Destruction of Babylon

The complete destruction of Babylon, especially her economic power is God’s response to her persecution of the “saints” – Revelation 18:9-24

Harbor - Photo by Jonas Tebbe on Unsplash
Next, 
Revelation presents the detailed description of the destruction of the “Great City,” and the justification for this action. In part, her demise is caused by the hatred of the “ten kings” that are allied with the “Beast” and driven by God to desolate and “burn her utterly with fire” for her dominance of world commerce and her “sorcery” - [Photo by Jonas Tebbe on Unsplash].

The description of her judgment uses language from the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel - Judicial pronouncements made originally against the ancient cities of Babylon and Tyre, both of which depended on maritime trade for their prosperity - (Jeremiah 50-51, Ezekiel 26-27).

End-time “Babylon” is the world-city in which Jesus was executed, the city set on “seven mountains” that reigns over the “kings of the earth” and the “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues,” and a political entity deeply involved in global commerce. John’s first-century audience most certainly would have identified her with the city of Rome.
  • (Revelation 18:9-19) – “And they will weep and wail over her, the kings of the earth who fornicated and waxed wanton with her as soon as they see the smoke of her burning, and standing afar off because of their fear of her torment, saying: Alas, alas, the great city Babylon, the mighty city that in one hour has your judgment… The merchants of these things who were enriched by her will stand afar off because of their fear of her torment, weeping and grieving, as they say: Alas, alas, the great city! She that was arrayed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stone, and pearl, that in one hour has been laid waste such great wealth as this! And every pilot, and every passenger, and mariners, and as many as by the sea carry on traffic afar off did stand, and they cried out, seeing the smoke of her burning, saying: What city is like the great city? And they cast dust upon their heads, and cried out, weeping and grieving, saying: Alas, alas, the great city! Whereby were made rich all that had ships in the sea by her costliness, that in one hour she has been laid waste!
Her allies are the “kings of the earth,” the group over which “Babylon” presumes to “reign.” They were seduced into thralldom by her “fornications.” Elsewhere in the book, the “kings of the earth” are allied with the “Beast” in its war against the “Lamb” - (Revelation 6:15, 16:14, 17:18, 19:19).

The “kings of the earth” mourn when they see the “smoke of her burning” and withdraw from her so as not to be consumed by her punishment. In the preceding chapter, John was informed that the “ten kings” would hate the woman, “eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” God had put it into their hearts to fulfill His will.

The “smoke of her burning” is conceptually parallel to the “smoke of the torment” produced by the punishment of the men who rendered homage to the “Beast” described in chapter 14 (“The smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever”).

Alas, the Great City, Babylon.” This is the same “Great City” that rejoiced over the dead bodies of the “two witnesses” slain by the “Beast from the Abyss.” She is the “city” called “Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” It is the “city” where the “winepress of the wrath of God was trodden” without its walls. And she is the “great city that reigns over the kings of the earth,” the “Great Harlot” that sits on the “seven mountains” - (Revelation 11:7-13, 14:8-20, 17:9, 17:18).

The first audience to hear this was comprised of the churches in Asia, Christians who lived under the rule overlordship of Rome. Its economy was dependent on maritime commerce, especially the grain shipments from Egypt. That does not mean Ancient Rome exhausted the application of this vision, but it certainly is included it - (“There are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come”).

As before, language from the judicial pronouncements of Jeremiah against Babylon is adapted to describe the downfall of end-time “Babylon”:
  • (Jeremiah 51:8-9) – “Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed… We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reaches unto heaven.”
In one hour.” The judgment period of “one hour” is repeated three times in this passage. It corresponds to the “in one day” from the last chapter. The same term is applied elsewhere for the final “hour” when the “Lamb” arrives in judgment - (Revelation 3:3, 3:10, 9:15, 11:13, 14:7).

The condemnation of the “merchants of the earth” and the listing of their merchandise borrows heavily from the pronouncement by Ezekiel against the old seafaring city-state of Tyre. Because of its exploitation of the kingdom of Judah, God pronounced the destruction of its commercial empire - (“Thus says Yahweh, Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you” - Ezekiel 26:15-19, 27:1-25).

Shipwrecks - Photo by Matin Tavazoei on Unsplash
Photo by Matin Tavazoei on Unsplash

Ancient Babylon and Tyre suffered great loss long before John found himself on Patmos. In its economic critique of “
Babylon,” Revelation adapts the list of trade goods from Ezekiel to correspond to the commodities transported by ship to the city of Rome from around her empire.

The merchants who were enriched by her stand afar off weeping.” This statement corresponds to Ezekiel 27:31 - The merchants of Tyre “made themselves utterly bald for you, and girded them with sackcloth, and they will weep for you with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing.” Likewise, in Revelation, though they mourn over her and their loss, the “merchants” have no desire to partake of her plagues.

