Previously: Merchants’ lament – Revelation 18:11-17
Rev. 1:17b –And every shipmaster, seafarer, the sailors, and all who do business by sea, stood far off 18 as they watched the smoke from her burning and kept crying out: “Who is like the great city?” 19 They threw dust on their heads and kept crying out, weeping, and mourning: Woe, woe, the great city, where all those who have ships on the sea became rich from her wealth, for in a single hour she was destroyed. 20 Rejoice over her, heaven, and you saints, apostles, and prophets, because God has executed your judgment on her!” (HCSB)
Shipmaster, seafarer, sailor
Shipmasters and other seamen who have grown rich by transporting the world’s treasures to satisfy Babylon’s appetite for luxury now add their lament to that of the kings and merchants. John records that all who do business by sea stand far off as they watch the smoke from Babylon’s burning and continuously cry out, “Who is like the great city?” This cry is similar to the one in Rev. 13:4 as the earth’s inhabitants worship the beast and say, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against him?”
These cries acknowledge more than allegiance; they reveal dependence upon the beast and upon the great city for security and privilege. Now that the city has been destroyed, the seafarers do not know where to turn for their business transactions. When the beast is cast into the lake of fire in Revelation 19, his followers will have nowhere to turn for their salvation. As Satan’s kingdom disintegrates and Christ takes His rightful place as the earth’s king, unbelievers will realize their folly in trusting their souls to sinful men and worldly institutions. An interesting side note: One day the seafarers will find that even the sea is gone (Rev. 21:1). Continue reading
Rev. 18:3 – For all the nations have drunk the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath. The kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from her excessive luxury. (HCSB)
The angel spells out the reasons for the fall of Babylon the Great in verse 3: “For all the nations have drunk the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath. The kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from her excessive luxury.” The wickedness of the world system opposed to God has been exposed. Not only has Babylon the Great abandoned the one true and living God, but she has replaced Him with multiple false deities that lure the world’s inhabitants through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the sinful pride of one’s lifestyle (1 John 2:16).
How applicable is this indictment of Babylon on today’s society, which embraces “spiritualism” at the expense of true worship. As the apostle Paul warns, “But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
When we boast that we are spiritual but not religious; when we lament the addition of a fish to the endangered species list but celebrate the right to end the life of an unborn child for any reason; when we abrogate the responsibility of individuals and families to work hard and care for their own by increasing our dependency on government entitlements; when we insist that ethics are situational and reject absolute truth as a vestige of less-enlightened times; when we say all forms of religious expression are fine as long as the name of Jesus is excluded; when a 50th wedding anniversary between a man and a woman is rare but gay marriage is normative; and when a theory of origins based on time and chance is called an indisputable fact but a theory that points to intelligent design is considered rank scientific heresy – we have become the people who drink the wine of Babylon the Great’s sexual – that is, spiritual – immorality. And we have invited the wrath of God.
Rev. 18:1 – After this I saw another angel with great authority coming down from heaven, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 He cried in a mighty voice: It has fallen, Babylon the great has fallen! She has become a dwelling for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, and a haunt for every unclean and despicable beast. (HCSB)
It has fallen
The first eight verses of this chapter declare the fall of Babylon the Great. Verses 9-20 describe the earth’s response to her destruction, and verses 21-24 depict the finality of what transpires. The chapter begins with “another angel with great authority coming down from heaven” (v. 1). John writes that the earth is “illuminated by his splendor.” There is a heavenly radiance surrounding this angel that elsewhere is reserved only for the appearance of God (Ezek. 43:2-3), but we should not mistake this messenger for Yahweh. He comes brilliantly in the name of the Lord and represents His holiness. There also is a heavenly delight in the message he delivers as the cries of the righteous for judgment upon Babylon the Great are about to be answered.
Matthew Henry writes of this angel, “He had not only light in himself, to discern the truth of his own prediction, but to inform and enlighten the world about that great event; and not only light to discern it, but power to accomplish it” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Rev. 18:1–8).