Saturday, August 21, 2010

Revelation 18

"Babylon is fallen, is fallen" (vs. 1-8)--A lot of the language of this chapter is derived from the Old Testament in regards to the ancient city of Babylon. "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen" is taken directly from Isaiah 21:9. This whole chapter deals with the judgment of God against the city of Rome. The first eight verses explain why, some of which has already been mentioned in earlier chapters. Demons dwell there (or will), as well as "every unclean and hated bird" (v. 3). Rome's "fornication" (immorality) and wealth are also reasons for her destruction (v. 4). God's people are not to get caught up in Rome's glory and splendor "lest you receive of her plagues" (v. 5). God sees Rome's sins and "remembered her iniquities" (v. 6). The angel who is speaking then requests that the Lord "repay her double according to her works" (v. 6); as great as Rome's glory has been, let her punishment match it, for her pride and arrogance knows no bounds (v. 7). "Therefore her plagues will come in one day"--her judgment is sure and swift (v. 8). Her judgment will be complete (v. 8). Rome, which during the great heyday of her empire had probably over 1,000,000 in population, at one point in the 5th century dwindled down to 10,000.

The wicked sorrow over "Babylon's" doom (vs. 9-20)--This section accurately describes the tremendous wealth that flowed into and out of Rome. Many, many people--mainly kings and merchants--grew rich off trade with the city, and thus "will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning" (v. 9). They will wail "''Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come'" (v. 10). Verses 12 and 13 lists some of the fine products that will no longer be available and will no longer enrich "the merchants of the earth" who will "weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore" (v. 11). Indeed, Rome's fall led to a period in European history popularly referred to as the "Dark Ages," though historians of the period prefer "Medieval Europe." But Rome will not longer live in and provide the luxury she once did (v. 14). Shipmasters as well will be distressed at Rome's fall, for obvious reasons (vs. 17-18), "weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth'" for, again, "in one hour she is made desolate" (v. 19). That thought of "one hour" (or "one day", v. 8) is found four times in this chapter--verses 8, 10, 17, and 19--indicating the surety and swiftness of Rome's punishment. God's people will rejoice "for God has avenged you on her!" (v. 20). Comforting words to John's readers. They would not live to see Rome's fall, which was some 300 years in the future; but they could rest assured that God saw their plight and that their enemy would be punished and they would be redeemed and victorious in the end. That last thought will be more fully elucidated in chapter 20.

The great millstone (vs. 21-24)--Then "a mighty angel" cast a "stone like a great millstone" into the sea; a nice illustration of how Rome will sink, "and shall not be found anymore" (v. 21). Some premillennialists have argued that there will be a "revived" Roman Empire before the "rapture," "Antichrist," and "Battle of Armageddon," but John says the Empire "shall not be found anymore."  The city itself still exists to this day, of course, but the Roman empire is gone and will never rise again. Amusement and business life (v. 22) as well as home life (v. 23) will cease. Verse 24 explains why: "in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth." God's people will indeed be avenged of this terrible enemy.

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