THE COLLAPSE OF POLITICAL BABYLON,
REVELATION 18:1-24, PART ONE
I. The great angelic announcement (v. 1)
II. The reasons why Babylon will be destroyed (v.2-7)
III. The quickness of Babylon’s destruction (v. 8 – see Genesis 19 Sodom and Gomorrah)
IV. The impact of Babylon’s fall
A. The mourning by the government leaders of the world (v. 9-10)
B. The mourning by the businessmen & commercial people of the world (v. 11)
1. They will mourn for selfish reasons: Because of the personal loss (v. 11-14)
2. They will be terrorized, fearing the effects of her doom (v. 15-17a)
C. The mourning by the shippers or ship masters of the world (v. 15-19)
1. They mourn because the city will be the loss of a major shipping center for them (v. 18)
2. They will mourn because they will lose their means of wealth (v. 19)
D. The host of heaven will REJOICE (v. 20)
Introduction to the destruction of Babylon, the great capital of the Antichrist (note Revelation 14:8). In the end time Babylon will be what any great capital city is: a great political center, commercial center, social center, and cultural center. In fact, there are two basic ideas as to what Babylon represents in this passage.
First, some commentators believe that Babylon represents an actual city upon earth. The city is said to be either Rome or else the city of Babylon that will be rebuilt close to where it existed in ancient history.
NOTE: Babylon itself sat somewhere on the Euphrates River at the head of the Persian Gulf.
- A. Criswell says that these commentators believe that the whole eastern area will become enormously wealthy with its rich oil reserves. They believe that the nations throughout the whole region will become nations of great commercial influence and power.
The area has by far the largest population concentration in the world at that time, a population that demands goods and a booming economy.
In addition, the East sits right in the midst of what could become the greatest commercial market in the world; the whole of Europe sits to the north and west, and Africa with its masses sits due west.
Then to the east is the vast markets of China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, the islands of the Pacific and then there is the huge market of the great American continent.
Second, there are commentators who believe that Babylon represents all the political, commercial, social, and cultural systems of the world. Again as W.A. Criswell says, Babylon could represent any great city of the world such as Washington, New York, Tokyo, London, Moscow, or Paris.
These commentators believe that this chapter is picturing the great destruction of all the godless societies of the end time with their political, commercial and cultural systems. They believe that Babylon is just a symbol of the destruction of the godless government and society all across the world (Expository Sermons on Revelation, (Vol 5, p. 18f).
Both of these positions make sense, both can definitely come true. The eastern nations of the world can undoubtedly become some of the wealthiest nations of the world with their vast population resources (the vast oil reserves and the possibility of the minerals yet to be discovered in the Dead Sea).
Indeed, some nations already have enormous wealth. World-wide political and commercial power can come when some leader arises who can pull some of the nations into a confederation of cooperating states, some leader like the Antichrist or some forerunner before he enters world history.
With this as background, this Scripture declares emphatically that Babylon is going to be destroyed. The great capital city of the world in the end time is going to be destroyed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember CHAPTER SIXTEEN where the seventh bowl judgment was poured out and all the great cities of the world were crumbled to ashes. This is probably where Babylon will be destroyed.
“And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a GREAT EARTHQUAKE, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 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” (Revelation 16:18-19).
Note: God Himself will destroy Babylon. It will be God Himself who will pour out the cup of His wrath upon Babylon, that godless city and society who will bring THE GREAT TRIBULATION to the world. This is the picture of the collapse of political Babylon (see Revelation 14:8 also).
Now to Revelation 18:1, key words, Babylon–Government: there is the great angelic announcement from heaven.
A great angel comes down from heaven. He is coming from God Himself, and he is coming with great authority and power. Note his glory: he is so glorious that the light of his glory blazes across the whole earth. This symbolizes that his message and mission are meant for the whole earth. The glory of what he is about to announce is for the ears OF THE WHOLE WORLD.
Revelation 18:2-7 – Key Words Babylon – Society – Government: there are several reasons why Babylon, the capital of the Antichrist, will be destroyed. Remember Babylon can also represent godless society.
Babylon will be destroyed because of spiritual corruption (v.2, see also Revelation 18:23-24). Babylon, the great city of the end time, will not look to God. Therefore, it will become…
- the place for devils and their worship.
- the place for every foul spirit.
