Chapter 18: The Destruction of Babylon the Great
The previous chapter ended with a short statement that the Antichrist
and his governmental system of Ten Horns "shall
hate the Whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and
burn her with fire" (17:16). The angel, which began the
discourse of Chapter 17, promised to "shew
unto [the Apostle John] the
judgment of the Great Whore that sitteth upon many waters"
(17:1); but, to do so, he had first to give John a better understanding in that chapter
of the identity of the Whore, the Beast, and the Ten Horns, i.e., "I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the Beast
that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns"
(17:7). The distinction between Chapter 17 and 18 is that the last chapter revealed
to us that the Almighty will use the agency of the Antichrist to accomplish
His Judgment of the religious system of Babylon the Great, i.e., "16 And
the Ten Horns which thou sawest upon the Beast, these shall hate the Whore, and shall
make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God hath put in their hearts
to fulfil His Will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the Beast, until
the Words of God shall be fulfilled" (17:16-17), while
Chapter 18 makes no mention of the agency of the Antichrist, but presents the Judgment
of Babylon the Great as coming solely from Jehovah. The focus in Chapter 18 is on
the Judgment that the LORD God gives upon "that
great city Babylon, that mighty city" (18:10) of Rome,
the capital city of Babylon the Great, i.e., the City of Seven Hills (17:9). Babylon's
Judgment will yield the collateral damage of cutting off the lucrative commerce that
we learn that Babylon feeds upon and controls, i.e., the "merchants
of the Earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies" (18:3). After all, Babylon the Great seeks her ease, aggrandizement, and
glory now; and, not in the world to come. To "eat,
drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:19) appeals to Babylon's
"lust of the flesh, and the lust of the
eyes, and the pride of life" (1John 2:16), which Jesus
turned down when Satan tempted Him. "And [Satan] saith unto Him, All these
things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:9).
"Another angel" (18:1) refers to another (Greek, allos, another of the same kind) angel than the angel, which instructed John in the previous chapter. These blessed angelic beings are superior both in power, i.e., "having great power" (18:1), and understanding to man, for man was created a "little lower than the angels" (Psalm 8:5). But, mankind, who has experienced the Grace of Salvation and the vicissitudes of Sanctifying Faith, has come to the side of the Almighty in a way altogether unknown to these "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:14). For this reason, the angels in Heaven have the greatest awe of the Gospel program, because the Gospel speaks of the interest of the exalted Saviour in the eternal welfare of the lowliest of sinners. "Unto whom [the prophets] it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven; which things the angels desire to look into" (1Peter 1:12). The same kind of angel, by whom the "Earth was lightened with his glory" (18:1), condescends to "minister for them who shall be heirs of Salvation" (Hebrews 1:14).
The very name Babylon brings to mind the mad attempt of building
the Tower of Babel, "whose top may reach
unto heaven... [to] make [for the builders] a name" (Genesis 11:4)-- glorifying the builders and not God. Or, we could
very well imagine Nebuchadnezzar's "image
of gold" (Daniel 3:1), towering 90 feet above the "plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon" (3:1)-- commanded to be worshipped by the Babylonian king, for Daniel's
dream declared Nebuchadnezzar to be the "head
of gold" (2:38). Again, the word Babylon represented the
wicked and futile attempt to exalt man and not God. "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein
is he to be accounted of?" (Isaiah 2:22). But possibly,
the most enduring representation of the concept of Babylon, is the Pontifex Maximus
seated on the Papal Throne of the Roman city of Seven Hills, i.e., "seven mountains, on which the woman [Babylon
the Great] sitteth"
(Revelation 17:9). When that mighty and glorious angel cries out, "Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen"
(18:2), then all those who love the LORD will surely rejoice. "1 And
after these things I heard a great voice of much people in Heaven, saying, Alleluia;
Salvation, and Glory, and Honour, and Power, unto the LORD our God:
2 for True and Righteous are His Judgments:
for He hath judged the Great Whore, which did corrupt the Earth with her fornication,
and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. 3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for
ever and ever" (Revelation 19:1-3). [See our "Babylon the Great" ---New Window
series of articles for a history of Babylon the Great until her Judgment.]
