Revelation Chapter 18: The Destruction of The Harlot City: The Demise of Commercial Babylon

It is pertinent to remind us here that in the original manuscript, there were no divisions into chapters and verses. The rubrics of chapters and verses were devised by scholars for the ease of reference. So chapter 18 is a continuation of the 7th bowl judgement, and indeed the judgement of the great harlot city of Babylon which is the epitome of of false humanistic religion of mother-child worship and commercialization of religion. Although the reason for the destruction of the harlot city is restated, the emphasis is on the commercialism of the harlot city and the reaction of the kings of the earth and the merchants amongst the wicked living wrath-dwellers who were enriched by her wares.

In verse 1, another unit of vision is introduced. “After these things, I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory”. This descending angel is different from one of the seven bowl carrying avenging angels who gave John the revelator the vision in chapter 17. This angel is so powerful that the whole earth was illuminated by his presence. Glory(Greek=doxa )is usually descriptive of the Godhead. It is sometimes used to describe the elemental bodies. “There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another of the stars; for one star differeth from another in glory” (1 Cor.15:41). In Ezek.9:3 and Heb.9:5, angels are assigned this characteristic. In both cases a cherub is described. This suggests that the descending angel is a high ranking angel. We are not told who the angel is. He has great authority, therefore he is a high ranking angel. We are not told how the revelator got to know he has great authority, probably because of his regalia and aura which may signal his position. He is probably one of the archangels. His presence lights up the Earth. His descent is crucially important. He announced in verse 2 with a very strong voice that Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of demons and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. The repetition of is fallen, is literary device employed in the ancient Neareast. It indicates emphasis and inevitability. Babylon must fall and is fallen. What about its becoming the habitation of demons, and the the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird? Is it the cause or consequence of the fall? Biblical scholars are not agreed on this. The Greek word rendered devils in the KJV is daimone, which is better rendered demons. There is only one devil, Satan but many demons. But a person or demon may be so evil that he is called devil, just as a person my be so vile, he is called a demon.

Remember that precisely at the middle of 70th seven Satan and his hordes of fallen” angelic beings called demons or evil spirits were cast down to earth after a war that raged in the starry heavens and the dark void, which resulted in woe to the inhabitants of the earth, for the Devil is come down to having great wrath(Rev.12:12). It does seem that the large majority of these demons found abode in Babylon which led to escalation in her harlotry and sorcery. These demons are so vile and desperate that civility, decency and decorum amongst men would be virtually absent. Besides, after Armageddon, all demons will be herded into hell. There will be no demons and evil spirits on Earth during the 1000-year reign of Jesus the Christ our Lord. So these demons, evils spirits and hateful birds dwelling in Babylon are the cause of the fall of Babylon rather than a consequence of the fall of Babylon.

“For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.”

In verse 3, as we have just pointed out, the descent on, and abode of these evil angels in Babylon, resulted in escalation of her harlotry and sorcery. These demons were not imprisoned in Babylon. The Greek word translated abide is phulaka which implies dwelling place for wild animals and evil spirits. These demons found home, lair and refuge in Babylon which accounts for the escalation in her wickedness, whoredoms and sorceries. Therefore all nations became intoxicated with the wine of her formication. The kings of the Earth committed whoredom with her, and the merchants of the Earth became enriched by trading in her wares. Her corrupting influence affected the nations, the kings of the Earth and the merchants trading in her wares. The harlotry of the harlot city led the world into commitment to and worship of the Dragon-Beast. She seduced the kings of the Earth and compelled the living wicked earth-dwellers to follow the Composite Scarlet Beast. The merchants by their buying and selling were made rich by her power of sensuality. Sensuality here implies gratifying the senses with sexual immorality. It is however probable that what is intended here is idolatry rather than sexual immoralities. It should be noted that idolatry involves fertility cults in which sexual immoralities are the order of the day.

“And I heard another voice 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.”

