Revelation

Chapter 18



This chapter continues the description of the punishment to be applied to the prostitute known as Babylon the Great because of the wrath of God. It might be noted that this is not the nation of Babylon that the Bible is speaking of for that nation is long gone.  However, it was in Babylon that the prostitute, who represents adultery with foreign gods, got her start.  And this chapter deals with her coming demise, which is still in our future.

Before we start, and as a sidebar it might be noted that mankind in general portrays angels as being female.  However, the Bible always portrays their gender as male.

Rev 18:1

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. NIV

 

Rev 18:1 mentions this angel’s splendor as an illumination not because this angel was brighter than any other but because he is shouting a most brilliant truth as it comes from the creator, which signals a very bright future for mankind because it heralds the beginning of the end for Satan.  Notice “He had great authority,” and that authority comes from the Almighty for this angel cries out the following notification for all to hear.

Rev 18:2

With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. NIV

And with this announcement the angel also gives the reason for this fall as he continues to shout.

Rev 18:3

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." NIV

 “The madding wine of her adulteries,” notice that God is declaring through this angel that all the nations have drunk this madding wine.  The wine here symbolizes the intoxication of fantasy that religions have fostered on the populace in general and they are being equated with merchants here for the access to wealth is the reason for the existence of these false gods and religions. 

But, now we suddenly hear a different voice than that of the angel ringing down from the heavens,

Rev 18:4

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; NIV

 We have to slow down here to understand what is happening at this point in the vision that John has been given of the future.  To begin with whom does this other voice, calling out in verse 4, belong too?  Fortunately we have the clue that positively identifies the owner of that voice.  The voice is calling out to “My people” The voice belongs to Christ for his people were given to him by his God and by using the term “My people” Christ is referring to his adopted brothers and sisters.

John 17:6-9

6 "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.

7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.

8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. NIV

 Did God set things up so that men could be adopted from the earth into the spiritual family of God.

Eph 1:4

He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- NIV

 In other words this family or group known as the members of the body of Christ were predestined to exist.  The individuals were not predestined because that would deny free choice and negate the purpose behind free will. Just the same, those that would freely choose to become part of the family of God were going to be here, and that is just what has happened.

 

And we are told in Hebrews:

Heb 2:10-12

 11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.

12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”  NIV

 

In fact, on an occasion when Jesus was told that his mother and his brothers were waiting outside. Christ made it absolutely clear who his family was:

Matt 12:48-50

48 He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"

49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.

50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." NIV

Now that we know the voice warning us to get out of Babylon the great is from our king and high priest the question is what does He mean, what is it He is referring to?  It is no secret that the Babylon of Daniels time is gone. No one lives there anymore. This clearly tells us the use of Babylon in these verses represents or symbolizes something else besides the literal Babylon that existed in the time that Nebuchadnezzar was allowed to overpower the house of Israel.  If this were not true then spreading plagues on an empty area would be a futile gesture by God and God does not waste His time with empty threats.

But the opening line of verse three of this chapter in Revelation helps clear this up.  

“For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.”  Since Babylon is gone and the verse is telling us all the nations of all time have been made drunk by her, then the meaning has to be something else besides that literal Babylonian government or mountain.  The clue to this is this former mountain or government, which was Babylon, is being likened to a great prostitute. 

          God often referred to Himself as a faithful husband to the nation or house of Israel and He often referred to Israel as a prostitute who had adulterous relations with other gods that are in truth not gods at all.

Ezek 16:30-31

30 How weak-willed you are, declares the Sovereign LORD, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute!

31 When you built your mounds at the head of every street and made your lofty shrines in every public square, you were unlike a prostitute, because you scorned payment. NIV

God is telling Israel here that unlike normal prostitutes, Israel was too stupid to even charge for her services.  However, the meaning as to who this great prostitute is becomes crystal clear with the following verses from Exodus.

