Scripture reading – Revelation 18
Seven bowls of God’s wrath were poured out on the tribulation world (Revelation 16-17). Yet, Babylon seemed to prevail, even as the people and nations of the world were reeling under the consequences of God’s wrath. The flesh of men was afflicted with ulcers (16:2), and the seas and fresh waters turned to blood (16:3-7). The sun’s shift scorched men under its rays (16:8-9), even as the earth was plunged into terrifying darkness (16:10-11). The Euphrates River dried up, as God made a path for the armies of the world to gather at Armageddon (16:12-16).
When the seventh bowl of God’s wrath was poured out, His voice was heard and declared, “It is done” (16:17). The earth was then shaken by an earthquake greater than any before it, and the city of Jerusalem “was divided into three parts” (16:19), Islands fell into the sea, as the mountains were removed (16:20).
God’s judgment against Babylon began in Revelation 17, and continued through Revelation 18. As you read today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 18), remember Babylon was prophetically more than a great city. In the Book of Revelation, Babylon was a symbol of the power, authority, and government of the antichrist(identified as “the beast” in these latter chapters of Revelation).
Revelation 18 – The Fall of Babylon
The apostle John wrote, “I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory” (18:1). Remembering the earth was in the throes of darkness from the fifth bowl (Revelation 16:10-11), the angel’s appearance illuminated the sky “with his glory” (18:1). The same angel cried with a loud voice, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen” (18:2).
Reasons for Babylon’s Demise (18:2-3)
Like ancient Babylon, which was weighed in the balances of God’s justice and was “found wanting” (Daniel 5:27), the Babylon of Revelation was condemned (18:2-3). It had become a place for demonic spirits (18:2b), and every foul and unclean spirit (18:2c). Like vultures circling a rotting carcass, demonic spirits, like “every unclean and hateful bird,” waited for Babylon’s fall (18:2d).
Tragically, I find the sins of Revelation 18:3 indicative of the sins and wickedness of our current western nations: the United States being most prominent. Babylon was condemned for her sexual debauchery, and lust for wealth and riches (18:3). The world ruled by the antichrist will lead nations down a path of sexual perversity, and spiritual idolatry (18:3a). The kingdom of the antichrist will seduce the nations of the world with its wealth, riches, and pleasures (18:3b).
A Call for Separation and Judgment (18:4-7)
The voice of the angel (18:1) was suddenly interrupted when the Lord voiced from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, That ye be not partakers of her sins, And that ye receive not of her plagues” (18:4). The call for believers to separate from the world and its wickedness is found throughout the Scriptures. Although separation from the world is a Scriptural mandate, many 21st century believers and churches have failed to separate from the Babylon of our day. Surely, the command, “come out of her, my people,” should resonate in the heart of every believer who loves the Lord (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
Like the tower of ancient Babel (Genesis 11), the sins of Babylon were described as having piled up so high they “reached unto heaven” (18:5a). An angel called on God to punish Babylon, saying, “6Reward 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” (18:6). In essence, not only remember Babylon’s wickedness, but punish her doubly for the sins she has committed. The same angel described Babylon’s sins: Proud (for she had “glorified herself”), Sensual (“lived deliciously”), and Presumptuous (for the city boasted “I sit a queen, And am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (18:7).
Closing thoughts (18:8-24) – I conclude with a few observations. The nations of the earth were staggered by the wrath of God, but were especially shocked at the sudden demise and destruction of Babylon (18:8). The wealthy and powerful men of the earth were shocked and dismayed by the fall of the antichrist and his empire (18:9-10).
So much of the world economy was dependent on trade with Babylon, and the sudden failure of that nation sent economic shock waves across the world (18:11-14). The wealthy and powerful were terrified, and wailed, “Alas, alas, that great city…17For in one hour so great riches is come to nought” (18:16b-17a). Shipping and commerce were destroyed, as men who sailed the seas, cried, “For in one hour is she made desolate” (18:17-19).
The destruction of Babylon (representing the seat of the antichrist’s power and authority), gave cause for rejoicing in heaven (18:20). A “mighty angel” described the effect of Babylon’s annihilation: The sound of musical instruments fell silent (18:22a), and the work of craftsmen and those preparing bread ceased (18:22b). Light was extinguished, along with the joys of the groom and the bride (18:23a).
Finally, given the world’s recent experience with “Covid-19” and vaccines, verse 23 should resonate with believers. We read, “For thy merchants were the great men of the earth; For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived” (18:23b). The root word for sorceries in the Greek language is “pharmakeia,” from which we get our English word “pharmacy or pharmaceuticals.” In the tribulation, “all nations” will be deceived by “pharmakeia” (In the United States, the revenue of the pharmaceutical industry in 2021 was $576.9 billion).
When people ask, “what is wrong with our world?” You can answer, “We are on the threshold of the Tribulation!”
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