Revelation 18:1-24 Part 7

REVELATION 18:1-24 Part 7


1)    After those I saw another messenger, one having great authority, come down from the heaven; and the land was emblazoned by His glory.

2)    And He did cry out in a mighty sound, saying “she has fallen!  Babylon the Great has fallen!  She has become a dwelling place of demons and a haunt of every unclean spirit and a gathering of every unclean and detestable bird.

3)    All the nations drank from the wine of the passion of her fornication; for the kings did fornicate with her, and the merchants of the earth became rich from the power of her wantonness.”

4)    Then I heard another sound from the heaven, saying “come out of her My people that you not participate in her sins and receive her plagues;

5)    for her sins are heaped up unto the heaven and God remembered her iniquities.

6)    Repay her just as she meted out; and double double according to her works!  Mingle her double in the cup that she mingled!

7)    As much as she appeared glorious but waxed wanton, give her that much torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I am the sitting queen, I am not a widow, and I will never see mourning’.

8)    Because of this, in one day her plagues will come: death and mourning and famine, and she will be utterly burned in fire; for mighty is the Lord God Who judged her.

9)    When they look upon the smoke of her burning, the kings of the earth who fornicated and reveled with her will weep and lament over her,

10) having stood at a distance in awe of her torment, saying ‘woe, woe the great city’, Babylon the mighty city, for your judgment came in one hour.

11) And the merchants of the earth weep and sorrow over her because there is no longer anyone buying their cargo -

12) cargoes of gold and silver and precious stone and pearl and fine linen and purple and silk and crimson; and all kinds of scented wood, and every kind of ivory vessel, and every kind of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble articles;

13) cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense; wine, oil, fine flour, wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and chariots; and slaves…… human souls!

14) And the fruit of your soul’s lusts has gone away from you; all – the dainty and the bright – have gone away from you; and you will never find them again;

15) These merchants who had been enriched from her shall stand at a distance weeping and mourning at the awesomeness of her torment,

16) saying ‘woe, woe the great city’, arrayed with fine linen and purple and scarlet, adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls, for in one hour so much wealth is made desolate.

17) And every shipmaster and all sailing to the place and mariners and all who trade by sea did stand at a distance

18) and cry out when seeing the smoke of her burning, saying ‘any likeness of the great city?’

19) Weeping and mourning they cast dust upon their heads, saying ‘woe, woe the great city’ by which all that had ships in the sea did abound from her great worth, for in one hour she was made desolate.

20) Be gladdened over her heaven and holy ones and apostles and prophets! for from your lawsuit God did pass judgment on her.”

21) Then the one mighty messenger raised a stone as a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying “so with violence Babylon the great city shall be cast and shall never again be found.

22) The sound of harpers and musicians and pipers and trumpeters shall never be heard in you again; and no craftsman of any craft shall ever be found in you again; and the sound of a millstone shall never be heard in you again;

23) and the light of a candle shall never shine in you again; and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride shall never be heard in you again; for your merchants were the princes of the earth, and by your enchantment all the nations of the earth were seduced.

24) And the blood of the prophets was found in her, and that of every one of the holy ones ever slain upon the land.”


At the Parousia of the Son of God/Son of Man (shortly to take place – as John looks on) the land is filled with the brightness of His glory; and the depravity and corruption of Jerusalem is made manifest.  And John is shown her holding the golden cup of YAHVEH in her own hand; and it’s full of abominable things.

She’s adorned with every beautiful and glorious thing imaginable, and proclaiming herself queen of the world; and there’s no one else – no one sees her, for she is “I AM”.

She “was”; and she “is”.  And, in her opinion, she “shall be”.  However, John has already heard that before, hadn’t he?  After all, this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ; and at His appearance to John (recorded at the beginning of this book) that’s what He said to John.  He “WAS”; He “IS”; and He “SHALL BE”.  The very name YAHVEH means “I AM”.

We’ve all heard Israel’s impertinence and brazen temerity addressed by YAHVEH through the prophets.  We’ve read from every one of them – from Moses to the apostle John – that she had the “gall” to consider herself the “eternal city”… that she would never be “widowed”; that she would never lose her children; that she was “I am” – the sitting queen of the world.  It is as if she had assumed equality with God.

Sound familiar?  We’ve heard that before… at the beginning of the Scripture.  But we’ll come back to that shortly.

