“After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!’” Revelation 18:1-2.
“For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” Revelation 18:3.
While Babylon is called a whore/harlot in chapters 17 and 19, she is not called such in this chapter. The reason for this is probably because this is a consensual relationship, whether for love or for lust, these two enjoy their union. In fact commercial Babylon seems to be enjoyed by all, whether kings, nations, or merchants, but at what a price!
“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.’” Revelation 18:4-5.
In all likelihood this is a warning that should have been considered before the middle of the tribulation, because in the second half people would have to receive the mark of the beast to buy or sell, or even to stay alive.
Couple this with the intense persecution the Christians have been under from the beginning, and that the Jews come under in the second half and it becomes very unlikely that these folks will be able to enjoy the sensual delights of that city.
There is a possibility though that one other thing might exist here, the black market. Wherever there is hunger, privation and lawlessness there will be traffic in stolen or misappropriated goods.
However how would such a market exist because one cannot buy or sell without the mark of the beast?
It is possible perhaps that goods might be exchanged through a barter system, “You give me your gold cufflinks and I will give you a loaf of bread”. This would certainly encourage theft and robbery by those in need of food.
A market like this might enable fugitives and those without the mark to survive in Babylon without getting caught. They just might survive here better than anywhere else.
Dangerous, yes the black market would be a dangerous occupation (for buyer and seller). Yet even today criminals commit crimes in countries that have the most horrific penalties for breaking their laws.
It is a good warning to all of us. This present world with its sex, drugs, and rock and roll has a beauty that you can see, hear, even smell and taste, but there is an end to all things, even Babylon, and you just might be swept away with it.
When you examine these things in depth, you find that they leave you wanting in the end. I think this of drugs in particular, there is always something that will give you a greater kick, a higher high; until you destroy your family, yourself, or die.
I like what the actor Van Heflin said after the first play he acted in folded in 1928. He became very disillusioned with Broadway and he said this, “It’s like going to Hawaii. You dream you can reach up and pick beautiful babes out of the trees like mangoes. But you find that it’s just another place.”
The promises of earthly pleasures will always be, in the end, just another place.
“Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix for her double. In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day – death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.” Revelation 18:6-8.
This city which arrogantly says, “I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.” Does so because she is powerful because the beast’s throne is there, and who is like the beast, no one, not even God for the beast is god.
Babylon the ancient city and throne of Satan is resurrected from the ashes and shall sit forevermore. But God is not mocked; He has said it and He will do it.
One day Babylon will resound with revelry and noises of the city, suddenly, in one hour, she will become little more than rubble and then the prison of demons.
“And the kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke off her burning…” Revelation 18:9.
This verse is the proof, if needed, that Babylon the harlot and commercial Babylon are two different places. It says the following of Babylon the harlot in Revelation chapter 17.
“And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” Revelation 17:16.
So the harlot is hated by the horns/kings and the city, commercial Babylon, is loved.
“…standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. And the fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’ And every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’ And they threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.’” Revelation 18:10-19.
Notice first the list of those who weep and wail for the city, kings, merchants of the earth, shipmasters, those who travel by sea, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea.
And what are they weeping over? Well, the fact that they are totally and irretrievably bankrupted in a moment in time; yet they weep for the city and its riches, not for the loss of life, or their wives, families, mistresses, slaves, or their associates.
When the dirigible Hindenburg burned up while docking in 1937, killing 36 out of the 97 on board, a radio announcer who witnessed this, cried out in horror, “Oh, the humanity and all the passengers!”
A sensitive man watching people die cries out; yet today, some comedians find this a source of humor. Even now our value for the lives of others is itself dying. Millions dying in a moment, but what a city!
Try to visualize how a great city works, the things mentioned here are not necessarily in the city, rather this is what the city traffics in.
For a great city like New York to function it has to have merchants, who need buyers to negotiate the purchase of their goods or raw materials; they need salesmen to sell their merchandise, and logistics to coordinate the movement of goods in and out.
Neither the materials nor the employees need all be situated in the city, this goes for the factories, something we see in the U.S. as many manufacturing jobs go to China or elsewhere overseas.
As a result, things ordered in New York may land in San Pedro harbor and go by rail or truck to someplace in the Midwest without ever dropping on a New York dock!
Yet Babylon’s opulence and big city bustle cannot be denied for some of all of the things described in our text will be within the city and there will still be a great deal of traffic taking place.
Traffic interestingly enough in the, “bodies and souls of men”, so in spite of the high toned civility of modern society, it will return to the age old business of slavery.
Not everyone will enjoy the decadence of the tribulation, along with the few very rich; there will be many slaves. Because they are bodies and souls, there is a good chance that the harvest of organs may come from some of those less desirable bodies which will be culled from the better specimens then put to death.
Is this too farfetched? Planned Parenthood has already been proven to be harvesting organs from abortion victims.
It is stated that many will stand afar off for fear of her torment; whether this is a nuclear destruction or a Sodom and Gomorrah type disaster is unknown.
They might stand afar off for fear of radiation or a fear of further destruction, whatever the case; these must have been near the city.
There are others though who merely stand at a distance, which I take to mean that they were in a different city watching it all on CNN or some other medium.
What is clear though is that it takes place in one hour, so Babylon perishes before she can react.
They “…cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning…” After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Scripture says this.
“And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.” Genesis 19:27-28.
This may be the same type of judgment, fire and brimstone will rain down on Babylon. Or some nut-cake terrorist may smuggle a nuke into the city and detonate it.
“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her! Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore. The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. And no craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore. And the light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore. And the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.’” Revelation 18:20-24.
Again, we see the destruction of Babylon being described, as a huge stone being thrown into the sea, how quickly it will sink. Heaven rejoices at its destruction because so many have been martyred in this city. Do not be surprised if there is a coliseum in Babylon.
Yet life goes on, music is heard, work is done by craftsmen and common mill workers, as though the world outside were not perishing.
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man [Jesus Christ] coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:24-26.
Revelation 18:3-24 taken from godisrevealed.com updated on 3-2-17, updated on 10-30-22.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.