A COMMENTARY ON REVELATION CHAPTER 18
INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION CHAPTER 18
The great blasphemer is now receiving her retribution from a just and holy God. She was the hold of every foul and unclean bird and the habitation of demons. To the student of history the Vatican is the headquarters of the rottenest and most corrupt acts in history. Our God is seen saying, “come out of her…do not partake of her sins.” There is nothing holy about the “holy Catholic church.” God is going to pour out his judgment double unto her. The sentence is pronounced and execution is certain. She is going into hell at last. She must pay for her involvement in killing saints and prophets and trafficking in the souls of men. Well! God had a score to settle with the old “mother of harlots” and in this chapter he tells us about it. Read on brother and sister!
EXPOSITION ON REVELATION CHAPTER 18
1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.
This is a different angel from the one mentioned in 17:1.
2 With a mighty voice he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil [Greek unclean] spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
This angel came to tell John about the fall of Babylon the Great–also known as church and state. Similar language is derived from the prophets:
But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged. Isa. 13:21,22
The desert owl and screech owl will possess it; the great owl and the raven will nest there. God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation. Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom, all her princes will vanish away. Thorns will overrun her citadels, nettles and brambles her strongholds. She will become a haunt for jackals, a home for owls. Desert creatures will meet with hyenas, and wild goats will bleat to each other; there the night creatures will also repose and find for themselves places of rest. The owl will nest there and lay eggs, she will hatch them, and care for her young under the shadow of her wings; there also the falcons will gather, each with its mate. Isa 34: 11-15
Babylon will be a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, an object of horror and scorn, a place where no one lives. Jer. 51:37
John is telling us that the desolation will be so great that it will be inhabited only by wild beasts and birds. Ancient Babylon is and always will be uninhabited.
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.
As we have seen in the introduction the figure of fornication is repeatedly used to describe faithlessness towards God. The expression “wine of her fornication,” is a repetition of that in Rev. 14:8 and is derived from Jer. 51:7. Cf. also Rev. 16:19; and 18:3.
4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.”
The harlot is identified as Babylon of which we identified in the previous chapter as the Catholic church. The Angel of verse one is calling for God’s people to come out of her and not be partakers of her sins. The departure from her began at the end of the dark ages and continues to this present time. My great grand parents were once a part of her but they came out of her. The words of the Angel resemble those found elsewhere in scripture:
Leave Babylon, flee from the Babylonians! Announce this with shouts of joy and proclaim it. Send it out to the ends of the earth; say, “The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.” Isa. 48:20
Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord. Isa. 52:11
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jer 1:8
Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the Lord’s vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves. Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad. Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed. Jer 51:6-8
The chant of doom resembles the Old Testament prophetic passages:
Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, each will return to his own people, each will flee to his native land. Isa. 13:14
5 for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.
The accumulation of her sins were so high that it appeared to reach all the way to Heaven. God had said this long ago of literal Babylon:
We would have healed Babylon, but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to his own land, for her judgment reaches to the skies, it rises as high as the clouds. Jer:51:9
6 Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup.
The description of God’s judgment is still founded on the denunciations against Babylon in Jeremiah:
Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia [ Or Chaldea; also in verse 35 ] for all the wrong they have done in Zion,” declares the Lord. Jer. 51:24
Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. ISA 61:7
The legal retribution ordered in from the law:
If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession–whether ox or donkey or sheep–he must pay back double. If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard. If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution. If a man gives his neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double. Exodus 22:4-7
7 Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.’
These words are an echo of Isaiah:
You said, “I will continue forever–the eternal queen!” But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen. Now then, listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells. Isa. 47:7-9
She forms an estimate of herself and asserted the right to rule.
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.
The word of the Lord informs us that she will be consumed by fire. Some have thought that this is merely a figurative representation rather than an actual happening. But to the writer it seems a strong probability that God intends in this way to end the Papal power that have been so long a blasphemous power. Gibbon says:
In the opinion of a general conflagration, the faith of the Christian very happily coincided with the tradition of the East, the philosophy of the Stoics, and the analogy of nature; and even the country, which, from religious motives, had been chosen for the origin and principal scene of the conflagration, was the best adapted for that purpose by natural and physical causes; by its deep caverns, beds of sulfur, and numerous volcanoes of which those of Aetna, of Vesuvius, and of Lipari, exhibit as very imperfect representation. Gibbon, Vol. l p. 263, ch 15
When Mr. Towsend made his tour of Italy in 1850 he wrote the following:
I behold everywhere–in Rome, near Rome, and through the whole region from Rome to Naples–most astounding proof, not merely of the possibility, but the probability, that the whole region of central Italy will one day be destroyed by such a catastrophe (by earthquakes and volcanoes). The soil of Rome is tufa, with a volcanic subterranean action going on. At Naples the boiling sulfur is to be seen bubbling near the surface of the earth. When I drew a stick along the ground, the sulfurous smoke followed the indentation; and it would never surprise me to hear of the utter destruction of the southern peninsula of Italy. The entire country and district is volcanic. It is saturated with beds of sulfur and the substrata of destruction. It seems as certainly prepared for the flames as the wood and coal of the hearth are prepared for the taper which shall kindle the fire to consume them. The divine hand alone seems to me to hold the element of fire in check by a miracle as great as that which protected the cities of the plain, till righteous Lot had made his escape to the mountains. [Quoted in part from Barnes commentary, p. 399,400]
Dear reader do not be surprised to wake up some morning to the news that this has happened.
