Revelation: Chapter 18
This chapter is a continuation of Revelation 17:1-18 but its focus is on commercial Babylon. A comparison of the two instantiations of Babylon is provided on the comparison of the Babylons page of this site. How these events in Revelation 17 and 18 fit together are also addressed on the page comparing the two Babylons.
In Revelation 18:1-3, the angel's announcement was after the pouring of the 7th bowl, where:
- A voice from the temple and the throne proclaimed that "It is done!"
- Aside from other events, in Revelation 16:19 God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of His wrath
Revelation 17:1-18 and Revelation 18:1-24 are a broad brush of events that describe the spiritual and commercial states of Babylon. However, unlike spiritual Babylon whose beginning appears to occur soon after the rapture of the church and ends before the mid-tribulation, commercial Babylon will be fully functioning during the latter half of the tribulation. By then, commercial Babylon will be a magnet for all of the world's riches.
The prophets Isaiah (Isaiah 13:1-22 and Isaiah 14:1-32) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50:1-46 and Jeremiah 51:1-64) both prophesied about Babylon. Though their prophesies spoke of Babylon's destruction, there appears to be a dual application or at least a mingling to two separate events. It is true that Babylon fell completely to the Medes and Persians, as described in Daniel 5:23-31, and the multi-metallic image of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2:36-39, was prophetic of the passing of the Babylonian kingdom to other kingdoms. However, Isaiah and Jeremiah compared the destruction of Babylon to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and prophesied that the stones would not be used as corner stones of other buildings, Isaiah 13:19-20, Jeremiah 50:37-40, and Jeremiah 51:26.
The destruction described similar to Sodom and Gomorrah has not yet occurred, nor was Babylon immediately desolated upon the conquest of the Media and Persian army. The rubble of the city after its eventual collapse has been used to rebuild other cities, so not all of the prophesies have been fulfilled. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was sudden and complete, and only the town of Zoar was spared since Lot and his daughters sheltered there during the judgment before going on to the mountains as they were instructed. But all around the town and throughout the plains were burnt, Genesis 19:21-30. The prophetic instance of Babylon's sudden and complete destruction will not occur until this time in the tribulation period. The city of Babylon was being rebuilt, during the reign of Saddam Hussein, and the expectation of further development in the future is not out of question.
There is nothing in scripture to indicate when the area of ancient Babylon will be rebuilt, and when it will regain the its full strength, power and riches described in Revelation 18:1-24, but consider the following possible scenario. This scenario is meant to provide insights as to how all these prophetic passages could be fulfilled, to show how well they fit and complement one another, and to demonstrate that since these sequences of prophecies could be fulfilled today, that the time of the Lord's return is indeed very short. As a caution, the Lord will obviously fulfill all scripture His way, and the following is only a scenario with no representation of what will actually occur.
With the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38:1-23 and Ezekiel 39:1-29, the federation with Gog, such as Iran and other Muslim countries, would have been destroyed by God, including their oil infrastructure. This will result in a great demand for oil on the remaining facilities in the Middle East such as Iraq. This will draw considerable and sudden wealth to these surviving countries in this world based an oil economy. By mid-tribulation, the Antichrist would have setup his headquarters in Jerusalem, received his full power from Satan, and his image erected in the holy place. Since Babylon is the center of evil, where the Abyss was opened to allow increased demonic activity to be unleashed, Revelation 9:1-21, it is expected that the Antichrist would move the center of his economic and power base to Babylon. Babylon needs to be rebuilt in order to fully fulfill the prophesies of Isaiah and Jeremiah; it is not a matter of if, but when. It is assumed that Babylon will be fully built during the mid-tribulation period, drawing the world's riches to itself, allowing for further hyper development in the region, including a nearby port facility dredged up to near the city's suburbs for significant maritime activity beyond oil.
