The Kings and Merchants weep over Babylon
The judgment of the harlot in this Chapter is very similar to the description given in Ezekiel 16. This judgment does not stop with the Reformation. The “ships” in verses 17-19 are the ships described in the second trumpet of Revelation 8:9; they are the false churches of today; the merchants who “make their living by the sea” (Rev 18:17), those who profit by a false gospel.
1 After these things, I saw another angel coming down out of the sky, having great authority. The earth was illuminated with his glory.
the earth was illumined with his glory – see Isaiah 6:3, and “the Moon” in Rev 12:1; this Angel is the Spirit of Christ illumined in glory, the triumphant Lamb who was victorious in Rev 17:14.
2 He cried with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and has become a habitation of demons, and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird!
fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great – see also Rev 14:8, this is a continual cry of the Angels, God’s messengers.
a dwelling place of demons – these demons began with Montanism, and Tertullian in 193. These were the demons who were cast down with Satan, to “fling truth to the ground” in Daniel 8:12.
a prison of every unclean spirit – the Church became as a man from whom an unclean spirit departed, and seven more wicked spirits entered in (Luke 11:26).
every unclean and hated bird – Daniel 4:12, and Matthew 13:32, “the birds of the air come and rest” in branches of the corrupted kingdom of heaven.
3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality, the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from the abundance of her luxury.”
all the nations have drunk the wine of her immorality – taking the cup of the Lord without discernment (1 Cor 11:27), this becomes the “wine of God’s wrath,” as in Rev 14:10.
the merchants rich – see verse 11.
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come forth, my people, out of her, that you have no participation in her sins, and that you don’t receive of her plagues,
Come out from her My people – this was understood in the Reformation as: “come out of the Catholic Church.” But we must remember Babylon is not simply the Catholic Church, it is the Great City, comprised of all those who follow the teachings of the beast.
5 for her sins have reached to the sky, and God has remembered her iniquities.
her sins have piled up as high as heaven – God cannot see any goodness at all in her.
6 Return to her just as she returned, and double to her the double according to her works. In the cup which she mixed, mix to her double.
Mix twice as much for her – the wine of her immorality will become the wine of God’s wrath for those who continue to uphold the teachings of the beast.
7However much she glorified herself, and grew wanton, so much give her of torment and mourning. For she says in her heart, ‘I sit a queen, and am no widow, and will in no way see mourning.’
torment and mourning – this is the torment that is described in Rev 14:9-12, and Rev 16:2-10, and of course the torment of the final judgment day.
I sit as a queen and I am not a widow – in great vain, the great harlot tries to assert that she is still the bride of Christ, and that she still has a husband (Christ).
8 Therefore in one day her plagues will come: death, mourning, and famine; and she will be utterly burned with fire; for the Lord God who has judged her is strong.
in one day – meaning “one thousand years,” see 2 Peter 3:8, etc.
her plagues will come – described in Rev 16:2-10.
and she will be burned up with fire – the 1,000 years, as “one day” takes us to the judgment day, as indicated by the expression “Lord God,” for God becomes our Lord again on that Day, Rev 11:15.
9 The kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived wantonly with her, will weep and wail over her, when they look at the smoke of her burning,
the kings will weep and lament – these include the 10 kings in Rev 17:12, but the meaning of “kings” goes beyond the Reformation, for we shall also see “kings” in Rev 19:18 – all those who hold positions of power and influence because of their relationship with the harlot, the false teachings of mystery Babylon.
10standing far away for the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For your judgment has come in one hour.’
standing at a distance – as indicated in Rev 17:16, they will not want anything more to do with the harlot, because they can see that God has judged her. Most of the kings, the European peoples, became a part of Protestant denominations after the Reformation.
in one hour – as discussed at Rev 17:12, the ten kings reigned with the beast for one hour of the 12 hour human clock of 6,000 years. From the time that Spain became the tenth King, the Ten Kings reigned with Beast for 500 years.
