Revelation 18 Lamentation Over Babylon’s Fall

Revelation 18:9-19

Image above: The Great Fire of London, depicted by an unknown painter (1675), as it would have appeared from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666; public domain image.

As we saw previously—

Chapter 18 contains lamentation by merchants of trade over the destruction which has already occurred in the seventh bowl of wrath.  

Note that the four groups mourn in verses 9-19, but they mourn over their own personal loss  and not over the city’s destruction.

Group 1: The Kings of the earth Rev. 18:9-10
Group 2: The merchants of the earth 18:11-15
Group 3: Roman merchants Rev. 18:16-17

Group 4: Those involved in the sea trade Rev. 18-19

If we want to see who’s sad over the fall of Babylon, follow the money

I. Rulers of nations of the earth profit through trade with Babylon. vs. 9

vs. 9 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.

Psalm 2:1-3 pictures the rebellious attitude of the woman and the kings of the earth.

1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

II. The swiftness of destruction shocks earth-dwellers. vs. 10

vs. 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.”

Jonn begins his sentence with an adverb (makrothen) “from far away or from a distance.” The rulers of the end time will stand at a distance and view the destruction of Antichrist’s empire. They enjoyed the luxury Babylon provided, but when she is destroyed, they will be helpless to come to her aid. The NIV takes “The Great City” as a vocative—”O Great City.” John uses the dative of time to show the point in time that the judgment occurred—in one hour’s time. In other words, what took centuries to build is destroyed by God in one hour.

Gustave Boulanger, “The Slave Market” (1882)

Gustave Boulanger, “The Slave Market” (1882)
Public Domain Image from WikiPedia.

III. Fortunes built on the back of the slave trade (or human trafficking) is ill-gotten gain and will ultimately be destroyed. vss. 11-13 

vs. 11-13 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.

As John describes the merchandise, he obviously has Ezekiel 27 in mind and pens the lament in Rev. 18—
Ezek. 27:13 13 “Javan, Tubal, and Meshech traded with you; they exchanged human beings and vessels of bronze for your merchandise.”

Note that part of the trade involves “the bodies and souls of men.” “Bodies” is a Greek idiom for slaves (cf. LXX of Gen. 36:6), while the addition of “souls of men”means “slaves, that is, human beings.” See Johnson, A.F., p. 752, below.)  

Slave Market in Constantinople

Illustration of a slave market in Constantinople (now Istanbul),
the capital of the Ottoman Empire. public domain image.

“Slavery was an ever-present feature of the Roman world. Slaves served in households, agriculture, mines, the military, manufacturing workshops, construction and a wide range of services within the city. As many as 1 in 3 of the population in Italy or 1 in 5 across the empire were slaves and upon this foundation of forced labor was built the entire edifice of the Roman state and society.” (see Cartwright, below.)

“The merchants in Revelation find it profitable to traffic in human beings (18:13), but John identifies the slave trade with commercial practices that fall under the judgment of God… . People found the prospect of wealth alluring, but by making the sale of human beings the climactic element in his list of trade goods, John underscores the seamy side of Roman-era commerce.” (See Koester, p. 767, below.)

Our world is no stranger to the slave trade, thought it might be called “human trafficking.”

human-traffickingThe modern world is also full of the buying and selling of human beings. “Human trafficking is defined as forcing, fooling, or frightening someone into performing labor or sex for personal profit” (see Elkins, below).

It a common practice for bar codes to be tattooed on a sex worker’s or a commercial slave’s body signifying the person belongs to someone who is using him or her for business. This gives the impression that a person is a commodity just like any other personal property one has—chattel. 

The services of women as massage workers is often advertised on Craigslist and Backpage. The ads “promises regularly rotating women” from one massage parlor to another. Police officers in North Carolina watched one “business” for over a month and frequently reported women being picked up or dropped off in cars with New York tags. (see Elkins below). 

A secret and underground trade of human beings is similar to the USSR’s Gulag Archipelago. “The word Gulag is a Russian acronym for the Soviet government agency that supervised the vast network of labor camps. Solzhenitsyn used the word archipelago as a metaphor for the camps, which were scattered through the sea of civil society like a chain of islands extending” from sea to sea.” This is what happens with sex or commercial workers are moved often to keep anonymity of the forced laborers and the system itself off the radar of local police. (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, below). 