What did the LORD mean that Babylon the Great "is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (18:2)? This indicates that mighty Babylon has been divinely, officially, and finally abandoned to its Judgment, cutting off the invitation of Salvation to all those taking refuge within her treacherous walls. "Come out of her, My people," cries Jehovah in the fourth verse of this chapter, eliminating the possibility that the faintest glimmer of Elect Life will any longer remain in the Doomed City, i.e., "the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel" (Exodus 11:7). Only that which remains in the Seven Hilled City are "devils... every foul spirit... [and] every unclean and hateful bird" (18:2). And, with all respect to "every unclean and hateful bird" (18:2), they most likely represent the ceremonially unclean birds of the Old Testament, e.g., vultures, ravens, etc. (Leviticus 11:13-20), that will be present to feast on the carnage of the decimated City of Rome. Since the wicked human occupants of Babylon the Great's epicenter will be completely decimated-- though the False Prophet will not be allowed to expire on his Papal Throne, that he may be personally captured alive by Jehovah Jesus and cast with the Antichrist into the Lake of Fire (19:20)-- only "devils... [and] every foul spirit" (18:2) are left in their "habitation... hold... [and] cage" (18:3). "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD" (Romans 12:19).
It is instructive that "all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the Earth have committed fornication with" (18:3) Babylon the Great. What entity today has such a global reach, that has spanned so much of the Christian era, and has been so responsible for counterfeiting the Christian religion in its presentation to the world of the "faith in Christ" (Acts 24:24) than the Roman Catholic Church? The evil of Babylon's spiritual intoxication is proliferated through her comprehensive reach of humankind. "15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! 16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD'S right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory" (Habakkuk 2:15-16). Is it any wonder that the "merchants of the Earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies" (18:3), since both have immensely benefited by their intimate cohabitation and correlation? For example, Pope Nicolas V (1447-1455) authorized the King of Portugal to war on the African people, take their property and enslave them; and, Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) ordered civil rulers to deliver up all heretics to the Church, and thereby forfeit their property and wealth (from "Halley's Bible Handbook: An Abbreviated Bible Commentary" , p. 779).
Again, before the "Judge
of All the Earth" (Genesis 18:25) brings His wrath upon
Babylon the Great, He miraculously and audibly calls out "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). Since
the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus, who has heard of such a
miraculous call to the Elect for Deliverance and Safety? "If
ye love Me, keep My Commandments" (John 14:15). When Saul
first began to obey the Jesus Whom he was persecuting, then he was
truly Christian. "4
And [Saul of Tarsus]
fell to the Earth, and heard a voice saying
unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the LORD said, I am
Jesus Whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished
said, LORD, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the LORD said unto him, Arise, and
go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do"
(Acts 9:4-6). Likewise, if any that are Elect obediently answer the call to flee
the Roman city, then they will be spared, as Lot was when he fled Sodom. "6 And [God] turning the cities of Sodom
and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample
unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the
wicked" (2Peter 2:6-7).
"Come out of her, My people" (18:4) coincides with the timing of a Pre-Wrath Rapture, in that before Babylon the Great is judged and the "Vials of the Wrath of God" (16:1) are then poured out in the few remaining days before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, God mercifully provides a "way to escape" (1Corinthians 10:13). If the United States of America can be equated in type to the Judgment of Babylon the Great, then a Pre-Tribulational Rapture would conceivably occur before such a Judgment. "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in Heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come Up Hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter" (4:1). [See our article, "The Wisdom of More Than One Rapture" ---New Window, to see the possibility of both a Pre-Tribulational Rapture and Pre-Wrath Rapture, remembering that both Enoch and Elijah were raptured.] Notice also that a Pre-Wrath Rapture would be a Second "Come Up Hither" (11:12), which occurs when the "Two Witnesses" (11:3)-- Moses and Elijah-- are resurrected and raptured. The concept that God would reveal Himself as a God of Mercy before He would disclose Himself as a God of Judgment, rings true at this time, as it did with Lot at Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot acknowledged God's mercy, when he told the angels, "Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life" (Genesis 19:19). [See our editorial, "What is Mercy?" ---New Window, for a better understanding of the nature of the mercy that God offers to us in Salvation and Rapture before He executes His Judgment.]
The LORD commands the Elect inhabitants of Babylon the Great, "Come out [Greek, exelthete] of her" (18:4). John the Beloved seamlessly transitions to a divine commentary concerning the conduct of those who do not leave, e.g., "her sins have reached unto Heaven" (18:5). God has been taking careful account of all the sins of Babylon the Great, and this verse reminds us that the knowledge of her sins is remembered by the Almighty. "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). Why are Babylon's iniquities "remembered" (18:5) at this time? They are recalled because the Divine Mind knows that this is the most prudent time for that knowledge to be exercised against Babylon the Great. "It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!" (Luke 17:1). In our finite exuberance, we would move the All Wise God to immediately pull up and judge all the False Wheat that masquerades as True Believers, but the LORD of the Harvest overrules us, since more harm than good will come, if we do not wait until His appointed time of Judgment. "28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto Him, Wilt Thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But He said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the Tares [False Wheat, i.e., False Professors of Christianity], ye root up also the Wheat [True Professors] with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the Tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the Wheat into My barn" (Matthew 13:28-30).
