Title: THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON
Text: Revelation 18:1-24
Never before on the face of the earth has there been an affinity to a city like there will to Babylon in the last days. Never before has the earth witnessed a sudden and complete destruction of a city like will fall upon Babylon.
As we look at this chapter, keep in mind that John writes from the standpoint that Babylon is a city that has unmatched political and economic power. It is a city because of the literal destruction described. It is political because she made all the nations/kings of the earth drink the wine of her immorality (17:1-2). She is economic because everyone depends upon her for commerce. Ever since the Babylon of the Old Testament the name has represented man’s rebellion against God.
There are four important vocal announcements in this chapter: The voice of condemnation (18:1-3), the voice of separation, (18:4-8), the voice of lamentation (18:9-19), and the voice of celebration (18:20-24). Read Text.
1. The angel in verse 1 seems to be different than any other angel we have seen in the book of Revelation. He has great authority and the earth was illuminated with his glory. Any guesses on who this might be? (Jesus.) Jn. 5:26 –27
Insight: From this glorious being come words with tremendous power, for the words actually bring about what he describes. We know Someone who spoke with such power: “Let there be light…Peace, be still…Lazarus, come forth!”
2. Looking back in our study of Revelation, how long have we been waiting for the fall of Babylon? (Ever since the middle of the tribulation when the Antichrist came forth and set up his kingdom, including Babylon. 14:8)
3. Pay particular attention to the inhabitants of Babylon, for it is her citizens that receive the same judgment that God executes upon her. Who dwells there? (Satan, demons, unclean & hateful birds.) Why does this angel make reference to unclean, hateful birds dwelling there? (Because Jesus referred to Satan that way.) Matt. 13:3-4, 18-19
4. What is the reason for the judgment upon Babylon? (Because she has intoxicated rulers of the earth with the wine of her immorality.) 18:3 Who caters to Babylon? (All those who want to become wealthy by her sensuality.)
Insight: Like the corruption of the Great Harlot, the kings of the earth have been in bed with Babylon for immoral financial gain. Prostitution always has been a big moneymaking industry, and it always has been an intoxicator of those who drink from those wells. Man never has left the bed of the prostitute until he is caught in the act and exposed…such will be the case in that final day! 17:1-2, 5; Jer. 51:7, 34-35; Prov. 23:1-3
5. How easy is it to become intoxicated with the things of the world? What can we do to make sure we don’t fall into the trap of sensuality that Babylon has to offer? 1 Jn. 2:15-17
Insight: There is a clear warning here to train our souls to be sensitive to the things of God, rather than the pleasures of this world. Taking pleasure in the things of this world is like drinking alcohol: first a sip, then we soon find ourselves drinking deeply and wanting more. Satan has been using such subtle influence a long time to numb the senses of God’s children. Only when we put calluses on our knees and frequently open the Word will we be alert to the first signs of this subtle destruction. Think not that her seduction won’t be a temptation to you…she intoxicates even the kings of the earth!
6. What is the advice from Heaven to God’s people concerning Babylon, and why? (Get out of Dodge because it’s coming down!) Jer. 51:6-10, 45-50; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1
Insight: This warning is for two reasons: to avoid partaking in her sin, and to be spared the terrible destruction God will bring upon her.
7. What do you think verse 18:5 means? Ezra 9:6
8. Specifically what sins is God going to punish Babylon for? (Influencing the nations into idolatry, pride, worship of pleasures & luxury.) What do you think it means in verse 7 when Babylon views herself as a queen? (She saw herself as a queen who could never be dethroned, and was immune to punishment.) Isa. 47:1, 7-11
9. Should God’s people take their time about coming out of Babylon to be separate from her? (No, because her judgment will come in one day, & in one hour.) 18:8, 10; Jer. 50:31, 34
10. Verses 9-19 describe the mourning of the merchants as they see Babylon go up in smoke. Why do they weep? (They became wealthy from her, so there goes their profit line; the market disappeared. 18:11, 19)
Insight: With our complex connections between countries/businesses all over the world connected by the computer and the stock market, it would not take long for our economic system to come tumbling down. We live in a day when the whole world’s economic system could literally be destroyed in one hour.
11. Take a deeper look at their weeping. They are not feeling sorry for Babylon, but for something else. What is it? (For themselves, because they lost their valuable customer and their wealth. 18:11, 19) John gives an inventory of some of the commodities that brought them wealth. What are they? (18:12-13)
Insight: Notice that Babylon takes advantage of man’s appetites and enslaves them by depending upon her to buy their goods. Notice the last thing on the list of commodities: slaves, human lives. Even today we are enslaved to luxury – we have more bills to pay than we have means to pay them. We must be careful here and break away from being slaves of the lender or we, too, will find ourselves weeping because we became slaves of her trap!
12. In contrast to the lamenting on earth, what is happening in Heaven? Is this rejoicing over a fallen enemy or vindication of God’s servants, or both?
13. By what means will Babylon fall according to verse 21? (Violence.) How complete will her destruction be? (She will not be found any longer.) What do you think is meant by verses 18:22-23? (Because both necessities and luxuries are destroyed, music, manufacturing, work and weddings will come to an end.) Isa. 24:6-12; Jer. 7:34; 16:9; Ezek. 26:13
Insight: Such a high price to pay from being deceived by her sorcery. The worship of anything but the Lord has always left a path of destruction. Make sure the flame of your passion for the Lord is never cooled by affection for something else.
14. Why is it appropriate to end the chapter the way it does in verse 24? 16:4-7; 17:5-6
Insight: Throughout the Tribulation Satan’s evil team has spilt the blood of God’s people. After all has been destroyed “and she was found no longer,” all that remained was the precious blood of the prophets and saints. All God wanted to remain behind was the reminder of why her judgment came.
The bottom line question of this hour is: Are you a citizen of Babylon or Heaven? If you are a citizen whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, you can rejoice. If not, this chapter stands as a strong warning to get out of Babylon and into the family of God!