“An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 16 million (64%) were exploited for labor, 4.8 million (19%) were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million (17%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.”

Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, according to the ILO report from 2014. The following is a breakdown of profits, by sector:

$99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation
$34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
$9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
$8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labor (see Human Rights First, below).

Thomas Jefferson, who was a slave owner, said this about slavery—

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.” (see, Jefferson Quotation, below.)

What bothers me, as one who has had a complete tour of all floors of Monticello, is that Jefferson did nothing to prevent his guests from preying on the slave women on the grounds. (See Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson. Random House. November 19, 2008. I commend the book to you, I read biographies about post-presidencies.) 

vs. 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!”

In this verse John uses the triple negative—no longer not never (ouketi ou me). In English, negatives cancel each other out. However, in Greek negatives pile up to strengthen each other. 

vs. 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!

These verses relay virtually the same information as Rev. 18:10.

vss. 17-19 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” And all ship masters 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.

With this verse the last of the groups of mourners are introduced—the seafaring traders. This is John’s description of every despotic empire and Antichrist’s end time empire, as ultimate fulfillment. This is the third time that the time frame of the destruction is mentioned—one hour.

We as God’s people should take courage! 

Angel of the Lords Armies

Image from Pinterest

Next time we will move to the ones rejoicing over the fall of Babylon.

(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Cartwright, M. (2013, November 01). Slavery in the Roman World. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Elkins, T. (2017). “Human trafficking: a problem close to home.” Accessed 27 March 2021 from

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2021). “The Gulag Archipelago.” Accessed 27 March 2021 from

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Human Rights First. (2017). “Human Trafficking by the Numbers: Facts Sheet. Accessed 27 March 2021 from

Jefferson Quotation. Excerpted from multiple sources: “A Summary View of the Rights of British America,” “Notes on the State of Virginia,” “The Autobiography,” letter to George Wythe (1790), letter to George Washington (1786).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Koester, C. (2008). “Roman Slave Trade and the Critique of Babylon in Revelation 18.” Accessed 22 March 2021 at

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 18: God’s Call for an “Exodus” from Babylon

Revelation 18:4-8

Image above is by David Roberts, “Israelites Leaving Egypt,” 1828; public domain from Wikipedia.  

Chapter 18 warns believers to stay away as much as is possible from involvement with the world system.


Free Stock Photo in High Resolution – Mountain Edge

Jesus’s High Priestly prayer, gives the dangerous mountain’s-edge believers must walk—(1) We are in the world on Christ’s mission; (2) We are not of the world, to adopt its thinking and ways. John 17:14-19—

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“Nobody wants to be out of it; we want to be ‘with it.’ We want to be up-to-date. We want to fit in. And we’re often engulfed by peer pressure that wants us to imitate and participate in all of the structures and the styles of this world. The Bible says we are not to be conformed to the patterns of this world.” — R. C. Sproul 

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discernRomans 12_2 what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [ESV]

I like Phillips translation of Romans 12:2 Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. (see Bible Gateway below).

In Revelation 18:4-8 God is calling for an exodus of His people from the world system.

I. We must steer clear of the allurements of the “world system” (Babylon) so we will not experience the spillover effects when God judges it. vs. 4.

vs. 4 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…

Baylon ImageThis command can be taken three different ways: (1) it can be taken as a warning to 1st Century Christians to steer clear of Rome’s allurements; (2) it can be taken as a broad warning; in this case it would be a warning for those living in all times; or (3) it can be taken as a command for the future Christians who live will through tribulation at the end of the age and who might be tempted to give into Babylon’s allurements. Regardless of which view is taken, the warning is a real one, and is valid at any time. The warning is directed toward those who are tempted to give into the world system just to get along (e.g. “you gotta go along to get along”). Conformity to the world has dire consequences. The word “share in” is sunkoinoneō. The cognate verb koinoneō is the regular NT word for “fellowship.” The idea is that if we share in the sinful pleasures of this world, we will also share in the effects of the judgment of this world, as well. 

