(Rev 18:1) And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
And after these things:
“After these things” basically refers to the events of the previous chapter, chapter 17, where we see John’s vision and its interpretation by the angel. And this phrase “After these things” signals a new vision unit.
Chapter 17 declared the "judgment of the mystery Babylon." And the objects of God’s judgment were also described (the woman and the beast she rides).
Chapter 18 will have somewhat similar themes, but it will spend a lot of extra time on the wealth of the city at the time of the antichrist’s rule.
I saw another angel come down from heaven:
So the angel that will be speaking at this point is not the same one that gave the interpretation of John’s vision in the previous chapter. The previous angel was one of the seven that poured out the last seven bowl judgments (17:1).
This angel is different in many ways. One notable way is that unlike the previous angel it does not speak to John directly but John basically overhears the declaration that the angel says and records it. The angel seems unconcerned or unaware that John is even present. This could either be a type of drama put on for John’s benefit, or perhaps John is overseeing actual events that will take place in the spiritual realm at the time of the harlot cities Judgment.
having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
This angel is described with some provocative language. It says it has great power. We are not told how John knows this, perhaps it is evident from its appearance or some other quality.
It is tempting to say this is a picture of Christ because of the idea of its glory lighting the earth but it is not necessary, as the idea of an angel having illuminating glory or dosa is mentioned in (Ezek 9:3 and Heb 9:5). In both cases a cherub is described. Cherubs spend their time in the throne room of God and so one theory could be that they are shining with the glory just like Moses face shone when he spent time on mount Sinai in the very near presence of God (Exo 34:29). So this could simply be a particularly high ranking angel or a cherub.
A point that strengthens this view is that in verse 4 we hear a separate voice from heaven saying “come out of her my people” which seems to be the voice of Christ (see verse 4 notes), which would mean that this angel is probably not Christ but a high ranking angel.
(Rev 18:2) And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
An interesting note is that the last verse of the previous chapter (17: 18) was where the first angel concluded its interpretation of John’s vision by declaring that the woman was an actual city. And in Chapter 18 it now begins to refer to Mystery Babylon in this sense with a geographical location. Here it talks of it being a habitation of devils, later it will speak of merchants bringing goods to it.
While it continues to use the symbolic imagery of the harlot woman to describe Mystery Babylon (18:7) It much more frequently talks of Mystery Babylon as if the reader by now understands that it is a physical city on earth, just as the angel said it was.
And he cried mightily with a strong voice
The second angel is said to have a strong voice or “megas phone” in the Greek. Earlier in Revelation chapter 5 another angel is described by John with this same phrase “magas phone” when he is having a vision of the throne room of God:
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? - Rev 5:1-2
Because this angel is apparently in such close proximity to the throne, and it is described with the same strong voice it lends a measure of credibility of the earlier interpretation that the angel of Revelation 18 is a cherub or at least of the same quality and rank as the angel in our current verse.
saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen:
The angel seems to be hearkening back to the familiar phrase used in the various prophecies of the old city of Babylon’s destruction:
And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. - Isa 21:9
John F. Walvoord, a well-known theologian and author notes:
“The repetition of the verb “is fallen,” found in the aorist tense, indicates a sudden event viewed as completed, though the context would indicate a future event. “
It seems what’s happening with this phrase is that the destruction of Mystery Babylon is indicated here as being imminent, that is it hasn’t happened at this point, but it is now on its way or imminent. The context of the rest of this chapter supports this conclusion as Walvoord also noted.
and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
This is an interesting verse. Here John makes it clear by the use of the terms “devils”, and “foul spirits” that this city is home to multiple demonic entities, the idea of” hateful bird” is also an indication of demonic beings. Actual birds are not hateful even if they are birds of prey or scavengers, in addition birds are used in other places to refer to demonic beings, or at least the work of Satan: (Mark 4:3-4,13-15)
But a very interesting parallel to the devils and birds lodging in a city can be seen in the passages referring to Babylon’s destruction in the Old Testament.
And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. - Isa 34:13
When we read on we find more interesting points:
The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. - Isa 34:14-15
I think that there are two possibilities here; This could be referring to the utter desolation that the city will be reduced to after its destruction. That is, it will only be inhabitable by beasts and birds. But I think that because of the explicit language that John uses here about demonic beings, that this may refer to the gathering of demons that would take place if Satan, through the antichrist, makes a particular city his capital city of the end times. It would be a kind of gathering place or abode of these beings.