But, from the beginning she had done everything YAHVEH had told her not to do.  As soon as her covenantal life had begun, she made a gold idol – by which she might worship God better!  And while in the desert, she lit strange fire in the encampment; and at the instigation of a false prophet, the sons of Jacob participated in fornication with pagan women.

And once inserted into the promised land, Israel shed the blood of sacrifices all over the land (in violation of explicit instructions.)  And she built idols of stone and wood and gold on all of the high places and made sacrifices to them… some of those sacrifices being her own children!  She consulted with false prophets, astrologers and fortune-tellers.  She intermingled with foreigners and took their false gods as her own, and enchanted the kings and merchants of the nations with her great beauty and wealth – spreading the wine of her abominations over the entire earth.

When YAHVEH sent personal emissaries (the prophets) to her to call her to repentance, she ignored them and mocked them and persecuted them and killed them.  The many times in which she was chastened and afflicted for her contempt for YAHVEH and His Law-word, she would become sorrowful and meek and submissive until the affliction was removed; and then go back to her harlotry with the nations and their idols.

Her priests and scribes and lawyers turned YAHVEH’s Law-word “upside down” in order to free themselves for their own benefits. (That’s God’s exact words, by the way, through the prophet Isaiah.)

When the prophet Elijah finally arrived in the person of John the baptizer to announce the coming of God’s Anointed One, they persecuted and killed him.

Her priests had made the entire sacrificial system a “religion” of their own, so that Israel didn’t even recognize the Lamb of God when He arrived; so they killed Him.  And then she pursued and persecuted the lost sheep of the house of Jacob who Jesus came to seek and to save!  And then her prophets and astrologers and fortune-tellers all aligned themselves with the fourth beast of history – proclaiming the beast as the savior!

And as we read (from about twelve of the prophets) last Lord’s Day, all through Israel’s history she had been warned of a day of reckoning in which YAHVEH would exact full three-fold and seven-fold restitution for all her abominations.  But the harlot believed that she was the eternal land of paradise; and she refused to believe His prophets.

This was the “land of plenty” that God Himself called the “garden of Eden”.  And the terms that God used in its description indicate that it was the one location in all of God’s creation that most resembled His tabernacle in the heaven.

The sights in this paradise on earth would correspond with the sights in the heavenly tabernacle that were seen by the prophets.  Even the sounds heard in God’s tabernacle would be replicated in the earthly paradise.  The colors and the beauty and the brightness and the glory and the numbers and the order and perfections… Israel was given it all!  It was given “heaven and earth” – a special place all its own; a replica of His tabernacle in all its beauty – even to the extent of The Glory inhabiting it over the firmament of His holy mountain in Jerusalem!

As we’ve mentioned numbers of times here, the land of Israel was likened to the original paradise; for at the beginning, when it was all brought to be, God had made His creation to reflect His glory in His heavenly tabernacle.  In all its perfections it shone with the glory of God – including two “images” of His glorious Person!

The brief descriptions of that paradise that Moses wrote for us, and the further references throughout God’s Revelation to man, give us indications of the wonders of that original creation.

God brought “light” to be; for there is nothing more reflective of the brightness and glory of God than light.  Then He made the bodies of the heavens to reflect that light – all to resemble the glory cloud of His heavenly tabernacle.  Then He made the sea to imitate that which Ezekiel describes as a “sea of glass” – the firmament over which God reigns.  And He made all the animals and birds and creatures as reflective of the great variety of creatures in the heaven… especially the variety found in the four cherubs.  (And, by the way, remember the number four?  That will be important a little later.)

And Moses even wrote of all the beautiful stones that were found everywhere in Paradise; and their names all reflected their colors.  This was a lush place of perfection; a paradise indeed – all resembling God’s tabernacle in the heaven.

And remember that God had likened the land of Israel to this original paradise.  He said that she was like the garden of Eden.  All of her wealth and beauty were given her; and the entire land shone with the brightness of His glory… much like that first paradise.  The words of God through the prophets indicate that, in the mind of God, Israel was considered her own “cosmos” – a separate and distinct creation for Himself… in many ways just like the original one!

Now, while we’re considering the infinite mind of God here; and just as an interlude, I don’t think for one minute that my status as a preacher is anywhere near that of a prophet.  In fact, it was made clear here in the Revelation that the apostle John was the one to prophesy one last time.  So there are no more of them.