Those who refuse to submit to Babylon’s cultural norms, will stand out from the group who do. This will bring persecution. (See image above picturing the three Hebrew youths who refuse to bow down to ancient Babylonian statue. Image from

II. We should realize God’s permitting of the world’s sins to go unpunished is only temporary. vs. 5

vs. 5 … for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

The word “piled up” is the Greek word kollaō—”to reach” or “to touch.” In this case the sins have touched heaven. Compare Genesis 18:20-21—20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

dew-on-grass-1369328The phrase “the Lord has remembered” (mnemoneuō) must be taken in its Old Testament connotation. The Lord has not forgotten Babylon’s previous sins in the sense that “they slipped his mind.” That is the way we use the words “forget” and “remember.” In the Old Testament times, God simply postponed his judgment until a fixed time in the future. His forgetting was deliberate and planned from eternity. So also was His remembrance! Compare Romans 3:23-26, which speaks of “in [God’s] divine forbearance He had passed over former sins.” And Acts 17:30-31. Lamentations 3:22-23 is of great comfort to those who suffer unjustly! God’s mercies are renewed like the dew, every morning.

III. We must realize that godless people’s sins have judgment built into their sin. vs. 6

vs. 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.

Note that God sees the heart of Babylon. Our judgment is flawed; we only see the outward actions. God sees the internal heart attitude. The verb streniaō means to “live in the lap of luxury.” The woman says that she will never mourn (ou me, the Greek double negative). The double negative emphasizes her arrogant spirit. She trusted in her luxuries and riches to insulate her against all suffering. God sees to it she experiences grief commensurate with her arrogance.

Man chainedThere was once a tyrant who summoned one of his subjects into his presence, and ordered him to make a chain. The poor blacksmith…had to go to work and forge the chain. When it was done, he brought it into the presence of the tyrant, and was ordered to take it away and make it twice the length. He brought it again to the tyrant, and again he was ordered to double it. Back he came when he had obeyed the order, and the tyrant looked at it, and then commanded the servants to bind the man hand and foot with the chain he had made and cast him into prison.

My friends, that is just what [addicted persons] do — that is just what every sinner is doing. But thank God, we can tell them of a deliverer. The Son of God has power to break every one of their fetters if they will only come to Him. (see Moody, P. 57-58, below.)

Satan and his carefully choreographed this world’s system offer a number of allurements that make can us a captive of our own appetites. If we indulge in the alluring bait, we are not satisfied. Going in for more binds us more tightly to this world system. God saves us from Satan’s traps in the world in which we live if we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and live according to His Word! 

“Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us on a wild-goose chase. Follow some other object, and possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne from

Midas daughter turns to gold

King Midas (pictured right) got what his heart longed for. How he loved gold! Now everything he touched turned to gold. An oak twig. A rock. He had what his heart treasured, until his little girl comes running into his arms. How fatal the Midas’ touch! (see King Midas, below.) Most nursery rhymes have a moral lesson within them. How many a man who is ruthless in business later decries that all his children care about is his money! Our children and grandchildren may get entrapped along with us if we crave the Midas touch!



‘The Destruction of a City’ by David Roberts, 1832;
Public Domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

IV. What takes mankind centuries to build can come down in one day when God judges. vs. 8

vs. 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 wealth that she trusts in will not be able to insulate her against the judgment of the Lord. The time frame involved is “one day’s time” (en mia hmera). The plagues (plēgē) are described as death (thanatos) , grief or mourning (penthos), and famine or hunger (limos) . The city meets its end by being burned with fire (katakaiō “to consume or burn thoroughly”). The preposition kata attached to the verb kaiō is perfective. It means to burn completely. The Lord who is able to do this in such a quick fashion is said to be “mighty” (ischyros).


We will move on the next section of Revelation 18 next time.

(Commentaries on which I rely sometimes without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Bible Gateway. (1960). Accessed from

Costain, T. B. (1958). The Three Edwards, Vol III from A History of the Plantagenets, accessed 17 March 2001 from

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

King Midas. (2009). Story application by Gregg Bitter accessed 15 March 2021 from

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Moody, D. L. (1878). Anecdotes and Illustrations of D. L. Moody Related by Him in His Revival Work. Washington, DC: Rhodes & McClure, Publishers.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Rockefeller, J. D. (n.d.) “Daily Short Story” blog; accessed 15 March 2021 from

Sproul, R. C. (1996). “How should we be in the world but not of it?” Accessed 15 March 2021 from

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 18: Angel announces the Fall of Babylon

Revelation 18:1-3

Image above is “The ancient city of Babylon, Babel Governorate, Iraq.” Image taken by Dr. Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Context: Rev. 16 describes the actual destruction of Babylon, and must not be separated from chapter 17. Chapter 17 describes Babylon in detail, but only predicts her future destruction.