In addition to the existence of Babylon, is the utter destruction that is in store for the city and surrounding regions because of the Lord's judgment. This will be accomplished by the massive army raised up in the East that marches westward. The sixth bowl was poured out on the Euphrates River to facilitate the 200,000,000 man army's movement to keep its divine appoint that the Lord made for them at Armageddon, Revelation 16:12 and Revelation 9:13-16. Isaiah 13:4-6 shows that a 200,000,000 man army will approach Babylon from the East to destroy the city in one day. This event occurs very near the end of the tribulation period. This will also be the time when the full impact of the seals opened by Christ will be felt, particularly the third seal, Revelation 6:5-6
As seen in the chronology of Revelation, John is viewing this part of the revelation as commercial Babylon, Revelation 18:1-24, from the perspective of John being on earth. The timeframe for the existence of this false church extends from at least before the beginning of the tribulation, through the middle of the tribulation period and on to the end of the tribulation, when it will be completely destroyed.
|1-3||The proclamation against Babylon|
|4-5||A warning to the saints|
|6-7||Double the wrath|
|8-19||The hour of judgment|
|20-23||The eternal silence of Babylon|
|24||The final statement|
Now John writes concerning the commercial Babylonian system. Those influenced by the commercial Babylonian system were:
- All nations, who drunk the wine of wrath of her fornication
- Kings of the earth committed fornication with her
- Merchants were enriched through the abundance of her delicacies
- Ship masters, company of ships and sailors cried at her destruction
In Revelation 18:1-3, another angel came down from heaven with great attributes. He had great authority and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. This is not Christ. This is not the event of the promise of his return as shown in Revelation 19. This angel announces that Babylon has fallen, Revelation 14:8, 18:2. It is interesting that he repeats fallen twice, possibly either that there are two parts of Babylon described in Revelation, or that this is the second and final time Babylon will be destroyed. Babylon is the center for demonic activity. All nations have participated with Babylon, the center of the world. All kings have committed fornication with her, in a political sense. All merchants of the earth grew rich from her luxury excesses, in a commercial sense.
The angel announces with a strong voice that none should fail to hear, Babylon has fallen, Revelation 18:2. Other passages in scripture describe the destruction of Babylon, such as what was first cried out by Isaiah, alluding to Babylon’s destruction and all its idolatry that will be broken Isaiah 21:8. Or, by Jeremiah who wrote of Babylon’s fall and sudden destruction was prophesied, Jeremiah 51:8. The complete destruction of Babylon is simultaneous to the pouring out of the seventh bowl judgement, as is the Lord’s physical return. Babylon has been the center for demonic activity, which afflicted mankind since Nimrod, and will in the future where:
- Zechariah had a vision showing a description of wickedness, where a basket with a basket having a lid of lead, with a woman in it and who was flown to the land of Shinar, or Babylon, where they would build a base where it was to be set upon. It was flown there by two women with wings of storks, which were unclean.
- Jesus used birds in His mustard seed parable representing the kingdom, but birds nest in it, which are evil, Matthew 13:31-32
- Moses listed all the unclean birds, Leviticus 11:13-20
Fornication is the sexual relationship of two individuals not married. The context here is spiritual fornication, where people worshiped idols, coveted, and enlarged their wealth rather than worship the most high God, Genesis 14:18, Deuteronomy 29:23-28. God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, Romans 1:18-23. Paul also likened covetousness to idolatry, Colossians 3:5
In Revelation 18:3, John lists those who drank the wine of the wrath of Babylon’s fornication. God used Babylon, as He used Pharaoh, Romans 9:17, to make the nations drunk in fornicating with Babylon, and therefore share in the golden cup of God’s wrath, as God judges them all for the sins against Israel, Jeremiah 51:5-9, where:
- Kings committed fornication with Babylon, commercial and religious
- Merchants grew rich through commercial Babylon’s abundance
- However, the greater populace who followed mystery Babylon are not included in this list, only the very rich made this list, Revelation 17:15
In Revelation 18:4-5, John hears a voice from heaven, which is likely the Lord's voice, calling all of God's people to come out of Babylon. Just like Lot, the Lord wants them out so that they would not share in: The sins of Babylon and the plagues that are about to fall upon her. And just like Lot, their righteousness will be vexed by being part of that evil society, 2peter 2:6-8.
