Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Revelation 17:17-18:20
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 17:17, 18
Verse 17: At this point God turns the empire’s fury against its own capital. The evil which has been generated from this place demands that it be punished severely. The numbers of believers martyred in this location or elsewhere because of this city’s influence causes John to describe it as “drunk with the blood of the saints... and with the witnesses of Jesus” (Rev 17:6). One would expect that the nations who had sent their armies to fight with the Antichrist against Israel would disperse and head home after the horrific defeat at Armageddon, but that is not what happens. Instead, God will cause the leaders of these nations to continue to follow the Antichrist and to fight. And most amazing of all, they will be willing to follow him in an attack on the capital city of their empire. As we’ve seen (v 16), they will not only conquer it, they will savagely destroy it. Verse 18: This short verse holds an important key to the meaning of chapters 17 and 18. It identifies the harlot “Babylon the Great,” as the capital city of the Antichrist’s empire. The angel says, “The woman whom you saw is the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.”

Revelation 18:1, 2
Verse 1: John received the revelations of chapter 17 from “one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls” (17:1), but now another angel appears who is described as “having great authority and the earth is illumined with his glory.” The emphasis on his authority and abundant glory mean this must at least be an archangel, but to my mind it is more likely that it is Christ Himself. In an earlier passage (Rev 10:1-3) John also saw someone he called an “angel” but whose description was so exalted it seems to properly apply only to the Son of God. Likewise this glorious “angel” who is about to announce Babylon’s destruction may again be an appearance of Christ. Verse 2: With a mighty voice the angel announces the fall of Babylon quoting directly from the prophet Isaiah (Isa 21:9). It is significant to note that Isaiah predicted a level of destruction for Babylon which has never yet occurred. The Babylonian empire under Belshazzar fell in a night to Darius the Mede (Da 5:30, 31) on October 12, 539 B.C. (Ryrie, footnote on Daniel 5:31), but the utter ruin of the city and it’s ruler which is described by Isaiah (Isa 13:1-22; 14:4-23) and Jeremiah (Jer 50, 51) has not yet taken place.

Revelation 18:2, 3
Verse 2 (continued): As we read these ancient prophecies from Isaiah and Jeremiah we realize they must be pointing to an event still in the future. As John listens, this glorious angel tells him the moment of fulfillment has at last arrived. With a loud voice he cries out, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great” (Isa 21:9) and then pictures it as a lifeless set of ruins haunted by demons and occupied only by wild animals like owls and ravens who make their nests in its crumbling walls (Isa 13:21, 22; 34:11-15). Verse 3: The angel then tells John why God will bring such destruction. As the center of a world-wide empire this city has spread corruption to “all the nations.” From this place has flowed a hideous religion bringing eternal destruction upon billions of people. And this place has been the center of an economy which richly rewarded those willing to worship the Antichrist and excluded any who remained loyal to God (Rev 13:15-17). Like a prostitute this city lured the hearts of people away from God and caused them to commit acts of spiritual immorality (lit.: “fornication”).

Revelation 18:4
Verse 4: In the middle of this vision of the destruction of the Antichrist’s capital city John hears a voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plaguesЙ.” The voice obviously belongs to God and while His words are first of all addressed to believers living in the final days of tribulation, they apply just as certainly to believers living in any generation. The message is clear: “Here is where the world system ends upЙ hostile to God and justly punished for its evil deeds, so don’t live by the standards of the world around you or you’ll receive the same judgment.” Believers should separate themselves from the world so they aren’t judged along with it. Regardless of the persecution which may result, they must stay loyal to Christ.

Revelation 18:5, 6
Verse 5: The sins of individuals and societies are noted and recorded by God, and apparently there are certain thresholds where these sins, if they accumulate to such a point, require God to act (Ge 15:16). The statement He makes in this verse declares that such a threshold has been crossed. In fact, the record of its sins “have pile up as high as heaven” so its judgment will be equally severe (Jer 51:9). Verse 6: This city has mercilessly slaughtered God’s people so now God will mercilessly destroy it, and ironically He will do so using its own armies (Rev 17:16-18). The Antichrist will lead his troops to “make her desolate and nakedЙ” and they will “eat her flesh and burn her up with fire” (Rev 17:16). Its judgment will be “double” because it will receive not only physical suffering but also the eternal judgment of God which He will pronounce at His “great white throne” (Rev 20:11, 12).

Revelation 18:7-19
Verses 7, 8: As horrifying as the judgment of this city will be, it will receive only what it justly deserves. Since it has been merciless toward God’s people, it will receive justice without mercy. The angel’s warning includes a quote from Isaiah which pictures Babylon as a self-confident queen who imagines her kingdom to be so powerful no one can conquer it (Isa 47:7-11). But just as Isaiah prophesied (Isa 47:9) when God acts Babylon will have no power to resist. It won’t even require a prolonged battle, instead the city will fall in a day. Verses 9-19: The destruction of the Antichrist’s government will cause great sorrow and fear in the rest of the world because every aspect of the empire will be centralized under the control of one man. Around the world those who have political power will have gained it by worshipping the Antichrist and totally cooperating with his agenda. Those merchants who thrive economically will have done the same things. And for a season all who receive his mark (Rev 13:16, 17) will experience order and prosperity.

Revelation 18:9-20
Verses 9-19 (continued): When the center of the empire’s government and economy falls the rest of the world’s political and economic systems suffer as well. This is why the kings and merchants weep over Babylon’s fall. Though their leader was the incarnation of Satan himself, he gave them a luxurious lifestyle. However, they may also be weeping because they sense a foreboding that their own destruction is fast approaching. After all, this is a generation which stubbornly refused to repent in the face of many miraculous warnings sent by God. Verse 20: The glorious “angel” who announced Babylon’s fall (vs 2, 3) now commands all of God’s people to rejoice because a great enemy has been destroyed. The tribulation of believers has ended and the justice due them has come. He specifically commands “saints,” which would include all of God’s people from every age of history, but then he also addresses “apostles and prophets,” which includes those men and women from the old and new covenants who most directly suffered for their faith. The Lord’s victory at Armageddon (Rev 16:16-21) and His destruction of the city called Babylon (Rev 17:16) means that He has begun the process of completely destroying the Antichrist spirit which has troubled God’s people in every generation. These events mean the Lord’s return is near.

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