19. Babylon is Fallen
John the Apostle wrote that believers in Christ should “not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-17). What was on John’s mind when he wrote those sentences? It goes without saying that when one looks at the world's beauty, it reflects God's creativity and perfection, but John wasn't writing about the earth's natural beauty. He was writing about the world system in which we live.
What is the World System?
Over hundreds of years, humanity has lived in slavery. Some people consider themselves the slave masters and elites of the world and think it normal that others on the lower edges of society should be their slaves. John the Apostle, who wrote the Book of Revelation, was very aware of this spiritual dominance set up by Satan, and he wrote in one of his letters, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Jesus came to set us free from slavery to sin and open our minds to the real warfare that is occurring in the world, i.e., the slavery brought about by invisible demonic forces enslaving the earth under their dominion: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). Christ and His Church are engaged in spiritual warfare to bring about God's freedom to all people.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
This slavery to sin and servitude to the evil world system has kept humanity captive from a very early age by using our schools and educational facilities. This indoctrination has been going on for hundreds of years.
Far back in 520 B.C., the Greek philosopher, Plato, recorded the story taught him by Socrates, a story called The Allegory of the Cave, which was about men unable to move and chained in the darkness of a cave all their lives. In that allegory, the manipulators are hidden from view by a wall behind them, displaying images cast on a screen in front of them and showing false images of the world. The chained men only saw the pictures shown on the screen, not knowing that there was a world of great beauty outside of the darkened cave. We have up–to–date movies that offer a similar story about the manipulators keeping humanity in the dark as to the actual warfare now occurring. For instance, there is the man behind the curtain in the movie, The Wizard of Oz or the movie, The Matrix, where the main actor is awakened from a false reality to view the world as it really is by taking a red pill.
Many of us are chained to images we received in our childhood about the world. Those false images have told us that there is no God and that this life is the only life there is. The lies and pictures would have us believe that we should submit to the elites, enjoy our slavery of sin, and not seek the God that waits in the light outside the cave. Envisioning the perfect totalitarian system, Englishman Aldous Huxley said:
A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced because they love their servitude.
Jesus came to set us free from the demonic slavery to Satan and sin. The world system wants to keep us enslaved and not think critically about the world in which we live. Chapters seventeen and eighteen of the Book of Revelation are given to the Apostle John as an appendix or supplement to provide light to God’s people about the destruction of the world system that has ruled and enslaved humanity for many centuries.
Babylon Is Fallen
Chapters fifteen and sixteen focus our attention on the righteous judgment of God with seven bowls of wrath poured out upon those who worshiped the Beast and his image and took a mark upon their hands or forehead. In our previous study, 18. Mystery, Babylon the Great, we looked at the world system in the end times that will be led by a leader called the Antichrist. This worldwide system permeating the world is typified by a ten-headed beast ridden by a prostitute. In the Scriptures, a prostitute is symbolized as a city whose temptations lead people away from God. In this writer's view, Babylon is Great, the mother of harlots indicates the secret societies that had their home in Babylon's city captured by the Persian king Cyrus in 539 B.C. Five times in Jeremiah 51, we are told that Babylon would never be rebuilt, leaving us to wonder what city is referred to as Babylon the Great in chapters seventeen and eighteen in the Book of Revelation.
To which city may John be referring to as "Babylon the Great?" We are not explicitly told which city it is, but we are given indications in the Scriptures regarding her identity characteristics. Do you think Babylon the Great exists today?
1After this I saw another angel descending from heaven with great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his glory. 2And he cried out in a mighty voice: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a lair for demons and a haunt for every unclean spirit, every unclean bird, and every detestable Beast. 3All the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her immorality. The kings of the earth were immoral with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from the extravagance of her luxury” (Revelation 18:1-3).
In verse two, we read of Babylon the Great being a lair and a haunt of demons. We refer to a lair as a hideout or a den; whereas, a haunt gives us the picture of a hunter waiting for its prey to come close enough for the kill shot. Demonic spirits have made their home in Babylon's modern-day city and influenced those who obey the temptations to sin. To drink the city's wine means to profit and take part in evil economic alliances (v. 3).
How do demonic spirits manage to make a home in a city or people group? Can physical places become strongholds for specific spirits to rule from that place? How does this happen?
4Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins or contract any of her plagues. 5For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6Give back to her as she has done to others; pay her back double for what she has done; mix her a double portion in her own cup. 7As much as she has glorified herself and lived in luxury, give her the same measure of torment and grief. In her heart she says, ‘I sit as queen; I am not a widow and will never see grief.’ 8Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and grief and famine—and she will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her” (Revelation 18:4-8).
When the scripture says, "Come out of her my people," how do you think we are to respond? How are we to “come out of her”? Is this literal, or is this voice from heaven referring to something spiritual, or both?
I can see two different ways we are to come out of the influences of the prostitute (v. 4).
- As the people of God, we are not to take part in any of the temptations to sin and give ourselves to take part or traffic in her sins. We are to be in the world, but not of the world (John 17:14-16).
- It could mean that we are to come out of this one-world system by not taking the Mark of the Beast and refusing to worship the image set up (Revelation 13:14-18). If so, how are we to do that practically?
There may be two systems in play during the last days. In one, the Antichrist rules over an economic system based on debt, the central bank monetary system owned and operated by the world elites who want to enthrone their leader, the Antichrist, in a temple in Jerusalem. Some believe that soon there will be an economic system of freedom and departure from the world economy, i.e., a separate blockchain monetary system outside of the central banking system set up in just about every country in the world. It could also be a barter system. If that is so, here in February 2021, we may begin to see a way out of the Beast system under which the world operates. If this second economic system does occur separate from the Beast world system, it will bring persecution from our souls' enemy. Whatever happens, we are not to share in the Beast system's sins (v. 4) that will become more and more out in the open towards the last days before the return of Christ. God never leads His people to leave one system without giving them something else into which to come. He will not leave His children helpless.
Lament over Babylon
9Then the kings of the earth who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her will weep and wail at the sight of the smoke rising from the fire that consumes her. 10In fear of her torment, they will stand at a distance and cry out: “Woe, woe to the great city, the mighty city of Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.” 11And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, because there is no one left to buy their cargo—12cargo of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; of fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet; of all kinds of citronwood and every article of ivory, precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; 13of cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, and frankincense; of wine, olive oil, fine flour, and wheat; of cattle, sheep, horses, and chariots; of slaves and souls of men. 14And they will say: “The fruit of your soul’s desire has departed from you; all your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be seen again” (Revelation 18:9-14).
John now writes of a list of commodities bought and sold in the great city (v. 10) of Babylon the Great. Whatever city it is that is named after Babylon, it is a center of world commerce during the end times, with the earth's leaders (kings v. 9) entirely bought into this one-world empire and obeying the puppet master world elites that operate the propaganda images of Plato’s cave. Merchants from all over the earth will mourn over the loss of revenue, understanding that they will not be able to sell their cargoes after the destruction of Babylon the Great.
John refers to two commodities bought and sold in verse 13 as “slaves and souls of men.” To what do you think this relates?
For centuries, the common man has been kept in the darkened cave in religious and financial bondage by corrupt elites. God gave light to humanity with the proclamation that all men are created equal in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. This spiritual longing has been the struggle for centuries for the tired, the poor huddled masses that are yearning to breathe the free air of liberty. John focuses our attention on the many commodities traded, bringing our attention to slaves and men's souls. This prophetic scripture indicates that some people in the end times, perhaps many, will not be free and will be traded as a commodity (v. 13). We are to think about human trafficking, one of the evils of our day. Thank God for Jesus and the spiritual freedom He gives to all men!
15The merchants who sold these things and grew their wealth from her will stand at a distance, in fear of her torment. They will weep and mourn, 16saying: “Woe, woe to the great city, clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! 17For in a single hour such fabulous wealth has been destroyed!” Every shipmaster, passenger, and sailor, and all who make their living from the sea, will stand at a distance 18and cry out at the sight of the smoke rising from the fire that consumes her. “What city was ever like this great city?” they will exclaim. 19Then they will throw dust on their heads as they weep and mourn and cry out: “Woe, woe to the great city, where all who had ships on the sea were enriched by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been destroyed.” 20Rejoice over her, O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced for you His judgment against her (Revelation 18:9-20).
