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III. The Book of Revelation. R. Judgment on Babylon, cont. 1. The glory of the Lord is revealed in judgment: “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. 2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!’” (18:1-2). a. God is glorified as much in administering justice as He is in mercy. b. Here the angel comes clothed with the glory of the Lord to announce that God has avenged Himself on Babylon/Jerusalem. 2. Why was Jerusalem destroyed? “She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality’” (vv. 2-3). a. The great city has become full of idolatry. (i) Jerusalem rejected their Messiah and as they denounced Him, owned Caesar (the beast; John 19:15). (ii) They are those who worshiped the beast, his image, and received the number of his name on their right hands or foreheads, “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:16-17; the mark representing submission). (iii) Remember how the Lord represented Israel after His ministry among them had been completed, “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation” (Matt. 12:43-45). b. She has influenced all the nations, the kings of the land, and the merchants with her idolatry. (i) “And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality” (14:8).
2 (ii) “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality’” (17:1-2). (iii) In chapter 17, we saw her widespread presence and influence throughout the Roman Empire, “The Roman-Hellenistic period is characterized by an increase in the number of Jews throughout the civilized world. Hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in Babylon, Syria, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Egypt, Cyreaica, the Dodecanese Islands, Greece and Italy. Their number grew from generation to generation by the combined effect of natural increase, migration from Palestine and conversions to Judaism, which reached record proportions during the generation preceding the destruction of the Temple” (Bass, 376). c. Since she spread idolatry instead of faithfulness, the Lord is bringing judgment against her. (i) They rejected the Lord (broke their covenant with Him) and so the Lord is putting away the unfaithful harlot (and that only after centuries of calling her back to faithfulness). (ii) The language used to describe Jerusalem (its name, Babylon, its characteristics, and its judgments) are very reminiscent of historic Babylon, “Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs. And one said, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground’” (Isaiah 21:9). (iii) She has become like historic Babylon (idolaters, persecutors of His people), and now she will receive Babylon’s judgment. 3. The Lord warns His church to flee from her to escape her judgment. “4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (vv. 4-5). a. Remember that the Lord had earlier warned His disciples to get out of the city when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by her enemies. (i) “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-22). (ii) Those who were ready and watching escaped. b. This is what the Lord told His people to do before He judged historic Babylon.
3 (i) “We applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed; forsake her and let us each go to his own country, for her judgment has reached to heaven and towers up to the very skies” (Jer. 51:9). (ii) “Come forth from her midst, My people, and each of you save yourselves from the fierce anger of the LORD” (v. 45). c. Her sins have reached the Lord in heaven (figurative speech; cf. Gen. 18:2021; Sodom and Gomorrah): He has remembered her sins in judgment against her. 4. The Lord deals out a double recompense, showing the seriousness of her sins. “Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her” (v. 6). a. Justice requires that the punishment answers the crime. (i) If a man stole an animal, he was not only to give the animal back, but another animal of the same kind so that he would feel the same loss (Ex. 22:4). (ii) If he slaughtered or sold the animal, so that he could no longer return the original animal, restitution would increase to several times as much (v. 1). (iii) The more serious the crime, the more serious the punishment. b. Jerusalem’s sins are serious enough to warrant double retribution. (i) This is what the Lord dealt her during the time of her exile, “I will first doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable idols and with their abominations” (Jer. 16:18). (ii) He would now do so again. 5. Her refusal to acknowledge her crimes only increased her judgment. “To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I SIT AS A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.’ 8 For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong” (vv. 7-8). a. She shows again that she has the heart of historic Babylon. “‘Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans! For you shall no longer be called tender and delicate. Take the millstones and grind meal. Remove your veil, strip off the skirt, uncover the leg, cross the rivers. Your nakedness will be uncovered, your shame also will be exposed; I will take vengeance and will not spare a man.’ Our Redeemer, the LORD of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel. ‘Sit silently, and go into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans, for you will no longer be called the queen of kingdoms. I was angry with My people, I profaned My heritage and gave them into your hand.
4 You did not show mercy to them, on the aged you made your yoke very heavy. Yet you said, “I will be a queen forever.” These things you did not consider nor remember the outcome of them. Now, then, hear this, you sensual one, who dwells securely, who says in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me. I will not sit as a widow, nor know loss of children.” But these two things will come on you suddenly in one day: Loss of children and widowhood. They will come on you in full measure in spite of your many sorceries, in spite of the great power of your spells” (Isa. 47:1-9). b. Jerusalem denied her sins and thought she would not be judged. But the Lord would make her a widow, as He had done during the exile, “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a forced laborer!” (Lam. 1:1). c. Her judgment would also be sudden. (i) “In one day her plagues will come” (v. 8). (ii) She will be burned with fire, the punishment of harlotry for the priest’s daughter, “Also the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by harlotry, she profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire” (Lev. 21:9). 6. The destruction of Jerusalem would bring great mourning. a. The kings of the land will weep, “9 And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come’” (vv. 9-10). (i) The leaders surrounding Jerusalem, who depended on Jerusalem for their wealth, will mourn when they see the judgment on the great city. (ii) “Many nations will pass by this city; and they will say to one another, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this great city?’ (Jer. 22:8). b. The merchants of the earth will weep, “11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more – 12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, 13 and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. 14 The fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them. 15 "The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, 16 saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and
5 adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; 17 for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’” (vv. 11-17). (i) They will weep when they see their source of wealth gone. (ii) Note the reference to the city dressed in the priestly clothing as we saw in 17:4. c. The shipmaster, passengers and sailors will weep, “And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, 18 and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’ 19 And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’” (vv. 17-19). Many came to Jerusalem for the feasts; a great deal of trading was done by ship. All this was lost in Jerusalem’s fall. 7. But while these weep, the saints are called on to rejoice, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her” (v. 20). a. The martyrs were crying out for vengeance, “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also” (Rev. 6:9-11). b. The time of that judgment has now come (Matt. 23:34-36). 8. God’s judgment against Jerusalem would be swift and final, “Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer. 22 And the sound of harpists and musicians and fluteplayers and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; 23 and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery” (vv. 21-23). a. She will not be found in the sense that her devastation was great, “Now, as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other such work to be done) Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is,
6 Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne, and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison; as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind” (Wars, 7.1.1). b. And she will not be found in the sense that she would no longer be the bride of Jehovah and the light of the nations. Jerusalem the city was rebuilt, but as the people of God, she was replaced with another bride, the New Jerusalem. 9. She persecuted and killed the Lord’s people, and now the Lord has required their blood from her hands, “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (v. 24; cf. Matt. 23:3436). a. Jerusalem is charged over and over again in the book with the murder of the saints. (i) “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” (Rev. 6:9-10). (ii) “And I heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it’” (Rev. 16:5-6). (iii) “And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly” (17:6). (iv) “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her” (18:20). (v) “After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; 2 because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of his bond-servants on her’” (19:1-2). b. She rejected and killed Jesus Christ; she persecuted His prophets and apostles; now she bears the judgment for their blood.
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