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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on August 31, 2016 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; August 31, 2016 from Revelation 18:1-8

Theme: In this passage, we’re given the reason for the judgment of God falling upon the great harlot city Babylon.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

Chapter 18 is a continuation of the theme first introduced to us in Revelation 16:19, and more fully developed in the 17th chapter—that is, the ‘remembering’ of the great city Babylon by God in judgment. In chapter 17, this wicked ‘harlot’ city is described to us; and in chapter 18, its dreadful judgment is described to us.

To appreciate the significance of this chapter against the backdrop of the whole plan of God for the ages, it’s helpful to remember that there are three ‘phases’ to Babylon’s judgment. The first was told to us in Genesis 11, with respect to the ancient city that Nimrod built. The ‘Tower of Babel’ was constructed in rebellion against God’s command to spread throughout the earth; and the judgment of the confusion of languages was the result. The second ‘phase’ is told to us in respect to the world empire of Babylon. It was raised by God to be an instrument of judgment upon the nations (Jeremiah 27:5-8); but because of its aggression and sinful pride, it itself was later the object of judgment (Jeremiah 50). (Interestingly, in reference to the world empire of Babylon, Isaiah 21:9 makes the same proclamation—“Babylon is fallen, is fallen!”—that we find in this chapter of Revelation.) The third ‘phase’ is what we find described in this chapter of Revelation. It was a judgment that was promised in Revelation 14:8 when one of the three angels “flying in the midst of heaven” declared, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city …” This future “city” is symbolic of a long-term system of rebellion against God. And now—in Revelation 8—the terrible judgment of this city, and the system it represents, is described.

Verses 1-8 of this chapter tell us the reasons for God’s judgment upon Babylon; verses 9-20 describe the way that the ungodly people of this world will mourn over her judgment; and verses 21-24 affirm the finality of her judgment. This first portion—verses 1-8—highlights two separate speakers who testify of this judgment.


A. After the description of the city (chapter 17), John saw “another” angel coming down from heaven. In the original language, the word translated “another” means “another of the same kind” as the first angel (17:1); and so, this may be another of the seven angels with the seven bowls. It may, however, be the angel who first made the announcement in 14:8—distinct from the seven, but similar to them in glory and authority. Note that, in chapter 16, two of the bowl-judgments involve a reference to the kingdom of the Antichrist (16:10, 19). This angel is described as having “great authority”; and his coming to the earth illuminated this dark world with the brightness of his glory. What an awesome sight that must have been for John! What a contrast he will be to the vaunted ‘glory’ of the rebellious, man-centered ‘Babylonian’ system.

B. It’s then that this angel cries out “mightily with a loud voice”. All would hear his testimony above the din of this sinful world. His announcement, in the original language places emphasis on the destruction of Babylon; and reads, “Is fallen, is fallen, Babylon the great . . . ”

1. He speaks of how it has become a store-house of all kinds of evil. It has become the dwelling place of demons (which speaks of its diabolical character), a prison for every foul spirit (which speaks of its intense wickedness), and a cage for every unclean and hated bird (which speaks perhaps of its grotesque spiritual character, but may also speak of its character as a place of death—with vultures in reserve; see also 20:17-18). (Some ancient texts also include that it has become—as it is translated in the English Standard Version—“a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.” The word translated “beast” is the same word that was used to describe the Antichrist (“the Beast”); and it may speak of how Babylon became the capital city for his beast-like followers.)

2. The reason for the decisive fall of this city is then given. All the nations had drunk of the wine of the wrath of its ‘fornication’ (a figure for its unfaithfulness toward God). That which was once called ‘Christendom’ will itself have forsaken the one true God and became heady with the wine of its lustful, prideful, materialistic sin! Kings of the earth ‘went to bed’ with her; and the merchants of the earth made their fortunes by (literally) “the strength of her luxury” (the word for “luxury” here speaking of an arrogant and prideful type of luxury)—and all in violation of faithfulness to the one true God. This is no ordinary city, then. A connection to it is a deliberate choice to shake the fist at God! But why is it called the wine of the “wrath” of its fornication? Perhaps the wrath speaks of the judgment God promises to give of a “strong delusion” to give to those who “perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11; see also Romans 1:24-25). What a warning this chapter is then to us as followers of Jesus! “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15-17).


John says that he then heard “another voice from heaven”. We’re not told who the speaker of this second voice is; but because it speaks of “my people” in verse 4, we can perhaps speculate that it’s the voice of the Lord Himself—stepping on to the scene to make comment about all that is being shown to His people (somewhat as He did in 16:15). He goes on to speak of . . .

A. The judgment of her wickedness (vv. 4-5). The voice calls for His people to leave this dreadful city, lest they share in its “plagues”—just as the people of Israel were called out of Egypt, or Lot and his family were called out of Sodom and Gomorrah. We’re told that “her sins have reached [literally, “have been heaped up”, or “piled up”] to heaven [see Genesis 18:20-21], and God has remembered her iniquities”. None of the sins of this wicked city were ever ignored. None of them escaped the notice of God. They ignored Him; but He did not ignore them We today, who are called by His name, must make sure that we are not a part of this city’s sins as well!

B. The judgment of her hostility toward the saints (v. 6). Speaking still to the people of God, the Lord announces judgment upon this wicked city by saying that she is to be rendered double for the “double acts” which she had done to them. He also says that double is to be mixed for her of that cup of tribulation which she had mixed to the saints (see 17:6; also 6:9-11 and 2 Thessalonians 1:6).

C. The judgment of her materialism (7a). She lived in luxury—a luxury which is described vividly in the rest of this chapter in terms of its loss. The materialism with which she glorified herself was great; but as great as it was, she is to be given a point-by-point retribution: “In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure” it is decreed to “give her torment and sorrow” (v. 6).

D. The judgment of her pride (vv. 7b-8). In addition to it all, this harlot city was prideful. In her heart, she makes three arrogant affirmations: “I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.” And yet, “therefore”, her plagues will come “in one day” (that is to say, quickly—just as the Babylonian empire of old came to a shocking and sudden end in just one day; see Daniel 5:30-31). Death and mourning and famine will suddenly replace her hatred for the saints, her materialism and her pride. A hint at the nature of her destruction is perhaps being given to us when we’re told that she will be utterly burned with fire (literally; see v. 9); “for strong is the Lord God who judges her”.

* * * * * * * * * *

This literal city may not yet exist on the earth; but its system of values and priorities most certainly does (see 1 John 2:18; 4:3)! Therefore, we who follow Jesus today must heed His warning! “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:17; see also Isaiah 52:11).

May it be that we never foolishly bind ourselves to that which God has scheduled for judgment and destruction!

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