This chapter continues
the theme of chapter 17. You might want to read the chapters together before
you start looking at the details here. Then you may read our discussion
up to this point.
1800 This is interesting but not of major importance. You may want to scroll to the next section just below.
We noted above that this chapter continues from the woman on the beast. A thematic structure in it also continues on into chapter 19. Some people consider these voices and laments as songs.
|18:1-3||Angel with mighty voice announces, "Babylon is fallen."|
|18:4-8||Voice from heaven calls, "Come out of her, my people."|
|18:9, 10||Kings lament, "alas, alas."|
|18:11-17a||Merchants lament, "alas, alas."|
|18:17b-19||Sea people lament, "alas, alas."|
|18:21-23||Mighty angel announces, "With violence shall . . . Babylon be thrown down."|
|19:1-3||Great voice of much people in heaven says, "Alleluia."|
An angel with great authority
"And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen. . . . 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. for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." (Rev. 18:1, 2, 4, 5)
“Power” and “authority”
are near synonyms in English. They are translated from the same Greek word
exousia. "Authority" seems to fit best here although the angel no doubt
has both. This angel has a message of importance for the whole earth. In
chapter 1 we saw that groups of people with a message may be symbolized
as angels with significant messages at particular times like the angels
of the seven churches re1120.
We saw this again with the three angels of chapter 14. In the symbolic
context of Revelation, we may expect the angel to represent people with
a special message. At the same time we note that this angel comes from
heaven and may have literal meaning as well. The people then act as his
"down from heaven"
The angel comes with an important commission. It is the final light of heaven for the those who have rejected God's mercy. Compare this angel with the one who came down in chapter 10. "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he [the mighty angel] had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. (Rev. 10:1-3) 1001.
Now notice the contrast and a different source of authority in (Rev. 13:1, 2. See 13:1, note b).
The beast representing false religious power is the dragon's (Satan's) special agent. Notice that he came up from the sea where Christ, in chapter 10, came down from heaven. 1301.
Who are the angel? (grammar okay)
Might the angel represent people? Yes. We saw people carrying the message of the three angels of chapter 14. And people will be reflectors of God's final glory to the world ha0214. In fact one of the three angels declared the fall of Babylon. Our first hypothesis is that we are seeing the same event here in chapter 18. This turns out not to be the case, however. Although the announcements are similar, they come at different times. Let's look back at what the earlier angel said.
"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." (Rev. 14:8)
This angel was the second of three. The other two spoke with "a loud voice." He did not. In contrast, the angel here in chapter 18 "cried mightily with a strong voice" and the voice from heaven says, "Come out of her, my people. . . ." The angel here sounds more like the third of the angels of chapter 14.
"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation. . . ." (Rev. 14:9, 10).
Here in chapter 18, the wrath of God to be avoided is the plagues coming to Babylon. In fact we learned that, in the seven last plagues, the wrath of God would be filled up 1501b. Continuing our comparison to the third angel, we recall that, after he joins the first two, the three fly on together to the end. Their messages continue to be relevant re1406b, 1409a. The appeal has become urgent. The angel cries mightily with a strong voice. It is the call of the three at the very end of human probation!
The angel comes down from heaven. This may be seen to contrast with the three angels who flew in mid-heaven — that is, the sky. The final message will be more urgent and more clearly heard on the earth.
When does the
angel with a strong voice sound the final warning?
When Babylon falls completely. When her sins reach heaven. As I write, the religious powers have not yet joined in their three-part coalition. They have not yet offered their ultimate defiance to the God of heaven by preparing to kill those who choose to keep His law 1315c.
We saw the angel
earlier as the kings of the East
Remember that, when the plagues are poured out, human probation will have closed. During the sixth plague, the kings are gathered for Armageddon. In the description, we see how they had been gathered in a process which began before probation closed. Let's look at the passage and notice two sets of kings:
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." (Rev. 16:12-14)
The kings of the East enter the scene by way of the dried up river 1612. This situation is pictured here in chapter 18 as an angel giving his appeal when Babylon, the false religious power, has become totally corrupt. Her influence is being dried up as the angel warns against receiving her plagues. In ancient Babylon, the Euphrates was dried up allowing Medes and Persians to march under the walls to conquer the city and eventually free the Hebrews. The kings of the East are gathered by God as the kings of the earth are gathered by the evil spirits of the end-time religion. The angel of our present chapter I see in the same role as the kings of the East. They both represent the remnant people of God who, directed by the Holy Spirit, give the last warning to the many who had been deceived by the popular religions. So this answers our earlier question, "Who are the angel"?
Lightened with his glory
Verse 1 ends with this description of the angel from heaven. He faces the dense darkness of evil and makes it very clear to everyone on the planet. This is the final struggle before Jesus comes.
"For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. . . . For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Hab. 2:1, 14). Also Isaiah 60:1-3.
"And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory." (Ezek 43:2)
Fallen and totally corrupt
"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 [prison] of every foul spirit, and a cage [prison] of every unclean and hateful bird. 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." (Rev. 18:2, 3)
When studying chapter 14, we discussed the timing of the second angel's message concluding that it continues until the time of God's final wrath. Thus the announcement of fallen Babylon begins quietly with a partial fall of churches from God's plan of growing in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18) 1408i.
Fallen and fallen
We noticed in the statement "Babylon is fallen, is fallen," a sort of double fall which we saw in the story of ancient Babylon during the time of Belshazzar's defiant feast. 1408d. The king was found guilty in the balances of judgment (spiritual fall since he was the spiritual leader) and the nation also fell and God would give it to others.
