James J. Barker

Lesson 32

Text: REVELATION 18:1-9


  1. Referring to the fall of Babylon, A.T. Pierson wrote these words about 100 years ago, "In the description of Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18, all the leading features of this boasted civilization of the twentieth century are delineated -- luxury, monopoly, wealth, pleasure, treasure seeking, human glory...the bond of self interest.  And what becomes of Babylon?  It perishes, not by outward assault, but by its own inward rottenness.  And that is exactly what is going to destroy our boasted modern civilization -- its inward rottenness; and yet even Christian people are often blind to the fact that this civilization is essentially selfish, Godless, Satanic" (The Bible and Spiritual Criticism).
  2. Revelation 17 and 18 both deal with God's judgment upon Babylon. Chapter 17 is usually described as ecclesiastical or religious Babylon, and chapter 18 as political Babylon.
  3. However, the harlot church in Revelation 17 is very political as well as religious.   The emphasis on Revelation 18 is commercial Babylon (cf. 18:11-13).
  4. We have here in Revelation 18 the fall of Babylon. The opening phrase here in chapter 18, “after these things,” indicates a later revelation than that given in chapter 17.
  5. Therefore, we can deduce that the destruction of religious Babylon (17:16, 17) will be different from the destruction of commercial Babylon (cf. 18:9, 10).
  6. According to Revelation 18:9-11 the kings of the earth and the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over the passing of Babylon.   Babylon helped make them rich.
  7. But we do not read about any weeping or mourning connected with the destruction of the harlot church in chapter 17.
  8. Religious Babylon will be destroyed by "the ten horns," representing ten kings (17:12a, 16).  "For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will..." (17:17).
  9. Commercial Babylon will destroyed by the direct hand of God (18:1-8).
  10. The harlot destroyed in chapter 17 is made desolate, naked, and burned with fire by the beast with the ten horns. From this it may be concluded that the destruction of the harlot is the fall of religious Babylon, and that it will occur when the antichrist demands that people worship him as god.
  11. Chapter 18 describes the fall of commercial Babylon. Here in chapter 18, Babylon is viewed in its political and economic character rather than in its religious aspect.
  12. John Walvoord says, "The term 'Babylon' in Scripture is more than a reference to the false religious system which stemmed from the false religion of ancient Babylon. Out of ancient Babylon also came the political power represented in Nebuchadnezzar and fulfilled in the first world empire. In some sense this is continued in the commercial system which came from both the religious and the political Babylons. It seems that chapter 17 deals with the religious aspect and chapter 18 with the political and economic aspects of Babylon" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).



  1. John declares in verse 1, “I saw another angel come down from heaven.”  The phrase “another angel” tells us that the angel of chapter 18 is a different angel from that of 17:1.
  2. This angel has great power and the earth is lighted with his glory (18:1). This indicates that the angel will be sent to do a great work on behalf of God.
  3. The important announcement given in verses 2 and 3 declares that Babylon the great is fallen. The repetition of the verb “is fallen” indicates the judgment as completed, though it is still a future event.
  4. The destruction of Babylon here in chapter 18 should be compared with the preceding announcement in 16:19 where the great city is divided and the cities of the Gentiles fall.
  5. This event will come toward the end of the tribulation period, just prior to the second coming of Christ.
  6. The downfall of the city of Babylon in 18:2 is followed by its becoming the habitation of devils, the “hold” (or “prison”) of every foul spirit, and the “cage” (the same word in the Greek as “hold”) of every unclean and hateful bird.
  7. This is a reference to fallen angels in their various characteristics as devils (demons) and evil spirits, symbolized by the unclean and hateful birds (cf. Daniel 4:10-14; Matt. 13:4, 19, 31, 32).
  8. Babylon in her political character has had evil relationships with “all nations” described as “fornication” (18:3; cf. 17:2).
  9. This evil association has made the merchants of the earth rich. Just as apostate churches have grown rich in proportion to their wickedness, so the nations have likewise prospered, as they have abandoned God and sought to accumulate the wealth of this world.



