By the time we get to Revelation 18, great progress has been made. The world would have by this time progressed through the series of sevens; seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls. It would have witnessed the judgment of the “Great Whore”, the apostate world “super church”, and is now advancing to the end of the Great Tribulation, in fact the events of this chapter present the end of the Great Tribulation, just prior to the Glorious Appearing of Christ at His Second Coming, or Second Advent.
This is no doubt what John has in mind when he says, And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. [Rev. 18:1] “After these things”, again, is the Greek, meta tauta. This Greek phrase appeared twice in 4:1. There, interestingly enough, by what could be referred to as the “Law of double reference”, it signaled the end of the Church Age, and the Church’s transition to Heaven. Here it seems to signal the end of the Great Tribulation, and the Church’s transition from Heaven back to earth accompanying Christ for the putting down of all rebellion, the binding of Satan, and the beginning of the Kingdom Age; which will be 1,000 years in duration.
When John says, “I saw”, it lets us know that he is still a spectator in that which is unfolding before him. He is seeing these things from the perspective or vantage point of the spirit realm. He sees, “Another angel.” In the Greek text there are two primary words translated as, “another” – heteros (another of a different kind), and allos (another of the same kind). It is the latter, allos, that appears here. Why is that important? Because there are some commentators and Bible expositors who have said that this angel is Christ Himself. This cannot be the case. It would be derogatory to the deity of Christ to present him as just another angel, especially given the manner in which “another” is used here. This is certainly a powerful angel, as we can see by how he is presented. In fact, he is said to have, “great power”. This is “mega authority”. Also, he exuded great glory, and the earth was “lighted” by it.
This angel will be the precursor of Christ. That is, he will come just prior to the glorious appearing of Christ. He will come to announce this, and as such, will be the highest and greatest of the angelic host ever created. We are not told, but this could be Michael or Gabriel. I personally believe that Gabriel is referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. It is possible then that this angel having “great power (authority)”, could be Gabriel as well. The idea is, the light which shines like day upon the tawdry splendor of Babylon, and shows that what was admired was but worthless and corrupt, compared to the Glory of God.
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. [Rev. 18:2] This powerful angel now makes a powerful announcement. He announces that, “Babylon the great is fallen.” “Fallen” is the Greek aorist tense, and could therefore be translated as, “fell”, although that is not proper English grammar in this context. If you will recall, the preliminary announcement of this event was made back in 14:8. The prophetic Word is amazing! Two-thousand years ago, approximately, this event is announced as if it had already occurred! Were we speaking of the prognostications of a mere man we could not speak with such certainty. We are not however, dealing with a man’s word, we are dealing with the very Word of God. You see, when God says something is going to happen, we can speak about it as if it had already occurred, because it will happen. Babylon will not only be restored as a city, but will become the commercial center of the world, and then will be destroyed at the end of the Great Tribulation.
Not only will Babylon be the commercial center of the world, it appears that after the rapture of the Church it will become the capital of demonic activity of every sort. The ten nation confederacy, at the behest of the Beast and False Prophet, will cast off all religion at about the mid-tribulation point in favor of Beast worship. When one strips the veneer from this scenario, it will be demon worship actually; thus the infestation of evil of every description found in Babylon, ultimately leading to its judgment and destruction. It also appears that this region of the world will be the place where evil spirits of the spirit world, and unclean birds of the physical world will be incarcerated during the Millennium. Both the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah confirm this. [See Isa. 13:19 – 22; Jer. 50:38 – 40] These prophecies find final fulfillment in the destruction of literal Babylon here in Revelation 18. If this is true, then there is no prophecy that forbids Babylon from being rebuilt. Babylon is the headquarters of demons and has been the place of rebellion down through the years. As a side note, Vultures and other birds of prey are used more than once in scripture as symbolism for evil spirits. [See Matt. 13:32]
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. [Rev. 18:3] There are two acceptable renderings here. “Have drunk” or, “are fallen”, both have good manuscript authority. The normal rendering is, “have drunk” as the KJV has it. This is God’s judgment on not so much big business, but the corruption often found in it that comes as a result of not acknowledging God’s authority. This is the unholy alliance between business and government. We have seen some of this in our day, and it never is a good thing. Also, we know that the Bible says, For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. [1 Tim. 6:10 NASB] I believe that there are some leaders within the Word of Faith camp who are coming precariously close to this. While it is true that God blesses His people, and that does include financial and material prosperity; we must guard our hearts in this area and not make the blessing our aim rather than the one who is the source of all blessing.
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. [Rev. 18:4, 5] This voice is not that of the angel John saw at the beginning of this chapter. The Greek, allos appears here again, which indicates again, “another” of the same kind. This voice is probably angelic, although it could be the voice of 19:10 in that case belonging to a believer in Heaven. We are not told exactly the identity of the speaker or the source of the voice, however the message is clear. It is directed toward believers who are still alive at the end of the Great Tribulation. It is not speaking of the Church, but of those who will have come to faith after the departure of the Church at the rapture. This not only speaks of literal Babylon, but the Babylonian spirit prevalent in the world today. Faithful ministers need to sound the alarm for God’s people to flee this spirit. To be clear, we could also refer to this as the spirit of this present world system.
Scripture is clear on what a believer’s relationship to this present world system should be. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. [2 Cor. 6:14 – 18] While the Bible does not teach isolation from the world, it definitely does teach separation from the world. What does that mean? I believe it means that there should be a clear line of demarcation between the world system and the Church. The Lord never intended the two to be wed so as to make the gospel more palatable or attractive to the “unchurched”. We don’t say, “unbelievers” or “sinners” anymore. Now it is “churched” and “un-churched.”
