Revelation 18:1 - 20
The announcement of Babylon’s judgment comes in two divisions. The fist is an angel who comes down from heaven with “bright splendor.” and with great authority. The angel announces that Babylon (Rome) has fallen. The second is when another voice from heaven calls God’s people out of the city, for it is about to receive double the penalty for the suffering it imposed on others. There is nothing ahead for the city but death, mourning and famine. The once proud kingdom is now about to be ruined.
As we will see Rome has become a home for demons, evil spirits, and unclean birds. Nations drink her adulterous wine, kings commit adultery with her, and merchants grow rich from her excessive luxuries.
Revelation 18:1 - 20
Vs 1 – 2: Babylon has always been figurative of resistance to the expansion of the kingdom of God. As it fell in times past, so will it be destroyed in the future. Rome is called “Babylon” so readers will know what God did to the first Babylon and then recognize that in giving Rome that title he will once again carry out his judgment on the city. The once magnificent city of Babylon will lie entirely forsaken. It is to become the hideout for evil spirits and all kinds of unclean creatures. This is it is a prophetic representation of complete isolation where the accomplishments of humanity have become the demonic dwelling place of unclean and abominable creatures. Since Rome is already the habitation of evil spirits, it follows that when she falls nothing will remain but the evil spirits and ceremonially unclean creatures.
Vs 3: This verse gives the reason for the fall of Rome. Rome is fallen because she has coerced the nations to drink the wine of her passionate adulteries. Adultery is often symbolic in the OT for apostasy from God. It is used here to denote the impure and illegitimate relationships between Roma and all the nations of the earth. In the last days it will be personified by worship of the beast.
Vs 4: God’s people are called to leave this ill-fated city. Prophets of former days had issued similar warnings. The call to leave suggests a literal departure from the doomed city, but when, according to theologian Robert Mounce, “projected on the larger screen of the consummation it becomes a call to the last generation of believers for ‘spiritual withdrawal from Vanity Fair.’”
Two reasons they are to leave the city:
Vs 5 – 6: Plagues are about to be released on the city because of the numerous sins the city has piled on her. God has not forgotten these sins and he will punish the city because of them. As a result, she will receive double the penalty. She will ultimately get what she deserves and then some.
Vs 7 - 8: Rome is to receive sorrow and torment in the exact proportion to the self-glorification and luxurious lifestyle she has chosen. This humiliation of Babylon will involve torment and grief. The judgment that will fall on Rome will be like in kind to what she has dished out to others. She will receive a double portion from her own cup. She who once boasted of her invulnerability will be brought to nothing. Just as she has caused many to experience every kind of adversity, she herself will experience the distress of poverty and demise. The point, however, is not that the church will rejoice because others suffer but because God in his justice will see to it that the haughty vindictiveness of Rome will not go unnoticed or unpunished.
Vs 9 – 10: The kings and nations that turned to Rome and profited and benefitted their allegiance to her will all mourn because the city they depended on and loved has fallen. They were involved in illegitimate affairs (immoral business practices, and power) with the prostitute and at one time enjoyed the luxuries that their adulterous relationship with Rome provided to them. The nations do not rush to the rescue of their concubine but “stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment”. They are amazed that judgment could fall upon a city in such a swift manner, as great and strong as Rome. They raise their voices in the sorrowful lament.
Vs 11: The mourning is also taken up by the merchants not out of sympathy for the fall of Rome who is now brought low, but because with its destruction they have lost their major source of financial gain
Vs 12 – 14: The merchants mourn the fact that all the rich luxuries that Rome longed for have vanished forever. The concluding clause, “never to be recovered,” brackets the list along with the earlier statement, “no one buys their cargoes anymore”
Vs 15 – 17: The merchants had profited richly from their trade with the great city of Rome. Now, like the kings of the earth, they take their stand at a safe distance to weep and mourn. Their lament is poetic in form. Continuing the use of triplets, the merchants describe the city as dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet; she glitters with gold, precious stones, and pearls.
Vs 18: The mourning continues with a third group, and it involves those in and connected with the shipping industry. As they watch the smoke rise from the burning ruins, they cry out in amazement, “Where is there another city as great as this?”
 Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (p. 327). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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