For in one hour so great riches are desolated.” The same Greek verb rendered “desolate” in the previous chapter is used here. The agent that desolates the commercial empire is the group of “ten kings” - (“The ten horns will hate the harlot and make her desolate” - Revelation 17:16).

What city is like the great city?” The lamentations of the “merchants” and “sailors” echo the judgment dirge of Ezekiel on Tyre, but now applied to end-time “Babylon” - (Ezekiel 27:32).
  • (Revelation 18:20-24) – “Be glad over her, you heavens! And you saints and you apostles and prophets! For God has exacted your vindication from her. And one mighty angel lifted a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying: Thus, with main force will be cast down Babylon, the great city, and in nowise will be found any more. And the sound of harp-singers and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters in nowise will be heard in you anymore, and any artisan in nowise will be found in you anymore, and sound of millstone in nowise will be found in you anymore, and the light of lamps in nowise will shine in you anymore, and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride in nowise will be heard in you anymore; because your merchants were the great ones of the earth, because with your sorcery were all the nations deceived. And in her, the blood of prophets and saints was found, and of all who had been slain upon the earth.”
Be glad over her.” The collapse of the economic system is not just a punishment for the city’s sins, but also the vindication of the “saints” who were persecuted by the “Great Harlot.” The inclusion of the “apostles and prophets” demonstrates that those who were persecuted by her were Christians.

The term “apostles” occurs only two more times in the book. Once for the “false apostles” at Ephesus, and once for the names of the “twelve apostles of the Lamb” that were engraved on the foundation stones of New Jerusalem - (Revelation 2:2, 21:14).

Next, an angel cast a great stone into the sea while proclaiming - “Thus, with main force, will be cast down Babylon the great city, and in nowise will be found anymoreAnd the sound of harp-singers, and musicians, and flute-players, and trumpeters, — in nowise be heard in you anymore.” Once again, the passage alludes to Jeremiah’s pronouncement against Babylon, and to Ezekiel’s lament over Tyre - (Jeremiah 51:63-64, 51:37, Ezekiel 26:13).

Because your merchants were the great ones of the earth.” This identifies the “merchants” with the “great ones” who, along with the “kings of the earth,” attempted to hide from the “wrath of the Lamb” when the “sixth seal” was opened. It is a further echo from Ezekiel:
  • (Ezekiel 27:33) – “When thy wares went forth out of the seas, you filled many people; you enriched the kings of the earth with the multitude of your merchandise. In the time when you will be broken by the seas in the depths of the waters your merchandise and all your company in the midst of you will fall.
By your sorcery.” “Sorcery” translates the Greek noun pharmakeia, a term related to pharmakon or “sorcery,” the Greek word used elsewhere in Revelation and the New Testament for “sorcery” and “witchcraft” - (Revelation 9:21, Galatians 5:20).

Pharmakon often included the potions used by sorcerers in magical rituals. Closely related is the noun pharmakeus - A “sorcerer” who performed spells and prepared potions - (Revelation 21:8 – “But the fearful and unbelieving… and sorcerers will have their part in the lake which burns with fire”).

But it is not individual sorcerers and witches that are condemned, but the “great city” for her “sorcery,” which she used to “deceive the nations.” In the masculine gender, as here, pharmakon referred to human victims sacrificed or expelled as scapegoats during times of societal crisis. John may wish his readers to make that connection. The “nations” and the “kings of the earth” were deceived by her “sorcery” into persecuting the saints, for the blood of the “saints” and “all who had been slain upon the earth” was found in her.

The Greek term rendered “slain” refers to the “slaying” of sacrificial victims, not to killing in general. It was used for killing animals in sacrificial rituals.  It is the same term applied previously to the “slain” Lamb and to the souls who were “slain for the word of God” that John saw under the altar - (Revelation 5:6-12, 6:9, 13:8).

If this connection is correct, the “sorcery” of Babylon refers to the offering of sacrificial victims to appease her gods, and thereby, preserve societal order and prosperity, not to the practice of witchcraft in general. Her sacrificial victims were the saints, apostles, and prophets slain on account of their testimony. Thus, the destruction of “Babylon” is the response of God to her persecuting activities.