In verse 4, there was a call by another voice from heaven saying, come out of her my people that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. This voice is from heaven. It is directed at the people of God in the harlot city, those who have not taken the mark of the beast. Therefore this voice must be God’s voice. The summons to flee is literal. The reason for the summons is explicitly that the people of God may not participate in the sins of the harlot city and be liable to receive of her plagues. Hence the summons to evacuate the city. To remain in the city exposes the people of God to temptations to engage in the sinful conducts of its dwellers. There are some that teach that the harlot city is Jerusalem; that this is supported by the fact that the people of God, the remnant of Israel are taken to Azel before the destruction of the city, Jerusalem(Zech.14:5). There is no biblical evidence that Jerusalem was destroyed until the final war of Armageddon. But the destruction of the harlot city occurs prior to Armageddon. If the destruction of the harlot city were at Armageddon, there would be no room for the kings of the Earth and the merchants of her wares to mourn for her destruction; for all were destroyed at Armageddon. However, in our chronology of eschatology, the remnant of Israel were taken to Azel on the 6th day of the 30-day reclamation period prior to the start of the bowl judgements on the seventh day. And the destruction of the harlot city is part of the 7th and final bowl judgement. I must admit that it is somewhat problematic if the people of God are still in literal Babylon up to this time. It is more sensible though that they were taken to Jerusalem by Christ Himself after His appearance to them in Petra and the Judean wilderness and Jerusalem itself. However I do not believe the harlot city is Jerusalem for the reasons adduced in my comments on the previous chapter. It is not necessary to repeat these reasons here. In both cases, it does not make sense if the call not to partake of her sins is made a few days prior to her destruction. It does however make sense if this call was made earlier, perhaps at the beginning of the worship of the Dragon-Beast in the middle of the 70th seven of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy.

In the case of the remnant sent to Azel, they were taken there by the Christ Himself. So there was no need for a call for them to get out of Jerusalem, after being rescued by Christ Himself from Petra and the Judean wilderness and Jerusalem itself, and from Egypt and Assyria. They accompanied Him to Mount Zion where He Jesus reclaimed God’s rule over the Earth. “That you receive not of her plagues” implies the wrath of God that is to be poured out on the harlot city. If the people of God did not heed the summons to get out of the city, they are culpable and would be judged with the rest of the living wicked dwellers in the city. This call may refer to Gentiles who up this time have not taken the mark of allegiance to the Beast, who in the light of the preceding events have come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah. The Church has been raptured. So, they are not part of the Church. They are not of the household of Israel either, and so, not offered any special protection from the bowl judgments. On the other hand, they are not specifically targeted in the bowl judgments.

“For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

In verse 5, her sins has reached up to heaven and God hath remembered her iniquities. As high as heaven is a figure of speech that emphasizes the amount and gravity of something(Gen.11:4; Deut.9:1; 2Chr.28:9). The amount of sin the harlot city has committed is substantial. It should not escape our attention that God’s patience also is enormous. It takes quite a while for sins to pile up to the heavens. This implies that what the harlot city has done in luring the kings of the Earth into worshipping the Beast and compelling the living wicked earth-dwellers to worship the Dragon-Beast is the zenith of her corruption. Her sins have stacked up to heaven. This is the abomination of desolation which occurred at the mid-point of the 70th seven which is the extreme point of abomination. The harlot city promoted this culture of worship of the Dragon-Beast which garnered her a lot of wealth and ingratiated her to the Beast-antiChrist. This is the height of her immoralities which intoxicated the the kings of the Earth and inebriated the living wicked earth-dwellers. God has remembered her iniquities. This is a figure of speech applied to God. Knowledge is constant with God. There is no succession of events in His omniscient consciousness. God does not need to remember. This is the only example of God remembering something in the NT. In the OT, God is often asked to remember a person(Judg.16:27; 2 Kings 20:3), or the wicked acts of someone(Ps.25:5;137:7). This is a phenomenon called anthropomorphism, ascribing human attributes to God. The ascription of human attributes to God suggests that God has forgotten and needs to be reminded. He is not man. He does not forget. This situation arises from the divine-human relations. God is not a direct ruler of the Earth. He has committed all judgement here to man. To intervene he must be invited. Herein lies the need for prayer. Prayer in whatever form is an invitation to God to intervene in human affairs.

“Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.”

In verse 6, she is rewarded even as she has rewarded you. This is a bit problematic. Pay her back is second person plural aorist imperative. A second person plural means that more than one person is addressed. Whoever is the subject of this imperative is the centre of the debate. In other words who is being told to act? Logically, one would think that Christ is urging God the Father to judge the harlot city. On the other hand, one could object that Christ exhorting the Father to act is unparalleled in Scripture, and does not answer the question about the plural nature of the subject. Rev.8:8 states: for the Lord God who judgeth is strong. There is no explicit statement that God will employ agents in the judgement of the harlot city. This imperative is an example of the command of request. That is, God is not told what to do, but is asked to do it. Throughout Revelation, God’s wrath is executed by angelic beings. Perhaps this is the reason a second person plural is used. The voice suggests that for God to repay the harlot city is kind.

It does seem however the harlot city and her sponsor has a system and programme of reward whereby they generously remunerated those who were zealous in the worship of the Dragon-Beast and in luring and compelling others to worship the Dragon-Beast and to persecute Christians, Jews and other nonconformists. So, as she has rewarded others even so shall God reward her, double for her works and the cup which she has filled. This is the golden cup of her fornication. She receives double for her corrupting influences on and intoxication and inebriation of the living wicked and unrighteous earth-dwellers.