Ex 34:15-16

15 "Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. NIV

 

          So we see that Babylon the great is in reality representing all the organized religions of the world.  Let us repeat that…ALL THE ORGANIZED RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD.  Not one or two, not some, but all the organized religions of the world. All the religions that teach doctrines or concepts other than what God teaches in his word and this includes so called Christian religions. For if a religion supposedly is teaching about Christ and has even one doctrine or concept that is contrary to the word of God then that religion is easily recognized as belonging to Satan or the great prostitute. 

Now if anyone does not believe that religions are big, in fact huge very profitable businesses, which are why God equates them with merchants, then take a look at the Vatican.  The profits from this mammoth world wide business amply allows for gold telephones for the popes use.  Or look at the millions upon millions of dollars that are collected annually by television personalities espousing that it is they that lead you to heaven.  Truth is they cannot get themselves to heaven so there is literally no chance they will lead you there. 

If you want the eternal life that is offered by God through His Son Christ then you must accept Christ as your king and high priest and follow the two commands he gave us.  The church or family of God is a spiritual church and has nothing to do with a building on a corner somewhere in the world. In fact let us go back to verse 4 where our king and high priest is telling us point blank:

 

"Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins,”

 

          Now people that truly want to follow what God is telling us in his word are often perplexed by the thought that if they leave the religions that they have been taught all their lives where do they go.  Well, when you leave the worlds religions and join the family of God that is all taken care of.

Heb 11:16

Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. NIV

 Nonetheless, the prostitute Babylon the great, which we now know, represents the false religions of the world, including those that claim to be Christian but are not, are very noticeable by God:

 Rev 18:5

For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. NIV

It should be taken note of here that God does not consider it simply an error or a mistake to teach something other than his word.  HE CONSIDERS IT A CRIME.

Rev 18:6

Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. NIV

 

          When, in our courts, a criminal is convicted of a Crime he is sentenced to serve a period of time in a jail.  What is being called for in verse 6 is a double portion of what ever it is that God chooses to sentence her with.

 

Rev 18:7

Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, `I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.' NIV

 

          The demons or angels that followed Satan know that there will come a day of reckoning. Some of them even said so to Christ.

Matt 8:29

"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" NIV

Notice, “Before the appointed time?” these demons know there will come a time when they will have to pay for their crimes.  But the religions of the world, being lead by Satan and his cohorts, have not been given this information from the devil.  Nor have they heeded what God has told them because they choose not to believe what God is saying in His word.  Therefore they feel secure in their wealth brought about from the deceptions and delusions they teach.  Instead they feel they are safe from any form of retribution from anyone.  This is why they say to themselves, `I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.'

Rev 18:8

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. NIV

“Death, mourning and famine” God is saying here he intends to execute this great prostitute for her crimes and while he is doing it there will be mourning and famine.  Famine because as he does it there will be an exodus from her churches, synagogues, and temples and those that drew great wealth from the parishioners that were deceived by her lies and false gods will mourn the loss of material gains this causes them.

“Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:” When you hear someone say “In my day” do you assume that they only lived 24 hours. Of course not and the Bible here is making the same kind of statement. Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: is referring to a period of time.  Listen to what God says on this subject:

Isa 66:8

Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? NIV

 Reason says this is so and there is something else that was said by Ezra, one of Gods prophets, that is more than applicable to this punishment to be received by the great prostitute.

Ezra 10:13

But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing.  NIV

Ezra is saying time for retribution and repentance is needed “because we have sinned greatly in this thing.” The great prostitute of Babylon has sinned more than greatly. To verify that lets read verse 5 of this chapter in Revelation again. 

For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. NIV

Now there is one other thing about verse 8 in Revelation chapter 18 that the Bible has to explain for us: “She will be consumed by fire” What kind of fire is being spoken of here? 

