Revelation, Chapter 18

This will begin by giving you the scripture from the King James Version of the Bible, then will go into our description of what the verses mean. You will be able to read various additional information contained in more specific files under "Research Materials".

To skip the Introduction for Revelation chapter 18, Chapter 18 Scripture Begins Here

Revelation chapter 18 - Commercial, Political Babylon is now in view - The destruction of religious Babylon described in Rev. 17 and commercial Babylon in chapter 18 will decisively rid the world of the major evils that have plagued the human race for about 5000 years. We have already seen the destruction to be unleashed on ecclesiastical or religious Babylon in the middle of the Tribulation period.

But the destruction of the commercial and governmental systems will not take place, however, until the end of the Tribulation. Some Bible scholars do not distinguish between the destruction of chapter 17 and that of chapter 18, but mold them altogether. The following six reasons establish that they are not the same.

  1. "After these things" (Rev 18 v.1) This expression indicates that the events described in chapter 18 will not take place until after the events of chapter 17 have been fulfilled.

  2. "I saw another angel coming down from heaven" Events of chapter 17 were introduced by "one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls" (Rev 17 v.1). The angel referred to in chapter 18 is obviously not the same as the one who introduced the events of chapter 17. Therefore, we can expect the same sequence of events that have happened throughout the book of Revelation: When an angel fulfills his responsibility, another distinct judgment takes place on the earth.

  3. The names in the 2 chapters are different. The name in chapter 18 is simply "Babylon the Great". (Rev. 18 v.2) True, the Babylon destroyed in chapter 17 has the name, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the whole Earth", (Rev. 17 v.5) but the only similarity is the location, Babylon. When both titles are used fully, the contrast of these two Babylons is clearly seen.

  4. Babylon the prostitute of chapter 17 will be destroyed by the kings of the earth. (Rev. 17 v.16) The Babylon of chapter 18 will be destroyed by the cataclysmic judgments of God.

  5. The kings who destroy the Babylon of chapter 17 rejoice. In the Babylon of chapter 18, the kings and merchants lament and weep for her (Rev. 18 v.9-15).

  6. If chapter 17 and 18 take place during the last days of the Tribulation, there will be no place for the Antichrist and the False Prophet to do away with all religions and substitute the worship of the Antichrist's image as described in chapter 13.

Chapter 18

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.

Then John saw another angel coming down from heaven. Whether "another angel" is one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls we are not told. But it seems doubtful, for this angel is distinctive, with such "great authority" that he lights the earth with his glory.

In the last lesson we saw that the beast, and his system, and the great whore were revealed.  Here in chapter 18, we will see the judgment that comes from God poured out on them. This "angel" in V-1 was sent from heaven.  This "power" spoken of here is power that God has endowed on this angel for the execution of this punishment. This "angel" has been in close association with the Light. We see here that this powerful Light of Jesus, even though second hand through the angel, still lightens the earth.

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.

The message of this angel who cries with a "mighty voice" is this: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!" Since chapter 18 seems to describe the destruction of a literal commercial city, the governmental capital of the world during the Tribulation, we naturally ask ourselves the question, "Where is that city?" Again, Bible prophecy students are not in agreement. Some suggest the city of Rome, and some years ago suggested New York City because he felt it was the commercial center of the world. Some who believe we should take the Scriptures literally whenever possible are inclined to believe that the city of Babylon will be rebuilt.

In chapter 18 verses 10, 16, 18, 19, and 21 you find reference to this Babylon being a city. In verse 2 the angel cried mightily and said "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen". The literal interpretation would dictate that indeed this Babylon is a city.

I do not believe this is so! If you read Rev. 17 v.18 you see: "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the Kings of the earth." In reality the "woman" was the corrupt religious system and not a city. The same applies here. Commercial Babylon is a corrupt commercial, social and political system that will be destroyed at the end of the Tribulation.

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.

Remember in chapter 16 we saw the actual destruction of commercial Babylon. At the end of this chapter I will show it  to you again so you can make sense of what is taking place.

The corruption may have had its beginnings at the city of Babylon, but believe me it has spread to every corner of the earth. It will not be until the earth is totally destroyed that this evil will be no more. Those who mourn are those who are loosing their ability to deceive the nations any longer.

Looking ahead at what it says in chapter 18 verse 23: "for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived", so you see this is not a city but a very corrupt system that is being destroyed by God by his Judgment to prepare for the coming Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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, my people. This is a call for God's people to disentangle themselves from the world system. It may also be an evangelistic call to God's elect to come to faith in Christ and come out of Satan's kingdom. In both cases, the message is to abandon the system.