But the prophets – including John – were to speak and write only what God told them and showed them.  They were not to be “creative”; they weren’t to use their imaginations; they weren’t to speak extemporaneously… they were only to say and do exactly what God revealed.  It was HIS Word, and not theirs, that they were to deliver.

And, although we’re not prophets, that’s a pattern for those of us who are called to preach the Gospel, isn’t it?  We’re to say what God has already said and what He caused to be written for us.

I’m not gifted at all at extemporaneous speaking anyway.  I’m always very fearful of saying something off the top of my head that’s incorrect, or of leaving out something that’s important, and that it would mislead you - the Lord’s people.  And I’ve always considered that fear to be a good thing!

And I’m not creative or imaginative either.  And that’s a good thing too!

And since I don’t have those skills, I just have to stick with the pattern.  And the pattern with the prophets and the apostles was to say and write what God said, and leave the “creative activity” to the Spirit of our Lord.

Creativity and imagination in preaching are problematic, to be sure… as is extemporaneous speech.  However, that’s not to say that the pattern for preaching that we’ve received from the prophets and apostles is free of its own complications!  It’s not!  There’s no felicity here.  The huge problem with it is (and we’ve talked about this a number of times before) that the mind of God has no boundaries!  His mind and will are limitless!  So, how do we ever do this!?

 And the struggle (one which I have to wrestle with every day of my life) is how to bring the Revelation of His infinite mind to you every Lord’s Day in some coherent way!

Hearing the Word read in context is good; repetition is good; making the connections is always good; explaining the Greek and Hebrew words is good….  When I look out and see light in your eyes, I know that I’ve done okay.  But when I see blank stares, I realize my own limitations.

The eleven verses before us this morning (nine through nineteen) give us pause to wonder just how in the world one is to comprehend Revelation that reaches as far back as the garden of Eden, and then extends all the way to the judgment of God’s paradise land of Israel.  It’s far-and-away more than our capacity… mine anyway.

But wonder as we might, by Word and Spirit we are to hear it and receive it and delight in it.  And then we are to rest in it contentedly and faithfully.  It is the mind of Almighty God.  It is as He sees it, as He observes it, as He created it, and as He brings it all to its fullness.

Now… as was said earlier, God likened His creation of the land of Israel to the creation of His original edenic paradise.  The language of cosmic creation that was (naturally) spoken at the beginning, is the very same language that is used in the creation of Israel; and that same language is used in the prophets – and here in the Revelation – in the destruction of His heaven-and-earth – Israel.

Therefore, knowing the mind of God in the fact that He knows the end from the beginning; and that His language is always the same; and knowing that, in His mind, all is covenantally connected, we must attempt to hear and understand the connections… as He sees them!

And the first thing that is observed here (one that we’ve already commented on) is that the two “paradises” – the original one and the land of Israel – are revealed by God as being “alike”… similar.

In that both of them reflect the bright glory of God’s Person and His heavenly tabernacle, they have many similarities.  And both of them are prophetic reflections of the paradise-Kingdom of Jesus Christ which, in our text, was “at hand”.  And when we come to the later chapters of the Revelation, His Kingdom-paradise is revealed in the prophetic language that we’ve heard all along!  And we’ll hear how God fits it all together from the beginning.

There are so many similarities between the original one and the paradise land of Israel… but one of the more striking ones has to do with the great beauty of each.

Moses’ description of the original one (which He received directly from YAHVEH at Mt Sinai) is brief (to be sure).  But it’s obvious when reading his account that it was endowed with incredible beauty; for it was called into being by the Word of God for His glory.  It reflected His glory.

However, there was a creature there who God had made in His Own image (and for His glory).  He had taken her from the man who He had made; and they were “one flesh”.  But she wanted to be “like” God in her own right, and to know what He knows.  She was “enticed” by the serpent to self-idolatry… to seek independent self-determination.

By every Biblical definition, she became the harlot of the serpent; and then this harlot enticed the man into the same self-idolatry.

And God cursed these two images of Himself that He had made; and He cursed the paradise creation that He had made.  But He also promised a “SEED” from this harlot Who would crush the head of the serpent.

And we find the very same language in all the text of Scripture with regard to the paradise land of Israel.  The creation of Israel and the great city of Jerusalem as being a paradise likened to the garden of Eden incorporates all the language of the creation of the cosmos at the beginning.  Israel and its great city was the center of all the creation, with the sun and moon and stars belonging to it!