Today ministers send out surveys to their communities when they want to build the local church to determine what the people want in a church, then they seek to make that church to fit that pattern. To make people feel more “comfortable” in church, all crosses are removed. All songs about the blood of Jesus are shelved. In their place there are strobe lights, smoke machines, bright flashing lights and a rock band, belting out not the latest praise and worship songs, but secular rock songs! This is not calling people out of the world, but bringing the world into the church. James, the brother of our Lord said concerning this, You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. [James 4:4 ESV] When we as believers begin to turn from simple faith in the finished work of Christ at Calvary, and the power of the Holy Spirit and begin to trust in our religion or our own plans and schemes, we have committed spiritual adultery! We have “stepped out” on Christ, as it were. Granted, James uses some strong language here, but it is intended to jar the reader and awaken them to the reality of their spiritual condition.
James seems to be taking his cue from the Old Testament here. [See Hosea 2:2 – 5; 3:1 – 5; 9:1] The people under the Old Covenant were considered to be “the wife of the Lord” [See Jer. 31:32], and under the New Covenant, “the bride of Christ” [See Eph. 5:22 – 32]. So, it is reasonable to understand the terms, “adulterers” and “adulteresses” as figurative terms describing spiritual unfaithfulness. Paul writing to the saints at Ephesus admonished, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. [Eph. 5:6 – 12 NASB]
The spirit of Babylon has invaded the Christian Church, and we need faithful men of God to stand up and call the people of God out of it. Truth is being cast aside in the name of relevance today. The Prophet declared, Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. [Isa. 58:1 KJV] May the Lord give us this in this hour. The people of God will certainly be called out of Babylon prior to its judgment at the end of the Great Tribulation. The message is clear, do not partake of her sins, so that you do not receive of her plagues. I believe the two go together.
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. [Rev. 18:6 KJV] It seems a bit of poetic justice is used here. This is an allusion to Obadiah 1:15. The cup of iniquity is being filled to the brim; when the last drop is poured in, it is pressed to the lips of those who committed iniquity. This is absolutely just. Our God will be absolutely just in doing this.
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. [Rev. 18:7] The prosperity of Babylon blinds her to impending judgment. This is in part, although I believe there is much more to it, what Jesus had in mind when He said, “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. [Matt. 24:37 – 39 NASB] In other words, life continued on as normal right up until the time that judgment fell. The masses of Noah’s day were oblivious to their impending doom and destruction. So it will be at the destruction of Babylon at the end of the Great Tribulation.
Trading will continue on the stock market, people will be buying Blue Chip issues right up until the time of judgment, and the few sounding the alarm will be deemed out of step or irrelevant. This “spirit” of Babylon has the world firmly in its grip today. Thus, 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. [Rev. 18:8 KJV]
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, 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. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: 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. [Rev. 18:9 – 13] Keep in mind there are two Babylons of Revelation. There is the religious or ecclesiastical global “super church” comprised of all of the world’s religions, including apostate Christianity, then there is the commercial Babylon here.
The former will be destroyed at about the mid-way point of the Great Tribulation, while the latter will be brought down at the close of the seven-year Tribulation. The people will cheer the destruction of the “Great Whore”, whereas they wail over and bemoan the destruction of commercial Babylon, for it will spell the end of the gratification of their lust to amass great sums of wealth and material goods. They had even sold their souls to the proverbial “company store.” No wonder they weep so much when it all goes away, which it definitely will. The phrase, “Slaves and souls of men” could refer to the drug industry, which is and will be in a greater measure very active within this city and during the Great Tribulation.
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. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, 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!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, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! 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. [Rev. 18:14 – 19] This should serve as a reminder and a warning to all. If you are putting your hope and trust in the things of Babylon, or this present world system, it can all be gone literally in an hour or less. Then what do we have? If all of your hopes and dreams are wrapped up in this world, you would be in a world of hurt. You would no doubt weep and mourn just as the merchants of the world will when future Babylon comes crashing down. They stand “afar off” for “fear of her torment.” They stand literally apart from or at a distance from because of the great fear or alarm due to the severe torment or torture of Babylon.
This will be some sort of cataclysmic event that will produce severe alarm and deep fear in those who witness it. Will this be something supernatural? Will the Lord use a natural disaster or even some sort of nuclear event to accomplish this? We are not told.
Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 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. 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; 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. [Rev. 18:20 – 24]
Just as a stone thrown into a body of water makes a big splash and then is gone, so will it be with Babylon. Her judgment will come swiftly, suddenly, and sovereignly. Babylon’s music will cease to be heard. All of the factories will close down. All of the neon lights and glitter will be gone. It will be all over, no marrying or being given in marriage. Witchcraft, black magic, and sorcery will be the order of the day, by which the nations are being and will be deceived. The drug industry will figure very prominently into this scenario, as the word translated, sorceries, is the Greek pharmakeia, from which of course we get, pharmacy. Even though this will get me labeled as being, “out of touch”, I believe that the bombardment of modern culture with books, movies, and television programs extolling the virtues of the occult, sorcery, and the paranormal are aimed at desensitizing this generation to accepting these things as good and normal. Friends, Jesus is Coming! Following His removal of His true Church from the earth, another will come on the scene. A man indwelt, and controlled by Satan himself. Which do you want to meet?