Revelation 18


1. – 3. With God’s declaration that Babylon (Rome) would fall, the angel comes announcing the certainty of its demise just as surely as if it had already transpired. Compare this reality with Isaiah 21:9 where the prophesy spoke of the fall of the literal Babylon some 150 years before its actual fall. Also note the power of this angel and how his glory illuminated the whole earth! This is the effect of TRUTH. With the certainty of judgment upon this evil capitol, and equal demise to those who accepted her luxuries to promote themselves (satisfy their lusts – 1 John 2:15 – 17), this sinful place would become the habitat of every evil influence (vs. 2). This statement means the “reputation with, source of, conviction with and promotion of” evil comes from this habitat. IT IS NOT A PLACE FOR GOD’S PEOPLE! Now notice the passage is FIGURATIVE and not literal. It is the same as 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 18. Read that passage for clarity.

 4. – 5. See again 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 18 and Ephesians 5:11 – 14. God’s people need to FLEE such an environment of sin. It is the “last call” for this action – they must flee from the influence of sin! Examine these facts:

            a. “not to share in her sins” (vz. 4) God’s people must have no association with evil as a practice! (Rom. 12: 9; 1 Thess. 5:22)

            b. “not receive any of her plague” It would be unjust of God to punish righteousness with wickedness. However, EXCEPT GOD’S CHILDREN LEAVE THE CITY (i.e., sin and its influence), THEY EXPRESS A LOYALTY TO SIN AND THEREFORE WOULD RECEIVE THE SAME PUNISHMENT!

            c. “God has remembered her [Babylon’s] iniquities” – God’s awareness of our activities both good and bad should not surprise us (Heb. 4:12 – 13). While His eyes are over the righteous and His ears open to their prayers (1 Pet. 3:10 – 12), His face is against them that do evil (ibid.) Nonetheless, He is AWARE, and the AWARENESS is not conducive to righteous behavior of His children!

 6. – 8. With respect to vs. 8, consult 2 Peter 3. Note expressly the phrase “one day.” It is suddenness and complete without opportunity of escape. With that swiftness of destruction in mind, consider now verses 6 and 7. “Double” is a word referenced to harvesting. Farmers expect to reap more than they sow. Since this evil empire sowed seeds of evil in civil and religious moralities and governments, the harvest of her sins would be double that which she sowed! In other words, her DUE punishment is twice as severe as the evil she issued forth to those around her. She had no respect for God or godly things, and therefore God will have no compassion upon her to ease her suffering of justice! Though she believes herself “immune” to such punishment (“I sit a queen and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow”), she shall indeed receive the just punishment for her deeds of wickedness! Such is the reward of sin! (Rom. 6:23) Her plagues are in the order demanded for the most severe of suffering: death, mourning, and famine. With death coming first, the “trickle down” effect is punishment upon her children and those who associated with her: they mourn her loss not from compassion, but from their selfish lusts that can no longer find satisfaction! Likewise, they starve for lack of fulfillment of their sinful desires. Naturally, starvation (famine) creates death, and the cycle continues.

9. – 19. Beginning with verse nine, we find a listing of those whose benefits came from fornicating with this wickedness. Each expresses tremendous grief for her loss – BUT NOT OF A COMPASSIONATE NATURE! It is for the sake of THEIR loss, for they can no longer find a substance from which to continue their evil satisfactions. Note the listing and the circumstances:

            a. KINGS OF THE EARTH – These stand afar off that they might not partake in her demise. Yet, they bewail the smoke of her torment. She is gone and the hope of their continue gains in sin are gone as well!

            b. MERCHANTS OF THE EARTH – These recognize that with the wealth and commerce of Babylon (Rome/sin) gone, they have none who will purchase their wares. Therefore, the hope of their gain is lost as well! These also stand afar off – all their merchandise is of delicacy and luxury. The lusts for these items died with Babylon and therefore though these merchants of sinful pleasures desire to sell them, they have no one now to buy them!

            c. SHIPMASTERS, THE COMPANIES THAT OWNED THE SHIPS AND THE SAILORS – These also mourn her loss because of their now failed businesses. There was no one now to purchase the luxuries of sin, and therefore no need for transport. Therefore, these also lost their incomes – GREED COULD NOT FIND FULFILLMENT!