  1. In verse 4, John hears another voice from heaven addressed to the people of God instructing them to come out of Babylon.
  2. The message of the Bible is always, "Come out" (cf. II Cor. 6:14--7:1). It is never, "stay in."
  3. The people of God were urged to leave Babylon back in the days of Jeremiah the prophet.
  4. Jeremiah 50:8 says, "Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks."
  5. Jeremiah 51:6 says, "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence."
  6. Jeremiah 51:45 says, "My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD."
  7. The purpose of leaving Babylon will be so that they will not partake of her sin, and secondly, so they will not have her plagues inflicted on them (18:4).
  8. The reference to plagues refers to the vials of chapter 16, especially the seventh vial which will fall upon Babylon itself (16:17-21).
  9. In verse 5 the sins of Babylon are said to reach unto heaven, and God will remembers all her iniquities.
  10. This reminds us of Jeremiah 51:9, which says Babylon's "judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies."
  11. The fact that her sins have reached unto heaven is an allusion to the tower of Babel built back in the early days of ancient Babylon (Gen. 11:5-9).
  12. Walvoord says, "Though God permits the increment of sin, its ultimate divine judgment is inescapable" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).



  1. In verse 6, the voice from heaven calls on God to reward Babylon even as she rewarded the people of God. The verb means literally “to pay a debt” or “to give back that which is due.”
  2. It is the law of retribution, taught all throughout Scripture. Our Lord said in Matthew 26:52, "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."
  3. Divine justice exacts the “eye for an eye” and the “tooth for a tooth.”
  4. Here the law of retribution is doubled because of the enormity of the sin of Babylon (18:6).
  5. Therefore, the cup of iniquity which Babylon filled will be filled "to her double" with the measure of her judgment.
  6. Walvoord says, "There is no mercy for the utter apostasy found in Babylon in all her phases of operation...The same verb (translated "fill") is used in 14:10 in connection with the wine of the wrath of God" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  7. The same law of retribution is seen in verses 7 and 8, where the standard of Babylon's judgment is compared to her luxurious living in which she was given to self-glorification.
  8. The expression “lived deliciously” (18:7, 9) means "lived luxuriously" (Scofield margin).  It means, “to be wanton” (Strong's Concordance).
  9. Verse 7 says, "so much torment and sorrow give her."  Her willful sin against God will certainly be rewarded, with great torment and sorrow.
  10. Her “torment” will result in mental anguish and grief. Her wishful thinking in which she said in her heart, “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (18:7) is going to be rewarded by sudden destruction from the Lord.
  11. Verse 8 says God's judgment will come in one day in the form of plagues, death, mourning, and famine, resulting in her utter destruction by fire.
  12. Walvoord says, "Like the church at Laodicea, her wealth has brought a sense of false security (3:17). Her claim to not being a widow has only the faulty foundation of her illicit love affairs with the kings of the earth (17:2). The fact that her judgment comes in one day, emphasized in the Greek by being placed first in the sentence, is reminiscent of the fall of Babylon in Daniel 5, which fell in the same hour that the finger traced its condemning words upon the wall. Before morning, the ancient power of Babylon has been destroyed. In a similar way, the rich fool of Luke 12:16-20 lost his barns and his soul in one night. When it is time for God’s judgment, it descends with unwavering directness" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).



  1. There are many similarities between Revelation 17 and 18, but there are also a few notable differences.
  2. One of the differences is that in Revelation 18, God judges commercial Babylon for living "deliciously" (luxuriously) (18:7, 9).
  3. This is alluded to in Revelation 17:4, but it is emphasized in Revelation 18.
  4. Back in 1935, William Newell wrote this in his commentary on the book of Revelation:

"The spirit of commercialism, which has seized upon the human race, is fast blotting out real human ties (home, church or country).  We scarcely know how far we have drifted.  Our forefathers were content with their living...But the forgetting of God is fast falling upon earth under the soul-stifling power of universal greed...Commercialism brings spiritual deadness and insensibility as nothing else does" (Revelation).

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