1After these things I saw another angel coming down from Heaven, having great power, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.2And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every unclean spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!3For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her sexual perversities, the kings of the earth have prostituted themselves with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the power of her luxury.4And I heard another voice from Heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, so that you not share in her sins, and so that you not receive of her plagues.5For her sins have reached to Heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.6Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her.7By however much she has glorified herself and lived luxuriously, by the same amount give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.8Therefore her plagues will come in one day; death and mourning and famine. And she will be consumed with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.9The kings of the earth who prostituted themselves and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning,10standing at a distance because of the terror of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.11And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore:12merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of thyine wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble;13and cinnamon and incense, ointment and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, beasts and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.14And the fruit that your soul lusted for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all.15The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance because of the terror of her torment, weeping and wailing,16and saying, Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!17For in one hour such great riches is come to nothing. Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance18and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What is like this great city?19And they threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.20Rejoice over her, O Heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!21Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall by no means be found anymore.22The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall by no means be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall ever be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall by no means be heard in you anymore.23And the light of a lamp shall not ever shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not ever be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were led astray.24And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.
Matthew Henry - Complete Commentary 1
The downfall and destruction of Babylon form an event so fully determined in the counsels of God, and of such consequence to his interests and glory, that the visions and predictions concerning it are repeated. 1. Here is another angel sent from heaven, attended with great power and lustre, Revel 18:1
. 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. 2. This angel publishes the fall of Babylon, as a thing already come to pass; and this he does with a mighty strong voice, that all might hear the cry, and might see how well this angel was pleased to be the messenger of such tidings. Here seems to be an allusion to the prediction of the fall of pagan Babylon (Isa 21:9
), where the word is repeated as it is here: has fallen, has fallen.
Some have thought a double fall is hereby intended, first her apostasy, and then her ruin; and they think the words immediately following favour their opinion; She has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird, Revel 18:2
. But this is also borrowed from Isa 21:9
, and seems to describe not so much her sin of entertaining idols (which are truly called devils
) as her punishment, it being a common notion that unclean spirits, as well as ominous and hateful birds, used to haunt a city or house that lay in its ruins. 3. The reason of this ruin is declared (Revel 18:3
); for, though God is not obliged to give any account of his matters, yet he is pleased to do so, especially in those dispensations of providence that are most awful and tremendous. The wickedness of Babylon had been very great; for she had not only forsaken the true God herself, and set up idols, but had with great art and industry drawn all sorts of men into the spiritual adultery, and by her wealth and luxury had retained them in her interest. 4. Fair warning is given to all that expect mercy from God, that they should not only come out of her,
but be assisting in her destruction, Revel 18:4
, Revel 18:5
. Here observe, (1.) God may have a people even in Babylon, some who belong to the election of grace. (2.) God's people shall be called out of Babylon, and called effectually. (3.) Those that are resolved to partake with wicked men in their sins must receive of their plagues. (4.) When the sins of a people reach up to heaven, the wrath of God will reach down to the earth. (5.) Though private revenge is forbidden, yet God will have his people act under him, when called to it, in pulling down his and their inveterate and implacable enemies, Revel 18:6
. (6.) God will proportion the punishment of sinners to the measure of their wickedness, pride, and security, Revel 18:7
. (7.) When destruction comes on a people suddenly, the surprise is a great aggravation of their misery, Revel 18:8
Here we have,
I. A doleful lamentation made by Babylon's friends for her fall; and here observe,
1. Who are the mourners, namely, those who had been bewitched by her fornication, those who had been sharers in her sensual pleasures, and those who had been gainers by her wealth and trade - the kings and the merchants of the earth: the kings of the earth,
whom she had flattered into idolatry by allowing them to be arbitrary and tyrannical over their subjects, while they were obsequious to her; and the merchants,
that is, those who trafficked with her for indulgences, pardons, dispensations, and preferments; these will mourn, because by this craft they got their wealth.
2. What was the manner of their mourning. (1.) They stood afar off, they durst not come nigh her. Even Babylon's friends will stand at a distance from her fall. Though they had been partakers with her in her sins, and in her sinful pleasures and profits, they were not willing to bear a share in her plagues. (2.) They made a grievous outcry: Alas! alas! that great city, Babylon, that mighty city!
(3.) They wept, and cast dust upon their heads, Revel 18:19
. The pleasures of sin are but for a season, and they will end in dismal sorrow. All those who rejoice in the success of the church's enemies will share with them in their downfall; and those who have most indulged themselves in pride and pleasure are the least able to bear calamities; their sorrows will be as excessive as their pleasure and jollity were before.
3. What was the cause of their mourning; not their sin, but their punishment. They did not lament their fall into idolatry, and luxury, and persecution, but their fall into ruin - the loss of their traffic and of their wealth and power. The spirit of antichrist is a worldly spirit, and their sorrow is a mere worldly sorrow; they did not lament for the anger of God, that had now fallen upon them, but for the loss of their outward comfort. We have a large schedule and inventory of the wealth and merchandise of this city, all which was suddenly lost (Revel 18:12
, Revel 18:13
), and lost irrecoverably (Revel 18:14
): All things which were dainty and goodly have departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
The church of God may fall for a time, but she shall rise again; but the fall of Babylon will be an utter overthrow, like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Godly sorrow is some support under affliction, but mere worldly sorrow adds to the calamity.
II. An account of the joy and triumph there was both in heaven and earth at the irrecoverable fall of Babylon: while her own people were bewailing her, the servants of God were called to rejoice over her, Revel 18:20
. Here observe, 1. How universal this joy would be: heaven and earth, angels and saints, would join in it; that which is matter of rejoicing to the servants of God in this world is matter of rejoicing to the angels in heaven. 2. How just and reasonable; and that, (1.) Because the fall of Babylon was an act of God's vindictive justice. God was then avenging his people's cause. They had committed their cause to him to whom vengeance belongs,
and now the year of recompence had come for the controversies of Zion; and, though they did not take pleasure in the miseries of any, yet they had reason to rejoice in the discoveries of the glorious justice of God. (2.) Because it was an irrecoverable ruin. This enemy should never molest them any more, and of this they were assured by a remarkable token (Revel 18:21
): An angel
from heaven took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus shall Babylon be thrown down with violence, and be found no more at all;
the place shall be no longer habitable by man, no work shall be done there, no comfort enjoyed, no light seen there, but utter darkness and desolation, as the reward of her great wickedness, first in deceiving the nations with her sorceries,
and secondly in destroying and murdering those whom she could not deceive, Revel 18:24
. Such abominable sins deserved so great a ruin.