 20. – Though punishment of the wicked does not bring God pleasure (Ezekiel 18:23) it is nonetheless fulfillment of His promise. Thus, the rejoicing is not of the death of the wicked, but VICTORY OVER EVIL! Remember the cry of the martyrs (Rev. 6:9 - 10). This is the fulfillment of that time. The Christian sees VICTORY, PROMISE, HOPE AND GLORY in this scenario.

21. – 24. This is the great death and complete destruction of the “citadel of sin!” Obviously, it is NOT the literal city of Rome for it still stands. Obviously, it is not the elimination of sin, for sin still exists. IT IS THE CLOSE OF THE LAST EMPIRE OF OPPRESSION UPON GOD’S CHILDREN. Remember Daniel 2:44. The Roman Empire was the LAST of all empires. Though the church came into being during the days of these kings, these kings and all their power would be brought to a complete and permanent end. This then is a symbol to remind us that the GREATEST OF SINFUL INFLUENCES WILL NOT SURVIVE. To these who were the first recipients of the letter, Rome’s influence was growing in Macedonia. Jerusalem had been destroyed (A.D. 33, and this letter most probably written in A.D. 96), Christians in Asia Minor needed assurance of their VICTORY, PROMISE, HOPE, AND GLORY. This news would cause them great rejoicing and great comfort. Several of their brethren were martyrs – now that martyrdom is avenged. They could go onward in great joy that God’s promise is made known to them all! (Compare to Jeremiah 51: 61 – 64)

            The silence of this great city is complete – DEATHENING. The angel expresses how violently Babylon (the reign of terror upon Christians) will be destroyed. Just as a millstone would make a violent splash in the sea, it would immediately sink, vanishing from sight for all time! Thus, the power of this evil is forever finished, and Christians can be at peace in their service to God. NOTE: EVIL WAS NOT DESTROYED, BUT THE LEADERSHIP, PROMOTION AND GAIN OF ITS POWER WAS DESTROYED! That is, Rome, as a leading power and influence, would no longer have its grip on the nations of the world. Yet, a continuance of various ones attempting to rise to power, wrongly influence Christians and bring them into submission of their evil desire, would come from time to time. The VICTORY, PROMISE, HOPE, AND GLORY is in knowing that the Christian need never again fear that onslaught of such domain! God has forever destroyed such leadership, promotion, and gain from rising to world power! The church must understand, and it alone is the kingdom of God’s Dear Son, and the goodness within it comes only by obedience to Him! Whenever the Christian surrenders that goodness in favor of sinful pleasure, the same ruin comes to the Christian as came to Babylon the Great. It is simply the matter of BEING FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH!!!

            The silence of this once vibrant place is remarkable! What once were sounds of LIFE are heard no more forever in this reign of evil:

            MUSIC – the sound of entertainment

            WORKMAN – the sound of progress and commerce.

            MILLSTONE – the sound of processing grain to food for sustaining life.

            LIGHTS – the sound of the evening activities.

BRIDEGROOM AND BRIDE – the sound of new life.[1] There is no future for such a destroyed element!

Consult Jeremiah 25:4 - 14 regarding the prophesy of what God would do (and did) to Judah because of their rebellion against Him. They had become idol worshippers. Jeremiah’s prophesy referred to the seventy years of their captivity and says of Judah, “Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.” (vs. 10)

            Verse 24 expresses the true REASON of her (Rome/reign of sinful oppression upon God’s children) demise. “And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” The oppressive rule of terror was responsible for the slaughter of those children of God who retained loyalty to Him! These “died in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13) and their deaths (blood) are avenged. As Christians note this fulfillment of God’s promise (and a COMPLETE fulfillment it was!), they rejoice and take courage to press onward in their lives as Children of God!

[1] Some commentators suggest “bridegroom and bride” in reference to Christ and His church (ch. 21). This is possible based in the understanding God’s people were commanded to “come out of her” leaving none to proclaim the truth had the empire remained. With the empire destroyed, it is certain Christ and His church were no part of it and the silence of the Bridegroom and Bride declare the conspicuous absence of the truth they would and must proclaim!