Babylon's End Mourning, Disappearance, and Rejoicing
Revelation 18:9 to end
For a better perspective begin reading notes at the beginning of the commentary for this chapter and, before that, pray and read the text in the Bible.
.9 ¶ And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously [in luxury] with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,   Kings  We have recognized the kings as government leadership re1803. Here we see again that they have had a relationship with Babylon by which they caused her unfaithfulness to her true lover, Christ. Now they watch the smoke re1817 from a distance hoping to escape her punishment.
  Earth See re1314b. Compare re1614,16, re1702, re1214.
  Fornication See re1702.
.10  Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

 10 - Standing at a distance The kings cry as they stand "afar off." They hope to avoid the punishment of the false religious system. The disappointment of the kings is part of the picture seen in the breakup of the city during the seventh plague re1618. je5013. This time is also seen as the breakup of the three-part coalition of chapter 16 re1618alli. And we see it as the fall of the wicked king who found no [left] one to help him da1145-1201.
   They are not successful in escaping punishment, however re1917f.

  10 - That great city Babylon is great in human eyes, attracting the whole world re1308a as expressed by king Nebuchadnezzar in his arrogance. re1408a  In our verse she is also "mighty." The comparison is to her judge. ". . . her plagues come in one day . . . for strong [mighty (same Greek word)] is the Lord God who judgeth her." re1808b. Praise God that Christ is the one who excels in strength as He overcame Satan in heaven re1207 and is victor again here.
10 - Judgment ... in one hour Babylon's plagues came in one day which we understood to be the day of the Lord's vengeance. Here we see judgment in "one hour." Let's recall the angel in chapter 14 re1406f.
   Although the judgment announced by the angel with the gospel is a judgment of people, systems such as Babylon have people attached and so are judged as a part of the system. They are here judged with the wicked woman, Babylon, and are found guilty. The execution of the judgment comes at the end of a period of investigation. Those judged  in this preadvent judgment claim to follow Christ re1102a. Thus the massive end-time religious power ends up being the way of death instead of the way of life re1308. Also je5108.
   The "one hour" of judgment may also express the suddenness or surprise re0101b of this punishment where the kings lose power, and where the merchants and the sea people lose wealth.
.11  And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:   11- Merchants Of course merchants are business people. According to our passage, they will owe their wealth to Babylon, the oppressive religious system who says who can buy and sell re1317b. With the increasing power of those who hold the world's wealth, this situation is not hard to imagine. When Babylon gets burned up with fire, "no man buyeth their merchandise any more." Let's consider a deeper meaning.
   Oppressive powers use two tools to bring people into subjection: rewards and punishments. Schaff explains the use of political force in early conquests of the Roman church. See on Christianization below.
.12  The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
.13  And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
  13 - Slaves and souls of men  The long list of precious commodities ends with "slaves, and souls of men." The words may be better translated as "bodies and souls of men." This means physical security (body) and eternal salvation (soul). We can understand better as we see the same rewards offered to followers of the medieval church. The people themselves are, in practice, owned body and soul by the church who spares them the fate of "heretics" and alone decides their eternal destiny based on observance of her sacraments re1408f.
   Jesus taught a different principle about body and soul. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him [God] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28). Millions have died over the centuries for refusing to become a part of the apostate church. Their bodies were destroyed but not their souls. "Behold, all souls are mine [the Lord's]; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die [contrary to popular belief]." (Ezek. 18:4). Righteous souls sleep in death re0609b and are awakened at the time of the resurrection by the voice of Christ re0107b. The wicked souls also sleep. They are awakened at the end of the thousand years, judged again, and finally destroyed in the second death re2013.
.14  And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
.15  The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
 16  And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
  14 - No more at all In verse 14, above, the prostitute is addressed directly for the first time. The fruit of her soul's desire is gone (no more kings for adultery); and the material treasures are gone (no more merchants to bring wealth). "You will find them no more at all." This is the verdict of her judgment.
  16 - Alas How terrible, they exclaim, the great city had so many nice things. Too bad that we have lost the wealth we got through her. They are not sorry for her sins which they participated in. This is not a cry of repentance. The kings (above) and the sea people (below) also cried, Alas, alas. The three groups had not left Babylon and come out at the divine call. They did not escape by the promise of Christ: "that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
.16 - Fine linen How can a city be clothed in fine linen? The city is the wicked woman. She has pretended to be like Jesus as high priest. The bride of Christ was given permission to wear the a garment of the same material linen. Her garment, however, was "clean and white." re1907cl. The color blue is missing. It represents obedience, faithfulness to the covenant ex2815, nu1537
.17  For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,   Shipmaster ... as many as trade by sea Who are the people of this group? A significant new element is introduced: the sea. The curse of the sea is during the second plague. See how the sea and other elements are used in re1314b2 Consider this third group here to be the third group from v3. In other words, everyone else among the unfaithful ones. je5046., je5113.
  Trade by sea Literally, "work the sea" compared to those in agriculture who work the land. We recall the beast of the sea in the first part of chapter 13 and the beast from the land in the second part re1313a. This absence of a reference to the land is in harmony with the picture there where the earth beast set up an image to the beast who then demanded worship re1315c. Here we may understand the earth people as having joined the sea people. We recognize them in the present symbolism as the harlot daughters who joined their harlot (prostitute) mother as part of the woman called Babylon. We saw her sitting on the beast r17a. Here she is simply Babylon.
.18  And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!   Smoke of her burning "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah." (Isa. 13:19). re1410.
.19  And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.   Dust on their heads See ez2730ff.
  By reason of her costliness Although this phrase is accurately translated, the meaning may be clearer from the phrase in the NKJV, "by her wealth!"
  Made desolate in one hour The sea people here mourn because of Babylon's desolation (no more people). The kings lamented her judgment (they no longer ruled the nations of earth). And the merchants lamented for her lost wealth (all would now belong to Christ and His people). re1808reb
   Let's notice the description of the results of the judgment as shown to Daniel in vision: "And there was given him dominion [freedom from the oppressive kings of the earth], and glory [that the merchants of the earth had claimed], and a kingdom [replacing the desolation of Babylon], that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." (Dan. 7:14)
   This is the same final time described at the sounding of the seventh trumpet where Christ takes over the kingdoms of earth re1116.
    All we can say is Praise God who, in the son of man, will soon bring peace to His faithful children!
.20  Rejoice [or "continue exulting"] over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her [literally "judged the judgments of her upon you"].

