Yesterday we read about the prostitute, Babylon the Great, the city which represents the earth’s evil. It is a city (or nation or nations) of great prosperity. A place where people live to satisfy the flesh through lavish living and sexual immorality. It is a hedonistic city that sounds like much of the world we live in today. Today we will read about her fall which is one of the effects of the seventh plague, the seventh bowl of God’s wrath (Revelation 16:17-21). We have already been told how she fell but now we hear why she fell as it is proclaimed in Heaven. Verses 1-3 read,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
3 For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
The city where once people lived opulent lives fed by thriving commerce and insatiable appetites will become a place where no one lives. It will be a ghost town where unclean birds and creatures scavenge the dead, where idols lay broken and useless and demons freely roam in the remnants of evil. She will be used up, her resources sucked dry by the beast and the kings who follow him. All the hatred she directed at the saints will be repaid to her. Jeremiah 51:34-37 describes Babylon’s demise this way,
“Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me;
he has crushed me;
he has made me an empty vessel;
he has swallowed me like a monster;
he has filled his stomach with my delicacies;
he has rinsed me out.
35 The violence done to me and to my kinsmen be upon Babylon,”
let the inhabitant of Zion say.
“My blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,”
let Jerusalem say.
36 Therefore thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will plead your cause
and take vengeance for you.
I will dry up her sea
and make her fountain dry,
37 and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins,
the haunt of jackals,
a horror and a hissing,
What awaits her citizens is horrible. But every one of us has been warned. Some chose to repent and become believers, but most were too stubborn, arrogant, and prideful to yield to The Lord, to the Truth of Jesus Christ. And they will get what they deserve. God will avenge the saints they murdered, He will receive recompense for their sins. Verses 4-8 read,
“Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.
6 Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
and repay her double for her deeds;
mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
7 As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
since in her heart she says,
‘I sit as a queen,
I am no widow,
and mourning I shall never see.’
8 For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,
death and mourning and famine,
and she will be burned up with fire;
for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”
The crux of her fall, what tips her over the edge toward her doom will be the saints she hated being called home to Jesus. When the saints leave and the Holy Spirit is not there anymore, she will not hear, see, or recognize God’s warnings or His wrath. And God’s wrath can freely be poured out so the bride will not be harmed alongside the prostitute. We will be gone and the vengeance of the Lord will be on her for her sins. What are her sins? What are the deeds she will receive double payback for?
She glorified herself. She exalted herself. She was filled with pride. Look around you and look at yourself. How is your pride? Are you a “can do” person? When you accomplish something, who gets the credit? Are you glorified for your strength, your goodness and your ability or is the Lord glorified? Pride is deadly. We can so easily become prideful and forget that apart from Christ we can do nothing and we have no righteousness of our own. Psalm 16:1-2 says it this way,
“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
Pride causes us to take credit for what God has done. Babylon’s pride led her to a languid lifestyle. Verse 7 tells us, “she glorified herself and lived in luxury” She feels she deserves to “sit as a queen” even though she has done nothing to earn that rank. She is so full of self-importance believes she should never have to suffer. She refuses to mourn the losses she had already faced and repent.
There does come a time when people deserve to rest from their hard work and suffering and be taken care of by others (1 Timothy 5:3-16). The problem is, the people of Babylon all look for early retirement, they all look for wealth and set themselves up as royalty by living as if they are kings and queens. They look for money to support them and provide for them instead of God. They choose to let people serve them instead of using their hands to work. It is God who provides for us, including the work we do. Psalm 90:15-17 tells,
“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!”
The fall of Babylon has worldwide impact. All those kings who used her as the prostitute will no longer be able to use her. All the wealth she floated and the promises she made will be gone. Verses 9-20 record the reactions,
“And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
“Alas! Alas! You great city,
you mighty city, Babylon!
For in a single hour your judgment has come.”
11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.
14 “The fruit for which your soul longed
has gone from you,
and all your delicacies and your splendors
are lost to you,
never to be found again!”
15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,
16 “Alas, alas, for the great city
that was clothed in fine linen,
in purple and scarlet,
adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!
17 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”
And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning,
“What city was like the great city?”
19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out,
“Alas, alas, for the great city
where all who had ships at sea
grew rich by her wealth!
For in a single hour she has been laid waste.
20 Rejoice over her, O heaven,
and you saints and apostles and prophets,
for God has given judgment for you against her!”
One day she stands arrogant and enticing, the next she is desolate. She cannot lead the world in sin or promise riches, she is gone. Her future is promised. If her citizens will listen they can recognize it, repent and put their citizenship in Heaven, their faith in Jesus, and their future in New Jerusalem. But the future that awaits Babylon is not only bleak, it is nonexistent. She will be utterly wiped from the earth. Verses 21-24 read,
“Then a mighty 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 be found no more;
22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
will be heard in you no more,
and a craftsman of any craft
will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill
will be heard in you no more,
23 and the light of a lamp
will shine in you no more,
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
will be heard in you no more,
for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints,
and of all who have been slain on earth.”
There will be no more celebrating for Babylon, no more money making, and no more killing and hate of saints. She led the world to sin. She was prideful. She thought she was the greatest in the world. She hated the children of God. She did her best to stop people from believing in Jesus. And she will pay the price Jesus promised for that grievousness. Matthew 18:1-6 reads,
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Reader, are you proud of your accomplishments? Does your life glorify the Lord or yourself? Is your pride leading people to follow you or is your humility leading people to follow Christ. Babylon’ sins are rampant and easy to fall into. The prostitute calls herself a queen and she will suffer eternal death for it. The bride lets Jesus make her a queen and she will enjoy eternal life for it.