Chapter 18 laments the destruction which has already occurred in the seventh bowl of wrath.  

Rev. 16:17-21—

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.
19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.
20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.
21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. [ESV]


Doré’s English Bible 1866 “Isaiah’s Vision of the Destruction of Babylon”
public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

Outline of Chapter 18

God, through an angel, announces Babylon’s judgment and its severe effects, which will come because of her idolatrous seduction of people (18:1-3). (see Beale, p. 381, below).

I. Large nations, from earth’s viewpoint, have the appearance of indestructible power, but God has ultimate power and authority to destroy all godless nations. vs.1

vs. 1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory.

Notice the difference between power and authority.

Power is the limited ability to exercise one’s will over others. (see Introduction to Sociology, below).

Authority is the absolute ability to bring one’s will to pass, with or without means. Compare Romans 13:1 “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Proverbs 21:1-3 is good reminder when we see wicked national leaders acting as if they are all-powerful. Their realm is established by God and is dependent on Him for continuance. (Substitute whatever job title a non-royal leader has today.)

1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
3 To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

If we ever doubt the truth of God’s sovereignty over human affairs, we should call to mind Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar from the past. Nearer in history to us are Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao Zedong, etc.

“The ultimate authority of the universe is God Himself. But God delegates authority as He reigns and rules over His creation. God raises up human governments. But if somehow we can look through them, look past them, look over them, and see the One whom the Father has invested with ultimate cosmic authority, namely, Christ Himself, we’ll have an easier time…with our struggle to submit when we recognize we’re submitting ultimately to Christ, because we know He’ll never tyrannize or abuse us” (see Sproul, below).

My mother’s favorite verse still speaks to me when I see the seeming triumph of evil—Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. [NASB]

With this background, we will go into the meaning and application of Rev. 18:1.

The first phrase, “after these things” (meta tauta), is used in the Revelation to indicate a new scene, but it does not indicate chronological progression in the fulfillment of the vision. John sees the angel coming down from heaven to the earth. 

The identity of the angel has raised quite a few questions among the commentators. Some have suggested that the angel is actually Christ himself. However, the text says it is “another angel” (allos angellos), which in Greek means “another of the same kind” as we’ve seen in the vision.


The angel of death striking a door during the plague of Rome: an engraving by Levasseur
after Jules-Elie Delaunay. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This is another of the seven angels which poured out the bowls of wrath on the Beast’s kingdom—Babylon. Oftentimes, angels which are sent on a divine mission possess the glory and splendor of the person sending them. This explains the words “and the earth was illumined from his glory (doxa).” The authority (exousia) he possessed was derived from the one who sent him and was not the angel’s by inherent right.

Don and Annabelle RulisonOne of my favorite hymns is “Jesus, the name high over all.” I first heard it quoted by Don Rulison, missionary to Hmong people of southeastern Asia. I met him, his wife and children at EI School of Biblical Training when I was a student and later when I was a teacher. After his wife’s death, he returned to Southeast Asia to live among the Hmong people again until his death. (Pictured above left is Don Rulison and his daughter Annabelle.) Hmong people from all over came to visit him in his closing days.

He often would quote a stanza of a hymn in his sermons. The quotation did not seem related to the sermon, at first. He called this “shooting a random arrow.” His quotation of the first stanza of “Jesus, the Name High over All” was an arrow to my soul which I needed at the time. 

1 Jesus, the name high over all,
In hell, or earth, or sky:
Angels and men before it fall,
And devils fear and fly.

3 Jesus the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
And bruises Satan’s head;
Pow’r into strengthless souls He speaks,
And life into the dead.

We must keep our courage up even in the face of seemingly powerful nations that persecute believers. Ancient Babylon was such a nation at one time, but it fell in one night! Daniel 5 records Babylon’s fall—22 And you Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. [ESV; emphasis mine]

II. God’s destruction of “Babylon” in the end will be final leaving it empty except for demonic beings. vs. 2

vs. 2 And he called out with a mighty voice, “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.