It is interesting to note how graphically the picture is painted; it will become the cage for every unclean and hateful bird. The morals and sins of Babylon will run so loose that the city will become a center for every foul and unclean spirit and filth of the underworld. Note several areas of sin running wild:
- Immorality, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, abnormal sex — all forms of immoral behavior will run wild.
- Lying, stealing, and cheating will run rampant.
- Lusting after more and more of the possessions and pleasures of the world will increase greatly in violation of I John 2:15-17 and Matthew 7:13-14.
- Sorcery, devil worship, witchcraft, palm readers, fortune tellers, and astrology will be revived and run loose.
- Secularism, materialism, and humanism will dominate the philosophies and behavior of people.
NOTE: There will be few who will believe and follow Christ and the Word of God.
Fact: Babylon and its society will be spiritually corrupt.
- The spirit of bondage is possessed by the unsaved, not the saved. The saved have received the Spirit of adoption, that is the Holy Spirit.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father” (Romans 8:15).
- The spirit of the world.
“Now we have received, NOT THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (I Corinthians 2:12).
We want to note some important things before we move on in our study of Revelation 18.
1. Only God’s Spirit knows the wisdom and things of God. Human reason can never discover God and the things of God. This is clearly seen by the man who is both honest and thinking. No person knows what is really going on within a man except the man’s own spirit and the Holy Spirit, who lives within the Christian. So it is with God. No man really knows God and the things of God except the Spirit of God.
Therefore, the world does not know God nor the things of God, for they MUST BE REVEALED. They cannot be seen, heard, or conceived by the heart of man (I Corinthians 2:9). They are only revealed by God’s Spirit.
NOTE: The one thing that man must always remember is this: he cannot penetrate the spiritual world. No person has ever seen God, no matter what some people may claim. If we are to ever know the spiritual world and dimension of being, God has to reveal Himself. This He did once-for-all in the Lord Jesus Christ, His ONLY beloved Son.
“No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18).
“And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his Voice at any time, nor seen his shape” (John 5:37).
“Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting” (I Timothy 6:16).
“No man hath seen God at any time. If ye love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (I John 4:12).
2. God’s wisdom and the things of God are revealed only to true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16). This is the reason God has given His Spirit to believers—that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Remember, the moment the true believe trusts Christ for salvation we have God the Holy Spirit indwelling us unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14).
a. Only the Holy Spirit knows the things of God (I Corinthians 2:11).
b. Only the man who truly receives Christ as his personal savior (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-13), who is born again by the Spirit of God, it is he who is quickened to understand spiritual things.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again [born from above], he cannot see the kingdom of God…That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:3,6).
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore, said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:13-15).
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God…But he that is spiritual judgeth all things yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:12, 15-16).
c. Only the true believer who MINDS spiritual things can understand the deep things of God.
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:5-7).
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered unto the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:9-10).
“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” ( I Corinthians 2:15).
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (I Corinthians 3:1-2).
d. The natural man (any man not reborn by the Spirit of God in other words, not born from above by God) cannot know the things of God. (See I Corinthians 2:7-8; I Corinthians 2:11; I Corinthians 2:14; John 8:43; Romans 3:11; Romans 10:3.)
God’s wisdom is the message taught by the Holy Spirit. The message, God’s glorious wisdom and gospel, is not a message of man’s wisdom; God’s wisdom and the gospel is the message of God’s Spirit Himself. The Holy Spirit teaches the wisdom and gospel of God. Note that the verse ends with the word “spiritual” (I Corinthians 2:13). There is no object. This means a glorious thing: The Holy Spirit…
- combines spiritual things with spiritual people.
- combines spiritual things with spiritual things.
The Holy Spirit guides saved people and directs them, teaching Christians to compare spiritual things with spiritual things. The true believer uses the Word of God to interpret God’s Word. When the believer seeks and reads the instructions of God and does not understand something, they use other Scripture references and passages in the Word of God to interpret what is not clear. The Holy Spirit keeps the Christian from all error as they follow His leadership.
“For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say” (Luke 12:1; see also John 14:26; I Corinthians 2:13; I John 2:27; I John 3:24; I John 4:13; I John 5:6).
We have spent some time thinking about the unsaved or carnal man vs the saved man. In the end times this becomes extremely important, as Satan working through the Antichrist and the False Prophet will attempt to deceive you.
In our next study we will continue with Revelation 18 and Babylon and false religion.
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