It was called the land of plenty… a paradise; for God caused it to reflect His own glory.  It was filled with everything beautiful (as was the original paradise) and given great wealth.  And its herds and trees and vineyards and watercourses produced in great abundance.  And the riches of the world flowed into it.  And the great city itself sat beneath the man-made tabernacle of God with the golden brightness of YAHVEH’s glory.  She had been created like unto the garden of Eden.

But like the first woman, she was a harlot.  All through the Scripture she is “like” Eve.  And as did Eve, Israel ignored God’s Law-word and exerted her indulgent self-determination.

As did Eve in the garden, Israel determined that she would not die (as God said she would)… that she would always retain her status as queen of the world; and no matter what these prophets said, she was who she said she was and not what God said she was!  In God’s view, she wished to be “I am” (which is the English translation of YAHVEH).

All through God’s Word, idolatry and harlotry are equated.  Fornication is idolatrous, you see; and idolatry is fornication.  And it’s that way because Israel is like the first woman.  Eve abandoned her Creator and His Word in order to believe a creature which enticed her; and that’s harlotry.  It’s also idolatry; for she determined for herself what was best for her.

And Eve and Adam and the whole creation were cursed by God.  And the two images of God died.  The communion with God was cut off; and they were separated from their Creator in the depths of their depravity.  And death was their judgment.  And paradise became a wilderness of briars and thorns.

Like also Israel and the land.  She was an idolatrous harlot that caused all the nations to drink from the passions of the wine of her fornications – just like Eve.  And as all of YAHVEH’s prophets said to her, she would die the death in the Day of YAHVEH.  But to the very end she believed that she would not die – just like Eve.

And the land – the paradise of God – would be returned to briars and thorns… a wilderness.  As the prophet said, anyone traveling that way afterward wouldn’t recognize it as a habitable place.

And that brings us to these eleven verses – nine through nineteen; for what is about to be burned in the wrath of God and returned to uninhabitability is all the beauty and riches and wealth of God’s paradise on earth.  It has become a cursed and detestable place for all the reasons that we stated earlier.

Because of the beauty and wealth and productivity with which God had bestowed His heaven and earth edenic paradise, all the kings and merchants and ship captains and seamen had come to do business with the harlot; and they were all enchanted by her beauty and enticed by her favors and participated in her idolatrous harlotry.  They all drank of the cup of the wine of her fornications.

But they would all be astonished, and would mourn for her in the Day of YAHVEH, for she had been the beautiful paradise of the world and the source of all of their riches.

Here’s the passage that prophesies exactly what we see in our text.  It’s from Ezekiel chapter twenty-seven.  Listen to the language that we heard in verses nine through nineteen of our text:


12) "Tarshish was your trading partner because of [your] great wealth of every kind. They exchanged silver, iron, tin, and lead for your merchandise.

13) Javan, Tubal, and Meshech were your merchants. They exchanged slaves and bronze utensils for your goods.

14) Those from Beth-togarmah exchanged horses, war horses and mules, for your merchandise.

15) Men of Dedan were also your merchants; many countries and islands were your regular markets. They brought ivory tusks and ebony as your payment.

16) Aram was your trading partner because of your numerous products. They exchanged turquoise, purple and embroidered cloth, fine linen, coral, and rubies for your merchandise….

18) Damascus was also your trading partner because of your numerous products and your great wealth of every kind, [trading] in wine from Helbon and white wool.

19) Vedan and Javan from Uzal dealt in your merchandise; wrought iron, cassia, and aromatic cane were [exchanged] for your goods.

20) Dedan was your merchant in saddlecloths for riding.

21) Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your business partners, trading with you in lambs, rams, and goats.

22) The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you. They exchanged gold, the best of all spices, and all kinds of precious stones for your merchandise.

23) Haran, Canneh, Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad traded with you.

24) They were your merchants in choice garments, cloaks of blue and embroidered materials, and multicolored carpets, which were bound and secured with cords in your marketplace….

27) Your wealth, merchandise, and goods, your sailors and helmsmen, those who repair your leaks, those who barter for your goods, and all the warriors within you, with all the other people on board, sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your downfall.

28) The countryside shakes at the sound of your sailors' cries.

29) All those who handle an oar disembark from their ships. The sailors and all the helmsmen of the sea stand on the shore.

30) They raise their voices over you and cry out bitterly. They throw dust on their heads; they roll in ashes.

31) They shave their heads because of you and wrap themselves in sackcloth. They weep over you with deep anguish and bitter mourning.

