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. 12:12 – Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time. (HCSB)
Rejoice, O heavens … woe to the earth and the sea
As a result of Satan’s expulsion from heaven and the victory won by the blood of the Lamb and the word of the saints’ testimony, the voice in heaven declares, “Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time” (v. 11).
There is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents, being transported by faith out of Satan’s kingdom of darkness into Christ’s kingdom of light (Luke 15:7). There is rejoicing on earth when Jesus casts out demons; when He rides triumphantly into Jerusalem; and when He rises from the dead, being declared the Son of God with power and defeating the Devil and his works. And there is rejoicing in “the heavens” – the sky, the stellar heavens, the unseen spiritual realm – when Satan is banished and his span of influence is severely restricted. The angels, the redeemed – even creation itself – exults in this epic event with everlasting benefits. There is rejoicing everywhere the glory of God dispels the darkness of Satan.
But in this passage there also is woe, because Satan has not yet been banished to the abyss for a time, or to hell for eternity. For a short time, Satan and his demons are confined to earth, and knowing his time is short, he rules his fleeting kingdom with great fury. It’s interesting to look ahead one verse, where the dragon sees that he has been thrown to earth. It’s as if he cannot believe his lot. Once an anointed cherub, once a mighty, beautiful, intelligent servant of God, with the universe at his disposal, he now finds himself confined to the “earth and the sea,” and he is not happy about it.