Pastor Valeen Netzel – June 8, 2017
In this chapter we will see an angel proclaiming the fall of Babylon, the reasons for her demise, warning to come out before it is too late, a call to assist in her destruction, and the great sorrow of those who enjoyed and reveled in her sins and profit. Lastly we have the great joy of those who were mistreated by Babylon and are happy for her destruction.
Lament Over Fallen Babylon
1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’[a] She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. 3 For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
The destruction and the downfall of Babylon is an event determined by God. It is important to his interests and to his glory and it is predicted many years prior in the book of Isaiah. The angel that makes the proclamation is one of great authority and shines with the light of his power. The way he shouts and repeats the word “Fallen” attests to the complete devastation of her fall. He has the power to proclaim this thing as it is completed. It is a certainty and he proclaims it with such authority that we can be certain it will never rise again. He gives the reason for her destruction, in a way reminiscent of the way a court proclaims the charges against a defendant prior to passing sentence. The wickedness of Babylon had been very great – she had gone beyond the physical sins and into the spiritual sins, causing God to be sickened by her spiritual adultery.
Warning to Escape Babylon’s Judgment
4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’[b] so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; 5 for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. 6 Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her own cup. 7 Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow;[c] I will never mourn.’ 8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
Another angel gives warning to those who might still be reached. He warns them that plagues are about to come and if they want to avoid them, it is time to move out. This is the time for her punishment for the sin she has wallowed in and she is to receive double what she has done. For every luxury and glory she has placed upon herself, she will receive a double portion of torment and grief. But still she does not repent, and so she will be consumed by the fire of God’s judgement. Those who also refuse to leave the city and repent will also be visited by the same torture that Babylon endures, sharing in her eventual consumption by fire.
Threefold Woe Over Babylon’s Fall
9 “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. 10 Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!’ 11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves. 14 “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16 and cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! 17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19 They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’
Those who reveled in the sin of Babylon will mourn over it’s destruction. These are the ones who not only enjoyed the sin, but also made money from the sins that were practiced. They will be so distraught, thinking that this city was the most glorious city on all of the earth. They will lament at the money they can no longer make, rather than considering they may be facing the same retribution for their part in the sin. Sin is only pleasurable for a time – and then the price must be paid.
20 “Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets!
For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you.”
But the ones who had been mistreated by those in the city, who had been subject to the judgement of the sinners, now rejoice – for their affliction has been lifted and their God has vindicated them. All that they have endured is now being rewarded. While sorrow lasts only for a season, their rejoicing will last forever.
The Finality of Babylon’s Doom
21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. 22 The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No worker of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. 23 The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. 24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”
Here an angel gives a visual representation of the finality of the destruction. There will only be utter darkness and destruction – never again will this city exist. It has been razed in such a way by the almighty God that nothing will ever bring it back. The end of this sinful city is complete and total, it is eternally no more because of the depths of the depravity found there and practiced there. It’s condemnation was sealed by the blood of God’s people who had been slaughtered by all those who rejected God and his son, Jesus Christ.
a Revelation 18:2 Isaiah 21:9
b Revelation 18:4 Jer. 51:45
c Revelation 18:7 See Isaiah 47:7,8.