11 The merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise any more; 12 merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet, all expensive wood, every vessel of ivory, every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble; 13 and cinnamon, spices, incense, ointment, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, and sheep; and merchandise of horses and chariots and slaves; and souls of men.
the merchants of the earth weep… – there are many kinds of merchants who became rich by the false religion of Babylon; these are the merchants of salvation (2 Cor 2:17). Before the Reformation, the Church actually sold the forgiveness of sins, as “indulgences.”
because no one buys their cargo anymore – John Lothrop Motley, in his Book, “the rise of the Dutch republic” described the Reformation scene in the Netherlands:
“…pictures, statues, organs, ornaments, chalices of silver and gold, reliquaries, chasubles, copes, ciboria, crosses, chandeliers, lamps, censers, all of richest material glittering with pearls, rubies and other precious stones, were scattered in heaps of ruin upon the ground.”1
and slaves and human lives – human lives being those taken by the preachers of false gospels. The Greek reads, καὶ σωμάτων, καὶ ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων, which is more literally, “bodies and souls of men,” although later Greek uses σωμάτων to describe slaves.
14 The fruits which your soul lusted after have been lost to you, and all things that were dainty and sumptuous have perished from you, and you will find them no more at all.
the fruit you long for – the fruit they longed for was not the fruit of the Spirit, but only material gain.
15 The merchants of these things, who were made rich by her, will stand far away for the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning;16 saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls!
the merchants…stand at a distance because of fear of torment – the torment refers to the work of Angels against Mystery Babylon; the Seven Trumpets and Bowls of wrath described in Rev 8 and 16.
weeping and mourning – disappointed that they can no longer profit from the false gospel.
17 For in an hour such great riches are made desolate.’ Every shipmaster, and everyone who sails anywhere, and mariners, and as many as gain their living by sea, stood far away, 18 and cried out as they looked at the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like the great city?’
in one hour laid to waste – see verse 10.
as many as make their money by the sea – the sea being salvation throughout Revelation, especially in Rev 8:8; 15:2. These are those who made money by a false gospel.
19 They cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her great wealth!’ For in one hour is she made desolate.
ships at sea became rich by her wealth – these are also the false churches “false arks of salvation” described in Rev 8:9.
20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints, you apostles, and you prophets; for God has judged your judgment on her.”
rejoice over her – the message of victory over the beast, we see in Revelation 15:2, and Revelation 19:20.
21 A mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down, and will be found no more at all.
a great millstone and threw it into the sea – Jesus said that if anyone causes the least to stumble, it would be better that a great millstone be hung around his neck, and he be cast into the sea (Luke 17:2; Matt 18:6). Babylon is symbolically cast into the sea, because it only causes persons not to be saved.
you will not be found any longer – Chapter 18 does not only describe the Reformation period, as mentioned in the introduction. The final verses of this Chapter bring us to the final cleansing of the kingdom of heaven.
22 The voice of harpers and minstrels and flute players and trumpeters will be heard no more at all in you. No craftsman, of whatever craft, will be found any more at all in you. The sound of a mill will be heard no more at all in you.
the sound of harpists…craftsmen …are not found – there are no longer any saints in Babylon. The harpists in Revelation 14:2 are the saints who sing and speak in the Spirit; the four craftsmen of Zechariah 1:20 are the saints who defeat the work of the beast.
23 The light of a lamp will shine no more at all in you. The voice of the bridegroom and of the bride will be heard no more at all in you; for your merchants were the princes of the earth; for with your sorcery all the nations were deceived.
the light and lamp will not shine in you anymore – as in Rev 16:10, the kingdom of the beast will be completely darkened.
the voice of the bride and bridegroom will not be heard in you anymore – the progressive cleansing of the kingdom of heaven ends when the “wheat and chaff” are completely separated, as we described in Chapter 8.
24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on the earth.”
And in her was found the blood of prophets and the saints – from Rev 17:6, we read that she was drunk with the blood of the saints, not just the saints of the Reformation time, but the blood of the saints that began with Constantine’s death penalties to those who protected the writings of Arius. The bloodshed of those who would not worship the image of the beast continued until the end of the Reformation. Besides these, the Church burned thousands at the stake through the inquisitions, and in the estimation of Voltaire, was responsible for the death of 50 million persons from 325 until the 1700’s.
- J. L. Motley. “Dutch Republic.” Volume1, page 567 ↩