Retribution for sin is the theme of this chapter, i.e., "Reward her even as she rewarded you" (18:6). Though the Saints take delight in the mercy of God granted to themselves
and others, God's offer of Salvation must be a limited time offer or the Devil himself
would eventually repent himself back into the presence of God. "Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day,
after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not
your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7). With the understanding that
Divine Retribution for sin must be made, if the moral agent does not accept the substitutionary
atonement of Jesus Christ, then we have been told in advance that this is the time
for Babylon the Great to pay for her sins. "And
through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose
Judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not"
(2Peter 2:3). A double measure of Judgment, i.e., "double unto her double according to her works: in
the cup which she hath filled fill to her double" (18:6),
is commanded, to indelibly imprint upon the universe of moral agents that unrepented
sin is a heavier load than the "pleasures
of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25).
Not only is this the time of God's Judgment of the Whore, but we are commanded to cooperatively judge or "reward [Greek, apodote, recompense] her" (18:6) for her sins, instead of seeking her Salvation. "5 Let the Saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. 6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; 7 to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; 8 to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; 9 to execute upon them the Judgment written: this honour have all His Saints. Praise ye the LORD" (Psalm 149:5-9). How do the Saints accomplish the rewarding of "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (Revelation 17:5)? Prayer is God's appointed means for our participation in the Judgment of the Mother of Harlots. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). And, that prayer for Babylon's appointed Judgment should be offered up even now. "I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them" (Ezekiel 36:37). Dear LORD, judge Babylon the Great; but in the meantime, redeem as many as possible from her clutches! "22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh" (Jude 22, 23). [See our article, "An Earnest Appeal to Roman Catholics" ---New Window, for assistance in reaching Roman Catholics, but remember that the only debate that actually converts the gainsayer-- "the servant of the LORD must not strive <as in a war of words>; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient" (2Timothy 2:24)-- must come from the Holy Spirit as Catholics are prayerfully presented the Word of God.]
It comes as no surprise that Roman Catholicism celebrates the Queen of Heaven as being Mary the mother of Jesus, for we have already established to our satisfaction that Babylon the Great embodies the Church of Rome. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). But not coincidentally, Scripture identifies the Queen of Heaven as a pagan goddess, most likely Ashtaroth (literally, means a star), who was worshipped for fertility, especially in Phoenicia. "And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth" (Judges 2:13). Ashtaroth was known as Ishtar, the goddess of sexual love in Mesopotamia, and as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, fertility, and beauty in Greece. The Queen of Heaven was offered worship, for example:
(1) "to burn incense unto the Queen of Heaven" (Jeremiah 44:17), which may be compared to the burning of votive candles when Roman Catholics pray to Mary,
(2) "to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven" (7:18), which can be analogized to the sacrifice of the bread (host) in the Catholic Mass, and
(3) "to pour out drink offerings unto [the Queen of Heaven]" (44:18), which can also be likened to the offering of the wine in the Catholic Mass. Just as the unwilling mind could never see such a connection, a willing heart and mind could easily understand the correlation. "If any man will do His Will, he shall know of the Doctrine" (John 7:17).
Without speculation, Scripture assures us that for those who know how to exploit the Roman Catholic system, the wealth of the Catholic Church is immense, i.e., "How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously" (18:7). God's Judgment of Babylon the Great extends only towards those who for whatever reason refuse to leave the culture of lies and deception that is the Church of Rome. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2Corinthians 6:17). It is instructive that the Saints are enjoined, "So much torment and sorrow give her" (18:7), revealing that they will participate in judging Babylon the Great, i.e., specifically through prayer which directs the Almighty to judge her. "Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers" (Ezekiel 20:4). The Spirit of God reasons through the Scriptures that the willful union with a harlot brings the same Judgment upon both, i.e., "What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith He, shall be one flesh" (1Corinthians 6:16). The self-satisfied, willfulness of the crime of Babylon the Great is represented by her statement, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow" (17:7), which was the same statement made by Ancient Babylon before her destruction, i.e., "And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it" (Isaiah 47:7). Old Testament Civil Law for the nation of Israel mandated a particular kind of death, i.e., execution by burning, for a whore, who was the daughter of a priest-- because it scandalized, disgraced, and reproached the True Religion that the whorish daughter was misrepresenting. "And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire" (Leviticus 21:9). Perhaps, this is the reason that the Almighty directs the Judgment of the Great Whore, whose papal leadership counterfeits Christianity to the world, to be burning by fire. "And the Ten Horns which thou sawest upon the Beast, these shall hate the Whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire" (Revelation 17:16).