Comments

  1. Its troubling that you fail to mention the present Babylon. Also the term the whore of Babylon who sits on many waters is clearly pointing to a very large very famous statue of Ishtar thars sits on a small island off a major world city.The blood of millions of innocents cry out .Thousands upon thousands more daily.A modern sacrifice to molch.His statues adorn many locations within .Sorcery is modern drug use.To mislead and coddle sinners only seals their and your own doom.Magog Persia and Turkey are already in position. With Al-Assads assasination for Gogs war on Isreal Babylon must be eliminated first.The first time in history a city/state could be destroyed utterly in a day.The exact coalition God warns us of.The war and destruction of Syria also a first.America is Babylon.ive seen children come to this easily ascertained fact.With Assafs death and his palaces fiery destruction. Babylon will fall.Most are blind to this.Considering the millions of abortions rampant sorcery and a evil disdain for even the discussion of the almighty. Its deserved by our coyntriesnon chelance.We hate to offend. So we allow statues of moloch and ba'al
    While the 10 commandments are protested. MILLIONS OF dead innocence but it's a women's right not to be inconvenienced. The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah wou5flee in horror knowing what's coming.Prophecy after prophecy fulfilled in our time.Coincedence.God is openly mocked in our schools in our government. The first beast is here already. Soon one comes who is a master peace maker.America will be destroyed. If you love God and you've read His Word more than once. You should be able to se what's coming.Winning souls has become harder.Eyes and hearts are being closed.The prophets show all these events and more. To deny Gods plan is great sin.Warn people. If you need Ezekiel Isiah Daniel Jeremiah and Jesus's prophecies explained I pity you.You shouldn't be teaching.Most our priests reverend ministers deacons fall in this lot.Thats why we have His word in this horrid time.Im busy running my race May .God watch over you.

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  3. Its troubling that you fail to mention the present Babylon. Also the term the whore of Babylon who sits on many waters is clearly pointing to a very large very famous statue of Ishtar thars sits on a small island off a major world city.The blood of millions of innocents cry out .Thousands upon thousands more daily.A modern sacrifice to molch.His statues adorn many locations within .Sorcery is modern drug use.To mislead and coddle sinners only seals their and your own doom.Magog Persia and Turkey are already in position. With Al-Assads assasination for Gogs war on Isreal Babylon must be eliminated first.The first time in history a city/state could be destroyed utterly in a day.The exact coalition God warns us of.The war and destruction of Syria also a first.America is Babylon.ive seen children come to this easily ascertained fact.With Assafs death and his palaces fiery destruction. Babylon will fall.Most are blind to this.Considering the millions of abortions rampant sorcery and a evil disdain for even the discussion of the almighty. Its deserved by our coyntriesnon chelance.We hate to offend. So we allow statues of moloch and ba'al
    While the 10 commandments are protested. MILLIONS OF dead innocence but it's a women's right not to be inconvenienced. The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah wou5flee in horror knowing what's coming.Prophecy after prophecy fulfilled in our time.Coincedence.God is openly mocked in our schools in our government. The first beast is here already. Soon one comes who is a master peace maker.America will be destroyed. If you love God and you've read His Word more than once. You should be able to se what's coming.Winning souls has become harder.Eyes and hearts are being closed.The prophets show all these events and more. To deny Gods plan is great sin.Warn people. If you need Ezekiel Isiah Daniel Jeremiah and Jesus's prophecies explained I pity you.You shouldn't be teaching.Most our priests reverend ministers deacons fall in this lot.Thats why we have His word in this horrid time.Im busy running my race May .God watch over you.

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  4. My name is Alan Finch. I surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in April of 1976.

    There is a popular belief today among many Christians that the main purpose of the "2 End-Time Witnesses" will be to confront our ever increasing sinful world.

    However, that will not be the case. The main purpose for these 2 individuals will be to prepare the "Bride of Christ" for His soon return. They will do this through their message for God's people.

    Believe it or not, God's Word tells us what their message will be.

    I have put together a document which clearly explains what their message will be. The document is 8 pages in length which is too lengthy to post in this comment section.

    If anyone would like a copy of my document, email me at: (candy33alan@aol.com), and I will be happy to email you a copy of the document.

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  5. My name is Jack Groshans. I have studied eschatology for a couple decades. The thing that always intrigued me about Babylon is that it will never be rebuilt nor inhabited. It does not mention vagabonds coming and going from the sight. It does not mention attempts to rebuild the city, but never realizing it's fulfillment.
    I bring to you a ponderable. There have been many who say that scripture mentions America. It has been debunked and revived. Here is a thought. New York, Suffolk County, Long Island. There is a city that was named in the early 19th century. It's name, Babylon. It's founder named it for his wife. I do not know her nationality. Babylon sits on the water entry to New York City, one hour from TWIN TOWERS. In Revelation, a future Babylon it talked about. I submit that this Babylon is the one talked about. Revelation is written so the people of Johns' time would understand this future event. They would not know of New York state, New York City, Suffolk county, but, they would indeed know the name BABYLON. God does give warnings well in advance, sometimes 20 years, as in 9-11-2001. He was giving us a wake up call. The BABYLON that is about to be destroyed is at the harbor of New York City. This is not to say the entire country will be destroyed. It does have enemies both foreign, but MOSTLY DOMESTIC. Those who collude this very day with other countries. Who are these individuals, business leaders doing business with our enemies. Politicians, who make laws protecting our enemies and profiting from these laws. Is there anything that can be done? The answer is NO. The only thing is for each individual to prepare to face their GOD. I said, this is just a PONDERABLE. ponder it.

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