  Heaven [one of three groups] The disappointed sea people continue to speak. At first glance we would likely see "heaven" as the angels and others who inhabit heaven. Let's instead consider the possibility that they are humans only. In re1901 we hear "a great voice of much people in heaven." The scene is after Christ comes and takes His faithful ones to heaven. The invitation in our present verse could be addressed to the same group. I do not consider "heaven" as angels because they are avenged by the punishment and destruction of Babylon, the false religious power oppressing Christ's people re1804. They are the heaven dwellers in comparison to the sea people or sea traders who were the third group who lamented the demise of Babylon described above.
   The apostles and prophets could be the writers, respectively, of the New and Old Testaments who, in turn, represent the persecuted witnesses of Jesus. Compare the slandered ones of chapter 13. re1306a2.
   So what is the message? For centuries the dominant religious system, represented as Babylon, has been in power. In Revelation 13 we saw two phases of false religion. You may want to review that chapter if you have not considered it recently re1301. A summary explanation of the end-time false religion (claiming the name of Christ) is with our discussion of 13:18 re1317 although it assumes an understanding of the whole chapter. Now, in the end-time judgment of all those who claim to follow the true God re1407d, she is judged. Specifically her judgment, or condemnation of the righteous as heretics is judged. She judged as heretics the people of God whose citizenship was in heaven and that judgment (or condemnation) is judged (or condemned) by God. See de1916ff.
  God hath avenged The false religion also, through its "magisterium" presumes to be the authority to tell the people what the Scriptures and traditions of the church mean. By developing explanations in harmony with her own objectives she has misrepresented the prophets and apostles who wrote the books of the Bible under divine inspiration. We saw how she was judged for misjudging "heaven." Here we see that she is also condemned for her judgment of the Bible. Also see on da0725ff, esp. v26.
   I speak reluctantly about what I see in this prophecy and would add that the papal church, which I see with a leading role in the end-time false religion, has always had elements of truth in her doctrines. And many who are saints in the eyes of God have always been among her followers.
.21  And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
  Into the sea We saw the violent fall of the city in the description of the 7th plague re1618. We also see it in the following passages:
   "And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt. 18:5, 6)
  Jeremiah was given a message about Babylon's disappearance into the sea je5160ff. Also, if you have time, je5013, je5113, je5142. Jeremiah was writing about the ancient kingdom which, even then, was a symbol of things to come. Our passage in Revelation, written clearly for the end times, confirms that spiritual Babylon will also disappear like a giant stone that sinks and, after the big splash, leaves the surface of the sea calm and peaceful. It's a promise of hope for which we may praise God.
  Remember the beast from the sea? In chapter 13 we saw the leopard-like beast rise from the sea. It later gained the support of the beast from the earth in opposing the minority people of God. Here transformed again as the rebellious, end-time religious power, it is thrown back into the sea never to rise again. Praise God.
  The millstones in the illustration are obviously not from the time of Babylon. They are from a mill in Southwest Michigan USA that probably shut down in the 1800s. Photo by author Ted Wade. Okay to copy. Mention of this commentary and even donations are appreciated.
.22  And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

