The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE FALL OF BABYLON Part 2
- Last week I tried to point out some of the differences between religious Babylon (17) and commercial Babylon (18).
- The first eight verses of chapter 18 describe the destruction of commercial Babylon.
- Here we see the kings of the earth will bewail her and lament for her (18:9). This is vastly different from what we see in chapter 17. There we see that the kings of the earth, under the leadership of the beast (antichrist) will conspire to destroy religious Babylon (17:16-18).
THE KINGS OF THE EARTH WILL LAMENT (18:9, 10).
- Verses 9 and 10 describe the great lamenting of the kings of the earth.
- The same kings who participated in the wickedness and wealth of Babylon will mourn her passing, as they watch the city on fire (18:8-10).
- John Walvoord says, "Their mourning is also characterized by fear lest they have the same judgment which has overcome the city, and for this reason they stand afar off. How sad is the hour of judgment when it is too late for mercy" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- These kings are not the ten kings referred to in Revelation 17:12 and16, who participated in the destruction of the harlot church.
- The lament of the kings over Babylon is emphasized by the repetition: "that great city Babylon, that mighty city" (18:10).
- In spite of its greatness and strength, it will nevertheless fall in one hour (18:10).
- Some believe that the ancient city of Babylon will be rebuilt as the capital of the world empire during the tribulation period, and that Babylon in this chapter refers to ancient Babylon rather than to Rome.
- According to Isaiah 13:19-22, Babylon was to be completely destroyed and not inhabited.
- Jeremiah 51:26 and 62 both say Babylon "shalt be desolate for ever."
- It is argued that ancient Babylon as a city was not destroyed for hundreds of years after the fall of the empire and therefore these prophecies have not been literally fulfilled.
- Ancient Babylon continued on for many years after its political downfall.
- The destruction of Babylon according to Jeremiah 51:8 was to be sudden. Revelation 18:8, 17, and 19 say Babylon will be made desolate "in one hour."
- Isaiah 13:19 says, "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah."
- The context in Isaiah 13 is the future Day of the LORD. Therefore, it is held by many that the literal city of Babylon will have to be rebuilt and then destroyed by the Lord Jesus Christ at His second coming.
- The Scofield Study Bible says, "In Isaiah the political Babylon is in view, literally as to the then existing city, and symbolically as to the times of the Gentiles. In the Revelation both the symbolical-political and symbolical-religious Babylon are in view, for there both are alike under the tyranny of the Beast. Religious Babylon is destroyed by political Babylon (Revelation 17:16); political Babylon by the appearing of the Lord (Rev. 19:19-21)...By political Babylon is meant the Gentile world-system. It may be added that, in Scripture symbolism, Egypt stands for the world as such; Babylon for the world of corrupt power and corrupted religion; Nineveh for the pride, the haughty glory of the world."
- Others identify Babylon as a symbolic name for Rome, the seat of the apostate church. Rome is the city on seven mountains (Rev. 17:9).
- Rome is described in Revelation 17:18 as "that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth."
- John Walvoord says, "It is possible that Rome might be the ecclesiastical capital and rebuilt Babylon the political and commercial capital. It is also conceivable that Rome might be the capital in the first half of the last seven years and Babylon in the second half—in the world empire phase" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- Walvoord refers to I.M. Haldeman, who held that Babylon will be rebuilt. Haldeman taught that Rome will be the political capital, and Babylon will be the commercial capital of the antichrist’s kingdom.
- It could be that after the ten kings destroy the harlot church, the antichrist will move his headquarters to a rebuilt Babylon (Iraq).
THE MERCHANTS OF THE EARTH WILL LAMENT (18:11-19).
- The financial power of Babylon is indicated in the fact that the merchants will also weep and mourn for her. Their grief is occasioned by their loss of trade (18:11).
- The idol-makers will probably cry the loudest (cf. Acts 19:23-41).
- The variety of merchandise is itemized in verses 12 and 13: "gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls," characteristic of wealth and luxury.
- Next in order are the fine fabrics used in their clothing -- "fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet," also characteristic of wealth and luxury.
- The luxury of their gold and costly apparel is matched by the rich furnishings of their homes, including "thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble..." (18:12).
- Thyine wood was a fragrant wood similar to cypress and was used for expensive furniture. Vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble symbolize the luxury and wealth of Babylon before its destruction.
