Revelation 18: Fallen Babylon the Great

Posted on March 6, 2021


By David Ettinger

What This Is
Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, I taught a Sunday school class verse by verse on the Book of Revelation. This series represents my notes for each class. (I have done some updating as some of my understandings have changed over the years.) I came across them recently and decided to post them. If you wish to use these notes as a study guide, the way to do it is as follows: Read the verse first in your Bible, then look at the corresponding notes here for commentary.

For some reason, I don’t have notes for Chapters 1-3, therefore this series begins with Chapters 4-5. Following the Chapter 4-5 study notes, each chapter will be presented individually.

Read Chapter 4-5 notes here.
Read Chapter 6 notes here.

Read Chapter 7 notes here.
Read Chapter 8 notes here.
Read Chapter 9 notes here.
Read Chapter 10 notes here.
Read Chapter 11 notes here.
Read Chapter 12 notes here.
Read Chapter 13 notes here.
Read Chapter 14 notes here.
Read Chapter 15 notes here.
Read Chapter 16 notes here.
Read Chapter 17 notes here.

* Whereas Revelation 17 dealt with religious Babylon, Chapter 18 deals with political Babylon

* Revelation 17 is most likely fulfilled by the end of the first 3½ years – just before the Great Tribulation begins.

* Revelation 18 is likely fulfilled at or very close to the return of Christ.

* The biggest question concerning this question is if “Babylon” refers to an actual rebuilt city.

* For sure, “Babylon” does refer to the political system of the end times.

* Many commentators and Bible teachers approach Babylon as a city that will be rebuilt, and will be the financial capital of the final world empire and be destroyed at the time of the Second Coming.

* We know that the political capital of the final world empire will be in Jerusalem (Daniel 11:45).

* So politically, the capital will be Jerusalem. Regarding an actual rebuilt city as the financial capital in a different location, there is much to support this view.

* Strongest of the support is unfulfilled Old Testament prophecies regarding Babylon: Isaiah 13:5-6, 10-11, 19-22; 14:1-6. 22; and Jeremiah Chapter 51, particularly verses 6-10 and 24).

* All these prophecies tell of the sudden destruction of Babylon, which were not fulfilled in history.

* When Medo-Persia conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. (Daniel 5), it did not destroy the city of Babylon. It continued to be a population center through the time of Christ when there was a large colony of Jews living there.

* There was no act of ultimate destruction against Babylon. Rather, it gradually diminished as a city in the centuries following Christ to the present.

* If we take the Scriptures literally, then regarding Revelation we must assume some sort of rebuilt Babylon and its ultimate physical destruction as prophesied in Isaiah and Jeremiah.

* What to make of all this?

* It appears that ancient Babylon ­– or some other Arab/Muslim city – will be totally made over, but in a smaller form than in its past glory.

* It will likely be the home of the Antichrist’s top financial officials who will be helping him run his empire, though the main power will be centered in the capital of Jerusalem.

* Babylon, therefore, can be viewed as representative as the Antichrist’s economic center that will serve a crucial function in the Last Days.

Verse 1
* A different angel than that of Chapter 17 will guide John through this vision.

* This must be one of Heaven’s mightiest angels if he can illuminate Earth by his splendor alone.

Verse 2
* The first order of business for this mighty angel is to pronounce judgment on economic and political Babylon.

* Following Babylon’s fall, it will become unpopulated, a center of demon power and the home for wild animals.

* Such a description supports a physical city of Babylon since this prophecy has never been fulfilled.

Verse 3
* Babylon is punished because, as a system, it will seduce the world politically and religiously.

* The world’s leaders will buy into Satan’s sinful system.

* The world’s business leaders will get rich through dishonest means.

Verse 4
* Now another voice – one from Heaven – is speaking.

* God is urging His followers to flee Satan’s system and remain faithful to the Lord.

* The order to flee is reminiscent of the command made to Lot to flee Sodom (Genesis 19:15-20, and Jeremiah 50:8-9, 51:6).

Verse 5
* Babylon’s sin being “piled up to heaven” is a reminder of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:3-9). The Tower of Babel was the beginning of Babylon’s history.

Verse 6
* As great as Babylon’s sin has been, it will come back upon her in greater measure – a double portion – than with which she dealt it out.

* Not only that, but she will drink from “her own cup,” meaning she will suffer in the same way – though much more intensely – than she caused others to suffer.

Verse 7
* Just as Babylon has showered riches, glory, and honor upon herself, such will be the amount of “torture and grief” she must endure.

* “Not a widow” refers to all of her “marriages” with the kings of Earth. However, they will not be able to help her.

Verse 8
* Destruction is swift and complete – in 1 day.

* The end will be devastating, a barrage of “death, mourning and famine.”

* Again, we see the theme of fire – the chosen means of destruction in the end times.

* It is God doing the judging, and He is mighty.

Verse 9
* The kings of Earth will mourn Babylon’s downfall because they recognize that the system which has allowed them to thrive is utterly destroyed.

* They will realize that all they aspired to has been shattered.

Verse 10
* Instead of repenting, they will mourn for the evil that has been destroyed.

* They see Babylon’s destruction as symbolic of their own demise.

Verse 11
* Now it is the business leaders of the world who mourn.

* The world’s economy has been destroyed; the business magnates of the world are ruined.

Verses 12-13
* Reflected here is what the world will have to offer. Those who have placed their hopes in these things are financially ruined.

* “Bodies and souls of men”: Probably a reference to the cost wealth has extracted: Men and women will have either destroyed their bodies and/or souls in the pursuit of riches.

Verse 14
* “They”: The merchants are apparently addressing Babylon and acknowledging that all hope is gone. Judgment has come and it is final.

Verse 15
* The business community which grew wealthy from Babylon will stand back and lament its incredible losses.

* It will “weep and mourn” because it realize all hope is vanquished.

Verse 16
* What seemed to be a system/city of wealth and royalty is now but a system/city of woe.

* The fineries with which Babylon adorned itself are now dust.

Verse 17
* Almost in an instant the wealth and “glory” of Babylon is destroyed.

* Anyone who had any dealings with Babylon can only stand far off and mourn.

Verse 18
* There will be tremendous disbelief that the “great city” could come tumbling down.

* At that time, it could be that the Euphrates River will be open to sea traffic, thus the reference to ships and sailors.

Verse 19
* Throwing dust on their heads is a sign of mourning (Jonah 3:6).

* They too share the same lament as those who preceded them.

* Again, note the “one hour.” The end came almost instantly.

Verse 20
* Now it’s Heaven’s turn to react. Instead of mourning, however, there is tremendous rejoicing because the enemy has been conquered.

* Though God’s judgment is destructive, it is also righteous, holy, and just, and therefore can be rejoiced over.

Verse 21
* The millstone being thrown into the sea is symbolic of Babylon’s destruction:

1) It is instant.

2) It is cataclysmic.

3) It has an immense ripple effect on the rest of the world.

Verse 22
* All the world’s entertainment will end.

* All business will cease.

* All labor conducted within the Babylonian system is finished.

Verse 23
* Life as we know it under the world system is over.

* There will be no more marriage.

* All of this is because Babylon has deceived and seduced the world away from the one, true God.

Verse 24
* Babylon has been a persecutor of God’s people.

* Ultimately, Babylon has been responsible for all those who have been killed.