The tense or the verb “fallen” is the past tense. We put truths in the present tense normally e.g. 2 + 2 is 4, but the Greeks used the past tense e.g. 2 + 2 became 4. We expect the perfect tense in English, and the NIV translates it this way. It is a simple past tense in the Greek used to state a simple fact accomplished. The word translated “home” (katoiketerion) is “dwelling place.” The amplifying word given later is “prison” or ”haunt” (phylakē).  Alan F. Johnson says “that the demons inhabit the city’s broken down towers watching for those upon whom they prey” ( see Johnson, A. F. below).


Picture of destroyed city. Copyright © 2014 Beth Immanuel. All rights reserved.

Isaiah 13:19-22 is in John’s mind as he writes—

19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
20 It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
21 But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance.
22 Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.

The word for demon (diamonion)  is associated regularly with idolatry, e.g., I Corinthians 10:20-21—

20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

And, I Timothy 4:1—Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons… .

The expression “unclean spirits” (pneuma akathartos) is reminiscent of the Gospels. See Luke 9:42—While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.

Demons as Unclean Birds

Image from Antipas Ministries © 

The last part of this verse seems strange—”a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.” However, birds are used in the Gospels as symbols of the works of the devil, e.g., see Mark 4:4, 15

4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

All three of the images describing Babylon—(1) the home of demons; (2) the haunt of evil spirits; (3) the haunt of unclean birds—are a way of saying that the Lord will give Babylon over to demonic forces and powers. No leaders among human beings will be left. Chaos will pervade Babylon after the 7th bowl is poured out.

III. God will break every enticing aspect of Babylon, so that she has no appeal with which to attract anyone any more. vs 3

vs. 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.”

Arthur_Hacker_-_By_the_Waters_of_Babylon_(1888)The usual word for anger or wrath in Greek is thymos. But, here the word most likely means “passion.” The people have been driven crazy through partaking of the woman’s passion. The word translated “adultery” (porneuō) the usual word for sexual immorality of any kind forbidden by Holy Scripture. It does not necessarily imply immorality with a person to whom you are not married. The scarlet woman is a prostitute, not an unfaithful wife. “Immorality’ in Revelation means the worship of the beast instead of the Lamb.”

Etching left is by Arthur Hacker “By the Waters of Babylon” (1888). The woman is dressed in mourning garments.

The word translated “luxuries” (stranos) alludes to the excessive lifestyle that made the merchants rich. Remember in Rev. 6:5-6 that even in times of famine the luxuries were plentiful. The picture seems to be one of extreme riches among the elite contrasted with extreme poverty among the masses. In such conditions the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I have read of similar incidents to which I was a firsthand witness one day. I had a round trip journey, of 45 minutes each way, from our home in Trenton to Greenwood to teach for several years. In the winter or early spring I saw a lot of “road-kill” on SC-25 going north. One day I saw a hawk feeding on a deer carcass in the road. I could see its eyes darting back and forth from the carcass to my car. I thought surely it will fly at the last second to escape inevitable collision with my car. I guess the meat was too tasty for the bird to fly away and return later like vultures do. I blew my horn, but the bird still fed away. At the last possible minute it thought it could fly to safety, it tried to. However, it hit my car’s grill and plunged into the ditch becoming itself road kill. 

The allurements of “Babylon” keep people close to her and benefiting from the association. However, when can such a person stop the attachment to Babylon and escape its inevitable judgment? We only have the next breathe promised. As believers we must step away from Babylon and cling to Christ Jesus our King!

Remember, judgment is inevitable and will occur suddenly. Our Lord warned us in Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”

“The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which I can summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power, pleasure.”

“First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism.
Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is the longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else’s eyes.
Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit.
Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one’s sensual desires. It’s the same mindset that’s behind the slogan: “If it feels good, do it.” (see Swindoll, p. 219, below.)

Let us all bear in mind the Babylons of our day are doomed and will be destroyed and along with all of its inhabitants (the earth-dwellers). We should not get so close to the world’s system that we are judged along with it.

Next time we will see the call from God for His people to cut connection with godless, persecuting people.

(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Answers in Genesis. (2010). Accessed 8 March 2021 from

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Introduction to Sociology. (n.d.). Accessed 8 March 2021 from

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Sproul, R. C. (2017). “Living under Authority”. Accessed 8 March 2021 from

Swindoll, C. (1987). Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. Dallas, TX: Word Publishing.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 17: Explaining the Beast

Revelation 17:9-18

Image above of the Hydra monster based on Revelation 17 by Gustave Moreau, 1876; public domain.