The swiftness of Jehovah's Judgment is such that "her plagues come in one day" (18:8). "And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?" (Luke 18:7). What some may agonize as an eternity of waiting is but the "twinkling of an eye" (1Corinthians 15:52) in the sight of God. "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the LORD as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2Peter 3:8). Of course, this is not to teach that every prophetic reference to a day equals a thousand years or vice versa, but that the LORD "is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2Peter 3:9), i.e., He tarries for our benefit. When the time comes for the Judgment of Babylon the Great, it will come "in one day, death, and mourning, and famine" (18:8) compacted together with bewildering speed. "She shall be utterly burned [Greek, katakaio] with fire" (18:8). Katakaio implies that Babylon the Great will be consumed by fire. Because the "mighty God of Jacob" (Genesis 49:24) is almighty, He judges the Whore in this fashion, i.e., "strong is the LORD God Who judgeth her" (18:8). "Who is this King of Glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle" (Psalm 24:8).
Historically, the Protestant nations, e.g., England (Anglican Church), Denmark (Evangelical Lutheran Church), Finland (Finnish Orthodox Church), Norway (Norwegian State Church), etc., joined themselves to religion through established state churches; but, it has been through the global outreach of the Ecumenical Movement, in particular, through the World Council of Churches, that Babylon the Great encouraged the union of non-Catholic churches-- and, ultimately with herself-- without yet officially joining them. [See our analysis of the Ecumenical Movement in Part 3 ---New Window of our Babylon the Great series, and our conclusions about Roman Catholicism's ultimate union with what used to be Protestantism and all religions of the world in Part 6 of the same series.] "Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 11:21). But, the relationship of those that control the governments of the world with the Great Whore has been illicit in that they have adopted or tolerated her religion, i.e., "committed fornication and lived deliciously with her" (18:9), in exchange for the material benefit that comes from her control of the benighted masses. "13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, 14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. 15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. 16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: 20 he hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed" (Proverbs 7:13-20). Accordingly, they "shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning" (18:9). But, why will the "kings of the Earth" (18:9) mourn over the loss of Babylon the Great, if they are responsible for her destruction, i.e., the "Ten Horns which thou sawest upon the Beast, these shall hate the Whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire" (17:16)? The suicidal irrationality of killing the system that feeds you demonstrates that the end of the Tribulation Week is very near, for "if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (Mark 3:25). The continued insane insistence of the Antichrist to still be worshipped as God in the Temple, when everything has obviously fallen apart, fuels this deranged behavior. "So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (2Thessalonians 2:4).
Why do the kings of the Earth stand "afar
off for the fear of her torment" (18:10)? If the judgment
by the Ten Horns involves, for example, a thermonuclear device detonating upon "that great city Babylon"
(18:10), then it would be understandable that there would be concern about getting
too close to Ground Zero. "God hath spoken
once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God"
(Psalm 62:11). The very idea that man has the capacity to deliver such ruin "in one hour" (18:10) was
not apparent until the first weapon of mass destruction, an atomic bomb of 6 kilograms
of plutonium, was detonated in the Trinity Test of the Manhattan Project at Alamogordo,
New Mexico with a force of 20,000 tons of TNT at 5:30 AM on July 16th 1945-- billowing
50,000 to 70,000 feet into the stratosphere and exposing a family 20 miles away from
Ground Zero to dangerous levels of radiation from nuclear fallout. On August 6th
1945, a fissionable explosion of uranium-235 over Hiroshima, Japan, and three days
later, another fission bomb employing plutonium-239 was detonated over Nagasaki,
killing over 100,000 people in both events, thus, precipitating the end of WW2. "And except those days should be shortened, there should
no flesh be saved: but for the Elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matthew 24:22). [See our article, "For
the Elect's Sake" ---New Window, to see the thesis developed
that a Merciful God will shorten the Tribulation Week.] The annihilation
of Babylon the Great by fire, in particular, the city of Rome, is easily possible
in this 21st Century. "Nevertheless when
the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the Earth?"
The question is not if God is capable of such destruction, but why but Judgment would God allow man such power? "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10). "Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do Judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her" (Jeremiah 51:47). What wisdom God has shown in His Judgment of Babylon the Great! And, how wise is God? Scripture advises us that Jesus Christ is the "Wisdom of God" (1Corinthians 1:24), that the "foolishness of God is wiser than men" (1:25), and that the "world by wisdom knew not God" (1:21). Since any truly wise understanding or action must have emanated from God, i.e., "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from Above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights" (James 1:17), then the sum total of all truly wise actions or pronouncements of man can only be a sampling of the Infiniteness of the Wisdom of Christ. "19 For it pleased the Father that in Him [Christ Jesus] should all fulness dwell; 3 In Whom are hid all the treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge" (Colossians 1:19; 2:3).