In a single hour, Babylon the Great is destroyed. How can such a thing happen, some would say? How could something like this happen in such a short time? When the Book of Revelation was written, only God could destroy a large city, such as Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) or Nineveh (Book of Jonah), but in the latter days, science has given our leaders great power with weapons of mass destruction. We cannot tell from the passage if God initiates this fire that consumes the city (v. 18) or if God uses another country’s weapons. Three times, double woes are pronounced against the great city (vs. 10, 16, 19).
Again, we get a description of the fabulous wealth of this end-time city. In the first century A.D., when the New Testament was written, purple and scarlet described clothing and riches of great rarity that only the mega-rich could afford.
The merchants that trade in commodities will mourn over the city and stand at a distance (v. 15). Verse 17 indicates that ship owners, sailors, and passengers are on cargo ships watching the destruction from a distance. Perhaps, this scripture gives us a hint that Babylon the Great is a port city that can rule out Rome, which is fifteen miles inland from the nearest port city of Ostia Antica.
Why would the merchants stand at a distance from her and be in fear of her torment? (v. 15).
If a weapon of great destruction is used, it could be that some radiation causes people to stand at a distance. Standing at a distance could be describing what we now know as television surveying things from afar. There will be a sense of awe that arises from the sight of the fire and smoke consuming the city (v. 18).
The Doom of Babylon
21Then a mighty angel picked up a stone the size of a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be cast down, never to be seen again. 22And the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will never ring out in you again. Nor will any craftsmen of any trade be found in you again, nor the sound of a millstone be heard in you again. 23The light of a lamp will never shine in you again, and the voices of a bride and bridegroom will never call out in you again. For your merchants were the great ones of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.” 24And there was found in her the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who had been slain on the earth (Revelation 18:21-24).
Jesus warned those who would harm any little ones, saying, “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:2). Yet, here we read of an angel throwing a millstone into the sea, perhaps symbolizing that the evil Beast system is indicted of such things as harming children. The merchants that operate behind the scenes of the Beast system are called the great ones of the earth (v. 23), but God views them differently, for all their crimes will be uncovered: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17).
Babylon the Great is spoken of as a city, but this also represents the entire evil world system set up against God and defying Him. The blood of the prophets and saints and all who had been slain on the earth were found in her. God has to destroy this evil system entirely because she had deceived all of the nations (v. 23). As we approach the last days, there will be a more radical distinction between those who love the Lord and those who love the world system referred to in 1 John 2:15-17. The annihilation of Babylon represents the destruction of everything evil and demonic in the present world system.
Have you ever noticed that there is an evil villain or force that must be conquered in all of the greatest fictional stories? The best stories are ones that demonstrate good triumphing over evil in the most magnificent way. (Think of the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars or the destruction of the ring and the dark tower of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings.) You can probably think of other such stories. When the world’s evil system meets its end, God’s people and all who love righteousness and justice will rejoice.
As believers, we do not need to wait for all of the Last Days' events to unfold to begin this rejoicing! We do not need to wonder if justice will finally come, for it will. God has promised it. That does not mean to say that as the people of God we have nothing to do. We are to be representatives of the Kingdom of God upon this earth. However, we can rejoice now in the knowledge that God is sovereign over the affairs of men. He sees and knows all things. In Him are perfect love and perfect judgment. In Him, righteousness and mercy meet (Psalm 85:10). We can rest assured that God will judge perfectly, and at the time that He prepares to set everything right, it will be a time when we, as believers, will lift up our heads and welcome His return. The end of the corrupt system in this world that oppresses humanity will be something about which to rejoice! The righteous punishment of the “great harlot” means vengeance for the innocent and those who suffered persecution at the hands of the evil system leaders.
Be always ready to respond to the voice of the Spirit of God as He leads you to "come out of her and be separate." This means that we choose God's way and remain loyal to Him, forsaking sin when we see it trying to ensnare us. This departure from sin starts at our new birth in Christ and continues until our journey is completed.
Prayer: Father God, we trust in Your perfect love and Your perfect judgment. We know that You may close some doors for our benefit and open others. Show us Your perfect way. We trust Your guidance for Your Word is a light to us. We thank You that, no matter how dark the world gets around us, You are our Light and our Salvation. Help us to shine for You in this present world.