D. E. Johnson (see below) says this about first century Christians reading Revelation 17—”First-century Christians might have wondered, “How can Rome be so bad when she looks so good?” or, “How could Rome ever fall when she looks so strong?”

We in the Western World may look around and substitute the name of evil countries for “Rome.” The current trajectory of the West is toward globalism for economic and political purposes.

Babylon is a trans-historical reality that includes idolatrous kingdoms as diverse as Sodom, Gomorrah, Egypt, Babylon, Tyre, Nineveh, and Rome. Babylon is an eschatological symbol of satanic deception and power; it is a divine mystery that can never be wholly reducible to empirical earthly institutions (see Johnson, F. E. below, p. 736).

Seven Mountains in Rev 17Above is a drawing (by me) of Alan Johnson’s view of the mountains as kingdoms of the past. I revised the view to fit to John’s Revelation since John is updating the Old Testament prophesies to his time and ours. Antiochus Epiphanes (in Greek Epiphanes refers to [god] “manifest”; Attiochus’s enemies referred to him as Epimanes (“the Insane One”). (see Antiochus Epiphanes,  below.) He was a Seleucid ruler who persecuted Israelites and tried to force them into conformity to Grecian beliefs and customs—Hellenization. He defiled the Temple in Jerusalem by having a pig sacrificed on the altar of sacrifice. He is an appropriate figure for a type of Antichrist  who will appear in the end as a manifestation of a global power seeking to destroy the church and  to rule humankind.


Coin front and back of Antiochus Epiphanes IV.
Image from

The theme of Chapter 17 is that enticing evil lies behind all nations of this world. The Beast is a composite of empires some gone and some still are on the scene in today. The application of Revelation 17 is—

God will thoroughly destroy all religious-economic-political alliances
that seek to dominate people’s lives. 

I. We must understand that everything new to us is in reality old from the standpoint of the Ancient of Days whom we serve. vss. 9-10

vss. 9-10 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. [ESV]

What is this mind with wisdom?—”[Our minds need] true wisdom to behold many incidents of the world’s history and not find stumbling-blocks in them (Psalm 73:2-3; Psalm 119:165).” (See Ellicott, below.) 

Verse 9 has led to the identification of the woman as Rome. It was noted in the ancient world as the City of Seven Hills. Note the translation in the NIV—”hills.” The Greek word is horos—usually translated “mountain.” Note that the woman is said to sit on the mountains. They are said a little later on to be kings. John uses marvel (in Greek thaumazō) to describe the reaction of the “earth-dwellers.” They awestruck over the apparent rising again of the beast after his seeming defeat, that is seeming from their viewpoint. The current infatuation of the world with globalism and commerce is an example of what this verse is talking about. The people who are involved are described as “those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world.” Note the tense of the verb—perfect tense. It describes a past completed act with a present result. These people are not believers. They have deliberately chosen to follow the beast cult instead of Christ’s true religion.

Year of Four Emperors

Image from

Many commentators try to make this verse fit into the Roman emperors of John’s day. The numbers do not fit the text.

The Roman Emperors before and when the Apostle John lived

1. Augustus 27 B.C. to A.D. 14
2. Tiberius A.D. 14 to A.D. 37
3. Caligula A.D. 37 to A.D. 41
4. Claudius A.D. 41 to A.D. 54
5. Nero A.D. 54 to A.D. 68
6. Galba A.D. 68
7. Otho A.D. 69
8. Vittelius A.D. 69
9. Vespasion A.D. 69 TO A.D. 79
10. Titus A.D. 79 TO A.D. 81
11. Domition A.D. 81 TO A.D. 96

II. We must realize that all earthly confederations will fall and other nations will take their place. vss 11-12. 


← Image to the left is of a 2 Euro Greece coin 2002-2006. I do not make the images in Revelation to be fulfilled in our day. I think it strange that the Greece chose an image from Revelation to be on its Greek coin.

vs. 11-12 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.

Evil seeming has endless lives. It is dealt with only to rise again some where else. The woman is said to sit on the mountains who are identified as kings in this verse. The kings are really kingdoms or empires. We see the handwriting on the wall, for all evil empires, just like Daniel saw.