First, the "kings of the Earth" (18:3, 9) and then the "merchants of the Earth" (18:3, 11) are described as mourning their loss of Babylon the Great, i.e., they "shall weep and mourn over her" (18:11); but, like all sinful people, they mourn for selfish reasons, because greed is not good. "Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough" (Isaiah 56:11). Their sadness does not touch the fact that the only way that God could deal with Babylon's wickedness was through Judgment, so their immediate loss is only material and financial, i.e., "for no man buyeth their merchandise any more" (18:11). "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26). The humanist has not seen beyond the confines of his earthly circumstances to notice the testimony those circumstances give of God, i.e., "For the invisible things of Him from The Creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His Eternal Power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20); and therefore, he does not seek after Him. "And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). Clearly, he is satisfied with only seeking and finding his own material gain. "Verily I say unto you, They have their reward" (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16).
Beginning with the more durable items of desire, the best known
precious metals "gold, and silver" (18:12) head the list of things not to be found any more, no longer in
Babylon. The Saints know that wickedness is not gold or silver, but avarice or the
"love of money is the root of all
evil" (1Timothy 6:10). "Precious
stones" and "pearls" (18:12) are denominated second in this list of permanently out of stock
items for Babylon the Great. The skills of the lapidary, who faceted exquisite gemstones
of beauty, may have graced but few of the humble servants of God; however, those
Saints willingly made that exchange, with the result that they should "shine as the brightness of the firmament; and... as
the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Even now,
Godly Women are noted for their adornment of a "meek
and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price"
(1Peter 3:4). Third in this list of desirable but unavailable commodities are the
dry goods of "fine linen
[Greek, byssus, a species of Egyptian flax, a very costly, delicate, soft,
white and yellow linen], and purple [Greek, porphura, a fabric dyed purple, worn by the ungodly rich
man who was contrasted to Lazarus <Luke 16:19>, placed upon Jesus after His
scourging by the Romans <Mark 15:15>, and sold by the godly Lydia in Thyatira
<Acts 16:14>], and silk
[Greek, serikos, the product of silkworms],
and scarlet [Greek, kokkinos, a crimson colored cloth,
whose color was derived from the crushing of the eggs of the Coccus ilicis, an insect
which infests oak trees]" (18:12). The hunger, thirst, and taste for such riches holds no power to
the True Saint, because he has "set [his] affection on things above,
not on things on the Earth" (Colossians 3:2) and is sustained
by the Spirit of God, who "worketh in
you both to will and to do of His Good Pleasure" (Philippians
"Thyine [Greek, thuinos] wood" (18:12) was known to the Romans as citrus or citron wood, to the botanists as Callitris quadrivalvis, and to the modern island nation of Malta as its national tree, Gharghar or Sigra tal-Gharghar, whose English name is the Araar Tree. This evergreen tree is rare and found only in the Mediterranean area, i.e., Malta, Spain, and Northern Africa, where the Mother of Harlots maintains her papal throne. Thyine was valued for its fragrance in burnt sacrifices and for its beauty when fashioned into furniture. Just so, True Christians are "unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto Death; and to the other the savour of life unto Life. And who is sufficient for these things?" (2Corinthians 2:15, 16). "All manner vessels of ivory [Greek, elephantinos], and all manner vessels of most precious wood [exotic hardwoods], and of brass [Greek, chalkos, an alloy of 67% copper and 33% zinc], and iron [symbol of power and strength], and marble [Greek, marmaros, a metamorphic rock formed by alteration of limestone or dolomite, often irregularly colored by impurities]" (18:12) are added to this list of newly unavailable commodities, as if to warn the reader of their fleeting nature, and caution us against placing undue emphasis upon them in our affections. "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven" (Proverbs 23:5).
The list of items which will soon be extinct to Babylon the Great
emphasizes the materialistic emphasis of her religion, indicating that to execute
the Great Whore is to cut off the economic head of the trade of nations. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart
be also" (Luke 12:34). "Cinnamon [Greek, kinamomon]"
(18:13) comes chiefly from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and
the Old Testament citation of it for the holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:23) indicates
that commerce with the Far East took place from antiquity, and will continue until
the prophesied destruction of Babylon the Great. "Odours
[Greek, thumiama, incense],
and ointments [Greek, muron],
and frankincense [Greek, libanos. It was called frank
because of the freeness of its release of fragrance when the incense was burned.
