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Revelation 18

Revelation 18

Revelation 18 (NASB)

Babylon Is Fallen

18:1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. 2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”

 There are differing opinions about whether the Babylons in chapters 17 and 18 are the same.  Religious Babylon in chapter 17 is destroyed midway through the Tribulation.  Commercial Babylon is destroyed at the end of the Tribulation, immediately before Christ returns.  Revelation 14:8 seems to show the fall of religious Babylon while the following verses in Revelation tell of those who will, AFTER that point they take the mark of the Beast.  When Jesus referred to “the world” in John 15:19, He was referring to the commercial system, all aspects of the world.

This is an angel radiating God’s glory.  The Greek word ‘allos’ is another angel and the word ‘heteros’ refers to another angel of a different kind.  ‘Allos’ is used here in Revelation 18:1.  Two things show that this angel came immediately from God’s presence.  First, he came with “great authority” and secondly he illumined the earth with his glory.  The fact that the angel was being seen in great radiance shows that the angel glowed because the angel in Rev. 16:10 brought darkness to the earth.  The demons and unclean spirits and hateful bird inhabits Babylon.  If this is a literal city, the demons can NOT leave it.  Verse 2 calls this a prison for them.   The word ‘fornication refers to idol worship specifically the Antichrist.

18:4 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; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

The phrase “come out of her, my people” shows that God is giving them another chance.  There are actual believers here.  In the Old Testament, Lot was living in the same situation and had to be removed before God’s destruction destroyed his home (see Genesis 19:12-13).  In the following verses, God tells His people to:

  •     Isaiah 52:11                         Depart from Babylon

  •     Jeremiah 50:8                    Flee from Babylon

  •     Jeremiah 51:6                    Flee from Babylon

  •     Jeremiah 51:45 (NLT)      Flee from Babylon

  •     2 Corinthians 6:14            Believers shouldn’t stay with nonbelievers

  •     Ephesians 5:11                  Have not fellowship with demons.

Believers are told to flee to save themselves / so they don’t partake of the sins of the city. 

NOTE:  Swindoll believes these events occur before chapter 14.  Verse 5 and Hebrews 8:12 say that God will forgive believers but nonbelievers are to be held accountable.

18:6 Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. 7 To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning.’ 8 For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.

The word “render” is ‘apodidomi’ and means to deliver, to sell or to pay off.  The angel is no longer speaking directly to John but to God.  The angel is asking God to carry out the OT principal of ‘lex talioni’ which means ‘an eye for an eye, retaliation’. (see Exodus 21:23-24)  Jeremiah called for God to destroy Babylon in Jeremiah 50:14, 29.  The angel then asks God to pay back double (mix twice as much for her).  Jeremiah asks God to pay Babylon back two times in Jeremiah 17:18.  The phrase “her plagues will come in a day” and ”she will be utterly destroyed with fire” means never will Babylon be rebuilt and it will be quickly, suddenly in a 24 hour day.  The real reason that Babylon was and is to be destroyed is her pride.  All of these verses say that it is pride, Proverbs 29:23, Luke 1:51, Luke 14:11 and Proverbs 16:18.  The word for “torment” in verse 8 (Most except the NIV) is ‘basanismos’ and it means torment or torture.  The destruction will happen in one day.  In Daniel 5:30-31, Babylon is destroyed in a day.  The verses in Daniel tell us that very night Babylon was destroyed. 

Lament for Babylon

18:9 “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’

The kings will not grieve because their sin but because their source of their sin, the great playground has been destroyed.  The Kings of the earth refers to two groups of people.  These are the 10 kings and all other leaders.  The kings watch from a distance because they fear the torment and the heat will be too intense.  The fact that the kings of the earth wath her, most probably via TV or computer, shows that Babylon here is an actual city.

18:11 “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more— 12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, 13 and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. 14 The fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them. 15 The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 16 saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; 17 for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, 18 and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’ 19 And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’

The mourning over Babylon’s fall is rooted in self interest. The first group of mourners were the political leaders.  This second group is made up of merchants and businessmen.  The list, depending on the translation used, lists 28 specific items that Babylon was famous.  They mourn over luxuries not necessities.  The fact that the people will find these things no more is a double negative and it means that they will never exist again.  This wording also points to Hell as a place of unfulfilled desire.  Note that among possessions you could buy and own in Babylon were slaves or souls of men. This points to prostitution and shows that people are just another form of merchandise (of little value).  The outcome of those who made their living from Babylon and took the beast’s mark are described in the following verses:

  • Matthew 8:12               Cast into the pit

  • Matthew 13:41-42        Nonbelievers gathered by angels and thrown into

                                         the pit.

  • Matthew 13:49-50        Angels will separate the nonbelievers

The weeping that begins here will last forever according to the following verses.  Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 66:24, Matthew 18:8 (meant for Satan and his angels), Matthew 25:41, 46, 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (separation from God), Jude 7 and Jude 13.

Eternal; definition – lasting or existing forever.

These merchants are the embodiment of Mark 8:36 in that they had it all but still went to Hell.  Kelso (Ashton Kucher) on “That 70’s show” said, “Who cares.  Your soul is like your appendix.  You never need it!”

The third group that lamented over the fall of Babylon was everybody else / the people who deliver the goods.  According to the following verses, the threw dust on their heads because they were in deep mourning.  Joshua 7:6. 1 Samuel 4:11-12, 2 Samuel 1:1-2, 2 Samjuel 15:32. Job 2:11-12, Lamentations 2:7 and 10 and Ezekiel 27:27-30.  They cry out “Woe! Woe!” which is a sign of pain and grief but not repentance.

18:20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.”

The angel now turns his attention to apostles and prophets.  This is not US.  This tells us they are in Heaven.  They rejoice and we should rejoice because God’s judgment has come against their enemies (Babylon).  Heaven rejoices not over damnation of their enemies but rather because of the triumph of righteousness.

Jimmy Connors when asked why he likes to win so much . . .  “I don’t like to win.  I hate to lose.  (He didn’t rejoice over the downfall of his foes but rather over the final outcome produced by doing the right thing. – in this case – practice, practice, practice)

18:21 Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.


This verse fulfills the prophecy given in Jeremiah 51:61-64 because it says a millstone is thrown into the Euphrates River.  God says “Do Not mislead New Believers” to those who would mislead someone away from His Word.  (It is wrong to say “It’s OK to live that lifestyle.  God is all love and would never send anyone to Hell.”)  Mark 9:42 says “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.”  This verse shows that one day the world system will fall.  God will make it all right.

18:22 And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; 23 and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”


The Greek word for sorcery is ‘pharmacy’ and it means to prepare drugs.  The phrase “no more sound of the mill” means there will be no food preparation will be going on.  The phrase “no more voices of the bride and bridegroom” means no more love on the earth.  The phrase “The light of a lamp shall not be found in you anymore” means there will be no more opportunity to be saved.  Once again, the real reason for God’s wrath and judgment closes this chapter.  It is God’s vengeance for how His people were treated.

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