Read 2 Cor. 6 v-14-17 for a good example of this

You see, even though you are not committing sin, as such. You are committing sin by association. The Bible tells us over and over not to be unequally yoked with those of unbelief. If you do not remove yourself, you are guilty of her sin. In this verse, we read that her plagues will come to those people as well.

The righteous God of the universe has not overlooked the sins of the elite power brokers who have used commerce and government for centuries to live luxuriously at the expense of others. The commercial, social and political systems of the Antichrist will receive double judgment for their sins.

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

Babylon's sins will pile up like a new Tower of Babel, but unlike the ancient tower, her sins will reach as high as heaven.

Then an angel states that God has remembered her sins. He will take note of them as He did that earlier monument to man's sinful, arrogant, prideful rebellion at Babel.

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.

This reward her simple means will recompense or repay commercial Babylon according to her works. All of those who are involved and are guilty will suffer double judgment as the cup is filled twice for her for what she has done to the Saints.

She will reap what she sowed.

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.

This is describing 3 sins she is guilty of.

(1)   "She has glorified herself" meaning she was proud.

(2)   "She lived Deliciously" meaning she pursued self gratification, and

(3)   "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow" meaning she was not only proud but boastful.

That proud boast echoes that of ancient Babylon who said "I will be a queen forever" and I will not sit as a widow, nor know loss of children. Now read that boast in Isaiah 47 verses 7-8:

"And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: [so] that thou didst not lay these [things] to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it." "Therefore hear now this, [thou that art] given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I [am], and none else beside me; I shall not sit [as] a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children."

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.

But these two [things] shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, [and] for the great abundance of thine enchantments. (Isaiah 47 v.9)

This is saying that Babylon's destruction will not be progressive. The wicked city (system) will be instantly destroyed. Daniel 5 records a similar fate that befell ancient Babylon; the city fell the very night that God wrote its doom on the wall of the king's palace.

Babylon's doom is certain and cannot be avoided. No one can change God's plans or keep Him from accomplishing what He purposed to do as Nebuchadnezzar discovered above in Daniel. Or in this case his grandson.

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,

This will no doubt include the 10 kings of the earth who rule Antichrist's kingdom under his authority as well as the rest of the world's leaders.

The destruction of the Antichrist's political and economic power will strike a fatal blow to his empire. The fall of Babylon will be a symbol of the fall of the entire evil world system.

And again Babylon is pictured as a harlot whose death causes her lovers to weep and lament over her.

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.

This "standing afar off", could mean those who heeded and came out of her. It really doesn't matter where. It may be all of these cities and many more, or it might not be a literal city at all.  I really believe this is both an evil system and many evil cities, as well, being destroyed.

The one hour simply means the judgment will happen rapidly just as verse 8 predicted.

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

These mourners are the merchants of the earth who will weep and mourn over Babylon because no one will be able to buy their goods anymore.

Whatever economy there had been will end and so will any semblance of normalcy on this devastated planet that was already in serious trouble brought on by the divine judgments of God.

18:12-13 "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," "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".

It appears that these are classed in several types:

  1.  Personal items of jewelry

  2.  Articles used for furniture

  3.  Nice smelling and tasting things

  4.  Food

  5.  Animals

  6.  Souls of men

What significance this has, I do not know; unless, it means worldly things. Most of these are things a person could do without if hard times came and you had to, even maybe the food for awhile.

This "souls of men", is one of the more interesting. In the days of the old Roman Empire, they sold people as you would animals. Perhaps that is what is meant there.  They thought no more about selling a person than they did a pair of shoes.

It appears to me, in all of this that trade has just about ceased, period. Probably, all the plagues and wars have just about stopped everything.

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.

And the merchandise that was available before are now gone and will never ever be available again. The commercial system is completely shut down and that reality is about to be made manifest.

It will probably be a time when it will be next to impossible to even find enough to feed your family. Even if you did find enough for them to eat, it would probably take all you could possibly make just to have even bread for your family.

This is probably the time when a loaf of bread would cost a whole day's wages.  There will be no money at all left for niceties.

Even if you have a tremendous amount of money, there will be great shortages of real items necessary to live on not to mention the things the rich consume will be entirely unavailable.

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,

Here, we see such great fear from these merchants who used to sell their merchandise at tremendous, outrageous profits. Like today when many get rich from oil by taking advantage of those who can't afford the inflated prices. And that includes the government who adds very high taxes to every gallon of gas. When this horrible punishment comes, it will put the fear of God on those looking on. It is about time that someone begins to fear.