This is the writing that was inscribed: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (v. 25). This is Daniel’s interpretation of the matter: MENE—God has numbered Belshazzar’s kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL—he has been weighed in the scales and found to be lacking; and PERES—his kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians (vv. 26-28). []

One day all nations will be “numbered” and brought to an end; “rulers weighed and found to be lacking”; and “their country be given to another.” 


“Daniel Interpreting the Writing on the Wall” at Belshazzar’s feast;
illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible; from WikiMedia Commons public domain

This verse presents the interpreter with the greatest challenge. The series of 7 days followed by an 8th was familiar in the ancient world. The 8th day was the day of Christ’s resurrection. It was the symbol of the victory of Christ over the forces of evil. The coming up out of the abyss by the beast as an 8th head is an imitation of the resurrection of Christ. Christ defeated the 7 heads at Calvary, yet the 8th will rise again in the end times.

The numbers in this chapter are symbolic. Both 7 and 10 describe completeness and perfection to the ancient mind. Our interpretation should be qualitative in nature instead of quantitative. The 10 kings are simply a way of referring to a complete group of confederates that help the beast to establish his kingdom. They could be physical or spiritual in nature. However, it does not describe the European Common Market confederacy of today. Alan F. Johnson describes the 10 confederates of the beast as “none other than the principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms that Paul describes as the true enemies of Jesus’ followers (Ephesians 6:12). To be sure, they use earthly instruments, but their reality is far greater than any specific historical manifestations.” (see Johnson A. F., p. 161, below) It seems that the 10 confederates are earthly instruments of the spiritual forces operating behind the scenes.

III. We must realize when a government perverts God’s laws and authority, it becomes evil.

vss. 13-14 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”


 Charles Foster etching “Offering to Molech” 1897. The little children were burned to death in offerings to the god Molech. This man in the picture is just going to put a little child in the idol’s arms. Other men are blowing on trumpets and beating on drums, and making a great noise, so that no one can hear the poor little child cry. WikiMedia Commons public domain image

The members, whether physical or spiritual, will give the beast their resources in order to build the Beast’s kingdom. Molech was  referred to as the “god of child sacrifice” by some. This deity was thought to be very well pleased with offerings that burned living people, notably children, in a fire. People sacrifice their children for promises of a better life.

Just like the beast has cohorts, the Lamb has his followers. They are: “called” (klētos), “chosen” (eklektos) and “faithful” (pistos) The beast has a bloodthirsty crew with him. The Lord has a faithful group of followers who follow him to death and back to life and who share his reign. What a contrast! The Lamb is referred to as kurios kurion—Lord of Lords. Caesar’s title was kurios—Lord. He also was referred to as basileus—king. These titles are the Lord Jesus Christ’s by divine right. He will manifest this fully at his Second Coming.

IV. We must realize that the more the beast seeks to rule over people, the more chaos breaks out. (vss. 15-17).

vs. 15-18 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.


“The Huns at the Battle of Chalons” from page 135 of ”A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times”
Volume I of VI (1836-1885) Project Gutenberg

Here, as pointed out in verse 1, is the explanation of the image of sitting on the waters. Here is an allusion to the fact that there will be chaos in the nations at the end. The Antichrist will weld the competing nations into a unified whole. There will be great persecution of the Lord’s people. After his purpose is accomplished, the alliance will break up and the members will destroy their own confederation (compare Ezekiel 16:36-40.)

The Greek literally says “God placed it in their hearts to do one purpose.. .and to give their kingdom to the beast.” God is always in charge of all events on this earth. He never allows things to get out from his control. It may appear to us that things have gone awry, but they are underneath God’s sovereign control. He permits the alliance to hold until his purposes have been fulfilled. Then, things come apart. Jeremiah 10:25 says, “Pour but your wrath on the nations… . For they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him completely and destroyed his homeland.”

This is not Rome of John’s day only. Babylon is too broad a symbol to only refer to Rome. It is rather a symbol of the world system in opposition to God in all ages that has passed from the scene only to morph and reappear. Caird says, “The ravaging of the whore by the monster and its horns is John’s most vivid symbol for the self-destroying power of evil.”

This we will see fully carried out in Chapter 18 next time!

(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Antiochus Epiphanes (2021). Accessed 2 March 2021 from

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Ellicott, C. (1878). Accessed 1 March 2021 from

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved