Study Notes

Revelation 18:1-24


Last week, we talked about the origins of the harlot of Babylon, the religion that will become the official "church" of the first half of the Tribulation. But then the antichrist will commit the abomination of desolation,

2Ths. 2:4 ...opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

We presume that at this time, there will be no toleration of any religion, even mystery Babylon. And so we read in chapter 17 that the ten kings hated the harlot, made her desolate, naked, ate her flesh and burned her up with fire. The religious aspects of Babylon are no more. However, she is not destroyed.

The harlot is going to be re-formed and relocated to yet another city. We read in the book of Genesis that mystery Babylon was established by Nimrod, in the city of Babylon in the land of Shinar. Then, Babylon moved her power center to Pergamum, then to Rome, where she is today, and will continue to be during the Tribulation until the kings make her desolate.

We read in Zechariah 5 of her final relocation - back to the literal city of Babylon, where she began. Zechariah writes,

Zech. 5:5-11 Then the angel who was speaking with me went out, and said to me, "Lift up now your eyes, and see what this is, going forth." And I said, "What is it?" And he said, "This is the ephah going forth." Again he said, "This is their appearance in all the land (and behold, a lead cover was lifted up); and this is a woman sitting inside the ephah." Then he said, "This is Wickedness!" And he threw her down into the middle of the ephah and cast the lead weight on its opening. Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and there two women were coming out with the wind in their wings; and they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heavens. And I said to the angel who was speaking with me, "Where are they taking the ephah?" Then he said to me, "To build a temple for her in the land of Shinar; and when it is prepared, she will be set there on her own pedestal."

The land of Shinar, the city of Babylon. The woman has been thrown as a religious entity, and put in the middle of an ephah, a commercial measurement of flour. She is being re-shaped and relocated. No longer a religious entity, but a commercial entity.

18:1 After These Things

There's that phrase again, "after these things." In Greek, you may recall, it is "met-AH TOW-tah," a clue in the book of Revelation as to time frames. What we're going to see here is that after the kings burned mystery Babylon, she is alive and well elsewhere.

Another Angel

After the mid-point of the Tribulation when the religious Babylon is thrown off, John sees another angel coming down from heaven. He is described as having great authority, and illuminating glory.

I believe that this angel is one that is always in the presence of God. After all, the glory of God shines, and is absorbed into those around Him. God's glory is so intense that, in the heavenly city of Jerusalem, there will be no sun, for chapter 21 tells us,

Rev. 21:23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp {is} the Lamb.

Now, God's glory is absorbed by others. Remember that when Moses met with the Lord up on Mount Sinai,

Exod. 34:28-30 ...he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. And it came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony {were} in Moses' hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

Moses' face was shining from being in the presence of God. This strong angel is also shining. So much so, that he is illuminating the earth.

Did you know that when you spend time with the Lord, your glory begins to shine as well? Paul told the Corinthians,

2Cor. 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

When you spend time with the Lord, your glory will shine as well. Maybe not enough to illuminate the earth, but enough to illuminate your place of work, your home, your neighborhood.

18:2 Babylon Is Fallen

The angel's proclamation is that Babylon is fallen - the event has not yet happened, but is as sure as the Word of God. God will ultimately destroy this city with terrible fury.

A Dwelling Place And A Prison

The angel says that this city has become a dwelling place of demons, and a prison of unclean spirits and hateful birds. This is interesting, for I know of only one place in Scripture that spirits are referred to as being in prison.

1Pet. 3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, {the} just for {the} unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits {now} in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through {the} water.

The sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6 have been cast into prison. When Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth (Eph 4:9), he proclaimed God's victory to these imprisoned fallen angels.

Commercial Babylon is a place where spirits are imprisoned, where demons dwell, where hateful birds are kept.

Hateful Birds

We can understand what unclean spirits and demons are, but what are the hateful birds? In the parable of the sower, Jesus told us that when the word of God was snatched away from people's hardened hearts, it was by these birds.

Matt. 13:19 "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil {one} comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.

So the birds seem to symbolize the messengers of satan. This continues in consistency throughout the New Testament. When Jesus talked about how the church would mutate and include all manner of unsaved and evil people, he described it by saying that it was a mustard seed which should have grown into a short bush,

Mark 4:32 yet when it is sown, grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE."

The messengers of satan are sheltered in the church even today. So Babylon seems to be the headquarters of all evil in the final half of the Tribulation.

18:3 The Wine Of The Passion Of Her Immorality

Here we see the international influence that commercial Babylon has over the world. Every single nation has partaken of her immorality and commerce. All the kings of the earth have bought into it. Every merchant participates with her.

18:4-5 Come Out Of Her My People

It is sad to see that even at this point, there are believers in Christ that have chosen to dwell in Babylon. Like righteous Lot living in Sodom, there will be Christians that live in Babylon. Of course, God is just, and will not destroy the righteous with the wicked.

Abraham knew the character of God so well, that he actually said to the Lord,

Gen. 18:25 "Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are {treated} alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"

God answered that He would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if there were even ten righteous people living in Sodom. The angels who would destroy the city told Lot that they could not do anything until he was in a safe place.

Here again, God is not justifying their choice of where they live, but is delivering them from the judgment to come.