“How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.”

In verse 7, she lived so deliciously and delicately. She faired sumptuously. She glorified herself. She did not really labour for her wealth. Her life was parasitc. The Scarlet Beast was carrying her and she sat on the sea of people. Her position with the sea-beast enabled her to garner wealth from the people. She felt so secure in her position that she said: “I sit a queen, am no widow and shall see no sorrow”(8).

“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”

Therefore shall her punishment shall come in one day, death and mourning and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord that judgeth her. The harlot city is judged with fire. It shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall be with fire and sulphur rained from heaven. Will God’s judgement on Jerusalem be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah? I will make a full end of the nations wither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of the thee, but correct thee in a measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished(Jer. 46:28). At the resurrection of the two witnesses, there was an earthquake, and the tenth part of the city of Jerusalem fell. Seven thousand people perished in the earthquake(Rev.11:13). At the outpouring of the seventh bowl, the Great city Jerusalem was didvided into three parts, and the cities of the nation fell, and Great Babylon came into remembrance before God(Rev.16:19). Jerusalem is not one of the cities of the Gentiles or nations. Though it was divided into three parts by the seventh bowl judgment, it was not utterly annihilated, conforming with God’s promise not to make a full end of Israel.

The Reaction Of The Beneficiaries.

There are two groups of people that reacted negatively to the judgement of the great harlot: the kings of the nations of the Earth and the merchants of her wares. These two groups of people , the kings of the Earth and the merchants of her wares which are many are those who profited from her harlotries and sorceries. In Babylon, religion was commercialized and marketed to the rest of the world under the reign of the antiChrist. This programme of commercialization and marketing of religion was spearheaded by the false prophet, the Second Beast.

1) The Kings of the Earth(9,10).

“And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”

Verse 9 & 10 are somewhat problematic, but explicable. The kings of the Earth who bewailed her and lamented for her when they saw the smoke of burning are those who practised the worship of the Dragon-Beast with her and were enriched by it. They also lived deliciously and delicately. These kings had their ambassadors and envoys and emissaries through whom they traded with her. They stood afar off for fear of her torment saying, alas, “alas, that great city, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgement come”. These kings are not the ten kings of the ten-nation coalition in whose heart God has put it to destroy the great harlot. The ten-nation confederation of the 8th and Final Beast Empire is not the only kingdom existing at this time. There are other nations which are not part of the ten-nation coalition like Egypt, Edom , Moab, the kings of the East like India, China, Japan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc, the king of the North and the king of the South. It is somewhat illogical for the ten kings of the ten-nation confederation to be the ones who shall stand afar off for fear of her torment when they are the instrument of her torment. In the previous chapter, they are the ones who burned her with fire(Rev.17:16). It is therefore obvious they are not part of the kings of the nations who bewailed her destruction.

2) The Merchants of Her Wares(11-19).

“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, 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.”

The second group of people that shall weep for her are the merchants of the Earth because no one buys their merchandise any more(verse 11). Verses 12 &13 are a long list of their wares which unfortunately includes the bodies and souls of men. The harlot city practised slavery, witchcraft and ritualistic canibalism. Make no mistakes about it, the worship of the Dragon-Beast involves ritualistic crucifixion of their victims in muck repetition of the crucifixion of The Christ on the execution stake on Calvary. Verse 14: “The fruits that thy lusted after are departed from thee, and all things that were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shall find no more at all.” All these things have been destroyed by fire. These commodities are worth trillions. They shall be destroyed, consumed by flames in a moment. Therefore the merchants of these things who were made rich by her shall stand afar off for the fear of torment, weeping and wailing(verse 15), and saying, alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, precious stones, and pearl!(verse 16). As we have pointed out previously, this woman enriched herself tremendously as evidenced by these precious metals, stones, and colours which are the symbols of her wealth and high position in the set up of the Beast-antiChrist. The interesting thing is that these precious wealth and riches garnered over the years through corrupting influences, witchcraft, and slavery of the bodies and souls of men were lost in a twinkling of an eye, as it were. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea stood afar. All the mariners distanced themselves from her because they did not want to be judged alongside her. And they cried when they saw the smoke of burning, saying, what city is like into this great city. Their survival of the judgment of the Great whore was short lived inasmuch as a few days later they were annihilated at Armageddon. They cast dust on their heads, and cried weeping and wailing, saying, alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of costliness! For in one hour is she made desolate. In the ancient Neareast, casting dust on their head is a sign of extreme grief. They grieved bitterly for the great harlot for their wealth and riches went into smokes in a twinkling of an eye, in a moment.

Joy In Heaven(20).

“Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.”