Revelation is a prophetic book written to believers of Israel, Revelation 1:3-4, and this call is to the believing Jews to leave Babylon, similar to the time when the 70 years of exile imposed by the Lord was completed, Jeremiah 25:11-12, and the Jews were allowed to return to their land.
- Cyrus allowed Jews to return and rebuild the temple, Ezra 1:1-4
- Few left, they were content in Babylon, see the book of Esther
- The prophet Jeremiah prophesied the same thing Jeremiah 51:5-6, 45-48
The sins of Babylon have filled up the bowl of wrath, and it will be poured out on her. During the pouring out of the seventh bowl, God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup of the fury of His wrath, Revelation 16:19. This is the same cup given to those who worshiped the beast, his image, and received his mark on their forehead or on the hand, Revelation 14:9-10.
In Revelation 18:6-7, the voice from heaven, the Lord's most likely, is continuing the dialog. The judgment upon Babylon is to double what she has done. The cup she is to drink is of the fury of God's wrath that will be doubled. This is not a capricious act on the Lord's part, but it is consistent with the law of God given to Moses. In the law, double portions were required from the thief for stolen property, Exodus 22:4, 7, 9. The Lord also dealt with His people Israel in the past with a double portion for their sins, Isaiah 40:1-2. This is all demonstrative of how the world undervalues sin, but contrasted against God's view there is a vast chasm between the two, and God's view is the basis for the severity of Babylon's judgment. The comparison of the amount of judgment is equated to the glory and luxury Babylon gave herself, and her boasts about not being a widow or ever mourning.
In Revelation 18:8, the judgment upon Babylon is from God. The judgment will be swift, and will occur in one day by fire. Babylon will suffer through death, morning, and famine. Three groups will mourn the loss of Babylon; the kings of the earth, the merchants, and the shipping industry.
In Revelation 18:9-10, the kings will mourn when they see the smoke of Babylon's burning, and they will be terrified at the torment of Babylon. The destruction of the city will be observable from afar, and the kings will cry. This may be indicative of the advancement of the 200,000,000 man army which may attack the city and uses nuclear weapons. God had used the military power of other nations as an instrument of His judgment before, such as when God judged Egypt because of their treatment of Israel, and then He used Israel to judge the Amorites, Genesis 15:12-16. The Lord also used the Chaldeans against Judah and had them were taken into exile, Habakkuk 1:5-11. Though it is not explicitly written that the Lord will use the 200,000,000 man army to bring swift and utter destruction upon Babylon, it is certainly not out of the question. This is the time that Isaiah prophesied about a great army during the day of the Lord, to use them in his wrath and fierce anger to destroy not just the city, but the whole area so that the man in the world will be more precious than fine gold, Isaiah 13:1, and Isaiah 13:4-12. These kings saw power in Babylon, and in one day it was all destroyed.
In Revelation 18:11-13, the merchants and kings of the earth will weep and mourn with the destruction of Babylon. No one will be left to buy their cargoes of luxury, remember the third seal, Revelation 6:5-6. The fineries of the social structure that will spout up in this city upon its reconstruction include:
- Precious metals, jewels, and pearls
- Fine and precious cloth and silk
- Fine and exotic woods and building materials
- Expensive and exotic food stuffs
- Well-grown animals
- Slavery throughout the world
Many things come to mind in the description of the social and economic activities that will exist at that time. Most evident is that the middle class in the world will be utterly destroyed, Revelation 6:5-6.
First, is that if the speculation is correct concerning oil as the basis for the rapid construction and development of the region, the attraction of the world's wealth is evident by this broad economic activity.