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.
One of the greatest cities of ancient times was Tyre. Equal in that day to New York or London. For l500 years the armed forces of other nations had attacked this proud city but always unsuccessful. Thirteen years after the prophecy of Ezekiel 26, Nebuchadnezzar took the city, demolished the mainland and as predicted Tyre was forgotten for 70 years. Now listen to the cry over this city and compare the cry here in this verse to their cry:
This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Tyre: Will not the coastlands tremble at the sound of your fall, when the wounded groan and the slaughter takes place in you? Then all the princes of the coast will step down from their thrones and lay aside their robes and take off their embroidered garments. Clothed with terror, they will sit on the ground, trembling every moment, appalled at you. Then they will take up a lament concerning you and say to you: ‘How you are destroyed, O city of renown, peopled by men of the sea! You were a power on the seas, you and your citizens; you put your terror on all who lived there. Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall; the islands in the sea are terrified at your collapse.’ Ezek 26:15-18
10 Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!”
Judgment may be delayed but not forgotten!
11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more–
This is analogous to Tyre:
An oracle concerning Tyre: Wail, O ships of Tarshish! For Tyre is destroyed and left without house or harbor. From the land of Cyprus [Hebrew Kittim] word has come to them. Be silent, you people of the island and you merchants of Sidon, whom the seafarers have enriched. On the great waters came the grain of the Shihor; the harvest of the Nile [Masoretic Text; one Dead Sea Scroll Sidon, / who cross over the sea; / your envoys are on the great waters. / The grain of the Shihor, / the harvest of the Nile,] was the revenue of Tyre, and she became the marketplace of the nations. Isa. 23:1-3
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 bodies and souls of men.
Such was and is the attire of the Harlot. First, articles of personal adornment; Second, articles used for furniture, etc.; Third, objects of sensual gratification–smell, etc.; Fourth, articles of food; Fifth, animate possessions; Sixth, Slaves – Rome was a keeper of slaves. Slaves had no status as human beings. There were hundreds of thousands of them. They were used in every part of Roman life, on small farms and big estates, and in village huts and luxurious houses, in mines and the inner offices of the government. None exploited slaves more thoroughly, squandered them so wantonly or depended on them so completely as the Romans did. It is estimated that in the first century a third of the population of the city of Rome was slaves. In 201 B.C. 35,000 of Hannibal’s followers were enslaved. A few decades later Sardinia supplied Rome with 40,000 slaves, northern Greece with 150,000. (Life magazine, March 1966) Seventh, Souls of men. The whole system of mass for the dead is a traffic in the souls of men.
14 “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’
All the things which was dainty and splendid are perished from Babylon the Great.
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.
They are mourning because they have no sale for their merchandise.
16 and cry out: “Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
The identity of description of the woman of 17:1 and O great city, is double proof that they are the same.
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.
Like the merchants, the men here described regret the loss of their wealth. The words describe a common sign of lamentation. The businessman’s motto was “all hail to profit!”
18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’
Rome was a republic until 27 B.C. then as an empire.
19 They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!
Like the merchants, the men here described regret the loss of their wealth. The words describe a common sign of lamentation.
20 Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.
The Roman empire had persecuted the saints for centuries and now her dooms day had arrived and the saints of God are whooping it up.
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.
Never to be found again…thank God! Read her history and you too will see how her sins reached to heaven and now God is bringing her down like Babylon of old. Compare this with what was said in Jeremiah:
He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud. Then say, ‘O Lord, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither man nor animal will live in it; it will be desolate forever.’ When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. Then say, ‘So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring upon her. And her people will fall.’” The words of Jeremiah end here. Jer. 51:61-64.
22 The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again.
Well! I believe this verse says it all for Rome. No harpists, no musicians, no flute players, no trumpeters, no workman. Like ancient Babylon there will be no one there.
I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. Jer. 25:10
I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. Eze. 26:13
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 great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
They have candles lighted on their altars in the daytime, candles are burned before the shrines of their saints and around the bodies of the dead. Untold millions of dollars are spent to lighten the dead through purgatory. Marriage ceremonies performed only by the priest of Rome will no longer be tolerated. She had deluded and deceived all nations.
24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth.”
Rome was held responsible for what had happened in the empire for she was “The mistress of the world.” The Eternal has a controversy to settle with the Popes and now he is seen as consigning her to Hell at last.