- In verse 13 expensive perfumes and spices are mentioned, such as cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense. All of these could only be afforded by the very wealthy.
- Next is mentioned the abundance of foods, such as wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, as well as beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots.
- Verse 13 closes with reference to the slaves Babylon possessed in body and soul. Walvoord says, "The combined picture is one of complete abandonment to the wealth of this world and total disregard of God who gave it" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- Verse 14 reminds us how foolish it is to get attached to the things of this world.
- Proverbs 23:5 says, "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven."
- "Thou shalt find them no more at all" (Rev. 18:14b).
- Like the kings of the earth who stood afar off and watched the ascending smoke of the burning of Babylon, the merchants will also "stand afar off" (18:15).
- They will also be weeping and wailing, and crying out, “Alas, alas..." (18:16).
- All the great riches of Babylon, described again in verse 16 will be quickly brought to nothing.
- Those in ships will also stand afar off from the shore as they cry saying, “What city is like unto this great city!” (18:17).
- This reminds us of what worldlings will say about the antichrist -- "Who is like unto the beast?" (13:4).
- In expression of their grief, they will cast dust on their heads, weeping and wailing, and crying out, "Alas, alas that great city" (18:19; cf. vss. 10 & 16).
- Their mourning is for the loss of their wealth, which came from trade and commerce in Babylon. Their source of income will go up in smoke.
- There are many warnings in Scripture about the love of money, the dangers of materialism and covetousness, the accumulation of wealth, etc.
- Our Lord warned about this when He said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:19-21).
- Our Lord said in Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money)."
HEAVEN WILL REJOICE (18:20--19:6).
- In contrast to the weeping and wailing on earth, there will be great rejoicing in heaven (18:20).
- In contrast to the grief overtaking these worldly rulers and merchants, those in heaven are called upon to rejoice at the righteous judgment of God (cf. 19:1-6).
- The expression “hath avenged” refers to the righteous judgment of God upon Babylon because she has killed the saints of God (cf. 18:24).
- In verse 21, John sees a “mighty angel” throw a stone like a great millstone into the sea, picturing the violent downfall of the great city of Babylon.
- A similar prophecy is found in Jeremiah 51:61-64.
- In the prophecy in Jeremiah, Seraiah, a prince who accompanied Zedekiah into Babylon, is instructed to cast the stone into the midst of the Euphrates River.
- Here the stone is cast into the sea, not the Euphrates River, but the symbolism is the same. It represents the destruction of Babylon, which like a stone cast into the sea will be found no more.
- This final judgment of Babylon will take place at the end of the great tribulation (18:22-24). "The very silence of the city is a testimony to God’s devastating judgment" (Walvoord).
- All the nations were deceived by Babylon’s sorceries (18:23).
- Babylon, represented in chapter 17 as "the great whore" (17:1), and politically in chapter 18 as "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (18:2) will attempt to achieve its world domination by an ecumenical world religion, a world common market, and a world government.
- But these will all be utterly destroyed at the second coming of Christ (Rev. 19:11-21).
- Revelation 19 begins with these words: "And after these things (the judgment of the great whore, and the fall of Babylon) I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore..."
- This reminds us that one cannot separate the whore from the city of Babylon. You cannot separate religious Babylon from commercial Babylon (cf. 17:6; 18:24).
- J. Vernon McGee says that chapter 19 "marks a dramatic change in the tone of Revelation. The destruction of Babylon, the capital of the Beast’s kingdom, marks the end of the Great Tribulation. The somber gives way to song. The transfer is from darkness to light, from black to white, from dreary days of judgment to bright days of blessing. This chapter (19) makes a definite bifurcation in Revelation, and ushers in the greatest event for this earth— the Second Coming of Christ. It is the bridge between the Great Tribulation and the Millennium" (Reveling Through Revelation).
- A few weeks ago, it was reported that the pope's butler was arrested and is locked up in a 12 ft by 12 ft prison cell deep within the Vatican.
- Hundreds of confidential documents, some of them stolen from the desk of the Pope himself, were stolen and smuggled out of the Vatican, and then they were handed over to an Italian journalist, who published them in his book: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI.
- This is just one of the strange things that have been happening in the very secretive Vatican. I read an interesting article recently: "Catholic Church Fears Growing Vatican Bank Scandal" by Andreas Wassermann and Peter Wensierski.