Second, is the decay from today's western values into the toleration of slavery. There will be an apparent collapse of the middle class during the tribulation as indicated by the opening of the third seal. At that time, John had observed a black horse, Revelation 6:5-6, whose rider had a pair of balances. The minimum food requirements of that day will be a day's wages, which accounts for the possible collapse of the middle class, as all their earnings will be consumed by their daily subsistence. However, the things for the wealthy will not be touched. In that day, there will be a great division between the rich and poor. This may also account for the resurgence of slavery, wherein those unable to sustain themselves will subject themselves to slavery just to survive.
In Revelation 18:14-17, the merchants and the kings will also observe from afar all of the calamity and catastrophe that will fall upon Babylon. The sight of such destruction will terrify them, and there will be nothing for them to do to neither protect their wealth that is tied up in the city nor find any recompense. All that they can do is observe and cry. As mentioned above, this delivery of destruction upon Babylon may be by the 200,000,000 man army that attacks the city and uses nuclear weapons upon the Babylon and its surroundings. All of the merchant's riches invested in Babylon will vanish in an instant and be unrecoverable. There will be no tape backups to restore their accounts within the world banking system used by the false prophet in Revelation 13:16-17. These merchants saw in Babylon wealth, and in one day it was all destroyed. The implication that the Antichrist will move his headquarters eventually to Babylon, and his wealth, will show that he will not recognize or respect the threat from the eastern army, and he will suffer loss as well.
In Revelation 18:17-19, the third group, ship captains, will also mourn with the kings and merchants for the tragic and sudden loss of Babylon. Because of the description, that they will see the smoke and burning from far off, port facilities and channels may be constructed to enable them to be close enough to observe this tragic end to Babylon. They will lament that there was never a city like Babylon and throw dust on their heads, weeping and mourning for the loss. These ship captains saw in Babylon a means to become rich through the transport of her wealth, but in one day they will see it all destroyed.
In Revelation 18:20-21, the proclamation is made to all who are the Lord's to rejoice for the judgment of Babylon, which had to occur according to Jeremiah 51:47-50, and Isaiah 14:3-11. All of the heavenly host, saints, Apostles, and Prophets, will rejoice over God's judgment on Babylon. John now sees another angel throw a boulder into the sea, which is not the same, but interestingly similar allegorically to the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. In his dream, that stone was fashioned without hands crushing the multi-metallic image, which Nebuchadnezzar who was King of Babylon was the head of gold in the image. He saw the stone crush the image into powder. The residue was carried away like chaff, not to be remembered again, Daniel 2:34-35, which is symbolic of the complete destruction of the Gentile rule over Israel and Jerusalem forever, and the eternal establishment of the Lord's kingdom and reign. The angel announces that the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.
In Revelation 18:22-23, the things of Babylon will no longer be manifest in the world that originated within Babylon's culture, which was the center of demonic activity. The list of activities includes music, the workman of any trade, and the sound of a millstone for fine foods, all of which probably will be used in the offerings to Satan and his demons. Recall in Revelation 13:4, they will be worshiping the dragon (Satan), and the Antichrist. Satanic rituals and worship will be common place, and demanded with threat of death if not done, Revelation 13:11-15. The other beast (the false prophet) will direct worship to the beast and those failing to comply will be killed. As a result of the judgment of this region, never again will light from a lamp ever shine there, the voice and joy of generations of people through marriage will never be heard again, there will no longer be any of Babylon's merchandise manufactured, distributed or sold, and finally Babylon will no longer have any influence to be exerted anywhere in the world, either in religion, politics, or commercialism.
In Revelation 18:24, the Lord reminds John and us that Babylon was responsible for the blood of the prophets and saints, Revelation 6:9-11. See the discussion in Revelation chapter 6:9 for more information on this topic. The Lord also puts the blame on Babylon for all others who have been killed on earth who were not in Christ, Jeremiah 51:61-64. The Babylonian system was heartless, cruel, and satanically based.