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13 October 2019

Babylon the Great is Fallen - (Revelation 18:1-8)

Greco-Roman ruins - by Unsplash.com
John now sees a different angel descending from heaven, presumably, not one of the angels from the series of seven bowls of wrath. This angel has “great authority” with which he announces the fall of Babylon and describes her ritual pollution by demonic spirits. This is followed by a voice summoning God’s people to separate from the Great Harlot, otherwise, they will taste of 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!” [Source:  The Emphasized Bible].
There are several parallels between this passage and the earlier pronouncements of the fall of Babylon, 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 Babylon but several declarations about the same downfall of the Great Harlot that will take place “in one hour” prior to the end of the age when the wrath of God is “finished” (Revelation 16:19-21)
Possibly, the “second angel” from Chapter 14 is the same angel with “great authority” that now announces the fall of Babylon and illuminates the earth. The earlier declaration, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great,” is almost identical to the one now given by this authoritative angel. Just as Babylon is to be destroyed by fire, so those who give allegiance to the Beast will be “tormented with fire and brimstone.” Furthermore, the description of God’s judicial wrath as “prepared unmixed” is conceptually parallel to the punishment prepared for Babylon (“mix unto her double”).
The angel “illuminates” the entire earth because the fall of Babylon and her allies will mean the removal of all 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 “the habitation of demons and a prison of every impure spirit.” “Prison” or phulaké more correctly means a “guardhouse” or “watchtower,” the structure from which a guard watches over a prison. The demonic spirits are not imprisoned in Babylon but are the “guards” that watch over those who are enslaved by her, the “kings of the earth” and the nations made drunk by drinking her “wine.”
The merchants of the earth.” A new societal class is introduced, the men who profit from the maritime trade of “Babylon.” The stress in what follows is more on the economic influence of the Harlot then on her religious characteristics, though the religious aspect is not absent. 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.” This sentence more accurately reads, “the merchants of the earth were enriched by the power of her arrogance.” The basic idea is her overconfidence in her economic might.
This verse is intended to remind the book’s readers of the earlier warning to the church of Laodicea: “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” (Revelation 3:17).
I sit a queen.” This clause alludes to a dirge by Ezekiel against the maritime city-state of Tyre. Its introduction prepares for the economic critique with the list of trade goods based on the lamentation over ancient Tyre (Revelation 18:11-18). Tyre was a Phoenician city involved heavily in commerce throughout the Mediterranean Sea during the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.
Though from the related city of Sidon, Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, was from the same Phoenician society. The introduction of the passage from Ezekiel is intended to invoke the image of ancient Jezebel to Revelation’s original readers.
(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). This clause corresponds to the judgment elsewhere said to occur “in one hour” or en mia hora (Revelation 18:10, 16, 19).
Come forth, my people, out of her.” This is the highlight and real point of the passage; for God’s people to separate themselves from “Babylon” and not to be dependent on her economic means.
This pictorially reiterates a fundamental message of the seven letters to the churches of Asia not to compromise with the demands of the surrounding pagan society, succumb to the teachings of the Nicolaitans or “fornicate” with that “prophetess, Jezebel” by eating “food offered to idols.”

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