylon. As always, God warns His people not to compromise with the Babylonian system, but to separate from it (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Revelation 18:5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

Revelation 18:6 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.

Revelation 18:7 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.

much torment and sorrow. Babylon will experience all the plagues inflicted on of the rest of the world, in addition to more intense suffering than others under the plagues of the sixth trumpet and fifth and sixth vials (Revelation 9:14; 16:10, 12).

shall see no sorrow. See Isaiah 47:1, 7-8.

Revelation 18:8 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.

Revelation 18:9 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,

Revelation 18:10 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.

Alas, alas. The same word (ovai) as translated “woe” in Revelation 8:13.

one hour. Revelation 18:8 suggested Babylon's troubles came “in one day.” Obviously the great earthquake will be catastrophic (Revelation 16:19), although it will not destroy Babylon, as it does other great cities. It will be followed some time later by an all-engulfing fire, followed by all the other plagues; the end result is the complete demolition of the city and all its activities. The kings and leaders of the nations (those not already on the way to Armageddon) will observe the terrible fire “afar off,” probably by some form of visual media, beamed all over the world.

Revelation 18:11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

Revelation 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,

Revelation 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.

Revelation 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.

Revelation 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,

Revelation 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!

Revelation 18:17 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,

Revelation 18:18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

Revelation 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.

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

Revelation 18:21 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.

millstone. Christ had said it would be better for a man who “shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me … that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Babylon is the greatest offender of all.

into the sea. See Jeremiah 51:41-42, 63-64. This final disappearance of Babylon, possibly brought about by an aftershock of the great earthquake, may well result from a sudden fracturing or slippage of the earth's crust, causing the entire region to drop down below sea level. This event may occur some weeks or months after the great disaster (a nuclear explosion or perhaps even fire from heaven) that left the great city in ashes. This would give time for the ancient prophecies of Babylon's great desolation to be literally fulfilled (e.g., Isaiah 13:20-22; Jeremiah 51:62; Revelation 18:2).

Revelation 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;

musicians. Revelation 18:12-13 gives insight into the former commerce of Babylon; now Revelation 18:22-23 gives a picture of her former daily life, filled with raucous and sensual music and opulent, immoral living.

Revelation 18:23 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.

light of a candle. Ever since the plague of the fifth vial (Revelation 16:10), Babylon will have been in darkness. With the drying of the Euphrates (Revelation 16:12), the city's power plants would soon fail, and the city would have to be lit by candlelight. The city's riotous social life would come almost to a standstill.

sorceries. See note on Revelation 9:21. The “sorceries” (Greek pharmakeia) indicate the widespread use of drugs as well as occult arts in this great New Age metropolis.

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

slain. Not only was Babylon (both political and ecclesiastical Babylon) the “mother of harlots,” but also the mother of persecutions. See Revelation 17:4-6. False religion and corrupt government, while demanding tolerance for themselves, have always tried to destroy true creationism and the worship of the true God, in Jesus Christ.