Revelationcommentary.org says on this idea:
"The Harlot City is the home or lair of the demons….These are issues, which contribute to the wickedness of this harlot/city. Everything that the city stood for has been perverted. Evil in its worst form makes its home in God’s holy city. She is a harlot destined to destruction."
(Rev 18:3) 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.
For all nations:
This is referring to the fact that the whole world is enticed into worshipping the antichrist.
We see references to the “all nations” phrase in relation to the antichrist in several places:
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. - Rev 13:3
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. - Rev 13:8
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: - Rev 13:16
have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication:
We described this verse in an earlier study and the interesting phrase “the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
Other translations perhaps render the sense of it better for instance the ESV says:
“For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her [fornication]…”
The idea is that she is herself so deceived by the antichrist that she passionately promotes him and worships him as her messiah, her long awaited king and husband. So intense is her own fornication that the entire world is somehow drawn in to be deceived by his seductive power as well.
As a side note while doing a word search on the phrase “kings of the earth” for this verse I found an excellent proof text for Jerusalem being Mystery Babylon. It does not necessarily apply to this verse, but I wanted to include it in this study so I’ll show it to you here.
The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof. The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem. For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her. - Lam 4:11-13
Also, I want to say that there is so much more that I am not covering in this study, I find new passages and proof texts every time I endeavor to look. So please don’t consider this study as exhaustive, the real work in finding all the clues will be up to you, I am only trying to get you started in your search with this study there is much more to this than I will be able to detail here.
Ok, back to our verse, The phrase “kings of the earth,” Here it seems to almost be saying the same thing as the first part of this verse, that is that all the nations drink of her fornication, and it seems to be restating this, as scripture will do from time to time, when it says the kings of the earth commit fornication. In other words, not just the people of the earth, but the rulers of those people as well will be engaged in this fornication.
Some other passages in scripture seem to suggest that these kings have more of a financial interest in the fornication than a purely religious interest as seems to be the case with the people, The kings seem to have similar motives as the merchants in relation to the Mystery Babylon city. For instance later on it says of these kings:
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 - Rev 18:9
The phrase “lived deliciously with her” seems to suggest that the kings have similar motives as the merchants who are mentioned next, in relation to the city of antichrist, that is a financial interest, as there will apparently be a lot of revenue to be made out of all the people of the world being forced to pay tribute to the antichrist.
I think it would be wrong to conclude that the kings of the earth mentioned here are exact matches to the 10 kings that are used to destroy the city, and to war against the decent of Christ at Armageddon. Although there may be some of the same kings involved, I think the intention here in verse 3 is more broad, and suggestive of the rulers of all the world, not just 10 specific ones used for a specific purpose, as is the case with the 10 kings mentioned in chapter 17.
and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
These merchants are going to be discussed at great length toward the end of this chapter, and I am going to spend quite a lot of time discussing them. So I will not spend all that much time here but to simply say that the merchants of the earth will prosper during the celebration over the antichrist as if he is the messiah.
We will see later when examining some of the items that they sell to the great city, that there will be great building projects like elaborate temples, sacrifices, and all manner of tribute given to antichrist. Every man woman and child must in some way honor the antichrist and this is going to cause an economic boom to say the very least.
The section about the merchants, and especially the items they bring is probably my favorite sections so I encourage you to stay tuned to subsequent studies when these verses will be covered in detail. I think you will see there will be a lot of surprises, and interesting references in the old testament that will raise a few eyebrows.
(Rev 18:4) 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.
Another voice from heaven:
This is probably the voice of Jesus Christ because this voice has people that belong to it. All believers have been given to Christ by God as His inheritance. Joh_6:37, Joh_6:39-40, Joh_10:27-28; Heb_2:13
In addition, in the next verse this voice from heaven refers to “God” when it says “God hath remembered her iniquities. “, which gives me confidence that this voice must be that of Jesus Christ. Another clue is that this is “another voice” I.E. not the powerful angel who shines, which we saw earlier. We can therefore also be confident of the interpretation that that previous angel (the one that shines with a loud voice) is not Jesus Christ but rather some high ranking angel.
saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.:
The plagues that Mystery Babylon is about to be given are that of its destruction, a destruction that this chapter says will happen very quickly (18:10,17,19).