The double fall here at the end in chapter 18 is the spiritual fall announced by the angel from heaven (verses 2, 3) and the physical fall and demise of the woman (verse 8). In chapter 16 the first fall is the unclean spirits working as devils to gather the kings (total defiance of God, the spiritual fall, verses 13, 14). The second fall is the split-up of the city (the physical/political fall, verse 19, quoted following):
"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."
Every foul spirit, every unclean bird, all nations
The devils have taken over. All the unclean spirits and all the unclean and hated birds are there because the contaminated wine has been drunk by all nations. This is the picture we may see by reading the literal translation. The completeness is confirmed in verse 5.
A repeated story
Our thoughts turn back to the sixth plague. "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:13, 14).
Both passages tell of the devils, the unclean spirits, the wine which is the deceptive miracles, and the nations gathered which are the kings who become intoxicated. In the introduction to the pair of chapters (17 and 18), the plague angel told John "I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters and with whom the kings committed fornication." We are about to see the execution of her sentence.
Because of the nations, the kings, and the merchants
". . . Babylon the great is fallen. . . . 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." (Rev. 18:2, 3)
— three end-time conditions
We have already discussed this verse to some extent. Now we notice three basic reasons for the fall. When the statement is fulfilled,all the nations will have made themselves drunk with the popular false ideas, the political leaders will have united with the religious powers to force the conscience 1702, and the few who hold the financial interests along with those bound by the labor unions will have thereby received wealth. Read the following verses carefully to see that the same scenario appeared in chapter 13. (I don't favor either labor unions or magement oppression.)
"And I beheld another beast
coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake
as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before
him, and causeth
the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose
deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders [miracles], so that
he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles
which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that
dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which
had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he [the deceptive earth beast]
had power to give life unto the image of the beast, S
that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as
would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 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: And
that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of
the beast, or the number of his name." (Rev. 13:16, 17)
Rebellion in this chapter may be seen to have three elements 1808c.
Chapter 18 continues the story of the evil woman we saw riding the beast in chapter 17. There we saw her adulterous relationship with the kings of the earth. Here we see her relationship with the merchants. In verse 11 we see them break the relationship 1811.
Abundance of her
The word "delicacies" is from the Greek, strenos which expresses eager power. In the context, we may see the merchants becoming rich through the great power of the prostitute, Babylon. This leads us to ask how a religious system could make merchants rich, and we think of the laws of the oppressive laws of the system described in chapter 13.
"He [the earth beast] was granted power to give breath to the image of the [sea] beast, that the image of the beast should both speak [legislate] and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all . . . to receive a mark . . . and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." (Rev. 13:15-17).
Under the authority of the end-time religious power, business people will try to force all to follow the beast and its image by controlling the world financial systems. Thus the fraudulent alliance with the merchants here in chapter 18. (Compare Dan. 11:41).
We may see both physical and a spiritual meanings. The merchants and kings control the wealth and power of the earth. The merchants also sell the deceptive doctrines of the religious power.
Earth is home
for kings and merchants
This supports the idea that end-time, powerful Babylon will be backed by the kings and the merchants who work in harmony with the power of the earth beast of Revelation 13 1311
The divine appeal
"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." (Rev. 18:4)
The voice can only be that
of Christ. It brings to mind a parable He told: "Verily,
verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold,
but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he
that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter
openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by
name, and leadeth them out." (John 10:1-3)
Because Christ addresses those He calls as "my people" we see that many of His true followers will be adherents of the false religious system. These would be people who have not understood the full truth of the Scriptures.
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. Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad [crazy/drunk]. Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. 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 reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God. (Jer. 51:6-10) Also je5145, is2701.
The situation of people called out before punishment of the wicked city reminds us of the story of Lot leaving Sodom.
And the men [two angels]
said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and
thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of
this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is
waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy
it. . . .
Wrath of God
"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." (Rev. 14:9-11)
We can see that this message of the third angel draws its symbolism of fire, brimstone, and ever ascending smoke of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah which we have just read about 1410.
We also see the same time sequence in the messages of the three angels as we have here in chapter 18: Angel 1 (14:6, 7) preaching of the gospel, Angel 2 (14:8) the call to come out, and Angel 3 (14:9-11), an end to the time of coming out and the destruction of those who refuse along with the religious system which they have followed. Here in chapter 18, however, we look from a different perspective. The end-time gospel preaching of the first angel began with the beginning of the pre-advent judgment 1406b, 1407d. The call to come out and the warning about accepting the beast's mark (messages 2 and 3) also followed in that context 1408i. Here the angel from heaven comes down with a loud cry and the messages are heard again in a mighty way just before it will be forever too late.
Apostasy fully ripe
"For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." (Rev. 18:5)
Sins reaching up to heaven
follows the image of ever ascending smoke. In fact, that picture may never
have intended to picture smoke going up without coming to an end in time
but smoke going up until it reached the throne of the infinite God in heaven.
Reaching up to heaven draws our attention to another Bible story where going up is related to an apostasy to which God put an end. Let's read it.
[The families of Noah]
were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
"For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." (Rev. 18:5). It is not that God is unaware of the wicked until He is reminded. Here He gives recognition to the state of apostasy and prepares for action. Symbolism from je5109.
How good to know that God also remembers those who have chosen to be His children. As the 144,000 on mount Zion 1401a, we may choose to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.