The Fall of Babylon

I. The information in Revelation is built around seven “Disclosures.”

A. Revelation 2 and 3 – Letters to the Seven Churches

B. Revelation 4 through 6 – The Throne Room and the Seven-Sealed Book

C. Revelation 7:1-8 – The sealing of the 144,000

D. Revelation 7:9 through 15:4 – Introduces the 42-month period

1. The Seven Trumpets

2. The Two Witnesses

3. The Protected Woman

4. The 7-Headed, 10-Horned Red Dragon

5. The Two-Horned Beast who looked like a Lamb but spoke like the dragon

6. The role of the 144,000

7. Seven announcements from Angels – reaping and judging the Earth

E. Revelation 15:5 through 17:18

1. The Temple in Heaven opened

2. The Seven Plagues poured out on Earth

a. The 3 Frog-like demons who deceive the nations
b. The gathering of the nations at Armageddon
c. The cry, “It is done!” and the great earthquake

3. The Great Harlot – the “Mystery” queen who revels with the leaders of Earth

4. Identifying the 7 “Heads” as “Kings” and the 10 “Horns” as “Kings”      

F. Revelation 18 – The destruction of Babylon

1. The “reading” of the sins of Babylon

2. The cry: “Come out of her my people” (Rapture?)

3. The “reading” of the sentence of judgment (double for all past sins)

4. The groaning of those who had made profit off Babylon

5. The destruction in “one hour” as the judgment is carried out

G. Revelation 19 through 22

1. The celebration of God’s judgment on Babylon and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb

2. The King returns with the armies of heaven to battle the beast and the kings of the earth.

3. The Beast and the False Prophet and their followers are cast alive into the Lake of Fire that burns with brimstone.  All others are killed.

4. The Devil is bound for 1,000 years – to be loosed later for a “little season”.

5. The First Resurrection occurs – those resurrected rule with Christ 1,000 years.

6. The Great White Throne judgment is revealed.

7. The New Heavens, New Earth and New Jerusalem are described.

II. The Fall of Babylon is both physical and spiritual.

A. Bible commentators have often identified “Two Babylons”.

1. There is a political Babylon and a spiritual Babylon. 

2. Revelation 17 describes an age-long “system” of worship. 

3. Revelation 18 speaks of a city, a place that the kings, merchants, and sea captains have visited and mourn when it is destroyed.

B. Isaiah 13:19-22 projects utter destruction.

1. Isaiah 13:1 – “The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.”

2. Isaiah 13:9-11 – “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”

3. Isaiah 13:13 – “Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.”

4. Isaiah 13:19-22 – “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.”

C. Jeremiah 50 and 51 (written 150 years later) repeat the same theme.

1. Jeremiah 50:3 – “And none shall dwell therein…”

2. Jeremiah 50:13 – “It shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate…”

3. Jeremiah 50:39-40 – “It shall be no more inhabited for ever, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.”

4. Jeremiah 51:37 – “And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.”

5. Jeremiah 51:43 – “Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby.”

D. The fulfillment of these events has been applied to a destruction that took place around 540 B.C. under the takeover by the Medes (Isaiah 13:17; Daniel 5:30-31). 

1. However, Babylon continued to be an important point of commerce well past the time of Christ – and began being rebuilt as a tourist and conference center by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

a. From the website of Iraq – posted 1986 -- www.culture-iraq.com/pages/babylon.html
1) As the product of fifteen centuries of human toil and endeavour, Babylon belongs to all people and to all nations. Visitors from all over the world are anxious that something should be done to further the restorations and reconstruction of Babylon’s principal buildings, so that the city's former grandeur may be better appreciated. It is appropriate, we feel, that all countries should assist in this work, not only in recognition of Babylon’s great place in history, but also in recognition of her great cultural importance for everyone.

2. Babylon continued in prominence until a time near Alexander the Great (330 B.C.).

3. Alexander decided, just before his death in 323 B.C., to make it the capital of his new "Greek" empire and to refurbish it.

4. Ancient Babylon had by degrees come to an end—some 750 years after the time of Jeremiah.

5. History indicates that the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah which spoke about its sudden and violent overthrow have not yet occurred.