The heavens were called to rejoice over the destruction of the harlot city. This is the vengeance of God for the martyrs of the Apostles and prophets. The great harlot and her mesmerized followers who worshipped the Dragon-Beast were hostile to the followers of Christ. They were the instrument of their destruction. When the fifth seal was broken, the martyrs under the altar called out to God to avenge their blood. He admonished them to be patient until their brethren that were to be killed were fulfilled(Rev.6:9-11). As soon as that number was completed, God amputated the great tribulation with cosmic and celestial disturbances(Rev.6:12-14). He raptured the Church(Rev.7:9-17) and instituted the Day of The Lord judgement(Re.8, 9, 16-19). The judgement of the great whore(Rev.17,18) and the war of Armageddon(Rev.19) are at the end of the final phase of that judgement. Hence the call in heaven for the Apostles and Prophets to rejoice. It does seem however that these two groups were singled out for persecution by living wicked earth-dwellers who were carried away by her sorcery and harlotry to worship the Dragon-beast. Our God is ever faithful. What His mouth had spoken, His right hand of righteousness will perform. God has avenged His servants, the Apostles and prophets. Amen.

The Final Prophetic Act(21).

“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.”

This final prophetic act is carried out by a strong angel. We are not told who he is, nor his station or regalia other than that he is a mighty or strong angel. He is probably one of the archangels. He is a highly placed angel, strong and mighty. He takes a stone like a great millstone, and casts into the sea as a symbolic act of the final and total destruction of the harlot city. Like a stone cast into the sea never to be recovered, so shall be the destruction of Babylon, final, consummative and eschatological. This summary destruction of Babylon forbids this city to be identified with Jerusalem. God promised He will make a full end of all the nations wither He had driven Israel; but He will not make a full end of Israel, but will correct her in a measure; though He will not leave her altogether unpunished(Jer. 46:28). God promised a restoration of Israel and her Holy city Jerusalem, but there is no promise of the restoration of the harlot city Babylon.

Requiem To The Great Harlot(22-24).

“And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the Earth.”

Babylon is no more. And because of that, there would be no more merriment in the city, no more marriage ceremonies, no more buying and selling nor any business transaction whatsoever, no human activities of any sort. It is so because Babylon has been utterly destroyed. She was destroyed because she deceived the nations with her sorceries and harlotries, and in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints and all that were slain upon the Earth. In what way would Jerusalem be responsible for the blood of all that were slain upon the Earth? Is there any religion that is headquartered in Jerusalem today? No. Rome is the headquarters of Roman Catholicism. The head of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury in England. The Pentecostals and Charismatics have no central head. Yes, Christians make pilgrimages to Jerusalem but only to see the Holy Land, not in the sense that Roman Catholics make pilgrimages to Rome as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the headquarters of Islam. Muslims from all over the world make pilgrimages to Mecca annually. There no central synagogue in Jerusalem to which all the other synagogues in the world are answerable. Judaism in the world today has no headquarters. So, Jerusalem is not the harlot city, though the nations burden themselves with her.

Postscript.

It does however bit my imagination that a city with such a record of harlotry and sorcery would be equated with Jerusalem. Yes indeed, Jerusalem began as a Jebusite city. Harlotry and sorcery may have been, and indeed were practised in it under the Jebusite monarchs. When Joab captured it, David, king of Israel, made it his capital city(2 Sam.5:7-10; 1Chron.11:1-9). Righteousness reigned in it. Later, under other kings of the Davidic Dynasty, it fell into idolatry and sorceries. These despicable practices did not originate in the city. They were imported from the surrounding gentile nations. It was precisely for this reason, to avoid corrupting influences from neighboring cities and nations that God commanded the Israelites to wipe out these nations, but they failed to do so. It was because of these things that God uprooted and destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan and planted the children of Israel in their stead. Because Israel copied the evil practices of surrounding nations, it was exiled. First, the Assyrians took the ten northern tribes into exile in 722 BC. Second, the Babylonians destroyed the Solomonic Temple in Jerusalem and took the southern kingdom of Judah and Benjamin into exile in 586 BC. Finally in 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the city and the temple and exiled the Jews. From that time till 14th May, 1948, Israel was in Diaspora. There are still Jews in diaspora today. Jerusalem has been conquered seventeen times in history , but it has always been rebuilt. There is no promise anywhere in the Holy Scriptures that God will make a full end of Israel or its Holy City Jerusalem. Rather what is promised is a limited destruction and final restoration. Summary destruction of the type spoken of Babylon is alien to God’s promises to Israel and her Holy City Jerusalem. Therefore I vehemently object to the equation of Jerusalem with Babylon.

Avraham Shallom.

Published by midgdal

I believe the saints will go through the Great Tribulation before being evacuated from the Earth in the rapture.

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