PART TWO – RELIGION AND POLITICS
SAY GOODBYE TO POLITICAL BABYLON
The preceding chapter recorded the fall of the great harlot, Babylon the Great – religious Babylon. It is likely that this event takes place in the middle of the Tribulation for the fall of the harlot is the destruction of the false system of religion which Satan has supported through the centuries. It is the destruction of the ecumenical church, the one world church, after antichrist no longer needs it.
In chapter 18 we have more information about the fall of Babylon. This time it is the fall of political or economic Babylon. The difference in emphasis between the two chapters is this: In chapter 17 it was the beast and his 10-nation confederacy who destroyed religious Babylon. In chapter 18 political Babylon is destroyed by God Himself in preparation for the coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Christ’s Second Coming.
RELIGIOUS BABYLON COMMITS SPIRITUAL ADULTERY
Verses 1 through 3 we read, “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” The great harlot is fallen. Babylon as a system of religion is demonic – she seduces people into idolatry and false religion. She is unfaithful to God and has spiritually fornicated with the nations of the world, spoiling the message of God’s true word. Babylon is intoxicating and drags down with her the nations who align themselves with this false church. They have an easy form of religion with the harlot; a few dollars can make the church look the other way. No wonder they weep over her destruction.
It is evident that from the corruption of this end time system of religion many people will become wealthy. There is much business transacted in the church of the great harlot. She has accumulated great wealth and is a powerful force in business. We see this in the mother church of Rome today.
Thus, John is permitted to hear another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues (v.4).” Isn’t this reminiscent of God’s call to Lot begging him to leave worldly Sodom before total judgement (Gen. 19:15-22)? Here men and women of the Tribulation period are urged by God to come out of religious Babylon just as the children of Israel were urged to come out of ancient Babylon (Jer. 15:45). Why? Because by separating themselves from this apostate form of Christianity they will not partake of her sin and will not have the plagues inflicted on them that are certain to afflict those in religious Babylon (vv.6,8).
POLITICAL BABYLON TIED TO THE APOSTATE CHURCH
In chapter 18, John’s vision shifts to describe the fall of slightly different “Babylon.” The political and economic Babylon now comes into view with the destruction of the end time false apostate church, we now see the collapse of the financial association between the ecumenical church and the nations. In verse 9 we read, “And the kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will wait and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning.” Now the economic and political Babylon is destroyed. The kings of the earth lament because of the collapse of the false church. Their mourning, however, is not unselfish because they sorrow over the loss of pleasure and luxury. Without her there is no means of supporting their governments for they are built on an alliance with the false religious system. Therefore, the confederation of nations and their governments also collapse. I might add that the fall of political Babylon most likely occurs near the end of the Tribulation period and probably adding to or coinciding with this fall are the horrific bowl judgements described in chapter 16 – hailstones weighing 100 -125 pounds falling from the sky crushing everything in its path.
It seems likely, since Rome is the seat of the apostate church and is described by the seven mountains of Revelation 17:9, that it is both the religious and political city that falls. The city which thrived on false religion and financially benefited from it will now economically collapse. The burning of the city is a symbol of the fall of its political and economic might, and the kings of the earth marvel at the destruction of the powerful capital of Antichrist’s world empire.
Babylon is destined for destruction. We read: “Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! In one hour your doom has come(Rev. 18:10).” Babylon will be destroyed by a devastating collapse. It will happen cataclysmically fast, and its destruction will be utterly complete. Verse 10 tells us that its destruction will come in one hour. Could it be destroyed by atomic blast and the people who stand far off will see the mushroom cloud and fear the radiation? No one knows exactly what will happen because this is symbolism, and many things we simply will not know until they are literally fulfilled. But whatever happens, it will be absolutely devastating. In one hour, God will judge the sin of Babylon that has been piling up for millennia. His vengeance will come howling through the streets of Babylon.
It is almost unbelievable the effect that the collapse of religious and political Babylon will have on the people of the earth. Not only do the kings or heads of state bemoan her fate, but commercial officials do as well. There source of gain is suddenly gone. We read in verse 11, “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore.” Apparently, Babylon will be the center of world trade. The (ten-membered) alliance of nations which forms a common market will be almost totally dependent upon political and economic Babylon for its profits, riches, and splendor and suddenly to their dismay she is gone suddenly and forever.