These merchants weep because their materialistic passions can no longer be fulfilled. The weeping that begins then will last for eternity in hell.

These greedy merchants are a classic illustration of those in all times who gain the whole world only to end up forfeiting their own souls.

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!

These items were common commodities in the ancient world and were the source of great immense financial gain. Those materialistic, unrepentant people mourn as God brings His judgment against Babylon, knowing these items will never be found again.

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,

In one Hour: The destruction will come suddenly and quickly. The world's pagan economic system will collapse. They cast dust on their heads as a sign of mourning and sorrow (v.19; Job. 2:12; lam. 2:10; Ezek. 27:30). God hath avenged you on her: God at last judges the Babylonian system for its treatment of God's people, particularly those who are martyred during the Tribulation (Rev. 6:9-11).

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

The people cry and are amazed as they see this destruction taking place before their eyes.

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.

Casting dust on their heads is a typical ancient expression of grief. These last few scriptures state sailors, but could mean any system of transportation and delivery systems of today such as planes, trains, trucks ect. All of these services would be immediately shut down if the commercial system was destroyed including banking and computers.

Consider what would happen if there was no more electrical system available.

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

God has taken vengeance on the ones who killed his prophets and apostles and even his blessed Son.  Finally, all of those martyred by these have been avenged.

The long awaited moment of vindication, retribution and vengeance for which the martyred tribulation believers had prayed for in chapter 6 verses 9 -10 and for which all the redeemed have hoped, that time has arrived.

These final verses picture from within the results of the collapse of the Babylonian system. The finality of its destruction is shown by the six fold repetition of the phrase "no more at all". The stone cast into the sea depicts the violence and permanence of the destruction. The Babylonian system began in Genesis 10, and has continued uninterrupted in one form or another to the present day. But one day it will suddenly "sink," never to return.

In verses 23b, 24, three reasons are given for the destruction of Babylon:  (1) its arrogance, (2) Its deception of the nations, and (3) its persecution and martyrdom of God's people.

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.

"sea" sometimes means masses of people but I do not believe that is the meaning here. Whether this is only a real city, (rebuilt Babylon) or a sinful commercial, social and political system that corrupts the entire world which is being destroyed here, this is speaking of total destruction. More than likely both this is speaking of both as the two can be easily associated. This millstone here is similar to the one spoken of as being around a neck and thrown into the sea.

In the light of this Scripture, this is a really bad punishment. I believe this illustration is to show the finality of this judgment of God. We must remember Babylon is destroyed by God Himself, not by the devil.

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;

Literally everything grinds to a halt everywhere. Babylon will be completely and so thoroughly destroyed that it will never rise again as predicted by the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah in Chapter 13 verses 19-21: "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah." "It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there." "But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there." Babylon Destroyed

18:23-24 "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." "And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth."

Three final reasons are given for Babylon's judgment. Notice that the merchants are mentioned as the great men of the earth. That's why this is talking of a commercial system as well as a political system. They are not from the city of Babylon, but from all parts of the earth.

First, they use their wealth to ascent to positions of power, prominence and influence. The abuses of the proud, arrogant rich are well documented in scripture. James, Isaiah and Amos condemned the rich for their self aggrandizement and maltreatment of the poor.

Second is all the nations were deceived by her sorcery. Sorcery is from pharmakeia, the root word of the English words "pharmacy" and "pharmaceuticals". The word is used in the New Testament to refer to magic and occult practices. (Gal. 5 v.20)

Babylon's hold on the world will not be entirely due to her military and economic power, but also to her occult influence.

A final reason given for Babylon's judgment is her murderous slaughter of God's people.

Now let's go back and read the end of chapter 16 starting with verse 17 through verse 21.

This is starting when the Angel pours our the seventh vial or bowl judgment which is the last of the 21 plaques of Revelation right before the second coming of Jesus and the battle of Armageddon.

Notice that not only Babylon fell, but also the cities of the nations as well, v.19.

Also don't forget the earth is already reeling from the thunders and lightings not to mention the biggest earthquake the world has even know.

Then the great hail that weight about a talent each (100 pounds each). This hail is totally capable of destroying cities with no problem at all.

And verse 20 tells us that every island fled away and the mountains were no longer found. This is the worst plague of the 21 by far as it completely destroys the political, commercial system called Babylon the Great from off the earth. Not to mention that this is the end of the earth as we have known it as it now has been completely leveled and is ready for the renewal process that's coming.

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