Revelation 18

The Fall of Babylon the Great

Chapter 18 picks up where Chapter 17 leaves off and continues the story of fallen Jerusalem once it comes under the rule of the Beast (the antichrist). As In the previous chapter, this chapter does not call the city of Jerusalem by its name. Instead, it uses the descriptive title of Babylon the Great, which reflects how after the city is conquered by the Beast (see Chapter 11), it will lead the nations in their rebellion against God just as the ancient city of Babylon once did.

The account of the Babylon the Great begins with a description of how the conquered city of Jerusalem will become the dwelling place of demons and will commit acts of immorality with the nations.

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. 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.” Rev. 18:1-3

In these verses, Babylon the Great is described using feminine pronouns (she, her), which corresponds with how in the previous chapter, fallen Jerusalem is similarly called the Woman and the Great Prostitute. In addition,  these passages describe how the wealth of merchants will flow in and out of the conquered city, which will grow exceedingly rich as the seat of power of the Beast. Given the future state of Jerusalem, God’s people are warned to come out from the city in order to not participate in her sins or receive her plagues.

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; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Rev. 18:4-5.

The plagues that will strike Jerusalem will come after her sins have piled to the heavens. Specifically, under the rule of the Beast, the fallen city will direct the martyrdom of all those who maintain their testimony of Jesus in events known as the Great Tribulation (see Chapter 13). After the full number of brothers and sisters have been killed (see Chapter 6), the wrath of God will be poured out on the city in the form of the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (see Chapter 16). The role that the conquered city will play in the events of the Great Tribulation can also be seen in the following passage where the persecution of God’s people is described as a cup that will be mixed by the woman.

Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her own cup. Rev. 18:6

In the Scriptures, the persecution or punishment of a person(s) is often described using the imagery of a cup or bowl that the preparer will force their victims to drink or that will be poured out upon them. In this case, the persecution of those who bear testimony to Jesus is described as the cup of the woman. Accordingly, the punishment of Babylon the Great will come to her in the same degree that she glorified herself.

Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn.’ 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. Rev. 18:7-8

During the reign of Babylon the Great, the fallen city’s former marriage to God will be forgotten and, instead, she will see herself as a queen who will never suffer. However, the fallen city will be destroyed, in one day, in the events of the Battle of Armageddon, when the city will be split into three sections by the Great Earthquake as described in the events of the Sixth and Seventh Bowls.

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!”  Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Rev. 16:16-19

The destruction of the Babylon the Great will cause the kings of the earth, who shared in her wealth, to cry out  and mourn her destruction.

“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.  Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!’ Rev. 18:9-10

In addition to the kings of the earth, a second woe will be pronounced by the merchants of the world, who will have gained great wealth from the city, and who will be terrified by her destruction.

“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 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; 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 human beings sold as slaves. “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 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 and cry out: “Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!” Rev. 18:11-16

Finally, the sea captains, who will also become rich from the wealth of the great city, will mourn and weep over her demise.

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. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’” Rev 18:17-19

The mention off sea captains and merchants, who will be dismayed by the fall of the Babylon the Great, reflects how the kingdom of the Beast will include the great port cities of the Mediterranean Sea, which will belong to the ten nations that will follow the Beast. (see Chapter 13) As the head of these nations, fallen Jerusalem will grow rich from the trade that will pass through these cities. The sea captains and merchants who service these ports will also become rich and will be filled with mourning when they see the great city brought to ruin by the Great Earthquake. 

After describing the mourning of the kings and merchants who will weep over the fall of Babylon the Great, God’s people are told to rejoice over the fallen city.

“Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets! For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you.” Rev. 18:20

The mention of the apostles and prophets is a direct reference to the city of Jerusalem, which was similarly described by the Lord as the place that kills the prophets and those who were sent to her.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matt. 23:37

In the next verse, the image of a boulder being thrown into the sea is used to represent how the kingdom of the Beast and the city from which he will rule will be thrown down, never to be found again.

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. Rev. 18:21

The image of a boulder to describe the city that will be ruled by the Beast is a familiar theme of the Scriptures where rocks, boulders, and mountains are used to describe cities, nations and kingdoms.

Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion,” declares the Lord. “I am against you, you destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth,” declares the Lord. “I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain. Jer. 51:24

“Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. Dan. 2:31-35

In Daniel’s prophecy, the statue represents the kingdoms of the world, beginning with the Babylonian kingdom, which existed at the time of Daniel as represented by the head of gold. Next came the kingdoms of Persia, Greece and Rome, as represented by the statues breast, thighs, and legs. The rock that struck the statue is a reference to the kingdom of God, which will grow to become a huge mountain that will fill the whole earth. Accordingly, when Babylon the Great is described as a boulder that will be thrown into the sea, it is a picture of how the fallen city of Jerusalem, known as Babylon the Great, will be destroyed. When these verses also state that Babylon the Great will never rise again, it is a specific reference to the rule of the Beast over the conquered city and not the New Jerusalem that will come down from Heaven (see Chapter 21). In this way the Revelation makes a distinction between the city that will be ruled by Christ, and the city that will be ruled by the antichrist and that will never rise again.

This chapter concludes by reiterating how the city ruled by the Beast will be permanently destroyed in retaliation for the blood of the prophets and God’s holy people.

The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No worker of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. 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 important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.” Rev. 18:22-24

When we read that the blood of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth will be found in the fallen city, it does not mean that martyrdom of God’s people will only take place in Jerusalem, as history tells us that the martyrdom of God’s people has, and will, occur throughout the world, but that the city will lead the war against those who testify to Jesus and thus will be responsible for their deaths.

Order of Events of the Last Days

Wars, Rumors of Wars, Earthquakes, and Famines (Seals 1-4)
The Martyrs Pray for Judgment and Revenge (5th. Seal)
– 1/3 of earth is burned up in world-wide drought ( 1st.Trumpet)
     – 1/3 of sea turns to blood, Satan’s kingdom defeated (2nd. Trumpet)
     – 1/3 of waters are poisoned, Satan cast out (3rd. Trumpet)
     – 1/3 of Israel is struck, the Attack on Jerusalem (4th. Trumpet)
The Great Tribulation
The Wrath of God is Poured Out (6th. Seal)
 – The Plague of Locusts (5th. Trumpet)
     – The Plague of Fire, Smoke, and Sulfur (6th. Trumpet)
             – The Plague of Festering Sores (1st. Bowl)
             – The Plague of Blood on the Sea (2nd. Bowl)
             – The Plague of Blood on the Rivers and Springs of Water (3rd. Bowl)
             – The Plague of the Scorching Sun (4th. Bowl)
             – The Plague of Darkness (5th. Bowl)
             – The Plague of Armies (6th. Bowl)
             – The Plague of the Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm (7th. Bowl)
     – The Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm (7th. Trumpet)
Silence in Heaven (7th. Seal)