Is there more than one kind you ask?  Yes says the Bible for the word fire has different applications or meanings depending on how it is being used.  There is a fire that destroys totally such as the lake of fire we will read of later in Revelation.  There is a fire that warms us or cooks our food. There is also a fire that refines things, such as silver and gold… and people.  How do we know that fire is a word that can also be used to refine people?  Because our king, savior and High Priest told us this point blank.

Mark 9:49

Everyone will be salted with fire.  NIV

Was this something new that Christ was bringing us?  Hardly. Listen to what the Almighty had to say about this also:

Zech 13:9

This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.  They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, `They are my people,' and they will say, `The LORD is our God.' NIV

There is an interesting story about a woman then went to a silver smith to find out how silver was refined because of the above scripture in Zechariah.  She noticed that as he smelted the silver the smith never took his eyes off of the pot. 

“Do you have to watch it that intently?” she asked. 

“Yes” he replied “or I will miss the instant it is ready.” 

“How do you know that instant,” she asked

“I know it is ready” he answered, “The moment I can see my reflection in it.”

The analogy here is Christ knows the moment we are ready to become a spiritual brother when he can see His reflection in us. 

How does God refine by fire?  What that means is we are salted with knowledge.

Mark 9:49-50

49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

50 "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."  NIV

The commands of God are Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.  We were also told to love one another.  When one takes on these commands seriously and tries to walk in the spirit as Paul explained in Galatians chapter five, then we have been salted.  In order to take on those responsibilities of a true Christian we have to first seek and be given the knowledge that goes with it. That knowledge comes only from the word of God.  Now we know from that word that this prostitute that has been leading the nations astray from God for centuries is to be destroyed by the Almighty.  Therefore:

Rev 18:9

"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. NIV

Why should the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her weep and mourn over her?  They mourn because she with her deceit and lies helped give them the power they welded over the populace from way back in Babylonian days.  That these kings see the smoke of her burning signifies that she is being destroyed.  This we know from the next verse in this chapter of Revelation.

Rev 18:10

Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: "`Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!" NIV

“City of power!” Make no mistake; power is what this has been all about over the centuries.  These false religions represent power even to the point that chess pieces include a bishop, which was originally a ship. But the bishop is placed next to the king and queen, and for good reason; for they represent the power of this great prostitute over the nations through the centuries.

Rev 18:11-13

11 "The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more-

12 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;

13 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 bodies and souls of men.

We have put these three scriptures together because they do not need separate explanations for they are really all one sentence concerning the religious merchants of the earth. Now God is not really concerned with the normal merchants that inhabit the world.  The merchants spoken of here are the same kind of merchants that Paul had a confrontation with.  We know this because of the final statement of “and bodies and souls of men.”  All of the items above were used in the idolatry this great prostitute spawned.  They were used to manufacture idols and were sold to people for sacrifices to these false gods. And all the items above caused sin that brought about death and separation from God. That is the group of merchants that are being spoken of here. We were told of this conflict of merchants against Paul because of his teaching concerning God in Acts.

Acts 19:23-38

24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen.

25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business.

26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.

27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"  

29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater.

30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.

31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.

33 The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people.

34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"

35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: "Men of Ephesus, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?

36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash.

37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.

38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges.  NIV

These same kinds of people will stand back when God meets out the punishment to the great prostitute that she deserves:

Rev 18:14

They will say, “The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.” NIV

This is said because at that time the earth will be in the process of becoming filled with the true knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea as has told to us in chapter eleven of the book of Isaiah.

Rev 18:15-16

15  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

16  and cry out: "`Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! NIV

They will be terrified because it will be obvious that it is God causing this downfall of the great prostitute and they cannot help but be frightened at what action will be taken against them for their part in her crimes.  Perhaps there will be those among them that will finally understand what Christ meant when He commented about these merchants while he was on this earth as a man.

Luke 16:13

13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."  NIV

Rev 18:17

17 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. NIV

The reason sea captains and sailors are being included in all this is because then as now today commerce in the world is greatly dependant on the transportation of its goods by sea.  In other words they represents world trade. This is verified in verse 19 of this chapter in Revelation.

Rev 18:18

18  When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, `Was there ever a city like this great city?' NIV

The great prostitute is being compared to a city because she never presented herself as a single nation, but in truth, she controlled many kingdoms at the same time. Yet, like the Vatican today, she is separate from the nation of Italy that she exists in, and like the Vatican, is known and identified as a city.  Rome! 

Rev 18:19

19  They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: "`Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! NIV

Notice, “Where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth!” Notice also, that the time specified for this is no longer a day, as stated in verse 8 of this chapter, but an hour.  This is not a contradiction, but means that the kings, merchants, and seaman will notice it all during the last hour or final time of her destruction.  In the beginning, few will notice or pay attention, because their income from it will not be affected until her demise is almost completed.  It also means that even though this great prostitute had many names of many gods, the real god behind it all was wealth and power. 

Our Supreme Creator is of such power that He created this entire universe, the size of which we can only guess at.  Let us take a moment to look at why our immensely powerful Creator would be so put out by this symbolic prostitute to begin with. 

Ex 20:1-6

1 And God spoke all these words:

2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 "You shall have no other gods before me.

4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

6 but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments. NIV

Take note of verse 4 above “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything…” and this includes the cross. It even specifies that they be not made to resemble anything in the heavens the earth or the waters in the earth.  That doesn’t leave anything. The next verse tells us not to bow down to them.  “You shall not bow down to them or worship them;” Yet, as a flagrant disregard for what God has said, millions of Roman Catholics are specifically taught that the first thing you do when you enter a church is to genuflect before you take your seat. To genuflect is a fancy way of saying… bow down.

“For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”  What does He mean, a jealous God?  Why should our Creator, who has power beyond our capability to understand, be jealous of man made idols that have absolutely no value or ability or true meaning at all? 

The answer to this is because it harms us. In fact, it harms us so badly it kills. It is a direct violation of a command from God, and that is sin and it is clearly understood that the wages of sin is death.  God wants to give us eternal life; Satan wants to take it away, and that is the crux of the matter. It has nothing to do with God's ego.  What it comes down to is, our Creator jealously guards the life only He can bestow. We are told this succinctly in:

Rom 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. NIV

This is why the next verse in Revelation 18 tells us:

Rev 18:20

20 Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you. NIV

It was because of this great prostitute that the saints were beheaded for preaching the word of God, and this is also a reason that judgment is to be brought to this prostitute who is followed by all nations of the earth.  We are also told that the end of this great prostitute will be brought about violently.

Rev 18:21

21  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. NIV

The sea we already know represents mankind in general. What this scripture is telling us is that it will be mankind in general that will rise up and destroy the great prostitute because of the action of an angel under direction of God.  What will be the result of this violent destruction of this symbolic great prostitute?

Rev 18:22

22 The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. NIV

“The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again,” means false religion will be completely destroyed, never to return again, which is what the following scripture is verifying.

Rev 18:23

23  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 great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. NIV

Verse 23 is mentioning Brides and bridegrooms because most marriages are performed in churches, and it is making the point that social interaction will no longer exist.  In short, the scripture above is giving the final explanation of why these false churches will be so completely and finally destroyed.  It is referring to its magic spells.  All religions like to build mysteries into their doctrines or have mysticism surrounding their actions.  This way, their priests can tell you that only they know the meaning behind the mystery.  And of course, this means they feel you’re too stupid to understand what God has clearly written for all to comprehend.

Rev 18:24

24  In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth. NIV

We all know that death came because Adam and Eve listened to Satan.  However, it is also true that it was Satan who was the instigator of this great prostitute, for it was Satan who told Adam and Eve that they would not die, and that they would instead become like God. Therefore, it is adultery with foreign or false Gods, including Satan himself, which has brought death to all mankind. 

Fortunately it was Christ who ransomed mankind from this and brought eternal life to all who want it:

1 Cor 15:22

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. NIV



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