WORLD COMMERCIAL CENTER
Political and commercial Babylon lures the unbelieving world into the drunken stupor of chasing after power and money and abusing people to get it. Babylon pushes people into a frenzy to give all they have to get all they can. We see in the goods that Babylon deals in – the luxury items of biblical times. Verses 11-13 indicate she trades in “The merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of Citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of man.” It seems like everything from gold to the very bodies and souls of men and women are bought, sold, and traded by the commercial activities of this great world center of the Antichrist.
For many months the world’s merchants will have depended on economic Babylon and now that she is destroyed what is left for them? The answer is in verses 15 and 16. “The merchants of these things, who become rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.” Commerce comes to an abrupt halt because the world center of trade is destroyed by God Himself.
The picture is clear. Antichrist will bring to an end the false system of religion centered in Rome (religious Babylon) and then God will bring to an end the world commercial system centered in Rome (political Babylon). Both church and state will collapse. This is it. No more will man be able to appease himself with an easy, do-nothing religion. No more will he put his trust in world commerce and finance. The end of the Tribulation is near, and man has only the lies of the Antichrist to cling to.
A CHANGE IN TONE
Suddenly and dramatically the whole tone of Revelation changes. Instead of weeping and wailing, instead of the fierceness of God’s wrath and judgement on this wicked earth, there is the vibrant tone of rejoicing we hear coming from heaven. The scene changes and in Revelation 18:20-24 we see the inhabitants of heaven rejoicing over the total destruction of Babylon in both her religious and political forms. A mighty angel casts a great millstone into the sea, representing the final fall of Babylon (v.21). A dead silence arises from the now destroyed city. No celebration, no music, no worker, no machinery, no manufacturing, and no happiness shall be found, for the great harlot Babylon is destroyed forever (vv.22,23).
The first 10 verses of chapter 19 are closely linked to these events. Note that Revelation 19:1 begins with the words, “And after these things….” After the destruction of Babylon, the whole tenor of Revelation becomes that of rejoicing for the King is coming. John hears “a great multitude in heaven, saying Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and honor and power to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgements, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her (19:1-2).” The song of praise by the angels, the 24 elders (representing the Church), the 4 living creatures and the multitudes of heaven includes praise for God’s righteousness in judging Antichrist’s evil system of worship as well as praise for avenging the blood of so many Tribulation saints martyred by Babylon.
THE HEAVENLY HALLELUJAH CHORUS
The end is near. Excitement and expectancy are in the air. John records this: “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigns’(v.6). ”The great heavenly hallelujah chorus has begun.
In conjunction with this great sound of praise is the marriage supper of the Lamb. Gathered around the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, are those who are His bride. Since the true Church of today is the Bride of Christ, this scene must take place in heaven. At the Rapture of the Church, prior to the Tribulation period, we are joined in marriage to the Bridegroom – Jesus Christ. Now the wedding supper or feast (which always followed the wedding ceremony by a space of time) takes place.
In a joyous celebration, we who are the saints of God, raptured up to heaven before the Tribulation, stand before the Lord as bride before bridegroom arrayed “in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (v8).” Those of our labors for the Lord found worthy at the Judgement Seat of Christ now clothe us. And, from our vantage point in heaven, we join in praising the Lord of Glory, for the great harlot has been overthrown.
With this the stage is set for the most dramatic entrance in history. With the tone of Revelation changed from somber to jubilant, the way is prepared for the Second Coming of Christ. He is about to come as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a joyous day that will be when the seven years of Tribulation are ended, God’s wrath and judgement upon the earth is over, and Jesus Christ comes as the Prince of Peace to reign in peace in His Millennial Kingdom – Christ’s 1000-year rule and reign on earth (Rev. 20:4-6).
Babylon, in the Bible, represents mankind’s rebellion against God. Looking at the bookends of the Bible we see that the first book of the Bible (Genesis) gives the account of the building of the Tower of Babel. In the last book of the Bible (Revelation) we read about the fall of Babylon. Just as Genesis explains the beginning of man’s government on earth (influenced by Satan), Revelation explains the end of Satan’s influence and the end of man’s government on earth. Can you see the connection? To miss the obvious would be spiritual blindness. The Tower of Babel in Genesis was the effort of man kind, in defiance and disobedience, to exalt themselves about their Creator. The fall of Babylon in Revelation was the final judgement of God upon mankind for their continued rebellion against his Creator.
Revelation is the book of consummation. Subjects that were introduced in the first book (Genesis) are brought to fruition in this the last book (Revelation) – Babylon built; Babylon destroyed.
F/B – Signs Of Our Times