  Voice of ... musicians ... heard no more at all Here is another list not of the many nice things the merchants sold but of people along with sounds and sights of their pleasure-filled lives, gone. This is desolation!
  Their music praised the wrong god. Compare a command given to the ancient people under Babylon's control da0304ff.
  Craftsmen would have included builders. See ps12701. And image makers. See mi0513f.  Also, is2407.   When the stone is thrown into the sea, voices will be silenced, sounds of life support work will stop and, in verse 23, the lights will go out. This reminds us of the abyss Satan is thrown into at the beginning of chapter 20. Babylon is destroyed when Jesus comes Our passage describes the same time as the one about the destruction of Babylon the one we have been studying. The picture in Luke shows that Jesus will come at the time spiritual Babylon is destroyed. Read lu1734ff and re0107.

   "And then [when the restraint is removed] shall that Wicked [one] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." (2 Thess. 2:8, 9)
  Rapture Look back at the texts refernced in for this verse. I invite those who believe in the modern idea of the rapture to consider that the theory doesn't fit the full picture presented in the Scriptures about the coming of Christ. My concern is that people will put off being ready, supposing that during the millennium they will have a second chance, or that Jews are dealt with by a different gospel 2co1104, re0704. While I respect those who teach this, the Bible simply paints a different picture. In fact Matthew warns us against the rapture idea mt2437ff.
   Daniel was shown this situation of false assurance in symbols. He saw that the wicked king (the false religious system we see as Babylon) will destroy many who are at ease! See the passage da0823ff.
.23  And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.   Merchants  In the latter part of Revelation 13, the earth beast made an image to the sea beast and gave the image life and authority. Consider that this support system may be seen here as the merchants. The power brokers of the end times. And how did they do it? By deception re1313 as part of the system of Babylon. ". . . for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived." They sold false doctrines re1803.
.24  And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.    Found the blood Finding the blood indicates judgment. We saw her judgment in verse 10 re1810. The summary statement here is like the autopsy. Lady Babylon had been drinking the blood of prophets, saints, and all who were slain! God's judgment in destroying her was right. In a sense the slain might be seen to include the wicked. It seems more likely to be all the righteous. We saw her assault on the saints in v20 above. Compare je0234. But the slain ones also draw our attention to the two groups of righteous people seen at the opening of the fifth seal. re0611b. Compare ez2407 and for a parallel evil worship system of the OT, see lu1150.
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  "The mediaeval Christianization was a wholesale conversion, or a conversion of nations under the command of their leaders. It was carried on not only by missionaries and by spiritual means, but also by political influence, alliance of heathen princes with Christian wives, and in some cases (as the baptism of the Saxons under Charlemagne) by military force. It was a conversion not to the primary Christianity of inspired apostles, as laid down in the New Testament, but to the secondary Christianity of ecclesiastical tradition, as taught by the fathers, monks and popes. . . . . The preceding instruction amounted to little or nothing; even the baptismal formula, mechanically recited in Latin, was scarcely understood. The rude barbarians, owing to the weaknesses of their heathen religion, readily submitted to the new religion; but some tribes yielded only to the sword of the conqueror." Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. IV, p. 18, 1910.

    So the merchants and the kings representing financial and political control will serve the interest of the end-time mega-church by providing, respectively, rewards and punishments. The "merchants" serve the church by enforcing the reward system permitting only those with the beast's mark re1316d to earn money (mark in the hand) and to spend it to sell and buy. The kings provide the punishment determining that all who do not bow to the image, representing the end-time religion, must die re1315.

   May we each be faithful, remaining loving and firm if faced with threats from those who can destroy only the body even though they may claim to hold the keys for both body and soul.
   How wonderful to know that the story will have a happy ending for the faithful and that, although we may not understand why God allows the innocent to suffer, one day we will know He was right in letting evil run its course to give apostasy an indisputable judgment. Let's each one determine to be faithful unto death. One day we will have a crown of life (Rev. 2:10) !
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