Babylon the Great is Fallen

SYNOPSIS - The Fall of Mystery Babylon is pronounced, and her ritual impurity denounced by an angel from heavenRevelation 18:1-8

Ship aground - Photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing on Unspla
In the next vision, John sees an angel descending from heaven, presumably not one of the seven angels that had the “seven bowls of wrath.” This angel has “great authority” with which to pronounce the “fall of Babylon” and describe her ritual pollution by demonic spirits. His pronouncement is followed by a voice summoning the people of God to separate from the “Great Whore,” otherwise, they will participate in her “plagues.”
  • (Revelation 18:1-8) – “After these things, I saw another messenger coming down out of heaven, — having great authority; and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying — Fallen! fallen! is Babylon the Great, and hath become a habitation of demons and a prison of every impure spirit, and a prison of every impure and hated bird; Because by reason [of the wine] of the wrath of her lewdness have all the nations fallen, and the kings of the earth with her did commit lewdness, and the merchants of the earth by reason of the power of her wantonness waxed rich. And I heard another voice out of heaven, saying — Come forth, my people, out of her, — that ye may have no fellowship with her sins, and of her plagues that ye may not receive; because her sins were joined together as far as heaven, and God hath remembered her unrighteous deeds. Render ye unto her as she, also, rendered, and double [the] double, according to her works, — in the cup wherein she mixed, mix unto her double, — As much as she glorified herself and waxed wanton, so much give unto her torment and grief:— because in her heart she saith — I sit a Queen and widow am I not, and grief in nowise shall I see!” - (The Emphasized Bible).
There are several parallels between this passage and the earlier pronouncement of the “fall of Babylon,” and with the “seventh bowl of wrath,” as follows:
  • (Revelation 14:8-10) – “And another, a second angel, followed, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, that has made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, If any man worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead, or upon his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”
  • (Revelation 16:19) – “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.”
In view are not multiple “falls” of end-time “Babylon” but different descriptions of the same event - The destruction of the “Great Harlot” prophesied to occur in the space of “one hour” at the end of the age. Her downfall will “complete” the wrath of God - (Revelation 16:19-21).

Quite probably, the “second angel” from Chapter 14 is the angel with the “great authority” sent to announce the fall of the “Great Whore” and to illuminate the earth. The earlier declaration - “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great” - is almost identical to the one given here by the “angel from heaven with great authority.”

Just as “Babylon” will be destroyed by fire, so men and women who give allegiance to the “Beast from the sea” will be “tormented with fire and brimstone.” Furthermore, the description of the judicial “wrath of God” as “prepared unmixed” is conceptually parallel to the punishment now prepared for the “Great Whore” - (“Mix unto her double”).

The angel “illuminates” the entire earth because the fall of the “Great Whore” and her allies means the removal from the earth of all the false ideologies that blind men to the truth.
  • (Jeremiah 50:29) - “Recompense her according to her work; according to all that she has done, do unto her; for she has been proud against Yahweh, against the Holy One of Israel.”
  • (Jeremiah 51:6-8) - “Flee out of the midst of Babylon and save every man his life; be not cut off in her iniquity: for it is the time of Yahweh’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense. Babylon has been a golden cup in Yahweh’s hand that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunk of her wine; therefore, the nations are mad. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed.”
  • (Jeremiah 51:36-37) - “Therefore thus saith Yahweh: Behold, I will plead your cause, and take vengeance for you; and I will dry up her sea and make her fountain dry. And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for jackals, an astonishment, and a hissing, without inhabitant.”
  • (Jeremiah 51:45) - “My people, go out of the midst of her, and save yourselves every man from the fierce anger of Yahweh."
The “habitation of demons and a prison of every impure spirit.” “Prison” or phulaké more correctly means “guardhouse” or “watchtower,” the structure from which a guard would watch over a prison. The demonic spirits are not imprisoned in Babylon, instead, they are the guards that watch over the “inhabitants of the earth” enslaved by the “Great Whore,” along with  the “kings of the earth” and the “nations” made drunk by drinking the “wine of her fornication.”

Dow Jones - Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The merchants of the earth.” Now, a new societal class is introduced, the men who profit from the maritime trade of “Babylon.” The stress in the next passage is on the economic influence of end-time “Babylon” far more than on her religious aspects. But the religious side of the “Great Whore” is by no means absent (e.g., “her sorceries”). In the Roman empire, it would have been virtually impossible for a merchant to conduct business without some involvement in pagan rituals.

The merchants of the earth, by reason of the power of her wantonness, waxed rich.” The sentence more accurately reads, the “merchants of the earth were enriched by the power of her arrogance.” The idea is the overconfidence they placed in her economic might. The verse is intended to remind the book’s readers of the earlier warning to the church at Laodicea:
  • (Revelation 3:17)  - “Because you say, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing, and know not that you are the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”
I sit a queen.” This clause alludes to a dirge pronounced by the prophet Ezekiel against the maritime city-state of Tyre. Its introduction here prepares for the economic critique of the rest of the chapter with its list of trade goods, a list based on the lamentation over ancient Tyre by Ezekiel - (Revelation 18:11-18).

Tyre was a Phoenician city involved heavily in commerce throughout the Mediterranean region during the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Though from the related city of Sidon, Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, was from the same pagan society. The use of the passage from Ezekiel invokes the image of ancient Jezebel to the original readers of Revelation - (Revelation 2:18-29).
  • (Ezekiel 27:3) – “Son of man, take up a lamentation over Tyre; and say unto Tyre, O You that dwell at the entry of the sea, that art the merchant of the peoples unto many isles, thus saith the Lord Yahweh: You, O Tyre, have said, I am perfect in beauty.”
In one day” (en mia hémera). The clause corresponds to the judgment elsewhere in Revelation that occurs “in one hour” or en mia hora, the “hour of trial” that is going to try the “whole habitable earth” - (Revelation 18:10, 16, 19).

Come forth, my people, out of her.” This is the real point of the passage - For God’s people to separate themselves from end-time “Babylon” – To not be dependent on her economic means and perceived prosperity.

The image reiterates pictorially a fundamental message to the seven churches of Asia – Do not compromise with the surrounding pagan society, succumb to the teachings of the “Nicolaitans,” or “fornicate” with that “prophetess, Jezebel” by eating “food offered to idols” and, otherwise accommodating the pagan society of their day.

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