The burning of this incense in the ancient Jewish Temple emitted a fragrant odor,
and for that reason, incense was a symbol of the Divine Name, i.e., 'For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down
of the same My Name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense
shall be offered unto My Name, and a pure offering: for My Name shall be great among
the heathen, saith the LORD of Hosts' (Malachi 1:11), as well
as an emblem of prayer, i.e., 'Let my prayer
be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening
sacrifice' (Psalm 141:2)]" (18:13) demonstrate how fully Babylon appeals to all the physical senses
of man to maintain her grasp upon his immortal soul. "21 With her much fair speech she caused
him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22
He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth
to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; 23
Till a dart strike through his liver; as a
bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life" (Proverbs 7:21-23).
The consumables of "fine flour [Greek, semidalis, the finest wheat flour], and wheat [Greek, sitos, wheat grain]" (18:13) demonstrate that both the refined taste of the elite and the necessary palate of the masses are appealed to by Babylon. "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:37). Meat and transportation-- "beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots" (18:13)-- are eradicated in Rome's destruction. Though our modern minds must pause to realize that only since the mid-1880s when Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler began to build gasoline-powered carriages, did the relatively recent era of automobiles begin, this reference to chariots brings across the idea of transportation to most past readers, i.e., wisdom is "easy to be intreated" (James 3:17). The list concludes with man, the most valuable of all resources; therefore, the physical Judgment of Babylon the Great is complete, i.e., "slaves [Greek, soma, living human bodies], and souls [Greek, psuche, the moral essence of a living being] of men" (18:13). "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Romans 6:16).
The merchants and their customers are here directly rebuked for their inordinate lust after the merchandise or "fruits" (18:14) of Babylon the Great. "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the Living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (1Timothy 6:17). As quickly as that, Babylon is stripped of all the goods that made her desirable. "Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids" (Proverbs 6:25). The Truth they had to surrender to gain "all things which were dainty and goodly" (18:14) is their sin. Before they, too, are likewise punished, the condemned merchants are duly admonished by their Judge because they sought after the goods of the world and "not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8). "If riches increase, set not your heart upon them" (Psalms 62:10) should have been their motto, but they were "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13). It is already over for the inhabitants of Babylon. "The expectation of the wicked shall perish" (Proverbs 10:28). She has been punished, and her goods are found "no more at all" (18:14).
The secular humanism of the merchants only measured their success by the bottom line of monetary profit, i.e., "which were made rich by her" (18:15), and not how "unrighteous mammon" (Luke 16:11) could be used to:
(1) serve God, i.e., "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse" (Malachi 3:10);
(2) benefit man, i.e., "do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate" (1Timothy 6:18); and
(3) truly help themselves, i.e., to "lay hold on Eternal Life" (6:19)-- not earning Eternal Life, but in faith laying hold of Christ, who is "Eternal Life" (1John 5:20).
As if mesmerized by a charmer, the merchants can only keep their distance "for the fear of her torment" (18:15)-- again, quite probably for fear of contamination by nuclear radiation-- still selfishly considering only their physical but not spiritual safety. "Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Their strong emotions, i.e., "weeping and wailing" (18:15), demonstrate the depth of their bitterness over their financial loss. "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" (Luke 12:20).
Here, we are reading the Divine Writ concerning the destruction of Babylon the Great, and we have noticed at length the strong reactions of the merchants of the world to their loss of goods, income, and opportunity, when she is judged, i.e., "that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!" (18:16). We cannot even know but the surface of the relationship between the religious robes of Babylon the Great and the economic order of the world! "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). We may only have limited success in describing from human records the religious, political, economic, and social cabal of Babylon the Great; but here, the Divine Audit authoritatively records the evidence. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2Corinthians 6:17).
All are still bewildered at the swiftness of their loss-- astounded that it actually took place. "For in one hour so great riches is come to nought" (18:17). Now the merchant marine participates in mourning over their loss of Babylon the Great, i.e., "every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off" (18:17). Like the survivors of the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001, they are in a state of disbelief that this event has actually transpired. For most all of those sailors, this is a signal for their deaths, as well, during the next few days of the Vial Judgments-- since during those days of the Vial Judgments, the inhabitants of the world "repented not" (16:9, 11)-- if not their deaths at the climax at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption" (2Peter 2:12). However, even at the End, a Remnant will be saved, for a nation is converted "in one day" (Isaiah 66:8). Essentially, in spite of all the carnage, the onlookers refuse to see the overall picture of the judgment of sinners in the hands of an angry God. "Their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste" (Deuteronomy 32:35).