- The article says a new scandal threatens to engulf the Roman Catholic Church and this time the focus is on money, not homosexual priest scandals.
- Senior Vatican officials are concerned that investigations of their illegal bank transactions could harm the Church's image.
- On June 5, Italian military police arrested Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, a confidant of the pope, who had recently been fired as the head of the Vatican bank.
- In one of his memos, discovered by the police, he wrote: "I've seen things in the Vatican that scare me."
- Police also found a
secret dossier. This secret
dossier includes references to anonymous numbered accounts and questionable
transactions as well as written and electronic communications reportedly
showing how Catholic Church banking officials circumvented European
regulations aimed at combating money-laundering.
police have known for years that the Vatican bank is basically a trust company
that is used by the Mafia for money
- The Vatican
leadership is alarmed that Italian officials are now rummaging around in their
secret affairs. Papal spokesman Federico Lombardi has openly threatened
Italy's law-enforcement apparatus and urged it to kindly respect "the
sovereign rights of the Holy See."
- In other words, the pope
and his fellow priests believe that all those documents including confidential
details about the Vatican bank that were seized during the search of Gotti
Tedeschi's home office should not be in the hands of Italian
- The article says, "The
fears of the pope and the Curia are well-founded. In the past, every time
Italian prosecutors have stepped in and confidential documents have found
their way to light, the secretive ways of the Vatican bank have always ended
up damaging the Church's prestige. For more than 40 years, the IOR (official
name of the Vatican Bank), founded in 1942, has been regularly embroiled in
scandals, including bribery money for political parties, Mafia
money-laundering and, repeatedly, anonymous accounts. Many who have become ensnarled in
illegal business dealings with the Vatican bank have been forced to pay with
their lives, while others have spent years behind bars. Despite all of its
sacred and solemn promises, the Vatican has succeeded in keeping the pope's
bank a haven for money launderers...Its business model depends on keeping
things as shrouded as possible from all financial authorities. Capital gains are untaxed, financial
statements are not disclosed and anonymity is guaranteed. The bank's exotic
status of belonging to a religious monarchy in a sovereign state the size of a
city park has shielded it from investigations and unpleasant external
- This is why Revelation
18:2 refers to Babylon as "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul
spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful
- The article says, "The
Vatican has yet to divulge the business practices its bank has been using for
decades...Such things could include a complex system of ghost accounts and
shell companies like the bank had when Archbishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus was
its head in the 1980s."
the time, the bank did business involving foreign currency and weapons with
the Milanese banker Robert Calvi and the Mafia financier Michele Sidona -- and
helped launder illegal proceeds the Mafia earned from drug trafficking
as well as bribes paid to Italian politicians.
- In the end, Calvi was
found hanging from London's Blackfriars Bridge, and his private secretary fell
to her death from the window of his Banco Ambrosiano. Four years later, in
1986, Sidona died in prison after drinking a morning espresso laced with
- Under Monsignor Angelo
Caloia, Marcinkus' successor as head of the bank, the Vatican consistently
expanded its money-laundering activities. While he was in charge, there were
secret accounts such as that for Giulio Andreotti, the controversial former
Italian prime minister.
- On an almost weekly
basis, Caloia would bring suitcases into the Vatican full of donations from
Italian companies in the form of cash and securities. There, the origin of the
money would be obscured using accounts owned by nonexistent relief
organizations, masking the identity of their true
- In 2009, the same year
that Gotti Tedeschi took over as president of the Vatican Bank, he set up an
account with the Milan-based branch of the American bank JP Morgan Chase. From
that point on, millions started flowing on an almost daily basis from JP
Morgan's Milan office to the one in Frankfurt, Germany where the Vatican Bank
also had a JP Morgan account.
- Italian investigators
suspect that this account was used to launder funds from dubious sources. In 2010, federal prosecutors in Rome
had the funds frozen. Then they launched investigations against Gotti Tedeschi
and Paolo Cipriani, the IOR's general director, on suspicion of having
violated anti-money-laundering regulations.
- Alarmed by the Italian
investigations, JP Morgan executives started asking Vatican officials where
the money that had been regularly flowing through the Milan account was
actually coming from. But since they didn't get any satisfactory answers, the
bank then started monitoring its transactions for clues that might point to
- This year, JP Morgan
closed the IOR's transfer account in Milan.