6. Evidently, another political and commercial rise of Babylon is still to come but will be utterly and totally destroyed by the judgment of the Court of Eternity.

III. The Fall of “Babylon the Great” is now described in detail (18:1-24).

A. An angel with “great authority” announces the destruction of Babylon (18:1-3).

1. The angel “lighting up the earth with his glory” (could be another picture of the Lord Jesus Christ).

2. The Saints are ordered to “come out of her” (18:4). 

a. This may well be the “rapture.”
b. 1 Corinthians 15:52 – “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump”
c. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

B. The description of Babylon’s sin is enumerated (18:5-7).

1. She has been immoral (spiritually) with the “kings of earth”.

2. She glorified herself and lived sensually and arrogantly.

C. The various elements of Earth’s population mourn her downfall (18:9-19).

1. The kings weep when they see her fall so suddenly.

2. The merchants cry because they will lose their markets for the finest things of earth’s wealth.

3. The sea captains and sailors lament the terrible destruction and their loss of fees for their traffic.

D. The fall of Babylon is Sudden.

1. The “mighty angel” illustrated the suddenness of Babylon’s fall by casting a millstone into the sea while announcing the finality of her judgment and destruction (18:21).

a. It is in “one day” (18:8).
b. It is in “one hour” (18:10, 17).
c. It is “cast down” (18:21).

2. The fall of Babylon is Violent (18:8, 18).

a. It is from great power (18:10, 11, and 17).
b. It is from great wealth (18:9-19).
c. It is from great sin (18:4-5, 24).

3. The fall of Babylon is Final (18:22-23).

a. It describes the finality of judgment (18:5).
b. It delivers her “reward” (18:6).
c. It defines her self-deception (18:7).
d. It declares the public nature of the destruction (18:8-19).

E. There are several challenges to the interpretation of this passage.

1. This appears to be a separate “disclosure” – “after these things I saw…”

a. All others begin with a praise ceremony and conclude with an “end”.
b. This contains a “rejoice” portion (18:20), but no clear ceremony.

2. This detail appears to be specific insight about the announcement made in 14:8 – “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city…” 

a. The announcement in chapter 14 is one of a series ending with the reaping of the earth.
b. If this is “another” fall, it has no precedent in any theological system.

3. This may be at the beginning of the 1,000 years (chapter 20).

a. That would seem to contradict the total destruction of the earthquake that brings about the fall.
b. That would agree with a premillennial rapture, but would place the rapture at the end of the tribulation.

4. This may be at the end of the 1,000 years.

a. That would solve the contextual problems of the sequence.
b. That presents the problem of a postmillennial rapture.

5. This does appear to satisfy the prophecies of Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 50-51.

a. Both OT sections tie the destruction of Babylon to an “end.”
b. Both OT sections insist that there is no future Babylon to rise later.

6. This may take place at the beginning of Satan’s “little season” release.

a. The evil spirits need time to “deceive” the kings of the nations.
b. The nations need time to assemble at Armageddon.
c. The hostility and anger of Earth’s leaders would be adequate motivation.

7. This set of interpretive problems can only be resolved by systematic theology.

a. If Dispensational Premillennial, then Revelation is sequential and Babylon is destroyed at the end of the 7-year tribulation.
b. If Amillennial, the Revelation contains parallel information and Babylon is a metaphor for the evil world, destroyed at the 2nd coming – at the end of the universe.
c. If Preterite (Historical), the Revelation is already fulfilled in history, now awaiting the 2nd coming of Christ.
d. If Postmillennial, the Revelation focuses on the end of time, with “the great tribulation” ending with the destruction of Babylon and the initiation of the New Heavens and the New Earth.
e. Note:  There are variations on all of these themes.  And all of the “systems” have problems and use presuppositional assumptions to “prove” the various points within the system.  The Apostles of old were incorrectly influenced by the majority opinion of the conservative rabbi of their day, and could not “get” the idea of a suffering Saviour, until they saw Him resurrected.  The study of Prophecy is both important and difficult.  We need to be sure that we search “the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11
Series: 
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Lesson: 
#10
Book: 
Revelation
Verses: 
ch 18

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