There is something here that we should consider. Where are we living? Oh, I don't mean physically, I mean where are our hearts? What is our focus? Do we live in commercial Babylon? Is the Lord instructing us this morning to come out of materialism, commercialism, worldliness, or immorality? judgment is coming to this corrupt world system, and the Lord wants us out of it.

1Tim. 6:6-11 ...Godliness is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 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 a pang. But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance {and} gentleness.

Are you pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness? Or are you pursuing a raise, a higher standard of living, a promotion, or worldly power? If so, God is saying to you, "come out of her, My people."

18:6-7 Pay Her Back Twice

God is going to pay Babylon back - double her deeds, twice the cup she has mixed. "Why double?" you may ask. God, in His righteousness, has given us the standard by which crimes are recompensed. When it comes to thieves, the Law of God states,

Exod. 22:4 "If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.

Exod. 22:7 "If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep {for him,} and it is stolen from the man's house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double.

Exod. 22:9 "For every breach of trust, {whether it is} for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, {or} for any lost thing about which one says, ‘This is it,' the case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.

Rewards are also to be given two times. Paul said to Timothy,

1Tim. 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.

The Lord also said to Israel,

Isa. 61:6-8 " will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of {as} ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame {you will have a} double {portion}, and {instead of} humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double {portion} in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs. For I, the LORD, love justice..."

God is just, giving double blessing, or double judgment.

I Am A Queen Not A Widow

Commercial Babylon would not repent at the previous judgments of God. Instead of mourning as a widow, she proclaimed herself a queen.

This is the sin that many people fall into: a refusal to repent. They laugh when they should mourn. They harden their hearts when in fact their hearts should be broken. James wrote,

James 4:8-10 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

When God brings judgment, it is for the purpose of getting people to turn from their sin. Unfortunately, many respond by digging their heels in deeper.

18:8 In One Day

The Lord is going to destroy this city in one day. There has been some question raised among Bible students as to whether or not this is literally the city of Babylon. After all, wasn't Babylon really Rome in the last chapter? I will tell you why I believe that this is literally Babylon, the city on the banks of the Euphrates River, near the city of Al Hillah in Iraq.

First of all, we saw that the woman was relocated to Shinar. Genesis 10 tells us that Babylon is in the land of Shinar. Secondly, there are detailed prophecies regarding the city of Babylon that have not yet been fulfilled. For example, in Isaiah 13, we are told,

Isa. 13:19-20 And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; Nor will the Arab pitch {his} tent there, nor will shepherds make {their flocks} lie down there.

Today, there are still inhabitants of Babylon. It has never been destroyed in the manner of Sodom and Gomorrah. As a matter of fact, it is being rebuilt. Sadaam Hussein, thinking of himself as the next Nebuchadnezzar, is rebuilding Babylon. Inspired by the fact that Babylon was at one time the home of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, he has begun to restore a number of structures, including the ziggurat, Nebuchadnezzar's main palace, a temple, the Processional Street, and the city's Greek Theater. This reconstruction began in 1978. As of 1990, over sixty million bricks had been laid in a massive reconstruction project. Babylon is far from being desolate for all time.

But the Lord will bring judgment upon her: plagues, pestilence, mourning, famine, and fire.

18:9-10 The Kings Now Weep

We see here the difference between religious Babylon and commercial Babylon. Religious Babylon was hated by the kings of the earth. Religious Babylon reigned over the kings of the earth (17:18), and they hated her (17:16). But commercial Babylon is loved by the kings of the earth. When Babylon is destroyed, they will weep and lament over her.

The destruction of fire will happen in one hour.

18:11-19 The Merchants Weep

It is not just the kings that will be sorrowful over the fall of Babylon. The merchants of the earth will be bankrupted as well. Why? I believe that as the world continues towards computerization, and a cashless society, there will become a need for a central location with everyone's information. A computer-controlled world bank, possibly. And I believe it will be located in the city of Babylon. I think this because when Babylon is destroyed, no one buys the cargoes of merchants anymore. No one buys anything anymore.

18:20 Saints, Apostles, And Prophets

Saints, apostles, and prophets are told to rejoice. Why? Because Babylon has been responsible for the suffering of countless children of God. How many Christians have been tormented because the gospel interfered with commercialism?

I think of the apostle Paul, who was preaching the gospel in Ephesus, the location of another one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: the temple of Artemis at Ephesus. So many people worshiped Artemis, that the silversmiths made a good living making silver idols of Artemis. But when Paul was preaching the gospel, so many people were getting saved that business began to fall off. This made the silversmiths so angry that they started a riot. Paul had to leave town because the danger was so great.

Commercialism and Christianity do not mix. Notice that when the two collide, the world wins, and the Christians suffer. However, it is not up to us to bring judgment.

Rom. 12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath {of God,} for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.

God will pronounce judgment against Babylon for us.

18:21-24 Thus Will Babylon Be Thrown Down

An angel graphically demonstrates how Babylon's destruction will be. Picture a huge millstone being cast into the sea - the impact producing a giant mushroom cloud of water, falling back to the surface, and then disappearing. The millstone is gone, the sea is calm and flat. This is how Babylon's destruction will be accomplished, but with fire.

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