The idea that His people need to come out of the city in order not to receive its judgments, I believe is a direct reference to the Mount of Olives being split, just before the judgment of Jerusalem which allows the faithful to flee the city before the final bowl of wrath is poured out (which destroys the city of Mystery Babylon.)
We see a picture of this coming out of her in Zechariah 14:
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. - Zec 14:4 -5
We can compare this verse with its fulfillment in Revelation 16:
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great. Rev 16:17 -21
So the people that He is calling out here probably never were participating in the sin of Mystery Babylon, as is sometimes implied when people use this phrase “come out of her my people” His people are simply being called to get out of the city because it is about to be judged for its sins, sins they probably had no part in.
(Rev 18:5) For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities
I have a somewhat interesting view of this idea of the fullness of sins, or the idea that sins reach to heaven. I think that a very biblical idea is that some nations have a kind of allotment or threshold of evil, particularly that of spilled blood, before they are judged by God.
For instance in Genesis God tells Abraham that he wont give him his inheritance of the land of Israel yet because the current inhabitants the Amorite’s sin was "not yet full:"
But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. - Gen 15:16
We see a similar idea in Daniel when it says that the real reason that the four kingdoms which developed after Greece died out is because they had reached their sin allotments:
Dan 8:23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
Scholars are almost universally in agreement that this allotment or fullness of sins for nations is what Jesus was talking about when he said the following to the men of Jerusalem:
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. - Mat 23:31-35
It should also be remembered that the persecution that the antichrist ordered at the midpoint of the 7 year period will be the worst persecution of all time (Mat 24:15-22.) But in addition to this, we see that the actual killing of old testament prophets for Jerusalem is not over yet either, we see at least one more future instance of this occurring with the two witnesses.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. - Rev 11:8
It s quite possible that this event brings Jerusalem very near to its fullness of sins allotted by God, as it occurs on the very last day of the seventieth week of Daniel just 30 days before the destruction of Jerusalem.
God hath remembered her iniquities
This should also be seen as God’s long-suffering with people and nations, He does not desire for any to perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). for We see that even with Nineveh God accepted its repentance, even though he said the same thing of it “their wickedness is come up before me.“ But just like Jerusalem God sent prophets to warn them, He gave them chance after change and was long-suffering, God is blameless when judgment must come to people or nations.
(Rev 18:6) 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.
Reward her even as she rewarded you:
Jesus (the voice from heaven) here is talking to his people here, saying that Mystery Babylon will be judged according to what it has done to his people.
and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
The idea of a double portion of judgment is a very consistent idea in the Old Testament (Isa_40:2, Isa_61:7; Jer_16:18, Jer_17:18; Zec_9:12), often in reference to Jerusalem.
Of note is Jeremiah 16:18 because in context this is speaking of a future double judgment, one that happens after they will be gathered back into the land after the diaspora:
And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things. - Jer 16:18
(Rev 18:7) 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.
How much she hath glorified herself and lived deliciously, :
She is exalting herself here. Revelationcommentary.org points out that Luke 14:11a says: “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased..”
The Greek word rendered here deliciously is only used twice in the NT, here and a few verses later to describe the kings of the earth lifestyle as a result of their fornication with the beast and his capital city.
At this time Jerusalem will be exalted as the city above all others, it will be the epicenter of the worship of the antichrist and all that is associated with it. There will be nothing to compare this time with in history, however this will no doubt pale in comparison to the real thing, that is Christ’s actual rule from the temple in Zion which the antichrist is here is obviously trying to immitate.
for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen,
This verse has come up many times in our study because it’s a great picture of the fact that Mystery Babylon herself is just as deceived by the antichrist as those she entices to worship him. She says her place on top of the beast is as a queen, That is she believes she has found her king, her long awaited messiah, in fact in Jewish eschatology the title of the man they await is "the anointed king.“
and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
These two ideas that she is no widow and shall see no sorrow is possibly a reference to her confidence in the beast and his ability to defend her.
It should be noted that after the antichrist raises from the dead people say of him:
and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? - Rev 13:4b
The attitude that Jerusalem takes during this time is exactly the same as Babylon before its destruction. As we see in
Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: - Isa 47:8
This is just one of the many reasons that Jerusalem is called Mystery Babylon.