32) In their wailing they lament for you, mourning over you who, like Tyre, was silenced in the middle of the sea.

33) When your merchandise was unloaded from the seas, you satisfied many peoples. You enriched the kings of the earth with your abundant wealth and goods.

34) Now you are shattered by the sea in the depths of the waters; your goods and the people within you have fallen.

35) All the inhabitants of the countries and islands are appalled at you. Their kings shudder with fear; [their] faces are contorted.

36) Those who trade among the peoples hiss at you; you have become an object of horror. and will never again exist."


The language is exactly the same as John hears and writes for us here in verses nine through nineteen, isn’t it?

The “great city”, the center of all of creation and the capital city of God’s paradise on earth, is fallen.  She is the greater Tyre, the greater Sodom, the greater Babylon.  Her great beauty and immense wealth (much like the original paradise) is about to be destroyed in the Day of YAHVEH, and become a wilderness of briars and thorns – uninhabitable.

And the kings and the merchants and the ship captains and mariners of the nations will mourn and lament the loss of the great city; for she was the source of their riches.

John hears the very words of Almighty God the Father as He pronounces the judgment – as it was before written in Ezekiel.  But here in these verses he hears the perfect threes.  The three categories of witnesses to Jerusalem’s destruction will pronounce the three woes as they mourn their loss.

And the complete loss of the incredible beauty and wealth of the city comes to John’s ears in “fours”.  Judgment upon Israel’s wealth is revealed in four categories… all attesting to the infinite mind and will of God and the perfections of His judgment on the harlot.

The “Paradise Lost” connection to the original Eden is unmistakable; and the “Seed of the woman” is preserved by God in both cases… as revealed by YAHVEH in Genesis chapter three.

Even though the harlot of the first paradise was cursed and died, God brought forth a seed from her through whom the Savior of the world would be born.  And the harlot of the second paradise was cursed and died in the full and perfect wrath of God.  From her was born the Seed promised in the first paradise – Jesus Christ and His elect from the tribes of Jacob.

The first woman – although she had everything of beauty and perfection, wanted to be “I am”… to be self-determinative.  And all that was lovely was removed from her.  But through the pangs and travail of childbirth, she brought forth a seed.

Israel – although she had everything of beauty and perfection, declared herself to be “I am”… to be self-determinative.  And all that was lovely was destroyed.  But she, too, through the pangs and travail of childbirth, brought forth a seed.

Adam – the father of man-kind - born into the first Eden/paradise, was enticed into disobedience of His Creator-God; and he was cursed.  And he died.

Jesus – the Savior of man-kind – born into the second edenic paradise, was enticed, but did not disobey The Father; and He was cursed and died to atone for the sins of the seed promised to Abraham.  As John the baptizer said when he saw the Christ of God: “Lo, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world”.

These are just some of the obvious connections between the first heaven-and-earth paradise and the second (the eleven verses of our text being one of those connections).  There are so many more; and we are, once again, set in wonder at the incomprehensible mind of our God.

We’ll continue with this next Lord’s Day, and maybe even finish the last five verses… we’ll see.

But before we stop, let me make just a few more comments about “paradise”.  John Milton’s Paradise Lost is an amazing read; and it should be on everyone’s reading list – especially our young people.  And David Chilton’s Paradise Restored is a good sequel.  I recommend them both to you.

However, Paradise wasn’t lost!  And, if not lost, it couldn’t be restored.  In the unfathomable mind and will of God there could be only one way for a true and permanent paradise to exist.  And that was through the work of God the Son.  And in all of the history of mankind, that is demonstrably true; for the first one wasn’t permanent, and neither was the second – Israel.  That was made obvious in our text today; for all of their incredible beauty was to be destroyed in favor of that Paradise which exists only in the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.  It is a Paradise wrought in Him, which will come to full fruition in the resurrection of all who are in Him.  This was the covenantal will of God from the beginning.  And the Bible is His covenant revealed!  The later chapters of The Revelation of Jesus Christ provide, in the prophetic language of God, that Paradise which exists in His risen and ascended body.

This is the very language that our Lord spoke to the thief on the cross.  In one day the heaven-and-earth paradise called Israel would be destroyed; and The Christ would raise up a new, and perfect, and permanent Paradise for all who are in Him.  He is the “SEED” promised by YAHVEH; and all of His faithful people are the “seed” promised to Abraham.

And, as revealed to the prophet Daniel, the Paradise Kingdom of Jesus Christ will never be destroyed.