This is the end of an illicit love affair that has endured the ages. "And I will come near to you to Judgment; and I will be a Swift Witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith the LORD of Hosts" (Malachi 3:5). Since it is the vengeance of God, the Righteous can rightfully rejoice that justice has been done. "The spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of Recompences shall surely requite" (Jeremiah 51:56). Rome, the emblem of Babylon the Great, has been judged. "What city is like unto this great city!" (18:18). We are given this lengthy picture of the sailors' grief to emphasize the certainty of God's Judgment. "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD" (Romans 12:19).
It is inconsolable grief, when these grown men "cast dust on their heads" (18:19) and cry, "Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate" (18:19). This is a picture of numbness that can only be assuaged by repentance-- and, death will not put them out of their misery. "43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into Life maimed, than having two hands to go into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-44). The Great Whore will not deliver herself from God's Judgment, even with her vast wealth, i.e., "by reason of her costliness" (18:19). "Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy: for He shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land" (Zephaniah 1:18). For the third time (cp. v. 10, 17), it is said that her desolation is complete in "one hour" (18:19), making the reader feel that the impact of her Judgment must be so swift that it must take place within sixty actual minutes. "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19).
Vengeance is the domain of God, so the Saints ought to "rejoice over" (18:20) God's Judgment of Babylon the Great. "17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: 18 lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him. 19 Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; 20 for there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. 29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I [Jehovah] will render to the man according to his work" (Proverbs 24:17-19, 29). The Mighty God avenges Himself upon Babylon the Great to clear away her disrespect for Himself and His Law, so that an influence will be felt throughout Heaven that would counteract the thought or possibility of any future rebellion in that happy company of moral beings. "42 I will make Mine arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh; and that with [or, it may be rendered, because of] the blood of the slain and of the captives [i.e., because of the blood of His people whom they have killed], from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. 43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people: for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful unto His land, and to His people" (Deuteronomy 32:42-43). The Ten Horns, like the policeman, may execute God's Judgment here below; but, it is God's revenge, that is accomplished, and God's people that will be avenged. "3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (Romans 13:3-4).
Now that Babylon's mourners have had their say, God's "mighty angel" takes "up a stone like a great millstone, and cast[s] it into the sea" (18:21). Is this "great millstone" (18:21) merely symbolic, as when Jeremiah instructed Seraiah, a prince that accompanied Zedekiah into captivity, "And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: and thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary" (Jeremiah 51:63-64)? Or, will some kind of tsunami accompany the destruction of Babylon the Great? We shall soon see. The Apocalypse records the phrase "no more at all" six times in this chapter:
(1) The luxury merchandise of "goodly and dainty" (18:14) fruits will not be found any longer in Babylon.
(2) Babylon itself will be found "no more at all" (18:21).
(3) The lively music of "musicians" (18:22) will not be heard any longer in Babylon.
(4) The sound of a working machine, such as a "millstone" (18:22), will no longer be heard in Babylon.
(5) The helpful and revealing "light of a candle" (18:23) will not be seen in Babylon any longer. And,
(6) the celebrative and hopeful "voice of the bridegroom and of the bride" (18:23) will no longer be heard in Babylon.
In short, God erases Babylon the Great. "When Thy Judgments are in the Earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn Righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9).
The finality of God's Judgment of Babylon the Great is heard in
the silence of the "voice [Greek, phone, the sound as of a musical instrument] of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters" (18:22). Music's jubilation has filled Heaven expressing the joy, i.e.,
"Thou hast made known to me the ways of
life; Thou shalt make me full of joy with Thy countenance"
(Acts 2:28), since before Lucifer fell. And, Lucifer is thought to have also been
the chief of God's musicians. There is no doubt that this gives more credence to
the Christians' description of the overtly vile music of the world as the Devil's
Music. "13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God... the workmanship
of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that
covereth... 15 Thou wast
perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found
in thee" (Ezekiel 28:13-15). The soundtrack of life has
been terminated for Babylon. "1 Behold, the LORD maketh the Earth
empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the
inhabitants thereof. 2 And
it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with
his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the
seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so
with the giver of usury to him... 6 Therefore
hath the curse devoured the Earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore
the inhabitants of the Earth are burned, and few men left. 7
The new wine mourneth, the vine languisheth,
all the merryhearted do sigh. 8 The
mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp
ceaseth" (Isaiah 24:1-2, 6-8).
Total Judgment falls upon the scientists, engineers, technicians, and skilled laborers of Babylon the Great. "No craftsman [Greek, technites], of whatsoever craft [Greek, techne] he be, shall be found any more in thee" (18:22) The dominion that God appointed man to have over the Earth, i.e., "And God said... have dominion... over all the Earth" (Genesis 1:26), has been lost by man's skillful creation of all manner of devices to fulfill his wicked lusts. "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (6:5). Likewise, the inanimate, nonmoral machines that fulfilled the will of the craftsmen of Babylon the Great will be silenced. "And the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee" (18:22). The very atoms will cooperate with their Creator, when the time comes for the Judgment of wicked men, as well as for the Rapture of the Righteous. "In a moment [Greek, atomos], in the twinkling of an eye, at the Last Trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1Corinthians 15:52).
The Holy Spirit concludes this enumeration of things "no more at all" with the
death of all help, i.e., the "light of
a candle shall shine no more at all in thee" (18:23),
and the termination of all hope, i.e., the "voice
of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee" (18:23). "Where there is no vision,
the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18). Those men of finance
and commerce who cooperated with and profited by their relationship with Babylon
the Great are labeled "thy merchants" (18:23). "When thou sawest a
thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers" (Psalm 50:18). In the meantime, True Christians who must make a living
and do business in the world, should not engage in any employment or business relationship
that will defile their conscience before God. "And
he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever
is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). Christian Liberty
allows that "all things are lawful" (1Corinthians 6:12) for any action, employment, or business that abides
by and does not violate the Law of Love, i.e., "Thou
shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all
thy mind... Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"
(Matthew 22:37, 39), and, of course, is not expressly forbidden by God. Even then,
we are given the Spirit's guidance to particularly seek out those choices that are
spiritually profitable, that are not harmfully addictive, and that build up the Kingdom
of God, i.e., "12
All things are lawful unto me, but all things
are not expedient [i.e., profitable]:
all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any [i.e., addictive].
23 All things are lawful for me, but all things
are not expedient [i.e., profitable]:
all things are lawful for me, but all things edify [i.e., build
up] not" (1Corinthians
Who are the "great men of the Earth" (18:23)? In any age, they are those of renown, who their respective generation identifies as the rich, powerful, gifted, and talented-- occasionally including even the Godly-- but, the Godly are not in this instance numbered among Babylon the Great. "26 For ye see your calling, Brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1Corinthians 1:26-29). "By thy sorceries [Greek, pharmakeia, deceptions and seductions] were all nations deceived" (18:23). The Mother of Harlots merely gave those merchants what they wanted, seducing only those who were willing, and failing with those who refused. "19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it" (Isaiah 1:19-20).
This closing verse of Chapter 18 lays the "blood of prophets, and of Saints, and of all that were slain upon the Earth" (18:24) on Babylon the Great. Where is the justice of blaming even the bloodthirsty Whore for the blood "of all that were slain upon the Earth" (18:24)?
"There is no city under the sun which has so clear a title to Catholic blood-guiltiness as Rome. The guilt of the blood shed under the heathen emperors has not been removed under the Popes, but hugely multiplied. Nor is Rome accountable only for that which hath been shed in the city, but for that shed in all the earth. For at Rome under the Pope, as well as under the heathen emperors, were the bloody orders and edicts given: and wherever the blood of holy men was shed, there were the grand rejoicings for it. And what immense quantities of blood have been shed by her agents! Charles IX., of France, in his letter to Gregory XIII., boasts, that in and not long after the massacre of Paris, he had destroyed seventy thousand Huguenots. Some have computed, that, from the year 1518 to 1548, fifteen millions of Protestants have perished by the Inquisition. This may be overcharged; but certainly the number of them in those thirty years, as well as since, is almost incredible. To these we may add innumerable martyrs, in ancient, middle, and late ages, in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland, and many other parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia" (excerpted from John Wesley's "Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament" , commenting on Revelation 18:24).
Scripture teaches us of a Unity of Moral Action, in that, if your heart is right, then your actions are divinely judged as morally right, i.e., "Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also" (Matthew 23:26); but, if your heart is wrong, your actions are accounted as all morally defective. "For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10). For the Holy Spirit to here accuse the Mother of Harlots of culpability for "all that were slain" (18:24) is like the LORD Jesus Christ's pronouncement of woe upon the lawyers. "47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. 49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: 50 that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation" (Luke 11:47-50). It appears that the Divine Mind views the bloodguilt of Babylon the Great to be equal to her hearty agreement with all the murderers, who came before her, and her imitation and multiplication of the duplicity of their feigned fidelity to the memory of the Righteous, while likewise refusing to obey the Present Truth. "O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed [Hebrew, shadad, wasted]; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us" (Psalm 137:8).
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